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    Modern Reconstructions of Our Germanic Heritage

    Modern reconstructions:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    not all those who wander are lost.
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    deep roots are not touched by the frost.

    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    a light from the shadows shall spring.
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    the crownless again shall be king.

    (Tolkien)

    For a long time I believed that Germanic culture and religion were forgotten in our modern world, but when I surfed the internet I was surprised to see how alive it still is.

    Thousands of people all over the world are still interested in our Germanic heritage and are desperately trying to keep it alive; on this page I shall describe some of the reconstruction attempts those people have made.

    Religion:
    One of the most interesting aspects is the reconstruction of Germanic religion, there are still people who believe in the Germanic gods, they make offerings to them and celebrate the ancient holidays.
    Officially the Germanic religion ceased to exist in the 11th century AD with the conversion of Norway to Christianity, however; a lot of the common people (especially in Iceland and Scandinavia) kept their old religion, they went to church every sunday but to most of them it was just a weekly social meeting and lots of them combined the new Christian faith with their old religion, which may have caused some funny moments like people going to church while still making offerings to their old gods.
    One of the reasons for this is that the Christianization of northern Europe wasn't as intense as it was in most other parts of Europe; Iceland and the Scandinavian countries were mainly converted to Christianity by diplomatic and economical pressure instead of swords so for a long time many people could safely keep their heathen faith without much problems, eventually Scandinavia also fell victim to the fanatical missionaries and many Christian kings severely procecuted their heathen subjects.
    When the atmosphere became less tolerant towards the practitioners of the old heathen religion they were forced to profess their religion in secrecy, just like the Christians had to do during Roman times.
    After some time more and more people converted to Christianity because that was the only religion that could be practiced openly without the risk of punishment for being a "heretic", the exact date is not certain but I estimate that the last heathens were converted around 1300AD, some individuals (especially in isolated areas in Iceland and Scandinavia) may have still continued the practice in secrecy but the mainstream of the population became Christian.

    In the 17th century the absolute influence of the Christian church diminished which allowed organisations to study ancient cultures and religions and in the 19th century the Romantic Age started in which the people went in search of their roots again; this age has been the cradle of many new ideas, some of which were highly dangerous while others were beautiful and enlightening, Jacob Grimm published his "Teutonic Mythology" and Richard Wagner created "Der ring des Nibelungen", ancient cultures and religions became popular again and people began to rediscover the religions of the Romans, Germans, and Celts.
    In the beginning of the 20th century some secret societies were founded that were based on Freemasonry, Celtic religion, Greco-Roman religion and Germanic religion, this societies were often covered in secrecy because the church's influence was still quite strong so being a member of such an organization was not very improving for your career and social life.
    In 1933 the nazi's came into power in Germany, they adapted Germanic culture and religion to their own evil purposes and abused it in such a way that people nowadays still have to defend themselves for being interested in it.
    In contradiction to what most people think, the nazi's were not really interested in our Germanic heritage, they only used it as a nice wrapping to cover up their real plans, in fact; many followers of new-heathen religions and/or traditions were put into concentrationcamps because the nazi's were afraid they could pose some kind of threat to them.
    After the second world war new-heathenism slowly began to recover and in 1973 the Asatru Free Assembly (A.F.A.) was founded in America, numerous organisations followed and Asatrú was officially acknowledged as a legitimate faith in Iceland, in some Scandinavian countries Asatrú is called "Forna Sed" or "Forn Sidr", which means something like "the old ways", the word "Asatru" means "Loyal to the Aesir".
    Unfortunately there are also many neo-nazi's who use Asatrú as a cover, because of this many people associate new-heathenism with nazi's while the real new-heathens have nothing do to with this type of groups.



    Nowadays there are many different forms of new-heathenism, I shall limit myself to the ones that are connected to Germanic religion in some way.
    It may be possible that I make some mistakes so please let me know when I'm wrong:

    Heathenism: the name "heathenism" or "Germanic heathenism" is often used by those who believe in the old traditions, in most cases it is a reconstruction of the old Germanic religion and traditions that includes all (western, eastern, and northern) Germanic traditions, often adapted to the modern world and its inventions, though the name heathenism is a very broad term and there are many different groups that use the name.
    Asatrú: is also a reconstruction of the old Germanic religion though it is more orientated on northern Germanic (Scandinavian) heathenism.
    Vanatrú: this name is used by people who are more devoted to the Vanir and therefor dislike the word "Asatrú".
    Forn Sidr: this religion can be compared to Asatrú though it is even more orientated on Scandinavia.
    Theodish belief: this religion originates from Great-Britain and is more orientated on the traditions of the Anglo-Saxons.
    Wicca: this is a religion based on the belief in a mothergoddess, witchcraft, and the superiority of women over men, it is a mix of Celtic, Greco-Roman and Germanic religions mixed with New Age and other beliefs, their slogan is "Do what thou wilt but hurt none".
    New Age: like Wicca, New Age groups often use aspects of Germanic religion and mix them with other religions.
    Wodanism/Odinism: this religion is almost identical to Asatru though both have different origins, Wodanism/Odinism is also more orientated towards mysticism and comes forth from the monotheistic belief, some Wodanist/Odinist groups only acknowledge the existence of the high god Wodan/Odin while others also acknowledge the existence of the other gods, although in a more minor role.

