Who Dares Aswynns!
I first heard of Freya Aswynn in the early 90s, in relation to the songs she’d recorded with Current 93 (she appears on Swastikas for Noddy, Crooked Crosses for the Nodding God and Looney Runes). However, the number of people who’ve appeared on Current 93 albums is only slightly smaller than the number of atoms in the universe, so I briefly noticed the exotic name and then forgot all about it. Then around five years ago, a friend of mine told me a little about Asatru and Vanatru, the worship of the Aesir and the Vanir, the pantheons of Norse deities. He mentioned Freya Aswynn as a priestess of Odin and an authority on runes, but at the time I wasn’t very interested.
Last year, however, I began to study the runes, which rapidly led to my becoming a born-again heathen. As my research deepened, it was inevitable that I would read Freya Aswynn’s classic Northern Mysteries and Magick. After reading this book, hearing Freya’s eerie CD of runic galdr-chants, and exchanging a few emails with Freya, I enrolled in her correspondence course on runes and the northern tradition, with the intention of becoming a priest of Odin myself. It’s early days yet, but a start has been made.
In her mails, Freya seemed friendly and approachable, and I knew that she lived in Scotland, so I asked her if I could come to visit her. To my delight, she responded with, ‘That would be excellent,’ and her phone number. The first time I phoned her, my girlfriend was listening to my end of the conversation. When I hung up, after about an hour, she said, ‘You’re going to have fun up there, aren’t you?’ I agreed – it seemed that Freya and I would have plenty to talk about, and I was sure visiting her would be helpful in my quest for Odinic wisdom.
However, when I mentioned to pagan friends that I was off to see Freya Aswynn, I got a variety of reactions – everyone, it seemed, had a Freya Aswynn story to tell. An old friend of mine, a member of the Fellowship of Isis who had known Freya slightly when she was living in London, simply said, ‘Bloody hell, Freya Aswynn!’ before going on to describe her as ‘full-on’, ‘powerful’ and ‘a Valkyrie’. He respected her, but wasn’t sure that going to stay at her place for several nights was such a good idea. Other people called her eccentric, crazy, unstable and ‘fond of a drink’. I was even, hilariously, warned not to let her ‘steal my manhood’! It seemed she was generally regarded with a mixture of fear and awe. Had my friends been Catholics instead of pagans, they’d have been festooning me with crucifixes and rosaries like the villagers in a Dracula film.
All this certainly chimed with the photo used on both book and CD cover, a looming head-and-shoulders shot of Freya, looking bleak and wise in barbaric jewellery and a wolf pelt. It was like the face of Patti Smith in the raiment of a Germanic Janis Joplin. But I found it hard to reconcile with the woman I’d spoken to – yes, she was raucous and outspoken, she swore a lot and had a heavy accent (she’s of Dutch extraction) but crazy? Hardly. As for the alleged eccentricity, to be honest, I’d have been disappointed in a self-professed priestess of Odin who seemed perfectly normal. I was looking forward to meeting Freya and making up my own mind. At the very least, it seemed likely that I’d end up with a Freya Aswynn story of my own.
This deluge of opinion was augmented, a couple of nights before I was due to leave, by a phone call from David Tibet of Current 93. I’d written to Michael Cashmore, mentioning that I was about to go to visit Freya Aswynn, and he’d passed my details on to Tibet. David was keen to know how Freya was – he hadn’t spoken to her in years, but they had lived together in London at one point. As I hadn’t even met her yet, I wasn’t able to be much help, beyond passing on her email address, but I commented that a lot of people seemed to be afraid of Freya. ‘So they should be,’ David replied, ‘She’s the real thing.’
So it was with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation that, one Friday morning in mid-August, I set out on the five-and-a-half hour train journey north that would bring me within striking distance of Gladsheim, her Scottish eyrie. My manhood was, I hoped, securely tucked away…
Disappointingly, I was met at the station, not by a black stagecoach drawn by plumed horses and driven by a sinister cloaked figure, but by a red Volvo containing Lee and Brat (who were also visiting) and Freya herself. As I leant over a wire mesh fence to shout, ‘Oi, Freya!’, my Thor’s hammer pendant got caught and broke its chain, which didn’t seem like a very reassuring omen. After loudly hailing Odin over a pint in the local pub, we drove back to Gladsheim, a farmhouse dating back to 1807 which is just about as far into the middle of nowhere as it’s possible to get in these overcrowded isles. The yard in front of the house is dotted with sculptures of Nordic gods and symbols, including an ominous-looking wolf totem pole brooding over the driveway.
