Asatru - The Nordic subtradition of the Verbena

By Anders Sandberg

The Speech of the High One:
I know I hung on that windswept tree, Swung there for nine long nights, Wounded with my own blade, Bloodied for Odinn, Myself and offering to myself, Bound to the tree That no man knows Wither the roots of it run. None gave me bread, None gave me drink, Down to deepest depths I peered Until I spied the Runes. With a roaring cry I seized them up, Then dizzy and fainting, I fell. Well-being I won And wisdom too. I grew and took joy in my growth: From a word to a word I was led to a word, From a deed to another deed. From the Poetic Edda

History of the Asatru
The Verbena have always been regional, and differ much from area to area. In Scandinavia, the Verbena have been the protectors of the old religion and the old ways against the tide of Christianity and the Technocracy. Actually, the Verbena was behind the Old Faith of Asatru which ruled before Christianity. Asatru means the "belief in the Aesir", the old pagan gods.

During the pre-Christian times they were the priests and counselled the leaders about the will of the gods. Their magick was devoted to practical things like helping the crops, fishing and hunting, protecting the people from wild animals and worse, controlling the weather and protecting the universe from the forces which sought to bring about Ragnarok, the destruction of the world. During this time magick was more common than today, and most people knew a few minor magics. These were often of a simple protective nature and used to protect against spirits, the faeries, the dead, injuries, accidents and bad luck. These magics consisted often in inscribing a special rune (The runic alphabet was regarded as magical, and to be able to inscribe runes was regarded as a kind of magic), or singing the galders, songs sung in a high-pitched voice. These rotes were passed down through generations, or given to people by the priests or sibyls. All in all, minor magic seems to have been quite common, a bit like how most people today know a few tricks with technology. Year 829 AD a monk named Ansgar arrived in Sweden. He was sent out by emperor Ludwig to convert the Vikings of Sweden to Christianity (perhaps to lessen their raids and make them easier to trade with). The attempt failed, but soon other missionaries arrived. The Celestial Chorus were probably among them, and a struggle ensued between the pagans and the Choristers. The struggle continued for several centuries, but Christianity slowly became the religion of the kings and leaders and later the rest of the inhabitants. Both groups adapted to each other, and it seems as the Asatru went underground and continued its activities with support from the people, while the Choristers left them and their beliefs more or less alone as long as they weren't visible. Then came the Technocracy, which defeated the Celestial Chorus. Asatru remained hidden.

Asatru Today
Today the Asatru has survived in remote corners of Scandinavia. During its long persecution by the Church and Technocracy its members have become adept at hiding, often in plain sight. Much of the old faith has survived as old superstition and local customs, and the secret priests have carefully protected the faithful. Most of the believers live in rural or wilderness areas far from civilisation. They live in small settlements in the forests of Sweden, in small fishing villages in Norway or in the remote corners of Iceland (their current stronghold). Some of them emigrated to America during the 1800s and built their own small communities there, far from civilisation. They often keep to themselves, and avoid outsiders. The belief often goes in the family, tying the tradition together with bands of blood. While their enemies control the political world and society at large, the believers in Asatru work on the local scale, with practical methods. They promote their own and similar beliefs, often spreading the old superstitions to undermine the new faith. They have succeeded very well with spreading respect and affinity to nature among the masses in Scandinavia. They infiltrate agricultural organisations and influence their work, often using them as tools to strike at the projects of the city-dwellers. They promote a healthy

xenophobia to protect their old customs from the influence foreigners and city-dwellers. In fact, many of them are supporting local low-level nationalism and racism to encourage the sleepers to become more tied to their roots and to mistrust anything else. Their relations to environmental organisations are a bit ambivalent. On one hand they support them, since the protection of nature is one of their own most important tenets, but on the other hand they regard the environmentalists as do-gooders from the city who doesn't know anything about the real problems and only care about cute seals or flowers, not the uglier aspects of nature. In fact, many of the believers work against the environmentalists, seeking to protect their land and way of living against environmental laws or restoration programs which they regard as yet another way for the masters to try to wipe them out. Recently some New Agers have begun to worship the old gods and form different groups more or less based on Asatru. The real mages view this with scorn, and generally dislike them. The New Agers have just borrowed much of the names and myths, and then turned them into yet another fuzzy and nice mythology. The real Asatru believers scornfully remark that most of them don't even sacrifice blood on the blots. However, some of the real believers have begun using these groups as places to recruit people and a way to gain a foothold into the cities. Since most of the New Agers are so easily manipulated, they provide quite useful pawns. The same is true about neo-nazis, which the believers subvert by their magick and their grasp of ancient myth. They can be used in a similar manner, and are a very good method of harassing their enemies or diverting the attention of media and government from their own activities.

