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Asatru as a Living Tradition


New Grange Hall

3,882 words

Author’s Note:

This essay was an address delivered to the members of the Asatru Folk Assembly on Friday October 16th, at the AFA’s Winter Nights in the Poconos. I wish to thank Steve and Sheila McNallen, Brad Taylor-Hicks, et al., for inviting me, and for their hospitality and friendship. Hail the AFA!

Last month I celebrated the AFA’s acquisition of New Grange Hall with a short essay entitled “What New Grange Hall Means for Us.” It was published on the Counter-Currents website. In the essay I stated at one point:

It will be fascinating to see the new forms of artistic expression that will take shape as members of the AFA begin to adorn this austere, modern American structure. And new forms of ceremony, theology, and community will take shape there as well. All of them will be the result of a dynamic interplay between the old and the new. The work that will take place on the building, and the new-old forms developed within it, will parallel the process that is taking place in each of us as we learn to be true to the gods of our ancestors.

Actually, I intended this statement to be deliberately provocative. I wanted to challenge the idea that New Grange Hall will simply be a place where the old is re-created. Such an idea is understandable. We tend to think of Asatru, in the main, as a revival of something old, and as a recovery of something lost. It is this, of course. But I would like to suggest that it is much more than this. It is a living tradition, not something that ever was closed and complete. And for us to participate in that tradition means to add to it, to develop it in new ways. What makes this possible, I will argue, is precisely the fact that Asatru is a folk religion: a religion of and for a specific people. This is something that members of the AFA know, at least in some abstract sense. But they may not fully appreciate all of its implications.


Tommy Ferguson with his handiwork.

Let’s begin by considering the fact that many of us tend to think of Asatru as a set of doctrines or beliefs that need to be reconstructed or recovered. Even where Asatruar do not explicitly understand the religion in doctrinal terms, I think for many of them this understanding is implicit. How did it come about? The answer is fairly simple. Christianity supplanted Asatru. Most of us were raised in the Christian religion. And even for those lucky few who were not raised as Christians, this is the religion most familiar to us. There is a tendency, therefore, to understand other religions in terms of how Christianity understands religion itself. We must be on our guard here, as this tendency is very often present even when we are not consciously aware of it.

As a type of religion, Christianity can be characterized as doctrinal or creedal. The other sort of religion is folk or ethnic. This distinction has to do, really, with the criterion for membership in the religion. Folk religions are specific to a certain people or race. Examples include Hinduism, Judaism — and Asatru. One is automatically a member of the religion simply by being born a member of the ethnic group. This will immediately invite the following sort of objection: “Is Rev. Mike Schmidt, the Baptist preacher who lives next door to me, automatically a member of Asatru simply because his ancestry is Germanic?” The answer, in fact, is yes. But this is a point to which I will return much later.

The intimate tie between a folk religion and the folk is reflected in language. The term “Hinduism” is derived from the Persian word “Hindu,” which actually just denotes the Indian people. The etymology of “Judaism” is similar, deriving ultimately from a word that simply means “Jew” (a “member of the tribe of Judah”). The words themselves therefore do not distinguish a member of the ethnic group from an adherent to the religion.

Now, our ancestors did not use the term “Asatru.” They did not have a name for their religion at all — just as ancient Hindus and Jews didn’t refer to “Hinduism” and “Judaism.” Given that ours is an ethnic religion, it would make more sense that the name of our religion, if it should have a name at all, ought to be based on the name of our people. (And if our religion did have such a name, much of the controversy over whether it should be folkish or universalistic might be simply sidestepped.)

Robert Taylor's Geist-Hof, Washington Island, Wisconsin

Robert Taylor’s Geist-Hof, Washington Island, Wisconsin

Today, if asked by a Hindu what religion we practice, we can answer “Asatru,” and he will tell us that he practices “Hinduism.” But think how different the conversation would be if it had taken place a thousand years ago or so. No names of religions would have been exchanged. Perhaps, instead, names of gods would have been mentioned. But there would have been an understanding that each man simply follows the religion of his people (though even the word “religion” would not have been used). It would not occur to one of our ancestors to think “Perhaps I’ll become a Hindu.” Essentially, that would have meant changing tribes. This is what it means to belong to a folk religion.

