The Raven Kindred Ritual Book
By Lewis Stead and The Raven Kindreds,
Northern & Southern Hearths
The Raven Kindred Ritual Book is Copyright(c)1991,1992,1993 by Lewis
Stead, All Rights Reserved. Copies of this book are
the Raven Kindred; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175 at a cost of
or may be downloaded free of charge from the Moonrise BBS at (301)
593-9609 or obtained by sending e-mail to email@example.com.
Non-commercial free of charge electronic distribution of this
is permitted provided that the document remains whole and contains
above copyright statement.
Less than a thousand years ago the elders of Iceland made a fateful
decision. Under political pressure from Christian Europe and
with the need for trade, the Allthing or national assembly declared
Iceland to be an officially Christian country. Within a few
the last remnants of Nordic Paganism, which once stretched through
of Northern Europe were thought dead. However, Iceland was a
country and the myths, stories, and legends of Pagan times were left
unburnt to kindle the fires of belief in later generations. In
Iceland once again recognized Nordic Paganism as a legitimate and
Iceland and Sweden were the last two bastions of the Pagan religion
originally practiced by the people of the various Germanic tribes.
Today Nordic Paganism also known as Odinism, Heathenism, Northern
Tradition, or Asatru (an Old-Norse term meaning .loyalty to the
is practiced in virtually all the countries where it originally
flourished as well as America and Australia. It is one of a
religions calling themselves Neo-Paganism which include Druidism,
revival of ancient Celtic Paganism, and Wicca or Witchcraft.
Asatru remains largely unknown even within the community of
This book is intended as a basic manual to the beliefs and practices
of the Raven Kindred of Asatru. We do not pretend to be
won.t act as if we were. Rather we are simply believers in the
Gods seeking to share our practice and research with others who are
true to the Aesir. Our aim is to present a simple guide which
allow easy understanding of the principles behind Asatru and to give
hints for further study and exploration.
While we attempt to be historically accurate to our religion's
it.s important to note that there are many things that we simply
know or which aren.t written in stone. While we occasionally
flesh out our systems where we don.t have direct evidence of our
ancestors ways, we are not likely to simply make up things. It
very important to us to stay as true to the ways of the old Pagans
is possible. In those places where the various myths, legends,
folklore are not clear we have tried to indicate this. We do
present our way as the .true. Asatru, but we do feel that all Asatru
should be solidly connected to its roots in ancient Norse practice.
Where we do not know the certain answer to a quesation, there is
for exploration, but not for simply making something up out of whole
cloth. While inspiration from the Gods is an important part of
movement, this is not make believe and any additions to the
system should be made with respect to our ancient roots.
The most important thing for modern people to remember about Asatru
that it is a religion. It is not a system of magick or
or .New Age Practice. which can be grafted onto something else or
which other .systems. can be grafted wholesale. Asatru is a
derived from .As. a God of the Aesir family and .tru. meaning troth.
To be Asatru is to be bound by loyalty and troth to the Old Gods of
the North. While we may believe in the deities of other
peoples, and even respect them, these are not our Gods. While
take part in rituals dedicated to other Gods at ecumenical Pagan
festivals or gatherings which encompass many other religions, we
not forget that Asatru is our religion and our primary concern.
simply does not collect membership in Asatru (or any other religion)
as if one were collecting stamps. Our Gods are real and worthy
Today many people .practice. a number of different religions feeling
that this is the best way to avoid intolerance, we have a completely
different view of the world. Asatru is not a universal
do not see ourselves as a path for everyone. We are true
and see the world as encompassing many religions which worship many
Gods. While we do not deny the beliefs of others, we also do
confuse them with our own. The idea that .it is all one. is
to the true Heathen. To claim that Odin is the same God as
madness. Would one claim that green and red are the same
because they are both colors? If one disagrees with this perspective
or finds it limiting so be it. Our belief is also that Asatru
a path for everyone and it is better to find ones own way rather
bend the religions of others to fit ourselves.
In accordance with this non-universalist conception, as much as we
have been able to, we have not adopted the practices of other Pagan
religions or magickal systems. Those familiar with Wicca will
that most modern Neo-Pagan systems are derived from it. This
the case with Asatru. Our religion began with reconstruction
written sources dating from the Pagan period. This has been
by 20 years of innovation and practice within the Heathen community.
While we make no pretensions that this has resulted in a system that
is identical with that of our spiritual ancestors, it is at least a
system that is our own.
In saying this I would reiterate that we do not put down any
for it.s beliefs. We merely ask for the integrity of our own.
not rejecting other systems because they are wrong or because we
ill of them, we are rather choosing Asatru because of our love and
devotion to it.
The Rituals of Asatru
The Blot is the most common ritual within Asatru. In its
form a blot is making a sacrifice to the Gods. In the old days
was done by feasting on an animal consecrated to the Gods and then
slaughtered. As we are no longer farmers and our needs are
today, the most common blot is an offering of mead or other
beverage to the deities.
Many modern folk will be suspicious of a ritual such as this.
which are deemed sacrifices, such as the blot, have been falsely
interpreted by post-Pagan sources in order to denigrate the ritual
trivialize them. The most common myth about ritual sacrifice
one is buying off a deity e.g. one throws a virgin into the
so it won.t erupt. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Asatru it is believed that we are not only the worshippers of the
but that we are physically related to them. The Eddas tell of
Rig, who went to various farmsteads and fathered the human race so
are physically kin to the Gods. On a more esoteric level,
is gifted with .ond. or the gift of ecstasy. Ond is a force
of the Gods. It is everything that makes humans different from
other creatures of the world. As creatures with this gift, we
immediately connected to the Gods, we are part of their tribe, their
kin. Thus we are not simply buying off the Gods by offering
something that they want, but we are sharing with the Gods something
that we all take joy in. Sharing and gift giving was an
part of most ancient cultures and had magical significance.
gift was a sign of friendship, kinship, and connection. By
blot with the Gods we reaffirm our connection to them and thus
reawaken their powers within us and their watchfulness over our
A blot can be a simple affair where a horn of mead is consecrated to
the Gods and then poured as a libation, or it can be a part of a
larger ritual. A good comparison is the Catholic Mass which
part of a regular service or special event such as a wedding or
funeral, or it may be done as a purely magical-religious practice
without any sermon, hymns, or other trappings.
The blot consists of three parts, the hallowing or consecrating of
offering, the sharing of the offering, and the libation. Each
these is equally important. The only tools required are mead,
juice, a horn or chalice, a sprig of evergreen used to sprinkle the
mead, and a ceremonial bowl known as a Hlautbowl into which the
initial libation will be made.
The blot begins with the consecration of the offering. The
(Priest) or Gythia (Priestess) officiating at the blot invokes the
or Goddess being honored. This is usually accomplished by a
declaration with ones arms being held above ones head in a Y shape,
imitation of the rune elhaz. This posture is used for most
invocations and prayers throughout Asatru. After the spoken
invocation an appropriate rune or other symbol of the God or Goddess
may be drawn in the air with the finger or with the staff.
God is invoked, the Gothi takes up the horn. His assistant
from the bottle into the horn. The Gothi then traces the
(an upside down T) over the horn as a blessing and holds it above
head offering it to the Gods. He then speaks a request that
or Goddess bless the offering and accept it as a sacrifice. At
least one will feel the presence of the deity; at best one will be
able to feel in some inner way the God taking of the mead and
The mead is now not only blessed with divine power but has passed
lips of the God or Goddess. The Gothi then takes a drink of
and it is passed around the gathered folk. Although it sounds
very simple thing, it can be a very powerful experience. At
point the mead is no longer simply a drink but is imbued with the
blessing and power of the God or Goddess being honored. When
drinks, one is taking that power into oneself. This is the
the rune Gebo. After the horn has made the rounds once, the
again drinks from the horn and then empties the remainder into the
hlautbowl. The Gothi then takes up the evergreen sprig and his
assistant the Hlautbowl and the Gothi sprinkles the mead around the
circle or temple or onto the altar. If there are a great
the folk gathered, one may wish to drop the drinking and merely
sprinkle the various folk with the mead as a way of sharing it.
small group one might merely drink as the blessing.
When this is done the Hlautbowl is taken by the Gothi and poured out
onto the ground. This is done as an offering not only to the
invoked at the blot, but it is also traditional to remember the
Mother at this time, since it is being poured onto her ground.
invocations mention the God, Goddess, or spirit being sacrificed to,
and then Mother Earth, as in the Sigrdrifa Prayer .Hail to the Gods
and to the Goddesses as well; Hail Earth that gives to all men..
(Sigrdrifumal 3) With this action, the blot is ended.
Obviously this is a very sparse ritual and if performed alone could
completed in only a few minutes. This is as it should be, for
are often poured not because it is a time of gathering or festivity
for the folk, but because the blot must be poured in honor or
of a God or Goddess on their holiday or some other important
For example, a father tending his sick child might pour a blot to
the Goddess of healing. Obviously he doesn.t have time to
the .trappings. of ritual. The intent is to make an offering
Goddess as quickly as possible. At some times a full
might not be made of a holiday because of a persons hectic schedule,
but at the least a blot should be made to mark the occasion.
in most cases a blot will at least be accompanied by a statement of
intent at the beginning and some sort of conclusion at the end.
might also be interspersed with or done at the conclusion of ritual
theater or magic.
One of the most common celebrations noted in tales of our ancestors
the Sumbel or ritual drinking celebration. This was a more
and social sort of ritual than the blot, but of no less importance.
When Beowulf came to Hrothgar, the first thing they did was to drink
at a ritual sumbel. This was a way of establishing Beowulf.s
and what his intent was, and doing so in a sacred and traditional
manner. At the sumbel toasts are drunk to the Gods, as well as
persons ancestors or personal heroes. Rather than a toast, a
might also offer a brag or some story, song, or poem that has
significance. The importance is that at the end of the toast,
or whatever, the person offering it drinks from the horn, and in
so .drinks in. what he spoke.
The sumbel is also an important time for the folk to get to know
other in a more intimate way than most people are willing to share.
Modern society is at two extremes. At one end are the
beings who have been robbed of their soul by modern industrial
culture. On the other side are those pathetic .sensitive
guys. who spend their lives consciously attempting to stir their
emotions and who force an unnatural level of intimacy between
themselves and others. There are some levels of emotional
which are not meant to be openly shared with strangers. Doing
reduces their meaning to the mundane. At sumbel, barriers can
lowered in a place which is sacred to the Gods and the Folk.
can be shared among companions and friends without embarrassment or
One format for the sumbel with a history in tradition is to drink
three rounds. The first is dedicated to the Gods, the second
heroes of the folk such as historical figures or heroes from the
sagas, and the third to personal ancestors, heroes, or friends which
have passed from this world.
Another theme for a sumbel is past, present, and future. This
sumbel is more of a magical ritual than one of celebration.
is to make toasts which bring up some aspect of your past, and
situation, and a third toast or brag which represents your wishes
the future. One might make a toast to the first Asatru ritual
attended as the past, a second to the companions and kindred then
gathered, and for his third toast might state that he intends to be
initiated as a Gothi in the coming year. The purpose would be
the coming event of his initiation with the two already accomplished
events of pledging Asatru and finding a kindred . two other
rites of passage. In this case initiation as a Gothi then
something which is linked to a chain of events that have already
occurred, rather than an isolated action which might occur.
magically, this moves the person towards his initiation.
