View Full Version : Woden and patronage

Monday, December 27th, 2004, 08:22 PM


by Erich Campbell

I have heard many times that there are too many Asatru people who have Odin as their "patron" god. Many cite the fringe element, those new to Asatru, and the position of Odin as "head god" as causes of the supposed glut of Odin's men and women. I feel, as one who is truly, willingly, and knowingly dedicated to Wodan that I would do well to address this observation.
One thing I have noticed is that most of these observations of "excessive dedication to Odin" are brought up in an electronic medium. E-mail lists, news groups, web-pages, etc. are often frequented by or attributed to Odin's men and women. I feel that there may be a certain amount of truth to the great numbers hinted at when the forum is the Internet. I also say that the Internet is by no means the gauge by which we should measure all Asatru. Odin/Wodan, being a god that holds communication and the art form of crafting words under his sway, is likely to find the Internet as a great opportunity. What better place than the Internet for the gathering of information and the exchange of ideas? People dedicated to Odin are very likely to be involved directly with communication and/or creative expression, and are often seen as the driving force behind endeavors in these fields within heathen communities. Though I will by no means insinuate that Odin's people are the only ones making such endeavors, or that they are inherently better at such work, I have often read in e-mail discussions that the Odin-dedicated member of a kindred is often the one to build the web-site, write the flyers and newsletters, reply to mailings, etc. This vocal, communication-driven nature, coupled with the ease of communication offered by electronic media, may serve to make Odin's people seem to be more prevalent in the heathen community than they truly are. It is my personal experience that there are many more Asatru people dedicated to Thor, Freyja, Freyr, Tyr, and many other Gods and Goddesses present in a face to face meeting than are vocal in the electronic media.
I will concede to those who cite the fringe element that I find the trend of "Odin worship" among the politically-motivated groups out there to be incredibly wide-spread. I must also say that I find the conceptions that they subscribe to disgusting misrepresentations of Odin, and that I consider those who so often scream "Hail Odin" as a way to charge themselves for hatred and ill works to be no kind of Asatru at all. There is no honor in those workings, and no knowledge of what Odin is about. I find those who see Odin as a god solely of battle and death very insulting. They seek to limit Wodan, and greatly ignore the parts of him that are the wanderer, the wild, Wod-dealer, and the old wind-god. Without these aspects, and others I have not mentioned, any view Wodan seems sorrowfully truncated.
I see the question of dedication in those new to Asatru as greatly moot. Many of those who are new have not yet developed relationships with, nor understandings of, the Gods and Goddesses. They are often searching for their own take on Asatru, and until they find their "niche" I see no need to chastise them or berate them for trying to find their good friend among the Gods and Goddesses. I, for one, thought that I was Tyr's own before I truly understood how my works were unfolding. I assume that if there is a certain popularity of Odin among these newcomers, that many will go on to find the God or Goddess that has really chosen them, or even to having no patron at all, and that this popularity is due more to initial familiarity than anything else.
In reference to popularity based on some idea of divine hierarchy, I find it highly unlikely that anyone would deny their own nature in order to claim dedication to a god just because he is the supposed "head of the pantheon." In the context of the ancient religion, different places held different Gods as the practical head of the pantheon. It is well documented that certain groups held Thor or Freyr as the chief god. I think that Wodan has played a major part in the resurgence of heathenry, but in my personal experience there is a fairly large number of Thor's, Freyja's, Tyr's, Freyr's, and other non-dedicated people, and that it is even questionable to some that a heathen would want Odin as a patron. He may be referred to as the head of the 12 god council, but I have known those who place no hierarchy among the Gods, and I personally tend towards a lack of consideration for such an ordering. As I see it, the "real" dedicated people of Wodan/Odin are very aware of their relationship with him, are very mindful of what that relationship entails, and are usually called to him by their gifts, never having given his "status" a thought.
Overall, I see a need to ask a different question why not Wodan? Though I thoroughly believe that Wodan is not as prevalent as one might think among the dedicated, it seems to me that if he was, there should be no problem inherent in that fact. If a god is a more avid "collector" of Asatru people, why should we question the numbers? What would be wrong with a great number of Wodan's men and women? It seems to me that in an age of drastically increased literacy, countless avenues of communication and information sharing, etc. that Wodan would be a more common patron than in an ancient frame of reference. Simply put, more people now exercise the gifts of Wodan. More people are inclined toward the working of words and the gathering of wisdom, and thus, Wodan has quite a few more people to choose in those respects. Despite all other views and arguments on the subject, the most important thing to remember is that one need not worry about how many others are dedicated to a god or any god, one only need seek their own truth, and find their own friend, whether among men and women, or among Gods and Goddesses.