“Germanic Magic” (Asatru – Part 23) – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day!


We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be (if any) either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: “Rún – SKÁLD


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If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.


Magic is a word that conjures up a lot of imagery and there seems to be a definite difference in the understanding of those who practice it in the real world and those who write it in the fantasy literature genre.  In the real world magic is a more earthy and practical day to day stuff. Germanic/Norse magic is probably not as central to the practice of Asatru as it is in Wicca, but it still plays a vital role. In considering Germanic magic there some elements to consider – the magical workers themselves and the terms used most commonly, Runes, Seidh, and Deity Possession.

In Asatru, the magical workers are pretty much a part-time lot.  I suppose if you had the means to pursue magical practice full-time most might consider it but most are part-time in the practice like poets and songwriters. The term for a woman who practices magic is Völva and the term for a man who does the same is Thul.

There are specialized terms for the various practitioners of various types of magic beyond this. This includes terms for those who practice dark magic. Gand is the general term for magic and Galdr is the word for a spell and covers most of the verbal and ceremonial magic.  There are lots of types of magic but in Germanic magic – most, however, deals with the spirits of the dead and the spirits in general. Music is assumed to have a magical quality to it. That’s why skalds are not just bards but magical practitioners as well.

Runes are sometimes invoked in divination but seem to be in Asatru more of the standard offensive and defensive magic. They are old to the point of being ancient and there are currently 24 major ones although other runes are present.  No one really knows what they mean anymore. It probably the fact of Chrisitan persecution that may have destroyed many of the works of magic that the Germanic pagans had that could be helpful but no longer exist. Each rune has its own power and each rune often ahs its own patron deity associated with it.  Although the runes as a whole are associated with Odin the most as he is the one who is said to have brought them to knowledge from his nine-day ordeal on the World Tree – Yggdrasil.

The second division of magic outside the runes is Seidh. Divination or prophetic vision is mostly associated with women.  These days it concerns things involving trances and things similar to shamanism. This could include illusion and shape-shifting as well. Most notably though it is given the term – second sight. The reading of omens as well.  There is so much here that I am barely scratching the surface.

One rare thing to talk about is the idea of a deity manifesting its personality in a ceremony through a worshiper.  It is not mentioned much in the lore or practiced much in Asatru by my source’s own admission.  But it does rarely seem to happen. I’ve seen such things in my Pentecostal faith where people are said to be speaking in tongues or prophecy but this is a little different in that this is said to be Odin speaking through a follower. I must emphasize this is very rare today and debated among the followers of Asatru.

While as an atheist I pretty much dismiss these things, I find it a fascinating thing that religious cultures can have so much in common and yet feel they are so divided. The idea that psychologically both as individuals and groups we can believe things like magic is an interesting phenomenon and one that crops up often in any religion.  Asatru’s is much more complex, subtle, and sublime than most.

Parting Thought:

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.


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