Odinism is a Germanic neo-pagan reconstructionist religious organization, which proclaims the practice of a form of neo-paganism whose supreme deity of the Norse pantheon is Odin, focused on Norse paganism, Germanic mythology and Anglo-Saxon paganism that some consider part of the neo-Völkisch movements.
Odinism can be viewed as a contemporary expression of the ancient beliefs that belonged to the proto-Indo-European peoples who settled in northern Europe and are known as Norse & Germanic peoples.
In 1973 John Gibbs-Bailey (nicknamed "Hoskuld") and John Yeowell (nicknamed "Stubba") founded the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite (Odinist Committee) in England. In 1980 the organization changed its name to The Odinic Rite after believing that it had gained sufficient weight and interest in the restoration of the Odinist faith.
In 1988 Odinic Rite became the first polytheistic organization to be recognized and obtain charitable status. Although that entity status brought no benefit to the organization, it was accepted as a victory in its struggle to have Odinism taken seriously.
In 1989 Yeowell relinquished his position as head of the executive body of Odinic Rite, called the Gothar Court, and Heimgest was unanimously elected as a replacement, taking office on April 23, 1989 in Kent. Prior to his commitment to Odinic Rite, Heimgest had belonged to a small group known as the "Heimdal League, " a close-knit grouping that was disbanded in the 1980s. Some members of the league joined Heimgest considering that it had "the potential to represent the ancestral religion of Odinism in the modern world."
John Yeowell definitively resigned his presence in the Court of Gothar in 1991 and abandoned his militancy in the organization. Also in 1991 an expelled member of Odinic Rite, Ingvar Harrison created a rival entity using as the name of his mailbox Edda in opposition to the corresponding mailbox of Odinic Rite called Runic, still in force today.
In 1996 Yeowell agreed to return to the ranks of Odinic Rite and following his reinstatement, Harrison asked the charismatic Else Christensen if the group could be renamed "Odinist Fellowship". The request was rejected as Else had a personal friendship with Heimgest, however the group continued to use the mailbox under the name "Edda".
The Odinic Rite executive board is headed by the Gothar Court, which is composed of nine members. The board is supported by an administrative team and advisors who make up the information committee.
Odinic Rite has branches in France (OR France), North America (OR Vinland, 1997) and the Netherlands (OR Nederland, 2006) and members in many other countries. Odinic Rite has its own legal identity and is legal in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
The basic unit of Odinic Rite is the individual member. Adherents group together to organize their ceremonies (Blots) where ancestor deities are honored. The motto of Odinic Rite is based on the basic triangle "Faith, Folk & Family". The organization considers itself to be largely folkish (identity, not universalist).
Upon joining Odinic Rite, aspiring members use the title "Apprentice" (AOR, Apprentice Odinic Rite) after their names.
After a period of active membership, they may apply for the "Oath of Profession" (Oath of Profession). Once approved, they take part in a ceremony during which they pledge allegiance to the gods and to Odinic Rite.
Aspirants must make a "torque," a small crescent-shaped shield supposedly derived from a historic British emblem (not to be confused with the torque worn by ancient Germanic peoples around their necks), with which they present themselves and which accompanies them during the ceremony. Members use the initials OR after their name and those of the CG council in the same form.
OR is organized into sections, each with its own website and specialized in a particular field of work:
Office for Prison Affairs - to facilitate the fellowship of Odinist inmates and also believers who are released, securing religious rights for incarcerated Odinists.
Guardians - organized in response to the threat against the White Horse Stone. Guardians routinely gather for environmental work and cleaning up the natural environment of sacred sites or sites of special interest.
Acorn Hollow - dedicated to homeschool educators/parents and resources for Odinist children. Outings, crafts, educational resources and events.
OR Fyrd - promotes physical and spiritual wellness through exercise, martial arts, meditation, etc.
OR Media - provides educational and entertainment media to Odinists. Their first CD, "Folk Spirit" - A compendium of various Odinist artists, was released in 2009.