The Faith
Asatru revolves about the worship of the old gods, the Aesir. They represent the forces which have formed the universe, and still uphold it. By worshipping them the believers help upholding the universe against chaos and destruction, and may also gain help from them. Unlike modern monotheistic religions, does not demand that the believers should serve the gods. Instead the gods will help those who ask them for help in exchange for following their ideals and respecting them. This doesn't have to be much, a salutation or a small sacrifice of some food and drink is often enough to make the gods friendly. Anyone can perform the small acts of devotion to get the help of the gods. However, the mages are more advanced than this. They are the priests of the cult, and arrange the larger celebrations, the Blot. Blot are by tradition held at the Sabbaths, especially at the four equinoxes. The blot are mostly held in remote places, where the worshippers can meet without suspicion. In Sweden the cult-places are often glens with one or more oaks around it, on Iceland old stone-circles are used. The blot generally involve the ritual sacrifice of animals whose blood are used to ensure fertility, harmony and the old ways. The priests collect the blood in the hlautbowl, consecrate it to the gods and sprinkle it using evergreen twigs at the trees, on the idols of the gods and on the participants. Afterwards the blot turn into a feast where the meat from the sacrifices is eaten.

The tree is a sacred symbol to the, symbolising the World Tree Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is a great ash, which grows through the worlds of the dead (Hel), the living (Midgard) and the gods (Asgard) and upholds creation. It must be protected from the forces which seek to kill it, because if it dies the world will be destroyed. That's why the priests carefully water it with the blood of the blot, and seek to heal any damage to it they are able to heal. The gods are not representations of abstract forces, but powerful beings which happen to be good at different things. They are not the ultimate lords of the universe, merely the creators of it and the currently most powerful beings. They might be powerful, but they have a human side and can become angry, drunk, fall in love or otherwise behave like normal humans, just on a higher level. The most important gods are: Odin is the oldest and most powerful god. Together with his brothers Vile and Ve he killed the giant Ymir and shaped the universe out of the dead body. He is the god of wisdom, magick, war, death and leadership, riding on his eightlegged horse Sleipnir to oversee battles together with the valkyrias. If he throws his spear Gugner over somebody, that person will die in the fight. Odin has two ravens, Hugin and Munin, who spy on everything that happens and whisper it into his ears. He is also one-eyed, since he gave his right eye in deposit in the Well of Wisdom. The sacred animals of Odin is the horse and raven, and he is also the god of the hanged ones (because he voluntarily hanged himself on Yggdrasil as a sacrifice to himself to gain the secret knowledge of the runes). At blots in his honour in the autumn the priests hang horses and people in the trees as sacrifices. They are left hanging so the ravens can gorge themselves on the carcasses. The god of thunder, Thor, is rather well known. The red bearded god races across the heaven in his chariot drawn by goats, throwing his hammer Mjolnir at the trolls and giants, protecting mankind and gods from the forces of evil. He is the god of strength, fighting provess and the forces of nature, especially lightening, but also farming and marriage. The sign of his hammer scare away the trolls and elves, and give protection from lightening. Frey and his sister Freya, are the gods of fertility, growth and love. Both are extensively worshipped to ensure the harvests, good weather, health and virility. Both are described as blond and fair, and Frey is often depicted as a sitting figure with a drinking horn and large phallus. The sacred animal of Frey is the boar and of Freya the cat. They are the most often invoked gods at the blot, and while Odin and Thor are generally mentioned first, Frey and Freya are the ones that most worshippers really love. The Blot of Spring is celebrated in honour of Frey, so that he will bless the crops and livestock and make the weather good during Spring and Summer. Horses and boars are sacrificed in his honour, and usually the worshippers select a young, blond man who will represent Frey during the celebrations. The god is then carried around with great adoration, and he blesses the fields and worshippers. The Blot of Midsummer is celebrated to Freya, so that she will make the men virile and the women fertile. The participants sing bawdy songs and engage in ritual sex.

