What is ‘Wotanism’?

The Creed of Caledon is based on the doctrine known as ‘Wotanism’, which is a modern-day expression of the people of Europe’s ancient religious and spiritual beliefs. The head of the Teutonic pantheon as far as the lore can tell us was known as ‘Wotan’ to the Germans, ‘Woden’ to the Anglo-Saxons and ‘Oðinn’ to the Norse. Though the names of the deities in Wotanism are based on those of these particular cultures, the path is open to all those of European descent and one may refer to deities from other European pantheons and even figures from Christianity, which has incorporated much of our ancestors’ traditions into its practices. It is a belief based on blood kinship and the bond with our sacred land, and so it is tied to the seasons and features of the landscape such as rivers, springs, hills, mountains and groves. Therefore the functions of many of the deities correspond to things such as the weather, the sea, the sky and even Mother Earth herself. There are others who oversee more human aspects, such as bravery, strength, wisdom and magic, and they are all described in detail in Angels and Demons in Teutonic Mythology.

The most commonly cited figures in Wotanism are David Lane and Ron McVan, who gave birth to the idea of ‘Wotan’s Folk’ in the 1990s. David Lane came up with the name and philosophy, while Ron McVan wrote much of the literature, including The Temple of Wotan, which is the source of the Creed of Caledon’s philosophy and rituals. However, the concept of ‘Wotanism’ goes back much earlier, to an Austrian mystic known as ‘Guido von List’, who was born in the mid-19th Century and died not long after the First World War. He coined the term ‘Wotanism’ to describe the exoteric religion of the Ancient Teutons, which involved invoking the deities in ritual and emulating the gods, particularly Wotan. This was paired with the concept of ‘Armanism’, an esoteric practice that involves working with the runes, particularly the Armanen Futhorkh, which was revealed to List during a period of blindness and is based on the rune poem in the Hávamál, which Wotanists consider to be the most sacred text. The Armamen Futhorkh is explained in his work known as Das Geheimnis der Runen (‘The Secret of the Runes’), published in 1908.

Armanen futhark stem version

Armanen Futhorkh

Wotanism can be described as a ‘pagan’ religion, which primarily involves interaction between oneself, one’s ancestors, ones kin, one’s land and one’s gods. Therefore it is a ‘folkish’ belief system that is dependent on one’s genetic and cultural lineage. It can be observed anywhere in the world, though only by those of European descent and preferably in a temperate climate which suits our kind best in ecological terms. This is different from ‘Armanism’ in that it is based on the external and objective reality, while Armanism is based on one’s own internal and subjective experience and should be seen more on an individual level. Armanism is a mystery religion akin to Gnostic Christianity, Vajrayana Buddhism or Western Hermeticism, though it is still based in Teutonic language and tradition. Therefore, Wotanism is not so much a form of ‘Neopaganism’, but a Wihinei (‘way’, more specifically ‘folk-way’), that incorporates aspects from other Aryan religions.

While Wotanism has been linked to Neo-Nazism and ‘White Supremacy’, it is worth remembering that many Wotanists  were interned in concentration camps under the Third Reich, as they were considered ‘heretics’ or ‘occultists’ that were deemed a thread to the regime. Heinrich Himmler’s spiritual advisor, Karl Maria ‘Weisthor’ Wiligut, declared Wotanism to be a false religion, and was in opposition to his doctrine of ‘Irminism’, which may have been the intended state religion of the Third Reich that was to replace Christianity had Hitler won the Second World War. Therefore, it is not in our best interests to support any totalitarian regime, be it Communist, National Socialist or Corporate Socialist.

As Wotanism is not a centralized religion without any structured organization outside of each kindred, there are many different interpretations and definitions of the doctrine and so the personal opinions of one adherent or kindred may be at odds with another. This, however, is not the case when it comes to the core philosophy, which is that we are to be gaining and spreading awareness of the ways of our forebears and promoting the wellbeing of our descendants. This is done through personal self-improvement, much of which is tied to the particular archetype or’ god’ which we unknowingly impersonate. By assessing one’s own nature and reason for being, you can aspire to achieve your full potential and become a valuable asset to your tribe. The tribe is considered to be a network of family and friends that share with you a common genetic and cultural bond.  It is a ‘nation’ that is not so much centred on what nation state you ‘belong’ to, but on whom you can trust and rely on.

Much of the work done by Wotansvolk, in the 1990s and early 2000s was involved in prison outreach, which is now impossible seeing as Wotanist literature is banned from many prisons because it is seen as such a threat to the establishment. However, the core mission of Wotanism hasn’t changed, and emphasis is placed on rehabilitation of those struggling with addiction, criminality, violent tendencies or simply weakness (with the exception of those who have committed crimes against children, who will never be welcome among the folk). It is true that Wotanism draws many who believe in Neo-Nazism or White Nationalism, but much of our work is designed to divert energy away from negative and destructive ways of thinking towards productive and honourable ideals and behaviour. This is why, despite the fact that I have written about political issues, the Creed of Caledon takes no particular stance in that area and supports no political organization. Our only concern is when such organizations transgress our natural rights or attempt to silence us.

We have much in common with other groups that describe themselves as ‘Odinist’ or ‘Wodenist’, though we call ourselves ‘Wotanists’ to distinguish ourselves from any organizations whose members may refer to themselves by those terms. The main difference being that we have no central authority or hierarchy, aside from those that are present in Nature between gods, men and beasts. Therefore, while each kindred is led by a goði (‘priest’), there is no overarching structure and connection with other kindreds is based on networking. We perform two types of rituals, which are known singularly as blót and sumbel. The former consists of ceremonies that are performed at holy tides (including Yule, Easter and Midsummer) and involve offerings to the gods and celebration of the seasons. The latter refers to folk-binding rituals which are less formal and include pledging oaths and recounting one’s ancestors and past deeds in order to encourage self-improvement. These are not held at fixed dates and are usually observed more frequently than blótar.

We believe that we are undergoing Ragnarök , ‘the doom of the gods’, and so the world is in the process of being destroyed so that it can be remade. The acceleration of Postmodernism has led to the downfall of Western Civilization and left a heap of ruins and lost and spiritually starved people. While the state and corporations seek to replace this need with consumerism and political involvement, some of us have become disillusioned with the established dogmas and decided to follow our own way. As Wotanism is based on self-reliance and intimate trust, we encourage others who feel that this is the way for them to create their own kindreds and endeavour to improve themselves. Rituals and ceremonies help to strengthen kinship, but more important is the need to fulfil one’s own talents and embody your chosen archetype. Remember who you are and where you came from, and honour yourself, your ancestors and descendants.

Wulf Willelmson

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