Odinism is a pre-Christian, pagan, polytheistic religion involving the worship of Norse and Germanic gods, especially Odin, the chief god. Odinism was the religion of the Vikings, who primarily lived in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, and whose influence was felt in other parts of Europe, including Scotland, Ireland and England. The Vikings are also said to have sailed to North America.

The oral traditions of the Odinists are recorded in a set of books called the Eddas. Followers of this religion regard nature as the true manifestation of the divine and believe that man is inherently good. Since 1973, Odinism has experienced a revival of sorts, with the governments of Iceland, Denmark and Norway having officially recognized Odinism. Groups of Odinists are also found throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North and South America.

Those who embrace this religion are generally referred to as followers of Ásatrú (Nordic neo-paganism), though there are several branches (some of them extremist), including Wotanism, Wodenism, the Odin Brotherhood, the Odinic Rite and the Odinist Fellowship. The chief deity is Odin/Woten/Woden, the god of war, wisdom and death (who, interestingly, does not eat, but only drinks wine). Odin is also called Alfadir (“All-father”) because he is the father of all gods. The pantheon of gods and goddesses in Odinism also includes Frigg, Odin’s wife and a goddess of marriage and fertility; Thor, the god of thunder; Loki, the unpredictable “trickster” god; Baldur, the god of light and purity; Tyr, the original god of war (later regarded as Odin’s son); and many others.

The abode of these gods is Asgard, one of the “nine homeworlds” in the cosmology of Nordic mythology. One “hall” in Asgard is known as Valhalla, a home to some of the warriors who died in combat in the human “homeworld,” called Midgard. The symbol of Odinism is the “World Ash” tree, called Yggdresil, which is thought to connect and unite all “nine worlds.” It is taught that Odin hung on this tree for nine days, pierced with a spear. We see a vestiges of Odinism every week—“Tuesday” is named for Tiu/Tyr; “Wednesday” was originally Wodnesdæg, or “Woden’s day”; “Thursday” is literally “Thor’s day”; and “Friday” is named after the fertility goddess Frigg.