An overview of the historical development, a evaluation of the present and an exploration of a probable future. This is entirely my interpretation, realisations and speculation.
Modern Odinism is much more than a Viking Age religion it’s roots stretch back into the Germanic UR Zeit.
Lets look at Odin as we known him today courtesy of Snorri Sturluson. Lets first examine his origins. Odin or more properly Wotan started out as a minor demon named Wode. He was first perceived as Death, the fury of the North wind reaping the souls of the dead by their last breath.
Some one human named a until then an unknown force and gave it an identity and somehow a contract was established by naming that what was un named before a mutual beneficent relationship emerged, as people grew in understanding so did the god in making, from a virtual subconscious natural force Wode to Wuotan the fully realised God, with a will of his own! And still a god of Death although with many more aspects heities, personas and a large clan of kinfolk.
The dark hidden force of Death is still a prominent mystery, in the occult sense. Somehow The Lord of Death became also the father of All: Allfather, Are we looking at a process, an evolution of both gods and men a mutual co creating. Perhaps at earlier times people were more open to the ‘other realms’ especially in a pre literate tribe, as such the ancestral gods would still be actively interacting with their descendants, inspiring myths and poetry in order to become known and remembered and it is through memory the gods maintain their existence in Midgard. We are the sum of our memories, perhaps this is true for the gods as well.We are our memories so are the gods . When we give service through blot or symble we access our memories of the gods and this is what empowers them the mental focus even more so than the actual physical carriers, like meat or mead.
We empower our gods, by keeping them in our memory by constantly reminding each other about them Sharing Poetry Ritual discussions arguments its all grist for the mill.
A similar process no doubt gave birth to other gods. As time went on a collective development took place. Stories and poems were told remembered and so gradually a body of lore developed
If we consider for one moment the origin of the gods; they are Ultimatly derived from human interpretations given names and myths of which some are actual living people with some outstanding achievement becoming identified with a god, and so the gods beget gods:-)
One of Odin’s heities is Grimnir or hooded one. Masked in other words. I equate him with the Hidden God. Whereas Thor is a god of the Folk and Tyr as well in his Law speaking aspect as if Freyr. They are invoked at festivals and celebrations. Odin is given acknowledgement of course.
Odin is the god if individual attainment, not a social god.
I see all the gods are evolutionary forces directing the development of consciousness in the Folk soul as described by Rudolph Steiner. Suitable individuals are selected out by certain gods who which for their own reasons to assist the individual on its Path. This takes the form of Initiations usually through a lot of shite in life.
So like other organic religion the gods are grown out of the people’s collective understanding and interpreting the surrounding natural and supernatural forces.
Every thing was conceived as having an innate identity or spirit, which with communication was sought. Communication affords knowledge and understanding and application of that what was learned. Hostile natural forces were deemed to be giants. As ones understanding grew out of this chaos became order and the giants became gods. At this point the primordial Wode became Wotan, a progression from being Wut or Wode to the Master of Wut or Wode. From a gust of wind taking the soul at the last breath to the Leader of the Host, of the Wilde Jäger, wild hunter.
The most sophisticated lore about Wotan by the undergone various linguistic mutants into Odin was collected in Iceland.
Here Odin is the Ruler of Asgard and commander in chief to all. From an anarchic
spirit of Death to a Zeus type monarch in a hierarchal pantheon.
This refect the values from the Viking Society. Especially from am aristocratic and royal perspective. Somehow the Free Spirit of the primordial woods become a head of state.
And although most lore of Odin was preserved by the Icelanders mostly Snorri Sturluson, Odin by then had taken the prominent position in the pantheon as Ruler of Asgard there were also the folk tales of continental Germania.
Tales about the wild Hunter by that time conveniently demoted to ‘the Devil’, but be it sinner or saint the Old Grimnir went in hiding and reemerged as Odin the Alfather in the Norse version or branch of the Tradition.
The metaphor of branches is a an appropriate one given that the central Mystery of consciousness, Death, transcendence, and the Runes are in essence Odin and Yggdrasil. May we also mention that humans were perceived as Trees Ask and Embla.
Odin’s long journey from primordial spark of spirit of death to the Initiated and therefore initiator is a template for human endeavour.
Asgard is a realm of the Aesir including some of the Vanir. Asgard is the realm of order, of reason and progress, the realm of Mind. Utgard is its opposite number a realm of chaos inhabited by Jotuns primal elemental forces of Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The same forces are under conscious control or at least management, (for who really can control nature). There are nine worlds altogether inhabited by a variety of beings.