Balder is the god of light and peace. He is said to be the most beautiful and shining of the Aesir, and both wise, eloquent and helpful, although a bit impractical. His sacred plant is the mistletoe, because he was killed by an mistletoe arrow fired by his blind brother Höder (who was fooled to fire by the treacherous Loki). It is to his honour the Blot of Midwinter is celebrated, so that the light will return to the world. There are many other gods revered by the worshippers. Heimdallr is the perceptive sentinel of the gods, standing watch at the rainbow for any intruders into Asgard. Skadi is the wild goddess of hunting, roaming the mountains in the winter with her bow and her wolves. Her husband Njord is the god of the sea, fishing and travel. Loki is the god of fire, deceit, wits and theft who causes and solve problems. Idun is the goddess of health and longevity, and her husband Brage is the god of poetry. Frigg, the wife of Odin, is the goddess of home and motherhood. Tyr is the god of war and bravery. Hel is the dark goddess of death. And so on, there are many lesser deities revered in special situations.

Philosophy
"Once upon a time there was only the great void of Ginungagap. When the ice from Nifelheim (the world of ice and mist) and the fire from Muspelheim (the world of fire and heat) met in the void, they created the immense giant Ymir. The three brothers Odin, Vile and Ve, the grandsons of Bure, killed him, and formed the world out of his body. His blood became the seas, his bones became the mountains, his flesh became the earth and his skull became the sky. However, Bergelmer, one of the sons of Ymir, survived the cataclysm of his fathers death. He swore revenge against the gods, and his descendants, the giants, still seek the undoing of the gods and to destroy the world. They are helped by the giants from Muspelheim and Nifelheim, the traitorous Loki and his three children Hel, the Fenris wolf and the Midgard serpent. One day Ragnarok will come, when the world and most of the gods will die. Before it there will be the great Fimbulda-winter, three winters in a row without any summer between. War and violence will spread across the world, and the three roosters will signal the final day to the gods, the giants and the dead. All bonds break, the dead invade the world, the gods and giants kill each other in battle, the sun darkens and the World Tree Yggdrasil catches fire and falls, taking the world with it. But from the wreckage a new world will emerge, with clear waters and lush vegetation. The fields will bear crops without any planting and Balder will rule with peace and light. That is why we must protect the world as long as it stands. We must fight the forces that seek to bring it down, be they supernatural or mundane. We must keep Yggdrasil healthy and strong, heal its wounds and fight its enemies. We must keep the giants and the dark forces at bay. We must protect the old traditions of the blot and the runes, so that the people will not forget the gods entirely and the gods will not forget us. We must strengthen the people so they will fight bravely against the forces of death and destruction, or the giants will surely win."

Organisation
The believers congregate around sacred sites and are led by their priests. These priests are generally equal, although the oldest and most respected of them lead the others. Different groups have little contact, but sometimes priests contact neighbouring groups to discuss mutual problems.

Meetings
Mainly at the equinoxes, especially Midwinter, Spring and Midsummer. Also some ceremonies at the other Sabbaths and at special occasions (often just to celebrate and thank the gods for success, or to ask them for help). Beside the blot, many worshippers hold small "prayer meetings" where the participants toast the gods, sing the ancient songs and sacrifice some food.

Initiation
The initiates are mostly chosen among the faithful. One common way to awaken the initiate is to ceremonially hang them in a sacred oak, and let them hang there. The delirious initiate will undergo the same visions that Odin saw when he hung himself, and will thus become awakened, or the initiate will die and become a sacrifice to Odin.

Chantry
Asatru has no true chantries. There have been no real chantries in Sweden since the burning of the temple of Uppsala around year 1100, and probably no others in the rest of Scandinavia. Instead the believers often form small isolated communities, where they can practice their religion in peace. The acolytes most often come from these communities.

Acolytes
Farmers, survivalists, neo-nazis, fishermen and hunters.

Sphere
Life. The priests especially devoted to Odin generally learn about Mind and Prime, while the priests of Thor learn Forces and Matter. Female priests tend to concentrate on the preparation of potions, mead and the singing of galders, while male priests learn the art of the runes. The völvas are the only mages who deal mainly in Spirit and Time (see below).

Foci
Blood: Life, Prime

This is the most important focus. The blood of the sacrifices is especially powerful, and the sacrifices from the blot is the best. Human blood is naturally powerful, and the blood of voluntarily sacrificed believer have amazing power. The bloodline is important, and royal blood is of course the most powerful (in the old days the priests used to sacrifice the king to stave off famine if it looked really bad). In using the blood, it is important for the mage to give at least some to the gods to show respect, otherwise they might become angered. However, in Life magick other bodily fluids can be used, especially in magick regarding to the giver.

