Since the dawn of man the human spirit has been fascinated by the Eternal Order. The sun rising unfailingly every morning, the moon and stars passing through monthly or annual phases, the birth of life in all its varieties, ending in death and decay -- all leave their mark on perceptive beings. And when a measure of explanation has been achieved over the more obvious phenomena, when the mind begins to penetrate into the heavens and observe its endless expanses, or into the workings of a single atom -- behold --- an entire new array of mysteries is presented, more numerous and fascinating than before. What a fantastic spectre the Universe would be, if one could ever consider it in all its glory!
There are those who would feign understanding by reducing all to a play of natural forces, exclaiming that the earth's seasons are the result of chance location of its axis that seas and mountains developed through known physical laws, that present form of life were determined by natural selection. It is not the contention here either to defend or refute these arguments; our only desire is an acknowledgement of the wisdom inherent in Nature. After all, who would deny the mathematical pattern of a honey-comb, the complex structure and working of the animal ear, the fact that gravity and forces of motion hold the solar system, indeed the universe, in balance, and if we could detach ourselves from nature and look upon it from some distant realm, we could say, with just consideration of impersonal, non-guided influence that all this HAD to be?
Although comprehensible, what folly it is to think that Nature with the intricate solar systems, with the complex instincts of a homing pigeon, with the wondrous power in a seed of grain, -- that all this -- should be pulled down to the level of man's understanding and intelligence! -- How foolish to believe in an original creation with heaven and earth static, forever unchanging!
Rather, Nature is in a perpetual state of change, nothing is immutable; a cyclical pattern guides everything, from birth to death to rebirth, giving rise to new forms. What we see is constant, unending creation; the universe is mounding itself towards some distant DESTINY which is being determined by its present and past character. Our own brief life-span fails to reveal to us where this never ending creation might lead.
THE ODINIST MOVEMENT is governed by THE ODINIST COUNCIL consisting at the present time of members from Canada and the United States. A steering committee of four members was elected at a meeting held June 27th, 1971.
There is no general membership and therefore no membership fee, -- but we expect that every person who agrees with our ideas and the scope of our undertaking will realize, that sacrifices of time, effort money will be necessary in order to further our purpose.
* * *
THE ODINIST is published by the Odinist Movement and will appear at regular intervals. The price is 30 cents per copy or 4 copies for one dollar. A sample copy will be sent free of charge on request.
Cheques and money orders should be made payable to:
THE ODINIST, P.O. Box 731,
Adelaide st., Toronto 210,
Because of Western man's compulsion to answer the questions his mind puts to his brain, the perplexity of the quest for truth and reality has given rise to all sorts of superstitions, self-delusions and gullible acceptance of "religious" interpretations. However, even though old patterns of belief still persist, there is today a worldwide disenchantment with the existing religious beliefs, partly because of the revelations of modern science, partly because skepticism, doubt and outright apathy have set in.
A spiritual vacuum has thus developed and to secure Western man's intellectual sanity and emotional tranquility it must be filled with a religious concept in concord with Reality and the Eternal Order, -- the religion of ODINISM.
A QUESTION WAS RAISED
At the Fall Equinox Gathering in the Toronto area a hypothetical question was asked: "Should or shouldn't you pay interest on a loan extended to you by a friend?"
The idea that money can create money is alien to Western man's original concepts. -- Money was -- and should be - used only as a means of exchange to facilitate barter (i.e. a pig for a piece of furniture!). Interest should therefore not be paid between kinsmen; it should not be demanded and not offered. [Editor's Note: please see footnote 1 in update reference section below]
However, since we are living in the monetary credit system, we can envisage a situation where your friend has $1000.00 he would be willing to lend you, but he cannot afford to do it "for free". In that case it of course would be better to pay interest to your friend than to a bank or finance company.
Ideally though, interest should not be paid.
Quite another situation arises if a friend is doing some work for you -- painting your house or whatever. If he gives you his services, you should either pay him for his work or render him equivalent services.
It should maybe be acknowledged that in some areas the hourly pay demanded by some unions is too high in comparison with the wages of the average worker. On the other hand, if your friend is giving you the benefit of his skill, he should be paid according to what he (not his company) would have obtained at his place of work.
