"Heathenry in Iceland, America and Germany: The mainstream and the fringe" via Icelandic Magazine

An illustration of a historical Hammer of Thor, worn as a pendant by North Germanic pagans during the Viking Age. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Iceland Magazine has published an article on Germanic Neopaganism (also widely known as Heathenry): "Heathenry in Iceland, America and Germany: The mainstream and the fringe". Focused on Germanic Neopaganism in Iceland, Germany, and North America, the brief article primarily examines responses to the Ásatrúarfélagið's decision to conduct gay marriage ceremonies (which we previously reported on here). The article is authored by Karl E. H. Seigfried, who runs "The Norse Mythology Blog", a blog focused on Germanic paganism and topics such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Richard Wagner.


Icelandic Germanic Neopagans Criticized Abroad for Conducting Gay Marriage Ceremonies

Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, chief gothi of the Ásatrúarfélagið—the major Germanic pagan organization of Iceland, reports that the group has received criticism abroad for its stance on gay marriage.

From Grapevine.is:

“We have unfortunately received some hateful communications from abroad, on account of how we handle gay issues, and have fought to be able to marry them,” Hilmar told reporters. “I think we echo Icelandic society. The people have stood with us through thick and thin.”

Hilmar says the Ásatrú Society of Iceland will continue to maintain their policy of tolerance, regardless of the misconceptions others may have.

“We’re not running this with some kind of Viking or battle romanticism,” he said. “We’re not contemplating some old text from the year 70, as some foreign Ásatrú believers seem to believe is a part of our practice.”

As of 2014, Germanic Neopaganism is the second largest religion in Iceland.

"Pagans Criticised for Being Too Liberal" at grapevine.is

Vice Inaccurately Reports On Germanic Neopaganism

On May 1, Vice.com published an article by journalist Rick Paulas titled "How a Thor-Worshipping Religion Turned Racist". Unfortunately, as is all too often the case with media coverage on anything outside of the everyday experience of its readers, the article is both sensationalistic and inaccurate.

Joshua Rood, a graduate student at the University of Iceland and founder of Odroerir: Heathen Journal, is a major source quoted in the article. Subsequently, Rood has issued a statement about the misinformation found in the article:

"There is so much factually wrong in this.

For my own part, there are a few huge things that I want to publicly make as clear as possible....and this is the only venue I really have to do that.

I do not 'teach an Old Norse Religion MA program'. Terry Gunnell does. I am a student of his.

Secondly, Ásatrú in Iceland is not a 'spinoff' of Odinism. It is its own movement.

Thirdly: The racist forms of Ásatrú described in the article are a MINORITY in the US. I told him specifically, a very small minority. People should not be afraid to wear a hammer out of fear being branded a racist. There are many many many Ásatrú groups that abhor racism and racial segregation and do not tolerate those who accept it. It is not fair to say that in America Ásatrú is racialised. Are there groups who are? Yes. As the article shows, clearly there are. But the US is a huge country with over 300 million people. I've been involved with Ásatrú in the US most of my life and the vast majority are amazing, loving, caring people who are well educated and have nothing to do with racism whatsoever. They don't deserve to be labelled like this with the minority. If your kid wants a hammer, maybe there are guys in prison wearing hammers...but they're also wearing crosses. There are also wonderful people around the world and a rich history of folklore and myth behind that hammer.

When I was interviewed, he wanted to know specifically about racialist forms of Norse Neo Paganism and specifically Odinism. I made all of the above and more very clear in the interview but then...

But journalists will take what they want.
-Josh Rood ..."

Some of issues with the article that Rood mentions, such as the article's description of Rood's background, appear to have been silently corrected by Vice. However, most of the issues that Rood mentions remain uncorrected at the time of writing.


Ásatrúarfélagið Goði Blesses Icelandic Air Company WOWair's New Airbus, "Freyja"

Dorrit Moussaief, First Lady of Iceland, and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, goði of Ásatrúarfélagið, Iceland's major Germanic neopagan organization, were invited to to the unveiling of WOWair's, an Icelandic air company, new airbus unveiling. The airbus is named after Freyja, the North Germanic goddess. Hilmar performed a blessing for the unveiling of the airbus:

"Ancient and modern Iceland met yesterday evening at Reykjavik Airport, as Icelandic low-cost airline WOWair held a naming ceremony for one of two brand-new Airbus A321 aircraft purchased by the airline. The guests of honour at the event were Dorrit Moussaief, First Lady of Iceland, and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of the Icelandic neo-pagan religious association, Ásatrúarfélagið.


In keeping with this reference to ancient Norse beliefs, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, chief religious official of the Icelandic neo-pagans, was then called upon to bless the new aircraft by means of a short ceremony involving pouring beer out of a horn onto the tarmac under the plane. Guests were then invited to climb the steps and view the interior of WOWair’s latest acquisition.

Freyja will be put to work straight away and is scheduled to operate WOWair’s inaugural flight to Boston, departing from Keflavík International Airport at 4pm today."

To view more, including video of the event, view the rest of the article here: "Chief pagan blesses Icelandic jet" via mbl.is

Ásatrúarfélagið Temple at Reykjavík Construction to Begin in February

Reykjavík, Iceland: The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (Ríkisútvarpið; RÚV) reports that Iceland's Ásatrúarfélagið, the largest Germanic neopagan organization in Iceland, will begin construction of its first structure for worship, a modern temple (or, less ambiguously, a modern hof), in February in Reykjavík.

Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, allsherjargoði of the Ásatrúarfélagið, says that the erection of such a temple is a historic event because no such temple has been erected in Northern Europe since the Temple at Uppsala in 1070 ("Í Norður-Evrópu hefur ekki staðið hof síðan hofið í Uppsölum í Svíþjóð var byggt 1070, þannig að þetta er heimssögulegur viðburður").

United States Army Further Recognizes Germanic Neopaganism

Readers studying or practicing Germanic Neopaganism will be interested in a recent decision by the United States Military. As Karl E. H. Seigfried reports at Norsemyth.org:

"The United States Army has finally added Ásatrú and Heathen as options in its religious preference list. This follows two recent victories for Heathens in the Armed Forces: the 2013 addition of Thor’s hammer to the official list of “available emblems of belief for placement on government headstones and markers” by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the 2014 addition of Ásatrú and Heathen to the Air Force’s religious preference list."