Bowl: Entropy, Spirit
This is known as a hlautbowl, where the blood or drink is first poured and consecrated by the priest. It is often a wooden or silver bowl with intricate ornaments. Hlautbowls are often inherited through generations in families of believers, and regarded as sacred.

Herbs: Matter
This works as normal for Verbena, but substances from the animal or mineral kingdoms are sometimes used. Some specially important substances are oak leaves, mistletoe, salt, yeast, earth, iron, snake venom, ice and poisonous mushrooms.

Hammer: Correspondence, Forces, Time
This is the hammer of Thor, Mjollnir. Most often it is a small stylised hammer worn around the neck. Currently this is rather popular fashion in Scandinavia, so it is easy to hide. In earlier times the mages sometime used crosses to hide their true faith.

Circlet: Mind
This circlet imitates to the Brosingamene, the silver necklace worn by Freya. According to one myth, she has to let Loki wear it half of the year after he stole it and tricked her into his debt. During this time nature vanes and darkness reign, but in the spring she will wear it again and become happy, thus ensuring spring and summer. It thus represent both the allurement of Freya and the cunning of Loki, a fitting symbol for Mind.

Concepts
Recluse, local politician, eccentric, sect leader

Quote
"What are you doing to protect the World Tree, Yggdrasil? Don't you see how the dragon Nidhögg gnaws at its roots, how the frost giants of Nifelheim and the fire giants of Muspelheim just await the right moment to bring about Ragnarök? You might think that are just old myths, but we know they are real, far too real..."

Stereotypes
Akashic Brothers "They might be good warriors, but spending all day thinking is not good for any man." They lack focus, and celebrate body over mind. They will never learn anything. Celestial Chorus "Their god of light and caring is a worse tyrant than any mortal king! They mercilessly crush anything in their path just to make sure nobody dare to disagree with them! They burnt our temples, bribed the leaders and defaced the runes! They deserve all misfortunes they have suffered, and more." Pagans whose blood rites were justly stopped. Cult of Ecstasy They celebrate the joy of living like we do, but without any respect. Wild, powerful and scary. Those people are dangerous, and more than a little insane. You would probably be a bit insane too if your faith had been prosecuted for a thousand years, I guess. Dreamspeakers Like us they respect nature, but they don't control it. They believe that Erda will help them and give them orders, unlike us, who knows that we must fend for ourselves. The gods help those who help themselves. They are arrogant and foolish, and yet important. They are one of the last links beside us to the old days, and we must accept that. Euthanatos Noble in their own way, but easily misled. They seek out those fylgia has reached them, and do what needs to be done. We have done the same ourselves through generations without having to build elaborate theories about it. They have understood that death is just a beginning, and most of them don't fear it. While their ceremonies and myths may be good or bad, their mindset is very balanced. Many of them have the fatalism of true warriors. Order of Hermes Typical city dwellers. They spend all their time in their houses looking in books, instead of looking at the reality that surrounds them. They have some primitive understanding of the importance of the balance of the forces of nature, but are trapped in primitive beliefs and their religion. They must learn that the world around them is just a small cog in the great wheel. Sons of Ether Useless gadgeteers. They could learn much from the dwarves. Running around sprinkling blood and drinking mead? No thanks! Virtual Adepts What's the point? They have lost contact completely with the ground and are living in their nice castles of air. What will they do when the storm comes? Yech! Like all those nature-freaks, completely nuts. Technocracy