The name “Asatru,” of course, does not clearly convey the folkishness of the religion, but it seems to be the name we are stuck with. An unfortunate, unintended consequence of this word is that “Asatru” becomes in the minds of modern Westerners an abstraction: one of the many religious “options” that they naively believe they may choose from, like shoppers in a department store. All these religious options are conceived, of course, in terms of the idea of a “belief system,” and of doctrines which one might take up or choose to believe in simply by reading about them in a book.

In the case of religions which make doctrine or creed central — religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism — membership is open to all. What makes one a member is not ethnicity, but the fact that one professes the faith; i.e., professes the creed or doctrine. The conversion of our people to Christianity was not fundamentally a case of one set of doctrines being replaced by another, but of one conception of religion being replaced by another: we went from a folk religion to a creedal one. And we have lived with it for so long that when we look back to what was lost and seek to recover it — to recover Asatru — we often unconsciously see the religion of our ancestors through the lens of creedal religion, and think of it in terms of a set of doctrines that must be recovered, codified, and adhered to. There is even a tendency to think of the Poetic Edda along the lines of the Bible. This is an error for a number of reasons, the least important of which is that the Eddas date from Christian times. The crucial error here is that Asatru is not, and never was, a religion of the book.

Now, one of the most significant differences between ethnic and creedal religions is that the former tend to be more tolerant of differences of opinion and interpretation, whereas the latter tend to be extremely intolerant. Consider Hinduism. Anyone who studies this religion and so-called “Indian philosophy” at a certain point has the feeling of being absolutely overwhelmed: there are so many different myths, cults, practices, injunctions, and paths to enlightenment that it is all rather bewildering. Many of these conflict. And yet they are all Hinduism. If you ask a Hindu how many gods there are you may be told 33 — or 330 million. Or that both are true. You may be told that behind all manifestation, including the gods, is Brahman. And that the gods are mere mythic ways of approaching the ultimate truth, not actual beings. A Hindu who took such a position would, in fact, be an atheist. Yet he would still be accepted as a Hindu. A different Hindu might tell you that both the Gods and Brahman are real. And yet these two men, with diametrically opposed views, would unquestionably regard each other as Hindus.

A similar diversity of viewpoints is to be found in Judaism. Beyond the familiar division between Orthodox and reformed Jews, who most certainly consider each other to be Jews, one will find great differences in all theological matters, often debated in minute detail. The history of the Kabbalah alone reveals radical differences. There are even Jewish kabbalists who believe in reincarnation. And yet, again, with rare exceptions all of the Jews taking these very different positions regard each other as Jews.

The situation appears quite different when one turns to Christianity and Islam. In Christianity theological differences inevitably lead to schisms. It is only today that Catholics can look at Lutherans and say, “Well, despite everything we are Christians, after all.” But that is simply because everything has become so watered down and dumbed down today, even in the Churches, that most young Catholics and Lutherans have never been taught what it is that separates them. Just a hundred years ago, these differences were well known. And Christians from different sects used to truly believe (and sometimes still do believe) that those other Christians aren’t real Christians. And sometimes they sincerely believed that those false Christians would go to hell.

In the last decade or so the differences between the sects of Islam have been in the news quite a bit — to the point where some Americans may be more familiar with those differences than with the ones that divide Christians. We have learned, for example, that some Muslims regard others as not being Muslims at all, and are quite willing to put them to the sword in the name of the “true religion.”

In addition to all this, we have the well-known phenomenon of Christian and Muslim intolerance toward those of entirely different faiths. True-believing Christians and Muslims think that Hindus and Jews are going to hell — unless, of course, they convert. For their part, Hindus and Jews may well regard Christians and Muslims as inferior beings, but they have no interest in recruiting them or stopping them from practicing their own religions.

What explains this curious divide between ethnic and creedal religions? The tolerance of the one and the intolerance of the other? It’s not that Christians and Muslims are monotheists, because the Jews are as well. The answer, quite simply, is that members of an ethnic religion are bound together not fundamentally by doctrines but by their ethnicity. Again, the denotation of “Jew” and “Hindu” is both a member of the ethnic group and an adherent to the religion. Thus, Jews who hold radically different theological views are still Jews to one another. Even atheist Jews are still Jews. And likewise, as I’ve said, for Hindus.