A third and everpopular type of sumbel is a free-for-all where
are told, toasts are made, and bragging is done until all the
Odinists are under the table. Perhaps this is not quite so
or purposeful as the previous ideas, but it.s certainly in keeping
with the examples of our Gods and ancestors! Joy is better than
These are only ideas. The sumbel is a very open ended type of
and the framework is very simple to adapt.
One thing important to note about any Asatru ritual is that ours is
holistic religion. We do not limit our Gods or spirituality to
certain time and place. While the sacrament of the blot is
poured as part of a ceremony, the feast afterwards, singing of
songs, reciting of poetry, Morris Dancing, etc are all part of our
religion. A truly traditional celebration might begin with a
informal greeting of the dawn, involve May Dancing and .mystery
plays,. then move on to a more structured Blot, and finally to a
capped by a sumbel. On the other side of things, there.s no
why at a family feast one might not simply pour a bottle of beer or
mead as an offering without the other trappings of a blot.
Profession is one of the most important ceremonies in Asatru.
Profess one.s belief in and kinship to the Gods should be an
turning point in ones life and the beginning of a new understanding
the self. Profession is, however, a very simple and rather
ceremony. In our kindred we usually profess people after
the ritual, but before we offer the formal blot.
Profession is not an occult or initiatory ceremony. It is
less than it.s name: one professes (declares, affirms) his wish to
become one of the Asafolk. This oath is usually taken by the
Kindred-Gothi on the oath ring or some other Holy object as follows:
The Gothi stands in front of the altar and says .Will [insert name
here] please come forward.. After he or she does so .Are you here of
your own free will? Is it your intention to solemnly swear
and kinship to the Gods of Asgard, the Aesir and Vanir?. If the
to both these questions is in the affirmative the Gothi takes up the
oath ring and holds it out to the person professing and says .Repeat
after me. I swear to ever uphold the Raven Banner of Asgard,
follow the way of the North, to always act with honor and bravery,
to be ever true to the Aesir and Vanir and to Asatru. By the
so swear. By my honor I so swear. On this Holy Ring I do
Hail the Gods.. The kindred then replies .Hail the Gods!. and the
Gothi finishes .Then be welcome to the service of Asgard and the
of the Asatru..
There may be other celebrations connected to a Profession, just as
other religions hold Bar Mitzvah or Confirmation parties. When
someone joins our kindred, we hold a Sumbel of nine rounds, each
dedicated to one of the values of Asatru (see below) and toast those
values to the new kinsman.
The ancient Norse knew four major holidays the Spring and Autumn
Equinoxes which we call Summer and Winter Finding, and the two
solstices which we call Midsummer and Yule. However, there
other minor festivals and modern Asatru have added even more.
calendar of our kindred.s rituals is provided in an appendix and I
also encourage anyone to find as many as one is willing to meet for.
We meet monthly, but some groups meet 8 times a year and also
celebrate the cross-quarter days of May Day/Walpurgis,
Halloween/Samhain, February eve or The Charming of the Plow, and
Lammastide or Freyfaxi,
Most of our rituals also honor only one or a few Gods or Goddesses
any one time. However, there is no reason why the entire
should not be offered prayers and thanks at any occasion. This
be particularly appropriate at the major holidays. Unlike most
groups in the Neo-Pagan movement, we do not necessarily honor Gods
male/female pairs. The boy/girl notion is one taken from the
fertility religion of Wicca and isn.t necessarily appropriate to our
Gods, who often represent things other than fertility. So
Spring ritual held in honor of Freya and Frey as fertility deities
might wish to honor them together, there is no reason to include
in a ritual dedicated to Odin as the God of War.
Yule is the most important holiday of the year. Everyone is
with the shortness of the deep winter days, but in the Scandinavian
countries this is of even greater importance. At the Yuletide
is almost no sunlight at all, and the climate would have people
in their homes waiting for the return of Spring.
Yule is a long festival, traditionally held to be 12 days or more.
After Yule the days began to get longer and the festival represented
the breaking of the heart of winter and the beginning of the new
Yule was the holiday of either Thor or Frey, although there is no
reason not to honor both Gods in modern practice. Frey is the
fertility and farming and was honored at Yule in the hopes that his
time would soon return. Thor was the sworn enemy of the Frost
and Jotunn who ruled the winter months, and as such was honored as
God who.s actions fought off these creatures and brought back the
spring. Sunna, the Goddess of the Sun, should also be honored
Yule, although she is held at more important during the summer
when she is at her strongest.
The most important symbols of Yule are still with us today.
the supposedly secular customs of Christmas are actually Pagan in
origin. Evergreen trees and holly which remained green
long nights and cold were a promise that spring would once again
return to the land. These symbols may also have been a
the nature spirits who have sway over the return of the warm days.
The modern conception of Santa Claus as an elf, for whom offerings
milk and cookies are left, is probably a modern continuation of
leaving offerings for the Alvar and other nature spirits. The
children staying up all night in the hopes of catching a glimpse of
Santa Claus may be a remnant of people staying awake to mark the
night and remind the sun to return. (In the latter case it.s
considered an adequate substitution to leave a candle going all
to light the way for the returning sun.)
Yule is a weeks long festival, not just a single holiday. The
season begins on the solstice, which is the Mother Night of Yule,
ends with Twelfth Night on January sixth. As a point of
January seventh is St. Distaff.s day, which Nigel Pennic has
suggested may have been a day sacred to Frigg, whose symbol is the
While one might expect a rather dour theme to a holiday held in the
darkness and cold, Yule is a time of feasting and gladness.
In various places different Gods were held to be the most important
Yule. Thor was honored because it is he who fights and kills
Jotunn, who surely are the ones responsible for the loss of warmth
the world. Yule was when Thor broke the back of winter and
the warmth to slowly return to the world. Frey was also
because it was he who married Gerd and warmed her heart, returning
fertility to the world.
There are simply so many different Yule customs, both ancient and
modern, that one has almost limitless possibilities even when
within Scandanavian and Germanic customs. In modern practice
might honor Sunna on the Mother Night, then hold a blot a few days
later to Thor, a feast for New Years day which is shared with the
house and land spirits, and then finish on Twelfth Night with a
to Frey, whose time is then officially beginning.
Summer Finding is also known to many groups as Ostara, the holiday
sacred to the Goddess for whom the modern Easter is named. She
fertility Goddess and her symbols are the hare and the egg.
an important Goddess of spring to the ancient Saxons, but we know
little else of her other than this. Some have suggested that
is merely an alternate name for Frigg or Freya, but neither of these
Goddesses seem to have quite the same fertility function as Ostara
does. Frigg seems too high class to be associated with such an
festival and Freya.s form of fertility is more based on eroticism
The obvious folk tradition at this time of year involves eggs.
were colored as they are today, but then they were buried, or more
appropriately, planted in the earth. Some have suggested that
was purely magical, the fertility of the eggs would then be
transferred from the animal realm to the plant realm and would
increase the prosperity of the harvest. It.s also possible
were left as an offering to the alvar and the spirits of the plants.
In any case a blot should be prepared to the Goddess of Spring,
however one wishes to honor her, and also to the spirits of the
The summer solstice was second only to Yule in importance to the
ancient Northmen. Some groups mark this day as sacred to
we disagree with this. While Balder can be seen as a dying and
resurrected Sun God, in the mythology we are most familiar with, he
does not return to life until Ragnarok and it seems like .bad karma.
to symbolically kill the sun when you know he doesn.t come back
the end of the world. Instead, we mark this day as sacred to
Goddess Sunna, who is literally the sun.
One idea for midsummer is to remain awake all night and mark the
shortest night of the year, then at sunrise to perform a .Greeting
Sunna. and a blot to her.
Another midsummer custom is the rolling of a flaming wagon wheel
a hill to mark the turning of the wheel of the year. If fire
otherwise be a hazard, one could parade a wheel covered with candles
for similar effect. It is also a time for general merriment
the Scandinavian countries many of what we know as the traditional
Day rituals such as May Poles and Morris Dances were instead
celebrated at Midsummer.
I have not come across a great deal of traditional lore about the
Autumn Equinox which we know as Winter Finding. It seems to
overshadowed to some extent by the Winter Nights which we celebrate
the equinox rather than at the more traditional time of
If one wishes not to do this, the Winter Finding would be a festival
of harvest. One should hold a Blot to whichever Gods of
seem most appropriate and then hold a large feast, concerntrating on
vegetables that are currently in season.
The Winter Nights are the traditional festival honoring the Disir or
family spirits. It is a time to remember your family, the
your ancestors. (For more information on the Disir see the
.Elves and other Spirits..)
A Freyablot may be performed at this time as Freya is known as the
Vanadis (i.e. the Dis of the Vanir) or the Great Dis, and she
to be the Goddess of the Disir themselves. This is probably
to Freya.s position as recipient of half the battle-slain. One
also simply want to honor the Disir as a whole, or attempt to summon
and pour offering to your own family.s Dis. A sumbel which
ones ancestors and passed on friends would also be in order.
feast is held, it should be quiet and respectful of the character of
the season. Another idea is a silent .mum feast,. a custom
found the world over.
The various Halloween customs such as dressing in costume or
celebrating this time as a time where the worlds of the living and
dead connect are more Celtic in origin than Nordic and probably
not be part of an Asatru celebration.
The Gods of Asgard
The Old Norse reckoned that there were three races of Gods: the
the Vanir, and the Jotunn. The Aesir are those beings most
referred to in the ancient literature simply as .the Gods.. They are
the Gods of society, representing things such as Kingship, Craft,
The Vanir are more closely connected to the earth and represent the
fecundity of the land and the natural forces which help mankind.
there was a great war between the Aesir and the Vanir, but this was
eventually settled and Frey, Freya, and Njord came to live with the
Aesir to seal the peace. The Jotunn are a third race of Gods
constant war with the Aesir, but there is and never will be peace in
this battle. The Jotunn are never called Gods, but rather
as giants. They represent the natural forces of chaos and
as the Aesir represent forces of order and society. Just as
ice mix to form the world, this creative interaction of chaos and
order maintains the balance of the world. In the end the two
will meet in the great battle of Ragnarok and the world will be
destroyed, only to be reborn.
The Norse Gods were not held to be all powerful or immortal.
youth was maintained very precariously by the magickal apples of the
Goddess Idunna. More importantly at the end of the world a
number of the Gods will die in battle. The Northern view of
was a practical one with little assurance for the future and little
perfection and the Gods are no exception.
The Gods in the Temple: Odin, Thor, and Frey
The three most important Gods were held to be Odin, Thor, and Frey.
These were the deities whose statutes stood at the altar of the
at Upsalla. They are considered the most important because of
they represent. Mythologer Georges Dumezil has linked these
deities with the three classes of Indo-European culture: the Kings,
the Warriors, and the Farmers. Although the fit is not an
it is probably true that these three deities most concretely
symbolized the various aspects of life and culture and most people
would have found a God who represented their life-experience in one
these three deities.
