Folkmother Else Christensen 1913 - 2005
*This article was first published in “The Odinist” by Else over 49 years ago. Asatru has grown not only in numbers but in understanding of our ancestor’s practices since that time. It is important to know where we came from and to honor the pioneers of our faith, so we can continue to move forward in knowledge and strength.
Traditions by Else Christensen
Due to the fact that the Odinist Faith was overpowered by Christianity, more by the sword than friendly persuasion – (“Think not that I am come to send peace on Earth, I came not to send peace but a sword,” saith the Lord) we Odinists do not have many traditions we can truly say were observed by all our ancestors.
Another point that must be kept in mind is that when we speak of Odinism, as the faith of our forefathers, we have to remember that our people comprise many tribes and folk groups, spread over vast territories, through many Centuries. The various peoples wandered over large land areas, settling here and there, mingling with the local population and with each other, all the while developing attitudes and custos that were well established by the time Christianity subjugated all of Europe in a reign of terror for the sake of the ever-loving God.
Traditions and customs therefore differed greatly and what was done and believed in one locality might not have been the same in other parts of Europe at the same time; but the general attitude to life and human dignity was the same wherever our forefathers dwelled.
One of the first duties of the zealous Christian was to eradicate everything that was not in compliance with the ‘true faith’, and valuable cultural treasures were thus lost forever. Much of the old folklore was however kept a live by word of mouth and later written down and preserved; but it is nevertheless difficult to know which of the handed down traditions are genuine, and which ones have, knowingly or unknowingly, been added or embellished by later writers. We therefore to some degree have to judge for ourselves, on the basis of information for various sources, which customs we believe were observed by our ancestors. Some Western nations are, in this respect, better off than others in that in some localities larger quantities of documents have been preserved, giving reliable information.
As Sunday is very closely linked with Christianity, with church services being held on that day by most Christian denominations, it is suggested that we chose another day as the Odinist ‘Holy Day’. It seems natural to select Wednesday, since it obviously many centuries ago was named after Odin (Woden) who to us is the symbol of our religious convictions.
We realize of course that in Christian countries we cannot take the day off (and work on Sunday instead) but maybe each Odinist, according to his or her time schedule could devote a few moments to the contemplation of our religious and philosophical ideology. As our outlook on life is affirmative and therefore one of ‘light’ – “Pagans are all who say YES to LIFE” – burning a candle would be symbolic; to have other items such as a piece of art, a bouquet of flowers, a picture of one of our heroes, or any other symbol that to the individual is the very embodiment of our cultural folk soul would be in order. The idea is not to set up an idolatrous statue or ‘alter’ but to create a focus for your thoughts.
Further, to be in harmony with nature and our ancestors’ Gods we suggest the use of coloured candles, each colour symbolizing one of the four seasons of the year; green for Spring, representing the first green grass and the new leaves,; yellow for Summer, chosen among the many bright colours of the summer flowers; red for the Fall, when we have the beautiful colours of the Fall forest; and white for the winter snow. We are aware that in some locations these symbolic colours may not be quite according to the season; however, the Western lands are spread over large areas, and it will be well-nigh impossible to find colours that for all would be truly seasonal.
We would also like to institute a few ‘Days”. A Leif Erickson Day is a natural and since the United States already has chosen Oct. 9 in honour of the great explorer, we see nothing wrong in accepting that date on which to pay special tribute to the adventurous and the courageous qualities of our Viking ancestors, whose daring and stamina brought them all over the know, and unknown, world of their time. As the family unit is considered the basis for a healthy society, a Family Day would seem appropriate; we have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in the Christian world, promoted mainly by the merchants, and although there is nothing wrong in honouring one’s Mother and Father, on the contrary – it is neither one, nor the other, but both parents who in unison should create the hale and wholesome atmosphere in which children can be reared to become well-adjusted and creative members of society. In addition, we would like to pay a special tribute to the many kinsmen who have fought and still are fighting, in one way or another, to further our culture; we think a Heroes’ Day would be in keeping with Odinist concepts; whether we should pay our respects, focusing on one particular hero among the many our folk group has known and let him represent all, or arbitrarily select a date, will be decided before your 1975 Odinist calendar goes to print.
These ‘Days’ together with the four seasonal ‘Holy Days’ – Winter and Summer Solstice, Spring and Fall Equinox – would, in our opinion, be dignified without being ostentatious, and thus well represent our religious attitudes.
-Taken from The Odinist publication. 1974