New and Old Names for "The (Nordic) Way"


(And a little something about the modern

 "Asatro/Ásatrú/Odinism" movement).


All of us in "The Fellowship of Kvasir" have a deep and sincere admiration for the pre-Christian society in the Nordic peninsula and its ability to in one all-embracing philosophy of life summarize an ecological living, religion, folklore, ethics, moral, broad-mindedness, and a deep trust in your own ability. By our direct ancestors this was quite simply called "The SED, (Siðr, that is The WAY)”. The word ”Sed, (Siðr)” comes from an old Norse word that approximately means ”the common customs we all share”. (Please note, that what today is called ”religion” is only one, very small part of "The Way)”.


When the Christian mission came to Scandinavia the new faith was at first called "The Krist Sed, (Hinn Kristni Siðr)". that is "The Christian Way" or more often "The Ny Sed, (Hinn Nýi Siðr)", that is "The New Way". Only at the very end of the Viking age the new faith was sometimes called "Kristendom, (Hinn Kristinn Dómr)", that is "Christianity". However, the use of the word "Christianity" did not become really common in the Nordic countries until as late as the high Middle Ages. By the Christian missionaries and the newly Christianized Norse, "The Way, (Siðr)" was then quite logically called "The Forn Sed, (Hinn Forni Siðr)", that is "The Old Way" or sometimes "The Heden Sed, (Hinn Heiðni Siðr)", That is "The Heathen Way", because they wanted to abolish it! So, the words, (or more correctly concepts of), "The Old Way" or "The Heathen Way" did have very strong pejorative connotations which in our opinion make them utterly unsuitable for use today. In Scandinavia the words "Hedendom, (Hinn Heiðni Dómr") or later simply "Hedhindomber", that is "Heathendom" or "Paganism", did not appear until the late part of the 10th century CE. The word is most probably taken from the Old English word "Hæen, (Heath or Moorland)", which was introduced to Scandinavia by English and/or Irish missionaries and was exclusively used by the Christians as a scornful term of abuse and as a derogatory contrast to the new Christian faith. -  This means that the words "Heathenism" and "Heathen" do still give you the same extremely unpleasant associations as the derogatory concept "The Forn Sed, (Hinn Forni Siðr)", that is "The Old Way". Strangely enough these concepts are today used by far too many people who quite obviously have no idea whatsoever what they really represent  - and is that not a little sad.


In opposition to those newly Christianized Norse some believers in the ancestral ways then Instead gave "The Sed, (Siðr)", that is "The Way", a new name "The Norrön Sed, (Hinn Norrøni Siðr)", that is "The Nordic Way", to manifest their strong belief that "The Way" was a concept that truly belonged to the people of the North and that the new strange faith belonged to the many peoples of the South who never should have tried to export it to us in the first place. "The Way" included a broad-minded tolerance that at first welcomed Christianity as a new aspect of the Divine. The problems started when Christianity revealed its true face with a fanatical, intolerant and from a Nordic perspective, utterly absurd claim to be the "only way". We of "The Fellowship of Kvasir" are trying, to the best of our ability, to live our lives according to the "The Way", updated to the demands of the modern world of today. We have, like our direct ancestors, chosen to use the concept "The Sed", that is "The Way" and sometimes "The Norrön Sed", that is "The Nordic Way". More to the point, we always use the concept "The Way" in the Nordic countries and most often "The Nordic Way" outside Scandinavia.


So where did the word ”Asatro”, sometimes spelled ”Åsatro”, ”Asatru” or ”Ásatrú”, come from?


First and foremost, it is NOT an old word or a concept used in the Viking Age! It was in fact invented much, much later. If you think about it, that word could never ever have been used by the ancients. In the Viking Age you always talked about the balance between "The Aesir" and "The Vanir". During the earlier part of the Viking Age, you even talked about the balance between "The Aesir, The Vanir" and "The Alfar", the "Three Divine Kindreds" that influence us humans the most. To use the word ”Asatru” would mean that you then broke that precarious balance and only mentioned "The Aesir" and excluded all other "Divine Powers". So how about "The Vanir" or "The Alfar”?  "The Aesir" are of course in no way whatsoever more important than "The Vanir" or "The Alfar"! Besides and most importantly, our male and female Norse ancestors would never ever even think about doing anything so utterly stupid as to pluck the part of the worship of “The Aesir” out of the concept "The Way" and give it a separate name. (And a particularly excluding name at that). The whole point with "The Way" is that it was and still is a philosophy of life! "The Aesir" part is just one single part of "The Way" coexisting with many other parts, just as important.


