Another Q&A with TBW: Heathen Addition I

I know I promised to get you all up to date on my 2011-12 holiday happenings, revelations, and benedictions, but I haven’t quite processed everything yet. And it is not The Bad Witch’s style to barf on her readers without proper reflection. (However, given a bit of reflection, TBW has no qualms about spewing on readers when necessary.)

In the meantime, and perhaps as a way to incite a bit of retrospection about those more tender experiences which require a little more needling, I will answer some more questions posed to me. These all seem to be themed around Heathenism and Ásatrú.

What is the difference between Ásatrú, Heathenry, and Odinism?

I’m in way over my head here, so anything my readers can add is appreciated.

This seems to be like asking, “What’s the difference between Wicca, Paganism, and Traditional Witchcraft.”

A can of worms, that’s what.

Germanic NeoPaganism (or Germanisches Heidentum, “Germanic Heathenry”) contains a spectrum of religions and traditions: Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr and Theodism, to name a few.

Much like Traditional Witchcraft, precursor movements to Germanic NeoPaganism started to crop-up in Europe and then in the US beginning after the repeal of antiWitchcraft laws in the early 20th century. More “organization” came to the traditions in the 70s. Unlike Traditional Witchcraft (I think, help me out if you know more), some Heathens work from a strictly historical perspective: meaning they approach Heathenism from an intellectual rather than religious standpoint (not that the two are not complimentary – just to say that certain Heathens see the movement as a historical study rather than a religion). Some traditions work from a polytheistic reconstructionist standpoint. Some are pragmatic (in applying Heathenism to their personal ethics) and some are mystical in their approach. Some, apply all of the above.

(See my two discussions of NeoPaganism.)

As far as I can tell . . .

Heathen” means exactly the same as “Pagan.” Just in another (non-Roman) language. It means both non-Christian and “countryfolk” or as TBW likes to say: “redneck (and proud).”

Ásatrú [ow sa tru] incorporates the word Æsir (a term for the gods) and tru (faith). The term Vanatru almost the same but implies a focus on the Vanir (another word for “gods). This is a religious movement with its own practices and beliefs.

Forn Siðr [forn sith er] means “old custom” and refers to the revitalization of pre-Christian Germanic culture.

Theodism (Þéodisc Geléafa [the od isk gee la fa]) is a NeoPagan/NeoHeathen practice aimed at reconstructing of the Anglo-Saxon tribes which settled in England. þéod (the od) means “people” or “tribe” much like “volk” in Modern German. Theodism, as I understand it, has begun to encompass all of the traditional “folk” practices of Scandinavia (Norman, Frisian, Angle, Saxon, Jutish, Gothic, Alemannic, Thuringian, Swedish and Danish tribal cultures).

Urglaawe is new to me and I’m not sure how to pronounce it. But I think I likes it. It is, according to Wikipedia, and you all know how I feel about Wikipedia, “a North American tradition within Heathenry and bears some affinity with other traditions related to historical Continental Germanic paganism [that] derives its core from the Deitsch healing practice of Braucherei, from Deitsch folklore and customs, and from other Germanic and Scandinavian sources. Urglaawe uses both the English and Deitsch languages.”

Deitsch, btw, is Pennsylvania Dutch.

My ancestors were New England Quakers, but derived from Bavarian Anabaptists or Hutterites and Palatine Mennonites. How they relate to the Dutch is a little beyond my (current) ken. I have since figured it out in great detail.

Odinism and Wotanism are kinda-sorta the same, but not really.

Odinism (first used in the mid-19th century) is sometimes associated with an insular Nordic ideology. Goodrick-Clarke  describes Odinism as a “spiritual rediscovery of the Aryan ancestral gods…intended to embed the white races in a sacred worldview that supports their tribal feeling”, and expressed in “imaginative forms of ritual magic and ceremonial forms of fraternal fellowship”(17).

On the other hand, you have Wotanism. This is more overtly political. Wotanism is predominantly used to define a white supremacist current. Whether or not this is true, I leave up to individual Wotanists.

Most Heathens of all denominations share a belief in Wyrd, Ǿrlog, Rita and Yggdrasil. This is too big to cover here. Maybe one day.

Many Heathen paths include a strong affinity toward animism. (i.e. Some Heathens believe that inanimate objects can have a soul of their own – there’s more to it than that, of course.) However, although Heathens revere the forces of nature, Heathenry is not a “nature religion.” I mean, the Earth is good and all. But there are gods to contend with.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that.