Odin is the Allfather, remembered today best as a God of war and of
the berserk rage of the Vikings. However, he has other aspects
are just as strong or stronger. In the Eddas, he is the King
Gods, but this is a position which most of the Germanic peoples
attributed to Tyr. It.s likely that Odin only became King
Viking Age. Being the Allfather, his original position of
was probably familial rather than legislative. Most
importantly he is
a God of transcendent wisdom and in relation to that a God of
He is the God of the Runes, the magical alphabet which holds the
mysteries of the universe within it. In most of the non-Viking
countries, Odin.s warrior aspect was played down. In England,
he is known as Woden, he is a gray cloaked wanderer (the inspiration
for Tolkien.s Gandalf) who travels the country, usually alone,
surveying his land. Here again we see him in the position of a
figure, a warder of the land but not necessarily a King. Odin
a God of the dead. Half of the slain in battles go to him to
for the Ragnarok. (The remaining half go to Freya.) He also
associations with the dead as a practitioner of Seidhr, a form of
shamanic magick which he learned from Freya and used on various
occasions to travel to Hel and seek the knowledge of those who have
passed from this world. It.s difficult to classify Odin simply
because he was such a popular God during the last stages of Norse
Paganism and thus absorbed many traits of other Gods.
Thor is probably the best known of the Norse Gods. He is a
God, the patron of farmers and other folk who are .wise, but not too
wise. as the Eddas advise us to be. Thor is best known for
the world in search of adventure; usually found in the form of
or other monsters to kill. He possesses tremendous strength
hammer Mjolnir, which was made for him by the Dwarfs. Mjolnir
considered to be the Gods greatest treasure because it is sure
protection from the forces of chaos. Using Mjolnir, Thor is a
figure, but he is less a professional warrior than a common man
upon to defend his land. He loves battle not for itself as do
berserkers of Odin, nor does he have a strong code of honor such as
that of Tyr.in fact he chronically breaks with honor and kills
whether they have the protection of .hospitality. or not. Thor
associated with thunder, and is also the God of rain and storms, but
it.s important to note that he is not the God of destructive storms.
Thor is nature as a benefit to man. The Jotunn are held to be
source of the destruction found in nature. Thor was the God of
.everyman.. He was simple in purpose, strong, and free. He was
beloved of the freemen farmers who populated the Germanic lands.
Frey is a God of peace and fertility. If Thor is the God of
farmer, then Frey is the God of the crops themselves. His
the priapus and his blessings were sought at planting and other
important agricultural festivals. The word .frey. means .Lord.
it.s unsure if this is the Gods name or his title. He is also
as Ing. We do not known a great deal more about Frey as few
have survived which give us any insight into his character. As
as he is a God of fertility, he is also a God of peace and Ing was
said to have brought a Golden Age of peace and prosperity to old
Denmark. Horses are held to be sacred to Frey, probably
In general we know much less about how our ancestors worshipped the
Goddesses than the Gods. Later Norse culture was very bound up
the vikings and it is likely that the Goddesses were deemphasized at
this point. More importantly, virtually all the mythology we
today was recorded during the Christian period and Christian culture
had little respect for women, least of all independent and strong
women like those of Nordic society.
Freya is the most important of the Goddesses or at least that
about which we known the most. She was the sister of Frey and
with him was sent to live with the Aesir in order to seal a peace
agreement. Freya is a Goddess with two distinct sides to her.
she is the Goddess of love and beauty and second a Goddess of war
shares the battle-slain with Odin. Unlike our modern culture,
ancients saw no contradiction in this. She was also a
practiced the shamanic magick known as Seidhr, which she taught to
Odin. Freya is the Goddess most often invoked by independent
While she is a Goddess of beauty, she is not dependent on men as is
the stereotype of so many love Goddesses, but is strong and fiercely
independent. She is also known as the Great Dis and probably
connections to the family spirits known as the Disir. In many
she is like Odin in that she is a Goddess of many functions which
not always obviously related. In modern Asatru, many groups
replaced Frey with Freya to stand with Odin and Thor on the altar.
Frigg is a most misunderstood Goddess. She is the wife of Odin
many people are too willing to let her be known simply as that.
However, the old Norse had a much different idea of the place of
and of marriage in general. While marriages for love were
known, marriage was also a business and social arrangement and there
were important duties for a wife. These were symbolized by a
keys which hung at the belt of all .goodwives.. This symbolized that
the home was under the control of the woman of the house, who was
equal to her husband. Today we think these duties as very
a thousand years ago they were far from trivial. Up until this
century most of Europe lived in extended families. A house,
especially a hall of a warrior, was not merely a small building with
nuclear family, but an entire settlement with outbuildings,
slaves, and an entire clan. The wife of the house was in
stores and trading with other clans. It was she that saw to
upkeep of the farm, the balancing of the books, and even to the
farming itself if her husband was away trading or making war.
as much a job of managing a business as it was being a .wife.. For
these reasons Frigg is still very important and can easily be
beyond the home. She would, for example, be a natural patron
someone who owned a business. Frigg also shares a lot of
characteristics with her husband. She is the only other God
allowed to sit in Odin.s seat from which can be seen all that goes
in the nine worlds. It is said that she knows the future, but
silent, which is entirely in keeping with the way women of the time
exercised their power: namely indirectly. While in a better
this might not be necessary, it is still an important tool for women
who must exist in a world where men are sometimes threatened by
While Freya is a Goddess who acts independent of .traditional.
Frigg is a Goddess who works within those roles, but still maintains
her power and independence.
There are of course many other Gods and Goddesses. Some of
important places in the myths, while some others are mentioned only
once along with their function.
The most perplexing God of Asgard is Loki. He was probably
a fire God, but he is best known as the troublemaker of Asgard.
various minor scrapes Loki arranges to get the Gods into trouble,
usually by giving away their treasures and then arranging to return
them. This is very much in the traditional role of a
keeps things interesting by causing trouble. However, it.s
difficult to see Loki merely as a trickster because his actions are
sometimes simply too evil to be ignored. Balder was the most
beautiful and beloved of the Gods and a pledge was extracted from
the things in the world that they would not harm him. The sole
exception to this was the mistletoe which was deemed too tiny to be
threat. Amused by his invulnerability, the Gods took turns
objects at Balder, which of course had no effect on him. Loki
the blind God Hod and put a spring of mistletoe in his hands and
guided him to throw it. The dart pierced Balder.s breast and
Later a deal was arranged wherein Balder would be allowed to return
life if all the creatures of the world would weep for him.
refused, an ogress who said she cared not a whit for Balder when he
was alive and thought him just as well off dead. The ogress is
believed to have been Loki in disguise. For these actions Loki
chained beneath the earth and it was arranged that venom would drip
upon him in punishment that would last until the end of the world.
With the death of Balder, Loki goes beyond the level of trickster
becomes a truly evil figure. It is known that when Ragnarok
Loki will lead the legions of chaos against the Aesir and bring
the end of the world.
Indeed Loki.s actions certainly do seem harsh, but they are entirely
in keeping with the Norse way of looking at things. One of the
functions of a trickster God is to keep things going. The
causes trouble so that people may evolve, for nothing brings about
ingenuity like need. The Norse did not believe anything was
The Gods were mortal and only maintained their youth through the
magick of Idunna.s apples. In the end they would die in the
Ragnarok which would destroy the world. Balder.s
not natural. As the Edda says .Cattle die, and men die, and
shall die.... It was deemed much more wise and valiant by the Norse
live up to one.s fate than to try to avoid it. Likewise to
from the dead would be equally wrong. It.s against nature for
something to be impervious to harm or for the dead to return to
Loki was merely acting as the agent of nature to return things to
their normal and correct course. It was not an act of evil,
intervention to stop an evil against the natural order.
Ragnarok must come. It is in the nature of the world to be
and then be reborn. Loki is merely acting as an agent of fate:
exactly the function which a trickster is supposed to perform.
On the other hand, as far as we know Loki was not worshipped, at
not in the same way as the other Gods were. Recognition of his
and his place in the universe is essential, but Gods of this type
seldom welcome. It is .fashionable. today to laugh at
and see them as a sort of jester figure, but we must not forget that
their nature is much darker than this even when it does serve a
purpose. Change is important, but nothing changes the world
and more thoroughly than war.
While seldom reckoned today among the most popular of the Gods, Tyr
extremely important. He is the God of battle, of justice, and
(secondary to Odin) of Kingship. The most important myth
Tyr shows both his bravery and honor. He gave his hand as
the Fenris Wolf that no trickery was involved in the Gods binding of
him. When the fetter in fact did bind the wolf, Tyr lost his
The honor and reliance on ones word is often overlooked in this myth
in favor of an interpretation of self sacrifice. However,
the myths various deals are made and the Aesir easily get out of
It.s likely that Tyr could have escaped his fate as well, but one.s
word is one.s word and thus Tyr lost his hand. Tyr was held to
God of the Thing or assembly. While the ancient Norse were not
democratic and in fact held slaves, within the noble class all were
reckoned to be roughly equal. The Thing was a place where the
landholders would meet for trade and to iron out disputes among
in the hope of avoiding feuds. Tyr was originally the
the Aesir and the God of Kingship, but he has been gradually
supplanted by Odin, especially during the Viking Age. It is
this was because of Tyr.s strong sense of honor and justice.
raiding and pillaging, Odin, the God of the berserker rage, was a
better patron than Tyr, the God of honorable battle. This is
important thing to note about Northern religion: it is extremely
adaptable. There are not hard and fast rules about who is what
while the nature of the Gods cannot be changed they are more than
happy to have the aspects most important to their worshippers
emphasized. Just as a person uses different skills and
different person. when they move or change jobs, so the Gods too
adapted to new climates and needs.
While we only know the myth of Balder.s death, it is clear that he
a God of some importance. Unfortunately, modern writers,
a Christian background, have tried to turn Balder into a Christ
figure. Balder was a God of beauty and goodness, but his name
translates as .warrior.. It is a mistake to turn him into a .Norse
Jesus.. The mere fact that he died and will return after Ragnarok is
not enough for this equation. Another interpretation of Balder
that of the dying and resurrected God of the Sun. This also
mistake, as Balder does not return from the land of death. It
poor symbol to honor Balder on solar holidays, lest the sun not
return! The remaining major interpretation of Balder is as a God of
mystic initiation. While this fits to some extent, we
no longer know. The equation with Christ has wiped out a great
of lore about Balder and we are left to rediscover his place in our
Of the other important Gods, Heimdall is the guardian of Asgard.
as Rig, is also one of the Gods who fathered mankind. Njord is
God of sailing and sailors. Unless one travels on the sea, he
probably of little importance to you, but if one does sail, he is
natural patron. If Njord is the God of sailing and of man.s
the sea, then Aegir is the God of the sea itself. He is
Ran who takes drowned sailors to her home after their death.
considered to be the greatest of brewers, and our kindred honors him
in a special holiday due to the importance of mead in our modern
religion. Bragi is a much overlooked God who is the patron of
taletellers and bards. Other Gods more or less overlooked in
myths include Forseti, who renders the best judgments, Ull, a God of
hunting who is the male counter to Skadi, Vithar, the son of Thor
is as strong as his father, Vali, Odin.s son who will avenge his
fathers death at Ragnarok, and Hod, the blind God who was led to
While we might say that certain Gods are more important than others,
this is in many ways not accurate. We would be better served
that some are more popular. The Norse concept of the
between men and Gods was one of friendship. A man would honor
Gods as worthy and existent, but would usually find one as his
patron. It is not surprising, considering this, that Thor is
popular of Gods. If the average person was searching for a God
much like himself, Thor would be the obvious choice. Likewise,
such as Njord would have been extremely important to sailors and
fishermen, but would have been almost completely unimportant as a
patron to inlanders. The less well known Gods are just as
their more well known contemporaries, they merely have power over a
less well known aspect of life.
