Irminsul Ættir

The Great Misunderstanding - Asatru Versus Nazism

Written by: Jón Júlíus Filippusson

Translated by: Ulv Tore Skaar

I grew up in Iceland where the people live in close contact with nature and their folkreligion, and this became a part of me also. The strength of the nature, the elves, the trolls and other figures in the hills and the stones where just as real to me as anything else. Odin and Thor was to me vigorious gods and protecters, and they were also my forefathers who lived somewhere in the neighbourhood. The Icelandic sagas and Snorri's Edda was my fairytales and childrens' books. Later on when I grew up to be an adult, I decided to declare myself out of the statechurch and into the Ásatrúarfélagið in Iceland. To me this was quite normal as it is for so many other Icelanders, nobody thought there was anything wrong in doing that. This is because; in the inner soul of the Icelandic population the old Æsir, elves and other beings, are just as important as Jesus Christ. This was something I had to take care of. When I moved to Norway some two years ago, I got a culture-shock. Nazism, racism and satanism was something I had never experienced before in my home country. Extremists had put my gods in disrepute and used my culture in order to legitimate their dreadful intentions. Asatru had suddenly become something evil .......

In the begynning there was nothing besides the big emptiness of Ginnungagap, which lies between the icy realm of Nifilheim in the north and the fiery realm of Muspellheim in the south. There, where the warm and the cold did meet, the destructive jotun/troll Ymir got created out of the melting ice. That's also how the cow Audhumla came into being. Audhumla nourished herself by licking the ice and on the third day she had licked a complete man out of the ice. That was Buri. He became father to Bor. Bor got his three son's, Odin, Vili and Ve, with the jotun-woman Beistla. The three brothers hated the destructive Ymir so much that they killed him and created the world out of his body. That's how the creation came into being in the Norse mythologi which most Asatruar will confess themselves to.

The first gods Odin, Vili and Ve could not tolerate the destructive Ymir in the same way as many people today refuses to tolerate, and will distance themselves from nazism.

Asatru today is above all a religion, based on the old Scandinavian folktraditions and their folkreligion. Politics has nothing to do with it. But what we does know about the heathen times, is that the governing system was similar to modern democracy, where the people did meet every year at the "Ting" (= convention). They did not talk like leftists or rightwings at the ting, and the Scandinavian people where certanly far from submissive at those times. To them freedom meant everyting. In Iceland they kept this way of governing untill the 13th century without any big problems. A democratic anarchy (one might say), independent from a "strong" leader, or any king (apart from a short period where they paid tribute to the norwegian empire), there were further on no emperor, no Mussolini nor any Adolf Hitler.

In the opposition to the Nazi and the Fascist ideology which is based on being submissive to a diktator, the Asatru is based on an individual freedom within democratic bounds. All individuals are responsible for themselves and their own doings regulated by the laws. This is the main ideology of Asatru. That is how it was thousand years ago in the heathen society. Nobody was above the laws, not even the king or other chieftains, who like anyone else could be judged and punished according to the demand of the people. Only with the influence of christianity power was taken away from the people and was then transferred to a central diktatorship represented by the church and the christian kings. Why the nazis then are inspired by heathen culture and Norse mythology is totally incomprehensible. There is absolute nothing in the heathen culture or in the mythology which is comparable with racism or the nazi ideology. The nazi ideology is at odds with Asatru at all levels. The individualism which Asatru is based on, does not describe the nazis. The nazis are like "sheep": dependent on a "stronger" leader. They doesn't have any honour, which was (and still is) the most important property of the individual.

Asatru is a humane religion, where the Asatruar ascribe to them selves a certain moral behaviour based on the old Havamal, Odin's sayings. Havamal teaches us, among other things, worthy conduct, how one should behave reasonable, with justice, hospitality and benevolence. There isn't very much of this one will find within the nazi ideology. Or is there someone who think of a nazi as justice, or means that theirs task is carried on with good-will and hospitality? It's quite clear that the nazis lack both honesty and dignity to be compared to or to have anything in common with the Asatruar. To the Asatruar Odin is god for knowledge, poetry and art. Nazism has nothing that could be compered to this. Nazism is without culture and artificial possibilities. Nazism despices art. This we did see when they burned books and intellectuals prior to and during world war two. One should neither think that the neo-nazis are especially engaged in poetry or anything else culturally. One thing is quite certain: They have not learned anything from Havamal.

Since 1996 in Norway and since 1973 in Iceland, Asatru has been officially recognized as a religion. Most Asatruar from these groups distance themselves from all types of exstremism. This is documented by their laws, because this could never combine with their view of life nor with their religion.

In 1994 the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið declared this: "The Asatruar wish to lift up to dignity again the old customs and the cultural heritage. This they do without expense to other religions, old or new, or to the cultural heritage of other people. Fanaticism and hatred against others is not familiar to / holds no part with Ásatrúarfélagið's ideology....." and further on: "The old customs is based on tolerance, honesty, fidelity and respect for nature, and all life therein. The main principle of the heathen custom is that every human being is responsible for itself and its own doings...."

In 1996 the members of Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost in Norway agreed on this: "Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost is a fellowship of åsatru-groups trying to create a viable community for those who want to honour the old norse gods and keep the heathen customs alive. Bifrost would like to promote the modern understanding of the pre-christian northern traditions, art and culture in general. We want to preserve our cultural heritage and keep it alive and updated through practice based on the old sources, scientific research and new insights into the history, the ethics, the myths and the Powers seen through modern heathen eyes. Bifrost strongly oppose neo-nazic or satanist interpretations of the norse traditions as well as any attempt to discriminate on racial, sexual or gender-based grounds."

The same attitude is shared by "Sveriges Asatrosamfund" in Sweden. Further on The Grand Godhi of Gladsaxe Blotsguild in Denmark witten an interesting articlel about nazism inside Asatru, where he describes nazism as one of the most unNordic systems there ever was. The Nordic Asatru-associations do all have their web-pages on the internet where one can visit if there still should exist any doubts about this.

Jón Júlíus Filippusson and Ulv Tore Skaar are members of Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost in Norway. Jón Júlíus Filippusson is also a long standing member of the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið.


Irminsul Ættir