BALDER RISING AND ITS PLACE IN THE ODINIST MOVEMENT
Within the Odinist movement, all groups and individuals can fall within one of four categories: “reconstructionists,” “traditionalists,” “New Agers,” and “modernists.” Most people who hear the call of Odin are moved to seek to re-establish the broken bonds that once united their ancestors with him and the other Gods and Goddesses that dwell in Asgard. Once they begin their journey across the Rainbow Bridge, they discover that Bifrost is referred to as a rainbow because it has many colors, representing many different paths. But there has been a great deal of confusion about the meaning of different terms and labels that include reconstructionist, Theodish, traditionalist, Odinist, Asatru, modernist, New Age, heathen and pagan.
One path that seekers of Odin chose is “reconstructionism,” which can best be described as a desire to resurrect a society and way of life as it existed in the past. Reconstructionists are dedicated researchers of historical and archeological records, examining the lore that has been preserved and passed down to us today. They seek to use these historical records in an attempt to “reconstruct” both the cultural and magical ways things were done at a particular point in the past. Many reconstructionists have provided a valuable service to the Odinist movement in their dedication to researching the lore of the past. Their dedication to reconstructing the way things were done has provided a vast reservoir of information and data for modern Heathens to work with in their endeavors to build a modern-day Odinist community. This wealth of information has given the Odinist movement “roots’ to anchor us culturally with the European heritage of Northern Europe. But there are problems with reconstructionism, or should I say, with reconstructionists.
As I said, reconstructionism is a vital part of the modern-day Odinist movement, providing the exploration of the past is intended to establish roots for our growing and fledgling movement. But those who dedicate themselves to rediscovering this past tend to move towards a narrow-minded fundamentalism not unlike the strict interpretation of the Bible by Christian fundamentalism. Reconstructionists started out with good intentions of revealing the historical validity of the rituals and traditions of Odinism, but many of them (not all) soon came to view the product of their studies as a strict dogmatic be-all and end-all, and claim that one is not an Odinist (heathen/Asatrur) if one is not a reconstructionist.
Reconstructionism began as a reaction to the pagan “Mulligan stew” of the prominent New Age pagan movement that is Wicca, which is a modern-day mish-mosh paganism founded by Gerald Gardner. Gardner pieced together Wicca like some spiritual Frankenstein monster from bits and pieces of different traditions that include Druidism, Freemasonry, Celtic traditions, Feminism, the Egyptian religion, and other even more exotic spiritualisms. Many practicing pagans of the 1960s began looking for a more fulfilling cultural and spiritual tradition that speaks to their own folk-soul. This resulted in an explosion of culturally-based traditions that include the Celtic, Hellenistic, Roman, Egyptian and Norse movements.
Those who found themselves drawn to Norse/Germanic heathenry came together in 1974 in an organization founded by Stephen McNallan and named the Asatru Free Assembly. Its purpose was to try to recreate the old Norse/Germanic religion as best as it could from what lore and historical and archeological evidence has survived. They began by studying and meditating on the Norse and Germanic myths in great detail, not realizing that this acted as a key that unlocked the great, limitless Mimir’s Well potential of accessing the infinite source of lost knowledge encoded within the myths.
This had the effect of encouraging many who were now devoted practitioners of Asatru to build upon the historical lore, discover new dimensions concerning the Runes and the myths, and invent ways to apply this knowledge. This would result in the birth of what we might refer to as “Modernist Odinism.” Modernist Odinists are those who revere the past, but view the past as a “starting point,” and recognize that the historical lore that has been passed down to us is incomplete. Historical lore is but a tiny fraction of what our ancestors once knew, and most of what the ancients practiced has been lost to us. Modernist Odinists also realize that any religious and spiritual tradition, especially a heathen spiritual tradition, is a living one and evolves with the people who practice it, and that if Christianity had not replaced the old heathen religions of Europe, they would have continued to evolve and become very different from what existed in the year 1200 C.E., just as the heathen tradition of 1200 was very different from that of 900 C.E., and this was very different from 300 C.E., and so forth as we travel further and further back in time.