There are also many Goddesses other than Frigg and Freya, but we
very little of them. Eir was said to be the greatest of
is for this reason very important. There is no healer God as
ancients held that medicine was a craft for women and not for men,
modern male healers should certainly invoke her. While Skadi
very small part in the myths, many modern Asafolk find her a
compelling figure. She is the snow-shoe Goddess, who travels
isolated mountains hunting with her bow. She is married to
they are separated as Njord can.t abide the mountains, and Skadi
sleep in Njord.s hall where she is kept awake by the pounding of the
sea. She is an excellent role model for women who work alone
are independently minded. Oaths are sworn to the Goddess Var,
little else is known of her. Lofn might some day be of
you, she is known to bring together lovers who are kept apart by
I have merely touched upon the Gods here. It is important for
everyone who would practice the religion of the North to get to know
the myths and the Gods. An appendix is included which outlines
various sources for more information.
Elves & Other Spirits
The world of ancient Paganism was hardly limited to the worship of
Gods. There are various other beings who were honored, and
worship. was often the hardest part of Paganism for Christians to
destroy. It was easy enough to substitute one God for another,
was quite another to tell the common people that the elves which
brought fertility to the land were not real!
In the various folktales and sagas we find very little which would
lead us to a concrete system of what spirit was responsible for
exactly what. We are sure of the place of the Valkyries, who
responsible for bringing the slain to Valhalla, and also for
who in battle would die. They seem, judging by their actions,
supernatural beings of some type. However, Valkyries appear in
various places as very human figures and their exact nature is
difficult to determine. Sigrdrifa was a Valkyrie who was
Odin because she refused to bring victory in battle to those whom he
had chosen. Her punishment was to be married to a mortal, and
implication is clear that this would end her days as a Valkyrie.
equally clear that she has great knowledge of the runes as she
Sigurd after he awakens her. In most respects she seems to be
normal human woman, although a very wise and independent one with
great powers. Elsewhere, Voland and his brothers are said to
found three Valkyries sunning themselves without their swan-coats.
When the brothers steal their feather-coats and hide them, the
Valkyries again appear as otherwise normal women. This does
entirely in keeping with a supernatural origin, and it.s possible
some kind of magickal order of Priestesses has become confused over
time with the supernatural beings we know as Valkyries. The
seems very similar in description to Freya.s falcon-coat and the
entire issue may be something related to the practice of seidhr.
far as we know, the Valkyrie were not worshipped as such, but were
considered more the messengers of Odin. They also serve the
Valhalla, and because of this whoever pours the mead into the Horn
Blot or Sumbel is today known as .the Valkyrie..
The other spirits whose place seems fairly clear are the Disir.
are spirits who are intimately linked with a family. There is
some indication that they are linked with the land, but this would
in keeping with the old ways. We forget sometimes that many
landowners in Europe have been living in the same place since before
this continent was discovered. The land becomes an intimate
the family and its identity, so it is natural that family spirits
would also oversee the family land. Disir inevitably are seen
women who appear at times of great trouble or change. They are
somehow linked to the family bloodline, and seem most closely linked
to the clanchief. There is one scene in one saga where a
apparently a Dis, is passed on from one person to another who are
blood relations. However, these two friends are closer than
so while the link is apparently not genetic, it is definitely
familial. We know the family Disir were honored with blots at
Winter Nights and that they have great power to aid their family.
far as their origin, it.s possible that they are ancestral in
They may be ancestors whose power was so great that they were able
continue to see to their clan. Or it.s possible that the Disir
the collective spirit of the family ancestors. Freya is called
great Dis and there may be some linkage here to her position as a
seidhrwoman. We know from the sagas that Seidhr was involved
talking to various spirits (including the dead) and its possible
this is the source of Freya.s name. It is also possible that
performed much the same function as a Dis to her tribe the Vanir.
Closely linked to the idea of the Disir is the Fylgia. These
are attached to an individual person in much the same way that the
Disir are associated with a family. Fylgia usually appear
animals or as beautiful women. They correspond to the .fetch,.
.totem,. or .power-animal. in other cultures. Most of the time
fylgia remains hidden and absent, it is only with truly great or
powerful persons that the fylgia becomes known. They may have
something to do with Seidhr as well, because many sagas offer
of spirit travel in the shape of animals. This corresponds
notions of shamanism found in other cultures.
The remaining spirits include Alvar or elves, Dokkalvar or dark
or Dwarfs, kobolds, and landvaettir. While some have defined
being as doing one thing and another serving a different function,
not inclined to draw very sharp distinctions between these various
creatures. They all seem .elfish. in origin, and there seems
to me to
be no pattern of associating one name with a specific function.
know that various landvaettir or land spirits were honored with
We also know that Frey is the lord of Alfheim, one of the nine
where the alvar are said to live.
Of all the remaining spirits, the dwarfs are the most consistent in
description. We know that the dwarfs are cunning and
character and incredible smiths, capable of creating magickal
so valuable they are considered the greatest treasures of Asgard.
Thor.s hammer Mjolnir, Freya.s necklace Brisingamen, and Sif.s
hair are all creations of the dwarfs. They live beneath the
have little to do with mankind or the Gods unless one seeks them
What place they had in the religion we no longer know. It
wise to invoke them as spirits of the forge, but I can think of
other reason to disturb them.
Elves are the most difficult magickal race to pin down.
sources tell us that the Alvar or light elves live in Alfheim where
Frey is their Lord. However, we also have the enduring belief
folklore of the elves as faery-folk: beings associated with the
natural world. These two conceptions of elves might still be
however, as Alfheim is known to be a place of incredible natural
beauty, and Frey, their leader, is an agricultural deity. To
confuse this issue, Norse folklore has a strong belief in the
Landvaettir, or land spirits who may fit into either or both of
categories. I.m inclined to lump them all together as similar
that we simply don.t know enough about to tell apart. What is
important is that Asatru, like all Pagan religions, honors the
world and the earth very deeply. Whether one calls the spirits
land as the elves, the faeries, or the landvaettir, or uses all of
these terms interchangably, respect is all important. Asatru
for being one of the most politically .conservative. of the modern
Pagan religions, but you.ll find few of us who aren.t staunch
One of the most important spirits to honor is the house-spirit.
Folklore is also filled with stories of various spirits variously
called faeries, elves, kobolds, brownies, tom-tin, etc who inhabit a
house and see to its proper conduct. In the usual form of the
they offer to perform some housekeeping functions, but eventually
on the owners of the house when they are insulted by overpayment.
don.t have any concrete evidence for how our ancestors honored these
beings, but this is not surprising because such a thing would not be
public observance and it.s unlikely it would be recorded in the
or Eddas. Folklore indicates that such beings should be
a simple bowl of milk or perhaps beer, but no more.
In general folklore does not paint the various elves and spirits as
particularly benevolent figures. With the exception of house
who as spirits of a manmade object are bound to us on some level,
seem most interested in staying out of the dealings of mankind.
are numerous stories of people who spy upon elf women and force them
to become their brides. Inevitably the women are unhappy and
eventually escape, leaving their husbands devastated. There
numerous stories of spirits who haunt the woods and who will drag
wayward travelers into rivers to drown or to some other untimely
death. When people do have dealings with the elves these
to operate on an entirely different set of expectations than we do.
Most of us would be gratified by the gift of a .bonus. from our
employer, yet time and time again in folklore this is the easiest
to anger a house spirit. We know that elves were honored with
but it.s just as possible that these ceremonies were made in
propitiation to them rather than in kinship as are our blots made
the Gods. We suggest caution in dealing with beings with a set
values so foreign from our own. They should be approached in
way one would approach a person from a country whose ways are very
In general, we.re also very reticent to make decisions about
classifying the various .other peoples.. It would be very easy to
lines and place certain spirits into little boxes which label their
function, but that seems overly mechanical and of little utility.
Elves and other .wights. are not human, and it might be too much to
try to classify them in other than subjective terms. It.s
best to simply make your intent clear, experiment, and use the terms
which work for you, remembering only to be true to the sources.
There are a whole classification of Gods which are not truly part of
the Aesir, Vanir, or even the Jotunn. Wayland the Smith is the
example of this that we can offer. Wayland, called Volund in
Norse version, is the greatest of smiths, but it.s clear in the
mythology that he was more or less a human man. The myth tells
he lost his wife and was enslaved by a human King. While his
allow him to outwit and take vengeance on the king, it.s clear
throughout that he.s not on the level of a Thor or an Odin.
does about these demi-Gods or local Gods is a good question. I
nothing wrong with pouring a blot in their honor and dealing with
as you would any other God or Goddess. On the other hand, they
not part of the Aesir and I think it might be disrespectful to honor
them with the Aesir or as part of a ceremony dedicated to the Aesir
they seem of a different nature.
Honoring ones ancestors was one of the most sacred duties of the
Norsemen. One of the most important parts of greeting new
the exchanging of personal lineages at sumbel. The worship of
Disir is closely linked to ancestor worship. However, it is
for modern day Pagans to seriously engage in ancestor worship.
for the most part without a strong connection to our heritage, and
even if we feel motivated we would probably need to skip at least a
thousand years back to find ancestors who would not have been
by our Heathen beliefs. One substitution for ancestor worship
modern Asatru movement has been the veneration of heros from the
and legends of our people.
The manner of how we honor ancestors is also somewhat troubling.
reserve the blot ritual to Gods and other powers, and I.m not sure
it.s appropriate to pour a blot to an ancestor, no matter how
important he was. It.s touchy when you are honoring someone
knew was a mortal. I think the most important part of ancestor
worship is remembering, and the sumbel seems the most important part
While we discuss ancestry, I must mention that some modern Asatru
groups, in part because of holdovers from 19th century cultural
movements, have placed a great deal of emphasis on ancestry in terms
of race. Many have held that Asatru was a religion for whites
Northern Europeans only. In my not particularly humble
is pure idiocy. The basic argument for this is that people of
cultures do not share the same background and values. This is
certainly true, but the key word in my opinion is culture, and all
Americans by definition share a culture. Also, while I admit I
think it doubtful that people from outside of our own cultural
heritage would be attracted greatly to Asatru, if they are it is for
reason and they should be welcomed and not shunned. It proves
worth of our religion and way of life that it is so strong that one
would leave his own cultural path behind to take up ours.
As far as culture is concerned, the ancestry of the ancient North is
alive and well in modern America. A thousand years ago
sailed to Iceland to avoid the growing influence of powerful kings
centralized government. This centralization of power was one
things which Roman Christianity brought with it. Two hundred
ago we in America rebelled against our king for much the same
Our culture is much more profoundly influenced by the Vikings than
most would care to admit. Our law is based on English common
which in turn has roots in Norman and Saxon law. (Both the
Normans were descended from Germanic tribes.) Our culture is based
many of the same ideas which the Northmen held dear: the importance
the individual and the belief that individual rights outweighed
collective rights. Thus, it is my assertion that we are all
descended, at least in part, spiritually from the ancient Norse.
The Jotunn or giants are the sworn enemies of the Gods. While
Aesir represent order and the Vanir represent the supportive powers
nature, the Jotunn represent chaos and the power of nature to
man and act independent of humankind. In the end, it is the
who will fight the Gods at Ragnarok and bring about the destruction
In essence despite being called Giants or Ogres, the Jotunn are Gods
just as much as the Aesir or Vanir. In many cases they
very closely to the Fomoire in Celtic mythology. Most simply
Jotunn are the Gods of all those things which man has no control
The Vanir are the Gods of the growing crops, the Jotunn are the Gods
of the river which floods and washes away those crops or the tornado
which destroys your entire farm. This is why they are
this is why we hold them to be evil.
