Find Out If It's Possible to Join the Norse Faith!

Old Scandinavian religion, known as Norse paganism, centers on the gods Odin, Thor, and Freya. Norse religion is also experiencing a major revival, paralleling the cultural renaissance of all things Viking in modern popular culture.

Depending on the sect, the rites or ceremonies by which one is formally initiated into Norse religion tend to be less formal. Anyone who publicly accepts their fundamental beliefs is welcome to convert. However, there are some communities that seem to limit who can join.

When the Vikings were at the height of their power and influence in Northern Europe and beyond, they worshiped the Norse gods Odin, Thor, and Freya in much the same way as they did centuries ago. The way they are worshiped is largely unchanged, and that is the point.

Norse mythology places a premium on goddesses. For more information on the Norse deities, check out "The Top 10 Goddesses in Norse Mythology."

Norse goddess Freya Where can I learn more about the various Norse religious traditions? See below

Religious Practices of the Norse in the Modern Era

A sign (though not necessarily the cause) of the Norse warrior society's waning hold over Northern Europe was the rapid spread of Christianity throughout Scandinavia at the end of the Viking Age.

Many Norse people, however, continued to worship their pagan gods in secret while publicly proclaiming their Christian faith.

The core values and beliefs of the ancient Norse religion are being openly embraced and revived by a growing number of people in modern-day Scandinavia, Northern Europe (including Iceland), the United Kingdom, and even the United States.

Among the most significant symbols in Norse culture is the Tree of Life. To find out more about this fascinating Viking symbol, check out The Norse Tree of Life.

Norse religious groups

Today's Norse religion is categorized into several subsets, each of which has its own set of terms by which its adherents identify themselves and their practice.

  • In the Middle Ages, when polytheism first emerged in Scandinavia, the Scandinavians had no name for it besides "the old religion." As Christianity ("new way") slowly made its way into the area, the Norse religion became known as Forn Sidr, or "old way." ”
  • Since the introduction of Christianity, nonbelievers have been lumped together and pejoratively labeled "pagans," including adherents of Norse paganism and neopaganism. Any faith outside of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is referred to as "pagan." Also, any religious practice that predates Christianity.
  • Many adherents of contemporary Norse religion honor the polytheistic worldview that existed in Scandinavia for centuries before the arrival of Christian missionaries by identifying with the term "heathenry," and by calling themselves "heathens."
  • Asatru (also spelled asatro) is a religious movement that originated in Iceland in 1972 with the goal of reviving ancient Germanic pagan practices that had fallen into disuse. Asatru adherents, or Asatruar, seek to revive pre-Christian Norse spiritualism by looking to ancient poetry and sagas for inspiration.  

Today, this branch of Norse religion enjoys the greatest global popularity. [1] [2]

To the Norse, Freyja is a goddess of great significance. More information can be found in Freyja, Goddess of Love, Witchcraft, and War.

Norse runes Where can I learn more about the central tenets of the Norse religion? See below

Embracing a Norse Faith Community

Unlike the world's major religions, which rely on written scriptures and rigid dogma, Norse paganism did not require its adherents to memorize long passages of sacred text or perform elaborate rituals to honor its gods. No strict hierarchy or established order of authority was also present.

Similarly, modern Norse religious practice centers on fundamental ideas like polytheism and ancestor worship, but lacks a codified set of rules for conducting religious rites and ceremonies.

Despite having spiritual leadership at the helm, local chapters are generally loosely organized (though not chaotic), lack a centralized hierarchy, and are not authoritarian.

The Asatru method is the most common example of a formal initiation into a Norse religious group (also called a kindred or hearth), and it consists of the following:

  • The new member declares their allegiance to the Norse gods of Asgard, the Aesir and Vanir, in the presence of a godi (priest) or gydja (priestess) and the local kindred.
  • The new member publicly declares his or her devotion to the Asatru lifestyle and rejects all other religions.
  • An oath ring or other sacred object is commonly used when making such declarations.

Norse believers are not obligated to "save" or convert those who don't share their faith, in contrast to the world's other major religions.

In fact, Asatruars freely admit that their religion is not one that can or should be practiced by everyone. Some Asatru kindreds, in particular, hold that only people with Norse or European ancestry have a place in their church. [3]

For more, check out 25 Norse Gods Every Fan Should Know.

Contemporary Norse Religious Tenets

There is a core set of beliefs shared by all Norse religious traditions, whether they are heathenry, Asatru, Odinism, neopaganism, or Forn Sidr. (For more, check out Norse, Nordic, and Norwegian: What's the Difference?)

Though the finer points of modern Norse religion may vary from region to region and even from kindred to kindred, these are the core tenets:

Polytheism

Norse religion, both ancient and modern, is perhaps most easily recognizable by its emphasis on a vast pantheon of deities. Every god is a mysterious figure with their own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and flaws, and they rule over a specific area of life.  

Complex human interactions can be seen reflected in the relationship between Norse believers and their gods.

Among these is the concept of reciprocity, which entails giving something back when one receives something nice or honorable. A god or goddess should return the favor of a toast or offering by fulfilling the petitioned for good.

Throughout Norse mythology, symbols play a crucial role. For clarification, please refer to What Does Odin's Horn Mean?

The Honoring of One's Ancestors

Ancestors are venerated in Norse religion, but not in the same way that one would a god or deity. Any person whose accomplishments or stature are worthy of remembrance, not just a blood relative, is deserving of respect.

De-centralization

The lack of a set, inflexible doctrine is a defining feature of Norse religion. There is no central hierarchy like in the Catholic Church, and no umbrella group to which local congregations must pay dues.

Traditional Rituals and Observances

Central to Norse religious practice for centuries, the blot Today, blots are still held in honor of and celebration of significant life events like weddings and holidays, continuing this age-old custom.

In place of the ritual slaughter of animals that was once central to Viking Age blots, modern celebrations rely instead on the exchange of food and drink.

To find out if Norse religion predates Judaism, see Is Norse Religion Older Than Judaism?

Wyrd

A central tenet of Norse religion is the idea of Wyrd, which states that everything in the universe is related to everything else.

One person's actions (or inactions) can therefore affect not only that person but also the people around them.

Fridh

Fridh, which means a shared sense of community, kinship, and hospitality among all people, was and is a central tenet of Norse religion. There is a strong emphasis on the idea of reciprocity. [4] [5]

For more on this topic, check out Yggdrasil: Norse Mythology's Sacred Ash Tree.

Modern Devotion to the Norse Pantheon

Rather than seeing the deities of Norse mythology as objects of worship and awe, believers are encouraged to view them as worthy companions and friends.

Polytheism among the Norse deities means that different deities have a greater impact on the lives of different people at different times. Some ways of paying homage to the various deities in your pantheon include:

  • Invoking the fertility deities Njord and Frej is a good way to wish for a fruitful harvest.
  • An appeal to Thor for help in times of trouble is common.
  • Sometimes, when people are looking for love or ready to start a family, they raise a glass to the goddess Freyja.
  • Odin, the all-father, is the one to whom one must pray for guidance and understanding in times of great difficulty [6].

Conclusion

Long after Christianity was introduced to Scandinavia, the old Norse religion of the pagan Norse is experiencing a major revival.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source
[6] Source

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