Then we have the decidedly unpleasant, but fully legitimate follow-up question about the modern so called ”Asatro/Åsatro/Asatru/Ásatrú” movement...




The very first time ever when we hear about the word ”Asatro” is when the Danish poet Grundtvig mentions the word in a National-Romantic, ostentatious, long and winding poem from the beginning of the 19th century CE. After that there is, to the best of our knowledge, not a single mention of the word until it suddenly comes into use again at the end of the 19th century. Then the word ”Asatro”, (by the way not spelled “Asatru”), was sparingly used by some, (but certainly not all), German linguists and historians of religion. It was then used as an all-encompassing word for the pre-Christian faith and belief system of Scandinavia. The real reason for this was of course that they desperately tried to find a concept that could be juxtaposed with the Judaeo-Christian concept of religion. They naturally quite well knew about the Nordic concept of "The Way", but it was next to impossible for those harshly Christian indoctrinated people to understand what it really meant. To them it appeared both vague and bland and they strongly disliked what to them was the utterly alien and insipid concept of "The Way". Thus, the notion was both simplified and coarsened to the point that even a Christian could understand it... Completely analogous to this at about the same time in occupied India the British invented the concept of ”Hinduism”, so that they could deal with, (to us related,) Indian non-Christian all-embracing philosophy of life in a way that the British public of the time could understand it. - Incidentally, many of the present Indians hold the same intense dislike towards the word ”Hinduism” as we hold towards the word ”Asatro”.


Besides that, the word ”Asatro” was in fact not at all used by anyone anywhere in the whole of Scandinavia during the first half of the 20th century. Some sporadic use of the word did however occur during that time in Germany, especially during the Nazi era.





But the word as well as the concept suddenly reappeared around 1970 in the US. For this we can mostly ”thank” a certain Stephen Flowers aka ”Edred Thorsson”. He was an American academic that had at first read about it in the old and by then nearly forgotten, German books. (Flowers had at least a fleeting knowledge of German). He then became mightily interested when he realised the Nazis had made use of it. The German National-Socialist movement of the 1920s and 30s was one of his greatest interests in life. He was also extremely interested in the old Austro-German, National-Romantic so called "Völkische Bewegung", ("Folk Movement"), of the 1890s that had many confused and muddled ideas of race, mythical Aryans and ancient Germanic Gods. Flowers was particularly interested in the "Völkish", pseudo-Germanic, "esoteric", ideologically deeply racist systems of so called "Armanism" and "Ariosophy" by Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels respectively. He also read extensively from the writings of Karl Maria Wiligut, who was Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler´s personal occultist. Wiligut advocated a third system, a pseudo-monotheistic, utterly self-centred and violently racist "religion", called "Irminism". He also developed a new rune row loosely based on the "Armanen" runes of Guido von List, even though Wiligut rejected von List's own runes and nearly all of his overall philosophy.


 - Naturally, neither the "Armanen", nor the "Irminist" runes had anything at all to do with the authentic Norse runes! -


But these newly constructed, strange "Völkish" runes and their totally alien meanings made a deep impact on Flowers, who based most of his later, so called "rune-lore" ideas on von List and Wiligut. Flowers then had the bright idea of combining many of those weird, warped ideas with pure Nazism, thrown in with some dark, Left-Path Neo-Odinic Cult, (i.e. Odinism) and then he added a little sprinkling of pure Satanism and presto a new religion was born! (With him as top dog of course). Flowers then changed the spelling of the word to "Ásatrú" to make it appear older and then even falsely publicly claimed that it really was a genuine Viking Age word. So, he promptly relaunched the whole idea again to the world in his own home-blended virulent mix of:




In our opinion complete balderdash!