This issue has become a major problem for reconstructionists: what era, or time period do you want to reconstruct? Many reconstructionists don’t realize, or more likely ignore, the fact that there is no one past culture for Northern Europe or Germanic Europe. Each succeeding century is very different from the one preceding it, and then there are many different variations of “Germanic Europe.” The difference between the Scandinavians and the continental Germans, as well as the Anglo-Saxons, is great indeed, which has resulted in various reconstructionists trying to resurrect the Norse cultural tradition, or the Germanic society of the Roman era, or later German periods, or Anglo-Saxon England, or even the mixed Christian-pagan tradition that gave rise to Saxo Grammaticus. There is even a type of reconstructionist that turns to a form of Germanic Wiccanism, into which is mixed the various types of Germanic cultures from various periods in history, forming one “generic” type of “Germanism.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, there was an explosion of interest in Germanic spiritualism, as if someone had rubbed the magic lamp and unleashed a Odinic genie from within. Not only was a revival of interest in Germanic heathenery born and rapidly grown in the United States, but simultaneously the phenomenon appeared in different parts of the Western World. In Iceland, Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson founded the Asatruarmenn, the GG was founded in Germany, Edred Thorsson founded the Rune Gild in the United States, the Odinic Rite was established in the United Kingdom, and Garman Lord created what later became known as the Theodish movement. Eventually McNallan reformed the AFA, but renamed it the Asatru Folk Assembly. With the exception of the Asatruarmenn in Iceland, all the groups were taking the same route of using historical sources to re-establish the old religion, but they soon found they were traveling different paths. This was unexpected, but should have been anticipated because of the nature of the historical sources and ancient lore that they were using.
Most began studying ancient Norse and other old forms of the Germanic languages in an attempt to discover the original meaning and understanding of the spiritual concepts that have been lost or misunderstood due to the march of time. One of the very first things they discovered was that there was no one word in the old Norse dictionaries for “religion.” In fact, such concepts as “soul,” “magic,” “belief,” and “fate,” did not exist. For religion, the closet concept to its meaning was “having faith in,” and thus was the creation of the word “Asatru,” which means, “having faith in the Aesir,” or “true to the Aesir.”
To try to deal with this conundrum, many began to lose themselves in history books and historical material, and soon lost touch with the real world. They were so concerned with recreating what once existed, and had forgotten that pagan religions, including Germanic heathenery, were not the creations of some religious sage or prophet, but was a set of traditions and spiritual (magical) knowledge that slowly evolved with the folk that it originated with over many generations.
These were “religions” or spiritualities that had grown out of a people or folk’s interaction with the world around them. Instead of some kind of revelation given to a group of people by some prophet, it had grown out of their souls organically and unconsciously by the way a folk “lived.” These were “living” religions that were constantly changing and growing and not some kind of religious doctrine set to paper for theologians to argue and even go to war over.
Scholars or Erulians certainly spend hours discussing different aspects of their spiritual beliefs, and especially how to implement their magical knowledge, but what they used and discarded was based on trial and error. This understanding of what a pagan religion is, is a major problem for reconstructionists, because reconstructionism seeks to recreate what existed and then preserve it for all time. But all pagan religions are “ethnic” spiritualities that change, evolve and grow, adopting new techniques, rituals and traditions and discarding those that no longer serve the needs of the folk over time.
An ethnic religion is a living spirituality that is constantly changing, which is fundamentally in opposition to reconstruction, which seeks to recreate and preserve what once existed. For once you recreate a spirituality, and people begin to practice it after incorporating its fundamental principles into their collective psyche, it immediately begins to transform itself into something different than what existed in the past. All religions or spiritualities will begin to transform themselves as people begin to incorporate their principles into their lives, discovering the need to make adjustments for survival’s sake. If something within a religion or spirituality is in conflict with the principle of survival, it will have to be changed or it will destroy the folk that practices it. This is the difference between what we can refer to as an “ethnic” religion and a “universal” religion.
A universal religion is an ideology divorced from any culture, landscape, language, or heritage. It is rooted in a doctrine, claimed to be presented to humanity by one or more prophets, who claim that God bestowed on them “His” truth for all humanity. Thus it is not restricted to any group, folk, race or nation, but can be exported across national, racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries. It usually includes a document claimed to be “the divine word of God,” which embodies laws which all humanity must submit to, or be damned for all eternity. Its supporters usually claim the right to force this religious doctrine on all humanity, even on pain of death. In most cases, it has one, single God that is claimed as the “one-and-only true” God. The two most common and well-known examples of this type of universal religion are Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism, Mormonism, etc…) and Islam. Other religions that fall into this category, though they might not meet every criterion, are Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. All of these religions seek converts among all nations, races and parts of the world, seeking to destroy the host culture and replace it with its own cultural hegemony. Their goal is nothing less than world domination.