They are our enemies, and must be crushed in the long run before they bring about Ragnarok in their own way. However, while they control the cities we are taking over what really matters, the countryside. A small residue of the old religion. Some folkloristic interest, nothing more. Marauders The followers of Loki. Like their master they will one day show their true allegiance and turn to the forces of destruction completely. Stuffy and pretentious, but they want to return to the old age like I do. Too bad they won't help. Nephandi These are the servants of the giants. They seek to help their masters to undermine the World Tree, weaken the people and betray the gods. These are our true enemies, and on the day of Ragnarok we will destroy them. Silly, inbred peasant-mages who think they know everything. They are dying, and slowly corrupting themselves without even our help. The Undead We have known for a long time of the existence of undead beings, ghosts, wraiths, vampires, wights and whatever. These beings should be sent back to Hel where they belong to protect the living from their evil. Dangerous, very dangerous! These mages might not know much about our society or our true nature, but they make it up with their cunning, their sheer stubbornness, their willpower and their magick. They are not afraid of death, and they know many secrets of the Blood and of the Spirits which they use against us. The Werewolves The children of Fenris are our enemies. These grandchildren of Loki attack our villages, kill the livestock and destroy our sacred places. They must be hunted down and destroyed for the preservation of the Tree! These Wyrm-spawned breeders are a blight upon the land and must be cleansed away! They deal with dark forces and protect the humans against our righteous wrath! By Thor, we will not rest until every one of these accused mages are left dead! The fey These beings are too diverse to be judged. Some, like the dwarves, can be our grudging allies while the trolls and giants are our enemies. But every one of them is an individual, and most of them are capricious. Be careful in dealing with them, and remember that they flee the iron of Mjollnir. Funny figures... have danced in their sacred spots a rather long time now. We would really like to play more with them, but they have so much cold iron around them all the time...

Rotes
Heritage of the Blood (Time 2 Life 1)
In ancient time, the god Heimdallr travelled the land, and sired the thralls, the bards, the farmers and the jarls (the leaders). The trace of the god is still upon the people, and a

priest knowledgeable in the ways of the blood can still see it. By feeling the force in the blood, the mage can follow the lineage back through time to its source, and see which group someone really belongs to. This is also used to trace the lineages, and find those special bloodlines which contain the life of the people.

Brew Venom (Life 2 Prime 2 Entropy 1)
While the Vikings regarded poison as foul, some of the modern mages use it in the defence of their homes and traditions. By boiling together a foul mixture of blood, salt, yeast, earth, iron, ice and some drops of snake venom under invocations of the powers of death, they create a potent and untraceable poison. The poison can be applied in food or drink, placed on weapons or even on surfaces. The poison will seek out the weakest point of the victim and make him very sick or kill him. [ The poison works as an infection or other disease, completely coincidental. Typical effects can be heart attacks, allergic reactions or food poisoning. It will find the weakest point in the body of the victim using an effect like Dim Mak and then strike. It does three times the number of successes damage levels. ]

Magic Mead (Matter 2 Prime 2 Mind 2)
By adding special herbs and some blood to mead and then brewing it together, the priestess can create a mead which will infuse the drinker with the emotions of the her choice. This is used to create the mead drunk during the blot, or a subtle way of influencing people.

Mead of blood (Life 3 Prime 2)
This rote may have started as a kind of travesty of the Catholic Mass. By pouring mead into the bowl and adding a few drops of blood, the priest can turn it into blood. However, it doesn't have to look like blood or taste like it, the priest can make it appear to be normal mead. Afterwards, the mead can be used instead of blood as a foci, be imbibed as a source of strength or even used as sustenance for vampires (although practically no modern kindred know about this. Only the oldest Scandinavian Methuselahs have tasted such mead).

Galders
Galders are magickal songs sung in a peculiar high pitched voice, with simple and practical effects. These were the most common type of personal magick during the old days, and were completely coincidental. However, as reality became more rigid, they became harder to sing with effect, and today only the priests can use them. They have some peculiar advantages and disadvantages; on one hand they do not require any foci except the song itself. However, the only galders which work today are those which have been sung since the old days, and it is impossible to create new galders with power. It seems as if they have become locked into static reality and cannot change anymore.

Naturally, the mages have spent much time preserving and researching the old songs, but unfortunately only a few are known. Here are some typical examples: Ettergalder (Matter 1) This galder was used by the legendary Egil Skallagrimson when he suspected that his drink was poisoned. He sung it to the mug, and it shattered, showing that the contents were poisoned. Frostegalder (Life 1) This galder protects from cold and freezing. The mage sings the galder to his flesh and limbs, making them liven up and get warm again. Runegalder (Prime 1) This galder makes the runes in the vicinity of the singer to shine with their light, making them easy to read. By the intensity of the light the mage can se how powerfully they were inscribed. Gastegalder (Spirit 2) This galder protects from ghosts and other denizens of the night. By singing it the mage can scare away most of the lesser unbeings. Bragdegalder (Mind 2) This is a rousing galder which inspires frenzy and bravery among those who hear it. Giljegalder (Mind 2) This galder evokes loving feelings from a person of the opposite sex. Lösegalder (Matter 3) This is a galder which helps mages who have been imprisoned. The mage sings the galder to the bonds, which will release him.