So what does this mean for us? What does it mean for Asatru? Quite simply, if Asatru is a folk religion then what unites us fundamentally is not a particular set of beliefs, but blood — common ancestry. And because of this, we may tolerate, indeed celebrate, an infinite variety of ways in which Asatru might be interpreted and developed. Nothing except betrayal of one’s people — or adoption of a creed that would lead to such betrayal — could justify the claim that someone is no longer practicing Asatru. This means that Asatru can be and ought to be an incredibly rich and vibrant religion. And yet, as I noted earlier, there is a tendency among Asatruar to think that the practice of our religion is a matter always of going back, and staying true to so-called canonical sources.

As an example of this, consider the attitude of many Asatruar to Wagner. I wrote an essay several years ago titled “Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition,” in which I argued that the great composer should be seen as a modern skald — indeed, the greatest of all times. But, the familiar objection goes, why did he have to change the myths? Well, the simple response to this is: why did all the other skalds have to change the myths?

All the Scandinavian accounts of the Siegfried or Sigurd legend that Wagner drew on are now thought to be developments and elaborations of German originals. If one compares the accounts of the legendary hero in the Völsungasaga, Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and other sources, one will find that they differ with each other as much as do Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is completely pointless to debate which is the “authentic” story. Each of these sources is an artistic creation. They are not self-effacing attempts to faithfully mirror some original source. That would, in fact, be contrary to the Germanic spirit! No, they are highly individual creations, using certain basic stories as a framework which they then embellish and elaborate, often intermingling it with other myths and heroic legends.

Even if one points out the obvious fact that Wagner employs the myths to convey his own ideas, this is irrelevant. Should we suppose that the authors of the Eddas and Sagas were really doing anything different? They too were recasting pre-existing material in order to speak to their own time – and to reveal truths that were timeless and universal.

For our ancestors, Asatru was something that they were actively involved in creating. And to return to that religion means for us to continue this act of creation.  For our ancestors their religion was a living, growing tradition. And each individual member of the folk had the power to add to, expand, and recast it. Thus, to revive or re-create Asatru cannot be a matter of simply reaching back into the past and setting up old forms and beliefs as gospel. Those old forms and beliefs, in fact, changed and evolved over time.

This process involved a continual oscillation between past and present. Steeped in the lore of their forebears, our ancestors responded to new challenges, discoveries, dreams, and inspirations by adding to, transforming, and sometimes discarding old, established forms. What made this process possible? Again, the answer is precisely that Asatru is a folk religion. Not only were our ancestors steeped in its lore from infancy, that lore came from them — and could only have come from them.

Here I touch on something absolutely essential, but also quite mysterious and impossible — I believe — to ever fully explain in rational terms. Each race, each ethnic group, each tribe is distinct both on the outside and on the inside. In addition to conspicuous physiognomic characteristics, each also has distinctive ways of thinking, feeling, and moving. They have distinctive ways of responding to nature, responding to challenges, of looking at the past and the future, of thinking about the heavens and the earth, of understanding the differences between male and female, of dealing with the ever-present possibility of death, and so on. In some cases, the differences are great: the differences between any member of any European tribe and any member of any tribe of Asia are very great indeed. Whereas comparatively the differences between members of the different European tribes is much less, though there are still significant differences.

Why do these differences exist? How did they originate? One answer is that peoples changed and evolved as they adapted to different environmental circumstances. But, as I have said, the precise reasons why these differences exist will probably forever remain somewhat mysterious. In any case, each people, each tribe has produced its own religion. And these religions are expressions of the spirit of each people, and are saturated with its idiosyncrasies. As I have written elsewhere, Ásatrú is an expression of the unique spirit of the Germanic peoples. And one could also plausibly claim that the spirit of the Germanic peoples just is Ásatrú, understanding its myth and lore simply as a way in which the people projects its spirit before itself, in concrete form.

This means that each of us carries Asatru inside of us. And this is also true of those of our people currently committed to other faiths. As I have said, one is a member of a folk religion simply by being born a member of the folk. Therefore, we must learn to see others like ourselves as Asatruar who do not know that they are Asatruar. Those tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed Mormons swarming around Salt Lake City talking of Joseph Smith are kinsmen of ours, built to worship Odin and Thor. They have just not yet awakened to who they are. But if we all carry Asatru inside us, this will manifest itself in countless ways even if we are consciously committed to other faiths. This is the root fact that explains the phenomenon that has been called the “Germanization of Christianity,” a very long process, which culminated in the terrific upheaval and bloodshed of the Reformation.