Opposed to this universalist religion are what we might refer to as the ethnic religions or spiritualities. Throughout the world there still are ethnic religions practiced, which thus are living religions. But Odinism or Asatru is a reconstructed religion, just like the reconstructed religions of the ancient Celts and Egyptians. Perhaps it is better to refer to these religions not as reconstructed, but as resurrected religions. What this means is that we modern day Odinists are actually trying to resurrect the worship (or maybe a better word is veneration) of the old Norse Gods, of whom Odin is the All-Father.
We are not trying to recreate the world of 1200 C.E., or 800 C.E., or 400 C.E. or 100 B.C.E., nor do we believe that there was a single “Germanic people.” The various nations, tribes and people that history refers to as Germanic are so diverse that they cannot be constituted as a single ethnic group, nor a single culture. Even the way Odin has been viewed varies so much that the war-like Wotan of Germany has little in common with the wizard-like shaman of the Icelandic Odin.
Even today, the differences among the national cultures of various “Germanic” nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, England, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are so great that there is very little sense of their belonging to a singular cultural family. This is reflected in the various languages that are so different that a speaker of English cannot understand German, and neither can understand Icelandic. It was the 18th century German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder who claimed that the spirituality of a people or folk is expressed in the language it speaks. That language is a reflection of the soul of a people or folk.
In 1772 Herder published his Treatise on the Origin of Language. Herder wrote, “A poet is the creator of the nation around him, he gives them a world to see and has their souls in his hand to lead them to that world.” To him such poetry had its greatest purity and power in nations before they became “civilized,” and he sought to find these virtues in ancient German folk songs and Norse poetry and mythology. He urged Germans to glory in their hitherto despised language (French being the language of the upper classes throughout Europe in his day). Herder’s extensive collections of folk-poetry began a great craze in Germany for that neglected topic. He was one of the first to argue that language determines thought, a theme that two centuries later would be central to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Herder’s focus upon language and cultural traditions as the ties that create a “nation” extended to include folklore, dance, music and art, and inspired Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in their collection of German folk tales.
Herder reminds us that for us to resurrect a spirituality, in this case a Germanic spirituality, it must find expression not in the attempt to replicate an old and even dead language no longer spoken, but in the language we speak today. For the language we speak is fertile soil in which our thoughts (which are expressions of our soul) are expressed. And those of us who were born and raised in a Teutonic or Germanic-speaking nation, such as the United States, even if we are not entirely Germanic in ancestry, are the reflection of the native language we were raised in, which is English, a Germanic language. This is why you will discover that people who might be of the Catholic or Greek Orthodox faith, and ethnically Slavic, Celtic, Romance or Greek, but raised in an entirely English-speaking family, will exhibit more White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant cultural traits and behavior characteristics with each generation than those of their ancestral culture.
This is something that reconstructionists don’t seem to understand. The basis of reconstructionism is to recreate a world of a particular group of people and the society they live within. They miss the point that this can never be achieved because the world that gave birth to such a society and people no longer exists. But to those “Odinists” who are reconstructionists, who seek not to discover lost lore, but to reconstruct dead societies, the religion is secondary, for what they seek is the experience, not of the spirituality of the age they seek to recreate, but of its world-view.
And for this to succeed, they would need to divorce themselves entirely and totally from the world they live within today, and of course they would never do so. They would have to give up all the modern conveniences of the 21st century, quit their jobs, no longer rely on modern-day technology, and return to the primitive lifestyles of whatever age they seek to recreate. For this reason, they lack an understanding of what those values truly mean, for they are only role-playing, and deep down they do not take seriously their reconstructionism. An example of their lack of understanding of what it is they are seeking to achieve is their conceptualization of sacrifice or “blot.”
Reconstructionists will argue that the “blot” is a blood sacrifice and must involve the killing of an animal if the sacrifice is going to have validity. This of course is a misrepresentation of the essence of a sacrifice, due to a lack of understanding of what a sacrifice is. This lack of understanding is due to many reconstructionists’ being motivated by a desire to lose themselves in a fantasy world of role-play as their primary motivation for reconstructing a past society rather than be motivated spiritually, which would involve the use of magic to re-forge lost links with the Gods as their primary motivation. Most if not all reconstructionists have a secondary, if any, interest in the Gods and magic. Thus, they think the taking of an animal life is necessary because their ancestors performed Blot, or blood-sacrifice.