The Jotunn are not worshipped in modern Asatru, but there is some
evidence that sacrifices were made to them in olden times. In
case, sacrifices were probably made .to them. rather than shared
them. as was the case with the Vanir and Aesir. It would be
inappropriate to embrace them as friends and brothers in the way we
embrace our Gods. One doesn.t embrace the hurricane or the
it is insanity to do so. However, we must also remember that
that we see their actions as bad, they are not inherently evil.
storm destroys the crops, but it also brings cleansing and renewal.
We humans are only one species on this planet and in the end we are
both expendable and irrelevant to nature. This is the manner
the Jotunn act, and it is not surprising that we see this as evil.
However, one must also take into account the premonitions of
recorded in the eddas. If the Jotunn are merely amoral, why
the sworn enemy of the Aesir and why will they bring about the end
the world? It.s possible that Jotunn was more of a catch-all term
dangerous Gods rather than a reference to a specific family.
the case in many languages that there is one word for people that
speak the language, usually translating as .people,. and another
for those persons of other cultures and tribes.) The dangerous
of nature are .Jotunn. because we cannot control them, but there are
other forces, principally those of chaos, that are considered
There is abundant evidence for this in the Eddas. Various
seen to marry into the Aesir without a great deal of trouble from
Gods, but at other times the mere sight of one throws Thor into a
rage. The obvious conclusion is that they are more than one
race of deities. The destructive powers of nature were
some extent, and often married into the Aesir bringing them more
control. However, other .outlander. Gods were completely
to the Aesir (and thus mankind) and the Gods only thought for them
The Religious Structure of Asatru
The ancients, for the most part, did not have an organized system of
Temples or churches in the way that our society does today.
was a very personal affair, mostly between the Gods and their
worshippers. If there was a formalized temple or perhaps a
was dedicated to the Gods and tended as a temple it was most likely
built by a wealthy landowner and dedicated to his or her patron God.
Such a person would then, usually, become the Gothi (Priest) or
(Priestess) of the temple. Such temples were generally
the family after the builders death, the title being more or less
inherited by whomever was lord over the land.
Today most Asatru groups are similarly unstructured. This has
problem because there is little in the way of religious education
other than in books such as this one and personal research.
this sort of learning is fine, there are always some things left out
and I.m sure that mine will be no exception. There are a few
who are attempting to initiate training programs and present sets of
standards for people who would declare themselves to be Gothi or
Gythia, but these groups have unfortunately been somewhat inflexible
and dogmatic, seeming more interested in creating hierarchies than
with service to the Folk or Gods.
Gothi is a honorary title only. It does not mark any
power or rank within Asatru. One would probably not call
Gothi unless one had some experience of deity and had led many
rituals, but as it entails power over no one and it is up to no one
comment on ones qualifications or abilities. Similarly there
need for someone to be a Gothi or to have access to one in order to
practice our faith. While the more experienced might get more
.right. in the ritual, this is purely subjective and if your heart
true to the Gods this is enough.
Most persons who were given the title Gothi in the old days were
dedicated to a single God. The title most often formed their
name: Thorolf Thorsgothi for example. This dedication to a God
Goddess was usually part of one.s family heritage and was passed
to your children. While there is no compelling reason why one
act as Priest to the entire community of Gods and Goddesses, it is
most common for one to be dedicated to a single deity. A
have persons who are each dedicated to a different deity, or it may
orient itself towards a single deity as did families in the Sagas.
The most basic unit of Asatru religious worship is the hearth or
homestead. This is nothing more than it sounds like: a
Asafolk who worship the old Gods and Goddesses. Several
or hearths may group themselves into a .kindred,. which is a term
has many meanings to many different groups. Some kindreds have
members and function like mainstream churches, others are more
familylike and attempt to hold to their privacy. The place of
kindred is more or less analogous to a clan or small tribal group.
kindred is made up of people you are familiar with and with whom you
meet in person and in it.s best sense it.s an organic grouping,
however it.s not the same sort of bonding that one would find in a
single family or even in an extremely close knit group of friends.
a true Pagan society, the kindred would be found on the level of a
farmstead or small village.
The ritual blots are most commonly done on the level of the kindred,
or in meetings where more than one kindred comes together. The
rituals of a Hearth might be less formalized and more .homey. in
atmosphere. The blot ritual is based on a religious observance
was part of the official public aspect of ancient Asatru, and its
likely that there were many other private rituals that would not
necessarily be appropriate for a kindred to take part in together.
For example, a kindred might not honor the individual family Dis or
the house-spirits unless all members of the kindred lived together
were tied by blood as well as companionship.
Most persons will want to join or found a kindred in their area,
however, before one runs out and begins to solicit people, you
think about what you are doing. The very name of our
.kindred,. implies a great deal more than does membership in a
Today we are accustomed to religious institutions that are more or
less anonymous and sterile. A kindred should not be this way.
we must be open to all, we need not act as if we were a public
facility with no more intimacy than a department store. It is
start small and gather people as they come to you. Once you
established, get involved in the local Pagan community if you are
already. Attend a few events of the local Leif Erikson society
Sons of Norway. Open one of your blots to the public and take
people who are attracted to Asatru. A kindred is something
should form organically and cannot be pushed. On the other
Asatru is not a secret religion or one open only to .initiates. as
many Neo-Pagan faiths are. We must be open to outsiders who
interested. I am just cautioning against throwing people into
kindred because they are available or it is the only group around or
they are too polite to say no. A roommate of mine related to
conversation he had with another person at an Asatru gathering.
person remarked that .this is all very nice, but when do you think
will get tired of this stuff.. My roommate being a seriously
Heathen straightened him out. The person in question was just
friend of Joe.s who went to Pagan events because of Joe.s interest.
He assumed that the rest of the group was .humoring Joe. just as he
was. The moral of this story is that if people are not
there.s nothing you can do about it. We.re not the Christians
want anybody and everybody to join our faith, and we should pay just
as much attention to dissuading the dabblers and the kooks as we do
attracting those who truly do have the love of the Old Gods in their
As to what makes one a Gothi, the requirements would vary from group
to group. Some might have written criteria, while others might
it up to the persons heart. Certainly a Gothi is one who has a
term relationship with the Gods and Goddesses. One does not,
example, simply read this book and then proclaim oneself Gothi! (I
writing this book and don.t consider myself to be a Gothi.) A
competent Gothi should have studied the Eddas and Sagas and know the
history of our religion. He or she should also know a bit
runes, and the other mysteries of our tradition. One should
that this is a public office and the Gothi of old had
as leaders of the community. Most importantly one must be
dedicated. There.s no push to move to a .higher. level of the
Priesthood as there are in religions or magickal orders with .degree
systems. and if you do not feel compelled to take on the
responsibilities of being a Gothi or Gythia, there is no need for
to and much to say that you should not.
The Values of Asatru
One of the basic functions of a religion is to offer a set of values
on which mankind is to base it's actions. This, sadly, is one
where Paganism has often failed. The cult of anti-values has
sway, taking moral relativism to extremes perhaps even farther from
common sense than fundamentalist moral legalism, even to the point
where I have heard rape, murder, and genocide defended on the basis
However, values remain important. All one needs to do is look
morning paper to see the results of a society that has in many ways
embraced the cult of anti-values. Thievery, murder, and
in our cities to extents which would have appalled our ancestors.no
matter how many times they went a' Viking. While this is
the Pagans who have embraced the cult of anti-values had in mind, it
is to my belief a natural outgrowth of the same basic philosophical
concept. The chaos in our country is the dark shadow of the
rejection of moral legalism. What should have been an
a legalistic moral/religious culture to one of flexible honor based
values and self-responsibility has instead become a morass of chaos
and immorality. The lesson we should all learn is that while
no definitive list of sins; right and wrong still exist.
As usual Asatru offers a sensible solution. Our faith deals
legalisms and rules nor in unchecked chaos and relativism. We
acknowledge the existence of right and wrong, good and evil, but we
deal with actions according to basic philosophical concepts that are
applied by the keen intellect of Odin, the simple common sense of
Thor, and the solid honor of Tyr.the gifts of the Gods to us.
Asatru posits that the basic place of moral judgment is within the
human heart and mind. We as human beings with the gift of
intelligence are sensible and responsible enough to determine right
from wrong and act accordingly. The Gods teach us through the
examples of their lives, as chronicled in the Eddas, and through
various pieces such as the Havamal which directly offer us advice.
the modern history of our faith, various Asatru organizations have
outlined simple sets of values which they hold up as simple
on how to live ones life.
The Odinic Rite (the major Asatru group in England) has one of the
most cohesive and sensible of all those we've seen and this set has
been adopted by the Raven Kindred as an "official" statement of our
beliefs. We do this not only as a moral guide for our members,
also to say to the world what it is that we stand for.our good name
the community being important to us. Finally, this list is
someone formally joins the Raven Kindred and we hold a sumble and
toast the 9 virtues to the new member in the hope that they will
them to their life.
The Odinic Rite lists the 9 Noble Virtues as Courage, Truth, Honor,
Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance,
It would be hard to get much argument on any of these values from
anyone. They simply and briefly encapsulate the broad wisdom
Gods and ancestors.
In virtually every statement of values applied to Asatru, Courage is
listed first. As Stephen McNallen has said, courage and
perhaps the values which the Vikings are best known for.
despite our history, few of us face such turmoil as a literal battle
for ones life. In fact, I believe it might be easier to
courage in such a situation than to do so in the many smaller day to
day occurrences in which courage is called for.
The most common of these occurrences for modern Pagans, is the
to acknowledge and live ones beliefs. It is also, sadly, the
we most often fail at. While we may often be full of the type
courage that would lead us to face a shield wall, many of us quake
the thought of the topic of religion coming up at the office or a
friend asking what church we attend. We won't offer easy
we ask this: if you toast the courage of your ancestors to fight and
die for what they believed in, can you trade away your religious
identity for a higher salary or social acceptance?
In an essay on values there is also the question of moral courage.
The way of Tyr is difficult.to lose ones hand for ones beliefs.but,
Tyr thought the price worth paying. In a million ways modern
challenges our values, not just as Asatruar who are estranged from
mainstream religious practice, but for religious people in an
increasingly not just secular, but anti-religious culture.
also not in favor in modern society. Breaking or getting
rules is encouraged to get ahead. Living honorably is simply
inconvenient. I think most people, Asatru or otherwise, find
repugnant, but the only way to change it is to have the courage to
refuse to take part in it.
The second virtue, that of Truth, is the one that most led our
to embrace the Odinic Rite's statement of values as our own.
our discussions, we decided that no matter what values we chose to
hold out as our own, truth must be among them. It is a word
holds so much in its definition, and includes such a wide variety of
moral and philosophical beliefs that we were all drawn to it as a
simple statement of what we stood for.
At least one of the reasons we wanted to adopt it was the simple
of honesty. As Bill Dwinnels said at a recent sumbel while
truth and honesty: if you don't want people to know about something,
don't do it. Truth, in the sense of honesty, is essential to
honor and also to any system or morality that is not based on rigid
legalism. If one is to uphold an honor code, one must be
honest with oneself and with others.
Truth is also the Truth that comes with a capital T.the kind of
that one talks about in terms of religion or morality. It's
talk of different peoples having different "truths," but it's
important to remember that while we acknowledge that each person or
people has their own belief as to what Truth is or where to find it,
there finally is a single Truth. This is not the Truth as we
it, but ultimate Truth. While we may respect other people's
and seek our own, we must never forget our search for The Truth.
the Holy Grail of Christian legend, it may never be ours to reach,
when we cease to search we perish.