In closing, the Odinist viewpoint is that money should only be a means of exchange and is in itself of no value. Only a man's skill and labour can create anything of value.
"Pagans are all those who say Yes to Life to whom `God' is the word for the great Yes to all things."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche.
The Beginning of Art
When you watch today the way in which our political and spiritual leaders monkey around, it is not hard to believe that man descended from the apes!
However, let us for a moment consider man's early ancestors. For car purpose here it is unnecessary to go further back in time than about a hundred thousand years. At that time large areas of Europe and around the Mediterranean were inhabited by the Neanderthalers. They have been pictured as squat, dim-witted brutes, little better than walking apes. Yet it is known, (but not generally acknowledged) that they used a number of tools, had control over fire, and were excellent hunters;they lived in communities, had developed a language, they buried their dead, and had thoughts about the hereafter.
About 35,000 years ago it seems that these early human beings were replaced, how and why we don't know with the direct ancestors of modern Western man: The Cro-Magnons. Because of a strange tendency among many learned men of recent years to repudiate the accomplishments of our early ancestors,these ancient fore-fathers of our peoples have also been portrayed as creatures without dignity, snarling, halfway between man and beast and tearing chunks of meat off a carcass.
This is still the way many people think of early man, but it is a picture which is far from correct. The Cro-Magnons came from the Eastern continent; they already then (35,000 years ago) looked almost identical to modern man, they were strong, intelligent, had all kinds of weapons such as spears, slings, knives, -- they trapped animals and had acquired a level of culture they could be justly proud of.
The archaeologists have excavated over a hundred caves which clearly show that the Cro-Magnons indeed achieved a level of culture much more advanced than the Neanderthalers; they were technically better equipped, they built dwellings insulated with skins and moss, but more remarkable is that their culture had time and vitality to produce the earliest known art. They have left us a legacy of cave-paintings, sculpture and engravings which can be rated amongst the greatest artistic achievements of mankind.
Most likely it was not entirely art for art's sake. The paintings are almost all of animals and undoubtedly of magical significance. The intent might have been to gain power over or ensure the fertility of the animals who were needed for food and clothing, or to transmit some of their properties such as power and agility onto the hunters.
It should not be overlooked, however, that next to the instinct of self-preservation and procreation inborn in Western man, is the desire to create. The Cro-Magnons are, as far as we know, our very early ancestors, and from the beauty and elegance which the murals display, it is obvious the artists derived deep satisfaction from their skillful illustrations.
The most famous caves are at Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France and the Greatest number of caves have been found in those two countries, but also in Austria, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe the Cro-Magnons have left their magnificent works of art. The paintings are mainly of bison, horses, wolves, reindeer lions, all done with bold, dramatic outlines, in soft colours ranging from yellow and ochre to brown and black. The animals are usually presented with realistic elegance and spirited composition: Galloping horses with fluffy manes, the slender forms of leaping deer, massive, majestic bison with lashing tails, all pictured with keen observance of characteristic features. Contrary, in all cases where man himself has been portrayed, it is done perfunctory with willed nonchalance, obviously not because the artists suddenly had lost the skill of observing and depicting the characteristics of man but most likely, because his religious beliefs were such that he was not allowed to more than indicate man's presence.
A great length of time has elapsed since man emerged from the unknown past, and we are as yet not able to penetrate into the How's and Why's of our early ancestors; one thing is perfectly clear though, that we can be justly proud of the achievements of our Cro-Magnon forefathers.
The language that linked the early Indo-European peoples to one another was not the only distinctive feature they had in common. All of these people -- Celts, Indians, Teutons, Greeks as well as Slavs and Baltics had similar feelings for law and justice, and their attitude towards religion was of the same characteristic pattern, spiritually distinct from those people of other backgrounds.
When identifying this characteristic pattern of behaviour towards the Divine, this spiritual attitude of Western man, we must bear in mind that our sources of information are inadequate and incomplete. To gain knowledge about our ancestors we must go to writings which we know are from a late period in the development of their culture, at a time that was already influenced by strange ideas.
Our ancestors have always been presented to us as crude barbarians with no moral standards -- as pagans with a religion which was at best, slightly ridiculous, at worst, vicious and cruel.