The purpose of sacrificing is to give up something that is useful to your survival in Midgard. In ancient times, most people depended on animals for their survival. They raised their own livestock for food, clothing and other products. Thus, animals were necessary for their survival. Very few people in our modern society depend on live animals for their survival, at least not directly. Except for people involved in the raising of livestock, almost no one in the United States raises or keeps live animals for survival. Thus, to kill a goat, pig, horse or other animal in a sacrifice is meaningless and an insult to the Gods, unless of course you raise them for your livelihood.
A sacrifice has to have meaning, and this means not only that the item being sacrificed has to be of a type of things vital for one’s survival, but also that the person making the sacrifice must truly feel the surrender of the object being sacrificed as a sacrifice. In contemporary America, most people earn a living and receive payment for their labor. Thus, money has replaced livestock as being the vital necessity for one’s survival. Thus, if someone were to pledge, say, 10 percent of their income to a heathen kindred or group, this would be a more significant sacrifice in the 21st century. If one were a craftsman who made things by hand and sold them for a livelihood, to donate such things to a kindred or even to burn them as an offering to the Gods would be a significant offering.
Simply to duplicate exactly what was done and how it was done (killing an animal as a sacrifice) means that one does not understand the meaning of the act of sacrificing. To go out and purchase a goat and then kill it has no meaning. It is like play-acting, which is what most (not all) reconstructionists do. This is why I say that I have no problem with reconstructionism, because reconstructionism serves a useful and vital service in helping us to understand the past and the origin of many of the traditions and practices of the past. But too many, though not all, reconstructionists lose sight of the purpose of reconstructionism and desire to lose themselves in the reconstruction of a fantasy world divorced of life in the 21st century.
I personally have heard reconstructionists express their secret wish to wear period clothing all the time and live like their ancestors did, and then go and make dinner in their modern, 21st century kitchens, utilizing the advanced technology that every contemporary kitchen possesses. You do not find too many, if any, reconstructionists selling their home, discarding their cell phone, abandoning the Internet, selling their cars, refusing modern medicine and everything else associated with life in the 21st century, and going off to replicate life in the year 1000 C.E. Except for a few who are professional survivalists, most would not live out the year.
I know I have been very critical of reconstructionists, but I would like to restate for the ump-teenth time that I consider reconstructionism a very important methodology to discover the origins of many of the customs of Norse or “Germanic” heathenry, but it is important as a starting point for expanding our efforts to build modern-day Odinist communities in the 21st century, and not be used as a straight-jacket to restrict our growth in discovering new ways to use Galdor and Seither magic.
In Balder Rising we consider ourselves resurrectionists, or modern-day Odinists, who look to the past as a starting point. Our goal is to create Odinist/Asatru communities that are compatible with life in the 21st century. We also recognize that if Christianity had not come to dominate Europe and abort the growth and development of the old pagan religions of Europe, they would have continued to grow, evolve and change in ways that we could not fathom today. It is keeping this reality in mind that prevents our heathen spirituality from stagnating. It is not static.
We seek to build on what has been rediscovered, and not limit ourselves to what little lore has survived the purge of Christian intolerance. Having survived Christian intolerance, do we really want to create a “heathen intolerance?” We are constantly applying trial and error to the new ways we are developing in using the magical traditions of the Northern Way. If something works, it is sound magic, but at the same time, we are careful not to mix the traditions. We might compare magic practices to better understand how Galdor and Seither has been adopted by foreign or alien cultures, but we must always remain diligent not to mix and match the different traditions, as Ralph Blume did in “creating” his own brand of Runes.
He changed the order and meaning of the Runes, discarding the three aetts and ordering them into five rows of five Runes. To do this he created the infamous “blank rune.” He assimilated I Ching with Galdor in his methodology. Blume’s Runes have become infamous as a product of New Age heathenry (if we even want to dare call it heathenry).
Let us now turn to the subject of New Age and Northern heathenry. There are two types of New Agers who delve into Odinism. The first are individuals who sincerely try to find new ways to use the Runes, but unlike modern day Odinists, they go beyond the pale. They do so because they do not understand that magical methodologies like Galdor are rooted in the spirit and collective soul of a given folk or ethnic group. This is true for every magical methodology. People of European ancestry might practice I Ching and find that it helps them, but they will never become masters of I Ching to the degree that a person of Asian descent will. I Ching speaks to their soul in ways that it will never speak to the Western soul. I personally know several friends who have practiced I Ching for twenty to thirty-five years, and when I introduced the Vrilology (the collective practice of all Northern Magic) they have expressed to me that it has moved them in ways that I Ching never has.
