Wyatt Kaldenberg, author of Odinism:The Religion of our Germanic Ancestors In The Modern World , and at least six other books related to Odinism, from his profile on Twitter, I am an American Odinist. Odinism is the belief in Odin as the supreme God who rules over the other Gods and Goddesses of the Germanic peoples.
Imperial Beach, California
I came across Wyatt on Face Book, at which time he sent me a copy of Odinism:The Religion of our Germanic Ancestors In The Modern World to review, several years later I sent him a copy of my book, Heiden Hexology, Essays and Interviews. Wyatt has a very clear world view on a full range of subjects as you will see.
Q: Wyatt can you give us a brief rundown on your own personal evolution and Odinism?
A: The oldest use of the word Odinism I know of comes from 1840 and appears in Heroes and Hero Worship by Thomas Carlyle. An Australian named Alexander Rud Mills was organizing Odinist meetings in the 1920s. This is the beginning of modern Odinism as far as I have been able to find. Alexander Rud Mills had numerous follower and readers of his books. The most important people who were influenced by Alexander Rud Mills were Alex and Else Christiansen. The Christiansen founded the Odinist Study Group in the 1960s. After Alex died in 1971, Else changed the name to The Odinist Fellowship. There are three separate branches of Odinism: Australian, British, and American. Odinism is a sect that originally was confined to the English-speaking world. Today, it has a large Spanish following and to a lesser degree an Italian following. Odinism has never had any kind of a following in Germany or other non-English speaking nations. Australian, British, and American Odinists never had much contact before the Internet, so our ideas developed separately. I am an American Odinist. By this I mean, my views of Odinism grew out of the American culture. German Wotanism or even the British and Australian Odinist movements had little to no influence on early American Odinism or me.
Wyatt and family in 1968
I got into Odinism in the 1970s. I was active in the Radical Left, and the teachings of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam got me thinking about what my heritage was and what religion my ancestors practiced before the Christian invasion of Europe. I knew there was another religion before Christianity, but I didn’t know much about it. My ancestors came from the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Northwestern Europe, so I went to the downtown library in Salt Lake City and read everything I could find about Celtic and Germanic culture and religion. I didn’t know what the Germanic religion was back then, but I knew it was the religion in my soul. That summer when I was living in Colorado, a friend of mine showed me an ad in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine for The Handbooks of the Religion of Odin. The book had a list of addresses at the back and from there I contacted the Odinist Fellowship and joined. Odinism is a sect of Germanic Heathenism. Odinism is a mixture of henotheistic and polytheistic Heathen beliefs, whereas Asatru is primarily a polytheistic religion based on Christian literature. And by henotheism, I mean Odin is the Alfather, the King of the Gods, and above all other Gods. No God is equal to Odin. Although other Gods and Goddesses can be worshiped along with Odin, he can never be treated as their equals. Asatru doesn’t have the idea of a Supreme God. The Greek believed Zesus was the Supreme God as did the Romans with Jupiter. There are four major denominations of modern Hinduism: Smartism, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. All four are a type of henotheism. It’s a common Indo-European concept. Some Odinists are Pagan Monotheists. Sigi Harbard’s book, The New Odinist, stated that all the Gods and Goddess are merely facets of the Alfather. There are atheistic Odinists too, who are into all that Jungian racial memory stuff.
Q: Why is it important as a Germanic Heathen to embrace Odinism as a religion?
A: Personally, I believe Odinism is the right path. It has a religion hierarchy and a better defined course. Asatru means everything to everyone. When someone tells me they are Asatru, I have no idea what they mean. Do you worship the Aesir as the name implies? Or do you worship the enemies of the Gods like Loki, Hela, or other dark wights? It always amazes me to find Asatru people who worship the archenemies of the Aesir, but there are many of those people in Asatru. Religions need a theology. You can’t be an Odinist if you worship Loki…period. You can’t be an Odinist if you are a Universalist...period. Universalism is the belief that there is only one path for the human race. Folkish religions believe there are numerous Divine Paths, and they don’t all lead to the same place. Odinism is a Folkish religion. And by Folkish, I mean Odinism is an ancestral religion based on Germanic heritage. Ancestor worship is central to Odinism, period. Asatru has been fighting over the whole Universalism vs. Folkish Asatru thing since the early 1980s. Asatru will still be fighting over this question when the wolves devour the moon and the sun. The debate will never end. It can never end because Asatru has no theology. Odinism is fairly clear cut what it is and is not. I like a religion that isn’t confused about its core beliefs. I read online some posts from people that said they were into Vanatru, and they were stating that no Folkish people were allowed. They were claiming to be into Gerald Gardener and Seax Wicca. This is a smart move. There is no reason to stay in a sect were you can’t agree on basic principles. Why join a Communist party if half the members believe in Capitalism? It’s illogical.