This is far from the truth. -- Among the Indo-European peoples God again and again is regarded as Reality, ruling through world phenomena, and has been equated with Natural Law and Reason.
In Western man's original religious belief there was a coming together, almost a union, of God and Man, and Western man was taught that every man was a child of the powers of God, and that every man therefore was of divine origin, with a divine mission according to his power and perception. - But man was also warned. that human intelligence and comprehension had their limits -- therefore the admonition: "For with the Gods -- Shall no man measure himself".
Our Indo-European ancestors believed the world to be a succession of world origins and world endings, in repeated Twilight of the Gods and in Renewal of the world, as it is described in Voluspa of the Edda. To Western man the world was a timeless order within which Gods as well as men had their time, their place and their office.
Western man's religiosity was never rooted in any kind of fear; the Christian "Fear of the Lord" is a foreign concept, as is the idea that the world was created as a finished product. Neither did Western man originally see himself as a slave under an all-powerful God. No religious belief that takes anything away from man to make him appear smaller before a deity who has become all-powerful and oppressive is of Indo-European origin.
The religiosity of Western man was originally of this world. In his eyes, Gods and men were not incomparable beings, remote from one another, -- on the contrary, our forefathers felt a kinship existed between Gods and men, and they looked at the world more as a community, comprising of the high-minded and morally acting men and the Gods. This belief in a kinship between Gods and men rested on the view that God and men were bound through the same values -- through Truth, Reality and Courage.
Because Western man felt so close to his Gods and believed that he himself could partake in the Divine perhaps he had a tendency to be a little self presumptuous, and the early thinkers and philosophers cautioned him to keep to his ordained position in the timeless order of the world. It is the Indo-European destiny to stand proudly, with self-confidence and resolution, but always aware of his own limitations, face to face with the boundlessness of the Gods.
* * * * * * * *
What is the difference between a man and an animal? There is only one; a man can think in abstract terms, an animal can not.
The closest an animal can come to organizing a civilization is to run in packs or herds.All human civilizations, that are or have ever been are direct products of abstract thought. Laws, order, technical and medical progress, moral behaviour towards others, these are all a substitution of animal instincts with human reasoning.
And there is one other. No animal ever wondered where he came from, why he is here, and where he will ultimately end. The contemplation
of these three abstract questions is done solely by man. These three basic questions are instinctively in the minds of all humans. All religions, that are or have ever been are founded on an attempt to explain them.
Those people who find answers have a purpose in life and a meaning to their existence. For man is basically an abstract being, he must have a sense of destiny to make his life complete.
On a speeding train, the only creatures that do not know or care why they are there and where they are headed, are found in the cattle car.
Animal goals will not sustain a human being for very long. Such a person soon degenerates, and out of sheer boredom, loses his desire to exist, for he instinctively senses that some greatness, some reason for being, is missing.
How fortunate are we who have found our cultural identity, our place in the universe.To us life is indeed wonderful and worth fighting for.
Go put your creed
Into your deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.
THE WORKS OF THE VIKINGS IN IRELAND
When we consider the Viking raids on Ireland, which took place mainly in the ninth and tenth centuries, much has been told about the devastating results of the pagan attackers.
It is, however, an established fact that most of the reports about the Viking raiders have been written by Christian churchmen, who were hostile because the attacks fell heavily on the monastic cities. These attacks were not for religious reasons, but because of the churches' riches in gold and silver, and because they were also centers of trade, schools, and wealth in general.
In the pre-Viking period chieftains from the various provinces retained armies to protect themselves and to war against each other. The chieftains did not do much to enforce civil law, and social life was governed mostly by tradition.
Social unrest and religious rivalry therefore made it easier for the Vikings to loot freely for many years, until the kings banded together in an effort to restrain the Norse invasion and unite Ireland.
Not all the Vikings came just to plunder, they also came as settlers and established settlements in many places on the Ireland. They had a great effect on many areas of Irish life, such as laws and government, literature and art.
The Norse settlements were by the end of the tenth century well established and the Vikings were intermarrying with the Irish, Norse words were absorbed into the Irish language, and at that time the settler in many ways helped to set a better standard of living for the Irish people.
Man is the only animal
Or needs to.
-- Mark Twain.