    This was just a brief description of subjects that are way too complicated to describe on one page, I fully realize that religion cannot be described in one sentence so if you want to know more about a certain religion I advice you to visit some of the sites on my links page.
    Of course there are many variations of this religions so if I forgot something please notify me and I'll add it to the list.

    Many new-heathen organisations are divided in two groups; folkish and non-folkish.
    Folkish groups believe that every ethnic group has the right to have their own native religion and their target group only consists of people of Germanic descent.
    At first I thought that this was some hidden form of racism but after having had some talks with this people I found out that it had nothing to do with it; they just want every people to return to their native religion because they believe that the native religion of a people is the best adapted to the needs, culture, psychology, and norms and values of that people, so converting people of non-Germanic descent to Germanic heathenism would mean destroying their original culture and identity, most folkish people are very tolerant and open-minded so calling them racists would be totally unfounded.
    Non-folkish groups consider everybody as their target group and try to convert as many people as possible, New Age and Wicca groups are often non-folkish, another word for non-folkish is universalism.

    Many people think that new-heathens are nazi's, hippies, Satan-worshippers, or other weirdo's but for most groups this is absolutely not true; there are always some rotten apples in the basket as we say it in the Netherlands but most new-heathens are normal people like you and me; they go to school or work, fall in love, marry, have children, meet friends, watch tv, etcetera, the only difference is that they do not go to church on sunday but instead make offerings to their gods.
    I know many new-heathens myself and most of them are nice and charming people who have nothing to do with sacrificing virgins or drinking blood, they have respect for other peoples and cultures and they do not believe in the devil because he is a Christian invention, new-heathen groups often work together with others to achieve their goals, for instance with the Native American Indians to preserve their nature reserves, there is even an Asatrú site for gays and lesbians that can be found here.
    Another misconception is that new-heathens also believe in fairy tales and folklore, they all honour the gods but most of them do not believe that they literally fly through the air in billygoat wagons or that snow is caused by Holda turning the bed, there is a difference between the original core belief and the tales surrounding it that have been written later.

    Most new-heathens can not be recognized as such, though they sometimes wear a Thor's hammer pendant around their neck or a Valknut, which is often used as the symbol of Asatrú, their religion does not have a central authority like the Catholic church has the pope, but is instead organised in small groups that are called "Troths", "Sibben", "Tribes", or "Kindreds", groups with the same beliefs are sometimes linked together by an umbrella organisation but most of them are solitary.
    Just like Christianity is divided into Catholiscism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, etc, the new-heathen religions are divided into several factions as well, most of them I have already described on this page.
    Talking with new-heathens about their religion can sometimes be confusing because they use terms that are unknown to outsiders, they often use words from old Norse or other old Germanic languages that are only known to them or people with historical interests, a "gođi" for instance, is a priest and a "gyđja" is a priestess, a "fylgja" is your personal guiding spirit and "Wyrd" is another word for fate, America they often call "Vinland", some new-heathen groups even speak entirely in another language with eachother.
    Unlike what some people claim, new-heathen groups are no sects and people are free to come and go whenever they want, in most groups it is even forbidden to try to convert people because they believe that a person must choose for this faith out of free will and not because he or she has been indoctrinized, so it will be hard to find a "new-heathen Jehova witness"; for this article I have spoken with many new-heathens and none of them have ever tried to convince or convert me, the fact that they are compared with nazi's and devilworshippers by some people is extremely insulting to them, and in my opinion it is a great injustice to falsely accuse this people of such things.

    In more and more countries the heathen traditions of our ancestors are becoming popular again, especially in Scandinavia where some heathen groups even receive funding from the state to build heathen hofs and other religious places, the new-heathens in Denmark can now even officially conduct marriages within their community, as is described in this newsarticle of the Associated Press from November 2003:

    "Denmark to Accept Norse God Marriages
    11/5/03

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Home to the Vikings of yore, Denmark said Wednesday it will let a group that worships Thor, Odin and other Norse gods conduct legally-recognized marriages.