I’m not going to say a lot more about what happened in the next few days – partly due to lack of space, partly because it’s personal stuff relating to my Odinic training, and partly because it just wasn’t very lurid. What I will say, however, is that Freya is definitely NOT excessively ‘fond of a drink’ – in fact, she seems to have transcended most bodily needs other than fags and coffee. After all, she actually married Odin in 1993 – petty human concerns tend to be a little beneath her now. The mead I took as a gift would last her weeks, she said – she only drank it in a ritual context.
We had several conversations about Current 93, Odin, the northern tradition and other matters, in a cosy Aga-heated kitchen, surrounded by three cats (Suzie, Delenn and Lyta – Freya likes Babylon 5!) and a friendly old Lakeland terrier, Bonnie. I’ve made no attempt to reproduce Freya’s distinctive Frisian accent, but the parts in capitals are when she was shouting! The first part of the interview, presented here, deals mainly with music. The second part, which will be appearing in the next issue of Judas Kiss, focuses on more esoteric matters.
Let’s begin by talking about your recording history with Current 93.
Well, that was a long time ago. Dave Tibet was living in the basement of my house. It was a large commune-type thing in Tufnell Park. Dougie Pearce was there too, and Ian Read stayed there for considerable periods. At one time, there was an Icelander there, Hilmar Hilmarsson [aka HÖH, who appears on several C93 recordings], and I was very interested in what he knew. He was the first Asatru priest I’d met. So I started showing off by chanting runes, in the same manner as I was trained to chant the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. I have a good voice, it’s a gift from Odin. I chanted runes, and Hilmar looked at Tibet and said, ‘You should record this.’ So we went up the recording studio and laid down the track. It was basically friendly pissing about. The track ‘North’ more or less rolled off my tongue, and Dougie Pearce immediately picked up on the tune and did the music. Then Tibet had some tracks on which I did the backing vocals for Rosie MacDowall, then I did a curse and a blessing and Ian Read did one as well, and all this turned into Swastikas for Noddy.
I believe you were recently contacted by David Tibet?
I had an email, but I haven’t replied yet. He asked me how I’m and what I’m doing, so I’m going to answer it properly. He’ll get an email telling him what I’ve been doing for the last several years. I wandered onto the Nurse With Wound website once, because I was looking for Tibet, but I never managed to find him. He’s always been a bloody good friend to me. I was once involved in a serious war in the Enclave with a manipulative woman who wound everyone around her finger, including my partner Lionel. The only person who could see through her and was rock solid behind me was Tibet, and that is something I don’t forget.
Here’s a story about Tibet – we took him as a real radical anarchist Satanist, not on the evil side, but you know, that was the image we were working on, we were all wearing black and some of us wore certain symbols. I have been known to wear this beauty [indicating large Othala rune belt buckle]! But one day, Tibet had his mother visiting – a very nice, but obviously very middle-class, good-looking woman. Nothing wrong with her. She actually saved the sausages! I remember her grabbing this pot of sausages which was burning. Anyway, we were sitting around the table and Robert was talking in his usual way, effing and blinding constantly, and Tibet was most outraged, because Robert swore in front of his mum! Me and Lionel looked at each other – you know, Thelema, ‘Do What Thou Wilt’, and the 666 stuff and all the interesting decorations and radical pamphlets in his room, and he was upset because Robert swore in front of his mother! But I don’t want to piss people off – Tibet matters. He was a good friend.
I think he’s put all that Satanic stuff behind him now.
He was never an evil person. He was always helpful and nice. Satanic stuff in itself is not necessarily evil. Revolutionary, yes, but not evil. I’ve never heard of so-called Satanists going around hurting people for no reason.
What about work with other musicians?
The only other people I worked with were Patrick O’Kill and Wayne Owens.
Didn’t you appear on some Fire and Ice stuff?
Oh yeah, ‘Seeker’, one track on Hollow Ways.
You were telling me about a concert that you did with Boyd Rice and Douglas P.