The fact that each of us carries the spirit of Asatru means that each of us is capable of bringing forth new forms and developments of Asatru that are authentic. Of course, one of the problematic characteristics of our people is our tendency to become lost in idealism, lost in abstractions, and to become disconnected from our roots. How can we be sure, then, that some of our own might not unwittingly bring forth material that perverts the spirit of Asatru? This is certainly possible. But this is why the oscillation I spoke of earlier is absolutely necessary: we must first look to the past, and then from that encounter bring forth the new. Our ancestors lived in intimate connection to the lore. We must recover that connection. But, to repeat, the lore was changing and expanding constantly during the lifetime of our ancestors. In order to make ourselves capable of becoming creative actors continuing that process, we must pick up the lost thread and first familiarize ourselves with it. And once the spirit of Asatru has awakened in us — once we know again who we are, who our people is — then we may be confident that the new that we bring forth will be an authentic expression of that spirit.

Pick up the lost thread — or find again the path that we have strayed from. As a way to reorient ourselves, I suggest that we think of Asatru not as a creed or faith, but rather as a path or a way. When we consider the conversion of our people to Christianity, we should see it not as a matter of losing a set of doctrines, but instead losing our way. Or, if you prefer, becoming side-tracked.

In what sense is Asatru a path? This term is so familiar to us that we have lost the sense of it as metaphor. A path or trail in the forest is one that has been deliberately cut or trampled. The forest is the wilderness. It is the wildness that human beings encounter and must contend with. A path is our way of passing through this wildness. A path is not a superhighway. It does not simply eradicate or remove wildness by bulldozing it. Instead, a path is a way through the wilderness. It follows the land and makes its way around its features. It is a human creation, because, again, it must involve some degree of cutting or trampling, but the path preserves wildness, and is our own way through it. Paths are formed by those who know the land and wish not simply to move through it but to live in it.

Now, most actual paths have a beginning and an end. A path is usually a path between two definite points. For example, a path may begin at the edge of the forest, take us through the forest, and deposit us out the other side. But wilderness as such, the natural world surrounding us, the universe in which we find ourselves, has no end. The metaphorical paths that lead through it may have a beginning, but they can have no end. Human beings are continually finding their way through wilderness. There is no end to this process, and so no end to the path.

All folk religions are paths through the wilderness that have been created by a unique people, forged in its encounter with a certain part of the earth. In the case of living folk religions, these paths keep growing; the people continues to extend the path through the wilderness, finding new ways around and through the new features of the world and of human experience that it encounters. Our task is to set ourselves back onto the path of Asatru, and to extend that path.

As I have said, the careful study of what has come down to us from our ancestors is a necessary precondition of finding the path again. But then what it is needed is nothing more complicated than imagination. The old stories have the power to capture our imagination. We know this. That is why we are here. But can we take this a step further? Can we retell those stories — and, dare I say, embellish them? For this is just what the authors of the Eddic poems and the Sagas did. And, to make an even more radical suggestion, can we invent new stories, new situations involving the gods and the heroes? For our ancestors did that as well.

But won’t these just be made up stories? Yes, and no. The myths that came down to us were made up stories as well. Their truth does not consist in the fact that they reported things that actually happened. Rather, it consists in the fact that they “rang true,” as we say. They said something about life and death and the forces of nature and human trials and tribulations that moved our ancestors, and to which they gave their assent.

So yes, let us make up stories. Our kinsmen will decide whether or not they ring true. Those that do will be added to the hoard. Those that do not will be forgotten. Each of us, each member of the folk, has the power to do this: both to add to the hoard of lore and to decide what should or should not be added.

Those who are of the folk, but not awakened to that fact and to the fact that they carry Asatru within them will only respond to our message if Asatru can clearly be seen to be a way of living in the present. Rather than a way of living in the past. A living religion is one that continues to have the power to make sense out of the world for us, and to orient us in present actuality. A dead or dying religion is relevant to the past alone. Its myths, which are fixed and unchanging, must be explained, for they no longer have the power to speak to us directly.

