Editor’s Note: Fox Skógurson has written yet another excellent article for our Odinist Journal FoxFire. His debut article, A BRIEF PHILOSOPHY OF GARDENING FOR ODINISTS, can be seen here. Upon reading this, I would like to add that we Odinists do indeed use real battle-ready swords, which we name in sacred ceremonies, in our rituals. A dress sword would never do. Fox does an excellent job of bringing to life some of the reasons why our swords have such great spiritual meaning and power and connect us to our ancestors.
I recently read a man’s post on a social media page, criticizing folkish Odinists for spending time with Medieval weaponry. He was convinced that our people should stick to honing our firearm skills and engaging in other pragmatic pursuits, such as gardening or farming. He believed this would elevate practical independence for our Folk. This man also stated his belief in the importance of preparing for potential hardships.
In essence, I agree with those priorities. I have lifelong experience in conventional and unconventional hunting techniques, military training in select weaponry, and many years of practical and academic gardening and farming experience, with a special interest in organic gardening, and am therefore in line with these practical priorities in general. However, I would like to make a few points on behalf of the seemingly anachronistic endeavors in question.
Heathens are often more knowledgeable about swords and innately understand our connections to pre-Christian weaponry. We know that there is an inspirational and spiritual connection. Consider the words of Rocky Pendergast in Mythological Swords:
The Vikings prized their swords above all other things, handing them down from generation to generation and giving them names.
Swords are decidedly significant objects in Germanic Folk Religion  , evidently more so than in any other culture’s religion or mythology. European Esotericism  and European symbology are rife with iconic sword imagery. Archetypal European figures are many times associated with swords. Therefore, we find a vast quantity of evidence to support the concept that swords are an intrinsic component of the spiritual, symbolic, and psychological makeup of the European, and particularly Germanic, peoples.
I follow a folkish Odinic path. Some additional background may help explain my defense of the sword and why it relates specifically to us as folkish Odinists. Before the age of 8, I was tutored in European style boxing, Olympic fencing a few years later, and then Chinese martial arts. Since then, I have had the privilege of training under many diverse combative disciplines, receiving formal training with at least nine different martial arts weapons, including several sword types, and gaining sufficient proficiency in a few weapons to perform competitively, and to teach the practical applications of these weapons to select students. Doesn’t sound folkish to you? You probably do not know that according to Chinese legend, the father of Chinese martial arts was a man from Central Asia, described as having red hair and blue eyes. My pioneering efforts are helping us to reclaim our own college of European martial arts.
The Danubian Vinča culture produced the first known metallic weapon, during the Neolithic period. This European civilization is the first known civilization. If you are an adherent of ancestral-conscious Germanic spirituality, consider this, our Western European ancestors were manufacturing and using functional flint knives and hand axes approximately 160,000 years ago, our Neanderthal ancestors. Can there be any doubt that our Nordic Neanderthal forebears treasured their knives in a way that modern people will never experience for any possession? A glimmer of that remains within us. I hope that this concept gives insight into the depth that our unique breed carries for the spiritual connections and blood memories of bladed tools and weapons.
Of my modest collection of weaponry and hunting implements, a particular sword is my favorite.  When I grasp it, I feel deep connections to my ancestral memories. There are currently over seventeen hundred historical members of Northern and Western European royalty and the sword class (ruling class) on record in my direct lineage; going to the limits of European history. My ancestral tie to swords is deep and ancient; and the same is likely for you, even if it is not a matter of record. That one’s personal ancestral connections can be integral to one’s spiritual practice is without question accommodated by European Folk Religion, certainly in the modern practice of Germanic Folk Religion.
If you have never held a real sword in your hand, I recommend the experience. If you cannot borrow one, an inexpensive culturally appropriate sword works fine, and is easily obtained online. Approach the experience with mindfulness, as an exercise in native Germanic spirituality. You should choose a time and setting appropriate for meditation. There is nothing wrong with an indoor setting for this, although sword movement can be limited indoors. Many have felt powerful ancestral connections in communion with others at cultural celebrations, such as Viking festivals, sword in tow. In practice, this connection can be experienced any time you are in contact with a sword.
I realize that if “playing with swords” seems childish to someone, dressing up in a period costume may be equally or more ridiculous to that person. People who have not attended history-based European culture gatherings, such as Renaissance fairs and Viking festivals, may have the misconception that these are merely costume play events. In reality, there are many serious minded people involved in these travelling, interactive, living exhibits. Many of the people involved in these events are dedicated to preserving unique and important aspects of our people’s history and culture. For example, there are numerous people dedicated to preserving pragmatic endeavors such as blacksmithing, and other ancient skills that may be useful again. Many of the attendees share these values, and support these goals by their attendance, patronage of vendors, and participation. At such gatherings, you can detect a quiet undertone of resistance to what Folkish Odinists feel is the hostile and insidious takeover of our lands and culture. I also have noted a strong Pagan element within the inner circles of these festivals. A Heathen who dismisses these venues is a bit out of touch with the greater Pagan community and its modern foundations. As someone who has attended long and costly workshops on membership growth for diverse organizations, I believe this demographic has potential.