    "To me, it would be wrong if the indigenous religion of this country wasn't recognized," Tove Fergo, the minister for Ecclesiastic Affairs and a Lutheran priest, told The Associated Press.

    Under Danish law, the state Evangelical Lutheran Church has sole authority to recognize other religious communities.

    The 240-member Forn Sidr, which worships Odin, Thor, Freya and the other members of the Norse pantheon, sought recognition in 1999, said Tissel Jacobsen, the group's president.

    Last year, an Ecclesiastic Affairs panel of scholars recommended that Forn Sidr, whose name mean "Old Custom" in old Norse, be approved, but only if their rituals were clearly detailed in its bylaws.

    "At a general assembly, we added and described our four annual heathen rituals - spring and fall equinoxes, and the summer and winter solstices, and our marriage ceremony," Jacobsen told the AP. "We then returned our application and the panel approved it."

    Fergo said she would give her final approval "in a few days."

    About 1,000 people worship the ancient gods in Denmark, Jacobsen said.

    Since 1998, the panel of theology, law and history scholars have advised the government on which groups seeking to become religious communities, should be recognized.

    "It was not up to me to evaluate whether they are telling the truth or the quality of their religion," Fergo said. "Based on the commission's evaluation and what I have read, I consider it a good religion."

    Officially recognized religious communities can marry people and exempt their members from the 1 percent income tax that is imposed on members of the state church.

    People born in Denmark are automatically made members of the state church, but can choose to leave it if they want. Members of other recognized religious communities, such Catholics, Muslims and Jews, are also exempt from the tax."



    Another newsarticle from "De Stentor" November 7, 2003:

    "Denmark acknowledges 'heathen' religion
    Copenhagen - Denmark has officially acknowledged the followers of the old, pre-Christian Scandinavian religion Forn Sidr (The old tradition) as a religious community.
    With this, worshippers of the gods Odin and Thor have been given the right to conduct marriages and have tax exemption for gifts.
    Forn Sidr, 240 members strong, are trying to have their religion acknowledged since 1999.
    In that religion Odin, god of war, poetry, wisdom, and death, and his oldest son Thor, god of the thunder, play a great role."

    Interviews:
    I have decided to interview two heathens to give a better understanding of new-heathen traditions, this two people are Thorve and Bjarki Valgardsson, in the interview with Thorve I will ask some questions about daily life as a heathen and in the interview with Bjarki I will ask some questions about the position of new-heathen religions in the world.


    The first interview is with Thorve, whose real name is Susie Gardner-Rush, she is a Thorsgyđja and practices her faith with her family, she is also an artist, mother of two daughters, and lives in the United States:

    Interviewer: What is the difference between heathenism and other religions?

    Thorve: I, myself, do not consider heathenism a religion, and I will explain why. According to most good dictionaries, religion is defined thus:
    "belief in, recognition of, or an awakened sense of, a higher unseen controlling power or powers, with the emotion and morality connected therewith...".
    Consider for a moment the part a higher unseen controlling power or powers... that alone disqualifies heathenism from being a religion. Our Gods do not control us nor do They control matters of the 9 Worlds omnipotently. They are our ancestors and, though They do have great skills/gifts, They are affected by wyrd as well as we all are. We must gift to Them to gain Their attentions and work to keep Their favour. It is a mutual undertaking, not a "given" upon being converted. One does not convert to heathenism... it is a birthright and one simply realises who s/he is and has always been. Regardless of what clothes one has or has had to wear, underneath, your skin is still your skin.

    Interviewer: How do you express your religion and what gods do you believe in?

    Thorve: I am oathed exclusively to the Ćsir, Vanir and Álfar. I tend to live according to mine own understanding of the Eddas and sagas. I mean that as, I live as honourably and honestly as I am able to perceive things to be and strive much to improve myself with each passing day. I seek to understand the wisdom of our ancestors and apply it pragmaticly to modern life. I also realise that a thousand years has gone by since the lore was written. Many things change and grow, whilst others pass away. Our Elder Kin and Their families have also changed and grown and some may have even passed on... therefore, there is as much to learn, as well, to remember.

    Interviewer: Do you pray to your gods or make any offerings?

    Thorve: Gifting is essential to our people. One does not have a relationship with the Elder Kin if s/he does not offer to Them. I am a firm believer in the sacredness of both blood and honey. Both are mentioned many times in the lore and often together. A closeness to the land and the cycles of life are blessings. Culling of the herds is a fine time to make sacrifices. If one lives beyond the rural farming communities, then it is obviously less likely that s/he will find culling/gifting a cyclical opportunity. If this be the case, I think it best to offer that which is heartfelt and within ones means. I have had success in offering milk & honey, fresh veggies & fruits, well prepared meals, items of gold and so on.