Asatru as a living tradition begins in the past, and to know this path involves knowing its origins. But just as it was for our ancestors, Asatru must be a path taking us through the present, and into the future.


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  1. A. Reader
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s sad, but the term Asatru seems fatally corrupted. Case in point:

    If we use the term, I feel it should always be preceded by Folkish. Folkish Asatru. Unfortunately, Asatru does not connote a blood spirituality/tradition, because that’s not how it’s being used by the zombie hordes of universalist airheads. I don’t know how much energy we should put behind a term so badly compromised.

    The ideal European cultural/spiritual movement would have an explicit reference to European blood built right into the name. Collin Cleary points to the examples of Judaism and Hinduism. I propose Eurofolkism (or simply Eurofolk) as an umbrella term to encompass all living European spiritual traditions embraced by actual Europeans. It would hold our aboriginal lands (and founded nations) as sacred, along with our blood and living traditions. No regional tradition would be held as greater than another, though there would be broad subgroups (Greek Eurofolk, Germanic Eurofolk, etc.) and various denominations within those subgroups. The only rules of Eurofolkishness would along the lines of commitment to our blood and lands, the veneration of our ancestors and traditions, and the embrace of our sacred duty to European families and our descendants. The greatest sins and sacrileges would be brothers wars, invasion of our lands by non-Europeans, the undermining of our lands and people from within.

    Naturally we’d have a few pan-European celebrations/observations (like the celebration of solstices and equinoxes) which reinforce our sacred bonds of blood, culture, and spirit.

  2. Wanderer
    Posted October 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    This article made me see Asatru in an entirely different light.

    Asatru had always struck me as a somewhat metaphysically barren and static religion due to its sole reliance on a given set of historical sources for orthodoxy. This in fact turns Asatru into a Sola Scriptura religion.

    Now solascripturism on the one hand sanitizes Asatru from New Age and leftist contamination and subversion. On the other hand, however, it collapses Asatru into a specific, spatio-temporally determined religious form — more or less faithfully reconstructed from the written sources –, with a closed set of dogmas, etc. As if there could be no further “revelation” after the Eddas.

    This isolates Asatru from all subsequent, authentic Germanic spiritual development, such as for example the mysticism of Eckhart and Boehme, and the philosophy of German Idealism, most of which is Christian merely “culturally” or in name only and due to the circumstances, as Hauer, Günther, Benoist and others have argued.

    However, if Asatru membership were to be determined by heritage alone and not by orthodoxy — as the author of the article seems to propose –, and if it were possible to “tolerate, indeed celebrate, an infinite variety of ways in which Asatru might be interpreted and developed”, then not only this would make Asatru a more interesting religion, but it also would prevent both dangers of leftist subversion and scriptural fundamentalism. The former because this understanding would presuppose a race realist, right-wing worldview. The latter because it would shift the focus of theology from scripture to the spiritual insights of the Germanic peoples.

  3. A Faustian
    Posted October 24, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you for that insightful exposition. As for me I feel that that Way or Path as come to me …

  4. Richard Benson
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Why are there never any heathen Greek or Roman influences in these revivalist groups? The best elements of Greece and Rome were just as Nordic as the Vikings, and their rites and ways are much better known, since they actually had the time to build a real civilization before being christianized.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Actually Greek and Roman religion were not really Indo-European. Rome took its religion and mythology from Greece, and I think a good case can be made that Greece took its religion and myths from the pre-Indo-European Minoan civilization. So there are not really many points of comparison between Greco-Roman religion and Asatru, and those who feel an attachment to the Nordic gods do not see much that is recognizable in the pagan religions of the Mediterranean shore. Scholars like Georges Dumezil have shown convincingly that what is most Indo-European about the Greek and Roman minds are to be found in their epics and archaic mytho-histories, not their religions.

      • John
        Posted October 24, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Actually, the Greek and Roman religions (including both their respective mythologies and ritual traditions) were recognizably Indo-European, albeit with significant influence from the Eastern Mediterranean (including the Near East). There are indeed, many good websites, journals and books detailing the parallels between the Greek/Roman and the other Indo-European traditions. A good introduction can be found here: (if you ignore the brief obligatory political correctness about ‘Indo-Europeans’ being merely a linguistic group).