Q: In your book, "Odinism: The Religion of Our Germanic Ancestors In the Modern World" You have the chapter entitled, "Odinism, and Separate Realities,” which has to be referring to Carlos Castenada's book, "Separate Reality" Although he is largely discredited now, he had a major influence in the Seventies when he made Shamanism the media darling it still is today. Odinism and Shamanism, strange bedfellows, any thoughts? Your simile, regarding the Icelandic Poppy and your own perception of reality in the study leads me to believe that there is an influence from what is known as 'plant teachers'. Do you have an interest in Magic plants and Entheogens? What is the Odinnistic perspective on the subject?
A: Carlos Castaneda’s first book came out when I was in junior high in the 1960s. LSD was at its height in popularity, and a religion was growing around acid based upon the teachings of Timothy Leary’s The League for Spiritual Discovery, (L.S.D.) and Arthur Kleps’ The Neo-American Church. From junior high to my freshman year of high school, talk about LSD being the “voice of God” was very common in California. Carlos Castaneda brought in the idea of peyote, mushrooms, jimson weed, and Native American spirituality. Carlos Castaneda turned out to be a con-artists and Don Juan never existed. However, many things Castaneda wrote about came from other people’s studies of Northwestern American Indians. And, they are of value for their insight into shamanism and seeing “Separate Realities." Odin is the Lord of Shamans. Odin’s discovery of the runes was through shamanism. The Gods, Aelfin, and other wights are everywhere. We just need to learn how to see them. Psychedelics can open your mind to mystical states of consciousness and spiritual awareness in under twenty minutes. I think this is the problem with drugs and spirituality. They work so well and so quickly that most people can’t handle them and overload their minds. You should build up to a vision quest over time. You need time to study and prepare yourself. With LSD, you drop 500 mikes, or with peyote you eat twenty buttons, and boom; you are “dancing with the Alefin." Drugs are bad because they work too well. Mead is slow and easier to control. Drugs and alcohol are just tools that can easily become crutches. In the long run, it’s better to do shamanism without drug and alcohol. Heathenism is something that must be perceived by the Folk. Direct contact with the Divine is essential. The problem with Asatru is they put too much stock in what Medieval Christians thought about Heathens who lived centuries before them, and what atheists at universities think about what Christians thought about Heathens they never knew. Our ancestors based their faith on direct contact with the Divine. This is something we must do also.
Our ancestors never turned to seven hundred year old Christian writings to learn about our Gods, why should we? Our Gods are every where.
Q: Can you educate the audience as to the evolution of towards the practice of Odinism in the last fifty years. It was an evolution of thinking and of failed forms as we moved away from Christianity. Process Church, Satanism, Wicca OTO, etc. were other devices that signaled a departure from Christianity since the Sixties. What was the evolution like experiencing it first hand?
A: Else Christiansen was paramount in creating the worldview of Odinism. She was kind and tolerant when she needed to be and a total bitch when events called for a bitch. She gave people enough freedom to grow and wasn’t afraid of other people’s natural leadership abilities. She encouraged people to take up leadership roles. You have to be emotionally stable to give power away. Few people can do it. However, if you did something she thought was wrong and hurt Odinism, she was like a bearcat. You need someone like that. She helped to define what Odinism was and was not. A great leader leads other leaders. To be a great leader you have to have a big enough ego so you are not afraid of a palace rebellion among your own followers.
There were a lot less people in the 1970s and early ‘80s. Everything was new. No one knew what to do, and so everyone experimented with new theories. Information was hard to come by. Newsletters and books were more valuable. There was no Internet, and things were very local. Everyone knew everyone or at least knew someone who did. Heathenism was more like a small town. Now, it’s very disconnected. I think the Internet has done more to tear people apart than bring them together. Cyber space brings the ignobility within people to the surface. Hide someone’s face with a mask and fake name and all their demons come out. People are nicer in the flesh where they know you can punch them in the mouth.
Little was available about the runes and so on before Edred Thorson’s work revolutionized the movement. One person could have more effect on the faith back then than today. There is a ton of information about Heathenism today, and a lot of it is bad.