In this short essay I want to deal with the religion and philosophy of Odinism in its moral attitude, contrasting it to some extent with other religions. In particular I would like to assert and argue for the superiority of Odinism because of its "humanistic" approach to the "existential" realities of human life. When I say humanistic, I mean an attitude to human life which emphasizes the ability for individuals to find self-fulfillment through exploring human values. By existential, I mean an attitude towards human values which focuses on reality as subjectively perceived and experienced by human beings.
I believe that the spiritual objective of Odinism is to help the individual to achieve a meaningful life through a reconciliation of his awareness with the actualities of existence, and an acceptance of human nature as we know it. Therefore I say that Odinism is both humanistic and existential. I shall begin my treatise be contrasting 0dinism with a basically anti-humanistic religion with which most of us are familiar, namely Christianity.
Christianity has basically two objectives: The first is the "salvation" of man from the sinful condition in which he has been since the Fall of Adam so that he may attain heaven where God's will is carried our perfectly; the second is to create a condition as close to that of heaven as possible (though this state is not likely to be achieved). From these objectives it is clear that Christianity does not have a high esteem for "this World" or human nature. The idyllic state of heaven is seen as a "Beyond" in comparison to which this world is totally worthless and evil. From the outset Christianity is a rejection of human life and values as they occur naturally. Christianity is by definition anti-humanistic and Christian morality is non-existential.
The central attitude of Christian theology to human nature is summed up in the concept of "original sin" a state into which man fell with the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to this concept every man is inherently evil. Furthermore, Christ himself said that such motives as hate, lust greed and pride were mortal sins, and that even the thought of them was sufficient to damn a man to hell. Of course every person has such feelings occasionally and is therefore in a constant state of sin from which he is in need of salvation. The greatest contribution Christianity has made to man is to burden him constantly with a sense of guilt and shame. I cannot understand why a supposedly omniscient god like Yahweh would allow his creation, man, to fall into such a state if his love was so great that he subsequently had to "sacrifice his only begotten Son" in order to save him. This rather capricious behavior does not inspire my confidence in Yahweh. Nevertheless through the centuries Churchmen have managed to convince men that they were in sin, and that only they, the priests, could get them back into Divine Grace; in the process they made the Church the richest and most powerful institution in Western civilization. No wonder Karl Marx insisted that "religion is the opiate of the proletariat"!
One objective of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation was to put an end to the blatant and cynical corruption of the Church of Rome. This they managed to do in their own churches and to an extent in the Roman Church as well: Unfortunately they advocated a return to the pure theology of Christ and the early Church. This meant a return to the anti-humanistic emphasis of Christianity which had begun to mitigate somewhat during the Renaissance. Nevertheless since the Renaissance growing numbers of people have rejected the anti-humanism of the churches. In response to this the churches have attempted "liberalization", but ironically while many still drift away because the churches have not moved fast enough for them, others of a fundamentalist or orthodox point of view condemn the churches for their degeneracy.
But we have little cause to rejoice in the decline of the Church ,when we consider the new "secular religions", Marxist-socialism and liberal-humanitarianism, which seem to be replacing it. These people occasionally claim to be humanistic and existential because they take especially rosy view of human nature. All destructive human behavior, they insist, is the operation of theocracy, feudalism, and capitalism on the mass of mankind. Marxists have labeled the process "dialectic materialism". If the old order is swept away, they say, human society will be free to enter an idyllic state where men will live in harmony and contentment. Plenty of old orders have been swept away at various times in history and we do not seem to have gotten any closer to paradise in the area of morality. Just like the priests, the self-proclaimed revolutionary leaders say we must only submit to their dictates to achieve heaven -- perhaps it is cynical, but I would rather not submit to their dictates.
I cannot accept either that man is essentially evil, or that he is essentially good. Human nature that is, human instincts are an existential fact which is beyond good or evil. You will say, of course, that some human behavior is obviously bad. But do not confuse cause and effect: Behavior is merely an effect -- instinct is the cause. Hate, greed, lust, pride, and such motives can certainly promote bad behavior, but at the same time we should recognize that they are the most exuberant forms of human motivation. -- All the greatest and best, as well as the worst things that man has done, have been done in high exuberance. Through all the ages despite material progress and increasing complexity of civilization, there has been a basic continuity of human nature: Why can we not accept ourselves the way we are? We are not perfect, but we cannot change part of ourselves without effecting the whole, and if we do this we cease to be human beings and become some other kind of creatures. Furthermore I say this: That individual fulfillment is achieved the satisfaction of that person's deep-felt instinctual needs --- this is the ultimate purpose of life. Christianity, Buddhism, and other religions or philosophies which insist that the way to satisfaction is through the denial of desires, are anti-life because it is only in death that we extinguish desires. --Let those who really want suicide do it.
