White nationalist influence in Heathenry can be traced back more than a hundred years. The intermingling of Heathenry and white nationalism began in the 19th century, rising out of post-WWI German Romanticism. The Volk movement gave rise to the anti-semitic Völkisch or “Folkish” movement, which laid the groundwork for Nazi Germany.

The ideals of the Völkisch movement were also the model for Odinism. When Odinism was brought to North America in 1969, it became the dominant template for Heathenry in the US and Canada. Today, many Norse Heathens reject Folkish Heathenry or Folkism, but may not always be aware of its continued influence.

Please be aware this page doesn’t represent a complete list of neo-Völkisch influences in Norse Heathenry, just some obvious ones. Neo-Völkisch influence is typically very subtle and its public face often looks positive, focusing on things like community, heritage, tradition, identity, and family. For the best discernment tools, please refer to Dr. Hassan’s B.I.T.E. Model of Authoritarian Control and his definition of undue influence. For a Heathen-specific article, check out Discerning Dubious Heathen Resources. For current information on the Neo-Völkisch Movement and a list of identified hate groups, see this entry by the SPLC.

The Idealized Viking

The romanticization of the viking warrior can be traced back to Richard Wagner and his monolithic opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. This opera is famous for its portrayal of the Norse gods, giving us the image of Valkyries on horses and vikings with horned helmets. While Wagner himself was indeed racist and antisemitic, it was none other than Adolf Hitler who forged the connection between the viking warrior and Völkisch ideologies. As a huge fan of Wagner, he lauded his work as a quintessential representation of “the heroic Teutonic nature.”

In this way, the viking stereotype went from “ruthless sea-raider” to “Aryan hero”—a man who is fearless, loyal, chosen, and unburdened by Semitic influence. When Nazi Germany fell, this paragon jumped overseas to America via Else Christensen and Odinism.

Today, many American Asatruar think “being Norse Heathen” is the same as “being a viking,” not realizing this comes directly from old antisemitic propaganda.

Surviving Scandinavian practices are not focused on embodying the lifestyles or ideals of the Norse vikings, making this phenomenon purely Völkisch in origin.

The Nine Noble Virtues

The Nine Noble Virtues is a code of morals found in some sects of Asatru and Odinism. Two sets of Virtues were originally created. The first was made in 1974 by John Yeowell, a former member of the British Union of Fascists, and John Gibbs-Bailey of the Odinic Rite. The second was allegedly created by white nationalist and occultist Stephen Flowers (a.k.a Edred Thorsson) during his time spent in the Asatru Free Assembly, and later canonized by Stephen McNallen in 1983. The Nine Noble Virtues define Norse Heathen faith as the product of personal character, giving it almost a Bushidō-like quality.

The most widely-distributed version of the Virtues are as follows:

  • Courage
  • Truth
  • Honor
  • Fidelity
  • Discipline
  • Hospitality
  • Self-Reliance
  • Industriousness
  • Perseverance

The Armanen Runes

The Armanen Runes are a series of runes created in the early 1900’s by the Austrian occultist Guido Von List. They are associated with Ariosophy or Armanism, which is an esoteric field of “Aryan wisdom” pioneered by List and his constituent Adolf Joseph Lanz. The runes themselves are modeled off the Younger Futhark. The Nazi Schutzstaffel later used them as part of their insignia (ᛋᛋ). These runes are also incorporated in the Black Sun, a symbol of Nazi origin. Armanen runes are still commonly used by white nationalists today.

The Black Sun

The Black Sun (sonnenrad) is a symbol invented by and employed by the SS, supposedly as an alternative symbol for the Nazi Swastika. While allegedly inspired by Old Norse “sun wheel” motifs, the Black Sun itself should not be mistaken for an old Norse symbol. The term “Black Sun” was coined by the occultist, conspiracy theorist, and former SS officer Wilhelm Landig, who connected the symbol to mystical Aryan powers.

Odinism/Odalism/Wotanism

Information on Odinism can be found in the following article:

  • What is Odinism?

    February 26, 2021

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