Q: Any thoughts on Hexerei, or Germanic Witchcraft?
What role if any does the Folk Magic of the German peoples
have in Odinism?
A: Actually, your work is one of the best books about Hex art and Hexerei. I believe in the magical power of prayer and offerings. And by prayer, I mean talking directly to the Divine. The more people who talk to the Gods, the Aelfin, and the other wights, the more they will listen to us. I don’t practice witchcraft, but I believe in protective magic against witchcraft. Your work on Hexerei is great, and if you had written it in the 1970s or early 1980s, everyone in the movement would have read the book, and it would have radically transformed Heathnism as it should, but today there are so many different sources coming from so many different directions that few people are on the same page. We don't read the same books anymore. Cyber space has both helped and harmed Heathendom.
Q: The Black Sun or Schwartz Sonne has a special place in the hearts of those of Germanic descent, Intuitively, I have concluded that this is because of its connection to the Great Migrations and the use of the wagon, specifically the wheel and the ancient Aryan connection to the sun as 'sons of the sun' What conclusions have you arrived at regarding this powerful sigil?
A: The Black Sun always seemed to me to be a symbol of a solar eclipse; that magical time when it is neither night nor day. It’s an enchanted netherworld. Shorelines are like solar eclipses. They are neither land nor sea, but a mysterious in-between place. Sigil runes are symbolic of lightning and the magical fire from above. Lightning is like a flaming sun-spear in the night. It carries the same awe-factor as a solar eclipse, so I can see how the Black Sun and lightning are connected. I never thought of the Great Migrations connection before.
Q: The Universalists vs Folkish Heathens, It is my position that the Universalists are in favor of creating another 'universal religion' to replace the aging montheism, Christianity. The Folkish heathens on the other hand, are by definition, a splintered and ununified, quarrelsome bunch rallying around the idea of blood, European ancestor worship and the Old Gods and Goddesses according to ones own personal Germanic orientation. What are your thoughts?
A: Yes, all Asatru Universalists are Wiccans or New Agers, and Wicca is just a feminist-friendly form of Christianity. Saint Paul and other revolutionaries created Christianity because the Roman Empire had oppressed Judea, and the Judeans couldn’t defeat the Romans militarily, so they created a Trojan Horse called Christianity. Christianity was against everything that made Rome great. It spread like the Black Plague and killed the Roman Empire. Christianity spread to Northern Europe and committed democide and cultural genocide against the people there. Afterwards, it spread into the New World and committed democide and cultural genocide against the Native Americas. It spread into Africa and Asia with less success. Islam is the Universal Religion that is infecting Africa and Asia more effectively. Christian Universalism evolved into humanism, capitalism, liberalism, fascism, National Socialism, communism, and so forth, and through these political forms, it committed democide and cultural genocide from a political platform. Universalism is the Great Plague of mankind. The ironic thing about Universalism is it has hurt the Jews far more than any other people. Christian anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Islamic anti-Semitism all grew out of Universalism and the intolerance of other belief systems. Folkish Heathenism is about preserving the independence and differences of people. Universalism wants mankind to join a single herd and melt into one. Universalists are naturally cooperative and communal like a bee hive or ant nest. Folkish people are naturally individualistic and combative. This is why it’s so hard for Folkish to organize anything.
Q: Nazis and Heathenism, what is the connection if any at all? Who or what is behind a general perceived connection that they are?
A: National Socialism, (Nazism) like Wicca, communism, and liberalism, grew out of Christian Universalism. Like all diseases, Universalism is forever mutating and looking for a new host. Universalism is the cult of oneness. The belief that mankind must be one. Nazism is a form of Universalism that teaches the Aryan must dominate the earth and make mankind one. Folkish movements seek to save human differences. Nazi Universalism wants to make the world blond and blue eyed. Liberalism wants to mix the races and make the world coffee-colored. I love human differences. The world would be a boring place if everybody was blond and White or black-haired and brown. Folkish Heathens tell Germanic people to find their roots and come home. We also believe that Blacks, Asians, American Indians, and others should also find their roots and come home. Asatru Universalists tell Germanic people to return to our Gods, but they are White Supremacists and use a double standard with non-Whites and tell them their own Gods and heritage are inferior to those of the White race and the Universalists actively try to turn non-Whites away from their own native religions and convert them to Asatru. This is total White Supremacy. White liberalism is just White Supremacy with a smiling face. So, Universal Asatru is like Christianity forcing its ways on American Indians. Heathenism needs to take care of its own house and leave other races alone. The Gods of the White race are not the Universal Gods of mankind.