I didn’t do a lot. At that time there were various gigs and I was often asked to open and close them, usually with a fucking good curse directed against whoever was in government! But that gig was disrupted by a bomb scare. It might cause problems for people if I mentioned details. Everything’s so politically correct now, and that was certainly not a left-wing gig.
What about the Fruits of Yggdrasil album?
Oh, that was the masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned. Patrick O’Kill phoned me up because he’d heard Swastikas for Noddy, and he suggested that we did a record together. Then he moved into the Enclave. We did that record in three days. I did the vocals first, then he did the music. He tuned in to the emotional content of the tracks, especially ‘Voluspa ‘and ‘Ragnarok’, and added the music intuitively. He just sat down and did the business, and the two merged like that. Three days flat, no rehearsals, I went straight into the studio. It was a meeting of minds. The two later albums [Shades of Yggdrasil and Songs of Yggdrasil] are basically reworkings of material from Fruits…
I believe the vocal tracks were re-recorded for Shades… and then used again on Songs…?
Let’s see. I submitted this one [Songs…] to Llewellyn in about 1990, but they only released it in 1998 with the book, so Songs… was recorded prior to Shades… but released later. Shades… was done in 1993.
Who did the music on Shades…? There’s no credit on the sleeve.
Hmm, I don’t remember. Oh yeah, it was John Green, a little Satanic guy. Oh, he was lovely! He was a member of Anton La Vey’s outfit. What I remember about this boy, other than that he wore black and looked pretty much the same as everyone else in that scene, was that he had a collie-type dog called Crowley, and he had big padlocks on his fridge, because that dog could open the fridge!
What about your Cradle of Filth connection?
OK. In that group of John Green’s, there were some women. One of them – I’ve forgotten her name now, she went Christian later – had a foster daughter called Amber, who was beautiful. She was 13 when I met her. Then, ten years later, I got an email off her. She was going to marry this bloke Adrian from Cradle of Filth, and she wanted to be married by Freya Aswynn! So I went down to London and married them. I bound up their hands, and they cut themselves and swore their vows in front of a pub full of people.
This was a Wiccan handfasting?
I would say it was hybrid Wiccan/Norse. Norse symbols were used on the quarters, Norse gods were invoked, the binding of hands is obviously Wiccan, but the cutting and mixing of blood is Norse.
What about your current musical ambitions?
I would love to record some Kurt Weill songs, and I’m looking for musicians who can play the instruments for that, and I’m also looking for the lyrics of ‘Lili Marlene’, ‘Mack the Knife’ – all in German, of course. I’d like to record that and put it out alongside some new stuff I’ve acquired over the last couple of years. What else are you up to?
I do weekend workshops on basic runecraft, seidhr and galdr. I’ve got about a third of my next book written, and I’m considering how I’ll make the most money, giving it to Llewellyn or converting it to the correspondence course. I’ve got my website, where I offer rune readings and sell e-books, but they’re not my e-books, they’re Kveldulfr Gundarsson’s – Teutonic Magic, Teutonic Religion, and Wotan – The Road To Valhalla, which contains little bits and pieces about me. And there’s the new Gebo page, which has a double function. Firstly, to inform people that the original Fruits… album will be re-released in September by Ananael in Germany. There are samples for free download. Secondly, it contains a curse written years ago for the original Fruits… album. It’s for real. Anybody who downloads it and plays it is opening a wormhole in cyberspace, and certain people who have done me great harm will be affected by it.
Without naming names, could you say why this curse is being sent?
The curse was originally directed at somebody who plagiarised a large chunk of my material and published it in a magazine. So the curse is basically directed against . I’ve activated it again in the light of a current situation.
Who Dares Aswynns! – Page 2 of 2
by Simon Collins
An interview with Freya Aswynn for Judas Kiss magazine – September 6th 2002
Freya Aswynn is an erstwhile Current 93 and Patrick O’Kill collaborator, rune-mistress, author and dedicated priestess of Odin The first part of this lengthy interview with her appeared in the previous issue of Judas Kiss. It dealt largely with music, whilst this second part is more esoteric, dealing in matters of runes, Odinism and the northern tradition. I haven’t included a glossary – if you’re interested in this stuff, you’ll probably understand what Freya is saying, and if you don’t, doing a little bit of research won’t do you any harm! See the last issue for a list of interesting material and websites.
