Soldiers of Odin in Stockholm 2016.

Why is Odin the New God of Choice for White Supremacists?

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Those who once worshipped the ‘great gods of the north’ would be ashamed if they knew their faith was used to support such hatred and violence as witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August 2017. There is no evidence of discrimination or racial violence in the days before the north found the Cross, so why are white supremacists now turning to ancient Nordic gods to support their ideology?

The events that transpired in Charlottesville, which left 3 dead and 36 injured, was a brutal, unwarranted assault on people who were guilty of nothing more than not being what the white supremacists wanted them to be: white.

Soldiers of Odin

Soldiers of Odin, Sons of Odin, or Odinists are what this radical conglomeration of white supremacists call themselves. Odinism, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a rising religious sect following the ancient gods Odin, a sky god and a prophetic god, and Thor, a god known for his value in warfare. Both Odin and Thor have been contestants for the title of "father of the gods" or "chief of the gods"; more evidence appears to claim Odin in this role, which is likely why the name was chosen. Those who follow this sect value it for the same reason Adolf Hitler valued the Aryan ancestry of the Germans: Odinism values European culture, and presumes that to be white is to be right.

Yet even Odinism is a warped, American version of not only Hitler's racial beliefs but of both the ancient polytheistic faith and the 20 th century neopagan religion that valued Odin and Thor, the Asatru Fellowship (Ásatrúarfélagið). Like so many religious sects, Odinism found its origins in a peaceful religion that was gradually perverted. 

The Norse god Odin enthroned, flanked by his two wolfs, Geri and Freki, and his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, and holding his spear Gungnir.

The Norse god Odin enthroned, flanked by his two wolfs, Geri and Freki, and his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, and holding his spear Gungnir. ( public domain )

The Resurgence of Paganism

Following the rise of the holistic faith called Wicca in the 1900s, various strands of contemporary paganism arose. Celtic Wicca, Faery Wicca and Gardenia Wicca are among the strands, in the same way that Christianity branches off into Episcopal, Baptist, and so on. Among these branches of Wicca arose the Asatru Fellowship. In 1972, a man called Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson chose the path of the pre-Christian north as his faith. The Asatru Fellowship is very similar to Odinism—or rather, Odinism drew heavily from the Asatru Fellowship, predominately in the value of Odin and Thor. After this, the practices have little in common. The Asatru Fellowship follow the ancient gods of the north through peaceful outdoor gatherings; Odinism, on the other hand, has become a haven for white supremacists and values the heritage of the white man in the name of the white gods, rather than the eastern religious leader called Jesus of Nazareth.  

There has been a resurgence of paganism in modern times. Beltane Fire Festival Celebrations.

There has been a resurgence of paganism in modern times. Beltane Fire Festival Celebrations.   CC BY NC-SA 2.0

The Adulteration of Norse Religion

The Old Norse religion is one of the few religions that can be so easily "reinterpreted," likely one of the reasons the Asatru Fellowship was able to thrive in the modern world. One of the difficulties of understanding the faith in its totality is that the pre-Christian Norsemen did not write down their own faith; the stories and manuscripts that survive were dictated centuries later by Christians who had heard the old tales. Yet in writing down the pagan beliefs, the scribes needed to understand it first; the only way to do that was to look at the religion through the lens of Christianity. Therefore, much of what is known from literature is itself a perversion of the late medieval authors.

Those who have taken the time to understand the medieval literature and ancient values are aware of what was truly important to the followers of Odin: wisdom, memory and honorable victory. Can white supremacists really claim that what happened in Charlottesville in 2017, or in Germany in the 1940s, was in any way honorable?

Perhaps it is better to distinguish Odinists from the Asatru Fellowship from the ancient pagans. Perhaps such a separation will help preserve the dignity and strength of the pre-Christian Norseman. But how can one distinguish the three faiths when Odinism so rigidly borrows and then mutilates the ancient symbolism, the same way Hitler did with the swastika, once a symbol of sun, light and strength?

Comments

there never was any dispute between Odin and Thor. you are thinking of Tyr who was the chief god of the Germanic tribes until the Aryans arrived. Odin was their chief god, the AllFather and when they moved north, Tyr was replaced by Odin and now sits on his right.

also, as to the claim that Aryans were "white." Aryans were from east of the Caucus Mtns. (hence the word Caucasian) and were therefore, not white at all. they were from the areas now known as Northern India, Afghanistan, probably southern Mongolia and possibly China and were migratory hunters who followed the herds north and west when the ice age receded. the closest people to "whites" would have been the Kelts who controlled all of what is now Northern Europe.

What a load of bull. Have you even read what "Sons of Odin Sweden" are about? I think not.

This article is grasping at straws. Most of the people who seek out Asatru seek the religion of their ancestors and could care less about Nazi ideology. To think that ancient norsemen would be offendend by bloodshed in any form shows you don't know them very well. They would have likely required the man to pay a death geld. You should also realize that our modern word slave comes vrom viking raiders taking Slavs as slaves. They likely would be offended that nonuments to great battle keaders and soldiers were being removed as martial prowess were a highly valued trait.

Odin the the Norse gods were all about violence and death. Oh, but it wasn't done for hatred. Great, I hope the women raped by the Vikings and all those murdered and robbed understood this insane revision of Norse gods.

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