-  Naturally, those quite modern, dark racist "Ásatrú" fantasies, has nothing whatsoever to do with the authentic "(Nordic) Way" that was practised in all of the areas settled by Norsemen inside and outside Scandinavia before the advent of Christianity!  –

Unfortunately, this blatant falsification deceived far too many in the late 1970s and the early 1980s in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and even somewhat surprisingly in Germany. It also sadly became popular with people who honestly were searching for the real "(Nordic) Way" as well as in certain New-Age circles. To our despair we have even found some people in Scandinavia who still believe in this utter garbage. (Admittedly ony a few, but even so... Appalling)! The main reason for his strong and regrettably lasting influence is most probably that Flowers wrote book after book on his weird ideas and in the end that really made an impression on the public. He was also quite busy on the lecture circuit, always ardently propagating for his dark, racist fantasies. Actually, Flowers was not the first to use the word ”Asatro/Ásatrú” in the Anglo-Saxon world.



Some other Americans had tried to make use of the name as early as the late 1960s, that is a few years before Flowers, but had not succeed at all. They too had read about the name in the old German books and tried in vain to make use of it commercially. It is quite possible that Flowers had them as an inspiration as well. But Flowers succeeded where others failed. A lot of people did fall for that lie. In the late 1980s even a few Non-Left-Hand-Path-Nordic-Neo-Pagans and Neo-Shamanists began to make use of the name. It was also used more and more by certain popular writers in the 1990s and by then it somehow had crept into popular use. That unfortunate trend persists even today, first and foremost in the Anglo-Saxon world. However, the word” Ásatrú” is even now never ever used in any serious and/or scientific context. All contemporary researchers are naturally well aware of the fact that the word is neither authentic, nor does it cover the concept of "The (Nordic) Way", or even Viking Age religion. The only exception is if you for example conduct a serious investigation of certain obscure, pseudo-Nordic parts of the modern New-Age movement in the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand. There we have seen that the concept of ”Ásatrú” regularly pops up and in those circumstances, it is of course entirely appropriate.


The above-mentioned, still very influential Flowers, is a highly ranked member of the German, right-wing extremist, Neo-Nazi ”Armanen-Orden” and its "Sadean, (that is sado-masochistic)", branch ”Burg-Gesellschaft, (The Castle-Society)”. This means he is an organized Nazi since the ”A-O” and its branches both in Germany and Austria count as a prohibited Neo-Nazi association. He was also for a long time the principal of the ”Triskeln-Orden, (Order of the Trapezoid)”, which is an organization ”For the Practice of Operant Sadeanism and Carnal Alchemy” and that is an international "Odinist" branch of ”The Temple of Set”, which is a very large American Satanist organization. In 1991 he and his wife founded ”The Order of Triskelion” an American branch of the ”Triskeln-Orden”. The ”ToS” and its many branches is also quite openly racist. He is also a former member of the ”Church of Satan”. Flowers has for many years been very active in several, both American and foreign, Racist, Alt-Right, White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi, Satanist, Sadean and Left-Hand Path occult organizations as well as in several openly racist "Ásatrú" and "Odinist" groups. This means Flowers is both clearly a committed racist and a practising Satanist at that. Everything is connected! The fact that Flowers officially uses the Norse sounding alias “Edred Thorsson” to pretend he is of old Norse stock and therefore have access to some kind of ancestral knowledge, changes nothing at all! A lying racist is a lying racist, no matter how much he hides that fact behind a fancy name.