The corollary to the individual's purpose of life which I have stated is that the purpose of society is to help the individual achieve his fulfillment. However this raises the age-old problem that the individual in pursuing his own ends is likely to hinder others in the pursuit of theirs. All moral issues are based essentially on this problem. It is a real problem to be sure, and perhaps no final solution can be found but there are partial solutions and they are of two main types.
In every society with a degree of culture or civilization the individual must strike a "social contract" with society. Simply stated this contract obligates the individual to restrict his behavior likely to be harmful to others, in return for the reciprocal obligation from them. In the best-ordered societies the contract is observed voluntarily by the vast majority of people, however, society must be able to enforce this contract against reluctant exceptions. Unfortunately it is very difficult to define just what behavior is 1ikely to be harmful, or whether, perhaps a tiny bit of harm is permissible is it brings much satisfaction to the individual. Socialism and other utopian schemes weigh the balance so far against the individual that they defeat the purpose of society which, as I said is to serve individuals.
Many religious and philosophical, and also sociological moral schemes have been built upon a mystification of the simple, rational idea of social contract; this is because a second check on human behavior :is often overlooked. The ideal is often advanced that human nature without the moral prescriptions of religions like Christianity, would be completely selfish. However, this
is not precisely true. When a man senses that his own being, the very essence of his spiritual existence, is inextricably bound with that of some group --- his family, friends, racial-cultural group, nation -- he may quite naturally "sacrifice" even his life for those people. This is what I call "projected self-interest"; it is a sense of common being or community with certain others. Some people might call it love but this is too difficult a word to use with accurate meaning in English. Projected self-interest is instinctive, unlike social contract which is rational. The "catch" to this principle is that it works outward concentrically from the individual, with weakening force from closely related groups through more distant groups. We may notice apparent exceptions to this rule, but we should be suspicious of people who seem to put the interests of remote groups ahead of those to whom they are related by blood and tradition. This sort of behavior is an intellectual perversion which I call "socio-masochism". As is the case with most forms of masochism, socio-masochism is probably a guilt obsession, fostered in this case by a lingering Christian influence. The syndrome is common among liberal humanitarians.
I suggest to you that both social contract and projected self-interest are necessary for the functioning of anything more than the most primitive societies. Now I can get down to Odinist morality at last. -- Any Odinist community ought to go to great lengths to imbue the minds of its members with the idea of social contract in the interests of a well-ordered society. But Odinism is humanistic and therefore focuses on human values; human values are derived by individuals from their subjective, intuitive, largely non-rational perception of instinctive motivations. Reasons can effect human values indirectly. Because of this, Odinism recognizes projected self-interest as the most reliable constraint on human behavior. The implications of this on Odinist social theories are extensive and can not be dealt with in so short an essay as this. It is sufficient to say that Odinists advocate social groupings where projected self-interest can arise and function most spontaneously. This might imply a limitation of pluralistic trends of today's world.
Now is the time to come briefly to a conclusion and recapitulation. The spiritual attitude of the Odinist accepts the supremacy of human values as derived from human instincts. It also accepts that the purpose of every individual's life is the fulfillment of motives which are part of his human nature. Instinct is neither good nor evil in itself, it is merely a fundamental reality of life. The Indo-European gods, Odin, Woden, Tiwas, Jupiter, Dyeus and the rest, had superhuman and supernatural powers but very human values and motives. Odinism, as should now be clear, does not see man as needing salvation from anything, certainly not from himself. -- Make no mistake, however, that Odinism is a haven for those who seek moral license, or who preach the virtues of selfishness: Odinist morality is based both on the teaching of the rational concept of social contract and fostering the conditions where the instinctive principle of projected self-interest can function to best effect.
