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.)

Ancestral Fire

Ritual Fire, Umatilla National Forest 2019

Observing fire in its’ raw form is one ritual activity that directly connects you to eternity, your ancestors, and every age of man before you. Every human eye of the past has gazed into the same flames, unaltered by the tides of time; unwavering in the face of constant change. It remains untainted, unsoiled, and is still the most ideal element for physical and spiritual workings of vigor, might, and power. Fire is the master of change. It is destruction, chaos, fury and frenzy. It is the perfect soil for new beginnings and growth to rise up out of; for change to fruit from. Fire shall forever remain the same, an anchor for natural reality.

With every ritual fire we burn or every fire meditation we undertake we gain foothold on the steps to eternity. We absorb, convert, and use its power to propel us forward with precision, force, and fury. Nothing can stop one who’s fire burns strong and it is our duty to carry those flames into the next age; and ultimately to our death. It is our duty to carry the symbolic torch of blood through time and to nurture the ancestral fire; never letting it become weak or dwindle away. Through our preservation of the flames, and through our transferring of power to our kin, we will ensure and solidify our path to ascension. Through the line of blood, the sanguine fire of the tribe, we solidify our continuance towards boundless freedom.

Ritual Fire, Phearsdorf Forest 2020

The Swastika and the Wheel of Time

Unlike we are raised to believe in the modern world, time is not a linear phenomenon, but a circular one. It exists indefinitely, without beginning and without end, spinning like a wheel around us. The Swastika is a symbol of this endless cycle and a mirror of its’ pattern. It can be seen in the seasons, in the stars, and in the cycles of the ages. It is a sign of power, of eternity, and of the sun.

Some cultures revere the Swastika as an omen of good luck or good fortune, such as in Asian or Native American cultures. Others view it as a solar icon and a depiction of the cycles of time, such as the Indo – European “Horse Cult” tribes of Eurasia. In the North, it was usually associated with the god Thor, symbolizing the hammer and cosmic order. Almost every culture around the world has their own form and function of the Swastika shape, with a fairly small range of meanings (usually overlapping) between them all.

It’s curious that this symbol would show up so often, in all cultures and ages. No other symbol can grasp this kind of usage on such an organic, widespread, and global level. It is clear that the symbol holds enormous power, for even just a glance of it can arouse interest, mystery and awe. Unfortunately, we’ve had our relationship with this symbol destroyed by modern history and the systematic destruction of true learning, but I don’t think it will ever be suppressed fully. It still appears in all religions and spiritual practices, in some shape, form, or function.

Whether you use a Sun-Wheel, a Swastika, a Kolovrat, or any other thing associated with these, you are almost always going to have an overlap in meaning. Ironically, the Swastika is one of the only things all humans have in common with each other, and it is very much associated with peace, luck, and the attraction of good fortune. Perhaps this symbol can bring us back our individual power and heal our collective species, creating a new Golden Age of human greatness.

This symbol should never inspire fear or thoughts of evil. It has never and will never be associated with those concepts. Modern perspectives, ignorance and projected hate have baptized this symbol in taboo and darkness. If we allow this symbol to die, we may lose one of the most powerful and unifying concepts within the human psyche. It holds our entire history in its’ grasp and holds the memory of the circular layers of time that we inhabit; reminding us to worship the most important of our stars, the Sun.

Galdraz, Meditation, and Altar Ethics.

An altar should always be in use; if one is to be created at all. It should move, breath, and be in constant motion. Fires should burn on it more often than not, and offerings should be in constant flux and flow to and from the altar space. This space should be viewed as sacred, and nothing should be placed upon it that doesn’t belong there. The more seriously you interact with you altar space, the more benefits you will gain from it.

Energy taken away from the altar space needs to be put back in, and there are many ways to “charge” a sacred space. Meditation, prayers, and offerings are easy ways to charge your sacred space, and these activities should be done multiple times a day; or as often as your lifestyle permits. Practicing these activities will ensure your sacred place holds power and meaning in your life; giving you a foundation for workings of magic and sorcery. More complex charging methods would include sacrifice, ritual and elaborate ceremonies.

Sacrifice can mean a variety of actions; and sometimes only includes yourself as the medium of sacrifice. Personal sacrifices could range from the giving of blood to the taking or declaring of vows, and all methods have their time, use and function. Sacrifice can also take the form of an animal or object; the destruction of life-force (or perceived life-force) in order to create something from it. Sacrifice can transfer power and also directly connect us to the Veil; the divine world.