Q: I have compared this era we live in to the McCarthy era of the Fifties. I personally have never felt such a need to repress my thinking and speaking in fear of being ruined financially, socially, and being investigated. It seems that progressive thinking can only be done in a carefully scripted direction with NO exceptions. What is your view on this?
A: I was active in the American Left for nine years. The Left is far more intolerant and more murderous than the Right. If you disagree the Right, the worst they will do is roll their eyes. If you disagree with the Left, they will never stop coming after you. They murdered between 100 million to 400 million innocent men, women, and children in the name of social justice, democracy, and equality. They are not done killing. They will never stop murdering until they control all. The Left is the most totalitarian force in human history. Leftism is Christianity turned into the cult of the state, and cults never tolerate non-believers.
Q: What is your view on the current effort to ban or limit assault rifles in America? And what are your thoughts on the American Public School system?
A: The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s the right of the working class to arm itself against the government. Any working class person who thinks ANY government is ever on his or her side is a fool. Public Schools are just brainwashing centers working for whatever government is in power. Odinists need to home-school their kids, until we are popular enough to start our own private schools.
Q: The Social Media on the internet such as FB, etc. what effect have they had undermining the traditional media or is this also carefully regulated for 'proper' thinking in the New World Order?
A: Social Media is a mixed bag. It’s good for getting the word out, but it makes creating a theology impossible. If the word that gets out on Social Media is a false word, then what good is it? Wall Street controls Social Media, so they can ban and censor as they please. However, it’s better for us than traditional media. At least on the Internet we can have some type of voice. In traditional forms of media, we were totally blocked out, but in a way, this censorship made the Heathen populace more united and more of a community. Oppression isn’t always a bad thing. Roman persecution turned early Christians into Folk Heroes. When the Left and the Muslims gain more power in the West, and THEY WILL, their early stages of tyranny might help weed out the Wiccans and other weaklings. We will have to move fast because late-stage oppression is total dominance, and underground movements do well with minor persecution, but fold under complete tyranny.
Q: What is the relationship between the Runes and the Germanic Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses?
A: I think the runes are magical keys that can be used to open up doorways to the Divine. The Gods and Goddesses are the real power behind the runes. They are a means to connect with the Divine.
Q: What ethnic folkways were you exposed to growing up ?How did they affect your current thinking?
A: Ethnically, I am German, Dutch, and British. Being an American and a "California Okie" growing up in the Western states, I was exposed to Northwestern European and American Western Folkways. It most likely helped form my thinking in ways I'll never know.
Q: You have been very clear on your view of Islam, that it is enemy number one for Polytheists, yet Islam may be the fastest growing religion in America and the world, is there more tolerance for the Muslim community then Heathen Polytheists in the American Monoculture?
A: When Islam takes power, Polytheistic men, women, and children will be murdered. Every Islamic nation on earth oppresses and/or murders us. They hate us. The Left is in alliance with Islam, which means the Left is helping to oppress and/or murder every Polytheistic man, woman, and child. Islam is a monotheistic religion. The West is controlled by monotheists. They are favored over us.
Q: The A:L:U: charm, Ansuz:Laguz:Uruz what personal significance if any do you attach to this charm?
A: Alu is the holiest word in the Odinist religion. It means Ale. Alu is a word connected with offerings to the Gods. I assume this is because the poor couldn’t afford to offer livestock, but they could afford ale. Therefore, the word Alu became a magical blot-word.
Q: What can we look forward to seeing from Wyatt Kaldenberg in the not so distant future?
A: I am working on another book about Odinism, after that perhaps a political book. I have been thinking of writing Heathen social fiction. Theology is important. Without a clear theology, we just drift from fad to fad from egghead to egghead. I believe in theology because it connects us with the Gods. Academia just belittles our faith and classifies it as a mythology and as superstitions of ignorant people. Heathenism has been defined by Christians, atheists, and other outlanders for the last thousand years. It's time we stopped listening to these people. Heathens who have turned academia into a kind of Heathen Pope have lost sight of our living Gods. Our Gods are the final word of our faith, not Christian literature and not atheists at the rich man's university. We can talk to the Gods directly. We don't need the opinions of outlanders.