New Agers do not understand this because they are universalists who believe there are no differences among the various people who inhabit this planet. They consider all individuals who make up the human species to be interchangeable. Most New Agers are sincere in this belief, but they are wrong, and when they try to find new ways to apply the principles of runic energies, they will go astray because they do not understand that there is a difference between finding new ways of using the Runes while maintaining their spiritual integrity, and changing the fundamental principles behind the Runes.
We have already mentioned Ralph Blume and how he abandoned the three aetts, and created five rows of five Runes. This involved completely changing the order that they appear within the Elder Futhark. The order in which the Runes appear in the Futhark is of vital importance in understanding and discovering the hidden patterns of runic energy. But Blume not only changes the order, he changes the meaning of the Runes.
Here is the order and the esoteric meanings that he attributes to the Runes:
What Blume has done is to completely abandon the principles of the Elder Futhark and reconstruct it according to the Chinese principles behind I Ching. This is New Age corruption of the worst kind. It is like trying to build a car, but reversing the acceleration and brake pedals, or exchanging the gas tank and the radiator. If you try to drive this car it will probably crash or even explode.
On the other hand, Donald Tyson has adapted the Runes to an astrological system that works and maintains the integrity of the runic principles. His methodology uses the Runes of the Elder Futhark to create an astrological chart. He does not change anything about the Elder Futhark. He has discovered a new means to use the Runes in a way they have never been used before, without corrupting the Runes and the principles behind them. We in Balder Rising have explored his methodology and found that it works. But reconstructionists will call Tyson a New Ager because his Runic Astrology is a new way of using the Runes, and as they will chant with all the power of a mantra, “There are no historical records showing that the Runes were ever used in this way.”
To illustrate how reconstructionists suffer from this knee-jerk reaction, we should quote Sweyn Plowright’s reference to another Rune Master Nigel Pennick, in his book, The Rune Primer:
“Throughtout the 1990’s Pennick published several books concerning runes. Like the other authors in this genre, there is as much speculation as fact. While the research behind the books is good, it is not always clear at what point he drifts from the facts and into his own musings. A good example is his book on Runic Astrology. A great blend of detective work and creativity. With perhaps 5% of material from runic sources and the rest from better known esoteric traditions. He constructs a very workable and consistent rune-inspired system, despite the fact that there is absolutely no mention of anything like it in the historical sources.”
Plowright makes references to “much speculation as fact.” Why speculation? What Plowright refers to as speculation is research and experimentation. He cannot give credit to one’s genius in developing new ways to use the Runes, and dismisses one’s honest and hard work as “his own musings.” And of course he ends his description with the reconstructionist’s mantra—”despite the fact that there is absolutely no mention of anything like it in the historical sources.”
Another individual who has been labeled with the “scarlet letter” of “New Ager” is Edred Thorsson (Dr. Stephen Flowers) because he has explored the ways late 19th century and early 20th century Rune Masters in Germany and Austria used the Runes. Such men as Guido von List, Freidrich Bernhard Marby, and Siegfried Adolf Kummer developed and taught new and more practical aspects of runecraft that included runic postures, runic yoga, and talismanic magic. All these Rune Masters and their work have been completely rejected and labeled “New Agers” or, at the least, precursors of New Age. Some have even labeled Thorsson as “neo-Nazi” for delving into German Rune Masters of this era that pre-dated the Nazis who borrowed or co-opted much of their symbolism.
Still another Rune Master who is labeled “New Ager” is Freyja Aswynn, not so much for her runic work today, but because she once was renowned within the Wiccan movement. Even though she performs Seidr by traditional methods, she will always be considered a New Ager because of her Wiccan background and willingness to explore new aspects of the Runes.
Another interesting conundrum is that reconstructionists cannot agree on what they are. Theodists seek to recreate a “Germanic” society, piecing together their new society from customs and beliefs from various past Germanic societies such as Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Continental Saxon, Frisian, Jutish, Gothic, Alemannic, Swedish, Danish and other tribal variants. Theodism was founded by Garman Lord as a reaction to Wiccanism. Theodsmen themselves do not consider Theodism a variant of Asatru, and contend that the two religions are very different. Yet, Sweyn Plowright, in his book The Rune Primer, writes, “[R]econstructionist Pagans of the Northern Tradition, known loosely as Asatru,…” He refers to reconstructionists as Asatru, but Theodists reject his definition, claiming that while true reconstructionism seeks to recreate the past society, Asatrur are individualist and lonely practitioners of the magic only who restrict themselves to the Norse tradition.
