Request to use “your art” image on Instagram

“Dear Demian Marie AtHope, We request permission to use the image “Norse did not wear helmets with norns?” on our Instagram account (@nucleo.neve). The image will be translated into Portuguese and your link and Instagram account will be published in the post description: @athopedamien. Our intention is to disseminate information about the history of Scandinavia from the Viking Age. All the best, Johnni Langer, Ph.D. Editor-in-chiefScandia: Journal of Medieval Norse Studies” – (from an email)

“God/spirit revealed it to me or a person of God/spirit had it revealed to them” – theist thinking

“Misinformation, Delusion, or Wishful thinking revealed it to you or them, you mean” – atheist interpreting the theist’s thinking

By the way, my genetics are German, Hungarian, Swedish, Norwegian, Irish, and Italian (according to my family).

DNA wise: My mother’s side is related to mainly the Early European Farmers (EEF). And my father’s side is mainly the Yamnaya culture also known as the Pit Grave culture.

Early European Farmers (EEF), First European Farmers (FEF), Neolithic European Farmers, Ancient Aegean Farmers, or Anatolian Neolithic Farmers (ANF) are names used to describe a distinct group of early Neolithic farmers who brought agriculture to Europe and Northwest Africa (Maghreb). Although the spread of agriculture from the Middle East to Europe has long been recognised through archaeology, it is only recent advances in archaeogenetics that have confirmed that this spread was strongly correlated with a migration of these farmers, and was not just a cultural exchange. The Early European Farmers moved into Europe from Asia Minor through Southeast Europe from around 7,000 BC, gradually spread north and westwards, and reached Northwest Africa via the Iberian Peninsula. Genetic studies have confirmed that Early European Farmers can be modelled as Anatolian Neolithic Farmers with a minor contribution from Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs), with significant regional variation. European farmer and hunter-gatherer populations coexisted and traded in some locales, although evidence suggests that the relationship was not always peaceful. Over the course of the next 4,000 years or so, Europe was transformed into agricultural communities, and WHGs were displaced to the margins. During the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age, the Early European Farmer cultures were overwhelmed by new migrations from the Pontic steppe by a group related to people of the Yamnaya culture who carried Western Steppe Herder ancestry and probably spoke Indo-European languages. Once again the populations mixed, and EEF ancestry is common in modern European populations, with EEF ancestry highest in Southern Europeans, especially Sardinians and Basque people.” ref

“The Yamnaya culture or the Yamna culture, also known as the Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic–Caspian steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BCE. It was discovered by Vasily Gorodtsov following his archaeological excavations near the Donets River in 1901–1903. Its name derives from its characteristic burial tradition: Я́мная (romanization: yamnaya) is a Russian adjective that means ‘related to pits (yama)’, as these people used to bury their dead in tumuli (kurgans) containing simple pit chambers. The Yamnaya economy was based upon animal husbandry, fishing, and foraging, and the manufacture of ceramics, tools, and weapons. The people of the Yamnaya culture lived primarily as nomads, with a chiefdom system and wheeled carts and wagons that allowed them to manage large herds. They are also closely connected to Final Neolithic cultures, which later spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people and the Bell Beaker culture, as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubnaya cultures. Back migration from Corded Ware also contributed to Sintashta and Andronovo. In these groups, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present. Yamnaya material culture was very similar to the Afanasevo culture of South Siberia, and the populations of both cultures are genetically indistinguishable. This suggests that the Afanasevo culture may have originated from the migration of Yamnaya groups to the Altai region or, alternatively, that both cultures developed from an earlier shared cultural source. Genetic studies have suggested that the people of the Yamnaya culture can be modelled as a genetic admixture between a population related to Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers (EHG) and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus (CHG) in roughly equal proportions, an ancestral component which is often named “Steppe ancestry”, with additional admixture from Anatolian, Levantine, or Early European farmers. Genetic studies also indicate that populations associated with the Corded Ware, Bell Beaker, Sintashta, and Andronovo cultures derived large parts of their ancestry from the Yamnaya or a closely related population. There is now a rough scholarly consensus that the common ancestor of all Indo-European languages, with the possible exception of Anatolian, originated on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and this language has been associated with the people of the Yamnaya culture. Additionally, the Pontic-Caspian steppe is currently seen as the most likely candidate for the original homeland (German, Urheimat) of the Proto-Indo-European language, including the ancestor of the Anatolian branch.” ref


Damien’s DNA looks most like DNA from these 7 world regions

Ethnicity estimate: Damien’s DNA looks most like DNA from these 7 world regions


Eastern Europe & Russia 31% (Slovakia & Hungary)
Norway 27% (Southern & Southwestern Norway)
Sweden & Denmark 14% (Central & Southern Sweden)
Germanic Europe 14% (Primarily Germany and the Netherlands)
Ireland 10% (primarily Ireland, also found in: Channel Islands, Faroe Islands, France, Iceland, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland)
Jewish 3% (Primarily Belarus, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine)
Baltics 1% (Primarily Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)

Damien’s DNA connects to 4 communities:

1700 to 1950 COMMUNITY Southern & Southwestern Norway

1700 to 1950 COMMUNITY Central & Southern Sweden

1700 to 1975 COMMUNITY Slovakia & Hungary

1775 to 1975 COMMUNITY Upper Midwest Settlers

“The mutation for blond hair is thought to have originated among the Afontova Gora population of the Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) cline of south-central Siberia.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

refref, ref

Ancient North Eurasian (ANE)

Ancient Beringian/Ancestral Native American (AB/ANA)

Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG)

Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHG)

Western Steppe Herders (WSH) 

Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG)

Early European Farmers (EEF)

Jōmon people (Ainu people OF Hokkaido Island) 

Neolithic Iranian farmers (Iran_N) (Iran Neolithic)

Amur Culture (Amur watershed)

Haplogroup R possible time of origin about 27,000 years in Central Asia, South Asia, or Siberia:


Groups partially derived from the Ancient North Eurasians

“The ANE lineage is defined by association with the MA-1, or “Mal’ta boy”, remains of 24,000 years ago in central Siberia Mal’ta-Buret’ culture 24,000-15,000 years ago. The Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) samples (Afontova Gora 3, Mal’ta 1, and Yana-RHS) show evidence for minor gene flow from an East Asian-related group (simplified by the Amis, Han, or Tianyuan) but no evidence for ANE-related geneflow into East Asians (Amis, Han, Tianyuan), except the Ainu, of North Japan.” ref 

“The ANE lineage is defined by association with the MA-1, or “Mal’ta boy”, remains of 24,000 years ago in central Siberia Mal’ta-Buret’ culture 24,000-15,000 years ago “basal to modern-day Europeans”. Some Ancient North Eurasians also carried East Asian populations, such as Tianyuan Man.” ref

“Bronze-age-steppe Yamnaya and Afanasevo cultures were ANE at around 50% and Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) at around 75% ANE. Karelia culture: Y-DNA R1a-M417 8,400 years ago, Y-DNA J, 7,200 years ago, and Samara, of Y-haplogroup R1b-P297 7,600 years ago is closely related to ANE from Afontova Gora, 18,000 years ago around the time of blond hair first seen there.” ref 

Ancient North Eurasian

“In archaeogenetics, the term Ancient North Eurasian (often abbreviated as ANE) is the name given to an ancestral West Eurasian component that represents descent from the people similar to the Mal’ta–Buret’ culture and populations closely related to them, such as from Afontova Gora and the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site. Significant ANE ancestry are found in some modern populations, including Europeans and Native Americans.” ref 

“The ANE lineage is defined by association with the MA-1, or “Mal’ta boy“, the remains of an individual who lived during the Last Glacial Maximum, 24,000 years ago in central Siberia, Ancient North Eurasians are described as a lineage “which is deeply related to Paleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe,” meaning that they diverged from Paleolithic Europeans a long time ago.” ref

“The ANE population has also been described as having been “basal to modern-day Europeans” but not especially related to East Asians, and is suggested to have perhaps originated in Europe or Western Asia or the Eurasian Steppe of Central Asia. However, some samples associated with Ancient North Eurasians also carried ancestry from an ancient East Asian population, such as Tianyuan Man. Sikora et al. (2019) found that the Yana RHS sample (31,600 BP) in Northern Siberia “can be modeled as early West Eurasian with an approximately 22% contribution from early East Asians.” ref

“Populations genetically similar to MA-1 were an important genetic contributor to Native AmericansEuropeansCentral AsiansSouth Asians, and some East Asian groups, in order of significance. Lazaridis et al. (2016:10) note “a cline of ANE ancestry across the east-west extent of Eurasia.” The ancient Bronze-age-steppe Yamnaya and Afanasevo cultures were found to have a noteworthy ANE component at ~50%.” ref

“According to Moreno-Mayar et al. 2018 between 14% and 38% of Native American ancestry may originate from gene flow from the Mal’ta–Buret’ people (ANE). This difference is caused by the penetration of posterior Siberian migrations into the Americas, with the lowest percentages of ANE ancestry found in Eskimos and Alaskan Natives, as these groups are the result of migrations into the Americas roughly 5,000 years ago.” ref 

“Estimates for ANE ancestry among first wave Native Americans show higher percentages, such as 42% for those belonging to the Andean region in South America. The other gene flow in Native Americans (the remainder of their ancestry) was of East Asian origin. Gene sequencing of another south-central Siberian people (Afontova Gora-2) dating to approximately 17,000 years ago, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures to that of Mal’ta boy-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum.” ref

“The earliest known individual with a genetic mutation associated with blonde hair in modern Europeans is an Ancient North Eurasian female dating to around 16000 BCE from the Afontova Gora 3 site in Siberia. It has been suggested that their mythology may have included a narrative, found in both Indo-European and some Native American fables, in which a dog guards the path to the afterlife.” ref

“Genomic studies also indicate that the ANE component was introduced to Western Europe by people related to the Yamnaya culture, long after the Paleolithic. It is reported in modern-day Europeans (7%–25%), but not of Europeans before the Bronze Age. Additional ANE ancestry is found in European populations through paleolithic interactions with Eastern Hunter-Gatherers, which resulted in populations such as Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers.” ref

“The Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) split from the ancestors of European peoples somewhere in the Middle East or South-central Asia, and used a northern dispersal route through Central Asia into Northern Asia and Siberia. Genetic analyses show that all ANE samples (Afontova Gora 3, Mal’ta 1, and Yana-RHS) show evidence for minor gene flow from an East Asian-related group (simplified by the Amis, Han, or Tianyuan). In contrast, no evidence for ANE-related geneflow into East Asians (Amis, Han, Tianyuan), except the Ainu, was found.” ref

“Genetic data suggests that the ANE formed during the Terminal Upper-Paleolithic (36+-1,5ka) period from a deeply European-related population, which was once widespread in Northern Eurasia, and from an early East Asian-related group, which migrated northwards into Central Asia and Siberia, merging with this deeply European-related population. These population dynamics and constant northwards geneflow of East Asian-related ancestry would later gave rise to the “Ancestral Native Americans” and Paleosiberians, which replaced the ANE as dominant population of Siberia.” ref

Groups partially derived from the Ancient North Eurasians

Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) is a lineage derived predominantly (75%) from ANE. It is represented by two individuals from Karelia, one of Y-haplogroup R1a-M417, dated c. 8.4 kya, the other of Y-haplogroup J, dated c. 7.2 kya; and one individual from Samara, of Y-haplogroup R1b-P297, dated c. 7.6 kya. This lineage is closely related to the ANE sample from Afontova Gora, dated c. 18 kya. After the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, the Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHG) and EHG lineages merged in Eastern Europe, accounting for early presence of ANE-derived ancestry in Mesolithic Europe. Evidence suggests that as Ancient North Eurasians migrated West from Eastern Siberia, they absorbed Western Hunter-Gatherers and other West Eurasian populations as well.” ref

Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) is represented by the Satsurblia individual dated ~13 kya (from the Satsurblia cave in Georgia), and carried 36% ANE-derived admixture. While the rest of their ancestry is derived from the Dzudzuana cave individual dated ~26 kya, which lacked ANE-admixture, Dzudzuana affinity in the Caucasus decreased with the arrival of ANE at ~13 kya Satsurblia.” ref

Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG) is represented by several individuals buried at Motala, Sweden ca. 6000 BC. They were descended from Western Hunter-Gatherers who initially settled Scandinavia from the south, and later populations of EHG who entered Scandinavia from the north through the coast of Norway.” ref

“Iran Neolithic (Iran_N) individuals dated ~8.5 kya carried 50% ANE-derived admixture and 50% Dzudzuana-related admixture, marking them as different from other Near-Eastern and Anatolian Neolithics who didn’t have ANE admixture. Iran Neolithics were later replaced by Iran Chalcolithics, who were a mixture of Iran Neolithic and Near Eastern Levant Neolithic.” ref

Ancient Beringian/Ancestral Native American are specific archaeogenetic lineages, based on the genome of an infant found at the Upward Sun River site (dubbed USR1), dated to 11,500 years ago. The AB lineage diverged from the Ancestral Native American (ANA) lineage about 20,000 years ago.” ref

“West Siberian Hunter-Gatherer (WSHG) are a specific archaeogenetic lineage, first reported in a genetic study published in Science in September 2019. WSGs were found to be of about 30% EHG ancestry, 50% ANE ancestry, and 20% to 38% East Asian ancestry.” ref

Western Steppe Herders (WSH) is the name given to a distinct ancestral component that represents descent closely related to the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic–Caspian steppe. This ancestry is often referred to as Yamnaya ancestry or Steppe ancestry.” ref

“Late Upper Paeolithic Lake Baikal – Ust’Kyakhta-3 (UKY) 14,050-13,770 BP were mixture of 30% ANE ancestry and 70% East Asian ancestry.” ref

“Lake Baikal Holocene – Baikal Eneolithic (Baikal_EN) and Baikal Early Bronze Age (Baikal_EBA) derived 6.4% to 20.1% ancestry from ANE, while rest of their ancestry was derived from East Asians. Fofonovo_EN near by Lake Baikal were mixture of 12-17% ANE ancestry and 83-87% East Asian ancestry.” ref

Hokkaido Jōmon people specifically refers to the Jōmon period population of Hokkaido in northernmost Japan. Though the Jōmon people themselves descended mainly from East Asian lineages, one study found an affinity between Hokkaido Jōmon with the Northern Eurasian Yana sample (an ANE-related group, related to Mal’ta), and suggest as an explanation the possibility of minor Yana gene flow into the Hokkaido Jōmon population (as well as other possibilities). A more recent study by Cooke et al. 2021, confirmed ANE-related geneflow among the Jōmon people, partially ancestral to the Ainu people. ANE ancestry among Jōmon people is estimated at 21%, however, there is a North to South cline within the Japanese archipelago, with the highest amount of ANE ancestry in Hokkaido and Tohoku.” ref


“The new study appears to align with the spread of Indo-European languages and was closely tied to the diffusion of agriculture from Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) around 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.” ref

“Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. No direct record of Proto-Indo-European exists; its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. As speakers of Proto-Indo-European became isolated from each other through the Indo-European migrations, the regional dialects of Proto-Indo-European spoken by the various groups diverged, as each dialect underwent shifts in pronunciation (the Indo-European sound laws), morphology, and vocabulary. Commonly proposed subgroups of Indo-European languages include Italo-CelticGraeco-AryanGraeco-ArmenianGraeco-PhrygianDaco-Thracian, and Thraco-Illyrian.” ref

“Scholars have proposed multiple hypotheses about when, where, and by whom PIE was spoken. The Kurgan hypothesis, first put forward in 1956 by Marija Gimbutas, has become the most popular. It proposes that the original speakers of PIE were the Yamnaya culture associated with the kurgans (burial mounds) on the Pontic–Caspian steppe north of the Black Sea. Other theories include the Anatolian hypothesis, which posits that PIE spread out from Anatolia with agriculture beginning c. 7500–6000 BCE or around 9,500 to 8,000 years ago, the Armenian hypothesis, the Paleolithic continuity paradigm, and the indigenous Aryans theory. The latter two of these theories are not regarded as credible within academia. Out of all the theories for a PIE homeland, the Kurgan and Anatolian hypotheses are the ones most widely accepted, and also the ones most debated against each other.” ref

“The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family—English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, and Spanish—have expanded through colonialism in the modern period and are now spoken across several continents. The Indo-European family is divided into several branches or sub-families, of which there are eight groups with languages still alive today: Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, and Italic/Romance; and another nine subdivisions that are now extinct. Today, the individual Indo-European languages with the most native speakers are Spanish, English, Hindi–Urdu, Bengali, Portuguese, Russian, Punjabi, French, and German each with over 100 million native speakers; many others are small and in danger of extinction.” ref

“Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and deities associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, speakers of the hypothesized Proto-Indo-European language. Although the mythological motifs are not directly attested – since Proto-Indo-European speakers lived in preliterate societies – scholars of comparative mythology have reconstructed details from inherited similarities found among Indo-European languages, based on the assumption that parts of the Proto-Indo-Europeans’ original belief systems survived in the daughter traditions. Various schools of thought exist regarding possible interpretations of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European mythology. The main mythologies used in comparative reconstruction are Indo-IranianBalticRoman, and Norse, often supported with evidence from the CelticGreekSlavicHittiteArmenianIllyrian, and Albanian traditions as well.” ref

“The Proto-Indo-European pantheon includes a number of securely reconstructed deities, since they are both cognates – linguistic siblings from a common origin – and associated with similar attributes and body of myths: such as *Dyḗws Ph₂tḗr, the daylight-sky god; his consort *Dʰéǵʰōm, the earth mother; his daughter *H₂éwsōs, the dawn goddess; his sons the Divine Twins; and *Seh₂ul and *Meh₁not, a solar goddess and moon god, respectively. Some deities, like the weather god *Perkʷunos or the herding-god *Péh₂usōn, are only attested in a limited number of traditions – Western (i.e. European) and Graeco-Aryan, respectively – and could therefore represent late additions that did not spread throughout the various Indo-European dialects. The Meteorological or Naturist School holds that Proto-Indo-European myths initially emerged as explanations for natural phenomena, such as the Sky, the Sun, the Moon, and the Dawn.ref

“Some myths are also securely dated to Proto-Indo-European times, since they feature both linguistic and thematic evidence of an inherited motif: a story portraying a mythical figure associated with thunder and slaying a multi-headed serpent to release torrents of water that had previously been pent up; a creation myth involving two brothers, one of whom sacrifices the other in order to create the world; and probably the belief that the Otherworld was guarded by a watchdog and could only be reached by crossing a river. The mythology of the Proto-Indo-Europeans is not directly attested and it is difficult to match their language to archaeological findings related to any specific culture from the Chalcolithic. Nonetheless, scholars of comparative mythology have attempted to reconstruct aspects of Proto-Indo-European mythology based on the existence of linguistic and thematic similarities among the deities, religious practices, and myths of various Indo-European peoples. This method is known as the comparative method.” ref

“One of the earliest attested and thus one of the most important of all Indo-European mythologies is Vedic mythology, especially the mythology of the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas. Early scholars of comparative mythology such as Friedrich Max Müller stressed the importance of Vedic mythology to such an extent that they practically equated it with Proto-Indo-European myths. Modern researchers have been much more cautious, recognizing that, although Vedic mythology is still central, other mythologies must also be taken into account. Another of the most important source mythologies for comparative research is Roman mythology. The Romans possessed a very complex mythological system, parts of which have been preserved through the characteristic Roman tendency to rationalize their myths into historical accounts. Despite its relatively late attestation, Norse mythology is still considered one of the three most important of the Indo-European mythologies for comparative research, due to the vast bulk of surviving Icelandic material.” ref

Norse, Nordic, or Scandinavian mythology, is the body of myths belonging to the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Old Norse religion and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Nordic folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology and stemming from Proto-Germanic folklore, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition. The source texts mention numerous gods such as the thunder-god Thor, the raven-flanked god Odin, the goddess Freyja, and numerous other deities.” ref

“Most of the surviving mythology centers on the plights of the gods and their interaction with several other beings, such as humanity and the jötnar, beings who may be friends, lovers, foes, or family members of the gods. The cosmos in Norse mythology consists of Nine Worlds that flank a central sacred tree, Yggdrasil. Units of time and elements of the cosmology are personified as deities or beings. Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being Ymir, and the first two humans are Ask and Embla. These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events of Ragnarök when an immense battle occurs between the gods and their enemies, and the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. There the surviving gods will meet, and the land will be fertile and green, and two humans will repopulate the world.” ref

“Norse mythology has been the subject of scholarly discourse since the 17th century when key texts attracted the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. By way of comparative mythology and historical linguistics, scholars have identified elements of Germanic mythology reaching as far back as Proto-Indo-European mythology. During the modern period, the Romanticist Viking revival re-awoke an interest in the subject matter, and references to Norse mythology may now be found throughout modern popular culture. The myths have further been revived in a religious context among adherents of Germanic Neopaganism.” ref

ref, ref

My mother’s side DNA is related to mainly the Early European Farmers (EEF).

And my father’s side DNA is mainly the Yamnaya culture also known as the Pit Grave culture.


“Approximately 7,000 years ago, the Indo-European linguistic lineage had already split into numerous distinct branches, according to the study published in Science. “This would rule out the steppe hypothesis,” said Heggarty. Around 8,120 years ago, the Proto-Indo-European language likely experienced its initial diversification event, give or take a few centuries. Recent studies of ancient DNA suggest that farmers from the Caucasus region — between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea — migrated towards Anatolia, which supports the Anatolian theory. Hittite, an extinct language spoken by the Anatolian civilization, is another significant branch of the Indo-European family. For decades, a large group of linguists argued that Hittite was the common ancestor of the other Indo-European languages, with some even considering it to be the direct heir of Proto-Indo-European.” ref

“Ancient DNA, on the other hand, has provided compelling evidence in support of the steppe hypothesis. Since 2015, it has become clear that individuals originating from the Pontic steppe, situated to the south and northeast of present-day Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, migrated to Central Europe approximately 6,000 to 4,500 years ago. Their genetic legacy is evident in both modern Europeans and the indigenous populations of that era. Notably, studies conducted in 2018 and 2019 revealed how these migrant eastern populations replaced a significant proportion of males on the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, they brought with them Italic, Germanic, and Celtic languages. It is important to note that when they departed from their original homeland, they likely spoke a common or closely related language descended from Proto-Indo-European. However, as their very slow journey progressed (the Celts took centuries to reach present-day Ireland) and they settled in new territories, language diversification began to emerge.” ref

“The Albanians, Greek-speaking Mycenaeans, and Hittites do not have a dominant genetic signal from the steppe.” ref

Paul Heggarty, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

“Heggarty’s team made a significant contribution by shedding light on this question. By combining phylogenetic analysis of cognates with insights from ancient DNA, they found potentially two distinct origins. Expansion initially originated from the southern Caucasus region, resulting in the separation of five major language families approximately 7,000 years ago. “The Albanians, Greek-speaking Mycenaeans and Hittites do not have a dominant genetic signal from the steppe,” said Heggarty. Several millennia later, another wave emerged, led by nomadic steppe herders from the north. This wave not only influenced the development of western branches of the language tree, but it also possibly played a role in the evolution of Slavic and Baltic languages. It even extended its influence to the Indian subcontinent, while giving rise to the now-extinct Tocharian languages in what is present-day Tibet.” ref

Nordic Paganism/Shamanism, Vikings, White Supremacists Imaginary Viking Past,
Neo-paganism/Neo-Shamanism, and Far-right Religio-Nationalism Bigotry

Religious Nationalism

“Religious nationalism can be understood in a number of ways, such as nationalism as a religion itself, a position articulated by Carlton Hayes in his text Nationalism: A Religion, or as the relationship of nationalism to a particular religious belief, dogma, ideology, or affiliation. In the former aspect, a shared religion can be seen to contribute to a sense of national unity, a common bond among the citizens of the nation. Another political aspect of religion is the support of a national identity, similar to a shared ethnicity, language, or culture. The danger is that when the state derives political legitimacy from adherence to religious doctrines, this may leave an opening to overtly religious elements, institutions, and leaders, making the appeals to religion more ‘authentic’ by bringing more explicitly theological interpretations to political life. Thus, appeals to religion as a marker of ethnicity create an opening for more strident and ideological interpretations of religious nationalism. Many ethnic and cultural nationalisms include religious aspects, but as a marker of group identity, rather than the intrinsic motivation for nationalist claims. Such thinking is related to Buddhist Nationalism, Christian nationalism, Hindu nationalism, Muslim nationalism, Nationalism in modern paganism, Jewish nationalism, Shinto nationalism, and Sikh nationalism, etc.” ref

The Worldwide Rise of Religious Nationalism

“The rise of new forms of religious nationalism at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries is to a large extent a by-product of globalization. As nation-states are permeated by transnational economics and trends and secular nationalism is challenged by the global diaspora of peoples and cultures, new ethno-religious movements have arisen to shore up a sense of national community and purpose. One can project at least three different futures for religious and ethnic nationalism in a global world: one where religious and ethnic politics ignore globalization, where they rail against it, and where they envision their own transnational futures. Religious nationalism is not a new phenomenon, however. Beginning in the 1970s, new forms of nationalism based on religion began to appear around the world, defying the legacy of secular nationalism based on the ideas of the European Enlightenment. Initially, the independent nation-states that emerged earlier in the 20th century at the end of the colonial era followed the pattern of secularism set during colonial rule, but at the end of the century, this began to change. Assertions of religious politics began to arise in the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere. Prominent among them was the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978, in a country that had not been part of a colonial Empire; it created the first modern religious nation-state and set a standard for religious politics that other countries would follow. Religious nationalism was on the rise.” ref

“History seems poised on the brink of an era of globalization, hardly the time for new national aspirations to emerge. In fact, some observers have cited the appearance of ethnic and religious nationalism in such areas as the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union, Algeria and the Middle East, South Asia, Japan, and among right-wing movements in Europe and the United States as evidence that globalization has not reached all quarters of the globe. It should not be surprising that new sociopolitical forms are emerging at this moment of history since globalization is redefining virtually everything on the planet. This includes especially those social and political conventions associated with the nation-state. Among other things, global forces are undermining many of the traditional pillars on which the secular nation-state have been based, such as national sovereignty, economic autonomy, and social identity. As it turns out, however, these aspects of the nation-state have been vulnerable to change for some time.” ref

“Born as a stepchild of the European Enlightenment, the idea of the modern nation-state is profound and simple: the state is created by the people within a given national territory. Secular nationalism—the ideology that originally gave the nation-state its legitimacy—contends that a nation’s authority is based on the secular idea of a social compact of equals rather than on ethnic ties or sacred mandates. It is a compelling idea, one with pretensions of universal applicability. It reached its widest extent of worldwide acceptance in the mid-twentieth century. But the latter half of the century was a different story. The secular nation-state proved to be a fragile artifice, especially in those areas of the world where nations had been created by retreating colonial powers—in Africa by Britain, Portugal, Belgium, and France; in Latin America by Spain and Portugal; in South and Southeast Asia by Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States; and in Eurasia by the Soviet Union.” ref

“In some cases, boundary disputes led to squabbles among neighboring nations. In others, the very idea of the nation was a cause for suspicion. Many of these imagined nations—some with invented names such as Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Iraq—were not accepted by everyone within their territories. In yet other cases, the tasks of administration became too difficult to perform in honest and efficient ways. The newly created nations had only brief histories of prior colonial control to unite them, and after independence they had only the most modest of economic, administrative, and cultural infrastructures to hold their disparate regions together.” ref

Religious Nationalism Around the World

“In order to understand the role of religion in modern nationalism, it’s important to first recognize that nationalism is, at its most fundamental level, a form of identity.” ref

“Religion’s powerful impact on modern politics may seem obvious, but for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was an assumption among social scientists that religion was destined to wither away. So, as nationalism exploded in the nineteenth century, religion often played a smaller role in society as it gave way to newer and more secular notions of society. For example, in addition to replacing the monarchy with a republic, the humanist revolutionaries of the French Revolution also transformed Catholic churches into “Temples of Reason.” Both the monarchy and the Church became anachronisms. After all, who needs the Church when you have reason?” ref

“And yet, religion refused to go away. By the late-twentieth century, clear reminders of the importance of religion in the modern world were abundant. In Europe alone, the Troubles in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics, the genocide in Srebrenica carried out by Orthodox Serbs against Muslim Bosniaks, and the Catholic-fueled Solidarity movement in Poland all showed the importance of religion in modern politics and modern nations. Scholars now recognize that modernity can in fact undermine religion, as was predicted for many years, but the very same modernization is also destabilizing. And as the pace of change accelerates in the world around us, that instability is disconcerting, and it can lead us to seek out those forces that provide us with a greater context and help us to feel more grounded. In that way, the chaos of the modern world can actually strengthen religion.” ref

“In order to understand the role of religion in modern nationalism, it’s important to first recognize that nationalism is, at its most fundamental level, a form of identity. It tells us who we are, and that in turn can impact our values, our purpose, and our sense of where we belong. And like all forms of identity, nationalism is inherently tied to the concept of “the other.” If you pause and think about your core identities—whether that be your national identity, ethnicity, gender, occupation, religion, or role in your family—each identity is shaped in response to what you are not. The identity of fathers is shaped in response to what sets them apart from both mothers and children. The identity of Protestants is shaped in response to what distinguishes them from Catholics. Similarly, American national identity is tied to those values and characteristics that distinguish it from other nations. Universal characteristics aren’t useful in-group identification. As a result, national groups are always informed and shaped by the traits that distinguish them from other groups.” ref

Professor: White Supremacists Used Civil Rights Script To Create ‘Unite The Right’ Rally

“Aniko Bodroghkozy is a professor who studies history, so she isn’t keen to make it. That changed Aug. 11, 2017, as white supremacists clutching tiki torches marched through the University of Virginia and then, a day later, headed towards the pedestal of the Robert E. Lee statue in downtown Charlottesville. Bodroghkozy took to the streets as a counterprotester, but steered clear of the violent clashes that were the top national story that night. By the end of the two days of violence, counterprotester Heather Heyer was dead after a car attack that hurt scores of others. And two state police troopers perished when their helicopter that had been monitoring the rioting crashed. In the days and weeks that followed, Bodroghkozy reflected on how the media tactics employed by “Unite the Right” organizers seemed familiar. Their playbook, she says, looked a lot like what she studies: how 1960s civil rights leaders gained attention for the cause. Those initial thoughts led to a new book, “Making #Charlottesville,” which she recently discussed on the radio show “With Good Reason.” ref

“I had no distance from what I was attempting to make sense of. As a media historian who mostly stays in the 1960s, I don’t tend to write about current or near-current events. But coming out of Charlottesville’s “Summer of Hate,” I had no choice. I felt compelled as someone who had been on the streets, as well as a scholar at this University, to understand what happened using the analytical tools I have. I’ve written and taught about the Civil Rights Movement and media coverage. So I brought a comparative historical framework to the task. It became clear to me that what happened in Charlottesville was linked to civil rights-era struggles against white supremacy, but in mirror-image reverse. “Charlottesville” became a worldwide media event, as did key campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement, in particular the Birmingham campaign of 1963 and the Selma voting rights campaign of 1965.” ref

“In examining how the media covered the Aug. 11 and 12 events in Charlottesville, particularly the most heavily circulated visual imagery, I found surprising similarities and resonances with the most iconic imagery from the Civil Rights Movement: white racists as active and empowered (such as the images of tiki torch marchers in front of the Rotunda chanting their racist, antisemitic slogans); African American victims, prone, helpless and brutalized by racists (such as viral video and images of the beating of DeAndre Harris by pole-wielding alt-right marchers), nonviolent counterprotesters as heroic but imperiled by swarms of white supremacists (like the small group of students at the Jefferson statue surrounded by menacing tiki torch marchers). All of these images have remarkable similarity to the most well-known photos of the civil rights era, telling very similar stories.” ref


 “What is shamanism, and to what extent was it present among the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples? “Shamanism,” like “love,” is a notoriously hard word to define. Any meaningful discussion of an idea, however, depends on the idea first being clearly defined so that everyone understands exactly what is being discussed. For our purposes here, shamanism can be considered to be the practice of entering an ecstatic trance state in order to contact spirits and/or travel through spiritual worlds with the intention of accomplishing some specific purpose. It is a feature of countless magical and religious traditions from all over the world, especially those that are tied to a particular people and/or place.” ref

“The pre-Christian religion of the Germanic peoples teems with shamanic elements – so much so that it would be impossible to discuss them all here. Our discussion will have to be confined to those that are the most significant. We’ll start with Odin, the father of the gods, who possesses numerous shamanic traits. From there, we’ll examine shamanism in Norse magical traditions that were part of the female sphere of traditional northern European social life, and then move on to the male sphere of the berserkers and other “warrior-shamans” before concluding.” ref

Odin and Shamanism

“Odin, the chief of the gods, is often portrayed as a consummate shamanic figure in the oldest primary sources that contain information about the pre-Christian ways of the Germanic peoples. His very name suggests this: “Odin” (Old Norse Óðinn) is a compound word comprised of óðr, “ecstasy, fury, inspiration,” and the suffix -inn, the masculine definite article, which, when added to the end of another word like this, means something like “the master of” or “a perfect example of.” The name “Odin” can therefore be most aptly translated as “The Master of Ecstasy.” The eleventh-century historian Adam of Bremen confirms this when he translates “Odin” as “The Furious.” This establishes a link between Odin and the ecstatic trance states that comprise one of the defining characteristics of shamanism.” ref

“Odin’s shamanic spirit-journeys are well-documented. The Ynglinga Saga records that he would “travel to distant lands on his own errands or those of others” while he appeared to others to be asleep or dead. Another instance is recorded in the Eddic poem “Baldur’s Dreams,” where Odin rides Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse typical of northern Eurasian shamanism, to the underworld to consult a dead seeress on behalf of his son. Odin, like shamans all over the world, is accompanied by many familiar spirits, most notably the two ravens Hugin and Munin. The shaman must typically undergo a ritual death and rebirth in order to acquire his or her powers, and Odin underwent exactly such an ordeal when he discovered the runes. Having done so, he became one of the cosmos’s wisest, most knowledgeable, and most magically powerful beings. He is a renowned practitioner of seidr, which he seems to have learned from the goddess Freya.” ref

Shamanism in Seidr

“Freya is the divine archetype of the völva, a professional or semi-professional practitioner of the Germanic magical tradition known as seidr. Seidr (Old Norse seiðr) was a form of magic concerned with discerning the fated course of events and symbolically weaving new events into being in accordance with fate’s framework. To do this, the practitioner, with ritual distaff in hand, would enter a trance and travel in spirit throughout the Nine Worlds accomplishing her intended task. This generally took the form of a prophecy, a blessing, or a curse. The völva wandered from town to town and farm to farm prophesying and performing other acts of magic in exchange for room, board, and often other forms of compensation as well. The most detailed account of such a woman and her doings comes from The Saga of Erik the Red, but numerous sagas, as well as some of the mythic poems (most notably the Völuspá, “The Insight of the Völva“) contain sparse accounts of seidr-workers and their practices.” ref

“Like other northern Eurasian shamans, the völva was “set apart” from her wider society, both in a positive and a negative sense – she was simultaneously exalted, sought-after, feared, and, in some instances, reviled. However, the völva is very reminiscent of the veleda, a seeress or prophetess who held a more clearly-defined and highly respected position amongst the Germanic tribes of the first several centuries CE. In either of these roles, the woman practitioner of these arts held a more or less dignified role among her people, even as the degree of her dignity varied considerably over time. Such was not usually the case for male practitioners of seidr. According to traditional Germanic gender constructs, it was extremely shameful and dishonorable for a man to adopt a female social or sexual role. A man who practiced seidr could expect to be labeled argr (Old Norse for “unmanly;” the noun form is ergi) by his peers – one of the gravest insults that could be hurled at a Germanic man.” ref 

“While there were probably several reasons for seidr being considered to fall under the category of ergi, the greatest seems to have been the centrality of weaving, the paragon of the traditional female economic sphere, in seidr. Still, this didn’t stop numerous men from engaging in seidr, sometimes even as a profession. A few such men have had their deeds recorded in the sagas. The foremost among such seiðmenn was none other than Odin himself – and not even he escaped the charge of being argr. We can detect a high degree of ambivalence seething beneath the surface of this taunt; unmanly as seidr may have been seen as being, it was undeniably a source of incredible power – perhaps the greatest power in the cosmos, given that it could change the course of destiny itself. Perhaps the sacrifice of social prestige for these abilities wasn’t too bad of a bargain. After all, such men could look to the very ruler of Asgard as an example and a patron.” ref

Shamanism in Warrior Magic and Religion

“In any case, there were other forms of shamanism that were much more socially acceptable for men to practice. One of the central institutions of traditional Germanic society was the band of elite, ecstatic, totemistic warriors. Some of the warriors in these warbands were berserkers. These were no ordinary soldiers; the initiation rituals, fighting techniques, and other spiritual practices of these bands were such that their members could be aptly characterized as “warrior-shamans.” ref

“The divine guide and inspiration of such men was the same as for the seidr-workers: Odin. The Ynglinga Saga has this to say about them:

Odin’s men went armor-less into battle and were as crazed as dogs or wolves and as strong as bears or bulls. They bit their shields and slew men, while they themselves were harmed by neither fire nor iron. This is called “going berserk.” ref

“Or in the astute and evocative words of archaeologist Neil Price:

They run howling and foaming through the groups of fighting men. Some of them wear animal skins, some are naked, and some have thrown away shields and armour to rely on their consuming frenzy alone. Perhaps some of the greatest warriors do not take the field at all, but remain behind in their tents, their minds nevertheless focused on the combat. As huge animals their spirit forms wade through the battle, wreaking destruction.” ref

“This combat frenzy (“going berserk”) was one of the most common and most potent forms that Odin’s ecstasy (óðr) could take. In such a battle-trance, these hallowed warriors bit or cast away their shields, the symbolic indicators of their social persona, and became utterly possessed by the spirit of their totem animal, sometimes even shifting their shapes to become a bear or a wolf. By extension, they achieved a state of unification with the master of these beasts and the giver of this sublime furor: Odin. Given the prominence of shamanism in other traditional northern Eurasian societies, it would be shocking if it were absent from traditional Germanic society. So it’s hardly surprising to find, instead, that the established social customs of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples brimmed with shamanic elements.” ref

“It’s just as important, however, to stress the uniquely Germanic form of these elements. At the center of the Germanic shamanic complex is the “Allfather,” Odin, who inspires the female seidr-workers and the male “warrior-shamans” alike with his perilous gift of ecstasy, granting them an upper hand in life’s battles as well as communion with the divine world of consummate meaning. Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit.” ref


“Neoshamanism refers to new forms of shamanism. It usually means shamanism practiced by Western people as a type of New Age spirituality, without a connection to traditional shamanic societies. It is sometimes also used for modern shamanic rituals and practices which, although they have some connection to the traditional societies in which they originated, have been adapted somehow to modern circumstances. This can include “shamanic” rituals performed as an exhibition, either on stage or for shamanic tourism, as well as modern derivations of traditional systems that incorporate new technology and worldviews. Antiquarians such as John Dee may have practiced forerunner forms of neoshamanism. The origin of neoshamanic movements has been traced to the second half of the twentieth century, especially to counterculture movements and post-modernism. Three writers in particular are seen as promoting and spreading ideas related to shamanism and neoshamanism: Mircea EliadeCarlos Castaneda, and Michael Harner.ref 

“In 1951, Mircea Eliade popularized the idea of the shaman with the publication of Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. In it, he claimed that shamanism represented a kind of universal, primordial religion, with a journey to the spirit world as a defining characteristic. However, Eliade’s work was severely criticized in academic circles, with anthropologists such as Alice Beck Kehoe arguing that the term “shamanism” should not be used to refer to anything except the Siberian Tungus people who use the word to refer to themselves. Despite the academic criticism, Eliade’s work was nonetheless a critical part of the neoshamanism developed by Castaneda and Harner. In 1968, Carlos Castaneda published The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, which he claimed was a research log describing his apprenticeship with a traditional “Man of Knowledge” identified as don Juan Matus, allegedly a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico. Doubts existed about the veracity of Castaneda’s work from the time of their publication, and the Teaching of Don Juan, along with Castaneda’s subsequent works, are now widely regarded as works of fiction. Although Castaneda’s works have been extensively debunked, they nevertheless brought “…what he considered (nearly) universal traditional shamanic elements into an acultural package of practices for the modern shamanic seeker and participant.” ref

“The idea of an acultural shamanism was further developed by Michael Harner in his 1980 book The Way of the Shaman. Harner developed his own system of acultural shamanism that he called “Core Shamanism” (see below), which he wrote was based on his experiences with Conibo and Jívaro shamans in South America, including the consumption of hallucinogens. Harner broadly applied the term “shaman” to spiritual and ceremonial leaders in cultures that do not use this term, claiming that he also studied with “shamans” in North America; he wrote that these were WintuPomoCoast Salish, and Lakota people, but he did not name any individuals or specific communities. Harner claimed he was describing common elements of shamanic practice found among Indigenous people world-wide, having stripped those elements of specific cultural content so as to render them accessible to contemporary Western spiritual seekers. Influences cited by Harner also included Siberian shamanism, Mexican and Guatemalan culture, and Australian traditions, as well as the familiar spirits of European occultism, which aid the occultist in their metaphysical work. However, his practices do not resemble the religious practices or beliefs of any of these cultures.” ref

“Neoshamanism comprises an eclectic range of beliefs and practices that involve attempts to attain altered states and communicate with a spirit world through drumming, rattling, dancing, chanting, music, or the use of entheogens, although the last is controversial among some neoshamanic practitioners. One type of spirit that journeyers attempt to contact are animal tutelary spirits (called “power animals” in Core Shamanism). Core Shamanism, the neoshamanic system of practices synthesized, promoted, and invented by Michael Harner in the 1980s, are likely the most widely used in the West, and have had a profound impact on neoshamanism. While adherents of neoshamanism mention a number of different ancient and living cultures, and many do not consider themselves associated with Harner or Core Shamanism, Harner’s inventions, and similar approaches such as the decontextualized and appropriated structures of Amazonian Ayahuasca ceremonies, have all had a profound influence on the practices of most of these neoshamanic groups.” ref

“Neoshamans may also conduct “soul retrievals”, participate in rituals based on their interpretations of sweat lodge ceremonies, conduct healing ceremonies, and participate in drum circles. Wallis, an archaeologist who self-identifies as a “neo-Shaman” and participates in the neopagan and neoshamanism communities, has written that he believes the experiences of synesthesia reported by Core Shamanic journeyers are comparable with traditional shamanic practices. However, Aldred writes that the experiences non-Natives seek out at these workshops, “also incorporated into theme adult camps, wilderness training programs, and New Age travel packages” have “greatly angered” Native American activists who see these workshops as “the commercial exploitation of their spirituality.” Scholars have noted a number of differences between traditional shamanic practices and neoshamanism. In traditional contexts, shamans are typically chosen by a community or inherit the title (or both). With neoshamanism, however, anyone who chooses to can become a (neo)shaman, although there are still neoshamans who feel that they have been called to become shamans, and that it wasn’t a choice, similar to the situation in some traditional societies.” ref

“In traditional contexts, shamans serve an important culturally recognized social and ceremonial role, one which seeks the assistance of spirits to maintain cosmic order and balance. With neoshamanism, however, the focus is usually on personal exploration and development. While some neoshamanic practitioners profess to enact shamanic ceremonies in order to heal others and the environment, and claim a role in modern communities that they believe is analogous to the shaman’s role in traditional communities, the majority of adherents practice in isolation and the people they work on are paying clients. Another difference between neoshamanism and traditional shamanism is the role of negative emotions such as fear and aggression. Traditional shamanic initiations often involved pain and fear, while neoshamanic narratives tend to emphasize love over negative emotions. And while traditional shamanic healing was often tempered with ideas of malevolence or chaos, neoshamanism has a psychotherapeutic focus that leads to a “happy ending.” Harner, who created the neoshamanic practice of Core Shamanism, goes so far as to argue that those who engage in negative practices are sorcerers, not shamans, although this distinction is not present in traditional societies.” ref

“Although both traditional shamanism and neoshamanism posit the existence of both a spiritual and a material world, they differ in how they view them. In the traditional view, the spirit world is seen as primary reality, while in neoshamanism, materialist explanations “coexist with other theories of the cosmos,” some of which view the material and the “extra-material” world as equally real. Native American scholars have been critical of neoshamanic practitioners who misrepresent their teachings and practices as having been derived from Native American cultures, asserting that it represents an illegitimate form of cultural appropriation and that it is nothing more than a ruse by fraudulent spiritual leaders to disguise or lend legitimacy to fabricated, ignorant, and/or unsafe elements in their ceremonies in order to reap financial benefits. For example, Geary Hobson sees the New Age use of the term “shamanism” (which most neoshamans use to self-describe, rather than “neoshamanism”) as a cultural appropriation of Native American culture by white people who have distanced themselves from their own history. Additionally, Aldred notes that even those neoshamanic practitioners with “good intentions” who claim to support Native American causes are still commercially exploiting Indigenous cultures.” ref

“Members of Native American communities have also objected to neoshamanic workshops, highlighting that shamanism plays an important role in native cultures, and calling those offering such workshops charlatans who are engaged in cultural appropriation. Daniel C. Noel sees Core Shamanism as based on cultural appropriation and a misrepresentation of the various cultures by which Harner claims to have been inspired. Noel believes Harner’s work, in particular, laid the foundations for massive exploitation of Indigenous cultures by “plastic shamans” and other cultural appropriators. Note, however, that Noel does believe in “authentic western shamanism” as an alternative to neoshamanism, a sentiment echoed by Annette Høst who hopes to create a ‘Modern Western Shamanism’ apart from Core Shamanism in order “to practice with deeper authenticity”. Robert J. Wallis asserts that, because the practices of Core Shamanism have been divorced from their original cultures, the mention of traditional shamans by Harner is an attempt to legitimate his techniques while “remov[ing] indigenous people from the equation,” including not requiring that those practicing Core Shamanism to confront the “often harsh realities of modern indigenous life.” ref


“Q Shaman’s attire, the bricolage continues. The much-discussed furry hat with horns has been referred to as a Viking helmet as well as a Native American buffalo headdress. Perhaps the closest approximation is the ghost bison fur hat from the video game Red Dead Redemption. The torso tattooing also recalls another video game character, Kratos from God of War. There’s perhaps a strong element of cosplay or LARPing.” ref

“His own explanation, given to the Arizona Republic in a 2020 interview, is that it’s symbolic. The horns represent the buffalo, as in “you mess with the bull you get the horns,” while the skin is coyote, which he links to Native American mythology about the coyote as trickster. His face paint he also links to Native American traditions, calling it “war paint.” Such symbolism is necessary as he’s fighting on the side of the “angels” in a “spiritual war.” ref

“Fighting alongside Donald Trump and the angels in a spiritual war while sporting white supremacist-associated tattoos connects Q Shaman to evangelical Christian nationalism. At the same time, he identifies himself as a shaman. Now in federal custody, Q Shaman aka Jake Angeli aka Jacob Chansely [image below left] is a well-known figure at protests in Arizona in support of Trump’s false claims of election rigging, against Covid-19 lockdowns, as a counter-protestor at Black Lives Matter, and also at a climate protest.” ref


“Totemism is a relationship of spiritual kinship between a human or group of humans and a particular species of animal or plant. The totem animal or plant is generally held to be an ancestor, guardian, and/or benefactor of the human or humans in question. The totem animal or plant is sometimes held to overlap with the human self in some way. In the pre-Christian worldview and practices of the Norse and other Germanic peoples, we find totemism manifested in two especially prominent and powerful areas: the animal helping spirits, most notably the fylgjur, and the patron animals of shamanic military societies.” ref

The Fylgjur

“Remember the cats, ravens, and other familiar spirits who are often the companions of witches in European folktales? These are fylgjur (pronounced “FILG-yur”) in the plural and fylgja (pronounced “FILG-ya”; Old Norse for “follower”) in the singular. The fylgja is generally an animal spirit, although, every now and then, a human helping spirit is also called a fylgja in Old Norse literature. The well-being of the fylgja is intimately tied to that of its owner – for example, if the fylgja dies, its owner dies, too. Its character and form are closely connected to the character of its owner; a person of noble birth might have a bear fylgja, a savage and violent person, a wolf, or a gluttonous person, a pig. This helping spirit can be seen as the totem of a single person rather than of a group. Many of the gods and goddesses have personal totem animals which may or may not be fylgjur. For example, Odin is particularly associated with wolves, ravens, and horses, Thor with goats, and Freya and Freyr with wild boars. It should come as no surprise, then, that their human devotees have personal totems of their own.” ref

Totemistic Warriors

“One of the most prominent examples of group totemism among the ancient Germanic peoples is that which occurs within the institutional framework of the initiatory military society. Many of these societies had a totem animal, usually the wolf or the bear, who would lend his ferocity and strength to the warriors. Initiation into one of these societies typically involved spending a period of time alone in the wilderness. The candidate’s food was obtained by hunting, gathering, and stealing provisions from nearby towns. In the words of archaeologist Dominique Briquel, “Rapto vivere, to live in the manner of wolves, is the beginning of this initiation. The bond with the savage world is indicated not only on the geographic plane – life beyond the limits of the civilized life of the towns… but also on what we would consider a moral plane: their existence is assured by the law of the jungle.” The candidate lived in imitation of the group’s totem beast.” ref

“As his training progressed, imitation gave way to identification. The warrior achieved a state of spiritual unification with the bear or the wolf, which would frequently erupt in bouts of ecstatic fury. This bond was displayed to others by the warrior’s dressing himself in a ritual costume made from the hide of the animal, an outward reminder of the man’s having gone beyond the confines of his humanity and become a divine predator. It’s hard to imagine a grislier or more frightening thing to encounter on the Viking Age battlefield.” ref

“This transformation was more than merely symbolic, and fell somewhere along the continuum that includes having the animal as one’s fylgja, possession, and, at the farthest extreme, shapeshifting. The sagas contain numerous accounts of elite warriors shapeshifting into a bear or a wolf; Egil’s Saga and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki provide a few examples. The most telling example of this phenomenon, however, comes from The Saga of the Volsungs. As part of the hero Sigmund’s training of his protégé, Sinfjötli, the two don wolf pelts and become wolves, and in this form they rage through the forest killing their enemies. Sigmund and Sinfjötli are archetypal úlfheðnar (“wolf-hides”), Viking Age warriors who had wolves as their totem animals. Those who had bears as their totem animals were none other than the famous berserkers, “bear-shirts.” The names berserkir and úlfheðnar are both references to the ritual bear- or wolf-costumes worn by these warriors.” ref

What It Means To Be Human

“Totemism can be seen as a precursor to the modern idea of Darwinian evolution, and evolution, in turn, can be seen as a scientific restatement of some of totemism’s most fundamental assumptions. In the words of the contemporary philosopher David Abram,

Darwin had rediscovered the deep truth of totemism – the animistic assumption, common to countless indigenous cultures but long banished from polite society, that human beings are closely kindred to other creatures… In the wake of Darwin’s bold insights, we have learned to consider all humans as members of a common family. But the wild, animistic implication of Darwin’s insight has taken much longer to surface in our collective awareness, no doubt because it greatly threatens our cherished belief in human transcendence. Nonetheless, it is an inescapable implication of the evolutionary insight: we humans are corporeally related, by direct and indirect webs of evolutionary affiliation, to every other organism that we encounter.” ref

“In this perspective, while every species is unique in some way, humans aren’t uniquely unique compared to other species. There’s nothing that fundamentally separates mankind from the other animals or from the fleshly world we inhabit alongside them. The totemism of the Norse and other Germanic peoples is an instantiation of how they perceived much of the non-human world to be full of enchantment and spiritual qualities. Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit.” ref

Wolfs, Odin, Berserkers, and Norse Mythology

The god Odin is also frequently mentioned in surviving texts. One-eyed, wolf– and raven-flanked, with a spear in hand, Odin pursues knowledge throughout the nine realms. In an act of self-sacrifice, Odin is described as having hanged himself upside-down for nine days and nights on the cosmological tree Yggdrasil to gain knowledge of the runic alphabet, which he passed on to humanity, and is associated closely with death, wisdom, and poetry.” ref

“Fenrir or Fenrisúlfr is an antagonistic being in Norse mythology under the shape of a monstrous wolf. Fenrir, along with Hel and the World Serpent, is a child of Loki and female jötunn Angrboða. He is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, composed in the 13th century. In both the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Fenrir is the father of the wolves Sköll and Hati Hróðvitnisson, is a son of Loki and is foretold to kill the god Odin during the events of Ragnarök, but will in turn be killed by Odin’s son VíðarrOld Norse Fenrir can roughly be translated as ‘fen-dweller’, with Fenrisúlfr (often translated as “Fenris-wolf”) meaning “Fenrir’s wolf”, possibly indicating the wolf as a hamr (magical shape) of Fenrir.” ref

“Other names for the beast includes Hróðvitnir and Vánagandr, the former roughly meaning ‘fame-wolf’, with vitnir being a noa-name for wolf, possibly cognate to Old Norse: víti, “penalty, punishment”, meaning something akin to criminal, alternatively the opposite based on other vitnir-compounds, such as punisher (“penalty giver”) and law-abiding (“penalty avoider”). Vánagandr on the other hand is a poetic title, meaning something akin to “the river Ván”, though, referencing the being of the river Ván. The word “gandr” can mean a variety of things in Old Norse, but mainly refers to elongated “living” entities and or supernatural beings, such as, among other things, fjord and river.” ref

In the Old Norse written corpus, berserkers (Old Norseberserkir) were those who were said to have fought in a trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the modern English word berserk (meaning “furiously violent or out of control”). Berserkers are attested to in numerous Old Norse sources. It is proposed by some authors that the northern warrior tradition originated from hunting magic. Three main animal cults appeared: the cult of the bear, the wolf, and the wild boar. The Old Norse form of the word was berserk (plural berserkir). It likely means “bear-shirt” (compare the Middle English word ‘serk, meaning ‘shirt’), “someone who wears a coat made out of a bear’s skin“. Thirteenth-century historian Snorri Sturluson interpreted the meaning as “bare-shirt”, that is to say that the warriors went into battle without armor, but that view has largely been abandoned.” ref

“Wolf warriors appear among the legends of the Indo-Europeans, Turks, Mongols, and Native American cultures. The Germanic wolf-warriors have left their trace through shields and standards that were captured by the Romans and displayed in the armilustrium in Rome. Frenzy warriors wearing the skins of wolves called Ulfheðnar (“Wolf-Coats”; singular Ulfheðinn), are mentioned in the Vatnsdæla saga, the Haraldskvæði, and the Grettis saga and are consistently referred to in the sagas as a group of berserkers, always presented as the elite following of the first Norwegian king Harald Fairhair. They were said to wear the pelt of a wolf over their chainmail when they entered battle. Unlike berserkers, direct references to ulfheðnar are scant. Egil’s Saga features a man called Kveldulf (Evening-Wolf) who is said to have transformed into a wolf at night. This Kveldulf is described as a berserker, as opposed to an ulfheðinn. Ulfheðnar are sometimes described as Odin‘s special warriors: “[Odin’s] men went without their mailcoats and were mad as hounds or wolves, bit their shields…they slew men, but neither fire nor iron had an effect upon them. This is called ‘going berserk’.” In addition, the helm-plate press from Torslunda depicts a scene of a one-eyed warrior with bird-horned helm, assumed to be Odin, next to a wolf-headed warrior armed with a spear and sword as distinguishing features, assumed to be a berserker with a wolf pelt: “a wolf-skinned warrior with the apparently one-eyed dancer in the bird-horned helm, which is generally interpreted as showing a scene indicative of a relationship between berserkgang … and the god Odin.” ref

Boys Killed Pet Dogs to Become Warriors in Early Russia around 4,000 years ago

In Russia, dismembered dogs point to an ancient initiation rite.

“At the Bronze Age site of Krasnosamarkskoe in Russia’s Volga region, they unearthed the bones of at least 51 dogs and 7 wolves. All the animals had died during the winter months, judging from the telltale banding pattern on their teeth, and all were subsequently skinned, dismembered, burned, and chopped with an ax. Moreover, the butcher had worked in a precise, standardized way, chopping the dogs’ snouts into three pieces and their skulls into geometrically shaped fragments just an inch or so in size. “It was very strange,” says Anthony. Ancient Rite of Passage: In search of clues, Anthony and Brown combed the mythology, songs, and scriptures in Eurasia’s early and closely related Indo-European languages. Many ancient Indo-European speakers associated dogs with death and the underworld. Reading through prayers composed by tribes in India possibly as early as 1400 BCE or around 3,400 years ago, the researchers found a description of secret initiation rites for boys destined to become roving warriors. At the age of eight, the boys were sent to ritualists, who bathed them, shaved their heads, and gave them animal skins to wear. Eight years later, the initiates underwent a midwinter ceremony in which they ritually died and journeyed to the underworld. After this, the boys left their homes and families, painted their bodies black, donned a dog-skin cloak, and joined a band of warriors.” ref

“The dogs of war: A Bronze Age initiation ritual in the Russian steppes. At the Srubnaya-culture settlement of Krasnosamarskoe in the Russian steppes, dated 1900–1700 BCE or around 3,900 to 3,700 years ago, a ritual occurred in which the participants consumed sacrificed dogs, primarily, and a few wolves, violating normal food practices found at other sites, during the winter.” ref

Warrior Initiations, Midwinter Dog Sacrifices, and the Psychology of War

“Indo-European youthful initiatory war bands have not previously been documented archaeologically. Here we describe an archaeological site at Krasnosamarskoe, Russia, dated 1900–1700 BCE or around 3,900 to 3,700 years ago, that revealed the remains of a repeated series of winter-season sacrifices totaling at least 51 dogs, mostly older male dogs, and 7 wolves that were roasted, chopped and apparently eaten, an inversion of the local custom of avoidance of dogs and wolves as food. Krasnosamarskoe was a Late Bronze Age (LBA) settlement of the Srubnaya culture located in the middle Volga steppes near Samara, Russia. No other Srubnaya settlement in the region has produced so many canid bones, or canids chopped and segmented in this way.” ref

“Researchers used resources from comparative Indo-European linguistics and mythology to suggest that the canid-centered sacrificial rituals at Krasnosamarskoe were linked to the institution of initiatory Indo-European war-bands.  Initiatory warrior bands associated with dogs and wolves can be found in mythological and epic traditions known in Germanic (Männerbünde), Celtic (fian), Italic (luperci or sodales), Greek (*koryosephebes), and in Indo-Iranian, particularly in Vedic sources (vrātyas). One largely unexplored aspect of this institution through which boys were prepared to become warriors was its psychological function. Behavioral studies of modern and ancient warfare permit us to evaluate the psychological efficacy of IE warrior bands as an institution to train young men to fight together while avoiding the psychological traumas that often affect warriors on their return home.” ref

“Archaeologists find mysterious, 4,000-year-old dog sacrifices in Russia and think it may relate to an ancient structure full of charred dog bones which to them points to a ritual related to werewolf myths. 4,000 years ago in the northern steppes of Eurasia, in the shadow of the Ural Mountains, a tiny settlement stood on a natural terrace overlooking the Samara River. The people who lived at Krasnosamarskoe were part of an Indo-European cultural group called Srubnaya, with Bronze Age technology. The Srubnaya lived in settlements year-round, but were not farmers. They kept animals, hunted for wild game, and gathered plants to eat opportunistically. Like many Indo-European peoples, they did not have what modern people would call an organized religion. But as Krasnosamarskoe demonstrates, they certainly had beliefs that were highly spiritual and symbolic. And they engaged in ritualistic practices over many generations. Perhaps the first unusual feature of Krasnosamarskoe is that the people who lived here chose to build on top of an abandoned settlement that was about 1,000 years gone when the Srubnaya moved in. That previous settlement left behind three large kurgans, or burial mounds.” ref

“Excavating one of these kurgans revealed a couple of 5,000-year-old skeletons from the first group, surrounded by 4,000-year-old remains from the Srubnaya. The people of Krasnosamarskoe obviously knew these were ancient grave mounds when they moved in, and chose to keep using them. After exhaustively cataloging dozens of burials in and around the kurgans, Anthony and his colleagues discovered a few patterns. First of all, most of the Srubnaya remains were of children. One showed signs of a degenerative disease, but the others appeared to have died of illnesses that didn’t leave clear marks on their skeletons. None showed any signs of violent death or abuse. It seems likely that people brought their sick children to this place, perhaps seeking ritual medicine. The archaeologists also found pollen from a medicinal plant, Seseli, in one of the structures. Seseli is a mild sedative and muscle relaxant that could have been used to calm the suffering children. Those who did not survive were laid to rest in the ancient cemetery.” ref

“There were also the remains of five adults, two men and two women plus the leg bones of a third person. Perhaps these were two generations of people who ran the settlement, Anthony and Brown suggest. The men both had matching skeletal injuries that showed extreme wear and tear in their lower backs, knees, and ankles. Most likely, these injuries were from doing a lot of physical labor, possibly from a very young age. Though the lower back injury wasn’t particularly unusual, the knee and ankle injuries were very rare and suggested “twisting,” as if the men were engaging in unusual physical activities associated with rituals. The dog sacrifices? The most obvious sign of ritual activity at Krasnosamarskoe was a pit full of bones from about 50 different dogs. Located inside one of the settlement structures, the pit had been filled with carefully butchered, chopped, and cooked dog bones. There were many signs that these dogs had been killed in rituals rather than for food. Perhaps most importantly, the Srubnaya people did not eat dogs as a regular part of their diets. In fact, dogs would have likely been beloved hunting companions. Anthony and Brown write in their paper that rituals are often associated with an inversion or alteration of typical eating practices. The dogs were always killed in winter, then carefully chopped into small pieces, their skulls sliced in the same specific places. Knife marks and charring on the bones suggest they were filleted and cooked. It appears this ritual happened regularly, perhaps annually in winter, for at least two generations.” ref

“To figure out what kind of ritual this might have been, Anthony and Brown looked to what we know of Indo-European culture, whose distinctive symbolic practices were common across south Asia and Europe during the Bronze Age. Dogs are sometimes associated with death in these cultures, and there are representations in various Indo-European cultures of puppies drawing diseases out of people. Perhaps the dogs were sacrificed to save the lives of the sick children whose bodies they found buried next to the kurgans? That could have been the answer, except for the fact that most of the sacrificed dogs were fairly old. This was their first hint that these dogs might have been sacrificed as part of a rite of passage ritual for boys becoming warriors. Write the authors:

“The shock attached to such an act in a culture that did not eat dogs was increased by the intentional selection of older dogs for more than 80% of the victims: familiar, well-treated, human-like companions and therefore perhaps stand-ins for human victims; rather than young dogs, more suitable if starvation explained the behavior. Old, familiar dogs, possibly even their own dogs, might have represented an emotionally significant first death for boys learning to become killers of men.” ref

“Indo-European culture is full of stories about men becoming wolves or dogs—literally or symbolically—in order to become fighters. In ancient Greece, men sometimes donned wolf pelts in warrior rituals. Anthony and Brown conclude that the remains were from warrior transformation rituals. At Krasnosamarskoe, boys killed and ate their dogs in order to symbolically merge with them, taking on their fierceness in battle. This would also explain why many of the dogs in the pit came from far away. Boys must have come with their dogs from settlements throughout the region for this winter ritual of manhood. Looked at from this perspective, the Srubnaya sacrifices were to honor dogs by absorbing their spirits. It would have been a ritual where boys learned to be killers, but also to respect their adversaries and feel their loss. Werewolves among men? Other scholars have suggested that this kind of Indo-European ritual is connected to the werewolf myths that still haunt South Asia and Europe. Over the thousands of years since the events at Krasnosamarskoe, stories of men becoming dogs have evolved. The role of the warrior transformed dramatically after the rise of city-states. Warriors were no longer the familiar men of the village; instead, they were soldiers, agents of a bureaucratic state.” ref

“Perhaps that’s why a coming-of-age ritual among villagers became a terrifying story of people whose violent, wolflike impulses are uncontrollable and dangerous. At the Krasnosamarskoe site, we have a chance to consider ritual life before modern religion, and warrior identity before modern politics. What’s remarkable is how complex the symbolism is already. The people participating in these rituals already had a sense of deep history, which is why they located their ritual center next to 1000-year-old kurgans. Their rituals were elaborate, with layers of meaning. 4,000 years ago in the northern steppes of eastern Europe, men were learning that being a warrior meant sacrifice. Boys had to kill beloved friends, and murder a part of themselves to become the dogs of war. Hidden in the violence of this ancient ritual was a profound message of sorrow and loss that can still strike a chord today.” ref

Dog Domestication, Shamanism, and Emerging “Sacred Companion” Mortuary Rituals between 33,000 to 12,000 years ago?


In mythologyfolklore, and speculative fictionshape-shifting is the ability to physically transform oneself through unnatural means. The idea of shape-shifting is in the oldest forms of totemism and shamanism, as well as the oldest existent literature and epic poems such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the IliadPopular shape-shifting creatures in folklore are werewolves and vampires (mostly of European, Canadian, and Native American/early American origin), ichchadhari naag and ichchadhari naagin (shape-shifting cobras) of India, the huli jing of East Asia (including the Japanese kitsune and Korean kumiho), and the gods, goddesses, and demons and demonesses like succubus and incubus and other numerous mythologies, such as the Norse Loki or the Greek Proteus. Shape-shifting to the form of a gray wolf is specifically known as lycanthropy, and such creatures who undergo such change are called lycanthropes. Therianthropy is the more general term for human-animal shifts, but it is rarely used in that capacity. It was also common for deities to transform mortals into animals and plants.” ref

“Other terms for shapeshifters include metamorph, the Navajo skin-walker, mimic, and therianthrope. The prefix “were-“, coming from the Old English word for “man” (masculine rather than generic), is also used to designate shapeshifters; despite its root, it is used to indicate female shapeshifters as well. While the popular idea of a shapeshifter is of a human being who turns into something else, there are numerous stories about animals that can transform themselves as well. Examples of shape-shifting in classical literature include many examples in Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, Circe‘s transforming of Odysseus‘ men to pigs in Homer‘s The Odyssey, and Apuleius‘s Lucius becoming a donkey in The Golden Ass. Proteus was noted among the gods for his shape-shifting; both Menelaus and Aristaeus seized him to win information from him, and succeeded only because they held on during his various changes. Nereus told Heracles where to find the Apples of the Hesperides for the same reason.” ref

“The Oceanid Metis, the first wife of Zeus and the mother of the goddess Athena, was believed to be able to change her appearance into anything she wanted. In one story, she was so proud, that her husband, Zeus, tricked her into changing into a fly. He then swallowed her because he feared that he and Metis would have a son who would be more powerful than Zeus himself. Metis, however, was already pregnant. She stayed alive inside his head and built armor for her daughter. The banging of her metalworking made Zeus have a headache, so Hephaestus clove his head with an axe. Athena sprang from her father’s head, fully grown, and in battle armor. While the Greek gods could use transformation punitively – such as Medusa, turned to a monster for having sexual intercourse (raped in Ovid’s version) with Poseidon in Athena‘s temple – even more frequently, the tales using it are of amorous adventure. Zeus repeatedly transformed himself to approach mortals as a means of gaining access.” ref

“There is a significant amount of literature about shapeshifters that appear in a variety of Norse tales. In the Lokasenna, Odin and Loki taunt each other with having taken the form of females and nursing offspring to which they had given birth. A 13th-century Edda relates Loki taking the form of a mare to bear Odin’s steed Sleipnir which was the fastest horse ever to exist, and also the form of a she-wolf to bear FenrirSvipdagr angered Odin, who turned him into a dragon. Despite his monstrous appearance, his lover, the goddess Freyja, refused to leave his side. When the warrior Hadding found and slew Svipdagr, Freyja cursed him to be tormented by a tempest and shunned like the plague wherever he went. In the Hyndluljóð, Freyja transformed her protégé Óttar into a boar to conceal him. She also possessed a cloak of falcon feathers that allowed her to transform into a falcon, which Loki borrowed on occasion.” ref

“The Volsunga saga contains many shape-shifting characters. Siggeir‘s mother changed into a wolf to help torture his defeated brothers-in-law with slow and ignominious deaths. When one, Sigmund, survived, he and his nephew and son Sinfjötli killed men wearing wolfskins; when they donned the skins themselves, they were cursed to become werewolves. The dwarf Andvari is described as being able to magically turn into a pike. Alberich, his counterpart in Richard Wagner‘s Der Ring des Nibelungen, using the Tarnhelm, takes on many forms, including a giant serpent and a toad, in a failed attempt to impress or intimidate Loki and Odin/Wotan.” ref

Fafnir was originally a dwarf, a giant or even a human, depending on the exact myth, but in all variants he transformed into a dragon—a symbol of greed—while guarding his ill-gotten hoard. His brother, Ótr, enjoyed spending time as an otter, which led to his accidental slaying by Loki. In Scandinavia, there existed, for example, the famous race of she-werewolves known with a name of Maras, women who took on the appearance of huge half-human and half-wolf monsters that stalked the night in search of human or animal prey. If a woman gives birth at midnight and stretches the membrane which envelopes the child when it is brought forth, between four sticks and creeps through it, naked, she will bear children without pain; but all the boys will be shamans, and all the girls Maras.” ref

“The Nisse is sometimes said to be a shapeshifter. This trait also is attributed to HulderGunnhild, Mother of Kings (Gunnhild konungamóðir) (c. 910  –  c. 980), a quasi-historical figure who appears in the Icelandic Sagas, according to which she was the wife of Eric Bloodaxe, was credited with magic powers – including the power of shape-shifting and turning at will into a bird. She is the central character of the novel Mother of Kings by Poul Anderson, which considerably elaborates on her shape-shifting abilities.” ref

Totemism and Symbolism in the White Supremacist Movements: Images of an Urban Tribal Warrior Culture

“Abstract: The white supremacist movements represent a real threat to the peace of America’s increasingly diverse communities. They have entwined nationalism, religion, racism, and fascist political philosophy into a warrior culture that seeks to justify their racist views. These groups rely heavily on totemism and various symbols to promote loyalty and fidelity among their members and to attract new converts. Often claiming that they are a religion, or that their writings and speeches represent free political expression, these movements pose a dual threat to law enforcement officers both as urban street gangs and, perhaps even more dangerously, as prison gangs within a confinement situation. As a pseudo-warrior culture, members of these movements decorate their writings and graffiti, as well as their bodies, with symbols, totems, and other artifacts that express and enforce their religious, racist, and political beliefs. The article points out that law enforcement and correctional officers can analyze the symbols as indicators of an individual’s level of involvement in these groups. While membership in their groups is not a crime, many white supremacists have become suspects in hate crimes and, when they are imprisoned for their crimes, they become a special security classification threat. Figures, bibliography.” ref


“Modern paganism, also known as contemporary paganism and neopaganism, is a term for a religion or a family of religions which is influenced by the various historical pre-Christian beliefs of pre-modern peoples in Europe and adjacent areas of North Africa and the Near East. Although they share similarities, contemporary pagan movements are diverse and as a result, they do not share a single set of beliefs, practices, or textsScholars of religion often characterize these traditions as new religious movements. Some academics who study the phenomenon treat it as a movement that is divided into different religions while others characterize it as a single religion of which different pagan faiths are denominations. Adherents rely on pre-Christian, folkloric, and ethnographic sources to a variety of degrees; many of them follow a spirituality that they accept as entirely modern, while others claim to adhere to prehistoric beliefs, or else, they attempt to revive indigenous religions as accurately as possible.” ref

Modern pagan movements can be placed on a spectrum. At one end is reconstructionism, which seeks to revive historical pagan religions; examples are Baltic paganismHeathenry (Germanic), Rodnovery (Slavic), and Hellenism (Greek). At the other end are eclectic movements, which blend elements of historical paganism with other religions and philosophies; examples are WiccaDruidry, and the Goddess movementPolytheismanimism, and pantheism are common features of pagan theology. Some modern pagans are also atheist. Described as secular paganism or humanistic paganism, this is an outlook which upholds virtues and principles associated with paganism while maintaining a secular worldview. Secular pagans may recognize goddesses/gods as archetypes or useful metaphors for different cycles of life, or reframe magic as a purely psychological practice. Contemporary paganism has sometimes been associated with the New Age movement, with scholars highlighting their similarities as well as their differences. The academic field of pagan studies began to coalesce in the 1990s, emerging from disparate scholarship in the preceding two decades.” ref

“Contemporary paganism has been defined as “a collection of modern religious, spiritual, and magical traditions that are self-consciously inspired by the pre-Judaic, pre-Christian, and pre-Islamic belief systems of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East.” Thus it has been said that although it is “a highly diverse phenomenon”, “an identifiable common element” nevertheless runs through the pagan movement. Discussing the relationship between the different pagan religions, religious studies scholars Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson wrote that they were “like siblings who have taken different paths in life but still retain many visible similarities”. But there has been much “cross-fertilization” between these different faiths: many groups have influenced, and been influenced by, other pagan religions, making clear-cut distinctions among them more difficult for scholars to make. The various pagan religions have been academically classified as new religious movements, with the anthropologist Kathryn Rountree describing paganism as a whole as a “new religious phenomenon”. A number of academics, particularly in North America, consider modern paganism a form of nature religion.” ref

“Some practitioners completely eschew the use of the term pagan, preferring to use more specific names for their religion, such as “Heathen” or “Wiccan”. This is because the term pagan originates in Christian terminology, which individuals who object to the term wish to avoid. Some favor the term “ethnic religion”; the World Pagan Congress, founded in 1998, soon renamed itself the European Congress of Ethnic Religions (ECER), enjoying that term’s association with the Greek ethnos and the academic field of ethnology. Within linguistically Slavic areas of Europe, the term “Native Faith” is often favored as a synonym for paganism, rendered as Ridnovirstvo in Ukrainian, Rodnoverie in Russian, and Rodzimowierstwo in Polish. Alternately, many practitioners in these regions view “Native Faith” as a category within modern paganism that does not encompass all pagan religions. Other terms some pagans favor include “traditional religion”, “indigenous religion”, “nativist religion”, and “reconstructionism.” ref

Various pagans who are active in pagan studies, such as Michael York and Prudence Jones, have argued that, due to the similarities of their worldviews, the modern pagan movement can be treated as part of the same global phenomenon as pre-Christian Ancient religions, living Indigenous religions, and world religions like HinduismShinto, and Afro-American religions. For some pagan groups, ethnicity is central to their religion, and some restrict membership to a single ethnic group. Some critics have described this approach as a form of racism. Other pagan groups allow people of any ethnicity, on the view that the gods and goddesses of a particular region can call anyone to their form of worship. Some such groups feel a particular affinity for the pre-Christian belief systems of a particular region with which they have no ethnic link because they see themselves as reincarnations of people from that society. There is greater focus on ethnicity within the pagan movements in continental Europe than within the pagan movements in North America and the British Isles. Such ethnic paganisms have variously been seen as responses to concerns about foreign ideologies, globalizationcosmopolitanism, and anxieties about cultural erosion.” ref

“Although they acknowledged that it was “a highly simplified model”, Aitamurto and Simpson wrote that there was “some truth” to the claim that leftist-oriented forms of paganism were prevalent in North America and the British Isles while rightist-oriented forms of paganism were prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. They noted that in these latter regions, pagan groups placed an emphasis on “the centrality of the nation, the ethnic group, or the tribe”. Rountree wrote that it was wrong to assume that “expressions of Paganism can be categorized straight-forwardly according to region”, but acknowledged that some regional trends were visible, such as the impact of Catholicism on paganism in Southern Europe.” ref

“Positive identification with paganism became more common in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it tied in with criticism of Christianity and organized religion, rooted in the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment and Romanticism. The approach to paganism varied during this period; Friedrich Schiller‘s 1788 poem “Die Götter Griechenlandes” presents ancient Greek religion as a powerful alternative to Christianity, whereas others took interest in paganism through the concept of the noble savage, often associated with Jean-Jacques RousseauSome pagans distinguish their beliefs and practices as a form of religious naturalism or naturalist philosophy, including those who identify as humanistic or atheopagans. Many such pagans aim for an explicitly ecocentric practice, which may overlap with scientific pantheism.” ref

“Based upon her work in the United States, Adler found that the pagan movement was “very diverse” in its class and ethnic background. She went on to remark that she had encountered pagans in jobs that ranged from “fireman to PhD chemist” but that the one thing that she thought made them into an “elite” was as avid readers, something that she found to be very common within the pagan community despite the fact that avid readers constituted less than 20% of the general population of the United States at the time. Magliocco came to a somewhat different conclusion based upon her ethnographic research of pagans in California, remarking that the majority were “white, middle-class, well-educated urbanites” but that they were united in finding “artistic inspiration” within “folk and indigenous spiritual traditions.” ref

“Generally, modern pagan currents in Western countries do not advocate nationalist or far-right ideologies. Instead, they advocate individual self-improvement and liberal values of personal freedomgender equality, and environmental protection. The nationalist sentiments expressed by modern pagans in Western countries are marginal, so the ideas of cosmopolitanism are prevalent. Faith and dogmas give way to active practices, including psychotechnics, which was extensively influenced by neo-Hinduism. In contrast, many areas of post-Soviet modern paganism, including Russian, are occupied not so much with individual self-improvement as they are occupied with social problems, and they also create nationalist ideologies based on the “invented past”. Modern paganism is one of the directions in the development of romantic nationalism with its components such as the idealization of a particular people’s historical or mythological past, dissatisfaction with modernity, and the ease of transition to a radical stage with the postulation of national superiority.” ref

“The “volksgeist“, which is given great attention within the framework of ethnic nationalism, is often identified with religion, so there is a desire to create or revive one’s religion or nationalize one of the world’s religions. Heinrich Heine linked nationalism with paganism. The philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, who shared Heine’s opinion, noted the regularity of the tendency of the transition of German antisemitism into anti-Christianity. At the beginning of the 20th century, the spiritual crisis in Russia led to a fascination with paganism, at first ancient and then Slavic “native gods”, which was especially true for the symbolists. The publicist Daniil Pasmanik (1923) wrote that consistent antisemitism should reject Judaism and Christianity. He noted that this trend had already led Germany to worship Odin and, in the future, in his opinion, would inevitably lead Russia to worship Perun.” ref

“German occultism and modern paganism arose in the early 20th century, and they became influential through teachings such as Ariosophy, gaining adherents within the far-right Völkisch movement, which eventually culminated in Nazism. The development of such ideas after World War II gave rise to Wotanism, a white nationalist modern pagan movement at the end of the 20th century. In Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Völkisch movement, characterized by a racist antisemitic ideology of radical ethnic nationalism of the dominant population, spread. The central elements of the worldview were racism and elitism. The movement included a religious modern pagan component. The ideology developed out of German nationalist romanticism. Nazism is considered one of the movements within the völkisch or as strongly influenced by the völkisch. Völkisch consisted of many religiopolitical groups whose leaders and followers were closely associated with each other and the developing Nazi Party. This ideology significantly impacted various aspects of German culture at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.” ref

“Liberalism and rationalism, which demystified the time-honored order that accepted authorities and prejudices, also caused an adverse reaction from supporters of the völkisch movement. A negative attitude towards modernity characterizes the writings of German nationalist “prophets” such as Paul Delagardie, Julius Lang, and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. The movement combined a sentimental patriotic interest in German folklore and local history with anti-urban back-to-the-earth populism. To overcome what they considered the ailment of scientific and rationalistic modernity, the authors of völkisch found a spiritual solution in the essence of the “people”, perceived as genuine, intuitive, even “primitive”, in the sense of the location of the “people” on the level with the original (primordial) cosmic order. Völkisch thinkers tended to idealize the myth of the “original nation”, which they believed could still be found in rural Germany, a form of “primitive democracy freely subject to its natural elite”. The idea of the “people” (GermanVolk) was subsequently transformed into the idea of “racial essence”, and Völkisch thinkers understood this term as a life-giving and quasi-eternal essence and not as a sociological category, in the same way as they considered “Nature.” ref

“Modern pagan ideas were present in Ariosophy, an esoteric teaching created by the Austrian occultists Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels in Austria between 1890 and 1930. The term “ariosophy” can also be used generically to describe the “Aryan”/esoteric teachings of the völkisch subset. The doctrine of Ariosophy was based on pseudoscientific ideas about “Aryan” purity and the mystical unity of spirit and body. It was influenced by the German nationalist völkisch movement, the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky, the Austrian pan-German movement, and social Darwinism and its racist conclusions. Ariosophy influenced the ideology of Nazism. The works of the Ariosophists describe the prehistoric “Aryan” golden age when the wise keepers of knowledge learned and taught occult racial teachings and ruled over a “racially pure” society. It is alleged that there is an evil conspiracy of anti-German forces, including all “non-Aryan” races, Jews, and the Christian church, seeking to destroy the ideal “Aryan” German world by freeing the “non-Aryan” mob to establish a false equality of the illegitimate (representatives of “non-Aryan” races). History, including wars, economic crises, political uncertainty, and the weakening of the power of the German principle, is seen as the result of racial mixing.” ref

“The doctrine had followers in Austria and Germany. Occultism in the doctrines of the Ariosophists was of great importance as a sacral justification for an extreme political position and a fundamental rejection of reality, including socio-economic progress. The Ariosophists sought to predict and justify the “coming era” of the German world order. To counter the modern world, “corrupted” by racial mixing, the Ariosophists created many small circles and secret religious societies to revive the “lost” esoteric knowledge and racial virtues of the ancient Germans to create a new pan-German empire. To recreate the religion of the ancient Germans, List used the Scandinavian epic and the work of contemporary theosophists, in particular Max Ferdinand Sebaldt von Werth, who described the eugenic practices of the “Aryans”, as well as The Secret Doctrine by Helena Blavatsky and The Lost Lemuria by William Scott-Elliot. Influenced by these works, List used the terms “Ario-Germans” and “race” instead of “Germans” and “people”, perhaps to emphasize the overlap with the fifth root race in Blavatsky’s scheme. List and Lanz developed ideas about the struggle between the “Aryan race of masters” and the “race of slaves” and about the ancestral home of the “Aryans” on the sunken polar island of Arctogea.” ref

“In Nazi Germany, Germanic pagan folklore, as a source of primordial moral standards, was revered higher than Christianity associated with Judaism. Many Nazis saw anti-Christianity as a deeper form of antisemitism. Heinrich Himmler spoke of the need to create a “neo-Germanic religion” capable of replacing Christianity. The Old Testament was especially repugnant to the Nazis. Adolf Hitler called it “Satan’s Bible”. Rosenberg demanded that it be banned as a “vehicle of Jewish influence” and replaced by the Nordic sagas. The Nazi ideology combined the veneration of the “pagan heritage of the ancestors” with puritanical, Christian sexual morality, which the “Nordic” Apollo was supposed to personify. White supremacist ideologies and neo-Nazism, including ideas of racism, antisemitism, and anti-LGBTQ, have infiltrated or assimilated many Germanic modern pagan movements such as Odinism and some Ásatrú groups, including the Asatru Folk Assembly. These groups believe that the Germanic beliefs they hold constitute the true Caucasoid ethnic religion.” ref

“The issue of race is a major source of contention among modern pagans, especially in the United States. In the modern pagan community, one view is that race is entirely a matter of biological heredity, while the opposite position is that race is a social construct rooted in cultural heritage. In US modern pagan discourse, these views are described as völkische and universalist positions, respectively. The two factions, which Jeffrey Kaplan has called the “racist” and “non-racist” camps, often clash, with Kaplan claiming that there is a “virtual civil war” between them within the American modern pagan community. The division into universalists and völkisch also spread to other countries, but had less impact on the more ethnically homogeneous Iceland. A 2015 survey showed that more modern pagans adhere to universalist ideas than völkisch.” ref

“Going beyond this binary classification, religious scholar Mattias Gardell divides modern paganism in the United States into three factions according to their racial stance:

  • the “anti-racist” faction, which denounces any connection between religion and racial identity
  • the “radical-racist” faction, which believes that members of other racial groups should not follow their religion because racial identity is the natural religion of the “Aryan race”
  • an “ethnic” faction seeking to forge a middle path by recognizing their religion’s roots in Northern Europe and its connection to people of Northern European origin” ref

“Religious scholar Stephanie von Schnurbein accepted Gardell’s tripartite division, and referred to these groups as the “aracist”, “racial-religious”, and “ethnic” factions, respectively. Supporters of the universalist and anti-racist approach believe that the deities of Germanic Europe can call anyone to worship them, regardless of ethnic origin. This group rejects the völkisch focus on race, believing that even unintentionally, such an approach can lead to racist attitudes towards people of non-Northern European origin. Practicing universalists such as Stephan Grundy emphasize that ancient northern Europeans married and had children with members of other ethnic groups, and in Norse mythology, the Æsir did the same with the Vanirjötnar, and humans, so these modern pagans criticize racist views. Universalists favorably accept practitioners of modern paganism who are not of Northern European origin; for example, The Troth, based in the United States, has Jewish and African American members, and many of its white members have spouses who belong to different racial groups. While some pagans continue to believe that Germanic paganism is an innate religion, universalists have sometimes argued that this paganism is an innate religion for the lands of Northern Europe and not for a particular race. Universalists often complain that some journalists portray modern paganism as an inherently racist movement, so they use the Internet to highlight their opposition to far-right politics.” ref

“In Heathenry, the terms “völkisch”, “neo-völkisch”, or the Anglicised “folkish” are used both as endonyms and exonyms for groups who believe that the religion is closely related to the claimed biological race. Völkisch practitioners consider paganism to be an indigenous religion of a biologically distinct race that is conceptualized as “White“, “Nordic“, “Aryan”, “Northern European”, or “English”. Völkisch modern pagans generally regard these classifications as self-evident, despite the academic consensus that race is a cultural construct. Völkisch groups often use ethnonationalist language and claim that only members of these racial groups are entitled to practice a given religion, taking the pseudoscientific view that “gods and goddesses are encoded in the DNA” of the members of a race. Some practitioners explain the idea of linking their race and religion by saying that religion is inextricably linked to the collective unconscious of that race. The American modern pagan Stephen McNallen developed these ideas into a concept he called “metagenetics”. McNallen and many other members of the modern pagan “ethnic” faction explicitly state that they are not racist, although Gardell has noted that their views may be considered racist under specific definitions of the term. Gardell considered many “ethnic” modern pagans to be ethnic nationalists.” ref

“Many völkisch practitioners disapprove of multiculturalism and racial mixing in modern Europe, advocating racial separatism. In online media, modern pagan völkische often express a belief in the threat of racial miscegenation, which they blame on the social and political establishment, sometimes claiming that their ideas of racial exclusivity are the result of the threat that other ethnic groups pose to “white” people. While these groups generally claim to be aiming to revive Germanic paganism, their race-centric views have their origins in 19th-century culture, not antiquity. This group’s discourse contains the concepts of “ancestors” and “homeland”, which are understood very vaguely. Researcher Ethan Doyle White characterizes the position of the Odinic Rite and the Odin Brotherhood as “far right.” ref

“Ethnocentric modern pagans are highly critical of their universalist counterparts, often claiming that the latter have been misled by New Age literature and political correctness. Members of the universalist and ethnocentric factions criticize those who adopt an “ethnic” stance. The former view “ethnic” modern paganism as a cover for racism, while the latter view its adherents as race traitors for their refusal to fully accept the superiority of the “white race”. Some modern pagans of the völkisch movement are white supremacists and outright racists representing a “radical racist” faction that uses the names OdinismWotanism, and Wodenism. According to Kaplan, these adepts occupy the “most remote corners” of modern paganism. The lines between this form of modern paganism and Nazism are “extremely thin” because its adherents praise Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, claim that the “white race” is threatened with extinction by the efforts of a Jewish world conspiracy, and dismiss Christianity as a work of the Jews.” ref

“Many in the inner circle of the terrorist organization The Order, a white supremacist militia operating in the US in the 1980s, called themselves Odinists. Various racist modern pagans supported the Fourteen Words slogan, which was developed by The Order member David Lane. Some racist organizations, such as the Order of Nine Angles and the Black Order, combine elements of modern paganism with Satanism, while other racist modern pagans, such as Wotanist Ron McVan, reject the syncretism of the two religions. American neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, the founder of the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance, whose ideas stimulated neo-Nazi terrorism, also created the Cosmotheistic Community Church in 1978. He considered the teaching he created within the framework of this church to be pantheism and leaned towards the “Panaryan” Nordic cults. These cults emphasized the idea of a unique closeness of “white people” with nature and the natural “spiritual essence”, which was influenced by the ideas of Savitri Devi. According to the doctrine, each race has its predestined role: “whites” are predisposed to strive for God, blacks strive for laziness, and Jews strive for corruption.” ref

“In 1985, Pierce purchased a large piece of land at Mill Point in West Virginia, fenced it in with barbed wire, and began selling books on Western culture and Western “pagan traditions” there. He aimed to save the “white race” away from the federal government. In part, he also drew on British Israelism and the racist religion of Identity Christianity. The “National Alliance” met regularly to discuss the ideas of “cosmotheism”. Pierce dismissed Christianity as “one of the chief mental illnesses of our people” through which “Jewish influence” spreads. Pierce saw the proposed government after the “racial revolution” as religious, which would be “more like a holy order.” He considered the future religion of the “white race” the “Aryan religion” – the “cosmotheism” that he created. Sociologist Marlène Laruelle notes the activation of “Aryan” modern paganism in the West and Russia. For example, social movements are thus developing that appeal to the Celtic past and call for a return to the “druidic religions” of pre-Christian Europe. For the most part, the French and German Nouvelle Droite share the common idea of a pan-European unity based on an “Aryan” identity and the desire to part with Christianity, the period of domination of which is seen as two thousand years of “wandering in darkness.” ref

Slavic neopaganism (Rodnoverie) has a close connection with Nazism, reproducing its main ideas: the “Aryan” idea, including the idea of the northern ancestral home (in Rodnoverie, it is in the Russian North, the Northern Urals, or beyond the Arctic Circle); the connection of their people with the “Aryans” or complete identification with them (in Rodnovery, “Slavic-Aryans”); the antiquity of one’s people and its racial or cultural superiority over others; their people (or the ancient “Aryans” identified with them) are regarded as cultural tregers, distributors of high culture, founders of great civilizations of antiquity, (in Rodnoverie, Slavic or “Slavic-Aryan” “Vedic” technological pracivilization, “taught” all other peoples), and creators of ancient writing (in Rodnoverie, Slavic runes); “Aryan” proto-language (in Rodnoverie, “Slavic-Aryan” or Old Slavic), from which all or many other languages of the world originated; reliance on esotericism; orientation to the faith of ancestors (hence paganism); anti-Christianity (the idea that Christians seek to enslave the people) and antisemitism (Jews as “racial enemies”); “Aryan” socialism (an integral part of the ideology of Nazism) as the most natural for its people (in Rodnoverie, the “original tribal system” of the Slavs, which is thought of as a kind of “Aryan” socialism); symbols and gestures close to or derived from Nazism, etc.” ref

“One of the main starting points for the formation of Slavic neopaganism was the search for a rationale for the national idea. Hence follows an increased interest in the origins of national self-consciousness and the national type of religiosity. In the post-Soviet period, in the conditions of the loss of the great “empire” (USSR), land, and influence and in search of internal and external enemies, neopaganism became widespread among nationalist ideologues, just like in Germany in the 1930s. In Rodnoverie, the unity of the Russian people was undergoing a new re-mythologization with an appeal for support to the ideas of the “golden age“, the primordial untainted tradition, and the native land. Historian Dmitry Shlapentokh wrote that, as in Europe, neopaganism in Russia pushes some of its adherents to antisemitism. This antisemitism is closely related to negative attitudes towards Asians, and this emphasis on racial factors can lead neopagans to neo-Nazism. The tendency of neopagans to antisemitism is a logical development of the ideas of neopaganism and imitation of the Nazis and is also a consequence of some specific conditions of modern Russian politics.” ref

“Unlike previous regimes, the current Russian political regime and the ideology of the middle class combine support for Orthodoxy with philosemitism and a positive attitude towards Muslims. These features of the regime contributed to the formation of specific views of neo-Nazi neopagans, which are represented to a large extent among the socially unprotected and marginalized Russian youth. In their opinion, power in Russia was usurped by a cabal of conspirators, including hierarchs of the Orthodox Church, Jews, and Muslims. Contrary to external differences, these forces are believed to have united in their desire to maintain power over the Russian “Aryans”. Some associations of neopaganism, in particular Slavic, are evaluated by researchers as extremist, radical nationalists. In Russia, individual neopagan organizations and essays were included in the list of extremist organizations of the Ministry of Justice of Russia and the Federal List of Extremist Materials, respectively.” ref

“The historian and ethnologist Victor Schnirelmann considers Russian neopaganism as a direction of Russian nationalism that denies Russian Orthodoxy as an enduring national value and distinguishes two cardinal tasks that Russian neopaganism sets for itself: the salvation of Russian national culture from the leveling influence of modernization and the protection of the natural environment from the impact of modern civilization. According to Schnirelmann, “Russian neopaganism is a radical variety of conservative ideology, which is distinguished by frank anti-intellectualism and populism.” Religious scholar Alexei Gaidukov considers it wrong to reduce the diversity of native faith groups to nationalism only – he views the ecological direction of Rodnovery as no less significant. Historian and religious scholar Roman Shizhensky believes Rodnovery poses little danger and law enforcement agencies should deal with radical groups.” ref

“The Austrian occultist Guido von List, who created the doctrine of Ariosophy, argued that an ancient developed “Ario-Germanic” culture reached its dawn several millennia before Roman colonization and Christianity. According to him, before Charlemagne‘s forced introduction of Christianity, Wotanism was practiced in what is now the Danubian territory of Germany. List considered Charlemagne the killer of the Saxons in memory of the bloody baptism of the pagans of Northern Germany by him. List considered the entire Christian period as an era of cultural decline, oblivion of the true faith, and unnatural racial mixing, when the “Aryan” ruling caste of priest-kings was forced to hide, secretly saving their sacred knowledge, which now became available to List as a full-fledged aristocratic descendant of this caste.” ref

“In Slavic neopaganism, there is the idea of an ancient multi-thousand-year-old and developed civilization of the “Slavs-Aryans”, while the entire Christian period seems to be an era of regression and decline, the enslavement of the “Aryans” by foreign missionaries who imposed on them a “slave” (Christian) ideology. Rodnovers often regard these missionaries as Jews, “Judeo-Masons“, or their accomplices. At the same time, the Slavic “Aryan” volkhvs or priests had to hide in secret places, preserving the knowledge that was now passed onto their direct descendants, Rodnovers. The idea of the Jewish-Khazar origin of Prince Vladimir the Great is popular, explaining why he introduced Christianity, an instrument for the enslavement of the “Aryans” by Jews, and staged the genocide of the pagan Slavs. Roman Shizhensky singles out the neopagan myth about Vladimir and characterizes it as one of the most “odious” neopagan historical myths and one of the leading Russian neopagan myths in terms of worldview significance.” ref

“The author of this myth is Valery Yemelyanov, one of the founders of Russian neopaganism, who expounded it in his book Dezionization (1970s). Shizhensky notes that the neopagan myth about Vladimir contradicts scientific work on the issue and the totality of historical sources. Concerning the trend of convergence of neopagan associations from different countries, Andrey Beskov notes that neopagan nationalism is not an obstacle to “neopagan internationalism“, and anti-globalism, one of the manifestations of which was the popularity of ethnic religions, itself acquires a global character.” ref


Black Sun (symbol)

“The Black Sun (German: Schwarze Sonne) is a type of sun wheel (German: Sonnenrad) symbol originating in Nazi Germany and later employed by neo-Nazis and other far-right individuals and groups. The symbol’s design consists of twelve radial sig runes, similar to the symbols employed by the SS in their logo. It first appeared in Nazi Germany as a design element in a castle at Wewelsburg remodeled and expanded by the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, which he intended to be a center for the SS. It is unknown whether the design had a name or held any particular significance among the SS. Its association with the occult originates with a 1991 German novel, Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo (The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo), by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud. The book links the Wewelsburg mosaic with the neo-Nazi concept of the “Black Sun”, invented by former SS officer Wilhelm Landig as a substitute for the Nazi swastika. The Anti-Defamation League notes that though the symbol is popular with white supremacists, imagery resembling the black sun features in many cultures, and that such imagery should always be analyzed in the context in which it appears, as it may not necessarily be intended to serve as a symbol of white supremacy or racism.” ref

“The symbol that later became known as the “black sun” originated in the early 20th century, with the first depiction being the Wewelsburg mosaic. In 1933, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, acquired Wewelsburg, a castle near Paderborn in the German region of Westphalia. Himmler intended to make the building into a center for the SS, and between 1936 and 1942, Himmler ordered the building expanded and rebuilt for ceremonial purposes. Himmler’s remodeling included the Wewelsburg mosaic that was composed of twelve dark-green radially overlaid sig runes, such as those employed in the logo of the SS, on the white marble floor of the structure’s north tower known as the “General’s Hall” (Obergruppenführersaal). The intended significance of the image remains unknown. Some scholars have suggested that the artist may have found inspiration from motifs found on decorative Merovingian period discs (Zierscheiben) from Central Europe, which have been suggested to represent the sun, or its passing through the year.” ref

“In the late 20th century, the Black Sun symbol became widely used by neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, the far-right, and white nationalists. The symbol often appears on extremist flags, t-shirts, posters, websites, and in extremist publications associated with such groups. Modern far-right groups often refer to the symbol as the sun wheel or Sonnenrad. The name “Black Sun” came into wider use after the publication of a 1991 occult thriller novel, Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo (The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo), by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud. The book links the Wewelsburg mosaic with the neo-Nazi concept of the “Black Sun”, invented by former SS officer Wilhelm Landig as a substitute for the Nazi swastika and a symbol for a mystic energy source that was supposed to renew the Aryan raceA number of far-right groups and individuals have utilized the symbol in their propaganda, including the Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant and Australian neo-Nazi group Antipodean Resistance, and the symbol was displayed by members of several extremist groups involved in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.” ref

“Along with other symbols from the Nazi era such as the Wolfsangel, the Sig Armanen rune, and the Totenkopf, the black sun is employed by some neo-Nazi adherents of Satanism. Scholar Chris Mathews writes:

The Black Sun motif is even less ambiguous. Though based on medieval German symbols, the Wewelsburg mosaic is a unique design commissioned specifically for Himmler, and its primary contemporary association is Nazi occultism, for which Nazi Satanic groups and esoteric neo-Nazis adopt it.” ref

Black Sun (symbol) ALTERNATE NAMES: Sunwheel, Black Sun

“The “sonnenrad” or “sunwheel” is one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized “Aryan/Norse” heritage. The “sonnenrad” appears in the traditional symbology of many countries and cultures, including Old Norse and Celtic cultures. It has countless variations; the swastika and similar rounded variants are actually “sonnenrad” forms, as are certain versions of the Celtic Cross. In Nazi Germany, the Nazi Party, the SA, and the SS all used “sonnenrad” symbology at times, which has led neo-Nazis and other modern white supremacists to adopt such images. One “sonnenrad” version, in particular, is popular among white supremacists: two concentric circles with crooked rays emanating from the inner circle to the outer circle. Often white supremacists will put another hate symbol such as a swastika in the center of the inner circle. Because “sonnenrad” imagery is used by many cultures around the world, one should not assume that most “sonnenrad-like” images necessarily denote racism or white supremacy; rather, they should be analyzed carefully in the context in which they appear.” ref

“In May 2022, a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York occurred. The shooter, a white supremacist, wore the Black Sun symbol on his body armor and placed it on the front of his digital manifesto. Pro-Kremlin Telegram channels and influencers subsequently spread misinformation linking the shooter with the Azov Regiment and the Ukrainian nation more broadly. However, the shooter makes no reference to the Azov Regiment in his manifesto, and Ukraine receives only a single mention in a section plagiarized from an earlier mass shooter’s manifesto that predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On 1 September 2022, Fernando André Sabag Montiel, who has a Black Sun tattoo on his arm, attempted to assassinate Argentinian vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In July 2023, a member of the Ron DeSantis U.S. presidential campaign produced and shared a video on Twitter containing the Black Sun. The video was quickly retracted after garnering media attention and backlash, and the aide was fired.” ref

Azov Regiment and the Black Sun (symbol)

The Ukrainian military unit Azov Regiment, founded in 2014, used the symbol as part of its logo. Political scientist Ivan Gomza wrote in Krytyka that the illiberal connotations of the symbol in that logo are lost on most people in Ukraine, and the logo, rather has an association with “a successful fighting unit that protects Ukraine.” Wotan Jugend, a neo-Nazi group based in Kyiv and connected to the broader Azov political movement, has also used the Black Sun symbol to promote its group. During the 2022 Russian invasion of UkraineNATO tweeted a photo of a female Ukrainian soldier for International Women’s Day. The soldier wore a symbol on her uniform that “appears to be the black sun symbol”. After receiving complaints from social media users, NATO removed the tweet and stated “The post was removed when we realized it contained a symbol that we could not verify as official.” ref


Order of the Black Sun (OBS) is a small neo-Nazi network primarily based in the state of Florida. The group distributes propaganda and holds in-person demonstrations to spread their white supremacist ideology. OBS was formed in early 2023 by long-time affiliates of Florida’s overlapping white supremacist network.” ref

Sonnenrad, symbol used in shooter’s manifesto, explained

Just before the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York, the suspected terrorist posted a manifesto online. The top is adorned with a “sonnenrad,” or “black sun,” an old Nordic symbol. The sonnenrad is composed of 12 repeated runes – letters from ancient Germanic languages – arranged in a wheel. Each rune represents a sound, like in the Latin alphabet, but they also have a meaning when they stand alone. The sonnenrad is a well-known Nazi and neo-Nazi symbol that has been seen in other white supremacist attacks.” ref

“For the Nazis, the rune in the design stood for “victory.” What is less discussed but nonetheless important is that the symbol has a spiritual component. It is connected to a contemporary religious movement, folkish Heathenry – a form of contemporary Paganism. Today, “Heathen” is an umbrella term used by people who practice various forms of spirituality inspired by Nordic cultures. Folkish Heathenry, specifically, was resurrected from Nazi spirituality. In the 1960s, a group in Florida began spreading spiritual ideas inspired by Nazi writings, and they gained adherents throughout the United States. In turn, they also influenced some other heathen groups to embrace white identity politics. Understanding the sonnenrad’s spiritual roots can provide a better grasp of the implications of its use and its importance to members of the far right.” ref

Many kinds of paganism

“Heathens are a minority form of contemporary Paganism, which is itself a minority religion. Adherents not only live throughout the United States but are active in Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. All forms of contemporary Paganism are shaped by pre-Christian spiritual practices. Contemporary Pagans rely on archaeological, historical, and mythological accounts, mixed with modern occult practices, to create a religion that speaks to their lives in the 21st century but is inspired by past practices. As a sociologist of religion who has studied contemporary Paganism for over 30 years, I know that all forms of Paganism share a number of similarities. Contemporary Pagans venerate gods and goddesses, view the Earth as sacred, celebrate the changing seasons in a set of yearly holidays, and participate in magical practices.” ref

“Most members of these religions are white. In a survey I conducted with religion scholar James Lewis, which I discuss in my book “Solitary Pagans,” we found that the majority are socially liberal and open to variety in all aspects of life, including ethnic and racial differences. People who identify as “Heathens” differentiate themselves in several ways from other Pagans. They celebrate the ancient Norse gods once worshiped in Scandinavia, Iceland, and Germany. When discussing ethical issues or exploring how best to know and celebrate the gods, they rely on medieval Icelandic texts about them: most importantly, two called the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda. Runes, normally carved or drawn on stones, are used in their rituals and divination – that is, foretelling the future.” ref

“Within Heathenism, there is a growing divide between those who are more liberal or middle of the road politically and folkish Heathens who are politically right-wing. Inclusive Heathens believe all who “hear the Norse gods’ call” should be welcomed into the religion, regardless of race or ethnic background. Folkish Heathens, on the other hand, state that the religion should be restricted to those of “pure” northern European heritage; in other words, a religion for white people only. They view the religion itself as part of their white identity and have incorporated Nazi writings into their spirituality. Folkish Heathens joined in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and since then, more inclusive Heathens have been declaring that folkish Heathens do not represent their religion.” ref

Nazi occultism

“Adolf Hitler was not particularly religious, but some of his lieutenants embraced a form of occult worship that focused on the ancient Norse gods. They viewed it as a religion of the “volk” or folk – the common man and woman who the Nazi Party romanticized as the heart of the nation. Since extreme antisemitism was at the heart of Nazi ideology, the fact that Jesus was Jewish and Christianity grew out of Judaism troubled some Nazis. Therefore, they viewed Norse traditions as an appealing alternative and imagined it as the “true” faith, the religion of the original occupants of Northern Europe. Their religion emphasized healthy outdoor living and a connection of the folk to “their” land. The people and the nation were tied to the land in a mystical manner.” ref

“Propaganda suggested that people considered “outsiders” or “others” were like weeds: They needed to be eliminated both for the health of the nation and for the health of the folk, who were imagined as the “true” people of the land. The runes, the worship of Norse gods – particularly of Odin, who was viewed as a warrior god – and the sonnenrad were all part of this spiritual component that infused elements of the Nazi agenda. The sonnenrad, for example, was embedded on the floor of a palace for SS officers.” ref

‘Folk’ views today

“Similarly, folkish Heathens in the U.S. have come to see the land as “belonging” to white people, even though everyone except Indigenous peoples immigrated or were brought here. As with the Nazis, the land is viewed as connected spiritually to a “people.” In his manifesto, the suspected shooter in Buffalo contends that he is not religious, although he ends with the words “I will see you in Valhalla,” the Norse afterlife for warriors. This was the same ending that the terrorist who had killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 used in his manifesto. The 2022 manifesto relied on this earlier one as a model, and both illustrate the racist conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement.” ref

“The use of Heathen imagery in both of these manifestos is not, however, simply an act of imitation. Folkish Heathens are part of the far right and their imagery, that of a “pure” white world, is appealing to other members of the far right. Folkish Heathens interact with both other Pagans and others on the far right online and in person. Heathen religious rituals and imagery are becoming integrated into far-right groups. Images like the black sun do not just emerge from the ruins of Nazi Germany, but directly from those who are practicing a contemporary religion. The participation of folkish Heathens is an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the far right.The Conversationref

Other uses of the Black Sun (symbol)

“According to Freedom House initiative Reporting Radicalism, the Black Sun is also used by some modern pagan and satanist groups as an esoteric symbol. They further note that it is sometimes used as a fashionable, aesthetic symbol, or misunderstood as having origins in ancient Scandinavian or Slavic cultures. The Anti-Defamation League notes that though the symbol is popular with white supremacists, imagery resembling the black sun features in many cultures, and should be analyzed in the context it appears, and not necessarily interpreted as a sign of white supremacy or racism.ref

Norse code: are white supremacists reading too much into The Northman? 

“Robert Eggers’ Viking blockbuster has already been hailed by white nationalists keen to exploit European mythology. Can Hollywood tell historical tales without unwittingly appealing to toxic ideologies? At the London premiere of The Northman in early April, the director, Robert Eggers, explained on stage how he was seeking to reclaim Viking history from rightwing groups. Many of these groups thrive on myths of an imagined European past: a time before racial mixing or progressive politics, when men were mighty warriors and women were compliant child-bearers. As Eggers told the Observer recently, such associations almost put him off making The Northman. “The macho stereotype of that history, along with, you know, the rightwing misappropriation of Viking culture, made me sort of allergic to it, and I just never wanted to go there.” Eggers has spoken of his scholarly research and commitment to getting Viking history right, down to the smallest details. But as rigorous and accomplished as The Northman is, it might in fact be the kind of movie the “alt-right” loves.” ref

“The Northman’s 10th-century society appears to be uniformly white and firmly divided along patriarchal lines. Men do the ruling and killing; women do the scheming and baby-making. Its hero, played by Alexander Skarsgård, is not a million miles from the “macho stereotype” Eggers complained of – a brawny warrior who settles most disputes with a sword and without a shirt. Skarsgård’s love interest, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, could be the far-right male’s dream woman: beautiful, fair-haired, loyal to her man, and committed to bearing his offspring. Even before the film’s release, far-right voices were giving their approval on the anonymous message board site 4chan: “Northman is a based [agreeable] movie, all white cast and shows pure raw masculinity.” “Robert Eggers. He is restoring pride in our people with his great films. The Northman is going to be epic… Hail Odin.” ref

“On the face of it, some images of Skarsgård in The Northman – bare-chested, pumped-up with battle rage, wearing a wolf’s pelt as headgear – are uncomfortably close to those of Jake Angeli, AKA the “QAnon Shaman”, the abiding mascot of the 6 January assault on the US Capitol. On that day in Washington, Angeli was similarly topless and animal-adorned, his torso bearing tattoos of Nordic symbols now associated with white-supremacist movements, including a stylised Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer), Ygdrasil (the “world tree” of Norse mythology) and the Valknut (an ancient symbol of interlocking triangles). The far right’s love of Nordic lore goes back to the Third Reich and beyond, – and the connection is stronger than ever. The deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 was full of Nordic symbols on banners and shields. Anders Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who murdered 77 people in 2011, carved the names of Norse gods into his guns. The shooter at the 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, drew Norse insignia on his possessions and wrote “see you in Valhalla” on his Facebook page.” ref

“Eggers would doubtless be horrified to be associated with such movements, but The Northman illustrates how cinema can be misappropriated in ways its makers never intended. In the past two decades, the entire cultural landscape – and films about European history in particular – has been weaponized and politicized by the far right. A guide to the far-right mindset was created on Stormfront, the notorious white-nationalist site, in 2001. A contributor named Yggdrasil (there is that Norse mythology again) began a thread on “content that we can watch repeatedly”, laying out guidelines and making and soliciting suggestions. The thread now runs to 154 pages.” ref

QShaman’s Ragnarök: An Iconography of Extremism

“On January 6, 2021, after an inflammatory address by the outgoing U.S. president, in which he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol, a violent mob of insurrectionists entered the Capitol building and disrupted Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results. News networks broadcast the baffling visual roar of red caps, flags, and rage-filled signage. FBI Director Christopher Ray and others have regarded this mayhem, resulting in five deaths and one hundred and forty injuries, as an act of domestic terrorism. Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” or “QShaman” —a reference to the far-right online conspiracy theories of “QAnon”—was among the first arrests. His costuming and the American flag-topped spear he carried gained immediate attention on social media and in the press. With his face paint, fur head covering, and tattooed chest, he imposed himself upon televisions and newsfeeds, a mascot for the far-right extremism that propelled the riot. The visual argument he presents is an iconography of white dominance literally hung on the body and tattooed in the skin.” ref 

“Untangling the image that is the so-called “QShaman” presents an art historical avenue of investigation into thefts from visual cultures of the past and from living Indigenous communities by modern extremists. Joseph M. Pierce, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and professor of Hispanic languages and literature, has already published an insightful piece on Artnet on this topic, which he wrote shortly after the riot. His article brilliantly elucidates QShaman’s native appropriation, connecting this racist performance to Romantic portraiture hanging within the Capitol building itself. Indigenous and other scholars of color have long been decoding toxic whiteness of this variety, and this essay seeks to honor and amplify those contributions, as well as the work on white supremacy and medieval studies done by leaders in the field, most prevalently medievalists of color.” ref

“Now over a year out from the insurrection, and following Chansley’s sentencing hearing along with others, the topic bears revisiting. Conscious of my own identity as a white, settler art historian of the medieval Nordic world, I first engage essential work on both harmful native appropriation and toxic medievalism and bring these important sources into conversation in this forum for medieval art. I then advance an argument considering “QShaman” in connection to the Arctic and Ragnarök, the apocalypse of Norse myth, and highlight the complicity of academia in popular misuses of the figure of “the shaman.” By naming himself a “shaman,” Chansley portrays himself as a prophetic leader, claiming an essential role in cosmic spiritual conflicts between angelic and demonic forces. As “QShaman,” he asserts a superiority within the dispersed yet highly formidable “Q” movement, a bizarre internet conspiracy theory turned major political player. His self-styling proclaims that he alone, through access to superior knowledge or spiritual insight, can interpret the cryptic messages “Q” posts on online message boards, and reveal those hidden “truths” to the world. The name provides a white man with a platform for authority, once again reaching for indigeneity to feign legitimacy.” ref

“The word “shaman” has a long history within both popular and academic sources attempting to engage with (and often co-opt) Indigenous epistemologies. Though he may not have a deep knowledge of this source material for his rhetoric, it is important to understand this longer history of the “shaman” as an idea when considering relationships between systems of power, the university, and white supremacy in this context. The problem does not lie in the singular extremist presentation of one individual; the problem emerges from, and is embedded in, a broader system of knowledge production and popular consumption. “Shaman” is derived from saman, a word in the language of the Tungus people of the Asiatic Arctic meaning “wise one” or “sage,” and refers to spiritual elders and knowledge bearers within the community. The legacy of the local practices of the saman is attested in Chinese sources as far back as the twelfth century.

“The term “shaman” was first published in a chronicle recording a military incursion of exiled Russians in Siberia against an Indigenous group in 1661. General Pashkov, the leader of the exiles, went to a local “shaman” to glean the results of the upcoming conflict, and Avvakum, an exiled Orthodox priest, narrates the divination: “…[the shaman] started to jump and dance and call the demons; finally, making piercing screams, he threw himself on the ground and foam came out of his mouth …” Filtered through a seventeenth-century Christian worldview, this travel narrative, the first instance of this word’s publication, associates shamanic ritual with superstition, witchcraft, and the summoning of demons. This connection to conjuring, frenzied or manic movement, and otherness continued to inflect general conceptions of shamanism. A popular travel account published by Dutch statesman Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717) included another description of a Tungus shaman, accompanied by an engraving already establishing the basic elements of the visual shorthand that “QShaman” would tune into more than three hundred years later.” ref

“The “shaman” of the white imagination expanded far beyond the Tungus people or neighboring communities. As the Tungus were known as reindeer pastoralists, shamanic practice was easily projected onto other Arctic communities associated with reindeer, such as the Sámi peoples of Northern Scandinavia. Enthusiastically, through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, academics began to use shamanism as an umbrella term for the belief systems of Indigenous communities living all over the world, the word becoming an effective generalization relating many disparate and diverse epistemologies and belief systems. History of religion scholars taking a cross-cultural approach tracked certain shared features of rituals across communities, such as practices to initiate spiritual travel or altered states of consciousness, and grouped them under the umbrella term “Shamanism.” ref

“These varying practices from across the world, now united as a common form of religion, could also be mapped onto archeology, linking contemporary practices discovered through ethnography, to older belief systems or a “widespread element of human collective heritage.” In this manner, even specific rituals or practices, many involving private knowledge, were re-conceptualized as the universal form of religion called “Shamanism,” to which white people could draw ancient connections through the cross-cultural interpretation of archeological evidence. In his 1951 text, Le chamanisme et les techniques archaiques de l’extase, historian of religions Mircea Eliade wrote an expansive survey situating “chamanismes” of Siberia, Oceania, North and South America, and Asia through a comparative model which continues to be highly influential in “shamanology” today. Eliade’s book was met with international acclaim, cementing the concept of the shaman as a viable means of cross-cultural comparison. In the decades following Eliade’s momentous success, however, significant critiques have been leveled concerning his poor research practices and ill-founded conclusions.” ref

“As anthropologist Alice Kehoe writes, “‘Shamans’ and ‘shamanism’ are words used so loosely and naively, by anthropologists no less than the general public, that they convey confusion far more than knowledge.” In his analysis of the various definitions provided for “shaman” and “shamanism” across disciplines, historian Håkan Rydving notes what vast disparity exists between the meanings and contexts the term is afforded, concluding that, when referring to the spiritual leaders and belief systems of various communities in the world, even in the circumpolar North where beliefs may be interlinked, it is prudent to set the universal “shaman” aside and use each community’s own term. Beginning in the twentieth century, “Neoshamanisms,” including the one claimed by “QShaman,” were one of the products of this cross-cultural approach.” ref

“Often practiced by people who have encountered these practices via tourism, taken religion or anthropology classes, or read and/or participated in the ethnography of Indigenous communities around the world, “Neoshamanisms” generally takes an eclectic approach, sampling “Shamanisms” from different native groups to create a new, individualistic approach to spirituality that often coopts private native traditions. In popular Western culture, the shaman has captured imaginations for hundreds of years, utilized by writers, artists, spiritual tourists, practitioners of New Age religions and even terrorists.” ref

“In the ways that this figure of ever-expanding fancy has inspired colorful and elaborate descriptions of demon worship, distaste, wonder and, later, new age enthusiasms and alternative neopagan spiritual practices in the twentieth century, the idea of “the shaman” has much to tell white people about themselves. Collapsing Indigenous belief systems into one another for the sake of comparative ease has created “shamanism” as a commodifiable and deracinated global practice. As poet and scholar Billy-Ray Belcourt (Driftpile Cree Nation) warns, the notion of “simplicity,” a false grouping or abridging of beliefs and practices of Indigenous communities, entraps and denigrates those who live beyond the Western paradigm: “We are all caught up in the Singularity of coloniality.” ref 

Othala Rune

General Hate SymbolsNeo-Nazi Symbols

 ALTERNATE NAMES: Othal Rune, Othila Rune, Odal Rune, Norse Rune

“The othala rune is part of the runic alphabet system, a system of writing used (with many variations) across pre-Roman Europe. In the 20th century, Nazis in Germany adopted the othal rune, among many other similar symbols, as part of their attempt to reconstruct a mythic “Aryan” past. Nazi uses of the symbol included the divisional insignia of two Waffen SS divisions during World War II. Following World War II, white supremacists in Europe, North America, and elsewhere began using the othala rune. Today, it is commonly seen in tattoo form, on flags or banners, as part of group logos, and elsewhere. However, because it is part of the runic alphabet, the symbol can also be found in non-extremist contexts as well, especially runic writing and runestones used by non-racist pagans. Consequently, care should be taken to evaluate the symbol in the context in which it appears.” ref

“White supremacy—the belief in the superiority of the white race, especially in matters of intelligence and culture—achieved the height of its popularity during the period of European colonial expansion to the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and Asia stretching from the late 1800s to the first half of the twentieth century. White supremacists have based their ideas on a variety of theories and supposedly proven facts; the most prominent of these include the claims of pseudoscientific racist academic research that attempted to correlate inferiority and pathological behavior with categories of racial phenotypes, especially head size in the case of eugenics. White supremacist belief has also been justified by the Biblical Hamitic hypothesis, which viewed blacks as the descendants of Ham who would be cursed for life.” ref

“There is a direct correlation between the rise of imperialism and colonialism and the expansion of white supremacist ideology justifying the changing international order, which increasingly saw Europeans assuming political control over peoples of darker skin color through military force and ideological means, such as religion and education. It is important to note that the range of those considered “white” expanded considerably in the twentieth century. For example, in the United States, not all ethnic groups with white skin were initially considered white. It was not until well into the twentieth century that the Irish and Italians, for example, were considered white. By the end of that century, the United States federal government had also expanded its definition of whites to include Arabs.” ref

“Various groups and institutions have used varieties of white supremacist thinking to organize followers socially and politically, often with the purpose of policing racial barriers. This activism has included, but not been limited to, the physical elimination of nonwhite populations (especially through violence), preventing cross-racial marriage, and maintaining racial segregation. The most well-known examples of institutionalized white supremacy were “Jim Crow” segregation in the United States, apartheid in southern Africa, and the Nazi German state under Adolph Hitler, which sought a “final solution” through the extermination in gas chambers of millions of Jews and gypsies, and under which various racial medical experiments were carried out.” ref

“The academic field of anthropology has been most closely associated with theories of racial difference, including white supremacy. As anthropology developed as a field in Europe and North America in the 1800s, its epistemological foundations actually provided scholarly legitimacy to the practice of categorizing human beings according to race. In the twentieth century, it was also the field that amassed the primary evidence to refute white supremacist thinking. Of particular note as regards this latter phase was the work of Franz Boas, whose fieldwork among North American indigenous peoples provided evidence to refute ideas that races and cultures could be placed in hierarchies that ranged from primitive to sophisticated, with the white race at the top.” ref

“After World War II (1939–1945), and the carnage caused by Nazi racial ideology, effort was invested by social scientists to refute white supremacist ideology. Of particular note was the “Statement by Experts on Problems of Race” that the then new United Nations sponsored and had published in the early 1950s. The list of scholars who supported the document comprised the most prominent thinkers on issues related to race at the time, including E. Franklin Frazier, Claude Levi-Strauss, Julian S. Huxley, Gunnar Myrdal, Joseph Needham, and Theodosius Dobzhansky. The central point of the Statement was that race was not based on biological differences and was actually a social construction because all the supposedly different human races belonged to the same species of Homo sapiens.” ref

“Due to publications such as the Statement and the mapping of the human genome (which provided additional evidence that there are few significant genetic differences between races), biological justifications for white supremacy popular during the first half of the twentieth century declined in prevalence in the second half. Similarly, by the end of the century all states that had officially declared themselves to be white supremacist had been eliminated. However, white supremacist ideology was resuscitated by a number of social transformations that were particularly evident by the last decade of the twentieth century. These included the end of Communist states in eastern Europe, increased immigration to Europe and North America by nonwhite groups, and the growth of technologies to facilitate rapid transnational communication. White supremacy was deployed by various groups as an organizing tool.” ref

“In Eastern Europe, groups in the former Communist societies used it to create new identities in the wake of communism’s demise, and Eastern Europe quickly became the center of neo-Nazi activism. In the United States, groups such as the World Church of the Creator and so-called citizen militias invoked religious and nationalist mythology to rally their believers against the increased power of racialized groups and the presence of illegal immigrants from Latin America. The expansion of the Internet was useful to these hate groups because it facilitated the exchange of documents and enabled the organization of adherents over vast distances. It also allowed some European white supremacy activists to obviate European antiracist propaganda laws that had been enacted after World War II.” ref

“The persistence of white privilege, even in societies where nonwhites are the majority, has meant that white supremacy and its consequences have not ceased to be sources of social scientific research. A notable event in the growth of “white studies” was the conference “The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness,” held at the University of California, Berkeley in April 1997. This yielded, four years later, a volume of the same name published by Duke University Press. In the United States the legal scholar Cheryl Harris, the historian David Roediger, and the American Studies scholar George Lipsitz are among those whose work in white studies has been influential. Melissa Steyn, the South African, has also been a prominent thinker in the area.” ref

“White studies is best contextualized as another stage in the evolution of humanities and social science research on the functioning of social systems. One of the most prominent themes in the study of whiteness is identity formation. The argument for doing white studies, and putting it on par with other more established areas of ethnic studies such as black studies, is that the adoption of white identity and the related ideology of white supremacy confer privilege at the expense of others who cannot or will not invest in them.” ref

“White supremacists are misappropriating Norse mythology, says expert. Scandinavian studies professor debunks idea of “racial purity” that makes racist extremists identify with Viking culture. There is an urgent and pressing need for everyone to understand the Vikings, argues Scandinavian studies scholar Natalie Van Deusen. That’s because all manner of Viking symbols and misconceptions about a golden age of Nordic racial purity have been appropriated by racist extremists looking to justify their xenophobia and acts of violence, according to the University of Alberta researcher. Van Deusen said the age of racial purity never existed and she is determined to debunk the corrosive myth at every turn, especially in the classroom.” ref

“Viking symbols are everywhere among the ultra-right. When the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville in 2017, some protesters carried banners featuring the Norse god Thor’s hammer, popular among the Nazis and neo-Nazi groups. The perpetrator of New Zealand’s Christchurch massacre last year wrote, “See you in Valhalla”-referring to the great hall where heroes of Norse mythology go after they die-at the end of his manifesto. Closer to home, the Soldiers of Odin-a Finnish white supremacist movement named after another Norse god in 2015-have recently emerged in Alberta and throughout Canada. “The precedent was set with the Nazis,” said Van Deusen. “National Socialism and Hitler idealized the Norse people-those who lived in the Nordic areas. Even the swastika is based in part on a symbol based on Viking artifacts.” A popular text among the Nazis was Germania by the Roman historian Tacitus, who describes Germanic people as a pure, uncorrupted race.” ref

“It laid the groundwork for the Nazis to hearken back to,” said Van Deusen. Many current white supremacist movements are similarly “motivated by their belief in a white medieval past and a pure ancestral race they perceive as under threat in the face of immigration and religious and racial diversity,” wrote Van Deusen in an article for the Canadian Historical Association. “The Viking age and Norse mythology are of particular interest in these groups, who have committed acts of violence against perceived outsiders, such as Jews, Muslims and people of color.” However, she’s quick to point out that not every neo-pagan group that adopts Nordic mythology is racist. “There are also neo-pagans who are inclusive and don’t see it as a sort of an ethnic religion that you can only participate in if you are of Germanic descent.” In her popular courses on the religion and culture of the Viking age and Nordic Middle Ages, Van Deusen is careful to highlight the flourishing ethnic and cultural exchange among Nordic people of the time-mainly the late eighth to early 11th centuries-including their relationships with the Sámi, indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia.” ref

“I strive to teach in a way that doesn’t solely focus on Norse-speaking peoples, who were by no means the only ones to occupy the Nordic region during this period, nor were they without influence from surrounding cultures,” she said. The most compelling evidence refuting racial purity is DNA analysis of skeletal remains from the Viking age, which reveals a high degree of ethnic exchange. “The extent to which people married, and also took slaves or concubines from different places they went, indicates it wasn’t a pure Germanic monoculture,” said Van Deusen. The Vikings traveled to what is now Newfoundland, she said, trading with people who were “probably the ancestors of the Inuit.” They also traveled to Islamic Spain and to Baghdad and Constantinople. “They were pretty much everywhere and they had peaceful relations, and non-peaceful relations.” Van Deusen currently has an Iranian teaching assistant, Sajad Soleymani Yazdi, translating passages of Persian poetry into English that describe encounters with Vikings. “It’s been a really cool way of showing perceptions of the Vikings from the Middle East and what those encounters were like.” ref

“She also points to an influential article by University of Liverpool scholar Clare Downham, who shows how the mobility of Vikings around the world, with trade routes extending from Canada to Afghanistan, led to a fusion of cultures. “A striking feature of the early Vikings’ success was their ability to embrace and adapt from a wide range of cultures, whether that be the Christian Irish in the West or the Muslims of the Abbasid Caliphate in the East,” writes Downham. Van Deusen said she’s grateful that most of the students who take her classes do so out of genuine interest, not because they’re looking to shore up some racist ideology. Some of her American colleagues haven’t been so lucky, especially in places where racism is more overt. “Some professors have students tattooed with really problematic symbols carrying connotations of white supremacy, looking for confirmation of misconceptions they already have,” she said. “I think it’s a really important thing to do to be talking about this stuff-and actively show that ideologies promoted by these movements are not consistent with what we have as historical evidence.” ref

Inclusive Heathens Practice Ancestor Veneration, But Not Pride in Ancestry

“Ancestor veneration need not entail a focus on biological ancestry, but inclusive Heathens are troubled that white supremacists are attracted to Heathenry because of a perceived connection between ancestor veneration and pride in ancestry. The Canadian Heathens of Raven’s Knoll identify themselves as inclusive, and endeavor to exclude racists from their groups and events. Previous research has often distinguished between folkish (often racist) versus universalist (not racist) practitioners of Heathenry or Ásatrú. Inclusive Heathens welcome people of all backgrounds so long as they do not discriminate against others on the basis of spurious categories such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. Inclusive Heathens venerate a variety of ancestors, not just ancestors of blood or biological ancestors, but also ancestors of affinity or imagination, and ancestors of place. This contributes to a sense of relatedness and moral community beyond the intrahuman, and the development of ecological conscience at Raven’s Knoll.” ref

“Heathenry is a type of Neopaganism that revives and reimagines premodern traditions of northern Europe, often characterized as Old Norse society or caricatured as “Vikings,” but maybe inspired by English, Frankish, Germanic, Baltic, and other traditions. Some previous research identifies this new religious movement as Ásatrú, or Norse or Germanic Paganism, but practitioners in Canada refer to themselves as Heathen, and this nomenclature for the subgroup is increasingly preferred in Pagan studies literature.” ref

“Heathens from several kindreds (small Heathen groups somewhat like covens in Wicca, another form of Neopaganism) as well as families and individuals from Ontario and Quebec regularly participate in Heathen festivals and engage in ritual practices together at Raven’s Knoll, a private campground and spiritual retreat center established in 2010 in eastern Ontario, Canada. The largest of the Heathen festivals held there is Hail and Horn Gathering, which draws up to about 100 participants each year. The people who regularly participate in Heathen events at Raven’s Knoll form a community of practice, which I refer to in this work as “the Heathens of Raven’s Knoll.” Members of this community also participate in rituals together at other Heathen events at Raven’s Knoll such as Stave and Spindle, as well as Well and Tree Gathering, which is run by Heathens.” ref

Nordic Studies: When Vikings Raid Real Life, Our Good Intentions Get Pillaged

“Beth Rogers is a PhD student at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, Iceland, studying topics of food history and medieval Icelandic culture for her thesis, “On with the Butter: The Cultural Significance of Dairy Products in Medieval Iceland.” The project is hosted by the Institute of History at the Centre for Research in the Humanities. Beth has written more than 30 popular and academic articles, including 2 book chapters, on such varied topics as Viking dairy culture, salt in the Viking Age and medieval period, food as a motif in the Russian Primary Chronicle, and the literary structure of Völsunga saga. Her other research interests include: medieval Literature (especially sagas), military history, emotions in literature, Old Norse mythology and folklore, and cultural memory.” ref

“The impact and degree of white supremacist appropriation of Nordic culture in Scandinavian Studies has been the cause of recent public interest and scholarly debate. Viking and medieval imagery was seen displayed, for example, by participants in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. But the most prominent display was during the violent attack on the United States Congress at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when these images re-emerged, most visibly in the form of tattoos and clothing worn by Jake Angeli (real name Jacob Chansley),  the self-described ‘QAnon Shaman’. Angeli was instantly recognisable, wearing furs and horns and a face painted in red, white, and blue, while his bare chest blazed with black lines of Yggdrasil, Mjölnir, and the Valknut.” ref

“News outlets leaped to provide context to this oddball stand-out among the mob of Americans angry at the outcome of the presidential election of November 2020, explaining the meaning of his tattoos for readers who had not seen them before or did not know of their associations with Norse mythology. The media attempted to clarify that Angeli was not part of the Antifa or the Black Lives Matter movements, but QAnon, a political and social conspiracy group which has gained prominence in recent months since its appearance on internet message boards in October 2017. Neither the Antifa nor the BLM movement is known for using any Nordic cultural symbols, yet in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the US Capitol, confusing claims that Angeli was actually part of the BLM movement spread quickly on social media.” ref

Social media images circulated heavily in the days following the attack on the US Capitol. Origin unknown.

A Google Reverse Image Search returned no information.

“Angeli’s interviews with BrieAnna J. Frank, reporter for The Arizona Republic, leave little doubt as to his right-wing ideological leanings. His frequent appearances at events carrying a sign stating, ‘Q sent me!’ further confused the issue. According to the BBC, QAnon is ‘a wide-ranging, completely unfounded theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media.’ Angeli himself, currently awaiting trial in federal prison (where he has experienced problems with the lack of organic food), has expressed regret over his actions. In an interview with US news program 60 Minutes, Angeli spoke from jail – in an unsanctioned interview which resulted in a ‘scolding’ for his lawyer from a judge – and insisted that, ‘I regret entering that building. I regret entering that building with every fibre of my being’ (0:43 – 0:47). His actions ‘were not an attack on [the United States]’, Angeli insisted. Instead, I sang a song, and that’s a part of Shamanism. It’s about creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber. I also stopped people from stealing and vandalising that sacred space – the Senate.” ref

“I also said a prayer in that sacred chamber because it was my intention to bring divinity and to bring God back into the Senate. […] That is the one very serious regret that I have, was [sic] believing that when we were waved in by police officers, that it was acceptable. (0:39 – 0:46) Angeli awaits trial on six counts of misconduct, including violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, as well as demonstrating in a Capitol building. Angeli’s appropriation of Nordic symbols is of course part of a broader Viking cultural renaissance, yet don’t let all this take away from your enjoyment of the current Viking-themed pop culture extravaganza. Vikings are fun! It’s not all white supremacy. It’s wonderful to see people deeply interested and invested in the thrills, chills, twists, and turns of these larger-than-life characters on our screens, set against a backdrop of Nordic culture and history that is sometimes richly colored and always sketched in familiar lines: struggle, sacrifice, and hope. The image of the Viking in pop culture today is so unquestioned – hairy, violent, marauding – The Guardian can’t suffer through so much as a paragraph of historical context without getting distracted by their coolness.” ref

“Dr Simon Trafford, Lecturer in Medieval History and Director of Studies at the University of London explains the Viking attraction: “The parallels with what we look for in our rock stars are just too obvious. The Vikings were uproarious and anti-authoritarian, but with a warrior code that values honor and loyalty. Those are evergreen themes, promising human experiences greater than what Monday morning in the office can provide. If you caught American Gods in either series form or its original novel (published 2001; series premiere on American cable network Starz in 2017), you know that Vikings are dull-witted, filthy murderers who would slaughter their own friends and family members in frenzied sacrifice to Óðinn then wait for the wind to return to their sails, leaving very few alive left to row the longship home. If you’re a fan of Vikings (2013-2020, with a planned spin-off series titled – what else? – Vikings: Valhalla), you know that Vikings are the rock stars of history, wearing copious amounts of leather and guyliner artfully smudged around their piercing eyes as they gaze out to sea, bursting with manly intensity. You know. But do you really?” ref

“More problematic is when these tropes, images, and signifiers are part of darker, more nebulous, and disturbing parts of history, and how that history can be forgotten, covered up, manipulated, or even wilfully ignored in the current moment. The tropes, images, and signifiers of a culture which are chosen and carried forward in time take on a life of their own, often changing their meaning drastically. Historians and armchair enthusiasts, pagans and reenactors, artists and others who enjoy learning about Nordic culture and Scandinavian history around the world groaned in unison after the Capitol invasion, aware that the United States was bringing us another fight, so soon after the dust had settled over the last one.” ref

“In Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11–12, 2017, far-right groups, including self-identified members of the alt-right, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias gathered to present a unified and radical right-wing front as well as to protest the proposed removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s former Lee Park. Symbols like the óðal rune, the cross of the Knights Templar, and the black eagle of St. Maurice, among others, were splashed across the screens of horrified viewers. After the initial shock over the cultural clash in Virginia, which like the attack on the Capitol brought about death and injury, those who spend their lives plumbing the mysteries of history were left to pick up the pieces and decide what to do to avoid being painted with the same Swastika.” ref

“What has been observed in social media dissemination and discussion of Nordic cultural symbols illustrates that the general public has at best an incomplete understanding of the use of Viking symbology in connection with the German nationalist movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which culminated in two destructive World Wars. Markers of Nordic culture have a tendency to recur throughout history, from their origins in the Viking Age through to the twentieth century and the present day: specifically, Valhalla, Vínland, the Valknut, Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer), Yggdrasil (The World Tree), and runic inscriptions, including rune-like magical staves such as Vegvísir and the Æishjalmur. Such iconography has been deployed almost randomly (and therefore meaninglessly) to create a connection between Viking culture and an ideology of whiteness, masculinity, and power.” ref

“Recently, a scandal erupted in the hallowed halls of the Academy over the correct next steps to take: how to continue to do what we love as researchers and teachers, but also speak to a wider community and political developments causing direct harm? Differences in opinion led to social media chaos, accusations of doxxing, threats, and scathing blog posts by the two front runners in the debate. Dorothy Kim, an Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College, and Rachel Fulton Brown, an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago, squared off in a nerdy, gladiatorial smackdown. As Inside Higher Ed noted, Fulton Brown agreed that white supremacists often use medieval imagery to invoke a mythical, purely white medieval Europe. However, she disagreed with Kim’s assertion that white professors needed to explicitly state anti-white supremacist positions in the classroom. For Fulton Brown, the teaching of history by itself, immersion in the concepts, and understanding of changes over time, will stem the tide of white supremacist misuse and misunderstanding. Medievalists unhappy with the handling of the issues by some institutions boycotted conferences.” ref

“As the debate raged on, white supremacy continued its dark work. A mass shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, posted, ‘See you in Valhalla’ before killing 49 people at two mosques and injuring dozens more. Educational institutions have not, and still do not, appear to be doing enough. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups throughout the US, tracked 838 hate groups’ growth and movement across the country in 2020, brought on in part by a 55% surge in the number of US hate groups since 2017 (though down from its all-time high in 2018). Political elections have put an increasing number of populist, nationalist, and right-wing figures in office throughout Europe, spurred by rising anti-immigration sentiment, frustration with the political status quo, concerns about globalization, and fears over the loss of national identity. The issue has become so muddled that some educational material must make clear that although a given Nordic cultural symbol, such as Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir) is a hate symbol, it is also commonly used by non-racist neo-pagans and others, and so it should be carefully judged within its context before the viewer assumes the one wearing it to be a member of a hate group. Nothing is black and white. Everything is uncertain.” ref

“Instructors and teachers have recommitted to doing better, echoing statements like that of Natalie Van Deusen, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta. In her own classes, Van Deusen makes a deliberate effort to highlight the flourishing ethnic and cultural exchange among Nordic people of the periods she covers, mainly the late eighth to early eleventh centuries. She includes in her teaching lesser-seen and -heard viewpoints, such as their relationships with the Sámi, indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia, or trade with the East: I strive to teach in a way that doesn’t solely focus on Norse-speaking peoples, who were by no means the only ones to occupy the Nordic region during this period, nor were they without influence from surrounding cultures. We have to do more, go further, explore deeper, and keep talking about this until there is no question where we stand, as individual scholars, or as people within our communities who care about accuracy (as far as it can be established), diversity (as much as the evidence supports), and education. Always education. Dr. Van Deusen remains more committed than ever to keeping the conversation going, saying in a recent interview, ‘I think it’s a willingness to talk when people want to talk to us about these things, and a willingness (as scholars an educators of this period) to acknowledge that this is a real issue.’ For Van Deusen, at this point.” ref

Death Cults and Dystopian Scenarios: Neo-Nazi Religion and Literature in the USA Today

“Abstract: In this article, I investigate the literary representation of the religious convictions and political strategy of neo-Nazi ideologues who are influential in rightwing authoritarian movements in the USA today. The reason that I do this is because in contemporary fascism, the novel has replaced the political manifesto, the military manual and proselytizing testimony, since fiction can evade censorship and avoid prosecution. I read William Luther Pierce’s Turner Diaries and Hunter together with his text on speculative metaphysics and religious belief, Cosmotheism. Then, I turn to Harold Covington’s Northwestern Quintet with The Brigade, reading this with Christian Identity and his own conception of Nazi religious tolerance. Finally, I look at OT Gunnarsson’s Hear the Cradle Song, reading this together with discussions of racism in Californian Odinism. I propose that what this literature shows is that the doctrinal differences between the three main strands of neo-Nazi religion—Cosmotheism, Christian Identity and Odinism—are less significant than their common ideological functions. These are twofold: (1) the sacralization of violence and (2) the sanctification of elites. The dystopian fictions of fascist literature present civil war scenarios whose white nationalist and genocidal outcome is the result of what are, strictly speaking, supremacist death cults.” ref

Representation and Whiteness among the “Spiritual but not Religious”

People who largely identified as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR). These people were seeking expansive spiritual experiences, and I followed them through networks of transformational festivals, like Bhakti Fest, Wanderlust yoga festivals, Lightning in a Bottle, and Burning Man. What surprised me (at the time) was that these spiritual seekers were exploring powerful and transformational experiences by practicing the religious forms of non-white cultures, but overarchingly they were fostering communities that were nearly all white. To uncover the ways, methods, and possible reasons for this, I focused specifically on the practice of yoga as a generative space for SBNR values and I started thinking deeply about the politics of representation and how race and belonging intersect with religion and spirituality. The impetus behind the book was, in fact, a question of representation at its heart. As a specialist in the field of guru studies, I had witnessed over the years, in multiple research fields, how guru communities tended to divide into separate categories of Indian and Western devotees. In fact, I had written about that phenomenon in my first book and had come to the conclusion that it was the different socio-cultural needs and desires of these communities that made them divide into ethnically homogenous de facto congregations.

“With yoga and transformational festivals as institutions of SBNR religiosity, yogis, kīrtan (devotional music) artists, Tantrics, sound-healers, meditators, visionaries, and barefoot walkers into the global field sites of transformational festivals. Festivals, were sites of community-building, educational sharing, ethical formation, spiritual growth, and wonderous release? Creators, building spiritually-conscious worlds by invoking wisdom from non-Western sources. In so doing, they were rejecting the modalities of their home identities (some conglomeration of white, Western, Christian, capitalism) and embracing that which they conceived as radically other – exotic (mostly Indic and Indigenous religions). While each transformational festival and each person therein has a distinctive identity, purpose, and vision, their commonality lies in that they are predominantly white (80 – 100 percent), and the festivals are exponentially whiter than the demographics of the surrounding regions in which they are held. In fact, they seemed to be attracting whites, almost exclusively, and at a higher rate than other events and sub-communities. Despite their commitments to inclusivity and their attractions to non-white cultures, I found that these spiritual seekers, yogis, and bhaktas (devotees) were separating into largely homogenous white communities – once again.” ref

Heathenry (new religious movement)

“Heathenry, also termed Heathenismcontemporary Germanic Paganism, or Germanic Neopaganism, is a modern Pagan religion. Scholars of religious studies classify it as a new religious movement. Developed in Europe during the early 20th century, its practitioners model it on the pre-Christian religions adhered to by the Germanic peoples of the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages. In an attempt to reconstruct these past belief systems, Heathenry uses surviving historical, archaeological, and folkloric evidence as a basis, although approaches to this material vary considerably.” ref

“Heathenry does not have a unified theology but is typically polytheistic, centering on a pantheon of deities from pre-Christian Germanic Europe. It adopts cosmological views from these past societies, including an animistic view of the cosmos in which the natural world is imbued with spirits. The religion’s deities and spirits are honored in sacrificial rites known as blóts in which food and libations are offered to them. These are often accompanied by symbel, the act of ceremonially toasting the gods with an alcoholic beverage. Some practitioners also engage in rituals designed to induce an altered state of consciousness and visions, most notably seiðr and galdr, with the intent of gaining wisdom and advice from the deities. Many solitary practitioners follow the religion by themselves. Other Heathens assemble in small groups, usually known as kindreds or hearths, to perform their rites outdoors or in specially constructed buildings. Heathen ethical systems emphasize honor, personal integrity, and loyalty, while beliefs about an afterlife vary and are rarely emphasized.” ref

“Heathenry’s origins lie in the 19th- and early 20th-century Romanticism which glorified the pre-Christian societies of Germanic Europe. Völkisch groups actively venerating the deities of these societies appeared in Germany and Austria during the 1900s and 1910s, although they largely dissolved following Nazi Germany‘s defeat in World War II. In the 1970s, new Heathen groups were established in Europe and North America, developing into formalized organizations. A central division within the Heathen movement emerged surrounding the issue of race. Older groups adopted a racialist attitude—often termed “folkish” within the community—by viewing Heathenry as an ethnic or racial religion with inherent links to a Germanic race. They believe it should be reserved for white people, particularly of northern European descent, and often combine the religion with far right-wing and white supremacist perspectives. A larger proportion of Heathens instead adopt a “universalist” perspective, holding that the religion is open to all, irrespective of ethnic or racial background.” ref

“While the term Heathenry is used widely to describe the religion as a whole, many groups prefer different designations, influenced by their regional focus and ideological preferences. Heathens focusing on Scandinavian sources sometimes use ÁsatrúVanatrú, or Forn Sed; practitioners focusing on Anglo-Saxon traditions use Fyrnsidu or Theodism; those emphasizing German traditions use Irminism; and those Heathens who espouse folkish and far-right perspectives tend to favor the terms OdinismWotanismWodenism, or Odalism. Scholarly estimates put the number of Heathens at no more than 20,000 worldwide, with communities of practitioners active in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia. Scholars of religious studies classify Heathenry as a new religious movement, and more specifically as a reconstructionist form of modern Paganism. Heathenry has been defined as “a broad contemporary Pagan new religious movement (NRM) that is consciously inspired by the linguistically, culturally, and (in some definitions) ethnically ‘Germanic’ societies of Iron Age and early medieval Europe as they existed prior to Christianization”, and as a “movement to revive and/or reinterpret for the present day the practices and worldviews of the pre-Christian cultures of northern Europe (or, more particularly, the Germanic-speaking cultures).” ref

“Practitioners seek to revive these past belief systems by using surviving historical source materials. Among the historical sources used are Old Norse texts associated with Iceland such as the Prose Edda and Poetic EddaOld English texts such as Beowulf, and Middle High German texts such as the Nibelungenlied. Some Heathens also adopt ideas from the archaeological evidence of pre-Christian northern Europe and folklore from later periods in European history. Among many Heathens, this material is referred to as the “Lore” and studying it is an important part of their religion. Some textual sources nevertheless remain problematic as a means of “reconstructing” pre-Christian belief systems, because they were written by Christians and only discuss pre-Christian religion in a fragmentary and biased manner. The anthropologist Jenny Blain characterizes Heathenry as “a religion constructed from partial material”, while the religious studies scholar Michael Strmiska describes its beliefs as being “riddled with uncertainty and historical confusion”, thereby characterizing it as a postmodern movement.” ref

“The ways in which Heathens use this historical and archaeological material differ; some seek to reconstruct past beliefs and practices as accurately as possible, while others openly experiment with this material and embrace new innovations. Some, for instance, adapt their practices according to unverified personal gnosis (UPG) that they have gained through spiritual experiences. Others adopt concepts from the world’s surviving ethnic religions as well as modern polytheistic traditions such as Hinduism and Afro-American religions, believing that doing so helps to construct spiritual world-views akin to those that existed in Europe prior to Christianization. Some practitioners who emphasize an approach that relies exclusively on historical and archaeological sources criticize such attitudes, denigrating those who practice them using the pejorative term “Neo-Heathen.” ref

“Some Heathens seek out common elements found throughout Germanic Europe during the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages, using those as the basis for their contemporary beliefs and practices. Conversely, others draw inspiration from the beliefs and practices of a specific geographical area and chronological period within Germanic Europe, such as Anglo-Saxon England or Viking Age Iceland. Some adherents are deeply knowledgeable as to the specifics of northern European society in the Iron Age and Early Medieval periods; however for most practitioners their main source of information about the pre-Christian past is fictional literature and popular accounts of Norse mythology. Many express a romanticized view of this past,  sometimes perpetuating misconceptions about it; the sociologist of religion Jennifer Snook noting that many practitioners “hearken back to a more epic, anachronistic, and pure age of ancestors and heroes.” ref

“The anthropologist Murphy Pizza suggests that Heathenry can be understood as an “invented tradition“. As the religious studies scholar Fredrik Gregorius states, despite the fact that “no real continuity” exists between Heathenry and the pre-Christian belief systems of Germanic Europe, Heathen practitioners often dislike being considered adherents of a “new religion” or “modern invention” and thus prefer to depict theirs as a “traditional faith”. Many practitioners avoid using the scholarly, etic term “reconstructionism” to describe their practices, preferring to characterize it as an “indigenous religion” with parallels to the traditional belief systems of the world’s indigenous peoples. In claiming a sense of indigeneity, some Heathens—particularly in the United States—attempt to frame themselves as the victims of Medieval Christian colonialism and imperialism.” ref

“A 2015 survey of the Heathen community found equal numbers of practitioners (36%) regarding their religion as a reconstruction as those who regarded it as a direct continuation of ancient belief systems; only 22% acknowledged it to be modern but historically inspired, although this was the dominant interpretation among practitioners in Nordic countries. No central religious authority exists to impose a particular terminological designation on all practitioners. Hence, different Heathen groups have used different words to describe both their religion and themselves, with these terms often conveying meaning about their socio-political beliefs as well as the particular Germanic region of pre-Christian Europe from which they draw inspiration.” ref

“Academics studying the religion have typically favored the terms Heathenry and Heathenism to describe it, for the reason that these words are inclusive of all varieties of the movement. This term is the most commonly used option by practitioners in the United Kingdom, with growing usage in North America and elsewhere. These terms are based on the word heathen, attested as the Gothic haithn, which was adopted by Gothic Arian missionaries as the equivalent of both the Greek words Hellenis (Hellene, Greek) and ethnikós—”of a (foreign) people”. The word was used by Early Medieval Christian writers in Germanic Europe to describe non-Christians; by using it, practitioners seek to reappropriate it from the Christians as a form of self-designation. Many practitioners favor the term Heathen over pagan because the former term originated among Germanic languages, whereas pagan has its origins in Latin.” ref

“Further terms used in some academic contexts are contemporary Germanic Paganism and Germanic Neopaganism, although the latter is an “artificial term” developed by scholars with little use within the Heathen community. Alternately, Blain suggested the use of North European Paganism as an overarching scholarly term for the movement; Strmiska noted that this would also encompass those practitioners inspired by the belief systems of northeastern Europe’s linguistically Finnic and Slavic societies. He favored Modern Nordic Paganism, but accepted that this term excluded those Heathens who are particularly inspired by the pre-Christian belief systems of non-Nordic Germanic societies, such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Goths.” ref

“Another name for the religion is the Icelandic Ásatrú, which translates as “Æsir belief”, or “loyalty to the Æsir”—the Æsir being a sub-set of deities in Norse mythology. This is more commonly rendered as Asatru in North America, with practitioners being known as Asatruar. This term is favored by practitioners who focus on the Nordic deities of Scandinavia, however is problematic as many self-identified Asatruar worship entities other than the Æsir, such as the Vanirvalkyrieselves, and dwarfs. Although initially a popular term of designation among practitioners and academics, usage of Ásatrú has declined as the religion has aged.” ref

“Other practitioners term their religion Vanatrú, meaning “those who honor the Vanir”, or Dísitrú, meaning “those who honor the goddesses”, depending on their particular theological emphasis. A small group of practitioners who venerate the Jötnar, refer to their tradition as Rokkatru. Although restricted especially to Scandinavia, since the mid-2000s a term that has grown in popularity is Forn Siðr or Forn Sed (“the old way”); this is also a term reappropriated from Christian usage, having previously been used in a derogatory sense to describe pre-Christian religion in the Old Norse Heimskringla. Other terms used within the community to describe their religion are the Northern TraditionNorse Paganism, and Saxon Paganism, while in the first third of the 20th century, commonly used terms were GermanNordic, or Germanic Faith. Within the United States, groups emphasising a German-orientation have used Irminism, while those focusing on an Anglo-Saxon approach have used Fyrnsidu or Theodism.” ref

“Many racialist-oriented Heathens prefer the terms Odinism or Wotanism to describe their religion. The England-based racialist group Woden’s Folk favored Wodenism and Woden Folk-Religion, while another racialist group, the Heathen Front, favored the term Odalism, coined by Varg Vikernes, in reference to the odal rune. There is thus a general view that all those who use Odinism adopt an explicitly political, right-wing and racialist interpretation of the religion, while Asatru is used by more moderate Heathen groups, but no such clear division of these terms’ usage exists in practice. Gregorius noted that Odinism was “highly problematic” because it implies that the god Odin—who is adopted from Norse mythology—is central to these groups’ theology, which is often not the case. Moreover, the term is also used by at least one non-racialist group, the British Odinshof, who utilise it in reference to their particular dedication to Odin.” ref

White Supremacists Have Weaponized an Imaginary Viking Past. It’s Time to Reclaim the Real History

“After New Zealand passed new gun laws this week, most automatic and semi-automatic weapons have become outlawed there as of Friday — a swift response to the March 15 shootings in Christchurch that left 50 Muslim men, women, and children dead at the hands of an alleged white supremacist terrorist. But guns weren’t the only weapon used by the shooter. The shootings followed the release of materials some have called a manifesto but that has more accurately been called a “media plan.” In it are multiple medieval references, several involving medieval Vikings, which these days function as a signal to white supremacists. Along with much else from the European medieval world, the Viking past is part of the far right’s standard visual and textual imaginary. That vision of a Viking world depends on contemporary digital and filmic popular culture — such as the TV show Vikings and Viking-adjacent video games — as well as on academic and historical sources.” ref

“But far-right Viking medievalism is not about historical accuracy. Rather, it’s used to create narratives. So, to resist the medieval narratives that activate violent hate, we must create counternarratives — and to do that, we must understand the real Viking past and how it has been weaponized. The term “Viking” possibly comes from the Old Norse word víkingr (sea warrior). As Stefan Brink and Neil Price’s The Viking World describes, historically, it referred to seafaring groups who traversed the seas, oceans and rivers to raid, trade, and colonize around the 10th and 11th centuries. They established settler colonies across the Mediterranean, Caspian, Black, Arctic, and North Atlantic seas and waterways, maintaining a presence in regions ranging from present-day Russia and Europe to the Americas. Crucially, they were not homogeneous seafarers as is often imagined; they were multicultural and multiracial. But until recently, scholarly discussions of the Vikings in relation to race and a Global Middle Ages had been sidelined.” ref

So where does the white supremacist vision of Viking genealogy come from?  

“Despite the fact that real Viking history was multicultural, academic medieval studies have historically been to blame for the upholding of that imaginary past. In the 19th century, Romantic German nationalism metastasized into the Völkish movement, which was interested in historical narratives that bolstered a white German nation-state. The movement rewrote history, drawing on folklore such as that of Brothers Grimm, medieval epics, and a dedication to racial white supremacy. Late 19th and early 20th-century scholars simultaneously drew from and reinforced this racialized imagination of the medieval past. Crucially, Vilhelm Grønbach’s multi-volume work Vor Folkeæt i Oldtiden (The Cultures of the Teutons) imagined an ancient Germanic genealogy that ran from Tacitus through the Middle Ages.” ref

“German scholarly work during the eve of the Third Reich then added to this idea, with authors like Gustav Neckel and Bernhard Kummer blaming socialism, Jews, and class revolutions for the “decline” of a Germanic race they saw descending from this Viking past. Another German scholar, Otto Höfler, who based his work on Grønbach, wrote of the Männerbunde, which the scholar Stefanie von Schnurbein has described as “all-male warrior associations in so-called primitive societies.” His take on Männerbund would become used as an explanation of the past and current Germanic race, and fueled the idea behind Nazi groups such as the SS and SA.” ref

“After World War II, despite the defeat of the Axis powers, these ideas didn’t go away. Rather, they saw a resurgence in specific circles, including various far-right neo-pagan groups, like the Scandinavian Nordic Resistance Movement, known for their neo-Nazi violence. Grønbach’s multivolume work, translated and available online, and the works of his contemporaries have also influenced current far-right extremists in Europe and North America.” ref

“This neo-pagan resurgence intersects with many facets of extremism today, from eco-fascism — another term the Christchurch terrorist invoked — to groups like the Odinists, who practice a form of white toxic masculinity based on the belief that the “barbaric” warriors of medieval Northern Europe functioned as a violent warrior comitatus. Odinists follow a neo-pagan medieval Scandinavian religion that is unacknowledged by the official Icelandic pagan religion, Ásatrú. The man who is accused of attacking two teenage girls (one in a hijab) and murdering Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche in Portland, Ore., in 2017 has linked himself to the idea of “Vinland,” the concept of a Viking North America onto which an imaginary Odinist past has been superimposed.” ref

“Nor is this use of Old Norse and Viking “history” limited to specific alt-right subgroups. In fact, it is a generalized social fixture in these circles. For example, when researcher Patrik Hermansson went undercover among the denizens of this world, he attended “gatherings where extremists drank mead from a traditional Viking horn and prayed to the Norse god Odin.” The Viking past contributes to a medieval toolkit of language, allusion, and symbolism used to transmit white supremacist messages.” ref

“Communities of color have in the past fought white supremacist medieval narratives at the grassroots by spreading their own counternarratives, from W.E.B. Du Bois creating an African-American vision of the medieval past in Dark Princess to the Asian Americans who pushed back against racist medievalism during the period of Chinese Exclusion. Scholars and historians — not just medievalists — must also interrogate their disciplines from the inside, setting the record straight about medieval race and the Global Middle Ages.” ref

“So far, however, the most widespread, concerted, and effective way to fight back against this historical white supremacist Viking genealogy has come not from academics or journalists. Rather, it has come from Taika Waititi, the indigenous Maori director and writer. His movie Thor: Ragnarok — in which Thor’s hammer, a medieval item regularly brandished by extremists, is destroyed — was a multiracial and postcolonial counternarrative to the white Viking narrative circulating through the alt-right digital ecosystem. After decades of building up the violent Viking vision, more such stories will be needed to disrupt this medieval machine.” ref

Why White Supremacist Groups Have Adopted Viking Imagery

“Is there evidence to indicate that Scandinavians and Vikings are in for racial purity? There’s nothing that really indicates any, any, any sense of awareness of those concepts. And in the prehistory of Scandinavia, racism is a colonial phenomenon. It does exist in some capacity before Europeans start colonizing. But, but, but the thoughts as we know them today materialize through that history of colonization and ranking people in the hierarchies. And what you have is, is Europeans going out and looking at other peoples and then starting to rank them in hierarchies. And they also do that to each other on the European continent. And in that ranking that we see in the European continent, especially in the late 19th century, early 20th century, the sort of this idea of the Aryan, the blond, northern European, becomes the top of that hierarchy. So it’s actually fairly late — the invention of, of this racial purity and, and the blond Aryans and all that stuff that is associated with the northern Europeans.” ref

“And how do women fit into all of this? So, women largely, because this is a literature written primarily by men, are largely relegated to sort of secondary roles in the literature. What we have are examples of, of some few powerful individual females, some who become ancestral mothers to powerful men later on. And in medieval Iceland, people recount their ancestry, their descent from, from, from these women. And you have, you have a few like this in this literature about the Vikings. There are a few women here and there who will take up a sword or, or a knife and do what needs to be done in their opinion. But, but usually, actually, the, the, the perception of women in this medieval Icelandic literature is actually relatively negative. Women are often instigators of, of disputes that then, you know, precipitate to the perceived poor male relatives of, of this who are then, who then need to go into a conflict to preserve honor. We get a, we get a somewhat varied perspective on what the role of women is or was in that society, but I would say largely, they, they are the secondary characters in the literature.” ref

Valeria Cuervo: How white supremacists have appropriated Vikings and how we can take it back

My project is about why people misconstrue history and how we can protect legacies by looking at how people are trying to protect the Viking legacy from white supremacists. Through my research, I’ve learned that white supremacists created the image of the Viking and shaped it according to their will during the 19th century. Viking history has been claimed by successive white supremacist groups over the years continuing to the present day. Groups like the Wolves of Vinland or the Nordic resistance movement often sport nordic runes and appropriate Viking symbols to use in their iconography. As a result of this White supremacist groups have become so closely linked to the idea of “people who like Vikings” that they have effectively ruined it for non-white supremacists interested in Vikings. People who have a genuine interest in Vikings have to constantly deal with white supremacists trying to co-opt them as fellow white supremacists and are often associated with white supremacist ideas by outsiders despite what they may actually believe in. I will attend a Viking festival in the Summer Market Haithabu, and speak with members of Vikings against Racism, museum coordinators, & other activist groups to learn more about what they are doing to reclaim Viking culture from white supremacists. (I got the confirmation this morning, so I could not add this part in the video).” ref

White supremacists love Vikings. But they’ve got history all wrong.

Why the accused Portland killer and others see Vinland as an inspiration.

“In early May, the white supremacist Jeremy Christian — who is accused of killing two men in Portland, Ore., on Friday — posted on Facebook, “Hail Vinland!!! Hail Victory!!!” “Victory” makes sense. Bigots feel empowered these days. But why “Vinland?” Why was this accused attacker talking about the short-lived Viking settlement in North America?” ref

It turns out that white supremacy has gone fully medieval.

“As the current contests over Confederate monuments exemplifies, Americans are accustomed to contested narratives about race and history fixating on the American South. Some of the most dangerous terrorists in the U.S., though, are looking much, much, farther north. Vinland was the name that a group of 10th-century Vikings, led by Leif Erikson, gave to a grapevine-rich island off what we believe is the coast of North America. For white supremacists, the concept of Vinland asserts a historical claim over North America, stretching especially from the Northeast coast to the Pacific Northwest. They use the myth of Vinland to position themselves as righteous defenders in the wars of race and religion they believe are coming.” ref

“The colonization of Vinland was pretty much a disaster, but it did happen. There’s archaeological evidence for a Viking presence in North America. Two surviving sagas recount the voyages. The sagas don’t always agree when it comes to laying blame — was it internecine violence or fighting with the indigenous people? Who started the fighting? The general details, however, are known. Erikson found an island, named it Vinland, and went home with timber. Later expeditions failed, though a few survivors made it home to tell the tale. Voyages west from Greenland soon ceased, as the risk/reward calculus didn’t seem favorable. So much for Vinland.” ref

“Stories of the Vikings, both in Scandinavia and in North America, have long contained the potential to feed inventions of an imaginary racist past. European racists have long wanted to believe in a pure-white, hermetically sealed Middle Ages. Today, anti-refugee protesters in Europe dress up as Vikings and Crusaders. North American hate groups invoke the Norse god Odin and Vinland. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on the rise of Odinism in 2009, including the founding of the Vinland Folk Resistance. In the Pacific Northwest, the Wolves of Vinland and the allegedly affiliated Operation Werewolf present white supremacists with a combination biker gang, weightlifting club, and militia. One individual who routinely shares Operation Werewolf social media posts, responded in 2012 to an article about the (untrue) legend of Viking colonization of Minnesota and southern Canada by writing on Facebook, “Our History is not a hoax. Hail Vinland!!!” ref

“But even the Vikings of Europe did not exist in pure white racial isolation. The Vikings, or rather the conglomeration of Scandinavian peoples we’ve come to call Vikings, conquered and colonized where they found weak powers in the disorganized west of Europe. To the east, they also tapped into rich multicultural trading networks — fighting when useful, but delighted to engage in economic and cultural exchange with great powers of Eurasia. That included the Jews of Khazaria, Christians dedicated to both Rome and Constantinople, and Muslims of every sect and ethnicity. Islamic coins, in fact, have been found buried across the Viking world, a testimony to the richness of this exchange.” ref

“In fact, the whole notion of a pure white medieval Europe, so important to white supremacists today, is false. The fixation on skin color is largely a modern phenomenon, alien to a Europe dependent on a Mediterranean world composed of people with varying shades of brown skin. It’s not that medievals lacked prejudice or hate, but our hang-ups and divisions were not theirs. Medieval Europe was not isolated from the broader world, but rather participated in a “Global Middle Ages” that linked great Eurasian and African cultures through the movement of things and people (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not). One of the vectors of those connections was, of course, the very same Vikings now serving as fodder for American hate.” ref

Video: Professor discusses right-wing misappropriation of Viking culture amid ‘The Northman’ release

“White supremacists are touting Robert Eggers’ new Viking Hollywood blockbuster The Northman, starring Alexander Skarsgaurd and Nicole Kidman. Pulling from Viking history and Nordic mythology, the film features an all-white cast and plays into the “macho barbarian” stereotype, prompting white supremacists to voice their approval on Reddit and the anonymous message board site 4chan. In this video, Mathias Nordvig, head of the Nordic Studies Program, explains how we’ve come to perceive Scandinavians as “bloodthirsty barbarians,” why white supremacy groups are drawn to these themes, and how it impacts Nordic communities in the United States and abroad.” ref

The Vikings were not who you thought they were, Professor Emeritus of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington

“Writing in Slate magazine in 2016, John T. R. Terry noted that the European Middle Ages have often served as a “convenient dumping ground for modern cultural problems, anxieties, and, more disturbingly, for racist ideologies.” Among the contributors to this dumping ground are those who also contend that Viking Age Scandinavia was a uniformly white, ethnically pure society. This is fundamentally as false as the popular image of the Vikings as unkempt, horn-helmeted warriors of Odin, out to destroy Christian civilization. Archaeological and textual scholarship in recent decades, including DNA analyses, indicate that while Viking warriors were far from benign, they were nevertheless ethnically diverse, culturally tolerant, conscientious of the law, and fastidious about their personal appearance.” ref

“A study published in the scientific journal Nature in September 2020 examined 442 human remains from ancient burial sites in Scandinavia. It showed considerable “intermixing of genetic material,” from the south and east, according to Eske Willerslev, lead author and director of the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Martin Sikora, who participated in the study, the Vikings did not only have Scandinavian in their genetic ancestry: “Many Vikings have high levels of non-Scandinavian ancestry, both within and outside Scandinavia, which suggests ongoing gene flow across Europe,” said Sikora.” ref

“Such studies give lie to the racist and nationalist sub-cultures that have highjacked Viking symbols for their own nefarious social and political ends. One such individual is the self-professed, shirtless, horned-helmeted “Q Shaman” at the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. He was adorned with tattoos depicting the Yggdrasil tree, Thor’s hammer, and interlocking triangles called the Valknot, a symbol long associated with hate groups. Judith Gabriel Vinje writing in The Norwegian American in November 2017 pointed out that many police departments around the country are “trained to look for runic tattoos as a sign that a perp is a member of a white supremacist gang.” Their use is generally motivated by the false belief in the ethnic purity of a white medieval past and that somehow the Vikings and Norse mythology articulated it. It is more than a simple falsification of history; it is a way to weaponize hatred of the “Other.” ref

“Viking mobility from the North Sea and the Baltic to the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian seas and across the north Atlantic not only built and expanded their trading contacts, but it also led to a blending of cultural influences and, no doubt, a sharing of DNA. The Norse not only traded extensively with Constantinople, in some instances they joined to defend the Eastern Roman Emperor as the elite Varangian Guard. Harald Hardråde, half-brother of St. Olav and later king in Norway, served for more than a decade.” ref

“While the word “Viking” entered the modern English language around 1807, scores of Old Norse words insinuated themselves organically into English, most prominently in the ninth and 10th centuries, words such as window, sister, knife, knot, law, and outlaw. Old English abandoned its grammatically complicated third person plural in favor of the simpler Old Norse “they,” “them,” and “their.” Even the word “Viking” is difficult to find in the medieval sources as the people these raiders encountered called them by other names. They were “Danes,” “Northmen,” “Al Madjus,” “Varangian,” “Heathen,” “Pirates,” and more. The 11th-century cleric-historian Adam of Bremen noted that “these people we call Ascomanni, call themselves Vikings.” Academics still do not agree on the origin of the word Viking, but it is likely of Norse origin. In 1944, Swedish linguist Fritz Askeberg speculated that the word Viking originated as a verb “vikja,” meaning to leave or turn away. “Viking” essentially described an action, an occupation, not an ethnicity.” ref

“As a culture, the Vikings/Norse possessed a strong adherence to the law, establishing local and national assemblies at home and abroad. Tynwald on the Isle of Man, Thingvollr in Iceland, and Tingwall in Shetland, mirrored the Gulating back in Norway and the numerous other “ting” sites throughout Scandinavia. The jury system was unknown in English common law until it was introduced into the Danelaw region of northern England by Norse settlers. The acceptance of Christian missionaries throughout the entire Viking Age, beginning with Ansgar in the early ninth century, shows a remarkable religious toleration. With a belief in numerous pagan gods anyway, adding one more to the panoply could well be seen as beneficial. We are told in the Sagas of a practical Icelander who professed both Thor and Christ.” ref

“Practical as the Norse seem to have been, it is also interesting to note that one of the most common items found in a Viking grave is the comb. Combs appear ubiquitous, a necessary addition to a warrior’s wardrobe. In his fascinating study, A Viking Way of Life: Combs and Communities in Early Medieval Britain (2014), Steven Ashby explores the physical and metaphysical roles of combs in Viking culture. They were prized objects for personal grooming, they were favored gifts, and they were valued items of trade. Valuing their personal appearance, tolerant of other societies and religions, and genetically diverse, the Vikings are not only worthy of study and scholarship, but we do them and ourselves a disservice by denigrating their cultural symbols in the cause of hate and exclusion.” ref

Vikings vs Neo-Nazis: Battling the Far Right in Sweden

“A Viking enthusiast confronts a neo-Nazi leader for misappropriating Viking symbols for white supremacist propaganda. Across Sweden, young Viking enthusiasts have been angered by the actions of some far-right organisations who have adopted Viking iconography to represent white supremacist propaganda. One, in particular, is the Nordic Resistance Movement, known as the NRM. Viking enthusiast Robin Lundin is the co-founder of an association called Vikingar Mot Rasism (Vikings Against Racism, or VAR). The group was formed on Facebook to combat the conflation of Viking enthusiasm with neo-nazism, and it has more than 1,500 members. The NRM hold a rally in Robin’s hometown of Kungalv. He uses the rally as a chance to challenge one of the NRM’s leaders face-to-face about their misappropriation of Viking symbols. NRM’s rallies frequently become violent, but Robin remains undeterred in his bid to expose the NRM’s ignorance and reclaim his Viking identity, without being branded a neo-Nazi.” ref

“This is the world of hardcore historical enthusiasts who participate in a Viking-themed Live Action Role-Playing game better known by the acronym LARP. While not all LARPs are exclusively focused on Vikings, recent years in Sweden have seen a heightened interest in Viking history and culture, with LARPing events becoming commonplace across the country. A LARP is something distinct from a straightforward re-enactment, which tends to happen at one-day events with members of the public dressed in modern clothes watching from the sidelines.” ref

“In contrast, most LARPs happen off-grid in remote locations, including the LARP we filmed, which took place in a replica Viking village called Bergham Vanner, deep inside a forest, around a three-hour drive southeast of Gothenburg. These LARPers have taken it upon themselves to form the Vikings Against Racism movement. This group is born out of the Viking community’s frustration and outrage that far-right hate groups – such as the Scandinavia-wide Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) – are using Viking symbols and mythology as propaganda to further their white supremacist agenda. The most prominent symbol is the Viking Rune which the NRM uses as a centrepiece for its flag and branding.” ref 

“Formed in Sweden in 1997, the NRM is famous for harassing journalists and politicians physically and online and were recently linked to the bombing of a refugee centre in Gothenburg. As a result of the NRM’s association with Viking symbols, the average member of the Swedish public, who knows nothing about fact-based Viking enthusiasts, now categorise this community in the same box as neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Thus, if you have a visible Viking tattoo, you may get double takes walking down the street from members of the public who think that must mean you are also a fan of Hitler. Many Viking lovers told me they had even been confronted by strangers on the street and been accused of being racist, simply because they were wearing some kind of Viking symbol.” ref 

“Having embedded with the Viking community at a LARP for the purpose of making this film, I can say with confidence that linking these two groups is misguided at best. Viking LARPers are overwhelmingly an inclusive group of social liberals who believe in equality across all spectrums of race, class and gender. They want Viking culture to be accessible to everyone. My encounters with Swedish neo-Nazis, on the other hand, showed me that they tend to be primarily young white men with a rigid worldview based around the idea of the superiority of the white race. They see Viking culture as something that is the preserve of white Northern Europeans only – a distant era whose people symbolize white power.” ref

“Neo-Nazis will often turn up at Viking fairs, seeking Viking paraphernalia. During my research phase, I even talked to one Viking enthusiast who recounted the story of a group of neo-Nazis leafleting at a Viking fair. They were chased out by LARPers who protected themselves with shields. Online as well, fascists are also eager to infiltrate Viking groups and platforms. The Vikings Against Racism Facebook group has a stringent vetting process to ensure NRM members and other racists cannot join.” ref 

Disentangling the Nazis and the Vikings

“In the development of nationalism, and specifically white ethnonationalism, the Norse have played an unfortunate role, and one that deserves a closer interrogation. In the larger scheme of white nationalism, those who seek to directly appropriate Norse symbology and a reconstruction of their own ideal of Norse culture are a relative minority, but they remain a minority which taints the study of Norse history. In this article, I will examine how Norse symbology and identity has come to be appropriated by white nationalists, compare the racist perceptions of the Norse with knowable historical realities, explain the usefulness of Norse symbology to white supremacists, and determine whether the concept of ‘Vikingness’ as constructed by white supremacist groups fits the historical reality of the Norse.” ref

“How did Viking Age Scandinavians first come to be associated with white supremacist beliefs? Like many of elements of white supremacist mythology, the origins can be traced to the German romantic nationalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Norse were seen as the ‘pure’ indigenous ancestors of the Germanic peoples: simultaneously a justification of German expansionism, and an argument for a racial superiority. The former was largely justified by the geographic spread of Norse artifacts, and the latter based both on the long discredited pseudoscientific field of phrenology, and on the perceived unpolluted nature of early Scandinavians—a view that meshed closely with the Nazi perception of Native Americans, interestingly.” ref

“Within contemporary white nationalist groups, there is no single specific or cohesive narrative about the Norse, but there are common elements that line up well with the Nazi conception of the Norse: Scandinavians of the Viking Age are seen as strong conquerors of inherently weaker peoples; racially pure and ‘untainted;’ ethnically isolated; hyper-masculine; and somehow emblematic of the inherent superiority of ‘whiteness.’ In some ways, the Norse, like any medieval society, work well as a model for a violent belief system. They operated in a patriarchal and hypermasculine society, where violence, both internal and external, was readily accepted as a means for solving disputes, proving oneself, or simply acquiring wealth.” ref

“They would readily raid a former trading partner, and were often considered untrustworthy in their dealings with the outside world. Violence was hardly unique to the Norse, though: though their methods of warfare differed, the level of violence they exercised was on par with contemporaneous medieval societies. In their interactions with other cultures, however, the Norse went far afield of their medieval contemporaries, and it is here that the racist mythologies stray from historical reality: particularly on the subject of trade.” ref

Swedish People

“Swedes (Swedishsvenskar) are an ethnic group native to the Nordic countries and Scandinavia, primarily their nation state of Sweden, who share a common ancestry, culturehistory, and language. They mostly inhabit Sweden and the other Nordic countries, in particular Finland (including the archipelago of Åland) where they are an officially recognized minority, with a substantial diaspora in other countries, especially in the United States.” ref

“Swedish is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages. In the established classification, it belongs to the East Scandinavian languages, together with Danish, separating it from the West Scandinavian languages, consisting of Faroese, Icelandic, and Norwegian. However, more recent analyses divide the North Germanic languages into two groups: Insular Scandinavian (Faroese and Icelandic), and Continental Scandinavian (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish), based on mutual intelligibility due to heavy influence of East Scandinavian (particularly Danish) on Norwegian during the last millennium and divergence from both Faroese and Icelandic. By many general criteria of mutual intelligibility, the Continental Scandinavian languages could very well be considered dialects of a common Scandinavian language. However, because of several hundred years of sometimes quite intense rivalry between Denmark and Sweden, including a long series of wars from the 16th to 18th centuries, and the nationalist ideas that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the languages have separate orthographies, dictionaries, grammars, and regulatory bodies.ref

“Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are thus from a linguistic perspective more accurately described as a dialect continuum of Scandinavian (North Germanic), and some of the dialects, such as those on the border between Norway and Sweden, especially parts of Bohuslän, Dalsland, western Värmland, western Dalarna, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Scania, could be described as intermediate dialects of the national standard languages. In the 8th century, the common Germanic language of Scandinavia, Proto-Norse, evolved into Old Norse. This language underwent more changes that did not spread to all of Scandinavia, which resulted in the appearance of two similar dialects: Old West Norse (Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland) and Old East Norse (Denmark and Sweden). The dialects of Old East Norse spoken in Sweden are called Runic Swedish, while the dialects of Denmark are referred to as Runic Danish. The dialects are described as “runic” because the main body of text appears in the runic alphabet. Unlike Proto-Norse, which was written with the Elder Futhark alphabet, Old Norse was written with the Younger Futhark alphabet, which had only 16 letters. Old Swedish (Swedish: fornsvenska) is the term used for the medieval Swedish language. The start date is usually set to 1225 since this is the year that Västgötalagen (“the Västgöta Law”) is believed to have been compiled for the first time. It is among the most important documents of the period written in Latin script and the oldest Swedish law codes. Old Swedish is divided into äldre fornsvenska (1225–1375) and yngre fornsvenska (1375–1526), “older” and “younger” Old Swedish.” ref

“The English term “Swede” has been attested in English since the late 16th century and is of Middle Dutch or Middle Low German origin. In Swedish, the term is svensk, which is from the name of svear (or Swedes), the people who inhabited Svealand in eastern central Sweden, and were listed as Suiones in Tacitus‘ history Germania from the first century CE. The term is believed to have been derived from the Proto-Indo-European reflexive pronominal root, *s(w)e, as the Latin suus. The word must have meant “one’s own (tribesmen)”. The same root and original meaning is found in the ethnonym of the Germanic tribe Suebi, preserved to this day in the name Swabia. Like other Scandinavians, Swedes descend from the presumably Indo-European Battle Axe culture and also the Pitted Ware culture. Prior to the first century AD there is no written evidence and historiography is based solely on various forms of archeology. The Proto-Germanic language is thought to have originated in the arrival of the Battle Axe culture in Scandinavia and the Germanic tribal societies of Scandinavia were thereafter surprisingly stable for thousands of years. The merger of the Battle Axe and Pitted Ware cultures eventually gave rise to the Nordic Bronze Age which was followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Like other North Germanic peoplesSwedes likely emerged as a distinct ethnic group during this time.” ref

“Swedes enters written proto-history with the Germania of Tacitus in 98 CE. In Germania 44, 45 he mentions the Swedes (Suiones) as a powerful tribe (distinguished not merely for their arms and men, but for their powerful fleets) with ships that had a prow in both ends (longships). Which kings (kuningaz) ruled these Suiones is unknown, but Norse mythology presents a long line of legendary and semi-legendary kings going back to the last centuries BCE. As for literacy in Sweden itself, the runic script was in use among the south Scandinavian elite by at least the second century CE, but all that has survived from the Roman Period is curt inscriptions on artifacts, mainly of male names, demonstrating that the people of south Scandinavia spoke Proto-Norse at the time, a language ancestral to Swedish and other North Germanic languages.” ref

“The migration age in Sweden is marked by the extreme weather events of 535–536 which is believed to have shaken Scandinavian society to its core. As much as 50% of the population of Scandinavia is thought to have died as a result and the emerging Vendel Period shows an increased militarization of society. Several areas with rich burial gifts have been found, including well-preserved boat inhumation graves at Vendel and Valsgärde, and tumuli at Gamla Uppsala. These were used for several generations. Some of the riches were probably acquired through the control of mining districts and the production of iron. The rulers had troops of mounted elite warriors with costly armor. Graves of mounted warriors have been found with stirrups and saddle ornaments of birds of prey in gilded bronze with encrusted garnets. The Sutton Hoo helmet is very similar to helmets in Gamla Uppsala, Vendel, and Valsgärde showing that the Anglo-Saxon elite had extensive contacts with the Swedish elite.” ref

In the sixth century Jordanes named two tribes, which he calls the Suehans and the Suetidi, who lived in Scandza. The Suehans, he says, have very fine horses just as the Thyringi tribe (alia vero gens ibi moratur Suehans, quae velud Thyringi equis utuntur eximiis). The Icelander Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241) wrote of the sixth-century Swedish king Adils (Eadgils) that he had the finest horses of his days. The Suehans supplied black fox-skins for the Roman market. Then Jordanes names the Suetidi which is considered to be the Latin form of Svitjod. He writes that the Suetidi are the tallest of men—together with the Dani, who were of the same stock. Later he mentions other Scandinavian tribes as being of the same height. Originating in semi-legendary Scandza (believed to be somewhere in modern Götaland, Sweden), a Gothic population had crossed the Baltic Sea before the second century AD. They reaching Scythia on the coast of the Black Sea in modern Ukraine, where Goths left their archaeological traces in the Chernyakhov culture. In the fifth and sixth centuries, they became divided as the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, and established powerful successor-states of the Roman Empire in the Iberian peninsula and Italy respectively.Crimean Gothic communities appear to have survived intact in the Crimea until the late-18th century.” ref

“The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly between the eighth and 11th centuries. During this period, it is believed that the Swedes expanded from eastern Sweden and incorporated the Geats to the south. It is believed that Swedish Vikings and Gutar mainly traveled east and south, going to Finland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine the Black Sea, and further as far as Baghdad. Their routes passed through the Dnieper down south to Constantinople, on which they did numerous raids. The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos noticed their great skills in war and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguard, known as the varangian guard. The Swedish Vikings, called “Rus” are also believed to be the founding fathers of Kievan Rus. The adventures of these Swedish Vikings are commemorated on many runestones in Sweden, such as the Greece Runestones and the Varangian Runestones. There was also considerable participation in expeditions westwards, which are commemorated on stones such as the England Runestones. The last major Swedish Viking expedition appears to have been the ill-fated expedition of Ingvar the Far-Travelled to Serkland, the region south-east of the Caspian Sea. Its members are commemorated on the Ingvar Runestones, none of which mentions any survivor. What happened to the crew is unknown, but it is believed that they died of sickness.” ref

“It is not known when and how the ‘kingdom of Sweden’ was born, but the list of Swedish monarchs is drawn from the first kings who ruled both Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia) as one province with Erik the Victorious. Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before that into antiquity. It is not known how long they existed, but Beowulf described semi-legendary Swedish-Geatish wars in the sixth century. During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in Scania and Paviken on Gotland, in present-day Sweden, were flourishing trade centres. Remains of what is believed to have been a large market have been found in Ystad dating from 600 to 700 CE. In Paviken, an important centre of trade in the Baltic region during the ninth and tenth centuries, remains have been found of a large Viking Age harbour with shipbuilding yards and handicraft industries. Between 800 and 1000, trade brought an abundance of silver to Gotland, and according to some scholars, the Gotlanders of this era hoarded more silver than the rest of the population of Scandinavia combined. St. Ansgar is usually credited for introducing Christianity in 829, but the new religion did not begin to fully replace paganism until the 12th century. During the 11th century, Christianity became the most prevalent religion, and from 1050 Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterized by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms. Swedish kings also began to expand the Swedish-controlled territory in Finland, creating conflicts with the Rus who no longer had any connection with Sweden.ref

“North Germanic peoples, commonly called Scandinavians, Nordic peoples and in a medieval context Norsemen, were a Germanic linguistic group originating from the Scandinavian Peninsula. They are identified by their cultural similarities, common ancestry, and common use of the Proto-Norse language from around 200 CE, a language that around 800 CE became the Old Norse language, which in turn later became the North Germanic languages of today. The North Germanic peoples are thought to have emerged as a distinct people in what is now southern Sweden in the early centuries CE. Several North Germanic tribes are mentioned by classical writers in antiquity, in particular the Swedes, Danes, Geats, Gutes, and Rugii. During the subsequent Viking Age, seafaring North Germanic adventurers, commonly referred to as Vikings, raided and settled territories throughout Europe and beyond, founding several important political entities and exploring the North Atlantic as far as North America. Groups that arose from this expansion include the Normans, the Norse–Gaels, and the Rus’ people.” ref

“The North Germanic peoples of the Viking Age went by various names among the cultures they encountered, but are generally referred to as Norsemen. With the end of the Viking Age in the 11th century, the North Germanic peoples were converted from their native Norse paganism to Christianity, while their previously tribal societies were centralized into the modern kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Modern linguistic groups that descended from the North Germanic peoples are the Danes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Swedes, and Faroese. These groups are often collectively referred to as Scandinavians, although Icelanders and the Faroese are sometimes excluded from that definition. In the early Medieval period, as today, Vikings was a common term for North Germanic raiders, especially in connection with raids and monastic plundering in continental Europe and the British Isles. In modern times the term is often applied to all North Germanic peoples of the Middle Ages, including raiders and non-raiders, although such use is controversial. From the Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn (northern men), has given rise to the English name Norsemen, which is sometimes used for the pre-Christian North Germanic peoples. In scholarship however, the term Norsemen generally refers only to early Norwegians.” ref

“The Battle Axe culture, also called Boat Axe culture, is a Chalcolithic culture that flourished in the coastal areas of the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula and southwest Finland, from c. 2800 – c. 2300 BCE. It was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, and replaced the Funnelbeaker culture in southern Scandinavia, probably through a process of mass migration and population replacement. It is thought to have been responsible for spreading Indo-European languages and other elements of Indo-European culture to the region. It co-existed for a time with the hunter-gatherer Pitted Ware culture, which it eventually absorbed, developing into the Nordic Bronze Age. The Nordic Bronze Age has, in turn, been considered ancestral to the Germanic peoples. The Battle Axe culture emerged in the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula about 2800 BC. It was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, which was itself largely an offshoot of the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic–Caspian steppe. Modern genetic studies show that its emergence was accompanied by large-scale migrations and genetic displacement. The Battle Axe culture initially absorbed the agricultural Funnelbeaker cultureThe concentration of the Battle Axe culture was in Scania. Sites of the Battle Axe culture have been found throughout the coastal areas of southern Scandinavia and southwest Finland. The immediate coastline was, however, occupied by the Pitted Ware culture. By 2300 BCE, the Battle Axe culture had absorbed the Pitted Ware culture. Throughout its existence, the Battle Axe culture appears to have expanded into coastal Norway, accompanied by dramatic cultural changes. Einar Østmo reports sites of the Battle Axe culture inside the Norwegian Arctic Circle in the Lofoten, and as far north as the present city of Tromsø. The Battle Axe culture ended around 2300 BC. It was eventually succeeded by the Nordic Bronze Age, which appears to be a fusion of elements from the Battle Axe culture and the Pitted Ware culture.ref

Nordic Bronze Age

The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 2000/1750–500 BCEThe Nordic Bronze Age culture emerged about 1750 BCE as a continuation of the Battle Axe culture (the Scandinavian Corded Ware variant) and Bell Beaker culture, as well as from influence that came from Central Europe. This influence most likely came from people similar to those of the Unetice culture, since they brought customs that were derived from Unetice or from local interpretations of the Unetice culture located in North Western Germany. The metallurgical influences from Central Europe are especially noticeable. The Bronze Age in Scandinavia can be said to have begun shortly after 2000 BCE with the introduction and use of bronze tools, followed by a more systematic adoption of bronze metalworking technology from 1750 BCE. The Nordic Bronze Age maintained close trade links with Mycenaean Greece, with whom it shares several striking similarities. Some cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze Age, the Sintashta/Andronovo culture, and peoples of the Rigveda have also been detected.” ref 

“The Nordic Bronze Age region included part of northern Germany, and some scholars also include sites in what is now Estonia, Finland, and Pomerania as part of its cultural sphereThe people of the Nordic Bronze Age were actively engaged in the export of amber, and imported metals in return, becoming expert metalworkers. With respect to the number and density of metal deposits, the Nordic Bronze Age became the richest culture in Europe during its existence. Iron metallurgy began to be practiced in Scandinavia during the later Bronze Age, from at least the 9th century BCE. Around the 5th century BCE, the Nordic Bronze Age was succeeded by the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Jastorf culture. The Nordic Bronze Age is often considered ancestral to the Germanic peoples.” ref

“Settlement in the Nordic Bronze Age period consisted mainly of single farmsteads, which usually consisted of a longhouse plus additional four-post built structures (helms). Longhouses were initially two aisled, and after c. 1300 BC three aisled structure became normal. Some longhouses were exceptionally large (up to about 500 m2 in area), and have been described as “chiefly halls”, “the sitting area of which is the size of a megaron in contemporary Mycenean palaces”. Larger settlements are also known (such as Hallunda and Apalle in Sweden and Voldtofte in Denmark), as well as fortified sites, specialist workshops for metalwork and ceramic production, and dedicated cult houses. Settlements were geographically located on higher ground, and tended to be concentrated near the sea. Certain settlements functioned as regional centres of power, trade, craft production, and ritual activity. The Bronze Age fortified town of Hünenburg bei Watenstedt in northern Germany (12th c. BC) has been described as a trading post for people from Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea region, as well as a cult centre and seat of a ruling elite.” ref 

“Associated with Nordic Bronze Age settlements are burial cairns, mounds, and cemeteries, with interments including oak coffins and urn burials; other settlement associations include rock carvings, or bronze hoards in wetland sites. Some burial mounds are especially large and, with respect to the amount of gold and bronze in them, extraordinarily rich for this time period. Examples of prominent burial mounds include the Håga mound and Kivik King’s Grave in Sweden, and the Lusehøj in Denmark. A minimum of 50,000 burial mounds were constructed between 1500 and 1150 BCE in Denmark alone. Oak coffin burials dating from the 14th-13th centuries BCE contained well-preserved mummified bodies, along with their clothing and burial goods.” ref

“The bodies were intentionally mummified by watering the burial mounds to create a bog-like, oxygen-free environment within the graves. This practice may have been stimulated by cultural influence from Egypt, as it coincided with the appearance of Egyptian artifacts in Scandinavia and the appearance of Baltic amber in Egypt (e.g. in the tomb of Tutankhamun). However, intentional mummification within oak coffin burials has also been noted in Britain at an earlier date (c. 2300 BCE). The Late Bronze Age King’s Grave of Seddin in northern Germany (9th century BCE) has been described as a “Homeric burial” due to its close similarity to contemporary elite burials in Greece and Italy.” ref

The west coast of Sweden, namely Bohuslän, has the largest concentration of Bronze Age rock carvings in Scandinavia; and Scandinavia has the largest number of Bronze Age rock carvings in Europe. The west coast of Sweden is home to around 1,500 recorded rock engraving sites, with more being discovered every year. When the rock carvings were made, the area was the coastline; but it is now 25 meters above sea level. The engravings in the region depict everyday life, weapons, human figures, fishing nets, ships, chariots, plows, the sun, deer, bulls, horses, and birds. By far, the most dominant theme is human figures and ships, especially ships  —  10,000 of which have been recorded. The typical ship depicts a crew of six to thirteen. Rock carvings in the late Bronze Age, and even the early Iron Age, often depict conflict, power, and mobility.” ref

“The culture of the Nordic Bronze Age was that of a warrior culture, with a strong emphasis on weapons and status. Helle Vandkilde of Aarhus University, in her publications from 1995, describes most men of the period as having followed a warrior ethos. More than 70% of burials dating to the Nordic Bronze Age contain metal objects of various kinds, the most common objects being swords and daggers. It is noted that the people of the Nordic Bronze Age also placed great importance on helmets of intricate design, which they put much effort into making. However, not all of the weapons and armor of the Nordic Bronze Age were used for warfare. Some of them are believed to have been ceremonial, especially the helmets. Despite the importance of weapons in their society, archaeological discoveries suggest that intrasocietal violence was not particularly common in the Nordic Bronze Age, especially not when compared to contemporary European Bronze Age cultures.” ref 

“The people of the Nordic Bronze Age seem to instead have been directing their military efforts outwards, likely against people of neighboring cultures, and are believed to have participated in battles along the Amber Road and other trade routes that were important for the continuous prosperity of their society. Many of the stone carvings from the Nordic Bronze Age depict boats in great numbers as well as groups of armed men manning the boats. Finds such as the Hjortspring boat, among others, give further credence to the theory that Bronze Age people in Scandinavia relied heavily on naval dominance of the waters surrounding their region in order to secure trade and safety. Ancient DNA and archaeological evidence indicates that people from the Nordic Bronze Age sphere were involved in the conflict at the Tollense valley battlefield in northern Germany (13th century BCE), “the largest excavated and archaeologically verifiable battle site of this age in the world.” ref

“The Nordic Bronze Age maintained intimate trade links with the Tumulus culture and Mycenaean Greece. The Nordic Bronze Age exported amber through the Amber Road, and imported metals in return. During the time of the Nordic Bronze Age, metals, such as copper, tin, and gold, were imported into Scandinavia on a massive scale. Copper was imported from Sardinia, Iberia, and Cyprus. The trade network was briefly disrupted during the Late Bronze Age collapse in the 12th century BCE. Evidence for horse-drawn chariots appears in Scandinavia c. 1700 BCE, around the same time or earlier than it appears in Greece. In both cases, the chariots appear to have come from the region of the Carpathian Basin or the western steppe.ref

“Chariot bits and whip handles in Denmark dating from this time feature curvilinear ‘wave-band’ designs that are also found on contemporary artifacts from the Carpathian Basin and Greece, including in the elite shaft graves at Mycenae. These designs subsequently appear on Nordic Bronze Age metalwork, including on the gold disc of the Trundholm Sun Chariot. Engraved depictions of chariots appear in Scandinavian rock art from c. 1700 BCE onwards, as they do on engraved stone stelae from Mycenae. The introduction of the chariot in Scandinavia coincided with the introduction of socketed spearheads, whose ultimate origin Vandkilde (2014) ascribes to the Seima-Turbino culture. Cheek-pieces and belt hooks adorned with horse heads are suggested to have originated from the Carpathian Basin, making their way into Scandinavia.” ref

“Chariot wheels in Scandinavia are depicted with four spokes, as in Mycenaean Greece and the Carpathian Basin. A depiction of a chariot or two-wheeled vehicle with four-spoked wheels is also known from Kültepe (karum Kanesh) in Central Anatolia, dating from c. 1900 BCE. In contrast, chariot wheels from the Sintashta culture and Andronovo cultures near the Urals had more than four spokes. According to Maran (2020, 2014) chariots probably originated “in the entire zone between the Carpathian Basin and the Southern Ural”, rather than just in the Ural region, and spread southwards from there to Greece and the Near East. In the case of Greece, this is given some support by analyses of skeletal material from the shaft graves at Mycenae, which also indicate connections to the north.” ref

“According to Kristiansen and Larsson (2005), “foreign origins were most consciously demonstrated in the formation of the Nordic Bronze Age Culture from 1500 BCE onwards, basing itself on a Minoan/Mycenaean template.” During the 15th–14th centuries BCE the Nordic Bronze Age and Mycenaean Greece shared the use of similar flange-hilted swords, as well as select elements of shared lifestyle, such as campstools, drinking vessels decorated with solar symbols, and tools for body care including razors and tweezers. This “Mycenaean package”, including spiral decoration, was directly adopted in southern Scandinavia after 1500 BCE, creating “a specific and selective Nordic variety of Mycenaean high culture” that was not adopted in the intermediate region of Central Europe.” ref

“These similarities can not have come about without intimate contacts, probably through the travels of warriors and mercenaries. Archaeological evidence further indicates the existence in both regions of shared institutions linked to warriors. Specifically, the dual organization of leadership between a Wanax (ritual chief) and a Lawagetas (warrior chief) in Mycenaean Greece was apparently replicated in the Nordic Bronze Age. However, this dual organization may have also been part of a shared Indo-European tradition. Other similarities have been noted in artistic iconography from both regions and its associated cosmology. A possible Linear A inscription has also been discovered in Kongsberg, Norway. Some of the contacts between Scandinavia and Greece were probably conveyed through Central Europe.” ref 

“Cultural connections with the Hittites have also been suggested. These include a sign or symbol akin to the Hittite hieroglyph meaning ‘divine’ found among the rock carvings at Fossum in Sweden, associated with possible images of divinities. According to Kristiansen & Larsson (2005), “From the eighteenth century BC until the beginning of the fifteenth century BC networks were operating between the Hittites, the steppe, and the Carpathians, with a direct link to northern Europe. During this period basic institutions were transmitted north in exchange for amber and horses, while at the same time, the institution of charity was transmitted south from the steppe”. Trade and cultural contacts have also been noted between the Nordic Bronze Age and New Kingdom Egypt. The contacts during the Late Bronze Age (period IV-VI) were more intensive with Central Europe and Italy. A lot of similarities are seen in art and iconography between different continental Urnfield cultures and the Hallstatt culture. Copper was imported from Central Europe and Italy.” ref

“There is no coherent knowledge about the Nordic Bronze Age religion, its pantheon, world view, and how it was practiced. Written sources are lacking, but archaeological finds draw a vague and fragmented picture of the religious practices and the nature of the religion of this period. Only some possible sects and only certain possible tribes are known. Some of the best clues come from tumuli, elaborate artifacts, votive offerings, and rock carvings scattered across Northern Europe. Many finds indicate a strong sun-worshipping cult in the Nordic Bronze Age and various animals have been associated with the sun’s movement across the sky, including horses, birds, snakes, and marine creatures (see also Sól). A female or mother goddess is believed to have been widely worshipped (see Nerthus). There have been several finds of fertility symbols. Hieros gamos rites may have been common.” ref

“A pair of twin gods are believed to have been worshipped, and is reflected in a duality in all things sacred: where sacrificial artifacts have been buried they are often found in pairs. Sacrifices (animals, weapons, jewelry, and humans) often had a strong connection to bodies of water. Boglands, ponds, streams, or lakes were often used as ceremonial and holy places for sacrifices and many artifacts have been found in such locations. There are many rock carving sites from this period. The rock carvings have been dated through comparison with depicted artifacts, for example, bronze axes and swords. Many rock carvings are uncanny in resemblance to those found in the Corded Ware culture.” ref

“There are also numerous Nordic Stone Age rock carvings, those of northern Scandinavia mostly portray elk. Ritual instruments such as bronze lurs have been uncovered, especially in the region of Denmark and western Sweden. Lur horns are also depicted in several rock carvings and are believed to have been used in ceremonies. Remnants of the Bronze Age religion and mythology are believed to exist in Norse mythology and wider Germanic mythology, such as Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi, and Nerthus, and it is believed to itself be descended from the earlier Indo-European religion. Thousands of rock carvings from the Nordic Bronze Age depict ships, and the large stone burial monuments known as stone ships. Those sites suggest that ships and seafaring played an important role in the culture at large. The depicted ships, most likely represents sewn plank-built canoes used for warfare, fishing, and trade.” ref

“These ship types may have their origin as far back as the Neolithic period and they continue into the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as exemplified by the Hjortspring boat. 3,600-year-old bronze axes and other tools made from Cypriot copper have been found in the region. “Researchers note that there is great continuity in the way that ships continuously had a strong importance in Scandinavian society. The boat-building and seafaring traditions that were established during the Nordic Bronze Age lasted throughout the ages and were further developed upon during the Iron Age. Some archaeologists and historians believe that the culmination of this sea-focused culture was the Viking Age.” ref

A June 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Nordic Bronze Age to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware culture, the Beaker culture, and the Unetice culture. People of the Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware show the highest lactose tolerance among Bronze Age Europeans. The study suggested that the Sintashta culture, and its succeeding Andronovo culture, represented an eastward migration of Corded Ware peoples. In the June 2015 study, the remains of nine individuals of the Northern Bronze Age and earlier Neolithic cultures in Denmark and Sweden from ca. 2850 to 500 BCE, were analyzed. Among the Neolithic individuals, the three males were found to be carrying haplogroup I1, R1a1a1, and R1b1a1a2a1a1. Among the individuals from the Nordic Bronze Age, two males carried I1, while two carried R1b1a1a2.ref


Goth migration induced changes in the matrilineal genetic structure of the central-east European population

Abstract: For years, the issues related to the origin of the Goths and their early migrations in the Iron Age have been a matter of hot debate among archaeologists. Unfortunately, the lack of new independent data has precluded the evaluation of the existing hypothesis. To overcome this problem, we initiated systematic studies of the populations inhabiting the contemporary territory of Poland during the Iron Age. Here, we present an analysis of mitochondrial DNA isolated from 27 individuals (collectively called the Mas-VBIA group) excavated from an Iron Age cemetery (dated to the 2nd-4th century CE) attributed to Goths and located near Masłomęcz, eastern Poland. We found that Mas-VBIA has similar genetic diversity to present-day Asian populations and higher diversity than that of contemporary Europeans.” ref

“Our studies revealed close genetic links between the Mas-VBIA and two other Iron Age populations from the Jutland peninsula and from Kowalewko, located in western Poland. We disclosed the genetic connection between the Mas-VBIA and ancient Pontic-Caspian steppe groups. Similar connections were absent in the chronologically earlier Kowalewko and Jutland peninsula populations. The collected results seem to be consistent with the historical narrative that assumed that the Goths originated in southern Scandinavia; then, at least part of the Goth population moved south through the territory of contemporary Poland towards the Black Sea region, where they mixed with local populations and formed the Chernyakhov culture. Finally, a fraction of the Chernyakhov population returned to the southeast region of present-day Poland and established the archaeological formation called the “Masłomęcz group.” ref

“During the last decade, genetics and genomics have become new driving forces that have stimulated the rapid development of studies on the human past. Archaeogenomics has quickly evolved from analyses of single individuals to studies involving dozens of subjects. As a result, an increasingly precise map of the genetic history of a human population is generated. Despite the progress in our understanding of the demographic processes that took place in Europe since its first peopling, the map still has a numerous blank spaces4. They are especially frequent in the case of the Early Bronze Age (EBA) and later periods, when more complex demographic and cultural events occurred. Importantly, not all geographical regions have been sufficiently sampled. The majority of data are confined to Central-West Europe, whereas Eastern Europe is scarcely represented.” ref

“Recently, the first efforts have been undertaken to determine the genetic roots of peoples living in Central-East and Eastern Europe. The works of Chylenski et al. and Lorkiewicz et al. suggest that the matrilineal genetic makeup of people living in the Vistula River Basin during the Early Neolithic (EN) and the Middle Neolithic (MN) better resembled the Funnel Beaker culture populations (TRB, ger. Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur), which were a mixture of Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Neolithic farmers, than the Linear Pottery culture-associated populations (LBK, ger. Linearbandkeramik), which were mostly composed of Neolithic farmers. The studies of autosomal DNA of the Globular Amphora culture (GAC) population inhabiting the Vistula River Basin during the Late Neolithic (LN) showed no presence of Yamnaya steppe herder ancestry (YAM). At the same time, the Corded Ware culture (CWC) groups that later succeeded GAC have as much as 75% of their genetic makeup attributed to YAM (Fig. 1a). In particular, we know little about the genetic history of the populations that inhabited the territory of contemporary Poland in the Bronze Age (BA). During that time, cremation of the dead became a common custom; thus, our knowledge on these peoples is based almost exclusively on archaeological artifacts. They indicate that during the BA, several local cultures developed in this region.” ref

“All of them were, to a large extent, related to each other, and consequently, they are usually considered as one, called the Lusatian culture, existing from the EBA to the early Iron Age (IA). At the beginning of the IA (approximately 600 BCE.), an alternative to Lusatian culture, called the Pomeranian culture (PC), was developed. The PC dominated the region and spread between the Oder and Bug Rivers until the end of the 3rd century BCE. (Fig. 1b). During the period that immediately preceded the demographic events described in this article (the period between 1st and 2nd centuries BCE.), the lowland of contemporary central Poland was occupied by the Przeworsk culture (Fig. 1c), which replaced the earlier existing PC. The development of the Przeworsk Culture seems to be connected with a Vandal migration. In a similar period, in the regions of Middle Pomerania and Lower Powiśle (zone along the Baltic seashore), the Oksywie culture was established (see Fig. 1c).” ref

“The Goths were Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the emergence of medieval Europe. In his book Getica (c. 551), the historian Jordanes writes that the Goths originated in southern Scandinavia, but the accuracy of this account is unclear. A people called the Gutones – possibly early Goths – are documented living near the lower Vistula River in the 1st century, where they are associated with the archaeological Wielbark culture. From the 2nd century, the Wielbark culture expanded southwards towards the Black Sea in what has been associated with Gothic migration, and by the late 3rd century it contributed to the formation of the Chernyakhov culture. By the 4th century at the latest, several Gothic groups were distinguishable, among whom the Thervingi and Greuthungi were the most powerful. During this time, Wulfila began the conversion of Goths to Christianity.” ref

“In the late 4th century, the lands of the Goths were invaded from the east by the Huns. In the aftermath of this event, several groups of Goths came under Hunnic domination, while others migrated further west or sought refuge inside the Roman Empire. Goths who entered the Empire by crossing the Danube inflicted a devastating defeat upon the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. These Goths would form the Visigoths, and under their king Alaric I, they began a long migration, eventually establishing a Visigothic Kingdom in Spain at Toledo. Meanwhile, Goths under Hunnic rule gained their independence in the 5th century, most importantly the Ostrogoths. Under their king Theodoric the Great, these Goths established an Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy at Ravenna.” ref 

“The Ostrogothic Kingdom was destroyed by the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th century, while the Visigothic Kingdom was conquered by the Umayyad Caliphate in the early 8th century. Remnants of Gothic communities in Crimea, known as the Crimean Goths, lingered on for several centuries, although Goths would eventually cease to exist as a distinct people. In the Gothic language, the Goths were called the *Gut-þiuda (‘Gothic people’) or *Gutans (‘Goths’). The Proto-Germanic form of the Gothic name is *Gutōz, which co-existed with an n-stem variant *Gutaniz, attested in Gutonesgutani, or gutniskr. The form *Gutōz is identical to that of the Gutes and closely related to that of the Geats (*Gautōz). Though these names probably mean the same, their exact meaning is uncertain. They are all thought to be related to the Proto-Germanic verb *geuta-, which means “to pour.” ref

“The Goths are classified as a Germanic people in modern scholarship. Along with the BurgundiansVandals, and others they belong to the East Germanic group. Roman authors of late antiquity did not classify the Goths as Germani. In modern scholarship the Goths are sometimes referred to as being Germani. Similarities between the name of the Goths, some Swedish place names, and the names of the Gutes and Geats have been cited as evidence that the Goths originated in Gotland or Götaland. The Goths, Geats, and Gutes may all have descended from an early community of seafarers active on both sides of the Baltic. Similarities and dissimilarities between the Gothic language and Scandinavian languages (particularly Gutnish) have been cited as evidence both for and against a Scandinavian origin.” ref

“The first incursion of the Roman Empire that can be attributed to Goths is the sack of Histria in 238. The first references to the Goths in the 3rd century call them Scythians, as this area, known as Scythia, had historically been occupied by an unrelated people of that name. It is in the late 3rd century that the name Goths (Latin: Gothi) is first mentioned. Ancient authors do not identify the Goths with the earlier Gutones. Philologists and linguists have no doubt that the names are linked. On the Pontic steppe the Goths quickly adopted several nomadic customs from the Sarmatians. They excelled at horsemanship, archery, and falconry, as well as were also accomplished agriculturalists and seafarers. J. B. Bury describes the Gothic period as “the only non-nomadic episode in the history of the steppe.” ref

William H. McNeill compares the migration of the Goths to that of the early Mongols, who migrated southward from the forests and came to dominate the eastern Eurasian steppe around the same time as the Goths in the west. From the 240s at the earliest, Goths were heavily recruited into the Roman Army to fight in the Roman–Persian Wars, notably participating at the Battle of Misiche in 244. An inscription at the Ka’ba-ye Zartosht in Parthian, Persian, and Greek commemorates the Persian victory over the Romans and the troops drawn from Gwt W Germany xštr, the Gothic and German kingdoms, which is probably a Parthian gloss for the Danubian (Gothic) limes and the Germanic limes. Meanwhile, Gothic raids on the Roman Empire continued.” ref 

“In 250–51, the Gothic king Cniva captured the city of Philippopolis and inflicted a devastating defeat upon the Romans at the Battle of Abrittus, in which the Roman Emperor Decius was killed. This was one of the most disastrous defeats in the history of the Roman army. The first Gothic seaborne raids took place in the 250s. The first two incursions into Asia Minor took place between 253 and 256, and are attributed to Boranoi by Zosimus. This may not be an ethnic term but may just mean “people from the north”. It is unknown if the Goths were involved in these first raids. Gregory Thaumaturgus attributes a third attack to Goths and Boradoi, and claims that some, “forgetting that they were men of Pontus and Christians,” joined the invaders.” ref

The Vandals were a Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The Vandals migrated to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers in the second century BC and settled in Silesia from around 120 BCE. They are associated with the Przeworsk culture and were possibly the same people as the Lugii. Expanding into Dacia during the Marcomannic Wars and to Pannonia during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Vandals were confined to Pannonia by the Goths around 330 CE, where they received permission to settle from Constantine the Great. Around 400, raids by the Huns from the east forced many Germanic tribes to migrate west into the territory of the Roman Empire and, fearing that they might be targeted next, the Vandals were also pushed westwards, crossing the Rhine into Gaul along with other tribes in 406.” ref

“In 409, the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, where the Hasdingi and the Silingi settled in Gallaecia (northwest Iberia) and Baetica (south-central Iberia). On the orders of the Romans, the Visigoths invaded Iberia in 418. They almost wiped out the Alans and Silingi Vandals who voluntarily subjected themselves to the rule of Hasdingian leader Gunderic. Gunderic was then pushed from Gallaecia to Baetica by a Roman-Suebi coalition in 419. In 429, under king Genseric (reigned 428–477), the Vandals entered North Africa. By 439 they established a kingdom which included the Roman province of Africa as well as Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, and the Balearic Islands. They fended off several Roman attempts to recapture the African province, and sacked the city of Rome in 455. Their kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–34, in which Emperor Justinian I‘s forces reconquered the province for the Eastern Roman Empire.” ref

“As the Vandals plundered Rome for fourteen days, Renaissance and early-modern writers characterized the Vandals as prototypical barbarians. This led to the use of the term “vandalism” to describe any pointless destruction, particularly the “barbarian” defacing of artwork. However, some modern historians have emphasized the role of Vandals as continuators of aspects of Roman culture, in the transitional period from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. Some medieval authors equated two classical ethnonyms, “Vandals” and Veneti, and applied both to West Slavs, leading to the term Wends, which has been used for various Slavic-speaking groups and is still used for Lusatians. However, modern scholars derive “Wend” from “Veneti”, and do not equate the Veneti and Vandals.” ref

The name of the Vandals has been connected to that of Vendel, the name of a province in Uppland, Sweden, which is also eponymous of the Vendel Period of Swedish prehistory, corresponding to the late Germanic Iron Age leading up to the Viking Age. The connection is considered tenuous at best and more plausibly the result of chance, though Scandinavia is considered the probable homeland of the tribe prior to the Migration PeriodAs the Vandals eventually came to live outside of Germania, they were not considered Germani by ancient Roman authors. Neither another East Germanic-speaking group, the Goths, nor Norsemen (early Scandinavians), were counted among the Germani by the Romans. Since the Vandals spoke a Germanic language and belonged to early Germanic culture, they are classified as a Germanic people by modern scholars.” ref

“Since the Middle Ages, kings of Denmark were styled “King of Denmark, the Goths, and the Wends“, the Wends being a group of West Slavs formerly living in Mecklenburg and eastern Holstein in modern Germany. The title “King of the Wends” is translated as vandalorum rex in Latin. The title was shortened to “King of Denmark” in 1972. Starting in 1540, Swedish kings (following Denmark) were styled Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum Rex (“King of the Swedes, Geats, and Wends“). Carl XVI Gustaf dropped the title in 1973 and now styles himself simply as “King of Sweden“. The modern term vandalism stems from the Vandals’ reputation as the barbarian people who sacked and looted Rome in CE 455. The Vandals were probably not any more destructive than other invaders of ancient times, but writers who idealized Rome often blamed them for its destruction. For example, English Restoration poet John Dryden wrote, Till Goths, and Vandals, a rude Northern race, / Did all the matchless Monuments deface.ref

“The term Vandalisme was coined in 1794 by Henri Grégoire, bishop of Blois, to describe the destruction of artwork following the French Revolution. The term was quickly adopted across Europe. This new use of the term was important in colouring the perception of the Vandals from later Late Antiquity, popularizing the pre-existing idea that they were a barbaric group with a taste for destruction. Vandals and other “barbarian” groups had long been blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire by writers and historians. Robin Hemley wrote a short story, “The Liberation of Rome”, in which a professor of ancient history (mainly Roman) is confronted by a student claiming to be an ethnic Vandal.” ref


“Vikings is the modern name given to seafaring people originally from Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded, and settled throughout parts of Europe. They also voyaged as far as the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, Greenland, and Vinland (present-day Newfoundland in Canada, North America). In their countries of origin, and some of the countries they raided and settled in, this period is popularly known as the Viking Age, and the term “Viking” also commonly includes the inhabitants of the Scandinavian homelands as a whole. The Vikings had a profound impact on the early medieval history of Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Estonia, and Kievan Rus’.” ref

“Expert sailors and navigators of their characteristic longships, Vikings established Norse settlements and governments in the British Isles, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Normandy, and the Baltic coast, as well as along the Dnieper and Volga trade routes across modern-day Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, where they were also known as Varangians. The Normans, Norse-Gaels, Rus’ people, Faroese, and Icelanders emerged from these Norse colonies. At one point, a group of Rus Vikings went so far south that, after briefly being bodyguards for the Byzantine emperor, they attacked the Byzantine city of Constantinople. Vikings also voyaged to Iran and Arabia. They were the first Europeans to reach North America, briefly settling in Newfoundland (Vinland). While spreading Norse culture to foreign lands, they simultaneously brought home slaves, concubines, and foreign cultural influences to Scandinavia, influencing the genetic and historical development of both. During the Viking Age, the Norse homelands were gradually consolidated from smaller kingdoms into three larger kingdoms: Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.” ref

“The Vikings spoke Old Norse and made inscriptions in runes. For most of the period, they followed the Old Norse religion, but later became Christians. The Vikings had their own laws, art, and architecture. Most Vikings were also farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, and traders. Popular conceptions of the Vikings often strongly differ from the complex, advanced civilisation of the Norsemen that emerges from archaeology and historical sources. A romanticized picture of Vikings as noble savages began to emerge in the 18th century; this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival. Perceived views of the Vikings as violent, piratical heathens or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations of the Vikings are typically based on cultural clichés and stereotypes, complicating modern appreciation of the Viking legacy. These representations are rarely accurate—for example, there is no evidence that they wore horned helmets, a costume element that first appeared in the 19th century.” ref

“One theory suggests that the word viking’s origin is from the Old English wicing and the Old Frisian wizing that are almost 300 years older, and probably derive from wic, related to the Latin vicus “village, habitation”. Another less popular theory is that víking came from the feminine vík, meaning “creek, inlet, small bay”. It has been suggested that the word viking may be derived from the name of the historical Norwegian district of Víkin, meaning “a person from Víkin“, but people from the Viken area were called víkverir, (‘Vík dwellers’), not “Viking”, in Old Norse manuscripts. The explanation could explain only the masculine grammatical gender (víkingr) and not the feminine (víking); the masculine is more easily derived from the feminine than the other way around.” ref

“Another etymology that gained support in the early 21st century derives Viking from the same root as Old Norse vika, f. ‘sea mile’, originally meaning ‘the distance between two shifts of rowers’, from the root *weik or *wîk, as in the Proto-Germanic verb *wîkan, ‘to recede’. This is found in the early Nordic verb *wikan, ‘to turn’, similar to Old Icelandic víkja (ýkva, víkva) ‘to move, to turn’, with “well-attested nautical usages”, according to Bernard Mees. This theory is better attested linguistically, and the term most likely predates the use of the sail by the Germanic peoples of northwestern Europe, because the Old Frisian spelling Witsing or Wīsing shows that the word was pronounced with a palatal k and thus in all probability existed in North-Western Germanic before that palatalization happened in the 5th century or before (in the western branch).” ref

“The Old Norse feminine víking (as in the phrase fara í víking) may originally have been a long-distance sea journey characterized by the shifting of rowers, and a víkingr (masculine gender) would originally have been a participant on such a sea journey. In that case, the idea behind it seems to be that the tired rower moves aside on the thwart when he is relieved by the rested rower. This implies that the word Viking was not originally connected to Scandinavian seafarers, but assumed this meaning when the Scandinavians began to dominate the seas. Even the word vikingr did not necessarily possess negative overtones, nor was it always associated with violence, and only in the post-Viking age would negative overtones be attached to the word. In the Middle Ages, viking came to mean Scandinavian pirate or raider.” ref

“The earliest reference to wicing in English sources is from the Épinal-Erfurt glossary which dates to around 700. The glossary’s Latin translation for wicing is piraticum, or pirate in modern English. Whereas the first known attack by Viking raiders in England was at Lindisfarne about 93 years later. In Old English, the word wicing appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem, Widsith, probably from the 9th century. The word was not regarded as a reference to nationality, with other terms such as Norþmenn (Northmen) and Dene (Danes) being used for that. In Asser‘s Latin work, The Life of King Alfred, the Danes are referred to as pagani (pagans); historian Janet Nelson asserts that pagani has become ‘the Vikings’ throughout the standard translation of this work, even though there is “clear evidence” that it was used as a synonym for Danes, while Eric Christiansen avers that it is a mistranslation made at the insistence of the publisher. The word wicing does not occur in any preserved Middle English texts.” ref

“The form of the word viking occurs as a personal name on some Swedish runestones. The stone of Tóki víking (Sm 10) was raised in memory of a local man named Tóki who got the name Tóki víking (Toki the Viking), presumably because of his activities as a Viking. The Gårdstånga Stone (DR 330) uses the phrase “Þeʀ drængaʀ waʀu wiða unesiʀ i wikingu” (These valiant men were widely renowned on viking raids), referring to the stone’s dedicatees as Vikings. The Västra Strö 1 Runestone has an inscription in memory of a Björn, who was killed when “on a viking raid“. In Sweden there is a locality known since the Middle Ages as Vikingstad. The Bro Stone (U 617) was raised in memory of Assur who is said to have protected the land from Vikings (Saʀ vaʀ vikinga vorðr með Gæiti). There is little indication of any negative connotation in the term before the end of the Viking Age. In eastern Europe, of which parts were ruled by a Norse elite, víkingr came to be perceived as a positive concept meaning “hero” in the Russian borrowed form vityaz’ (витязь).” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


“When researchers completed the final analysis of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, they confirmed that the 3 billion base pairs of genetic letters in humans were 99.9 percent identical in every person. It also meant that individuals are, on average, 0.1 percent different genetically from every other person on the planet. And in that 0.1 percent lies the mystery of why some people are more susceptible to a particular illness or more likely to be healthy than their neighbor – or even another family member.” ref

Religion to some is a bright inspiration of betterment, while to others religion is a dark inspiration of hate and violence.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

People don’t commonly teach religious history, even that of their own claimed religion. No, rather they teach a limited “pro their religion” history of their religion from a religious perspective favorable to the religion of choice. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Do you truly think “Religious Belief” is only a matter of some personal choice?

Do you not see how coercive one’s world of choice is limited to the obvious hereditary belief, in most religious choices available to the child of religious parents or caregivers? Religion is more commonly like a family, culture, society, etc. available belief that limits the belief choices of the child and that is when “Religious Belief” is not only a matter of some personal choice and when it becomes hereditary faith, not because of the quality of its alleged facts or proposed truths but because everyone else important to the child believes similarly so they do as well simply mimicking authority beliefs handed to them. Because children are raised in religion rather than being presented all possible choices but rather one limited dogmatic brand of “Religious Belief” where children only have a choice of following the belief as instructed, and then personally claim the faith hereditary belief seen in the confirming to the belief they have held themselves all their lives. This is obvious in statements asked and answered by children claiming a faith they barely understand but they do understand that their family believes “this or that” faith, so they feel obligated to believe it too. While I do agree that “Religious Belief” should only be a matter of some personal choice, it rarely is… End Hereditary Religion!

Opposition to Imposed Hereditary Religion

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

“How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

We are like believing machines we vacuum up ideas, like Velcro sticks to almost everything. We accumulate beliefs that we allow to negatively influence our lives, often without realizing it. Our willingness must be to alter skewed beliefs that impend our balance or reason, which allows us to achieve new positive thinking and accurate outcomes.

My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

“Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

“Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

Understanding Religion Evolution:

“An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


Quick Evolution of Religion?

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

Here are several of my blog posts on history:

I am not an academic. I am a revolutionary that teaches in public, in places like social media, and in the streets. I am not a leader by some title given but from my commanding leadership style of simply to start teaching everywhere to everyone, all manner of positive education. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

To me, Animism starts in Southern Africa, then to West Europe, and becomes Totemism. Another split goes near the Russia and Siberia border becoming Shamanism, which heads into Central Europe meeting up with Totemism, which also had moved there, mixing the two which then heads to Lake Baikal in Siberia. From there this Shamanism-Totemism heads to Turkey where it becomes Paganism.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Not all “Religions” or “Religious Persuasions” have a god(s) but

All can be said to believe in some imaginary beings or imaginary things like spirits, afterlives, etc.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

Low Gods “Earth” or Tutelary deity and High Gods “Sky” or Supreme deity

“An Earth goddess is a deification of the Earth. Earth goddesses are often associated with the “chthonic” deities of the underworldKi and Ninhursag are Mesopotamian earth goddesses. In Greek mythology, the Earth is personified as Gaia, corresponding to Roman Terra, Indic Prithvi/Bhūmi, etc. traced to an “Earth Mother” complementary to the “Sky Father” in Proto-Indo-European religionEgyptian mythology exceptionally has a sky goddess and an Earth god.” ref

“A mother goddess is a goddess who represents or is a personification of naturemotherhoodfertilitycreationdestruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. In some religious traditions or movements, Heavenly Mother (also referred to as Mother in Heaven or Sky Mother) is the wife or feminine counterpart of the Sky father or God the Father.” ref

Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such king gods are collectively categorized as “sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “sky father” god with an “earth mother” goddess (pairings of a sky mother with an earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the queen of the gods and may be an air/sky goddess in her own right, though she usually has other functions as well with “sky” not being her main. In antiquity, several sky goddesses in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East were called Queen of Heaven. Neopagans often apply it with impunity to sky goddesses from other regions who were never associated with the term historically. The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky.” ref

“In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon and is often either a reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother“. “Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeûs Pater and Roman Jupiter and Germanic Týr, Tir or Tiwaz, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity’s name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).” ref

Tutelary deity

“A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of “tutelary” expresses the concept of safety and thus of guardianship. In late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) iKorean shamanismjangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshiped as deities. Seonangshin is the patron deity of the village in Korean tradition and was believed to embody the SeonangdangIn Philippine animism, Diwata or Lambana are deities or spirits that inhabit sacred places like mountains and mounds and serve as guardians. Such as: Maria Makiling is the deity who guards Mt. Makiling and Maria Cacao and Maria Sinukuan. In Shinto, the spirits, or kami, which give life to human bodies come from nature and return to it after death. Ancestors are therefore themselves tutelaries to be worshiped. And similarly, Native American beliefs such as Tonás, tutelary animal spirit among the Zapotec and Totems, familial or clan spirits among the Ojibwe, can be animals.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Austronesian beliefs such as: Atua (gods and spirits of the Polynesian peoples such as the Māori or the Hawaiians), Hanitu (Bunun of Taiwan‘s term for spirit), Hyang (KawiSundaneseJavanese, and Balinese Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology and this spiritual entity, can be either divine or ancestral), Kaitiaki (New Zealand Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land), Kawas (mythology) (divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of the living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts), Tiki (Māori mythologyTiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne and represents deified ancestors found in most Polynesian cultures). ” ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

Mesopotamian Tutelary Deities can be seen as ones related to City-States 

“Historical city-states included Sumerian cities such as Uruk and UrAncient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes and Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the five Philistine city-states; the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as AthensSpartaThebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a vast empire); the Italian city-states from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, such as FlorenceSienaFerraraMilan (which as they grew in power began to dominate neighboring cities) and Genoa and Venice, which became powerful thalassocracies; the Mayan and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen ItzaTikalCopán and Monte Albán); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; the city-states of the Swahili coastRagusa; states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov; and many others.” ref

“The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE; also known as Protoliterate period) of Mesopotamia, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. City-States like Uruk and others had a patron tutelary City Deity along with a Priest-King.” ref

Chinese folk religion, both past, and present, includes myriad tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals, highly cultivated sages, and prominent ancestors can be deified and honored after death. Lord Guan is the patron of military personnel and police, while Mazu is the patron of fishermen and sailors. Such as Tu Di Gong (Earth Deity) is the tutelary deity of a locality, and each individual locality has its own Earth Deity and Cheng Huang Gong (City God) is the guardian deity of an individual city, worshipped by local officials and locals since imperial times.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Hinduism, personal tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata, while family tutelary deities are known as Kuladevata. Gramadevata are guardian deities of villages. Devas can also be seen as tutelary. Shiva is the patron of yogis and renunciants. City goddesses include: Mumbadevi (Mumbai), Sachchika (Osian); Kuladevis include: Ambika (Porwad), and Mahalakshmi. In NorthEast India Meitei mythology and religion (Sanamahism) of Manipur, there are various types of tutelary deities, among which Lam Lais are the most predominant ones. Tibetan Buddhism has Yidam as a tutelary deity. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) The Greeks also thought deities guarded specific places: for instance, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Socrates spoke of hearing the voice of his personal spirit or daimonion:

You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me … . This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” ref

“Tutelary deities who guard and preserve a place or a person are fundamental to ancient Roman religion. The tutelary deity of a man was his Genius, that of a woman her Juno. In the Imperial era, the Genius of the Emperor was a focus of Imperial cult. An emperor might also adopt a major deity as his personal patron or tutelary, as Augustus did Apollo. Precedents for claiming the personal protection of a deity were established in the Republican era, when for instance the Roman dictator Sulla advertised the goddess Victory as his tutelary by holding public games (ludi) in her honor.” ref

“Each town or city had one or more tutelary deities, whose protection was considered particularly vital in time of war and siege. Rome itself was protected by a goddess whose name was to be kept ritually secret on pain of death (for a supposed case, see Quintus Valerius Soranus). The Capitoline Triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva were also tutelaries of Rome. The Italic towns had their own tutelary deities. Juno often had this function, as at the Latin town of Lanuvium and the Etruscan city of Veii, and was often housed in an especially grand temple on the arx (citadel) or other prominent or central location. The tutelary deity of Praeneste was Fortuna, whose oracle was renowned.” ref

“The Roman ritual of evocatio was premised on the belief that a town could be made vulnerable to military defeat if the power of its tutelary deity were diverted outside the city, perhaps by the offer of superior cult at Rome. The depiction of some goddesses such as the Magna Mater (Great Mother, or Cybele) as “tower-crowned” represents their capacity to preserve the city. A town in the provinces might adopt a deity from within the Roman religious sphere to serve as its guardian, or syncretize its own tutelary with such; for instance, a community within the civitas of the Remi in Gaul adopted Apollo as its tutelary, and at the capital of the Remi (present-day Rheims), the tutelary was Mars Camulus.” ref 

Household deity (a kind of or related to a Tutelary deity)

“A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in paganism as well as in folklore across many parts of the world. Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity – typically a goddess – often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, such as the ancient Greek Hestia.” ref

“The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.” ref

“Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as “household gods” in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings, or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.” ref

“In many religions, both ancient and modern, a god would preside over the home. Certain species, or types, of household deities, existed. An example of this was the Roman Lares. Many European cultures retained house spirits into the modern period. Some examples of these include:

“Although the cosmic status of household deities was not as lofty as that of the Twelve Olympians or the Aesir, they were also jealous of their dignity and also had to be appeased with shrines and offerings, however humble. Because of their immediacy they had arguably more influence on the day-to-day affairs of men than the remote gods did. Vestiges of their worship persisted long after Christianity and other major religions extirpated nearly every trace of the major pagan pantheons. Elements of the practice can be seen even today, with Christian accretions, where statues to various saints (such as St. Francis) protect gardens and grottos. Even the gargoyles found on older churches, could be viewed as guardians partitioning a sacred space.” ref

“For centuries, Christianity fought a mop-up war against these lingering minor pagan deities, but they proved tenacious. For example, Martin Luther‘s Tischreden have numerous – quite serious – references to dealing with kobolds. Eventually, rationalism and the Industrial Revolution threatened to erase most of these minor deities, until the advent of romantic nationalism rehabilitated them and embellished them into objects of literary curiosity in the 19th century. Since the 20th century this literature has been mined for characters for role-playing games, video games, and other fantasy personae, not infrequently invested with invented traits and hierarchies somewhat different from their mythological and folkloric roots.” ref

“In contradistinction to both Herbert Spencer and Edward Burnett Tylor, who defended theories of animistic origins of ancestor worship, Émile Durkheim saw its origin in totemism. In reality, this distinction is somewhat academic, since totemism may be regarded as a particularized manifestation of animism, and something of a synthesis of the two positions was attempted by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, both totem and taboo are outward expressions or manifestations of the same psychological tendency, a concept which is complementary to, or which rather reconciles, the apparent conflict. Freud preferred to emphasize the psychoanalytic implications of the reification of metaphysical forces, but with particular emphasis on its familial nature. This emphasis underscores, rather than weakens, the ancestral component.” ref

William Edward Hearn, a noted classicist, and jurist, traced the origin of domestic deities from the earliest stages as an expression of animism, a belief system thought to have existed also in the neolithic, and the forerunner of Indo-European religion. In his analysis of the Indo-European household, in Chapter II “The House Spirit”, Section 1, he states:

The belief which guided the conduct of our forefathers was … the spirit rule of dead ancestors.” ref

“In Section 2 he proceeds to elaborate:

It is thus certain that the worship of deceased ancestors is a vera causa, and not a mere hypothesis. …

In the other European nations, the Slavs, the Teutons, and the Kelts, the House Spirit appears with no less distinctness. … [T]he existence of that worship does not admit of doubt. … The House Spirits had a multitude of other names which it is needless here to enumerate, but all of which are more or less expressive of their friendly relations with man. … In [England] … [h]e is the Brownie. … In Scotland this same Brownie is well known. He is usually described as attached to particular families, with whom he has been known to reside for centuries, threshing the corn, cleaning the house, and performing similar household tasks. His favorite gratification was milk and honey.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


“These ideas are my speculations from the evidence.”

I am still researching the “god‘s origins” all over the world. So you know, it is very complicated but I am smart and willing to look, DEEP, if necessary, which going very deep does seem to be needed here, when trying to actually understand the evolution of gods and goddesses. I am sure of a few things and less sure of others, but even in stuff I am not fully grasping I still am slowly figuring it out, to explain it to others. But as I research more I am understanding things a little better, though I am still working on understanding it all or something close and thus always figuring out more. 

Sky Father/Sky God?

“Egyptian: (Nut) Sky Mother and (Geb) Earth Father” (Egypt is different but similar)

Turkic/Mongolic: (Tengri/Tenger Etseg) Sky Father and (Eje/Gazar Eej) Earth Mother *Transeurasian*

Hawaiian: (Wākea) Sky Father and (Papahānaumoku) Earth Mother *Austronesian*

New Zealand/ Māori: (Ranginui) Sky Father and (Papatūānuku) Earth Mother *Austronesian*

Proto-Indo-European: (Dyus/Dyus phtr) Sky Father and (Dʰéǵʰōm/Plethwih) Earth Mother

Indo-Aryan: (Dyaus Pita) Sky Father and (Prithvi Mata) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Italic: (Jupiter) Sky Father and (Juno) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Etruscan: (Tinia) Sky Father and (Uni) Sky Mother *Tyrsenian/Italy Pre–Indo-European*

Hellenic/Greek: (Zeus) Sky Father and (Hera) Sky Mother who started as an “Earth Goddess” *Indo-European*

Nordic: (Dagr) Sky Father and (Nótt) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Slavic: (Perun) Sky Father and (Mokosh) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Illyrian: (Deipaturos) Sky Father and (Messapic Damatura’s “earth-mother” maybe) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Albanian: (Zojz) Sky Father and (?) *Indo-European*

Baltic: (Perkūnas) Sky Father and (Saulė) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Germanic: (Týr) Sky Father and (?) *Indo-European*

Colombian-Muisca: (Bochica) Sky Father and (Huythaca) Sky Mother *Chibchan*

Aztec: (Quetzalcoatl) Sky Father and (Xochiquetzal) Sky Mother *Uto-Aztecan*

Incan: (Viracocha) Sky Father and (Mama Runtucaya) Sky Mother *Quechuan*

China: (Tian/Shangdi) Sky Father and (Dì) Earth Mother *Sino-Tibetan*

Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian: (An/Anu) Sky Father and (Ki) Earth Mother

Finnish: (Ukko) Sky Father and (Akka) Earth Mother *Finno-Ugric*

Sami: (Horagalles) Sky Father and (Ravdna) Earth Mother *Finno-Ugric*

Puebloan-Zuni: (Ápoyan Ta’chu) Sky Father and (Áwitelin Tsíta) Earth Mother

Puebloan-Hopi: (Tawa) Sky Father and (Kokyangwuti/Spider Woman/Grandmother) Earth Mother *Uto-Aztecan*

Puebloan-Navajo: (Tsohanoai) Sky Father and (Estsanatlehi) Earth Mother *Na-Dene*



Sky Father/Sky Mother “High Gods” or similar gods/goddesses of the sky more loosely connected, seeming arcane mythology across the earth seen in Siberia, China, Europe, Native Americans/First Nations People and Mesopotamia, etc.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

ref, ref

Hinduism around 3,700 to 3,500 years old. ref

 Judaism around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (The first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew” dated to around 3,000 years ago Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley. And many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed around 2,500) ref, ref

Judaism is around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (“Paleo-Hebrew” 3,000 years ago and Torah 2,500 years ago)

“Judaism is an Abrahamic, its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars argue that modern Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, by the late 6th century BCE, and is thus considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions.” ref

“Yahwism is the name given by modern scholars to the religion of ancient Israel, essentially polytheistic, with a plethora of gods and goddesses. Heading the pantheon was Yahweh, the national god of the Israelite kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with his consort, the goddess Asherah; below them were second-tier gods and goddesses such as Baal, Shamash, Yarikh, Mot, and Astarte, all of whom had their own priests and prophets and numbered royalty among their devotees, and a third and fourth tier of minor divine beings, including the mal’ak, the messengers of the higher gods, who in later times became the angels of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yahweh, however, was not the ‘original’ god of Israel “Isra-El”; it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name “Israel”, and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic theophoric name (i.e., one incorporating the name of Yahweh).” ref

“El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity“, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic *ʔil-, meaning “god”. Specific deities known as ‘El or ‘Il include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period. ʼĒl is listed at the head of many pantheons. In some Canaanite and Ugaritic sources, ʼĒl played a role as father of the gods, of creation, or both. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “ʼĒl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad“. The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. In the Hebrew texts this word is interpreted as being semantically singular for “god” by biblical commentators. However the documentary hypothesis for the Old Testament (corresponds to the Jewish Torah) developed originally in the 1870s, identifies these that different authors – the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source – were responsible for editing stories from a polytheistic religion into those of a monotheistic religion. Inconsistencies that arise between monotheism and polytheism in the texts are reflective of this hypothesis.” ref


Jainism around 2,599 – 2,527 years old. ref

Confucianism around 2,600 – 2,551 years old. ref

Buddhism around 2,563/2,480 – 2,483/2,400 years old. ref

Christianity around 2,o00 years old. ref

Shinto around 1,305 years old. ref

Islam around 1407–1385 years old. ref

Sikhism around 548–478 years old. ref

Bahá’í around 200–125 years old. ref

Knowledge to Ponder: 


  • Possibly, around 30,000 years ago (in simpler form) to 6,000 years ago, Stars/Astrology are connected to Ancestors, Spirit Animals, and Deities.
  • The star also seems to be a possible proto-star for Star of Ishtar, Star of Inanna, or Star of Venus.
  • Around 7,000 to 6,000 years ago, Star Constellations/Astrology have connections to the “Kurgan phenomenon” of below-ground “mound” stone/wood burial structures and “Dolmen phenomenon” of above-ground stone burial structures.
  • Around 6,500–5,800 years ago, The Northern Levant migrations into Jordon and Israel in the Southern Levant brought new cultural and religious transfer from Turkey and Iran.
  • “The Ghassulian Star,” a mysterious 6,000-year-old mural from Jordan may have connections to the European paganstic kurgan/dolmens phenomenon.

“Astrology is a range of divinatory practices, recognized as pseudoscientific since the 18th century, that claim to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the apparent positions of celestial objects. Different cultures have employed forms of astrology since at least the 2nd millennium BCE, these practices having originated in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Most, if not all, cultures have attached importance to what they observed in the sky, and some—such as the HindusChinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from where it spread to Ancient GreeceRome, the Islamicate world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.” ref 

Around 5,500 years ago, Science evolves, The first evidence of science was 5,500 years ago and was demonstrated by a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world. ref

Around 5,000 years ago, Origin of Logics is a Naturalistic Observation (principles of valid reasoning, inference, & demonstration) ref

Around 4,150 to 4,000 years ago: The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which was originally titled “He who Saw the Deep” (Sha naqba īmuru) or “Surpassing All Other Kings” (Shūtur eli sharrī) were written. ref


  • 3,700 years ago or so, the oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed.
  • 3,500 years ago or so, the Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.


  • around 3,000 years ago, the first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew”
  • around 2,500 years ago, many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed

Myths: The bible inspired religion is not just one religion or one myth but a grouping of several religions and myths

  • Around 3,450 or 3,250 years ago, according to legend, is the traditionally accepted period in which the Israelite lawgiver, Moses, provided the Ten Commandments.
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament is the first part of Christianity’s bible.
  • Around 2,400 years ago, the most accepted hypothesis is that the canon was formed in stages, first the Pentateuch (Torah).
  • Around 2,140 to 2,116 years ago, the Prophets was written during the Hasmonean dynasty, and finally the remaining books.
  • Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections:
  • The first five books or Pentateuch (Torah).
  • The proposed history books telling the history of the Israelites from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon.
  • The poetic and proposed “Wisdom books” dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world.
  • The books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God:
  • Henotheism:
  • Exodus 20:23 “You shall not make other gods besides Me (not saying there are no other gods just not to worship them); gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.”
  • Polytheism:
  • Judges 10:6 “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords.”
  • Monotheism:
  • Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Around 2,570 to 2,270 Years Ago, there is a confirmation of atheistic doubting as well as atheistic thinking, mainly by Greek philosophers. However, doubting gods is likely as old as the invention of gods and should destroy the thinking that belief in god(s) is the “default belief”. The Greek word is apistos (a “not” and pistos “faithful,”), thus not faithful or faithless because one is unpersuaded and unconvinced by a god(s) claim. Short Definition: unbelieving, unbeliever, or unbelief.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Expressions of Atheistic Thinking:

  • Around 2,600 years ago, Ajita Kesakambali, ancient Indian philosopher, who is the first known proponent of Indian materialism. ref
  • Around 2,535 to 2,475 years ago, Heraclitus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor or modern Turkey. ref
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, according to The Story of Civilization book series certain African pygmy tribes have no identifiable gods, spirits, or religious beliefs or rituals, and even what burials accrue are without ceremony. ref
  • Around 2,490 to 2,430 years ago, Empedocles, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. ref
  • Around 2,460 to 2,370 years ago, Democritus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher considered to be the “father of modern science” possibly had some disbelief amounting to atheism. ref
  • Around 2,399 years ago or so, Socrates, a famous Greek philosopher was tried for sinfulness by teaching doubt of state gods. ref
  • Around 2,341 to 2,270 years ago, Epicurus, a Greek philosopher known for composing atheistic critics and famously stated, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?” ref

This last expression by Epicurus, seems to be an expression of Axiological Atheism. To understand and utilize value or actually possess “Value Conscious/Consciousness” to both give a strong moral “axiological” argument (the problem of evil) as well as use it to fortify humanism and positive ethical persuasion of human helping and care responsibilities. Because value-blindness gives rise to sociopathic/psychopathic evil.

“Theists, there has to be a god, as something can not come from nothing.”

Well, thus something (unknown) happened and then there was something. This does not tell us what the something that may have been involved with something coming from nothing. A supposed first cause, thus something (unknown) happened and then there was something is not an open invitation to claim it as known, neither is it justified to call or label such an unknown as anything, especially an unsubstantiated magical thinking belief born of mythology and religious storytelling.

How do they even know if there was nothing as a start outside our universe, could there not be other universes outside our own?
For all, we know there may have always been something past the supposed Big Bang we can’t see beyond, like our universe as one part of a mega system.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

While hallucinogens are associated with shamanism, it is alcohol that is associated with paganism.

The Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries Shows in the prehistory series:

Show one: Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses.

Show two: Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show tree: Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show four: Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show five: Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show six: Emergence of hierarchy, sexism, slavery, and the new male god dominance: Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves!

Show seven: Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State)

Show eight: Paganism 4,000 years old: Moralistic gods after the rise of Statism and often support Statism/Kings: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism)

Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses: VIDEO

Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Pre-Capitalism): VIDEO

Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves: VIEDO

Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State): VIEDO

Paganism 4,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism): VIEDO

I do not hate simply because I challenge and expose myths or lies any more than others being thought of as loving simply because of the protection and hiding from challenge their favored myths or lies.

The truth is best championed in the sunlight of challenge.

An archaeologist once said to me “Damien religion and culture are very different”

My response, So are you saying that was always that way, such as would you say Native Americans’ cultures are separate from their religions? And do you think it always was the way you believe?

I had said that religion was a cultural product. That is still how I see it and there are other archaeologists that think close to me as well. Gods too are the myths of cultures that did not understand science or the world around them, seeing magic/supernatural everywhere.

I personally think there is a goddess and not enough evidence to support a male god at Çatalhöyük but if there was both a male and female god and goddess then I know the kind of gods they were like Proto-Indo-European mythology.

This series idea was addressed in, Anarchist Teaching as Free Public Education or Free Education in the Public: VIDEO

Our 12 video series: Organized Oppression: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of power (9,000-4,000 years ago), is adapted from: The Complete and Concise History of the Sumerians and Early Bronze Age Mesopotamia (7000-2000 BC): by “History with Cy

Show #1: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Samarra, Halaf, Ubaid)

Show #2: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Eridu: First City of Power)

Show #3: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Uruk and the First Cities)

Show #4: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (First Kings)

Show #5: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Early Dynastic Period)

Show #6: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (King Lugalzagesi and the First Empire)

Show #7: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Sargon and Akkadian Rule)

Show #8: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Naram-Sin, Post-Akkadian Rule, and the Gutians)

Show #9: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Gudea of Lagash and Utu-hegal)

Show #10: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Third Dynasty of Ur / Neo-Sumerian Empire)

Show #11: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Amorites, Elamites, and the End of an Era)

Show #12: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Aftermath and Legacy of Sumer)

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

The “Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries”

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ Atheist Leftist @Skepticallefty & I (Damien Marie AtHope) @AthopeMarie (my YouTube & related blog) are working jointly in atheist, antitheist, antireligionist, antifascist, anarchist, socialist, and humanist endeavors in our videos together, generally, every other Saturday.

Why Does Power Bring Responsibility?

Think, how often is it the powerless that start wars, oppress others, or commit genocide? So, I guess the question is to us all, to ask, how can power not carry responsibility in a humanity concept? I know I see the deep ethical responsibility that if there is power their must be a humanistic responsibility of ethical and empathic stewardship of that power. Will I be brave enough to be kind? Will I possess enough courage to be compassionate? Will my valor reach its height of empathy? I as everyone, earns our justified respect by our actions, that are good, ethical, just, protecting, and kind. Do I have enough self-respect to put my love for humanity’s flushing, over being brought down by some of its bad actors? May we all be the ones doing good actions in the world, to help human flourishing.

I create the world I want to live in, striving for flourishing. Which is not a place but a positive potential involvement and promotion; a life of humanist goal precision. To master oneself, also means mastering positive prosocial behaviors needed for human flourishing. I may have lost a god myth as an atheist, but I am happy to tell you, my friend, it is exactly because of that, leaving the mental terrorizer, god belief, that I truly regained my connected ethical as well as kind humanity.

Cory and I will talk about prehistory and theism, addressing the relevance to atheism, anarchism, and socialism.

At the same time as the rise of the male god, 7,000 years ago, there was also the very time there was the rise of violence, war, and clans to kingdoms, then empires, then states. It is all connected back to 7,000 years ago, and it moved across the world.

Cory Johnston:  

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist (YouTube)

Cory Johnston: Mind of a Skeptical Leftist @Skepticallefty

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist By Cory Johnston: “Promoting critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics by covering current events and talking to a variety of people. Cory Johnston has been thoughtfully talking to people and attempting to promote critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics.”

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Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ @Skepticallefty Evidence-based atheist leftist (he/him) Producer, host, and co-host of 4 podcasts @skeptarchy @skpoliticspod and @AthopeMarie

Damien Marie AtHope (“At Hope”) Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, Psychology, and Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Historian.

Damien is interested in: Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Ethics, Humanism, Science, Atheism, Antiteism, Antireligionism, Ignosticism, Left-Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism, Mutualism, Axiology, Metaphysics, LGBTQI, Philosophy, Advocacy, Activism, Mental Health, Psychology, Archaeology, Social Work, Sexual Rights, Marriage Rights, Woman’s Rights, Gender Rights, Child Rights, Secular Rights, Race Equality, Ageism/Disability Equality, Etc. And a far-leftist, “Anarcho-Humanist.”

I am not a good fit in the atheist movement that is mostly pro-capitalist, I am anti-capitalist. Mostly pro-skeptic, I am a rationalist not valuing skepticism. Mostly pro-agnostic, I am anti-agnostic. Mostly limited to anti-Abrahamic religions, I am an anti-religionist.

To me, the “male god” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 7,000 years ago, whereas the now favored monotheism “male god” is more like 4,000 years ago or so. To me, the “female goddess” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 11,000-10,000 years ago or so, losing the majority of its once prominence around 2,000 years ago due largely to the now favored monotheism “male god” that grow in prominence after 4,000 years ago or so.

My Thought on the Evolution of Gods?

Animal protector deities from old totems/spirit animal beliefs come first to me, 13,000/12,000 years ago, then women as deities 11,000/10,000 years ago, then male gods around 7,000/8,000 years ago. Moralistic gods around 5,000/4,000 years ago, and monotheistic gods around 4,000/3,000 years ago. 

To me, animal gods were likely first related to totemism animals around 13,000 to 12,000 years ago or older. Female as goddesses was next to me, 11,000 to 10,000 years ago or so with the emergence of agriculture. Then male gods come about 8,000 to 7,000 years ago with clan wars. Many monotheism-themed religions started in henotheism, emerging out of polytheism/paganism.

“Animism” is needed to begin supernatural thinking.
“Totemism” is needed for supernatural thinking connecting human actions & related to clan/tribe.
“Shamanism” is needed for supernatural thinking to be controllable/changeable by special persons.
Together = Gods/paganism

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Damien Marie AtHope (Said as “At” “Hope”)/(Autodidact Polymath but not good at math):

Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist, Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Jeweler, Poet, “autodidact” Philosopher, schooled in Psychology, and “autodidact” Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Pre-Historian (Knowledgeable in the range of: 1 million to 5,000/4,000 years ago). I am an anarchist socialist politically. Reasons for or Types of Atheism

My Website, My Blog, & Short-writing or QuotesMy YouTube, Twitter: @AthopeMarie, and My Email:

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