And yes, we actually do know quite well that the story about the "Ásatrú-movement" in the English-speaking countries is far more complicated than stated above. Besides that, we have so far not really mentioned the "Ásatrú" blatantly racist off-shots "Odinism" and "Odianism". To be absolutely clear, "Odinism" is in its essence a particularly nasty, openly racist variant of "Ásatrú" and its other variant "Odianism" is even worse with its evil, twisted, occultist Chaos magic practices and blatant glorification of utterly self-centred egotism. "Odianism", that in fact was invented by Flowers, (who else indeed), is also heavily influenced by the Nazi Wiligut´s "Irminism". Some other time we will have to give the full story of "Odinism" and all its evil offshoots, starting with how the Australian anti-Semitic, Nazi-sympathizer and committed racist Alexander Rud Mills in 1936 established "The First Anglecyn Church of Odin", which claimed "Odinism" as "The indigenous religion of the northern European people".  -  Mind you, from a Nordic perspective that statement alone is bordering on the insane!  -  And we have certainly not forgotten how that evil man strongly influenced the Danish born, decidedly racist, violently anti-Semitic and pre-WWII prominent member of the Danish Nazi Party, Else Christensen, who with her American "The Odinist Fellowship" founded in 1969, later came to be regarded as the "Folk Mother" and a "Folk Hero" by "Asatruar" and "Odinists" world-wide. She has even after her death reached a near “saintly” status in those circles. (Utterly weird)! When a few years later, in 1976, the American racist Stephen McNallen adopted the term "Ásatrú", (or "Asatru" as he spelled it), for the creation of his own organization, ”The Asatru Folk Assembly", the "Ásatrú" landslide started in earnest in all English-speaking countries with the prolific writer Flowers following suit.


- We of ”The Fellowship of Kvasir” have formerly had our violent clashes with people like this. We dislike them intensely and will NOT have anything at all to do with them! -


In our opinion the modern ”Asatro/Ásatrú” movement more or less has two important roots. The older more important one comes primarily from the U.S. and is described above. You might also call it the theoretical foundation for nearly all who today call themselves ”Asatruar”. The other one, that you might call the emotional root, is the Icelandic one. Many "Asatruar" of today hold Iceland in particularly high esteem and they very much like what they hear from Iceland. It is also a feeling often tinged with a nostalgic longing for a "pure" Nordicism. The modern Icelandic "Ásatrú" movement is even considered by some Americans to be "the prime source of all Nordic Lore".


But it all actually began as late as 1972 when a certain Icelandic sheep farmer by the name of Steinbjørn Beinteinson began to call his personal belief in "The Little People" for religion. (That is the belief in gnomes, goblins, pixies, brownies, dwarves, tomtar, nisser, landvættir et al). Wherever he got the name ”Ásatrú” from we have no idea, but one could always speculate. In the beginning he called himself ”asa-priest”. (Not "goði", that came much later). He was certainly a poet and wrote some self-published poetry books in the 1940s and 50s. They mainly had nature-lyric themes and had, (to be polite), very little impact on Icelandic literary circles. A few of his poems had some old-Norse themes mainly taken from "Edda Snorra Sturlusonar, (Snorri´s Edda)" and "Edda Sæmundar, (The Poetic Edda)". Besides that, he liked to recite his poems in public. And that was about all there was to it. The thing with the ”Ásatrúarfélagið, (Ásatrú Fellowship)", was originally meant as a private joke for his closest friends and a way of teasing some of his more fanatical Christian neighbours.

But the main reason for keeping that name came later, when he realized it was an excellent publicity stunt to sell more of his poetry books. In any case, he then had a huge image of Thor made of concrete. It was crudely modelled on a small statuette from the Archaeological Museum in Reykjavik. To his great delight that really pissed off his neighbours. By then he also began to attract some national attention and some kind of neo-pagan movement was hesitantly born. At first it was very vague, but in time it attracted a few people that actually were interested in the old faith of their ancestors.


The reason we of "The Fellowship of Kvasir" know so much of the early ”Ásatrú-movement” in Iceland is that we already in the mid-1970s sent a representative to Iceland. He was there for a long time and talked to a lot of people, including the self-styled ”asa-priest” himself several times. To put it mildly, you might say that the report of our member was not a positive one. According to him the ignorance of the Icelandic so called ”Asatruar” of any old-Norse beliefs was almost complete. The most ignorant one of the whole bunch was not surprisingly the ”asa-priest” himself. He had a completely different agenda. -  He only wanted to sell as many of his poetry books as possible, that´s all! -  The little he knew or even cared about was solely about "The Little People". For certain nothing bad is to be said about "The Little People" but "The (Nordic) Way" is about so much more! Some of the younger persons knew a little more about the Gods and Goddesses, mainly because they learnt about it in school. But it was painfully obvious they know next to nothing about "The (Nordic) Way".