A fascinating worldview or cosmological view was by then developed by the Nordics.
Odin here is a Lord of Order. As it said in Grimnismal, “once I was Yggr now I am Odin.
This I interpret as a progression from Wode or Yggr to “Odin “. May I suggest that this happened over a to us lengthy timespan and how, I think it’s through the worship and sacrifices given by humans, by a feedback loop. As humans interact with the gods they grow in understanding about the god and feed this back and so the god grows as well.
Apart from fairy tales folklore the Odinic Religion came to a full stop on the continent.
Some of it made it to England via the Anglo Saxons and later the Vikings. They soon turned Christian and the only place left was Iceland, they preserved their lore to the present day.
The interest in the Germanic Mysteries resurged at the end of the nineteenth century in Germany and Sweden. In Germany this involved proto nazi occultism leading to the Nazi Era. Books on Runes and pseudo Aryan mysticism were published and Magickal Orders were established.
The first modern attempt at revival of ancient Germanic religion took place in the 19th century during the late Romantic Period amidst a general resurgence of interest in traditional Germanic culture, in particular in connection with romantic nationalism in Scandinavia and the related Viking revival in Victorian era Britain—the latter having associations with earlier Romanticism. Germanic mysticism is an occultist current loosely inspired by “Germanic” topics, notably runes, which has its beginnings in the early 20th century (Guido von List’s “Armanism”, Karl Maria Wiligut’s “Irminism” etc.)
Organized Germanic pagan or occult groups such as the Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft emerged in Germany in the early 20th century. The connections of this movement to historical Germanic paganism are tenuous at best, with emphasis lying on the esoteric as taught by the likes of Julius Evola, Guido von List and Karl
In the 1930s Odinism became an established faith in Australia, led by such people as Rud Mills, Evelyn Price and Annie Lennon.
Second revival, 1960s to present.
Another revival, this time based on folklore and historical research rather than on mysticist speculation, took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In Iceland, Ásatrúarfélagið, led by farmer Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, was recognized as a religious organization by the Icelandic government in 1973. In the United States, around the same period, Else Christensen began publishing “The Odinist” newsletter and Stephen McNallen began publishing a newsletter titled The Runestone. McNallen formed an organization called the Asatru Free Assembly, which was later renamed the Ásatrú Folk Assembly (AFA). The AFA fractured in 1987-88, resulting in the creation of the Ásatrú Alliance, headed by Valgard Murray, publisher of the “Vor Tru” newsletter. Around the same time, the Ring of Troth (now simply The Troth) was founded by other former members of the AFA.
In the 80s and 90s a lot of fantasy and science fiction literature came out featuring Odin or Wotan in overtly or covertly. Films television series like Babylon 5 / G’Kar for instance. And have you noticed in certain films the rogue or villain often has an eyepatch.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan also have Odin amongst others appearing in human form and of course the Master himself Tolkien where Gandalf was clearly based on Woden the wizard. And there are the Germanic Fiction books like Rhinegold by Stephan Grundy doubling up as Kveldulfr Gundarsson writing more esoteric and Magickal books such as etc etc
I think the future will expand Odin’s horizon even more as he haunts the minds of artist and writers an will be more and more being recognised as the Initiatic impulse of the Folk Soul. Through the runes and their workings with Wyrd.
Did Odin receive the Runes when he hang on the Tree, from where did he obtained them.
Runes originate from Ginnugagab, go through 3 stages before reaching humans. Pure streams of energy or power which Odin captured Odin who receives them, Heimdallr who teaches them to the first human, his descendant Kon. Runes are therefore greater mysteries of which the letters are but a 2 dimensional representation and a Key.
So when Odin hung on Yggdrasil for nine days he travelled into Ginnugagab the realm of pre manifestation and brought back the Runes. The nine days and nights could be a reference to an actual ordeal working or vision quest by a human avatar for Odin or it may be a magical poetic metaphor for Odin Himself as a Spirit being, not human being suspended in Space or the astral plane of Space interacting withe other realm or non realm to bring back the ‘Runes’ , or Both.
He connects with another realm or another universe or perhaps a shadow universe and transcends death and access timelessness where all is known past present and future all in simultaneous playing out. This knowledge has come down to us in the form of ‘Runes’.