What is Norse Wicca?
By Penny Rebel 2014
Most Heathens gasp in terror at the notion of Norse Wicca and are quick to point out that Wiccan principles and Eddic or Heathen ones could never merge, while not even raising a brow at Egyptian, Hellenic, Roman or other types of Wicca.
What riles the majority of them most is Wicca’s alleged “fluffy” nature – the rule of three and harm ye none.
Our Norse Ancestors were a harsh yet playful people and the revival of the Norse spirituality often forgets the playful and joyful part and instead focuses on the warrior-like nature of it. But ripping one element out of context of a whole spirituality of course makes little sense and thus I proclaim that Norse Wicca comes much closer to our Ancestors’ spirituality than what – especially American – Heathens have turned this faith into.
Simply because most of our Ancestors were in fact farmers, rather than Kings and/or heroic Warlords, who lived a life full of austerity during the long, bitter winters and hard work in order to prepare for them. They enjoyed games, contest and competition and a rather un-ceremonial but light-hearted spirituality to compensate for that.
The lore and sagas were traditionally passed on to the next generation orally and the Eddas themselves were written down in the 1300s by an already Christianized Icelander named Snorri Sturlason.
He faced the quandary of having to abide by the strict laws of no heresy and blasphemy under the penalty of death, while still wanting to note down the tales and beliefs of his Norse Ancestors.
It may very well be assumed that he had to “compromise” in certain areas, so everything that has been written about our Ancestors and that wasn’t taken directly from rune stones must be taken with a grain of salt.
However, the Eddas and especially the Havamal, the Words of the alleged “High One” aka self-proclaimed “All Father” Wotan/Odin, regularly speak of retaliation towards one’s enemies as well as a strong moral code of loyalty, honesty, truth, honor and defending yourself and your own, whilst praising physical as well as mental strength.
And it is also by death and carnage, by Odin’s murder of the Jotun (giant) Ymir, that the nine worlds and ultimately mankind were created.
Odin’s son Thor is another “giant murderer”, faring to the lands of the Jotnar whenever boredom strikes him in order to wield his mighty hammer Mjolnir and kill everything in his way.
Surtr will burn the worlds at Ragnarok, the Norse equivalent of Armageddon, and there are many more of that nature.
In other words: War definitely is a common theme in the Eddas, yes. But by far the only one. There are just as many Gods and Goddesses of a gentler nature, whose stories find lesser recognition amongst the war-struck Heathens of new.
There’s Eostre from which the holiday of the same name, better known as “Easter”, comes from, Honir who – along with Odin and Loki – created the worlds and is referred to as “The silent one” which may also be translated to the meek one from Old Norse. Eir is the Aesir Goddess of healing, Baldur the God of rebirth, peace and beauty. And on and on it continues.
If we now go back to the principle of “An ye harm none do what you wilt” I personally don’t know one single Wiccan who would attest to that without explaining this a little further. The principle here is not much different from Buddha’s golden rule, Christianity’s “Don’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and many other religion’s central law. It is even rather close to philosopher Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative.
It is a “Do your best not to harm anyone” or also a “Try to find a solution which will do the least harm to everyone involved.” Harm none otherwise is impossible. Many Wiccans I know eat meat, wear leather shoes, unlike me use a flyswatter, make Freudian slips or get on people’s bad side every once in a while, so to take it completely literal makes little sense of course.
As for the rule of three, “Whatever you do it will come back to you times three” the core of it may just as well be found in the Eddas as “What goes around comes around”. What else is Lokasenna about?
In this chapter of the Eddas, the Aesir Gods along with Loki, sit in Valhalla enjoying a large feast, when Loki rises to turn to every single God to remind him/her of his/her mistakes, misdeeds (sins) and concludes his statements with personal insults.
And right he is, the arrogant tribe, the reigning “caste” of the Aesir Gods with Odin as their King, will face all their mistakes made out of fear to lose their status and superiority, at Ragnarok, the worlds’ end. What goes around comes around indeed.
Wicca is not a dualist but a very inclusive religion, it accepts that all of nature and all elements of the circle of life are necessary and beautiful in their own way, not just the stars, the moon, spring blossoms and majestic sunsets, but also thunderstorms, tornados, the food chain and death just as much as life.