The problems with recreating a past society is that it is taken out of context with the time, land and spirit of the age it was born into. In 2004, Garman Lord, stating that the religion of Theodism does not work in practice, dissolved Gering Theod and declared Theodism defunct. Its fundamental principle of “holding oaths,” which is the “glue that holds the entire reconstructionist structure together” has no validity in today’s modern world.
The holding oath was important as a means by which order could be established in the chaotic and brutal world of “Dark Age” Europe. This was a time when the old order of classical civilization collapsed and society disintegrated. Wealthy men could afford to pay warriors to maintain order for them by providing them with weapons, armor, horses and even land. In return, they swore an oath of loyalty to their employer. Most men kept their oaths because it was a matter of life and death. This situation does not exist today. The only realm in today’s society where such holding oaths exist and work are within criminal organizations like the Mafia, or gangs like the Bloods and Crips.
Let’s quickly look at some of the terms that we have used. First, “Asatru”; it means “one who is true to the Aesir.” The Aesir does not mean just the Aesir Norse Gods, but all Gods and Goddesses of the Norse pagan religion. There are Theodists who claim they are not Asatru, but if they venerate the Norse Gods, they are Asatru whether they like it or not. I have met Theodists who venerate the Norse Gods, but do not consider Odin the All-Father. Some hold Tyr or Uller as the All-Father. This would mean they are Asatru, but not Odinists. An Odinist is one who considers Odin the All-Father. Then there are the terms “pagan” and “heathen.” They are interchangeable, but many practitioners of the Northern Tradition prefer “heathen” because “pagan” has its roots in Latin. Next, “traditionalist.”
A traditionalist is one who restricts his or her work with Norse or Germanic magic to what has been done in the past, while a reconstructionist is someone who seeks to recreate the ancient societies. A resurrectionist is one who wishes to restore the old values and give them meaning within modern society, and thus blend the old with the present. Modernists are Odinists who seek to adapt the old customs, traditions and magic to our present day and build on what has survived the past, recognizing that most of what was known and practiced has been lost, and they seek to try new ways to use the old magic and knowledge while seeking to maintain the cultural heritage of the lore. New Agers are those who believe all magical traditions are interchangeable and can be blended and mixed without consequences. New Agers also have no regard for the Folk and its customs and values.
They tend to welcome homosexuals and transsexuals, and their members can be multi-racial. They do not believe the Gods speak to us through our blood or genes. To them any mention of genetics, blood and ancestral links smacks of “racism” and “Nazism.” Then of course there are the “Esoteric National Socialists,” as they refer to themselves. They are basically Nazis who use Odinism as a cover for their racialist political agenda of recreating the Third Reich. To them, theories of a “master race” are all important.
Many within the Odinist movement have asked why Balder Rising uses the term “Vril” to describe the Life Force of the Gods. Some even claim we are trying to mix Asatru with “Nazi occultism.” If you examine the many different organizations and Rune Masters, especially those that explore both Galdor and Seither magick, they all touch on the subject of this Life Force, but few ever really get into a deeper examination of just what it is. Some groups will refer to it as the “Odic” force, a term used by the 19th century “free energy” scientist, Karl von Reichenbach. Some simply refer to it as ond, the vital breath of Odin. Others use the term “Megin” or “Maegin,” which is one’s Personal Luck, to describe this Life Force. But whatever name these groups refer to it by, they only touch on it in passing. This is a serious mistake in the understanding of what this force is and its nature and role in both the cosmology of the Northern Tradition and the ability to work magic.
Balder Rising uses the term “Vril” because its very name has deep, runic magical significance that I explore in my essay on the subject at our Web site, vrilology.org, on the page exploring the principles of Runic Physics. Vril has been used to describe this Life Force by a Germanic esoteric society related to the Freemasons—the Rosicrucians, who eventually made it a popular term during the 19th century, when the British Rosicrucian Edward George Bulwer-Lytton wrote his novel, Vril: The Power of the Coming Race. You can find reference to Vril by Max Heindal, a world renowned Rosicrucian published his lecture, “The Coming Force: Vril or What?”