    Gifting is essential to our people. One does not have a relationship with her/his kinsmen if one does not offer hospitality and appreciation for friends and family. This includes Younger Kin (Ancestors) and our holy Dísir.

    Interviewer: What kind of people are heathens?

    Thorve: I am not sure what you are looking for with this question. Each person has her/his own gifts. Each person perceives truth by way of her/his own life's filter. There is an ideal amongst our people to be striven for, though I am not privy to the actual number amongst us that choose to make it their goal.

    Interviewer: What is the heathen view towards drugs, sex, and alcohol?

    Thorve: I tend to observe the wisdom of the Hávamál and that which has been offered in the sagas. I believe that moderation observed in all things brings well-being.

    Interviewer: What is the heathen view towards the modern world?

    Thorve: We are the modern world, thus said, we either contribute to its weal or take away. Our individual views most likely reflect the ways in which we have chosen to live according to our ancestral traditions. We may add or subtract to Miđgarđr as strongly as the next person/tradition. I am ever the optimist... I fully believe in adding to it.

    Interviewer: How do others react to your beliefs?

    Thorve: Interesting question ... and a fair one. I am fortunate to have been raised very spiritually. My mother is a very open-minded woman and certainly my personal heroinne.Several of the women in my family are spae-wives, even though many have utilised their gifts through the filter of christianity. I, myself, have been heathen since I was quite small. Regardless of differences in beliefs, we value family above all else. I am very lucky ... I generally get on well with most folks I meet and our "differences" simply are not an issue. I would hope that through my hospitable nature, I encourage frithful notions about our traditions. Of course, there are the moments I have had to forego hosptality and speak/act against ill works ... but even in those circumstances, I have found that the generous heathen heart prevails!

    Interviewer: Thank you for this interview.


    The second interview is with Bjarki Valgardsson, whose real name is Donald von Milikowski, he is a gođi of the Arizona Kindred of the Asatru Alliance and a US war veteran, he is also father of a boy and girl and he lives in the United States:

    Interviewer: What is new-heathenism?

    Bjarki: New-heathenism is the rebirth of the old ways of all people taking rise into modern society. People were looking for answers that the "New Belief" could not answer, like, "Since some of my ancestors were not Christians, where are they now?"

    Interviewer: What forms of new-heathenism are there?

    Bjarki: Well, I cannot count that high.... In all honesty, too many to count, here in the States alot of people are finding cultures that I personally never heard of.

    Interviewer: What is the Asatru Alliance exactly?

    Bjarki: http://www.asatru.org
    Better words there than I can use to describe myself. In a nutshell (if you are lazy like me) it is an alliance of Kindreds within the Asatru community. We hold an AlThing once a year for Asatru Alliance Kindreds and invited guests to come and debate laws and discuss business, also partake in events of community building and merriment.

    Interviewer: How is a group like the Arizona Kindred organised?

    Bjarki: Arizona Kindred is a group of families in (and out of) the state of Arizona. We gather together in the name and spirit of Asatru. We have a Board of Directors in which there are three chairs. We meet eight times a year officially to Blot, but some of the families are closer in region so they tend to gather more. There are no set rules for the Kindred so to say, as independant as the Folk are "rules" are pointless. Let us learn from the Havamal as some would say.

    Interviewer: How many people do you think are practicing this religion?

    Bjarki: Too many.... Asatru has become popular in all areas. I am of the belief that people need to seek out their past and not live others.

    Interviewer: Does your kindred celebrate ancient holidays?

    Bjarki: To be honest no one today really knows when the holy days really were, only speculations are made. To be honest I think holidays were on a need-to basis, crops go bad - lets offer sacrifice.

    Interviewer: What do you think will be the future of new-heathen religions?

    Bjarki: Christanity - I am not kidding, as Ragnorok represents, life is a cycle, a circle, what is new today is old tomorrow and may become new again..... For example - BELLBOTTOMS.

    Interviewer: Thank you for this interview.