Runes (Prime 3)
The art of carving runes is one of the best kept secret of Asatru. Even Odin had to pay dearly for the secret. Once anybody who knew how could carve the magical runes, but today they require quite powerful magick to create. The physical shape of a rune is no problem, but creating the secret pattern inside which gives it power is hard today after the activities of the Church and the Technocracy. Each rune has to be consecrated with a drop of blood by the carver while he whispers its secret name and concentrates, and the inscription must be charged by tass. However, when finished, the text of runes will work as a kind of talisman, retaining its powers as long as it is charged. If they are recharged or placed on a place where they can recharge from the environment they will last nearly forever. (like on the runestones, which are often placed on ley-lines or nodes. Many retain their power even today)

Vigrunor (Entropy 1 Mind 2 Prime 3)
These are runes which are inscribed on a weapon under invocations to Tyr, and will give the wielder success in battle. He will be able to see the weaknesses of his enemies, become brave and fearsome to his foes.

[ The Entropy effect will make the user notice the weaknesses of his foe, while the two Mind effects will make him brave and fearless while his foes will become nervous. ]

Bränningsrunor (Entropy 2 Prime 3)
These runes protect ships at sea from accidents and wreckage. They are inscribed on the bow and on the helm. [ The runes will protect from all random accidents and give the helmsman a subconscious ability to find the best course through storms and reefs. Each success will add to his skill. ]

Lemrunor (Life 4 Prime 3)
These runes are the most potent way of healing somebody there are today in Asatru. Once this type of healing was quite simple, but it has turned hard. The priest writes the runes on the bark of a tree, usually with the blood of the patient. This creates a potent healing force that will seek to heal the patient continuously, thus overcoming and hindering even the most serious diseases as long as the runes are inscribed on the tree. However, the runes can also be used to curse, causing wounds or sickness in the same way as they can heal. By adding or deleting a rune, the inscription can be turned around, which makes it important to keep them secret from enemies. [ The runes will seek to heal any wounds and sickness of the person they mention. Each time he is hurt or become sick, the runes will get a chance to heal him. If they cannot heal him completely, they will at least prevent any worsening of the condition.]

Protection Runes (Varies, Prime 3)
These runes are inscribed on the runestones marking and protecting the old nodes and ley-lines. Usually they consist of nasty and powerful curses (generally the most powerful the present priests can invoke). If the runes are destroyed, the flow of power through the stone is disrupted or somebody moves it, the curse will activate. This has given the Technocracy in Sweden a lot of problems in the past when they have wanted to move the ley-lines. Currently they simply let the stones stand (and actually protects them, to avoid having any spurious magick getting loose) and lead new ley-lines around them.

Edsrunor (Varies, Prime 3)
These runes are used to seal oaths, deals and curses. When finished, they force the parts to obey to the text. If any part breaks it, he will suffer the effects described. These are usually the worst possible curses the priest can do, and it is not uncommon to add curses beyond the ability of the mage just for effect. In the case of pure curses, the victim is forced to obey the caster or suffer the full curse. These texts are usually inscribed on stone or wooden boards, and then often placed in sacred places for safekeeping. The only

way to remove a curse is to find the runes and erase them, but some really cunning mages write them on pine-needles and scatter them in the forest.

Seid (Spirit, Time)
The magick of the Asatru does not deal much with the world of spirits or advanced forms of divination. That was the realm of seid, a kind of magick not done by the normal priests and mages. It was originally a type of magick of the Lapp shamen of northern Scandinavia, and it was regarded with suspicion and fear. Today it is more accepted, but still it remains a slightly separate tradition. However, some elements has been incorporated into modern and is used by specialised priestesses, known as völvas. They are respected, but a bit apart from the priesthood of the Aesir. They are recognised by their magickal rods (völva means literally female bearer of a rod), which are their unique foci for Spirit and Time. Some völvas are even said to fly on their rods, or on wolves. Their link to this rod is so strong, that they are said to protect it even after their own death. Seid involves ecstatic trances, where the völva can communicate with the spirits and see the future and past. These are achieved by her sitting on a special settee singing certain ancient galders (or having acolytes sing them at her). These galders are reputedly both beautiful and terrifying, but seems to send the völva into trance. Now she can go out into the spirit world, summon the dead, see past and future or reveal the hidden secrets.