Norse beliefs are very similar to that concept, although they, too, have been twisted and willfully misinterpreted by most (American) Heathens. The Aesir Gods are the forceful preservers, the Rokkr Gods (those who will bring about Ragnarok) are usually deemed chaotic, but in truth they are the evolutionary forces of nature; stagnation and evolution keeping each other in check. The Vanir are somewhere in between these two, being more balanced and neither swaying towards the one or other side. A trinity of balance if you like.
Of course the next thing extremist Heathens will attack is magic (or, as one told me, “Your magick or whatever you call it”), claiming that our Ancestors did not practice magic.
And what would you call Seidr, Spae and Galdr? Why are there magical incantations or inscriptions on drinking horns, battle helms and weaponry and even other everyday items, found of nearly a thousand years ago? Did not Odin himself learn the “womanly” practice of casting the runes, of the magical practices named above? Oh, we had magic alright. Even a simple Blot by the use of blood already had something magical, meant to weave a connection between man and God or to call upon a certain God or Goddess – hence the name “Blot” simply meaning blood.
Some Heathens, especially Odinists, criticize Asatru’s practice of calling upon the four dwarves when creating a Ve (holy space) or beginning a Blot, ritual or holiday celebration, because it is most likely not historical and reminds of calling the four corners. In fact, there is much critique trying to establish new rituals based upon our ancient moral codes, beliefs, lore and the little we know about our religion and magic. Sadly almost all of it was destroyed due to violent Christianization and thus we have to piece together the facts and fill in the blanks where facts are missing. Maybe it is less about “right and historically authentic” ritual, conduct and such, but much more about the intention behind such a ritual? After all, our Ancestors surely did develop and kept developing their practices as well, quite naturally and over time. And not every tribe held the same beliefs, believed in the same Gods or even knew of them. So maybe a tad more acceptance and open-mindedness would suit our “angry Heathen” brothers and sisters regarding the ideas and concepts of Norse Wicca.
As for the celebration of Sabbats, while not all overlap, many of the Norse ones are similar to Wiccan ones. Norse Wiccans and Norse Pagans alike have come up with ways to incorporate the Norse holy days into the Year of the Wheel and I was happy to witness the merging of Brighid/Imbolc with a wonderful ritual dedicated to Baldur and his wife Nanna.
What else Norse Wiccans will or will not do varies greatly. As many Heathen kindred's, hof's, cults, sub-cults and the like there are, Norse Wicca is just as versatile, albeit on a more individualistic level without the righteous Heathen condemnation of everything and everyone who disagrees with their views and practices.
Generally, to Norse Wiccans all Gods are still essentially the one God and all Goddesses the one Goddess. Nature is sacred, the Eddas and sagas are the texts they draw strength, wisdom and inspiration from, there are Norse Wiccans focusing more on the Aesir, many on the Vanir and some even on the Rokkr, depending on their personal preferences or inclinations.
Norse Wicca is a small faith, often practiced by solitaries and even covens are not very outspoken and a little shy to speak about their practices. They are sometimes slightly feared by other types of Wiccans because those have already mostly made very negative experiences with Heathens, as much as they are hated and ridiculed by Heathens, labeled “Wiccatru”, fluffy bunnies or much worse.
The use of Norse symbols and symbology is a given, in addition to that Norse Wiccans just like every other Wiccan have the pentagram. Often assigning their patron and matron deities or just the Gods they work closest with to the single points. For example: Fire – Surtr, Air – Loki, Earth – Fjorgyn, Water – Ran and Ether – their personal high God, sometimes Odin as the “All Father” for the Aesir-oriented Norse Wiccans or Freyr for the Vanatrur or Loki for the Rokkatrur.
It is my sincerest hope that while the hardcore Heathens keep bickering and excluding everyone who dares disagree with them at least Wicca and other Pagan traditions will slowly start being more open towards Norse Wiccans and that Norse Wiccans will finally start stepping out of the shadow and claim what is theirs – a rightful place in the worldwide Pagan community.