Meditation, chanting (Galdraz) and drumming are excellent ways to charge a sacred space. These activities should make up a majority of your time with your altar; each being a way to directly flirt with the Veil and other realms. Through this practice, you can create a balance within yourself; disrupting and healing impeding feelings of depression, restlessness, and anxiety. Your altar should be your center in space and time.

Meditation guides us away from the constant onslaught of the mind, and we are given vision into the deeper layers of truth and existence with its’ application. Meditation brings us closer to that part of us which is immortal; that which exists beyond the flesh. Meditation allows us to see the parts of us that are as old as time; the true essence of our being. Through this practice, we attain insight into ancient and archaic wisdom.

Patience is a virtue when practicing meditation, and we must try to discard all expectations when entering this state. The key is to allow things to flux and flow within and around us; becoming mere vessels for the Earth and Cosmos to interact and mix within us. Do not attach your mind to anything that appears in this state, you will do this when you are finished. Instead, allow all thoughts and emotions to enter and pass through without attachment.

Offerings usually differ from person to person based on the intent and purpose of the altar or ritual. Some offerings might include stone, wood, metal, bone, fire, ash, smoke, incense, feathers, various food items, seeds and beverages. Some things are left for good to age with the altar itself, others are left for a certain amount of time to accumulate or disperse power. Items taken away may be used for magical purposes or be turned into amulets or talismans. If offerings are meant to be taken by others, such as animals, it is best to leave them be after placing them.

Galdraz, Galdr, or Galdor is a means of accessing, communicating, or commanding the forces of the Divine, based on the use of the voice. This can be done by chanting, singing, screaming, yelling, growling, hissing or any other manifestation of rhythmic vocal activity that will form the spell or incantation you are trying to send forth. Rune names are most commonly used in this practice; emphasizing their vowel sounds and calling them out with full and uninhabited intent. This is probably the most common and practical form of Northern magic, and can be utilized anytime and anywhere.

Some will argue that the volume of your Galdraz is not important, but personally, I disagree. Unless you have no other option (due to circumstances) but to Galdr quietly, you must practice this with a belly and chest full of air; exhibiting full power behind it when released. The reason for this, is because sound, like all matter, is based on vibration. With this in mind, it would seem logical that the stronger and more powerful the vibrations that your Galdr create are, then the more they will affect the world around you by altering its’ vibrations; like a ripple in a pool of water, expanding outward from the source.

Having this relationship with a sacred space keeps your mind, body, and soul balanced and in unison. When you can anchor your soul to a physical place, you can more easily travel the realms of existence. Like Yggdrasil, Irminsul, or the Axis Mundi, this place gives you a pillar into the heavens; and a portal down to the underworld. With this space, we can create an atmosphere dense with power and become more tactful with our energy use.

Spiritual energy is vital to us. Without the fire within the soul we cannot thrive and flourish, and in turn deteriorate and lose momentum. The more momentum we lose, the harder it is to regain; for it is much harder to build strong habits than to break them. This is where spiritual discipline comes into the equation, and we must be disciplined in order to achieve any sort of ascension beyond our current state. This is why having a living altar, practicing meditation, and carrying out sacrifice are all so important to our well being.

Having a connection to the divine gives us purpose and strength. We can pull anything we need from the Veil at any time; whether it be for the purpose of creation, healing or destruction. We can manipulate our world in endless ways, simply by the application of our Will, and the belief in our own power. Your spirituality should give you confidence, strength, and protection from fear.

Building your altar is a personal and ever evolving process. It will develop organically with your experience, research, and changing circumstances; so don’t expect it to stay the same always. You may venerate one God or many Gods; one force or many forces. Whatever forces you choose (or encourage) to inhabit the altar will do so, and the more you interact with these forces, the more they will do for you.  

Applying Cernunnos to Germanic Spirituality

Hurnaz idol protecting the spirits of the land.

Hurnaz is the Germanic form of the god Cernunnos, Lord of the Wild. There is some speculation as to the form and function of this god throughout history, ranging from being a simple god of commerce to being the leader of the Wild Hunt. However, from my understanding and experience with Him, I’m convinced of His role as a wild protector and progenitor of nature; a spirit of freedom and vitality. Some related concepts, ideas and gods would include Pan, Herne the Hunter, Mercury, Satan, Freyr and even Odin.

Hurnaz is a wild and masculine deity. He is indifferent to human affairs, unless His domain is in jeopardy. His domain includes the forest and all of its’ inhabitants; everything from the roots and leaves to the soil and blood. The animals, trees, and all the fruits of the forest belong to Him, bending at His will. The more respect we show His domain, the more freedom and bounty we attain within it.