I can never figure out what the personal noun is for the religion of Ásatrú. Therefore, I request that you kindly complete this analogy. Heathenry : Heathen :: Ásatrú : __________

The Bad Witch liked the phrasing of this request so well that I kept it verbatim! Any analogy is a good analogy, right?

The answer is Ásatrúar.

Are there specific “rules” to Heathenism? You know, like the Wiccan Rede?

Heck yeah.

In Heathenry, there are The Nine Noble Virtues based on virtues found in historical Norse sources (like the Hávamál and the Sigrdrífumál). There are two versions; one lists: courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance. The other is a little more affirmational: “Strength is better than weakness,” “Courage is better than cowardice,” “Joy is better than guilt,” “Honor is better than dishonor,” “Freedom is better than slavery,” “Kinship is better than alienation,” “Realism is better than dogmatism,” “Vigor is better than lifelessness,” and “Ancestry is better than universalism.”

I think there is a good deal to talk about in these differences and I must revisit this list in the future . . .

There are also “Nine Charges” which you can see here.

Likewise, the Six-Fold Goal is: Right, Wisdom, Might, Harvest, Frith and Love.

Basically, it all boils down to this –

1) Be responsible for your actions. If you don’t mind paying for the stuff you break, go ahead, run like a bull through a china shop. If you don’t have the means to make recompense, be a little more careful.

Some people blame their ills on “forces beyond their control” and think that they are “taken over” by something dark and demonic. A Heathen says, to quote a favorite nephew, “Bullspit.” Yes, yes, sometimes it seems like “you were asking for it” is a little on the harsh side. No one asks for genocide, no one asks for rape, no one asks for stillborn children or miscarriage, no one asks for cancer.

But then again . . . (See my discussion of wyrd).

When a bullet has your name on it, you can’t duck low enough.

But wyrd is not human doing, you can’t blame another human for your wyrd. It is wyrd that you have built up for your-own-self. You cooked the pie, now eat it.

Some people think: “Double jeopardy, baby. You can’t punish me twice for the same crime.”

To which Wyrd says, “Uh, huh I can, just watch me, I’m Wyrd like that!”

And, “Yes I can, especially if you keep committing the same-damned crime.”

2) If you have no intention of giving loyalty, don’t accept it from another. This is treachery and punishable by death (today, I’d say take this as a metaphor – tomorrow, who knows).

3) Blood is thicker than water. Wine trumps all.

Your relationship with “kin” is everything. (See my definition of kin.) If you accept someone as kin, they are your blood. This bond is thicker than economics, politics, personal trials, misunderstandings, bad attitudes, stupid over-reactions, missed birthdays, cross-words, and undercooked macaroni. Kin is everything – except when it comes to the Æsir and wyrd. The gods and wyrd can throw a wrench in any work they like. You must say “thank you.” (See my discussion of wyrd)

4) You give what you get. There is a law, gebo, that requires like-for-like. (See my discussion of gebo)

5) Idle hands are  . . . dumb. Do stuff. Get off your arse and make the world a better place (or a worse place if you can pay for it). A lot of Heathens interpret this in a way that leads to bodybuilding and hyper-awareness of physicality. I think the world is bigger than my body. But that’s just me.

And, it’s more complicated than that.

Look for more Heathen Q&A tomorrow when The Bad Babies return to school.

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the draugr bite!

11 comments on “Another Q&A with TBW: Heathen Addition I

  1. kaye berry says:

    I know more about Heathenism than I thought…..

    and thank you for some clarification……………

    forever in your service……

  2. Hail!

    Just wanted to say that “Urglaawe” is pronounced as “OOR-glaw-veh.” 😉

  3. […] alike to the Heathen rule of GEBO which I have discussed briefly in “12 Footnotes” and “Another Q&A.” To a Heathen – really, any good-souled Pagan of any tradition – the law of gebo is a […]

  4. […] This is part of a post from The Bad Witch Files. I’ve been writing about Gebo this week, so thought I’d revisit it here. You can also see “12 Footnotes” and “Another Q&A.” […]

  5. […] Ásatrú and Vanatru, look at this old post. If you want to know about Odinism and Wotonism see this old one. If you need to know more about Theodism, look at the links I give in the next […]

  6. […] in January 2012 I wrote a post about different kinds of heathenry and I […]

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