I am sure that what I have said here will seem quite revolutionary to some readers and that some of my arguments will not seem sufficient to them. My purpose will be adequately served if a few are roused to some thought and enough interest to read a little of what other Odinists and myself will have to say in future writings.
For my thoughts
Are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways
-- Isaiah LV,8.
THE REVOLUTIONARY AGE AHEAD
As we stand on the threshold of a new decade, enormous possibilities loom in the horizon. If we are to playa decisive role in shaping contemporary events into a healthier society, Odinists must be prepared to participate actively in changes to the present system.
Chronic social, political and economic disorder have emerged from a system that finds itself more and more incapable of coping with the problems it has created. These conditions have evolved after years of weak, irresponsible political and spiritual leadership, and cannot be put right without hard work and radical changes.
Odinists should not concern themselves with preserving the status quo or in reforming the present system; patching up will only delay the unavoidable, not prevent it. The permissive, materialistic values of the old order are totally incompatible with the values of a resurgent new world, to be built on the foundation of Odinism.
The task of Odinists therefore is not one of conserving the old order but rather diligently making sure that the coming years will not be a repetition of the past decade of decadence; but rather years, where the rot and decay have been flushed out to make room for a new purpose in life for Western man.
Such drastic changes are not brought about be"silent majorities" or "violent minorities" -- they are made by determined activists. Only a movement that is based on Odinist principles will be relative to the emotional "needs of our people, and form the nucleus of the approaching spiritual revolution.
The preservation of health
is a duty. Few seem conscious
that there is such a Thing
as physical morality.
-- Herbert Spencer.
Your Gard in God
Every child is born into a set of circumstances for which he is not responsible: The neighborhood, the social situation, the size of the family etc.
There is also another set of circumstances for which the newborn baby cannot be held liable: Every child is born with certain intellectual characteristics, inherited from a long row of ancestors.
Later, when the child grows up and. becomes independent, it is possible for him to change the first set of circumstances. Granted, in all too many cases it is difficult to break away from family ties, or from the economic milieu, but it can be done.
Likewise, you can change your nationality,or your religion; with the aid of technology you can change the colour of your hair, or the shape of your nose; what you cannot change, however, is your psychological faculties, you cannot alter your mental make-up.
Every person is born into unique circumstances and therefore occupies one small unique space in the principal part of the whole. Each one of us is but a tiny cog in the big wheel of the entire universe. Hence it becomes man's duty to be responsible for this particular little space, which is his; it is his obligation to make sure that this particular little cog is working for the common good. Each person is accountable for his part of the whole.
Our forefathers called this their Gard in God, ,their station in life, and they were happy to fulfill. their responsibilities to the family, to the kinsfolk, to society and to the coming generations. They were fully aware that man could neglect his Gard only at his own peril, but they also knew that if man was true to his Gard, he would enter into a fellowship with God and the Universe and live a complete and holy life.
All that is in tune with thee,
Is in tune with me!
-- Marcus Aurelius.
In Matthew 2.1-2 is written: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem ••• there came wise men from the east saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
Most Christians accept Dec. 25.as the date on which to celebrate the birth of the King of the Jews. It is however abundantly clear, that if ever the Christ child was born, it was decidedly not on that particular date.
The idea of celebrating X-was at that time was instituted in the fourth century, because it was obvious to the Church in Rome, that the pagan celebrations in honour of the returning Sun were so deep-seated in the people that it was impossible to forbid the festivities and merry making, marking this important celestial phenomenon.
Adopting the attitude that "if you cannot beat them, joint them", the Church decided to give their own interpretations to the celebrations and thus it came to pass that X-mas superseded the Winter Solstice Celebrations of many pagan religions. The discrepancy in the dates on which it is celebrated is caused by the inaccuracy of the calendars adopted by the various countries. Odinists consider Dec. 21. The First Day of Winter, as the day of Winter Solstice, to be celebrated on the Saturday closest to the actual date
Odinists will not mark Winter Solstice with a commercial display of gifts, neither will they be "boozing it up". The day will be marked with a gathering of friends where, in a dignified manner, homage will be paid to the Gods of our forefathers and allegiance to our Odinist heritage be renewed.