Post Wild Hunt ritual,Waldgang/Cascadia, November 2019

Offerings to Hurnaz are reciprocated with protection, abundance, and rejuvenated spirit. Venerating this force directly combats stagnation and sloth; igniting the wild and robust nature within. His energy is of wild and chthonic quality, causing an Odinic like frenzy within the inhabitant; a hunter’s awareness and focus. In this hyper-aware state we are able to achieve things we might not be able to otherwise, such as enhanced vision, speed, strength, clarity and focus. These enhancements are all fruits of this power, hence His veneration as a shaman and hunting god.

Offerings to Hurnaz and the forest spirits may include: 

Blood – to activate the spirit and open a medium of communication.

Animal remains – to return the fallen spirit to Hurnaz in exchange for future abundance in hunts and foraging. 

Wood/Stone/Fungus – to offer organic material to the soil and animals; also to enable more objects to be inhabited by the spirit of Hurnaz.

Meat – to honor the carnivorous spirits of the forest, the natural hunting spirits.

Seeds – to honor the vital and fertile forest; to appease the spirits within His realm. 

Nuts – to please the spirits of the land and encourage new growth.

Fruit/Herbs – to appease the land spirits and promote future fruit to flourish. 

Feathers – to promote movement and motion of the spirits; allowing flight and a wider perception.

Present your offerings where you believe Hurnaz to be existing. This location can be a stone, tree, idol, grove, or simply the forest region in its’ entirety. State your business in His realm, and what your intentions are with His woods. Once you have been granted access to your desires, recite your prayers or galdr to enhance connection and protection, then carry about your forest business without worry.

Offerings from all over the USA.

Once you have established your sacred space to Hurnaz, and once you have connected your spirit with that of His and the forest gods, the woods will become your church. Here you can easily slip between the veil of worlds and into other layers of reality. The more often you visit this place, the deeper you can explore the boundaries of the spirit; for it is in our true nature to dwell within the woods. These sacred grounds will heal your ailments in this claustrophobic and chaotic world; guiding you to a place of wisdom, peace, and strength.

Experiencing and deciphering the language of nature is the most divine act, and as we learn its’ language we in turn unlock the secrets to our very own existence. The functions of nature mimic the functions of the body, mind and soul. The more balance we achieve in this Triskelion of realms, the quicker we can achieve a state of Eternal Awareness. May Hurnaz and the spirits of the forest bless you on your journeys.

Hurnaz, Lord of the Wild Woods.

Tree Runes and the “Hahalruna” system.

The “Tree” runes are a variant form of the Elder Futhark that I created using the “Hahal” rune system. Based on this system, any variation can be formed based on what’s important to the one using them. Many different kinds are out there, but none that I’ve seen have been tree or forest oriented. Due to my internal synthesis of Germanic and Celtic spirituality, I figured I would take the ancient Germanic Futhark and give it an Ogham or Hibernian twist; thus the creation of these “Tree” runes. 

The 3 “Groups of 8”

To read and write these runes, you would use the “Groups of 8” method; separating the 24 Elder Futhark runes into 3 sets of 8. These 3 sets are the following; Freyr’s group of 8, Hagal’s group of 8, and Tyr’s group of 8. Freyr’s would be the 3rd group, Hagal’s would be the 2nd, and Tyr’s would be the 1st. To decipher this particular set of runes, you would use the notches on the left side to determine which group it’s from, and the notches on the right side would determine which rune in the set it is.

The Algiz rune and its’ Tree rune variant, represented by the 2 straight lines on the left side and the number 7 shown on the right; thus being the 7th rune in the 2nd row.

Each straight line represents the number 1 and each hooked line represents the number 5. Therefor, if the rune had two notches on the left , and a hooked notch with 2 straight notches on the right, you’d be looking at the Algiz rune. After seeing this pattern, you’ll be able to easily see how this can be used and applied in all forms of art, writing and magic. Not only can these runes be added to your “rune bank,” but you can create your own versions using the same system, based on anything you want. 

Runic magicians have always intentionally made their rune systems as cryptic, esoteric, and “alien” looking as possible. The reason for this, was to confuse and bewilder the average eye, cloaking the writer’s message in mystery; making it harder to decipher their messages and crack their codes. Runic Magicians would constantly push the limits of competing sorcerers, thus stimulating this environment to constantly create, alter, and articulate new runes and systems of Runic Magic. Within this competitive sphere comes a deep and esoteric knowledge of the runes; one that dissects their inner workings and variations, broadening their artistic and aesthetic diversity within the magicians mind. The more Runic Alphabets you know, and the more runes you create in your own personal system, the more difficult it will be for anyone to crack your messages; giving you endless control over your magical workings.