I believe you were initiated into Wicca by Alex Sanders.
Yes. I was still living in Holland. It was 1980. I got initiated in January, and then moved to Britain in March.
So where did your interest in the northern tradition and your specific interest in Odin come from?
He turned up in the craft circle! Every time we had a meeting, there was this dark hooded figure standing in the western quarter, funnily enough. The northern quarter was taken up by a big window, so you wouldn’t be able to see. I never personally saw him, but one of the coven members, Charlie, did, and he kept insisting it was Saturn and NO, YOU DIDN’T WANT TO INVITE HIM INTO THE CIRCLE! That went on for about three months, and I got this feverish feeling that there was a force pushing me towards something else and I had no idea what it was, absolutely none. Then I had a dream. I dreamed that I was seeing a psychiatrist, middle-aged, distinguished with grey hair and gold-rimmed glasses, and he gave me a big golden key. We did a bit of dream analysis in the coven, if somebody had a spectacular experience we would offer our opinions, and Charlie’s opinion was that the key should be used to open up something, but I still had no idea what it was. Now of course, I know that this was the key to the Norse mysteries, because I had to open the northern portal. Eventually, the penny just dropped – I knew it was not Saturn, it was Woden.
So after you’d come to this realisation, what steps did you take?
Well, I had this ring made [a valknot design]. I cut my hand, stuck the ring in the blood, swore the heaviest oath of allegiance I could think of and that’s it. This was on the 21 March 1983. However, at that time I wasn’t celibate. Lionel was still around. Six weeks before Lionel died, I took my vows, and Lionel witnessed it.
What does it mean to be a dedicated priestess for a specific god within a larger polytheistic system? There are many other Norse gods and goddesses, but you have a special interest in one.
Well, I’m a Scorpio! It’s probably more to do with my psychology. I can only fix and focus on one thing at a time – I have ONE god or ONE man or ONE dog – that is just my personal psychology, it’s no better or worse than any other way of relating to the Gods.
When did you first make contact with Ásatrú organisations?
1993. Well, there was the Odinic Rite before that, but that wasn’t a very mystical organisation. They’re not bad, and they’re certainly not what some people claim, but they’re not occultists. I had no use for them, and they had no use for me.
In 1993, you joined the Ring of Troth.
Yes. They had a lot of people who came out of Wicca, and they had occult knowledge.
I’d like to read you two quotations from different women writing about Odin, and ask you for your reactions as a female Odinist. There seem to be quite a few women who have a personal attachment to Odin – obviously, you’re the best-known example of this, but there are others.
This is from ‘Oin: Misogynist or Bastard?’ by Sapphire Runesinger
[Freya comments, ‘Nice one! I agree with the bastard bit’]:
There is no reason for a woman to be a friend of Odin. Indeed, I can name many reasons for her to have as little as possible [to do] with the Allfather! Odin is the original male chauvinist pig. He’s unfaithful to His wife, Frigga. He treats His many mistresses and dalliances no better [Freya comments, ‘Well, I’ve got no complaints’]; He says outright in Havamal that He lies when he flatters them. He also claims that women are fickle, deceitful and not to be trusted [Freya comments, ‘True’]. Odin seduces and abandons Gunnlod to win the mead of poetry and boasts about it later. Rinda is raped outright. He forces the Völva [in ‘Völuspá’] to reveal her prophecy to Him. He has no feminine qualities; He is not a god I would call on lightly.
The other quotation is from ‘About Woden’ by Odindis:
It is said that Woden relates to His female devotees quite differently than He does to His male ones. I believe this is generally true. Women, it seems, know a kinder face of the God. Unlike Odin’s male Chosen, who often bond to Him through oath and the challenge of combat a woman’s bond to Him is more often at the level of the heart. Women will not speak of him so often as a War God, but as the Lord of Ecstasy and Wisdom.