Honor is the basis for the entire Asatru moral rationale. If
comes out in the Eddas and Sagas it is that without honor we are
nothing. We remember two types of peoples from ancient times:
whose honor was so clean that they shine as examples to us and those
who were so without honor that their names are cursed a thousand
after they lived. Good Asatruar should always strive to be
However, honor is not mere reputation. Honor is an internal
whose outward manifestation is reputation. Internal honor is
sacred moral compass that each Asatruar and God should hold dear.
is the inner dwelling at peace which comes from living in accordance
with ones beliefs and with ones knowledge of the Truth of what one
doing. It is something deeply personal and heartfelt, almost
an emotion. It's a .knowing. that what one is doing is right
decent and correct.
In many ways while the most important of all the virtues it is also
the most ephemeral in terms of description. It is all the
virtues rolled together and then still more. The best way I
found to describe honor is that if you are truly living with honor,
you will have no regrets about what you have done with your life.
Fidelity is a word that is far too often defined by it's narrow use
terms of marital fidelity. By the dictionary it simply means
faithful to someone or something. In marriage this means being
to ones vows and partner, and this has been narrowly defined as
limiting ones sexual experience to ones spouse. While I have
this to be great practical advice, many treat fidelity as if there
were no other ways in which one could be faithful or unfaithful.
For we Asatruar fidelity is most important in terms of our faith and
troth to the Gods. We must remain true to the Aesir and Vanir
our kinsmen. Like marriage, Profession (the rite in which one
the Asatru faith, similar to Christian confirmation or Wiccan
initiation) is a sacred bond between two parties; in this case an
Asatruar and the Gods. In order for such a relationship to
must be honest and faithful to each other.
Asatru, although currently being reborn, is at its roots a folk
religion and we also uphold the value of fidelity to the ways of our
ancestors. This is why historical research is so important to
Asatru-folk: it is the rediscovering of our ancient ways and our
readoption of them.
In any discussion of the values of Asatru, discipline is best
described as self-discipline. It is the exercise of personal
that upholds honor and the other virtues and translates impulse into
action. If one is to be able to reject moral legalism for a
internal honor, one must be willing to exercise the self-discipline
necessary to make it work. Going back to my earlier criticism
society, if one rejects legalism, one must be willing to control
own actions. Without self-discipline, we have the mess we
see in our culture.
Looking at discipline in terms of fidelity, we see a close
Many Pagans go from faith to faith, system to system, path to path.
Asatruar are much less likely to do this. The discipline of
faith with our Gods and the ways of our ancestors is part of our
modern practice. In this way, we limit ourselves in some ways,
gain much more in others.
Hospitality is simply one of the strongest core values at the heart
virtually every ancient human civilization. In a
religion such as our own, it is the virtue that upholds our social
fabric. In ancient times it was essential that when a traveler
into the world he could find some sort of shelter and welcome for
night. In modern times it is just as essential that a traveler
friendship and safety.
In our modern Asatru community, we need to treat each other with
respect and act together for the good of our community as a whole.
This functions most solidly on the level of the kindred or hearth
where nonfamilial members become extremely close and look out for
each other. It can mean hospitality in the old sense of taking
people, which we've done, but in modern times it's more likely to
loaning someone a car or a bit of money when they need it (that's
need, not want).
Part of hospitality is treating other people with respect and
Many of our Gods are known to wander the world and stop in at
houses, testing their hospitality and generosity. The virtue
hospitality means seeing people as if they were all individuals with
self-respect and importance. Or perhaps from time to time,
literally the Gods in human form. This has profound
social action in our religion. Our response to societal
as poverty (that's poverty folks, not laziness) is in many ways our
modern reaction to this ancient virtue.
In terms of our modern community as a whole, I see hospitality in
terms of frontier "barn raisings" where a whole community would come
together and pool their resources. This doesn't mean we have
forget differences, but we must put them aside for those who are of
our Folk, and work for our common good.
Modern Asatruar must be industrious in their actions. We need
hard if we are going to achieve our goals. There is so much
for us to
do. We've set ourselves the task of restoring Asatru to it's
place as a mainstream faith and by doing so reinvigorating our
and culture. We can't do this by sitting on our virtues, we
make them an active part of our behavior. Industry also refers
simple hard work in our daily vocations, done with care and pride.
Here's a few concrete examples. If you are reading this and
have a kindred, why not? Stop reading now. Go and place
ads in the
appropriate local stores, get your name on the Ring of Troth, Wyrd
Network, or Asatru Alliance networking lists, and with other Pagan
groups. Put on a workshop. Ok, now you're back to
reading and you
don't agree with what I'm saying here? Well, be industrious!
your own articles and arguments. Write a letter to the editor
suggest this material be banned.better that than passivity.
blood moving and go out and do it. That's how it gets done.
do not favor the lazy.
The same holds true for our non-religious lives. As Asatruar
should offer a good example as industrious people who add to
we're involved in rather than take from it. We should be the
business we work in can't do without and the ones who always seem to
be able to get things done. When people think of Asatru, they
think of people who are competent and who offer something to the
This doesn.t just apply to vocational work, but to the entire way we
live our lives. It is just as much a mentality. The
vital people. They lived each day to its fullest and didn.t
their hands in doubt or hesitation. We should put the same
forward in all that we do whether it is our usual vocation, devotion
to the Gods, or leisure time.
Industry brings us directly to the virtue of Self-Reliance, which is
important both in practical and traditional terms. Going back
general notion of this article, we are dealing with a form of
that is largely self-imposed and thus requires self-reliance.
on ourselves to administer our own morality.
Traditionally, our folkways have always honored the ability of a man
or woman to make their own way in the world and not to lean on
for their physical needs. This is one of the ways in which
virtues reinforce and support each other. Hospitality cannot
if people are not responsible enough to exercise discipline and take
care of themselves. It's for those that strive and fail or
assistance that hospitality is intended, not for the idle who simply
won't take care of themselves.
In terms of our relationships with the Gods, self-reliance is also
very important. If we wish the Gods to offer us their
gifts, we must make ourselves worthy of them.and the Gods are most
pleased with someone who stands on their own two feet. This is
the reasons for the Asatru .rule. that we do not kneel to the Gods
during our ceremonies. By standing we acknowledge our
striving and fulfilled people looking for comradeship and a
relationship, rather than acting as scraelings looking for a handout
from on high. It takes very little for a God to attract a
if worship simply means getting on the gravy train. We, as
are people who can make our own way in the world, but who choose to
seek a relationship with the Gods.
In mundane terms being self-reliant is a simple way to allow
the ability to live as we wish to. In simple economic terms,
has enough money in the bank one doesn't need to worry as much about
being fired due to religious discrimination. We can look a
the face and tell him just where he can put it. It's also nice
have something in the bank to lay down as a retainer on a good
so we can take appropriate action.
On the other side of this is self-reliance in the sense of Henry
Thoreau, who advocated a simple lifestyle that freed one from the
temptations of materialism. Again, here we are able to live as
wish with those things that are truly important. Religious
from all faiths have found that adjusting ones material desires to
match one's ability to meet them leaves one open for a closer
relationship with deity and a more fulfilling life. While our
ancestors were great collectors of gold goodies, they didn.t lust
possessions in and of themselves, but for what they stood for and
could do for them. In fact, the greatest thing that could be
a Lord was that he was a good .Ring Giver..
Being self-reliant also means taking responsibility for ones life.
It's not just about refusing a welfare check or not lobbying for a
exemption, but also refusing to blame ones failures on religious
intolerance, the patriarchy, or an unfair system. The system
fact, be unfair, but it's our own responsibility to deal with it.
In societal terms, we have become much too dependent on other people
for our own good. As individuals we look to the government or
others to solve our problems and as a society we borrow billions
our descendants to pay for today's excesses. Most problems in
world could be solved if people just paid their own way as they
The final virtue is Perseverance which I think most appropriate
because it is the one that we most need to keep in mind in our
of the other values. Our religion teaches us that the world is
imperfect place, and nothing comes easy. We need to continue
after that which we desire. In this imperfect world there are
lunches or easy accomplishments.especially in the subjects we have
before ourselves. If we truly wish to build an Asatru
people will hold up as an example of what committed people can do,
then we must persevere through the hardships that building our
religion is going to entail. We must be willing to continue on
we are pushed back. If one loses a job for ones religion, the
is not to go back and hide, but to continue until one finds a
where one can more forward and live as an Asatruar should.
Finally we must persevere when we simply fail. If one's
apart because of internal strife, one should go back and start over.
Pick up the pieces and continue on. If nobody had done this
disintegration of the Asatru Free Assembly, this would probably
have been written. We must be willing to continue in the hard
making our religion strong.not just when it is convenient and easy
do so, but when it gets hard, inconvenient, or just plain boring.
accomplish without striving is to do little, but to persevere and
finally accomplish a hard fought goal brings great honor.
Essays, Raven Kindred Information, Sample Rituals & Networking
Hailing the Sun: A Sample Blot to honor Sunna at the Summer Solstice
This ritual would be ideally performed at sunrise on the day of the
summer Solstice. If possible the folk should gather while it
dark or even better, remain awake throughout the night in vigil.
secondary time would be at noon on the Solstice. This ritual
not be performed at night.
At any point in this ritual, within the realm of logic and dramatic
flow, the parts marked as Gothi and Gythia may be shared among the
folk. In addition, the parts are not necessarily sex specific,
the terminology is used as a convenience.
Set Up: An altar should be placed in the center and the folk should
form a circle around it, leaving space in the center for the
to take place. For this ritual you will need some sort of mead
beer, a horn or chalice, an offering bowl, a hammer for
and a wheel of some sort, preferably a wagon wheel to symbolize the
turning of the wheel of the year. Any reasonable tools may be
substituted. The Wheel is placed on the ground near the altar
the altar with candles around the rim (unlit).
Consecration of space
The Gothi goes to the center of the folk and forms the invocational
position of the elhaz rune, both hands in the air at a rough 45.
Gothi: We gather here to honor our sacred lady Sunna, who on this
Solstice Morning, reaches her height of power. All hail Sunna!
All: Hail Sunna!
The Gythia takes the hammer and walks to each of the four corners
consecrates the space.
Gythia: Hammer, hallow and hold this holy stead, that it will be a
fitting place for our worship of our sacred lady Sunna! Hammar,
ve thetta ok hindra alla illska!
Gythia returns hammer to altar and faces the altar.
Gythia: I consecrate and hallow this altar to the work of our sacred
lady Sunna! Here on this Solstice morning may the might of the Gods
brought to our holy stead. May the warm light of Sunna heat
hearts and hold our spirits.
Gothi: Our holy lady watches and waits for the blot in her honor.
All: Hail Sunna!
(At this point it would be most appropriate for a song or reading to
be performed. It should obviously be about Sunna or the sun or
something appropriate to the day.)
Gythia: Our lady Sunna is the light of knowledge, the warmth of
and the heat of our passion. Let us spend a moment in silence,
contemplating those things which she brings us.
Leave a few moments for silent prayers and meditation.
Gothi: Holy Sunna. Lady of the Sun. Light of the
pursued and ever free. We gather to greet and welcome you and
you gifts on this day. We offer to you our prayers and love,
devotion and strength, our kinship and honor.
All face the sun and form the elhaz posture.
