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Edred Thorsson

Source: ​Idunna, ​Volume 1, No. 4; February 1989

Athem they had not, wood they had not,

being nor bearing, nor blooming hue;
athem gave Woden, Hœnir gave wood,
being, Lodhurr, and blooming hue.
(Völuspá 18)

In the middle of everything is the human soul. ​It is that by which we gauge the world and the
earth and see them for ourselves. No other area of knowledge has been so wracked by the
ravages of the forces of the White-Christ than has been our own native “psychology”—or simply
put—“teachings about the soul”. If a people knows something well, and in intimate detail, its
language will usually have many words for that thing in all its nuances and variations. It is
sometimes said that the Eskimos have so many words for snow, and for the color white,
because they know these things so well and are used to making fine distinctions among and
between the various kinds of these things. In ancient times the Germanic peoples had a
bewildering number of names for the “soul, “spirit,” “mind”, and so forth. This is telling
knowledge of the thing—and also they used these terms in a fine “technical” way without
referring to a dogma or psychological school of any kind. It was a deep understanding implicit in
the very language.

To recover the lost understanding of the Teutonic soul and its workings would be the single
greatest key to once and for all requickening the withered roots of the Troth. It is probably no
accident that serious work in the investigation of the nature of the human soul—divorced from
the superstitious dogmas of the Christians—and the revival of the knowledge of the god of the
soul, Woden, began at the same time. Despite the many wrong turns and dead-ends the often
misguided investigators have made—there has been progress. Perhaps no other school of
modern psychological teaching has been more beneficial than that founded by the Swiss
psychiatrist Carl Jung.

But what we present here is an attempt to recover the old traditional lore of the soul as it was
understood by our ancestors. Here we will also reconstruct, for modern use, a practical native
terminology for talking about the “souls.” The first step in doing so is the {6}realization that there
is not one “soul,” but many, and that there is no one word—other than perhaps “self”—that
encompasses all aspects of the many “souls.” The self stands at the center of the souls and can
be the stead where all are held together. This is not, however, a natural phenomena, but rather
something for which a man or woman must work. Also, it must be realized that the strong
body-soul split so heavily emphasized in Christianity is missing in true soul-lore. We would
rather talk of a body-soul-mind complex for a more complete understanding not only of what the
parts are, but also how they relate to one another. The following drawing sums up much of the
human soul in the traditional sense, although it is not exhaustive: