The Gods and Goddesses of Odinism
Copyright © 1996 The Circle of Ostara
Published with the kind permission of the Circle of Ostara.
This article must not be republished or reprinted in whole or
in part without their express written permission.

Our pagan ancestors and the pagan peoples of every race believed that all things upon the Earth led life. Trees and plants, crystals and rocks, streams and springs of water, mountains, islands, animals and human beings, all were seen as live and conscious individuals, capable of thought and movement and of interaction with each other. As modern pagans, living in a world apparently given over to materialism, we have nevertheless concluded from study and experience that these beliefs, castigated by Judeo-Christianity and materialistic science as naïve and superstitious nonsense, are perfectly correct. Perhaps this belief can be called neo-animism but we consider ourselves to be animists only; our beliefs differ in no substantial way from those held by the lore-masters of pagan times.

This belief in “spirit” as an integral part of all “matter” is in basic opposition to Christian dogma which holds that only human beings have soul, that not only boulders and soil, crystals and rocks, have no “spirit” but that no animal or plant possesses such a thing. All are seen as mere constructs of matter, created by “God” and given over to man.

The modern day scientist following on from this will tell you that animals – dogs and cats, for instance – are only machines, bundles of reflexes, cannot think or reason, have no emotions or understanding and merely react to stimuli. You put your money into the machine and a bar of chocolate comes out! Such a scientist – Pavlov or Skinner – should be condemned to live for a month in terms of intimacy with any “domestic” animal. They would soon realise their mistake. Any person who truly and objectively observes animal behaviour in an unconstrained environment will realise that not only do they think but that they have emotions and suffer fully as much as human beings do. In the wild, animals such as tigers or wolves, when compared to a human being, are not only man’s equal but his superior. Such animals should never be considered stupid or incapable of thought. Within this natural environment they are perfect creatures of spirit and intelligence.

It is not difficult for most people to accept that animals have intelligence and emotions. But what of plants, what of stones and streams of water? This is more difficlt for a person emerging froma materialistic straight-jacket to believe. We see the cosmos, the Web of Wyrd, as an infinite pattern of energy, and within this living cosmos matter is organised energy, energy that vibrates within a certain waveband that produces a pattern of its own. The whole of the material world is vibrating energy and the force that organises it is the force of spirit which is the force of life. All matter is living spirit and every pebble on the sea-shore, every grain of sand, is infused with it. Without this organising force of life matter would become unstable, disintegrate, return again to the primal substance.

This inflow of life-force is not an automatic movement of “energy particles”. It is the manifest intelligence of the cosmic mind. Like the myriad forms it generates in the material world, it too is the expression of an unfolding pattern and is manifested in individual shape. We see ourselves as beings “clothed in flesh”, but this garment is not an artefact given to us by an outside source although the instructions for its creation may have been handed down by our parents. This fleshly garment is continuously generated by our spirit. If we leave the material body, sever connections with it, it begins to disintegrate, to break down, and with the help of other life forms will soon return to the matrix of creation.

Our ancestors were right to see all organised forms of matter as living beings, beings imbued with life force and generated by spirit. Only after centuries of self-imposed ignorance are we now beginning to regain this old knowledge, even in the fields of semi-orthodox science. Experiments by such persons as Clive Backster (see books such as The Secret Life of Plants and Supernature) have shown that plants not only communicate with each other and with human beings but that they can hate and love, remember and recognise friends and enemies. Awareness appears to be a property of life itself. Plants are seen to possess individuality, to respond to music, to make friends with people, to respond with joy when their friend returns home. Plants have been shown to die from loneliness. They are vital expressions of life-force and beings of spirit, generated by spirit even as we are.

But plants are “alive” in the orthodox sense. What about stones and crystalline mineral structures? They do not appear to move or grow although crystal formation can be looked on as a kind of reproduction. Great boulders will lie on the hillside from century to century and never seem to move or breathe or show any signs of what we have been used to call life. And yet we assert that stones are alive, are beings imbued with spirit – and some of them powerful spirits at that. Our authority is folk lore, old wives’ tales, those old wives’ tales that “hold in keeping that which once was necessary for the wise to know”. Old tales and stories of dwarfs living in “halls of stone” as if they were the spirit of the stone itself, stories of stones with voices that speak and prophecy, that become maidens or knights or old women at certain times of the year.

Our ancestors venerated stones, natural stones unworked by man. The stone circles and ellipses scattered from one end of Northern Europe to the other are ample confirmation of this. Stones are powerful entities. Go out into the wild places, not necessarily where stone circles exist and certainly not to those places which have been turned into tourist attractions but places where great boulders lie in isolation or heaped upon the Earth. Take your intuition and your imagination with you and listen to them. You will hear the deep songs they sing to the Earth.

All life forms, animal, plant and mineral, have spirit bodies, what is called the aura, an emanation of life-force. These spirit bodies can be seen by the trained eye and, naturally, by some talented individuals. These bodies of light vibrate on levels just outside the “normal” range. There are techniques for enhancing your power to see these spirit bodies, the spirit bodies of animals, plants and stones – the spirits that live in flowing water. These are nature spirits in the sense that they are spirits of natural beings, even as we are ourselves. But there are other beings who live in nature, closely connected with the natural world yet who are denizens of the realms of existence we have termed Asgarth and Niflheim. Whimsical stories, usually of fairly recent origin, have called the spirits of plants and tree, the spirits of water, “elves” and “fairies”, but they are no more elves or fairies than we are ourselves. These other spirits of nature we consider in our next article.