        • John
          Posted October 24, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink
          • A. Reader
            Posted October 24, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for the link, I’ll check it out. The interplay of Indo-European mythology (and language) with various regional mythologies is one of the most fascinating things in the world.

            I can think of a number of additional examples, such as the three goddesses who spin destiny in Greek and Germanic mythology (which may have come to Germanic mythology via Rome), the ubiquitous god or goddess who rides a sun chariot across the sky, the equally ubiquitous solar wheel (or sun cross, Wheel of Dharma, etc.). Then, of course, there’s the very name of Zeus (Zeus Pater, Jupiter), cognate with Germanic Tiwaz (source of the day name, Tuesday), Vedic Dyaus Pita, Indo-Iranian daivas, and the reconstructed PIE Dyeus Phater (Sky Father), which relates etymologically to our words deity, divinity, the Latin Deus, and even day, which could almost make our “Tuesday” something like “Dayday” or “Skysky,” should we be so silly as reduce its components to their core etymological root.

      • Donar van Holland
        Posted October 25, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        The Minoan civilization may actually have been Indo-European. Ancient Minoan DNA is most similar to populations from western and northern Europe. The population showed particular genetic affinities with Bronze Age populations from Sardinia and Iberia and Neolithic samples from Scandinavia and France. See:

        As far as the preference of most White Nationalists for Germanic paganism is concerned, it seems that the Greek-Roman Gods have been the victim of the scepticism and pragmatism of the ancient Roman themselves, and even more of “Verharmlosung” by bourgeois-Christian aestheticism. Even the Dionysos of Nietzsche does not catch my imagination. Of course, the blood also speaks loudly. For me as a real Dutchman, a Frisian to be exact, the Germanic Gods seem much more alive than the others, whatever the refinements of Greek-Roman civilization.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted October 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

          Indo-European is a language and culture. The Minoans were European genetically, but not Indo-European linguistically and culturally. The first Indo-Europeans in Greece were the Myceneans, who spoke an early form of the Greek language but adopted much of the material culture of the Minoans. The Pylos tablets also indicate that the Myceneans worshiped the later Greek pantheon. But the names of the Greek gods are not Indo-European, with the exception of Zeus, which is not so much a proper name a generic term for heaven, or a contraction of Heavenly Father (Dyaus Pater). I think that given the non-Indo-European names of the Greek gods, the lack of parallels to Indo-European mythology in Greek mythology, and the wholesale adoption of Minoan material culture, that it is reasonable to think that the Greek mythology is Minoan mythology, which makes sense given that some Greek myths deal with the Minoans, e.g., the story of the labyrinth and the minotaur.

          • John
            Posted October 26, 2015 at 4:57 am | Permalink

            I’m afraid you’re working with some bad information on this one , Greg. Many of the Greek deities had names attributed to Indo-European roots; Posiedon means ‘Master of the Waters’, Demeter ‘Mother of the Earth’, Hades means ‘the Unseen One’, and so on. As for parallels between Greek and other Indo-European traditions, as stated above, there are many. A. Reader gave some examples, but there wouldn’t be enough room on this website for all of them. Instead I encourage you to delve into the fascinating study of Indo-European comparative religion, you may just find all sorts of insights in unexpected places. Indeed parallels can be seen not just in the gods and their functions, but also in rituals, traditions, epic stories (particularly the Iliad) and traditional histories (which were often based on earlier myths). The evidence for Minoan influence, while certainly considerable, is largely circumstantial, especially when it comes to mythology (we know little of the actual mythology of the Minoans, since we’ve been unable to decipher their writings), and usually comes down to a case of “we can’t find an Indo-European cognate for this, hence it was probably borrowed from somewhere else”. Nonetheless, Ancient Greece was unmistakably an Indo-European civilization, influenced by ancinent Indo-European ideas, as encapsulated in their myths and legendary narratives.

          • Donar van Holland
            Posted October 26, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            Thank you for your explanation! The non-Indo-European origin of the Classical pantheon may explain what I perceive as the precarious position of the Gods, especially in Roman society. I get the impression that philosophy, hermeticism, and the cult of the Lares, the ancestors and even living heroes were much more important. The Roman Gods seem to lead a purely formal existence, being vague, remote, connected to state business, and easily replaced by imported cults.