When you go to the Fall Equinox Gathering there is a note of sadness - Fall, with her beautiful colours and clear skies is nevertheless giving you notice that all too soon the flowers will wither, the leaves drop, the birds will go South and the cold weather come --- snow will cover the ground.
But when you are celebrating Window Solstice you are again happy and optimistic, for this is a joyful occasion. Although you know that the Frost Giants will still be here for some time, the Sun is coming back. At Winter Solstice the Sun is at her lowest, from now on -- "The Queen of the Sky" will slowly gain power and before long Nature will be stretching and yawning, trying to wake up, -- and the warm rays of sunshine will chase away the cold.
Yes, this is the promise of Winter Solstice that Nature has ended her cycle and will begin all over again -- a new year with new growth, new life, new possibilities. This is the time for planning ahead, for making decisions -- and this is the time when again
We invoke the Wisdom of Odin,
But even more
We call on the Strength
Man cannot get along without faith, and the highest ornament of any great civilization is the ethical system by which it lives. The strength of any such system lies in its ability to continue to serve as a moral force while adjusting itself to changes in man's knowledge about the universe and his place in it.
(F. Clark Howell in Early Man)
Action, to be effective,
must be within
a spiritual framework.
People will not look forward
Who never look backward
To their ancestors.
The inner Future of the West
such as the Rebirth of Religion.
Everything decisive comes to life in spite of every obstacle.
While I believe that Else Christensen's newsletter The Odinist is a terrific starting point to delve into many of the social, political, and religious dimensions that might form the basis of an "Odinist philosophy," I also think that in some areas Else over simplified or over generalized, although she generally had pretty good intuition on most issues.
In claiming that "Odinism" is against charging interest, I think she went too far. I think it would be much more accurate to state that Odinists are generally concerned about the moral, social, and political ramifications of various forms of interest rate abuse. It opposes the abuse of interest through such practices as usury, loan-sharking, and other forms of unprincipled "rent-seeking."
Among other things, interpreting "Odinism" is a colloborative effort by many people who seek to interpret and reconstruct the indigenous values of Nordic peoples. We have no "Pope" and we admit that as individuals we are prone to human error. Our ultimate "ruler" is logic, science, natural law, and "spiritual intuition," especially since our "natural religion" is meant to remain in harmony with "nature."
In essence, "Odinism" is supposed to be the productive philosophy of a productive people, and seeks to safeguard them against the parasitic practices of criminals and alien exploiters. (I equate the street term "criminal" as being roughly equivalent to the sociobiological term "parasite.").
Productive people engage in competent entrepreneurial calculation that offers a value proposition that offers an economic benefit to society. Criminals and "rent seekers" are focused on angles to exploit public credulity or the weaknesses of disadvantaged people to extract financial gain for themselves without concern for the lack of real benefits they offer others or even the net damage that they do to society as a whole.
I view the question about whether or not it desirable allow interest in a society as an issue that has many different social and political considerations entangled within it. To logically address this issue, we need to disentangle all the different issues and deal with them seperately.
From the perspective of financial theory typically taught in most college courses today, charging interest is simply a means of compensating a lender for the "time value" of his money. The rate of return embedded within an interest rate can reflect many factors, such as a requirement to keep up with inflation, compensate for risk, and make an adequate rate of return to the lender to compensate for the time, research, overhead, and incentive compensation required to function as a competent lender.
From a libertarian perspective, as long as two parties to a transaction are fully informed and not coerced into making a transaction, they should entitled to use whatever financial measures they find appropriate. The fact that the overwhelming majority of home sellers who take back paper on the sale of their properties are willing to utilize interest as a tool to adjust for inflation or make a "market rate of return" -- all of this should tell you something.
Also, from a libertarian perspective, the ultimate issue is usually not the use of interest or other financial mechanisms, but rather the overall processs of successful entrepreneurial calculation. (See further discussion of this "term of art" at Mises.org, or "Economic Calculation Problem" at Wikipedia). People who engage in poor entrepreneurial calculation will tend to run out of cash over the long run and go bankrupt and leave the ranks of entrepreneurs and join the ranks of wage-earners whether or not they get involved in interest-bearing instruments or not. People who are very good at successful entrepreneurial calculation may in fact exploit interest bearing instruments to the hilt to pyramid their way to enormous wealth, a key point made by Robert T. Kiyosaki in his "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series of books and seminars.