In The Coming Race, Bulwer-Lytton explains that the Vril-ya (a race of super beings who mastered the secrets of Vril) spoke an “original language.” They are described as descended from the ancient Aryans.
The Germans were very interested in Vril, and many German occultists and runic societies explored the nature of Vril. In the early part of the 20th century there was founded the Vrilgesellschaft (Vril Society, which some claim never existed), whose members believed they were in contact with the Gods, who transmitted runic formulas for them to use to harness Vril energy mechanically. It is reported that they used this knowledge to construct an anti-gravity flying ship in the shape of a disc commonly known today as a flying saucer. Modern-day ufologists allege these people were in communication with aliens from the Aldebaran system. The politically correct crowd have tried to demonize the name “Vril” because the Nazis were experimenting with new sources of “free energy” and referred to it as Vril.
The Vril Society was never a political organization, and was disbanded by the Nazis who took over their research on trying to harness Vril as a source of free energy when they came to power in Germany. In recent years, the establishment has tried to label Vril as part of what is referred to as “Nazi occultism,” which is a fabrication of the present day, universalist establishment, which is hostile to anything that might be Germanic out of fear that from any type of Germanic spirituality will rise a resurrected Nazi movement. Odinists and Asatrurs should be aware of this bias against anything Germanic, but we are always surprised to discover how easily people, even those who are dedicated to revitalizing Germanic spiritualism, are taken in by the Hitlerite technique known as the Big Lie—repeat a lie enough times and people, even the best educated, will begin to believe it as truth.
Charges that the Church of Balder Rising is trying to mix Nazi occultism with Asatru are nonsense and the hobgoblins of little minds, especially since Balder Rising and several of our leaders have been charged by “esoteric Nazis” as “leftists” and libeled on neo-Nazi websites.
But the name Vril cannot be discarded any more then the Runes themselves can be discarded because the Nazis used them for their own diabolic purposes. Within the name “Vril” there is real runic power, and I will now proceed to prove this fact through Runic Physics.
Let us begin with the spelling of Vril, and translate the letters into Runes of the Elder Futhark.
The first letter is “V.” There is no letter V in the Futhark, but either of two Runes can be substituted depending on whether it is the hard V (F) or soft V (U) sound. You can use Uruz for its U sound, Fehu for the F sound. In German, Vril is pronounced “Freel.” The “V” is pronounced with the “F” sound. The German word volk is pronounced like “folk” in English. The “V” having a “F” sound, its Rune is Fehu. “R” is the Rune Raidho, “I” is Isa, and “L” is Laguz.
So the spelling of Vril would be Fehu, Raidho, Isa, Laguz.
Fehu is the Rune of celestial fire, embodied within gold, which shares the symbol of the Sun. The metal is considered by alchemists to embody the power of the Sun. Wealth is energy and fuels action. Fehu is also the sending Rune. This Rune represents the realm of fire, Muspellheim. The second letter is the Rune Raidho, which is the Rune of choosing the right road or direction for the right results. It represent Divine Order and Patterning. Thus, Raidho channels the fire of Fehu along the right path of Divine Order toward the runic energy of the third letter of the name Vril, which is “I,” or the Rune Isa. Isa represents ice.
This is the eternal ice of the realm of Niflheim. Isa represents concentration. It take the heat and energy of Fehu’s fire and concentrates it along the Divine Order of Raidho, causing the ice of Niflehim to melt, transforming it into the third and last letter of the word, Vril, “L” or Laguz, which represents water. Water is what we get when we put ice under the heating energy of fire. It melts into water. Thus, by sending the fire of Fehu along the right path to ice, we create water. Laguz, which represents water, is also the Rune of the Life-Force itself—Vril!
Vril fills the universe and multiverse of Yggdrasill, just as the waters of the world fill the oceans. It is also why we refer to Vril and its movements in terms that describe water, such as “currents of Vril.” Water is a life force, for from water life on earth first appeared. Physically we are largely made up of water, just as energy-wise we are almost entirely made up of Vril.
If we were to make a bindrune from the four Runes that make up the word Vril, we have a very interesting image. The first three runic letters can be connected easily, as if they symbolically assimilate their energies into a single force, while the fourth runic letter cannot be connected and must stand alone. Thus we have Fehu + Raidho + Isa = Laguz.