OK, Odin, misogynist or bastard? He’s not a misogynist, but he definitely is a bastard all right! He’s a bastard to everyone. He is the great initiator. If you’re raising your consciousness within the northern tradition, you have to go through Odin. Odin’s not two-faced. He’s cryptic – you’ve got to watch the small print, but he never actually breaks an oath. He’s accused of oath-breaking, but it’s not true, when you analyse the myths. The stories about Odin’s fickleness and untrustworthiness regarding women ultimately derive from the pens or quills of men, and they projected their own shite right onto Odin! I think Odin has a very bad press in the mythology and in the sagas. These men who were Odin worshippers probably treated their women like shite and projected that onto Odin.
Isn’t it true though that in Norse culture, women had a relatively elevated status, and that under heathenism, women had more rights, legally and in marriage, than they did after the conversion to Christianity?
Absolutely, they had, but we’re talking about the perception of Odin based on 10th century myths written down in the 11th or 12th century by men with political agendas.
Christian men at that?
Well, Snorri was, but there was another guy, Saemunder, who was sympathetic to magic, he went to Paris and studied black magic, so he’s one of the originators of these tales. Don’t forget, Snorri collected this stuff and wrote it down, but it ain’t necessarily all his work. It’s oral tradition. Whatever god or goddess you are dealing with, they are far more complex as an entity than any human mind could conceive. What you end up interacting with is a fractal of the consciousness of the god, and only that part to which you, as an individual, can resonate. So whatever anyone says about Odin is a Jungian projection. Can you really expect a cosmic intelligence of the magnitude of Odin to fit into the preconceptions of 10th or 12th century Icelanders? Of course not. They only picked up on a small frequency of Odin and invoked that, out of balance, out of context. The least you should do is invoke two complementary aspects of Odin when you’re working with him. If you only invoke Yggr or Bolverkr, yes, of course you get your arse kicked!
I find the Norse gods and goddesses engaging though, precisely because they display all kinds of human characteristics and faults – jealousy, hate, love. They’re much easier for humans to relate to than abstract, complex metaphysical constructs.
That is the gods on an archetypal level, but beyond that there’s something else. They’re not unknowable, but they are inexpressible. What I know of Odin, I could not put in words. I do work on a metaphysical, abstract level, but I went through all the other levels first. When I first came across him, I was potty about him! I was like a fucking teenager falling in love with Elvis Presley or the Rolling Stones or whatever. I had pictures everywhere, wrote his name everywhere, embroidered things, wrote little poems to him, bound them up with string and hung them up on an ash tree on Valentine’s Day! You work through these things, and work your way up the levels.
Your marriage to Odin seems like a very concrete, very human level of interaction, though, not abstract at all. It’s a very personal bond.
Yes, but you need that to operate on the abstract, otherwise you go fucking bonkers! It’s about balance, polarity, respecting the duality. You’ve got to sort your roots out before you can branch.
What about the Odindis quotation?
Well, it’s what I said in my book, it’s what Diana [Paxson] says, it’s what Kveldulfr [Gundarrsson] says, it’s general knowledge. I can’t argue against it, it’s correct, but not terribly original. Women relate to Odin initially on a psychological level. He will manifest to them as a compensatory component for something that’s wrong in their lives, usually male abuse. And no, I’m not the only one. I’ve got six women on my course who’ve had the same experience. Abused women often end up with Odin. He nurtures and strengthens them, and he allows you the opportunity for revenge as well, which is nice.
Is it only damaged and abused women who are attracted to Odin?
No, not only, but these are the women who are probably attracted a) to Odin and b) to me. That’s why they join my course. That’s why they talk to me. There are other prominent Odinists, but women open up to me because they recognise something in me.
Is Odin a father substitute to these women?
To one of my students, he’s positively a granddaddy, old and grey, to another he’s a good-looking bugger somewhere in his late thirties. He can manifest in any number of ways. If we invoke Odin, we build up an image of him, which we shape as a vessel for his consciousness to pour in and communicate through that.
Does Odin generally appear as twinkly-eyed and benevolent, but with a shadow side?
The darker side is not Odin the killer, the berserker, the psycho, he’s the shaman who introduces you to the darker side of life and consciousness, the stern teacher who will give NOT ONE INCH if you’ve got to take this test. How do men relate to Odin?
Mostly very superficially, as the god of war and battle. There are some men, however, who relate to him from the aspect of poetry and magic, and they are different.
Are some of the men who are attracted to Odin in this way damaged like the women you mentioned?