All: Hail to thee Sunna, light of Har newly risen. She whose
light shone upon our ancestors of old and she who.s light will shine
upon our children. We give you hail and welcome. Fill
our hearts on
this Solstice morning with your warm rays that your fires may burn
our hearts throughout the year. Hail Sunna!
A few moments of silence are appropriate here.
Gothi: Now it is time to offer sacrifice to our holy lady.
Gythia takes horn and Gothi fills it with mead. Gythia holds
above her head, in the direction of the sun.
Gythia: Here is our sacrifice, the essence of our love and spirit.
offer it to you as a token of our kinship and our love. As you
of it, may your power fill this holy hlaut and feed our spirits.
Gythia drinks from the horn and it is then passed around the folk,
each taking a drink, with the horn returning to the Gythia.
Gythia: Hail to thee Sunna!
Gythia pours remainder of horn into the offering bowl. Gythia
Gothi take the bowl and evergreen sprig and walk around the folk,
sprinkling the mead to the four corners and on the folk.
return to the center and sprinkle the wheel.
Gothi: Hail the sacred wheel of the sun. Now it is the longest
the year and the sun is triumphant, but all changes and the wheel
Gythia lights candles on the wheel and members of the folk take it
and parade it around the grounds. A song or chant would be
appropriate at this time. .The sun burns, the wheel turns!.
example. Once the procession is done (this decision should be
on the subjective feelings of those involved and not planned out)
wheel should be returned to the altar.
Gothi & Gythia assume the invocation position
Gothi: Sacred Lady Sunna, Summer Sun now strongest. We thank
your blessings of warmth and light. May you reign long.
All: Hail Sunna! Hail Sunna! Hail Sunna!
Gothi takes up the hlaut bowl.
Gothi: Now our rite is ended and the sacrifice is made. The
turns. To Sunna, to the Gods, to the Goddesses, and to Earth,
of us all, we offer this holy mead, from the Gods to the Earth To
From ourselves to the Earth to the Gods. Hail!
Gothi pours contents of the hlaut bowl on the ground, possibly in
center of the wheel. If this ritual is done indoors, the
should be poured outside afterwards. We usually trek outside
immediately even if the ritual is an apartment. The physical
of pouring the libation is an important psychological trigger to
Gods and men that the ritual is over.
What Is The Raven Kindred?
The Raven Kindred is a non-incorporated religious organization
dedicated to the worship and veneration of the ancient Nordic Gods
Goddesses and to the religion of Asatru. We are centered
Worcester county area of Massachusetts and Southern
D.C. areas, but have members in Western Massachusetts, the
area, and Connecticut. We welcome members from other areas,
contacts through correspondence.
The focus of the Raven Kindred is specifically the religion of
While we honor our Pagan relations in the Wiccan community, we are
following a much different tradition. Our rituals are the blot
offering and the sumble. Also while we are primarily involved
kindred in exoteric forms of worship, we have members who are
interested in seidhr, rune magic, and other esoteric pursuits within
the Nordic Tradition.
We practice a fairly conservative version of Asatru trying to keep
close to our roots in the Asatru Free Assembly and Asatru Alliance
including a tribalist sense of who we are as a Folk. However,
also much more progressive in our social beliefs and politics and we
welcome all persons regardless of ethnic origin, sexual preference,
political view. We hope to be a link between the Old and the
holding to our dear values of Faith, Folk, and Family while
the prejudices that have held our religion back.
Our goals for the future are quite far-reaching. We support
movement to bring Asatru out of the shadows and to spread the Troth
the Gods to all who are their natural children. More
intend to network with existing Asatru organizations, both local and
national, while also setting up other chapters of the Raven Kindred
and doing some networking on our own behalf.
Attendence at Raven Kindred rituals is essentially open, although we
reserve the right to eject anyone who is disruptive as well as the
right to hold observances that are open only to Professed Asatru or
Kindred Members. Full membership is available only to those
Professed Asatru and place their membership in the Raven Kindred
other religious commitments. Decisions about the Raven Kindred
made by a majority vote by Full Members.
Currently the Raven Kindred holds a Blot on the first Saturday of
month in Sturbridge Massachusetts and Wheaton Maryland. We
gather at other seasonally appropriate times for Blots and other
For more information on the Raven Kindred, Asatru, or our services
please contact us at the following addresses:
Raven Kindred Maryland/DC; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD
20902 Raven Kindred Massachusetts; P.O. Box 1137; Sturbridge
01566 Electronic mail may be sent via the internet to
Raven Kindred Ritual Outline
The Raven Kindred has developed a slightly different form of the
ritual which we use. This has come to pass because of a desire
more personal involvement as well as a smaller group of people than
would be appropriate for a major blot.
The major change, outside of a few cosmetic differences, is that we
have added a .mini sumbel. to the blot ritual in place of the
sprinkling in which we offer three rounds of toasts: the first
dedicated to the God or Goddess being honored and the remaining two
anything the participants deem appropriate which is not inimical to
the purpose of the blot. (i.e. don.t toast the Jotnar
ritual to Thor.)
Setting the mood: Chant to Odin, Vili, Ve
To begin each ritual we offer a three round chant of .Odin, Vili,
This serves two purposes. First we are linking ourselves to
of creation and thus to the connections between Midgard and the
Second and perhaps more appropriately it allows people to get
themselves mentally prepared for the service.
We offer an invocation to Fire and Ice which are the central
of the creation of the world. We ask that the place we are
blessed and Holy for the coming of the Gods.
Statement of purpose
We far too often ignore this, but it.s a good idea to have the Gothi
or Gythia who is presiding greet the participants and state
general about the purpose of the ritual. It need not be
.We gather together today to celebrate the Winter Nights as our
ancestors did. To honor our ancestors, the Disir, and Freya
Dis and to renew our bonds as a family [kindred]..
At this point one of our members usually offers up a prayer to the
Aesir and Vanir collectively to thank them for their bounty since
last time we met and to ask their blessings upon the kindred and its
We reserve a time between the opening of the ritual and the blot
ceremony for people to offer any prayers or other invocations they
feel necessary. This is the time when we Profess new members
Asatru. Other activities done at this time have included a
member thanking Saga, the Goddess of wisdom, for her recent
Invoke deity of occasion
At this point we make a point to specifically invoke and honor the
deity that we are bloting. We attempt to list as many names
functions of the God as possible and this serves a dual purpose in
reminding the attendees of who the God is and why we are honoring
This is, however, separate from the offering.
At this point we like to remind ourselves why we are here and what
Gods mean to us. We sit and someone either offers a spoken
or more often reads a story from the mythology. While most of
enjoy the poetic edda, we usually use a modern prose version of the
myth as it is easier to follow.
The Gothi takes up the horn and his assistant (often called .The
Valkyrie. by Asafolk) fills it with mead. The Gothi then steps
altar and holds the horn aloft and asks the God to partake of it and
charge it with his power.
Toast to the deity of occasion
This is when we begin to deviate substantially from the standard
Asatru blot ritual. Beginning with the Gothi the horn is
raised and a
toast drunk to the God. The horn is then passed around to the
and a personal toast repeated. The only rule here is that the
is dedicated to the God invoked. Many times the toasts are
thanksgiving or requests for aid or wisdom.
At the end of the round the remains of the horn (and there should be
some) are poured into the blotbowl.
We then take two more rounds to toast whatever Gods, ancestors, and
beings each person wishes. There is not necessarily any
from one person to the next. Brags or oaths are also
this time. Professions, other major oaths, and major works of
thanksgiving or praise are usually done before the blot. The
and third toasts are usually reserved for small things.
Finally we always remember to thank the deity and ask for his
continued blessings on the Folk present.
Oath Ring ceremony
Our kindred has a ceremony that affirms our dedication to each
to the kindred, and to the Gods. Each full Professed and
Kindred member comes forward and takes hold of the oath ring.
blessed in having a 6. diameter brass oath ring made for us by a
kindred member.) One person then recites a rede concerning itself
the symbol of a ring and something which connects us to the Gods,
Earth, and to each other.
I should repeat, only kindred Members participate in this. If
haven.t sworn on the oath ring, you don.t take part in the ceremony.
We have enlarged this at public events to all Professed persons, but
change the rede to remove references to the kindred.
Finally we leave the Hof and pour a libation on the physical earth,
adjourning outside to do so if we are indoors. The blot
ground signals that the ritual is truly over. When we are
indoors in a living room or other non-dedicated space I always make
sure I am the first to return and extinguish candles, turn on
lights, etc. This provides a good hint to people.s minds that
ritual is, in fact, over. If we had a dedicated space, the
outside to pour the blot would also empty the Hof and we would
to the feast rather than returning to the temple.
Raven Kindred Calendar
The Raven Kindred meets on the first weekend of each month and for
four major Norse holidays: Summer and Winter Finding (Spring & Fall
Equinox), Summer Solstice, and Yule. Traditional festivals
been moved to fit our monthly schedule have their traditional date
parenthesis. Festivals marked with a .*. are particular to the
Kindred. There are other holidays which our kindred does not
celebrate, but which are recognized by Asatru and celebrated on an
individual or family basis.
1st weekend . Frig.s Distaff . Celebration of Frigga and the home
1st weekend . Disting . Celebration of Freya and the Disir (Trad.
1st weekend . Founding of the World. Celebration of Odin,
3/21 . Summer Finding - Celebration of the Goddess Ostara.
celebration of the Raven Kindred.s founding, Spring Equinox 1991.
1st weekend . Alfarblot. Sacrifice to the elves and nature
(traditionally celebrated as part of Disting)
1st weekend . May Day/Walpurgis. Celebration of spring which
dedicate to Njord and Nerthus. (Trad. 5/1)
1st weekend . Festival of Mead dedicated to Aegir and also to Bygvir
3/21 Summer Solstice . Dedicated to Sunna, Goddess of the Sun
1st weekend . Blot in honor of Baldr*
1st weekend . Freyfaxi, first harvest and celebration of Frey and
horse (Trad. 8/1)
1st weekend . Discovery of the Runes, celebration of Odin as the God
of Wisdom (Odinic Rite holiday celebrated 8/25)
9/21 Winter Finding . Disirblot (Disirblot traditionally
1st weekend . Tyrblot, celebration of Justice and Honor.
Court session begins 1st Monday in October)*
1st weekend . Einjerhar, celebration of war-dead and Ragnarok
Dedicated to Odin and Freya (Trad. 11/11 . Armistice
1st weekend . Winterblot, dedicated to Skadi and/or Ullr*
12/21 . Yule, multiday festival dedicated to Thor et al
a festival lasting from the Mother Night 12/21 to New Years Day)
The Bylaws of The Raven Kindred of Asatru
The Raven Kindred of Asatru is an unincorporated non-profit
association dedicated to the worship of the Old Norse and Germanic
Gods and the practice of the ancestral religion of Asatru.
A. Associate Membership in the Raven Kindred is open to
practitioners of Asatru. No benefits are implied or guaranteed
B. Full Membership (aka Voting Membership) is obtained
majority vote of the current full members then present. Each
may vote yes, no, or to table the motion for 3 months.
Full Membership shall have fulfilled the following qualifications
before being considered: 1) The candidate must have pledged troth to
the Aesir and Vanir. 2) The candidate must be willing to place
priority on his loyalties to Asatru and the Raven Kindred over other
spiritual commitments. 3) The Candidate must be willing to
oath of membership to the Raven Kindred.
C. Membership of any type will not be denied on the
race, sex, or sexual preference.
D. Full or Associate Membership may be revoked by a vote
thirds of the Full Members then present.