From a moral and ethical perspective, it is true that as people get more involved in interest-bearing vehicles, they may become more tempted to abuse interest through such practices as "usury," "rent-seeking," "loan-sharking," and gambling-tinged "speculation."
What all these things have in common is that people are trying to extract economic gains for themselves in purely financial terms without any consideration of the costs or unnecessary risks they are inflicting on the rest of society, hence, this can comprise a form of "parasitism."
Quite often we deal with shades of gray on this issue, which leaves the question about where to draw the line. Asking where does an interest bearing loan stop being a valuable tool to facilitate commerce and instead become something that is abusive is almost like asking where do we draw the line in the display of the female form to curb unacceptably exploitive pornography and rape.
Is the practice of certain Islamic societies of throwing all women into chadors going too far as a measure to guard against uncontrolled male lust when balanced against a desire to provide freedom for women? Is the practice of certain Islamic societies to curb all interest-bearing instruments to prevent speculative or loan-sharking abuses going too far in curbing the freedom of entrepreneurs and the flexibility of the financial system?
I think that from a libertarian perspective, it is certainly entirely desirable to educate people that the further they get involved with speculative financial vehicles, the harder it is to curb fraud and other abuses. But we can also get into another issue about how far to go with the legal system to try to curb various vices between consenting adults, namely whether it is better to simply educate people through moral suasion by maintaining a free Internet and other forms of the "free market place of ideas" about the dangers of usury and loan-sharking, or should we resort to the coercive power of the state, which usually gets heavy-handing and overly politicized and overly bureaucratized over time. (See Why Government Doesn't Work by Harry Browne).
There are also deeper moral and ethical issue involved here. Is interest alone the real issue? There are many other ways that people can engage in "rent-seeking" throughout society without necessary getting involved without engaging in abusing interest-bearing notes. For example, growing unnecessary bureaucracy in government and pork barrel spending is a very destructive form of rent-seeking on economic efficiency, but this has nothing to do with lending at interest.
There are also sociological factors. For example, critics of Jews claim that as a people they have been historically addicted to intrigue, financial speculation, and rent-seeking. The question about whether Jews are allowed to control the central bank or banking system compared to people like WASPs with more innate moral self-restraint as well ideological principles under the Protestant work ethic may be a greater factor in how an interest-bearing systems are used or abused than the system itself. Often it is more "the men who make the system than the system that makes the men."
In his book Confessions of An Economic Hitman, John Perkins describes how international loan sharking involves a lot more than just charging high interest rates on loans. Many other things are taking place on many social and political levels --to include the use of various types of seducers to procure loans from corruptable government officials, and professional assassination teams known as "jackals" as "enforcers." It is true that interest-bearing lending can become "weaponized" to achieve warlike goals to enslave or degrade people, but then again, one can also use many other types of instruments for this purpose as well, to include drug addiction or military conquest. Again, it is not necessarily charging interest per se that is bad, although the use of interest may correlate with certain types of criminal or predatory activity under certain circumstances.
As Dr. Lothrop Stoddar notes in his chapter The Nordic North in his book Racial Realities in Europe, the Nordic peoples have longstanding libertarian traditions, and as explained earlier, libertarians are likely to let individuals remain "free to chose" on such economic issues as charging interest. Therefore, I would hesitate to proclaim that it is "Odinist" to disdain charging interest since Nordic banks have been charging interest as a rational economic practice, even while relatively free of Jewish or other alien influences. ("Odinism" by definition should reflect the "indigneous religion" of Nordic peoples).
Also, the issue about lending at interest is somewhat different in a society like America throughout most of the 19th century when the currency was on a gold and silver standard and actually tended to appreciate over time compared to most of the 20th century following the creation of the privately owned Federal Reserve system in 1913, in which case people had a greater incentive to charge interest to keep up with inflation. In contrast, between 1813 to 1913, when the dollar was more easily tradeable with gold and silver, the dollar actually appreciated about 50% (despite an inflationary bought of the greenback during War Against Southern Independence). While Britain was on the gold standard during the same period, the British pound actually doubled in value. Obviously when one lives in a society where stuffing currency in the mattress actually makes economic sense, lending to friends without interest becomes more viable.