How to View, Approach, and Venerate the Old Gods of Europe

Vendel Helmet Plate (900 A.D.)

For most people practicing European Paganism, the goal is not merely to worship and pray to the old Gods, but to embody them and entwine their forms within us. We should strive to avoid the worship of external deities and instead become them through the emulation of their archetypal expressions.

An example in the most basic sense:

-To be a successful farmer, naturalist and Lord of the Land, one is to embody Frey.

-To be a successful sorcerer, artist and eternal student of wisdom, one is to embody Odin.

-To be a strong and fearless protector, one is to embody Thor.

These Gods personify and preserve different aspects of the ancient European mind and culture. Although they have evolved over time, they will always represent core concepts within the patterns of nature and the psyche of the folk.

Not only do we associate the forces of nature with many different deities and spirits, but each one also possesses an endless repertoire of names and “faces” associated with it. These faces are simply different expressions of the God-Power representative of the deity in focus. We see this in the lengthy list of titles for Odin, including Draugadróttin, Gaut and Grim.  These titles do not refer to different deities but rather a different face, form and focus of the God we are choosing to emulate or venerate. In the same respect, we see the title and focus of the Gods change with culture and time, as the Odian archetype from the North seems to be yet another altered face and form of the original Wōdaz or Gaut incarnation.

Odin Idols
Loshult, Skåne, Sweden

In the word Wōdaz we see that the Odinic force was thought of as an adjective, a way to describe a specific phenomenon, state of mind or being that intoxicates the emulator or practitioner. This personification (or effect) would inspire (or require) a certain state of rage, madness, frenzy and obsession to invoke. When we look at what these forces have in common, one observation is that they are all required in the act of creating and unlocking the highest forms of the self; the unwavering and untamable “Odian” self through a supreme invocation of madness.

The reason why Odin is renowned as a war god is also reflected in this hyper-form of rage and obsession. Through many means of ancient sorcery (such as Galdr and Utisetta) the warrior ascends to a realm of complete and total awareness and focus. Time is slowed down dramatically and stormy forces begin to rise within. This gives birth to a wild flare of intense energy and aggression; a substantial power brought about by an internal means of transformation. In this state, the warrior can achieve things that a normal man cannot and fight with unhinged ferocity.

Eventually, it seems that the Norse took this “Wōdaz” concept and formed it into a more tangible and external “Godlike” force that could be consulted, worshipped, and interacted with. In other words, the act of achieving Wōdaz (madness/obsession/frenzy) was turned into a deity and noun termed Odin or “the frenzied one.” The adjective took on its’ own archetype due to the potency of its’ characteristics, demonstrating further its’ effectiveness in the transforming of the practitioner, solidifying the concept in an objective form.

Odin
‘Der Wolkenwanderer’
by Hermann Hendrich

When we look at the name Gaut, we see a Gothic verb meaning “to flow out of.” This seems to reflect the early stages of the Indo-European migrations when the people came “flowing out” of the Eurasian Steppes during the decline of the last Ice Age. This title seems to be more ancestral in nature, as “Gaut” was said to be the origin of the Goths or “Gauts.” Whether this term correlates with a single originating ancestor or is a term used to describe how the entire Proto-Germanic population came “flowing out” of the North is to be speculated. Either way, this title should be held in particularly high regard, as the Gothic language is one of the oldest recorded languages in this family.

To conclude this short anecdote, it is important that we do not let monotheistic, omnipotent, Zoroastrian/Abrahamic concepts plague what it means to venerate the Gods within our blood. Strive to unlearn those false and foreign concepts about what a God is (or should be) and rebuild the spiritual identity locked within your ancestry and DNA. Our cultures were unique, complex and created during the primordial ages of human development when our relationship with nature was still abundant and flourishing. They were undoubtedly more sophisticated and powerful then the watered-down concepts they “feed” us in school and in mainstream media. This applies to Paganism of all cultures and forms, as all our Gods have been painted in this way to ensure the systematic destruction of our advanced cultures and identities. Our distinct and organic histories are entwined within us; in our Gods, cultures, language and ancestors. We must hold these things in the highest respect and venerate them fully to ensure our spiritual health, freedom, and strength.

Odin and Berserker
Bjornhouda, Torslunda parish, Oland
(600 A.D.)

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