An introduction to Norse Pagan Practice

Common Misconceptions

Surviving Practices
Social Dynamics

White Nationalism & Neo-Völkisch Influence

Some things circulated in Norse Heathenry originate from Neo-Völkisch influence. Common misconceptions are as follows.

Armanen Runes

The “Armanen Runes” are a series of runes created in the early 1900’s by Guido von List. They are associated with Armanism, or Ariosophy, which is an esoteric field of “wisdom concerning the Aryans.” This occultism is white nationalist in nature and ideologically related to Naziism. The runes themselves are appropriated from the Younger Futhark. Needless to say, they are not Norse or historical to the Norse people.

Innangard & Utengard

Innangarðr and Útangarðr are Old Norse words that mean “inyard” and “outyard.” Linguistically, they denote “what’s inside the fence” and “what’s outside the fence,” possibly referring to cultivated vs. wild lands. While these words are Old Norse in origin, Folkish Heathen groups have given these words new meanings in some modern Heathen circles; Innangard describes the “incrowd” while Utangard describes the “outcrowd.” This concept is White Nationalist in origin and also reflects Christian “us vs. them” dynamics. It’s also not historical to the meanings of these words.

The Nine Noble Virtues
Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance

The Nine Noble Virtues are passed around as the general tenets or the “code” of Heathenry. However, they come from the Asatru Folk Assembly, a Folkish Heathen group. Even though the Virtues don’t look readily suspicious, they can be damning for those they aren’t suited for:

  • They assume adherents are able-bodied enough, able-minded enough, and socially privileged enough to use them in a daily practice.
  • They imply that a “good Heathen” is one that can accomplish tasks, rather than someone who finds connection and value in Norse Paganism.
  • Every word has a subjective definition. If these words are defined by the individual, they can be personally empowering. But if these words are defined by the social group or kindred, they can be used as a form of groupthink and thought-control.

Many Heathens content themselves in creating their own personal values to live by, sometimes even inspired by the Nine Noble Virtues. This also allows a Heathen practitioner to retain agency over the standards they set.

The Black Sun

In his video, Arith Härger explains the history of the Nazi Black Sun.

The Black Sun, or Sonnenrad, is sometimes treated as a Norse symbol. While it’s based off historical Sun Wheel motifs, it’s not itself historic to the pre-Christian Norse. In fact, it’s a Nazi symbol. Invented by a Nazi SS officer, this symbol is a stand-in for the swastika. Because it never belonged to Norse Paganism to begin with, it can’t be reclaimed.

Christian Influence

While Christianization changed Norse Heathenry, further Christian influence may exert itself in Heathen spaces, whether intentionally or not. Below are guides relevant to Christian influence in Heathenry.

Pop Culture Influence

Popular culture had influenced perceptions of Heathenry. While this in itself is not a bad thing, it may require disambiguation.

Marvel

Out of all popular media, nothing in recent history has generated more interest in the Norse Gods than Marvel’s Thor movies. For many Heathens, these movies were their first exposure to the Norse deities. However, many Marvel-specific inventions wind up in Heathen circles, which gives newcomers an incorrect impression of the Norse gods, their motivations, their personalities, and their relationships with one another.

Surviving Practices
Social Dynamics

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