            I wonder whether Cleary would say that the Minoans belong to the broad current of Asatru, as they are genetically European. And should the Italians adopt the Indo-European pantheon? That would be opening a whole can of epigenetic worms, I fear. But then, our scholarship does not require the exactness of natural sciences.

          • AE
            Posted October 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

            Why should attempts at a heathen revival be strictly Indo-European? None of us are “pure” Indo-Europeans and we all have genetic heritage from multiple European invasions and settlements. No doubt this was reflected in the regional mythologies and rites of pre-Christian Europe.

            I find the theory which posits an early split of Anatolian languages/cultures from Pre-Proto-Indo-European likely, so I don’t think the IE invaders were confronting a completely alien culture or religion, which is why the transitions from one culture to the other appear to be relatively seamless in the archaeological record.

            Of course, Danielou may be right and Old Europeans could have been Shiva-worshipping Dravidians, explaining the relative absence of a Shiva equivalent in the Eddas and Vedas, but strong parallels in Crete, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

          • Greg Johnson
            Posted October 26, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            I agree. Being too focused on the Indo-Europeans is identifying with one ingredient in European culture to the exclusion of the rest. It is a form of false consciousness, because nobody is a pure Indo-European. It is like a modern Englishman LARPing as an Anglo-Saxon, when that is just one ingredient of English identity.

    • Theodore
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      “The best elements of Greece and Rome were just as Nordic as the Vikings”

      No, they were not. Fantasies of Kemp, Sims, Pierce, Gunther et al are not reality.

      • A. Reader
        Posted October 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Ted, I don’t think most Germanic folk want to take anything away from Greeks or Italians. While we’re here I’d like to assert that Merkel IS being widely damned by the “movement”, so can we please, please drop that narrative? I like to read EGI Notes every day, and I go into a sulk when there’s not a new post, but the whole “Merkel isn’t being criticized” thing is getting weird.

        Anyway, the Greek/Roman religions are so rich I can’t understand why anyone there would be focused northward for their pre-Christian traditions, though it’s clear that some serious ANE (not “Germanic) folks did, in fact, drop by those places at some time, just as they rolled through more northern places and everywhere in between. If they hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have a female goddess who serves food and/or drink of immortality to the other gods as with the Greek Hebe w/ nectar and ambrosia, the Vedic Mohini with soma/amrita (cognate with ambrosia), and the Germanic Idunn with her golden apples (not forgetting that mead also relates to the other foods/drinks mentioned, with soma/amrita at times referred to as both madhu — cognate with Mead — and nectar). Neither would we have a spear-toting father of the gods or Allfather who turns into an eagle and imbibes the stuff, which also ties into the story of the Vedic Garuda.

        It’s true, there are a lot of differences, but I see the points of similarity as very good things which should be highlighted. There’s been influence going in all sorts of directions, and that’s one of the things that strengthens our bond as Europeans. Don’t you embrace a pan-European approach to solving our problems? If any Germanic meanies come around with the untenable claim that they were responsible for Greek/Roman religion, maybe you should be prepared to tell them that “Yes, we do have very interesting similarities, but they may have come about not as you think, but more like…”

        Then we can all share a big pan-European hug and talk trash about the frumpy Frau as much as you like.

        • Theodore
          Posted October 24, 2015 at 4:57 am | Permalink

          I’m glad you like EGI notes (based on page views, that blog has readers in the most interesting places…as does the anti-HBD blog. But that’s another story). You may want to look at the latest Salterian post answering Proofreader.

          I must have missed the ant-Merkel comments. But, I guess one can beat a dead horse only so much. Point made.

          As far as your other points, that’s all fine and nothing I can really disagree with. But just as some folks may get tired of me beating dead horses so I get tired as well. I really cannot believe sometimes that folks really believe that the classical world was Dolph Lundgren walking around in a toga.

          In the last analysis, that’s all Old Movement stuff that it is better for me to ignore.

          • A. Reader
            Posted October 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            Don’t get me wrong, Merkel cannot be bashed enough. She is, without exaggeration, one of the greatest villains in European history, and she should be removed from office and made to stand trial for what she’s wrought (and I’ll leave it to you to imagine the outcome, as I know you’re up to the task). She, and many other “leaders” of Western countries are clearly in open rebellion against their people. I just think that at this point we pretty much unanimously agree that she’s an enemy of European people, whatever her motivations.