    Pan-Germanism:
    Another reconstructionist movement is pangermanism, the goal of this non-religious ideology is uniting all peoples of Germanic descent into one union or empire, some base it on ethnic grounds, others on linguistical grounds.
    The pangermanistic movement is very old, in Roman times attempts to unite the people of Germania were undertaken by Arminius (the same man who defeated the Romans at the Teutoburger forest) but his effords were done in vain because he was eventually killed by rivals, Theodorik the Great had the same ambitions but his plans were thwarted by the Franconian king Chlodovech who was trying to build his own Christian empire.
    In the 19th century AD pangermanism became popular again, especially in Germany and Austria, though it was more used as a political tool by agressive expansionists rather than an ideology, the same thing happened in Russia where panslavism was used for the same purpose; this opposing expansion urges would eventually cause world war 1.
    There are different forms of pangermanism, the agressive ones that are prepared to wage war to achieve their goals and the more peaceful ones who use diplomatic means and strife for a union similar to the Europen Union, in WW2 the nazi's covered up their plans of world domination by pretending to have pangermanistic ideals which has caused great distrust towards the modern pangermanistic movements.
    "Pangermanism" is a very confusing term because it is used for both "German" and "Germanic", the first one is based on people who speak the German language.
    Most pangermanists are normal people but if you are interested in this movement I advice you to be careful and inform yourself well because there are both normal and extremist versions of this ideology.



    Educational reconstructions:
    There are also educational reconstructions of Germanic history, this groups are not religious or politically orientated.
    Numerous clubs exist with people who enjoy dressing up as Vikings and perform scenes from those times as a hobby; they reconstruct old houses, hold showbattles, and walk around in old costumes informing people about "their" lifestyle.
    There are lots of Viking events and open air museums who contract this groups to perform their scenes for the visitors, in the Netherlands there is a historical park named Archeon in which reconstructed villages from several historical periods can be visited, complete with people dressed up as inhabitants of that village performing their daily lives, some groups even create their own cloathing, weapons, furniture, etc. to make it look more realistic.
    Đa Engliscan Gesiţas is an organisation that offers information about the Anglo-Saxons, they are even working on a reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon village, Angelcynn is an organization of people who dress up as Anglo-Saxons and perform scenes to inform their viewers about the daily life of the Anglo-Saxons, a similar group is Regia Anglorum.
    Hurstwick is a group of people reconstructing the lifes of the Vikings.
    Some people consider the members of this groups "infantile", but to most of this people it is just a hobby and I think that this groups do a very good job showing people the living history of our ancestors; they can be very effective in teaching history lessons to schoolchildren instead of all that boring dusty books, when I was little I once saw a group of this people performing a battle between three knights on horseback, and I can still remember that much better than all the books I've read during that time.


    http://www.geocities.com/reginheim/reconstruct.html


    Die Sonne scheint noch.

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    Unfortunately there are also many neo-nazi's who use Asatrú as a cover, because of this many people associate new-heathenism with nazi's while the real new-heathens have nothing do to with this type of groups.
    I find that offensive. One can be a Nationalsocialist and a Heathen and be true to both. I do not use Odinism as a cover. The author should not make such generalisations.

    Wicca: this is a religion based on the belief in a mothergoddess, witchcraft, and the superiority of women over men, it is a mix of Celtic, Greco-Roman and Germanic religions mixed with New Age and other beliefs, their slogan is "Do what thou wilt but hurt none".

    New Age: like Wicca, New Age groups often use aspects of Germanic religion and mix them with other religions.

    Wodanism/Odinism: this religion is almost identical to Asatru though both have different origins, Wodanism/Odinism is also more orientated towards mysticism and comes forth from the monotheistic belief, some Wodanist/Odinist groups only acknowledge the existence of the high god Wodan/Odin while others also acknowledge the existence of the other gods, although in a more minor role.
    I don't believe wicca/new age reconstructs or preserves any of our ancient faith. They steal some of our tradition and mix and match it with non-Germanic traditions.

    I also disagree with that definition of Odinism. It is typically called Odinism because Odin is the All-father. All the gods and goddesses are important to Odinists.

    There seems to be a strong fluffy bunny wiccan element to this article with paragraphs like this:

    Many people think that new-heathens are nazi's, hippies, Satan-worshippers, or other weirdo's but for most groups this is absolutely not true; there are always some rotten apples in the basket as we say it in the Netherlands but most new-heathens are normal people like you and me; they go to school or work, fall in love, marry, have children, meet friends, watch tv, etcetera, the only difference is that they do not go to church on sunday but instead make offerings to their gods.
    I know many new-heathens myself and most of them are nice and charming people who have nothing to do with sacrificing virgins or drinking blood, they have respect for other peoples and cultures and they do not believe in the devil because he is a Christian invention, new-heathen groups often work together with others to achieve their goals, for instance with the Native American Indians to preserve their nature reserves, there is even an Asatrú site for gays and lesbians that can be found here.
    Especially the sentence in bold.


    in WW2 the nazi's covered up their plans of world domination by pretending to have pangermanistic ideals
    Allied propaganda is still alive and well 70 years later. eyes:
    “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs-Jon Jay, Federalist Papers

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