Understanding the Sources of the Northern Tradition



So you want to learn about the Northern Tradition, but don’t want to read scholarly analysis, or any ruminations from modern practitioners. You just want one source from the culture to learn everything that’s historically authentic to the culture but tells you about the cosmology, and the details of all the rituals? Well sorry to burst your bubble, but that doesn’t exist.  

There is an old joke, that ours is the religion with homework (and really, all religion has homework). There’s a lot you need to understand in the big picture before you can really start to tease out the details of pre-Christianity.

Before I go down the very nuanced rabbit hole, I want to make one thing abundantly clear: the history, the stories, the folk customs, the archaeology are all useful and important. But a faith is a living thing, and you have to live a religion, which means finding ways to practice it. How do you conduct rituals? What offerings do you give? What prayers do you say? What are your devotions? How do you live a religion? You can find helpful resources and inspiration from the past but at some point you have to venture out and find your own way of living the religion.

I also want to stress that you do not need to be a scholar to follow this religious path. The only thing standing between you developing a relationship with our Gods, the ancestors, and the vaettir is simply you. Some enjoy delving into the history, to immerse themselves and tease out nuances. Others don’t, and merely want a framework of understanding so they can then move onto living the religion through the customs that come with a living and ever evolving practice. But for those of you who want to delve into the vast knowledge from antiquity, the following should help define a helpful framework to have in mind before you start your own explorations of the sources. This is useful as well to read, even if you only ever plan to do a little bit of exploration into the ancient sources on your own.

We can find a lot of information if you’re patient by going through the old literary and archaeological sources, but it’s not easy. For those of us in the Northern Tradition we have the misfortune that so little has survived to us from ancient believers. Unlike some other major polytheisms, like the unbroken tradition of Hinduism, or other major polytheistic traditions that have a large corpus of work by believers from antiquity about their own religious culture that survives into the present day: Kemetic, Hellenic, and Cultus Deorum, etc.

First you have to understand the history, the various sources (and how they connect to the historical context). Then comes the harder element, the fact even when rituals are mentioned it’s usually in passing, or only in vague context. In order to obtain our creation story you have to look at five different sources: Völuspá, Grímnismál, Vafþrúðnismál, Gylfaginning, and Alvissmal.  So it’s very common that we have to take little puzzle pieces from a range of material to try to piece together specific details. This means to fill in the gaps many look at the entirety of the Northern Tradition umbrella from the lore (various literary sources including (but not limited to) the sagas, eddas, & skaldic poetry, various Anglo-Saxon sources, as well as Byzantium, Roman & Arab accounts, late appearing folk customs & tales, and even archaeological finds. Approaching this material with an understanding of how this culture viewed the seasons, and drafted their calendar can help you tease apart the timing of some of the rituals too. While we can find commonalities in the over-arching shared worship to Odin/Woden, there were also unique traditions tied to specific settlements or tribal groups that to our knowledge did not appear elsewhere too. This has led in the modern movement to a range of different approaches, some are strictly reconstructionist from a specific area, and others may be more universal across the entirety of the umbrella, plus a range of other denominations in between.

Continue reading “Understanding the Sources of the Northern Tradition”

Free Bookmarks for Pagan & Polytheist US Veterans and Active Duty Military

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I am giving away for free Sigdrifa’s Prayer Bookmarks to any US veteran or active duty pagan or polytheist (though you must have a US address, military APO/FPO addresses count), while this year’s supplies last. I also have the bookmarks for sale, the proceeds are used to help me make the bookmarks available for free to the veterans. I’ve been doing this since 2010!

Sigdrifa’s Prayer is a rare remnant and surviving prayer for those within the Northern Tradition umbrella, found within the Sigdrifumal. A microcosm of the macrocosm of our cosmology. For all the details, including learning about the prayer itself, how to request for those who qualify, or to purchase one to support my effort (entering it’s 11th year), jump to the link:

https://wyrddesigns.wordpress.com/free-sigdrifas-prayer-bookmarks/

Enjoy 15% Off & Help Veterans Too!

There’s over 300 prayer cards available to a vast array of deities from a variety of polytheistic traditions.

Gangleri's Grove

Long time followers know that every November I make it a priority to donate to a non-profit organization that supports our veterans. I will rotate through a number of worthy organizations, but this year I’ll be donating 100% of my etsy store proceeds in November to the American Legion. Plus to sweeten the deal, you can enjoy 15% off any item you purchase from the shop, so that means any of hundreds of prayer cards, plus bookmarks, and more that are availableat my etsy storeWyrd Curiosities.

In addition to the American Legion donation that will come from November’s etsy proceeds, I will also personally match that same amount from my pocket but donate to another worthy non-profit, the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Use promocode VETS2021 at my etsy storeWyrd Curiositiesupon checkout. This deal expires November 30, 2021 at 11:59pm Eastern.

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