      • Proofreader
        Posted October 26, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink


        Just out of curiosity, who exactly is the Sims you referred to above? I know you’re referring to Arthur Kemp (The March of the Titans), William L. Pierce (Who We Are), and Hans F. K. Günther (The Racial Elements of European History), to specify their full names and their most Nordicist writings, but I haven’t encountered the name of Sims before, aside from David Sims, who has been an employee of the National Alliance and who has also written as Jerry Abbott. I haven’t encountered Nordicism in what I’ve read of David Sims’ writing.

        I intend to write a reply to your recent post at EGI Notes. I might want to consult Conway Zirkle’s Evolution, Marxian Biology, and the Social Scene and a few other works.

  5. Peter Quint
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Hail Odin! We must go back to our pre-christian days, discover who we are, before we can go into the future.

  6. Arno
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    The discussion of paths reminded me of Tolkien’s Mirkwood from The Hobbit. From the Song of Roland through Romanticism and the modern fantasy genre, I think there is an unbroken chain of Germanic story telling. It seems that Asatru embraces these stories not merely as entertainment, or diversions, or hobbies, or pleasures on the side, but as serious sources and centers of communal spiritual life. This idea is already unknowingly present in World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons clubs, but unfortunately these gatherings are more focused on an autistic obsession with abstract rules and statistics than on real world crusades.

  7. Posted October 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    One question for the author: Is a person of mixed Germanic and Celtic ancestry, say, automatically a member of Asatru? Or are they automatically both Asatru and Druid (or something)? Or neither?

    • Zarathustra
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      Both the religions share so much in common. I have recently become interested in the preceding religion, the proto-indo-european religion, and you can see both of the spreading off from there. They are basically the same religion, just isolated from each other over time. I am also a mix of both celtic/germanic stock, and I see them as the same people. My identity is just European. I see it all as much of the same in Western/northern/eastern Europe.

    • A. Reader
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      This is an interesting question, so I’d like to chime in.

      Given that there’s so much overlap, I’d simply draw from both of these related traditions, which themselves have all sorts of regional variations and underwent all sorts of changes over time. It does seem we know more about Germanic religion than we do about Celtic religion (and we should note that “Druid” specifically refers to the priestly class in ancient Celtic society, and we know precious little about them). At the end of the day, you’re talking about Northern European peoples. The exact rituals and names of deities matter less than the practices to which we’re drawn by blood memory, and the archetypes which underlie various deities.

      You can go a long way by comparing and relating various Celtic deities (and/or aspects of deities) to Germanic deities, not to mention those of Greek, Indian, Slavic, Indo-Iranian (etc.) type. One of the primary ways we learn about any given Indo-European spiritual/mythological tradition is by examining all of the other Indo-European traditions. I take a holistic view of Indo-European mythology, with a special focus on the Germanic type. None of us — Irish, Norwegian, German, whatever — are straight ANE horsemen. We’re each a mix, in varying proportions, of a few broad, closely-related European groups. What’s important is that we’re European, we’ve been European for tens of thousands of years, and at some point in the last several thousands years those crazy ANE horsemen more or less tied a big bow around the whole business, which provided a fascinating layer of cultural commonality that’s there for those who care to look.

      I commented on another article relating to the new Hof, noting that It’s called NewGrange out of a sense of brotherhood with Celtic people:

      Stephen McNallen, the main figure behind the AFA, wrote a short article on this very subject:–McNallen-.htm

      For digging deeper, I recommend this blog:

    • A Faustian
      Posted October 24, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      That was my thought also. I identify much in the Celtic Myth and religiosity that is of Germanic spirit

  8. sorensen
    Posted October 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Great article!
    I especially enjoyed the explanation of “the path” metaphor, because many people use expressions without realizing what they actually mean or where they come from.
    For example, Tradition. Critics of tradition, or traditionalism, take the word at face-value and believe tradition to be synonymous with stagnation or those who live according to their traditions are somehow stunting progress (I’m using progress literally not ideologically).

    Speaking of phrases and metaphors;
    “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of the flame.”
    This is a great quote. I’m using it because this article explains what it means perfectly.
    As long as our folk walk the Earth, the flame of Asatru can never be snuffed out entirely, no matter how far off the beaten path we may have strayed.

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