E. Membership in the Raven Kindred of Asatru, either
Full, may be resigned by serving verbal notice at any function of
Kindred or by written notice.
A. Governance shall be by majority vote. Each Full
have one vote. Only Full Members shall vote, but any
parties shall be given reasonable access to address the Kindred.
Members may hold proxy for other Full Members.
B. Such officers as needed shall be appointed for
and functions the Kindred deems necessary.
C. Meetings, during which the Kindred may conduct
be scheduled by the Kindred as needed, but the Kindred shall meet
less than once every six months. Any time that 50% of the
Full Members are met together, either physically or through other
interactive means, a meeting may be declared for the purpose of
Subject to the restrictions in section V, the Raven Kindred of
shall seek out alliances with other groups of similar nature and
purpose for the betterment of our faith as a whole.
The Raven Kindred of Asatru shall not sign any treaty or affiliate
with any group that would deny its independence as an entity or
control its internal affairs. In any alliances, affiliations,
treaties, these By-Laws shall have precedence over any other
instruments signed by the Kindred.
These by-laws may be amended by a vote of 2/3 of all Full Members.
Any proposed amendments must be circulated to all Full Members in
writing 30 days before such amendments may be voted on.
Sources and Resources for Asatru
Please note: This resource list is provided as is and is intended to
be comprehensive. The Raven Kindred doesn.t necessarily endorse any
the following organizations, publications, etc.
The Ring of Troth P.O. Box 25637; Tempe, AZ 85285-5637 The Ring of
Troth was founded by Edred Thorsson. He resigned in Spring of 2242
(Runic Reckoning . 1992 C.E.) and has been replaced by Prudence
Priest, most well known as the editor of Yggdrasil.
The Ring is governed by an appointed High Rede of 9 persons who
the national affairs of the Ring. They offer a number of programs
include an Elder training program for prospective clergy, The Rune
Ring for study of the magical properties of the Runes from within a
Germanic Pagan context, and recognition for local Kindreds.
The Ring of Troth requires that .its members affiliate for cultural
and religious reasons rather than for racial and political reasons.
The use of the Ring of Troth as a platform for any type of political
or racial propoganda will not be tolerated.
The Troth provides a quarterly magazine and a networking list. There
are also regional gatherings put on by individual Kindreds. Work is
currently underway on a book of rituals.
Dues are $24 and include a subscription to Idunna. If one does not
wish to join, Friends of the Troth may receive Idunna for $24 as
The Asatru Alliance of Independent Kindreds P.O. Box 961; Payson AZ
The Alliance is the linear descendent of the Asatru Free Assembly.
They are a democratically run national confederation of independent
kindreds who meet once a year in an Allthing to conduct business. It
is essentially conservative and libertarian. .The Alliance is based
upon the ancient model of tribal democracy known as the Thing, and
member kindreds support a code of laws we feel necessary to preserve
and protect Asatru from those who would dilute, subvert, or in any
harm our religion. Membership in the Alliance is encouraged for
who actively promote and believe in the Aesir and Vanir and our
collective Heathen Heritage. Anyone interested in joining the
should contact the kindred of choice for acceptance. There is no
membership in the Alliance except through a kindred. Applicants must
subscribe to the membership requirements of the kindred of choice
uphold the bylaws of the Asatru Alliance.. This group has recently
adopted a declaration stating that Asatru is an ethnic religion, so
membership now seems to be limited on the basis of race.
The Odinic Rite BM Edda; London, WCN 3XX
The Odinic Rite BM Runic: London WCN 3XX
These two organizations are each claiming to be the .true. Odinic
Rite. The BM Runic address is the older one, but the BM Edda address
seems to be producing more publications. I.d suggest writing to both
and figuring it out on your own. The Odinic Rite is an organization
for the revival of Odinism in England. If one sends a few postal
coupons I believe each will send you information. Both publish
Eagles Reaches P.O. Box 382; Deer Park TX 77536-0382
Eagles Reaches is now doing national organizing and correspondence
The Raven Kindred 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902
The Raven Kindred offers correspondence connections, regional
coordination, booklets and pamphlets. They also operate the
Network, a correspondence network for Wiccans to discuss the
compability with and conversion to Asatru.
Vor Tru . $12/year. The Journal of the Asatru Alliance (see above
address). Concentrates on community issues within the Alliance, news
of kindreds, letters, etc. Sometimes contains racist material.
Idunna . $24/year. The journal of the Ring of Troth. Idunna
concentrates on fairly heavy academic subjects, runelore,
etc within a religious framework.
Mountain Thunder . $18/year, 1630 30th St #266; Boulder CO 80301.
Glossy covered and well put together. Usually excellent articles on
relgious issues of Heathenry, scholarly stuff, reviews, and opinion.
Has devoted a lot of commentary to the Asatru community and where
Uncle Thorr.s Newsletter . $12/year, P.O. Box 080437; Staten Island
10308-0005. Simple newsletter with ranting and raving from Uncle
and company, news from NY, and articles on lifestyle, runes, and
Ask & Embla . $12/year; P.O. Box 271; Carrollton OH 44615. Small
amateur production with commentary on Asatru and nothern lore.
Raven.s Cry . Write for rates & sample; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175;
Wheaton MD 20902. Small iregular kindred newsletter
Wyrd Network Newsletter . Write for rates & sample; 11160 Veirs Mill
Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902. Newsletter/letter exchange for Wiccans
interested in Asatru.
The Runestone . $10/year; P.O. Box 445; Nevada City CA 95959.
Published by Stephen McNallen & Maddy Hutter, this is the
reincarnation of the AFA.s seminal journal on Asatru. Interesting
commentary, interested in heroic viking past.
On Wings of Eagles .$25/year; Eagles Reaches; P.O. Box 382; Deer
Odinism Today . .8.50 (overseas) BM Edda; London; WC1N 3XX;
England/United Kingdom. A nice little quarterly with articles on
mythology, reviews, etc.
ORBriefing . $20 (overseas) BM Runic; London; WC1N 3XX; England/UK.
small newsletter of happenings and opinion.
American Church of Teutonic Life; 107 Court St, Suite 131; Watertown
NY 13601 Arizona Kindred; P.O. Box 961; Payson AZ 85547 (Asatru
Alliance) Asatru Fellowship; P.O. Box 271; Carrollton OH 44615
Fellowship; 858 W Armitage Ste. 139; Chicago, IL 60614 Barnstokker
Hearth; P.O. Box 1972; Seattle WA 98111-1972 Bond of the Grae Wolf;
119 Waipapa Rd; Hataitai; Wellington 3, New Zealand Crow.s Nest
Kindred; P.O. Box 3392; Galveston, TX 77552 Eagle Kindred; P.O. Box
1942; McCall, ID 83638 Eagles Reaches; P.O. Box 382; Deer Park TX
77536 (Ring of Troth) Freya.s Folk; 537 Jones St #165; San
CA 94102 Gering Hall; 720 Huntington St; Watertown, NY 13601 Hammer
Oak Kindred; 2626 35th Ave; Oakland, CA 94619 Hammerstead Kindred;
P.O. Box 22379; Lexington, KY 40522-2379 Helga Ve Kindred; P.O Box
531; Bouse, AZ 85325 Heritage and Tradition; CP 244, Succ. P.A.T.;
Montreal Quevec, H1B 5K3 Canada Hlidhskjalf Kindred; 1513 Thurlow
Orleans, Ontario K4A-1D8; Canada Hrafnaheimr; 7162 Melrose Ave; Los
Angeles, CA 90046 Irmunsul Hearth; P.O. Box 18812; Auston, TX 78760
(Ring of Troth) Midgard Kindred; P.O. Box 4071; Toledo, OH 43609
Mountain Moot; P.O. Box 328; Elizabeth CO 80107 Nerthus Heart; 27
Rd; Black Hawk CO 80422 Niumd Baqra Kindred; P.O. Box 4371; Sunland,
CA 91041 North Carolina Kindred; Rt 3 Box 113; Laqwndale, NC 28090
Northern California Kindred; P.O. Box 445; Nevada City CA 95959 N.
Ancestral Runic Fellowship; P.O. Box 199045; Indianapolis, IN 46219
Norvegr Kindred; 219 Lewis St; Wash Court House OH 43160 Ocean
Kindred; P.O. Box 09007; Staten Island, NY 10309 Raven Kindred
P.O. Box 1137; Sturbridge MA 01566 Raven Kindred South; 11160
Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton, MD 20902 Saehrimner Kindred; 1861 County
1114; Cullman, AL 35055 Skelland Kindred; P.O. Box 7608; Clearwater
34618 Thorr.s Hammer Kindred; 9461 Bella Vista Rd; Apple Valley CA
92308 Torwald Kindred; 1630 30th St #266; Boulder CO 80301 Ullsbekk
Kindred; P.O. Box 1156; Denver, CO 80201 Vinland Kindred; P.O. Box
15431 PSS; Stamford CT 06901 (Asatru Alliance) Vlissinger Hearth;
154th St; Flushing, NY 11354 Wotan Kindred; 8117 NE 32nd St;
Vancouver, WA 948662 Wulfing Kindred; P.O. Box 18237; Chicago IL
(Asatru Alliance) Yggdrasil Kindred; 1709 West Midvale Village Dr;
Tucson AZ 85476
The Poetic Edda, Lee Hollander translation (basic mythology in an
excellently translated poetic version.)
The Prose Edda, Jean Young translation (basic mythology)
The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley Holland (basic mythology in modern
language and retelling, excellent for readings or meditation)
A Book of Troth by Edred Thorsson (Not my favorite author and not a
book without many imperfections, but the only mass market book of
basic rituals of Asatru)
Teutonic Religion by Kveldulfr Gundarsson (basic text on modern
Germanic Paganism. I also recommend his book on runes Teutonic
The Raven Kindred Ritual Book (basic text on Asatru ritual and
beliefs, $5 from the Raven Kindred South, checks made out to Lewis
Stead, available for free download from online services or the
Moonrise BBS at (301).5939609 or by e-mail from
The AFA Rituals, three volumes available from World Tree Books ($18
from World Tree) The original ritual volumes from the Asatru Free
Introduction to Ritual and Invocation Tape ($7 from World Tree
A basic cassette tape that goes through a ritual step by step, the
other side is a variety of invocations and prayers.
The last two are from World Tree Publications; P.O. Box 961; Payson
85547 (checks payable to the O.F. of Arizona). World Tree is a
of the Asatru Alliance and carries a number of tapes and booklets as
well as Thor.s Hammers and statuary.
Computer Network Resources:
There is a Runes & Asatru conference on the Pagan/Occult
System (PODSnet). This network has nodes around the world and BBSes
drop in and out of the network. The following are long term stable
boards: The Mountain Oracle, Colorado: 719-380-7886, Baphonet, New
York: 718-499-0513, Mysteria, California: 818-353-8891, Sacred
Washington State: 206-634-1980, Moonrise, Maryland/DC: 301-593-9609,
Pandora.s Box, Ottawa Canada: 613-829-1209, PODS, Sydney Australia:
61-2-833-1848, PODS Melbourne Australia: 61-3-796-2180
The Troth Line is an internet mailing list for Asatru and The Ring
Troth. For subscription information send an E-Mail message to
firstname.lastname@example.org. The list itself is at
email@example.com. The internet is accessable through
Online, CompuServe, Delphi, and tens of thousands of other
Please send additions and corrections to Lewis Stead; 11160 Veirs
Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902 or through e-mail to