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What is Wotanism?

Wotanism (sometimes called Odinism, Asatru or Heathenry) is the organic/primal religion of the indigenous Northern European peoples. Asatru, in Old Norse means, "Faith in the Gods." Old Norse is one of the liturgical tongues of the religion of the Heathen Faith Community, though German is probably more appropriate for the more Teutonic oriented.

Worship of the Aesir and Vanir Gods and Goddesses, has been an integral part of the history and culture of Northern Europeans for over 40,000 years, thus making it one of the oldest known religions known to man. Wotanism was practiced by the Indo-European peoples from the steppes of Russia to the shores of North America in ancient times. It once again flourishes in the same lands. In 1972 Asatru was recognized by the Icelandic Government as a state religion, (along with Lutheranism), and is a recognized Folk religion by many Northern European governments, with Denmark becoming the most recent to officially recognize our Holy Faith. Today Wotanism is practiced by over 1,500 local Kindreds, Hearths and Communities (congregations) in Vinland (North America), Europe, and Australia, and is rapidly growing in both numbers and influence. Some Kindreds have incorporated as churches in their states and have obtained IRS tax exemption under Title 501-C. This is in addition to the four major churches of our Faith in Vinland-Temple of Wotan, Odinic Rite, Asatru Folk Assembly and the Troth.

The basic tenets or beliefs of Wotanism are:

We believe in an underlying, all pervading divine energy or essence which is generally hidden from us because it surpasses our direct understanding.

We further believe that this spiritual reality is interdependent with us - that we affect it, and it affects us.

We believe that this underlying divinity expresses itself to us in the forms of the Gods and Goddesses of Wotanism. Eddas and sagas about these deities, brought down to us through ancient texts, are a symbolic song, the mysterious "language" through which the divine reality speaks to us.

We believe in standards of behavior which are consistent with these spiritual truths and harmonious with our deepest being. We believe that these Gods and Goddesses actually exist, and that they interact with us on various planes and levels of physical and spiritual reality.

We believe in an afterlife, and that those who have lived virtuous lives will go on to experience greater fulfillment, pleasure and challenge. Those who have led lives characterized more by vice than virtue, will be separated from their ancestors, and doomed to an existence of dull and gloom.

Some of the qualities we strive for are:

Strength
Courage
Joy
Honor
Freedom
Loyalty
Realism
Vigor
Honoring of one's Ancestors

To express these things in our lives is virtuous, and we strive to achieve this.

Being a Wotanist means that we should honor our ancestors. It also says that we are bonded to those ancestors and to our descendants in a special way. We believe our forbearers have passed to us certain spiritual qualities, just as surely as they have given us various physical traits. We believe that our ancestors live in us. The family, or tribe, is above and beyond the limits of time and place. Thus, we have a reverence for our ancestry.

The Wotanist Community however, does not support or promote religious or racial hatred, prejudice or bigotry. We believe that all peoples have the Gods given right to seek their own religious, cultural and ethnic fulfillment, free from oppression or malice. No government nor other group has the right to oppress religious cultural freedom.

Wotanism is not a heavily dogmatic or overly rigidly structured religion. However, there are two commandments, which we learn from the Havamal (The Sayings of Wotan). All adherents of the religion known as Wotanism commonly hold these commandments.

1. ON THE RUNES: "Know how to write them, know how to read them, know how to stain them, know how to understand them."

2. ON BLOT: "Know how to ask, know how to offer, know how to supplicate, know how to sacrifice."

From Havamal verse 144, contained in the Poetic Edda; To know the Runes, and to use them; To offer Blot, to sacrifice to the Gods. Allfather Wotan commands these. These are the two main pillars of Wotanist worship.

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