Talismans
Idols (Talisman 1)
Iron or wooden idols of the gods are placed around holy places or in shrines in the homes of believers. Some are enchanted and have special powers. They are often offered small sacrifices in exchange for working, and some believers even thank them with blood if they have done especially well. Most popular are idols of Frey, which promote fertility and virility when kept in the house and good crops when placed by the fields. Instead of a humanoid idol a phallus is sometimes used. Idols of Thor protect against lightening, faeries, ghosts and evil forces (sometimes just a stylised hammer is used). Idols of Odin are rare and regarded as a bit spooky, and most are placed as guardians around sacred places (especially where oaks grow). They will somehow alert the worshippers that somebody is coming. Idols of Heimdallr are used similarly, but are often placed in the home too. Idols of Skadi gives good hunting and Idols of Njord helps sailing and fishing. Idols of Frigg are placed by the beds of children to protect them and keep them healthy.

Bolverk (Talisman 2)
This is an old Viking sword, with a dull and dark finish which won't go away regardless of any attempts of polishing it. When it is drawn from its scabbard it emits a hissing noise, like a snake. Its name means "Bringer of pain/evil", which is also one of the titles

of Odin. According to the myth, the sword was forged on the autumn solstice by a priest of Odin, who had turned to the dark aspect of his god. It was later wielded by the infamous Ingjald Two-Tongue, and was reputedly buried with him. But it has reappeared since then, according to the legend wielded by the Wraith of the cruel Ingjald. Besides being eternally sharp, regardless of how dull it looks it has the nasty effect of causing excruciating pain from any wounds. There are also rumours that it actually seeks contact with living flesh to cause more pain, and will cut through the skin of anybody touching it carelessly just to cause pain. [ A Matter 1 effect keeps it eternally sharp. A Life/Mind effect doubles all wound penalties made by the sword, and bruised is at -1. ]

Spawn of Draupnir (Talisman 2)
One of the most prized possessions of Odin was the ring Draupnir, which every ninth night spawned eight similar rings. Some of these rings also had the power of multiplication, and a few seems to have been accidentally given to humans (or stolen). These rings look like a heavy Viking ring of pure gold, artfully ornamented into three dragonsnakes braiding together and biting their tails. If left alone, it will spawn eight similar rings every ninth night. It was originally made by the dwarves, and no dwarf can resist any chance of getting the ring, by whatever means.

Rod of the Völva (Talisman 3)
Some of the völvas enchanted their rods so that they could be used more easily. By holding the rod and going into a trance (or being sleepy, drunk or something like that), the wielder will get visions of the past, present and future. These visions are partially random, partially controlled by what the user want to see (not only consciously, but also subconsciously), and may be dangerously biased. Some rods are still strongly influenced by their makers, and will be biased towards their views. The link between the rod and the original owner is often so strong, that it is possible to communicate with her soul in the realm of death (note that most völvas have no grasp of modern languages). How she reacts to the mage who disturbs her sleep depends much on how she is treated and what he asks her. Some völvas are happy to help in any way they can, while others trick and curse people seeking help. [ The rod uses a Correspondence 3 Time 2 rote to show distant places and times for the user, and a Spirit rote to contact the dead völva. ]

Mead of Poetry (Artefact)
The gods created a man called Kvaser as a part of a peace treaty after a civil war. Kvaser was the wisest man who has ever lived, and was able to answer any question. He travelled around the world giving advice and helping people, but one day he was invited as guest by two dwarves called Fjalar and Galar, who killed him. To the gods they explained that Kvaser had gagged on his own wisdom, since nobody could ask him

enough. The dwarves brewed the Mead of Poetry out of his blood, which was able to turn anyone into a great poet by drinking it. After many adventures the mead was finally stolen by Odin, who drank most of it and gave some to his fellow gods and some humans. There may still be some mead left somewhere, and if anybody find it and drink it they will gain the gift of poetry.

Further Reading
See especially the Helsdottir by Ben Buckner. This document describes a strange and grim being, very knowledgeable in the old magick (the sections about the Blood Mead, rune magick and seidhr are a must read!). Asatru on the net ( A small note: The old Nordic names are not easy to transcribe, and frankly I lack any linguistic knowledge in this area. I have used those names who fit my impression of old Scandinavian best or have appeared in my sources. Not to mention the problems with the national characters (which didn't exist before the 16th century). Another thing to remember is that the myths are contradictory in many places, and I have made no attempt to simplify things. ) Back to Tradition Page Anders Main Page Anders Sandberg / nv91-asa@nada.kth.se

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