The Northern Tradition
The Northern Tradition: Odinism, Asatru and Vanatru:
Odinism is a modern revival of the pre-Christian Pagan traditions of Northern Europe. These Traditions take many forms, but are centered around two distinctive groups of divinities - the Aesir and the Vanir. The Northern Tradition draws upon both the Norse and Angio-Saxon mythology, from various sources including Iceland.
The Aesir as described in Scandinavian myths, are sky Gods and include Odin, often seen as the High God or All-Father principle, his wife Frigga, and Thor, Tyr, and Balder, amongst others. The Vanir are Gods of the Earth, agriculture and fertility. The best-known Vanir deities are Frey and Freya.
Today, Pagans following the Northern tradition often worship Gods from both the Vanir and Aesir, although some specialize in working with one or the other. Some Pagans practizing the Northern Traditions prefer to use the word Asatru to Odinist. Asatru, meaning belief in the Gods or loyalty to the Aesir, is a more general term and also more accurate, given that Odinists do not only worship the God Odin.
Modern practice of the Northern Tradition is rapidly evolving. It explores the mythologies of Northern Europe and the mysteries of the runes. It is a way of life embracing values of loyalty, honor, courage and good fellowship. It emphasizes communing with the Divine as well as embracing the practice of magic for healing and spiritual development. Followers of Asatru celebrate seasonal festivals and are deeply concerned with environmental issues.
In the past, the role of women has been less well-developed in Asatru than in other Pagan traditions. This should not be surprising given the strong influence of Odin, often seen as the most important of the Gods. The predominantly male orientation is now being remedied by the work of a number of women and men taking their inspiration from the Goddesses of Northern mythology and the role of women in Old Northern society. The work of Freya Aswynn is particularly valuable (see reading list) and gives a clear account of the role of the Volva or Seidkona who were the Priestess-practitioners of magic and divination in the Northern Tradition.
Followers of Asatru organize themselves into small groups and form a community of their own which interacts with other parts of the wider Pagan movement.
'Well-being I won, and wisdom too. From a word to a word I was led to a word, From a deed to another deed.'
From the Old Norse, The Poetic Edda, (ca. AD 1200)