However, it definitely was about parental rebellion, slightly delayed "New-Age" living hippie-style with drugs and partner changes and the occasional ”Agarianists”, that is some young people who in the spirit of a then quite popular "Back-to-the-Land-Movement" in the 1970s moved from the cities to the countryside and advocated a rural life instead of an urban one  -   and that was all it was! The only good thing was that no one seemed to be really interested in any of the dark, racist fantasies that so many other "Asatruar" world-wide had fallen for. However, the old-Norse element in all this was virtually non-existent in Iceland, but the common belief in "The Little People", which at that time still actually survived here and there in the backwoods of Iceland. Not without interest but... Apart from that our member was recommended to read the Eddas. Sure, he had done that a long time ago. Then what? Well, when our member pressed them for more information, they referred him to the best and greatest authority they knew, the man who was able to answer all questions about anything at all concerning the ancient faith of the Norse peoples, that "Great Scandinavian Savant Edred Thorsson".  -   "Come on, Edred Thorsson!!!  -  Really???" - "Case closed"! as they say in the crime series.


-  So, the "Asatru" loop really was in fact completely closed and no wonder the Americans so well recognized and so much liked everything that came out of Iceland. -  Their own stuff, slightly repacked...  -


This means the Icelandic neo-pagan movement, in spite of the Nordic ancestry of the Icelanders, sadly proved to be just another provincial offshoot of the quite modern "Ásatrú" movement started by the Australians and the Americans. Of the "(Nordic) Way" the Icelanders know nothing at all! -  Actually, quite a disappointment for us.


Finally, we have a very unpleasant fact. The word ”Ásatrú” is these days nearly always used by Neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascists, Odinists, Odianists, Racists, Alt-Righters, White-Supremacists, Nordic Satanists, (who believe that Satan and Odin is one and the same entity) and/or Ultra-Nationalists. There are only some very few exceptions from this. This is easy to check. Just Google "Asatru" or "Ásatrú" and see for yourself. Ninety times out of one hundred you end up at some very unpleasant, racist web-page. In the nine other times you end up at some confused New-Age page. In the remaining one out of one hundred searches, you actually end up with some people who honestly do not know any better. They are just misinformed. This argument has really convinced many people in Sweden, Norway as well as in Denmark.


Almost all Not-New-Age and Non-Racist, (that is true,) Nordic associations have now ceased using the word ”Asatro or Åsatro,” (as are the spellings in Scandinavia). Instead, they use the words "The Sed, (The Way)", "The Nordisk Sed, (The Nordic Way)", or sometimes "The Norrön Sed, (The Nordic/Norse Way)". The same could be said for many persons outside any association. We of "The Fellowship of Kvasir" have done our very best to emphasize this trend during our many lecture and seminar trips around the Nordic region.


Some misguided people unfortunately insist on continuing to use the derogatory name "The Forn Sed, (The Old Way)". So let them. It is still far better to use that name than "Asatro/Åsatro/Asatru" or even worse "Odinism".


In conclusion:


The word ”Asatro/Åsatro/Ásatrú/Asatru” is:


An historical anomaly (= NOT authentic!)


Conceptually wrong (= covers only a very small part of "The (Nordic) Way)"!


Gives extremely unpleasant associations for most people of today, (= is almost always automatically linked with various, vicious racist and/or right-wing extremist organizations)!


Furthermore, ”Asatro/Åsatro/Ásatrú/Asatru” in its modern form (= is also the name for a very unpleasant, utterly confused variant of "New-Age)”!



We of ”The Fellowship of Kvasir” therefore believe that our great dislike for the word and the concept of ”Asatro/Åsatro/Ásatrú/Asatru” is fully justifiable!



© The Fellowship of Kvasir. Ver. III, 2023