Not in the same way. If they’re damaged, it’s generally not in the way that women are damaged by men. They’re damaged by a social structure which largely denies them the right to BE A MAN!
But Odin attracts outsiders of one sort or another?
Odin attracts social misfits, yes, absolutely.
How does that fit with the historical evidence that Odin was the patron of Norse kings?
That’s a slice in the timeline dating from medieval Norway. In Holland and Germany, he was better known as the Wild Hunter, the shaman, the old man of the woods – more shamanic and outside the social parameters. When Snorri wrote down the Eddas though, he fitted the Norse pantheon on top of the Greek one, where Zeus was king of the gods. Of course, this doesn’t work, as you find out once you start working with the buggers.
Other commentators equated Odin with Mercury and with Mars.
Yes, that is the Interpretatio Romana, which is at least a thousand years older than Snorri. You’re talking about different people at different times and places having different perceptions coloured by their environment and their economic, cultural and political situation.
Odin is the patron of kings, god of battle, god of storms, god of ecstasy, god of magic, god of the runes and so on. What’s the common thread?
Ultimately, he’s the god of death. Everything else derives from that. The king decides who lives and dies. Warriors win and lose. Magic – travelling through the realm of the dead, going through death-like initiatory experiences. When you strip off all the trimmings, what you’re left with is a hunter of souls – lord of the dead.
Like the Voodoo god Baron Samedi?
No, not Baron Samedi – Papa Guede. Baron Samedi is total, utter evil, but Papa Guede is the god of death. He wears a hat and a pair of glasses with one lens blacked out, so you’ve got the one-eyed, dual face bit like Odin. Hella has it as well. All the gods who have this half-face walk between the realms.
What about the different futharks? I believe you work exclusively with the Elder Futhark.
It’s horses for courses, mate. I’m Dutch, Germanic, so I work with the Elder Futhark for zillions of occult reasons – numerology and various energies linking in with the figures 3, 8, 9, 12 and 24. If you were Anglo-Saxon, you’d probably be attracted to the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and Scandinavians work with the Younger Futhark. They’ve all got a place, they’ve all got a value, but the futhark is only as good as the practitioner using it.
Very little esoteric work has been done on the Anglo-Saxon runes.
The best people for any kind of Anglo-Saxon stuff would probably be Theod magazine. In their groups, they also go back to the Anglo-Saxon magical and social structure, so I presume they work with Anglo-Saxon runes more than any other.
Tell me about seidhr.
I was introduced to seidhr by Diana Paxson and now I train people in seidhr, but my personal discipline is galdr. I don’t sit in the high seat myself. There’s no point. If I train twenty people and then do a public session, everybody wants their questions answered by Freya Aswynn. The truth is that certain people are a bloody sight better as trance mediums than I ever will be, so they go up and I don’t. What’s the point in training these people, and then going up on the high seat, queening it up and preventing others from practising their skills? I have psychic ability, but it’s different. Other people go into trance and they go to Hella’s realm or wherever, they convey messages from one plane to another. What I do is like a mind-merge with Odin. It’s not voices, it’s not visions, it’s telepathy. Odin downloads thoughts and knowledge in my mind, which I then transcribe in English on the keyboard and email off to my students. He doesn’t actually yabber in my ear dictating. When I answer my students online, I stick a floppy hat on, put my paws on the keyboard and there I go!
Do you draw a distinction between channelled work and stuff that you write yourself, as Aleister Crowley did?
I’m not able to make the distinction any more. I consider it all Odin-given. The way Leaves of Yggdrasil was written was peculiar. I was doing workshops, and my friend M. J . Whitehead transcribed what came through during these sessions. We had tape recorders and computers, and every time I did a workshop, there was a load of new knowledge about runes, about systems, about cosmology, gods and goddesses, and it all got slapped down by her and then tidied up on the computer, and that formed the basis of the book. Nowadays, I would say it was channelling, but I had never heard of channelling. I only knew about trance mediumship, because I had been a spiritualist, so I’d seen that and that wasn’t what I was doing. I was just talking and a lot of stuff was coming through me. But looking back on it, it was channelling.
In Leaves of Yggdrasil, or Northern Mysteries and Magick as the current edition is called, there are ideas which are a synthesis of for instance astrology and the runic systems. You’re taking stuff from different systems and combining it. How would you distinguish that from some of the less reputable New Age books on runes which contain unreliable information?