Thus we have fire melting ice along the Divine path for creation of the Life Force, Vril, which gave rise to the first form of life, Ymir, who represents Vril energy in a disharmonic form, chaos, and it takes Odin, Vili and Ve to transform chaos into order by harnessing Vril and transforming it with the use of the Runes. This process is fundamentally rooted in the male/female principle of Force/Form of creation. We have the Force of the fire of Muspellheim, impregnating the ice of Niflheim or Form, causing it to melt and thus transform into water, or Vril, the Life Force. This causes limitless currents or rivers of Vril energy (waters/rivers) to flow out from the well Hvergelmir located in Niflheim.
Now, we know that some reconstructionists will simply say that this is not found in the historical records, but once again, Balder Rising and Vrilology is about discovering new truths and knowledge from the Runes and the myths.
The charge of trying to mix “Nazi occultism” with Asatru is just as ridiculous as the charge of being New Age. Hey! Which is it? Extreme right-wing or extreme left-wing, Vrilology can’t be both at the same time. This confusion is the result of many who like to quickly, without thinking, label what they don’t understand and disagree with. Why can’t one simply agree that different people and organizations have different approaches? Why must one label and then condemn? Is that not what the detractors of the entire Odinist/Asatru movement do?
Balder Rising is a Modernist Odinist organization. It respects the historical lore and venerates what has been passed down to us, but it does not limit its practices to this lore. It seeks new ways to use the Runes through trial and error, without mixing the traditional cultural principles behind Northern heathenry with alien and foreign traditions. Believing Vril is a name rooted in old runic lore and passed down to the present day through Germanic magical societies, in particular the Rosicrucians, it gives a name to the “Life-Force” that most Rune Masters refer to but never name. Balder Rising also relies heavily on the myths for inspiration, and considers the myths a divine source from which we can retrieve lost lore and hidden wisdom. Balder Rising also recognizes that each myth has multiple lessons and limitless wisdom and knowledge that we can discover. It is by studying and meditating on the myths and what they reveal that we derive our beliefs in the origin of the Runes; that the Gods dwell within us; that leaders must belong to the “Konir” who were given knowledge of Rune magic by Rig (Heimdall) during the lost golden age; in the fall of that age; in Odin’s eventual return to his children through his son, Balder; and that the new golden age, Gimli, is a state of being in which the Life Force of the Gods, Vril, will transform us.
Balder Rising has a saying: “We disagree with nothing, but we do not agree with everything.” By this we mean that we do not condemn or degrade others who do not agree with us, and have different approaches, goals or interpretations in the way the lore should be adapted to the present day world. We feel that Odin speaks to many people in different ways, giving them bits and pieces of his knowledge, to use and learn from his wisdom. And while we do not agree with the way others do things, we sincerely believe they should continue to do things according to whatever voices speak to them from within their souls. We do not condemn reconstructionists for being reconstructionist, but we think they should not condemn others who do things differently; nor do we condemn New Agers, though we believe that they should not refer to what they do as Northern heathenry, and that they be honest about their eclectic methodology, and not condemn those who love their rich ethnic heritage as “racists.”
This is what it means to be a heathen or pagan. Pagans never went to war to impose their religious beliefs on others. Only monotheists who believe their “God” is the one true God condemn anyone who does not believe exactly as they do as non-believers and heretics, and either seek to force them to convert or simply kill them. When I read books and essays by people who proclaim themselves practitioners of Northern heathenry, Odinism, Asatru or whatever name one might use to describe their beliefs, degrading and condemning others who do things differently, even slightly differently, I can only believe that we are still products of our intolerant Christian heritage, which included burning people at the stake for deviating, even on the most minuscule points, and proclaiming themselves alone as the bearers of the “one and only truth.” I recently read a book by Yngona Desmond titled Voluspa—Seidr as Wyrd Consciousness.
I was deeply moved by her musings. Though I did not agree with everything thing in the book, I greatly enjoyed her discovery of the meanings of the Voluspa from her meditation on the subject. Instead of trying to rip her interpretation that I disagree with, I have thought and meditated long on what she wrote to further my own understanding of the kennings of the lore. I understand the myths and lore have multiple meanings, and not everyone will discover the same meanings when meditating on a particular tale. This is the wondrous nature of the myths and lore. When confronted with an interpretation that differs or disagrees with my own, my first impulse is to understand why and not reject it offhand as being wrong. I do not pretend to possess a monopoly on wisdom and truth. We can only conclude that too many within the Odinist movement have not purged their hearts, minds and souls of this religious arrogance and bigotry that is a holdover from their Christian upbringing.