I don’t know. People can make that distinction for themselves. In my book, I compare and integrate very limited ideas. Like the Nine Worlds diagram is obviously related to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, you can see it. But it’s still Norse. It deals with nine worlds, 24 runes…it’s only the matrix of the Kabbalah, the shape of it, and I think it stands to reason that if you have a system where you have a tree and you have nine or ten worlds, you will end up with a similar diagram. So I’m not kabbalising the runes, but I’m adopting the underlying framework, without compromising the integrity of the Norse material.
Are you left-wing or right-wing?
I change every couple of years, because I’m somewhere in the middle. I believe in conservation. I like to conserve animal species, plant species, tree species and yes, I want to conserve my own species – Nordic people. I guess that makes me extreme right wing, huh?
Cultural conservatism doesn’t have to imply political conservatism, does it?
No, well then you can say that culturally I’m conservative, politically, I’m too anarchistic to really tie my banner to any political mast.
You were saying something earlier about how the different groups in heathenism see you differently – the left-wing ones think you’re right-wing, and the right-wing ones think you’re left-wing.
Exactly. Lovely. Suits me. I’m not answerable to any of them. I only answer to ODIN!
Do you have any suggestions for readers who may be new to all this as to how to take the first steps along the path of Odinism?
I don’t know. What do you expect me to do – promote my own stuff? I found my own way. When I started there was nothing. I worked for a couple of years in isolation. So – how to start? The first thing you do is simply read the myths. Then read the better rune books – which is me, Edred Thorsson and Kveldulf Gundarsson, Nigel Pennick and Jan Fries.That’s about it.
What about practical exercises?
The best way to immediately make a gut instinct contact with the runes is to make them. Cut yourself a piece of wood, chant the runes or play my CD, whatever, carve them, blood them, sand them, varnish them. The act of making them will…LOG them firmly into your subconscious as symbols.
There’s no substitute for making your own?
Well, you can buy them. I’ve got students with arthritis who can’t make them, and there’s Bob at Runemaker [www.runemaker.com]. If you’re going to have runes made by somebody else, you’ve got to be very selective, because that other person’s hamingja and energy will be contained in the wood, so you go for somebody who is honest, pure and idealistic towards Ásatrú, which is Bob!
You were saying earlier that you were the right hand of Odin and Edred Thorsson was his left hand.
Well, that was more or less tongue-in-cheek. What I mean is that on an esoteric level, not on an academic level, it seems that Edred Thorsson and me are the same kind of opposition as, shall we say, Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley. [Thorsson] is perceived as promoting the so-called ‘dark’ current, but what most people don’t realise is that in this case, ‘dark’ merely means the unknown and the unacceptable, the shadow side.
Thorsson still holds office in Michael Aquino’s Temple of Set, I believe.
I don’t know whether he still does, but like me, he’s probably using that as a magical framework to underpin Odinic mysteries, because there isn’t one. I’m strip-mining Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley’s works to provide a basic magical framework for the Norse stuff.
Is that what you call Esoteric Ásatrú?
Well yes, because the methods I employ are largely derived from other esoteric disciplines. It’s totally magical work. People ask me if I’m Ásatrú or Norse Wicca, but I’m basically a Norse occultist. My course is delineating a proper magical system. Every magical school has a system that you work through. Now, Ásatrú hasn’t got that, so what I’m doing is constructing one. It’s going excellently, I’ve got about 50 people on the course, about ten are submitting regular work, and the course is inner plane-contacted. My students come back with the same imagery, the same experiences. These people are living all over the United States. There are two Brits, one of which is you.
What about the future of Ásatrú in general?
It’s here to stay, that’s obvious. As time goes on, groups will come and go, people will move to the right or to the left, but a lot of people will just stay with the religious aspect, the blots, the sumbels, the social interaction. Some people will go further than that, into magic and mysticism, opening paths of communication to the gods themselves. These are the people I’m training on the course. I don’t know how Ásatrú will develop. It’s always been a religion of individuals banding together for a specific purpose at a specific time. It’s not highly organised. There’s no common dogma or political beliefs binding all Ásatrúar. They’re all very divergent, which is good, because it’s more creative and it leaves room for evolution and mutation.