A sword critic may be surprised that there are modern sword and ax enthusiasts trading with local or regional blacksmiths. There is a local blacksmith in my area who makes his rounds to various events, such as Renaissance fairs, and has a following of several students whom he tutors in blacksmithing, sword fighting, and open-hand martial arts. His students are very serious and devoted. They have an inspiring non-Abrahamic spirituality, and they feel they are keeping alive an important historical, cultural, skill that could be vital in an uncertain future. There was a time when metallurgy was the exclusive domain of the European man. If Heathens are chastised for “playing with swords,” then one may be indirectly dismissing the blacksmiths who are keeping an important part of our racial identity alive.
My previously mentioned favorite sword from my small collection is a one of a kind pre-Christian Germanic style sword that was crafted by a great blacksmith, James Austin. Austin gave up a promising career as a chemist to become a singularly noteworthy blacksmith. He is probably the world’s leading expert on how Viking axes were made and how to make these today. It would be inappropriate to repudiate his devotion to understanding this particular niche in our cultural history. His efforts have uncovered part of the high degree of sophistication our Folk possessed in the Viking Age. If people did not want the axes, knives, and swords he makes (i.e., like to “play with swords”), all of this would be dead, because the purchases of these cultural works are what keeps this endeavor alive. According to Austin, there is a renewed interest in owning and even in making, handmade objects such as knives and swords. He states that, “People are realizing we’ve forgotten what it means to be human in some ways.” It’s certainly not impossible that we may require the services of blacksmiths and horse ranches again, someday, although that thought would not have occurred to us a generation ago.
It is natural for a person engaged in the spirituality of Germanic Folk Religion to have a wholesome interest in swords. Our ancestral and cultural connection to ancient weaponry provides the groundwork necessary for the recognition of swords as a protected religious implement in Germanic Folk Religion for any individual or group living in an environment where the need for that argument might arise.
However, spiritual experience and cultural connection is not the only benefit of “playing with swords.” There is another sword in my collection which I have found to be very useful and instructive. It is a relatively heavy two-handed sword that has significantly improved my physicality. It has become one of my primary exercise tools; something I exercise with outdoors in all but stormy weather. When I first began to “play” with this sword, I could barely handle it with proficiency. I can now handle it effortlessly; having used it to build my core strength to new heights. At first, I over-stretched several tendons in areas where I did not know they existed, but now that only happens when I neglect this particular training. By locking my grip around the handle in a particular fashion, I have uncovered a wealth of hidden skills, gyrating my body upon diverse skeletal axes, and undulating my center of gravity at will, all while focusing on, adapting, and significantly improving my grounding abilities.  Whatever the reality is, I experienced this revelation as “the sword” communicating to me techniques that exponentially improved my physicality and martial arts ability and knowledge, a new wrinkle in the development of my Odinic spiritual path. Does “playing with swords” still sound like a waste of time?
We definitely need to prioritize, but let us avoid phasing out things that have spiritual and cultural importance to our people. Many among us have plenty of time and body wasting addictions to things such as media and alcohol which should be addressed long before “playing with swords.” Our people must become a race of warriors if we are to survive. Get into shape with martial arts. This will be your Spear of Odin to carry into every zone, no matter how restricted. Many of us channel the ferocity of our ancestors when handling swords and axes; a state of mind needed to defeat the enemies of these times. Martial arts exercise, with or without weapons, will not only strengthen your body, but can greatly improve your self-esteem and self-discipline. This will create a positive outlook for yourself, your family, and your Folk. Lastly, do not abandon hope, nor your unique Germanic spirituality. We are the light of humanity and we will not permit the forces of darkness to extinguish the only true source of nobility, creativity, and human progress in this world.
Away from his arms in the open field a man should fare not a foot, for never he knows when the need for a spear shall arise on the distant road. Hávamál 38
© Fox Skógurson 2016 (Used with permission by Odinia International)
(pictures, captions, and videos added by Odinia)
- European Folk Religion” and “Germanic Folk Religion” are terms I have coined in the interest of better cohesion between diverse ethnic European pagan (including, importantly: neo-pagan) traditions. The need for this terminology became obvious to me after I read the Wikipedia article Chinese Folk Religion, a relatively new term to my knowledge, comprises many elements; diverse ethnic and regional religions within China, folk remedies, mythologies, and so forth. The terms I have coined are useful on many levels. ^
- I always replace the term “Western” with “European,” hence for example; I strictly adhere to the term “European Civilization.” “Western” is anonymous, and without ownership. ^
- Actually, a spear is my weapon of choice when I am in the wilderness. I often take long treks alone in the mountains, deep into bear and puma country; armed with nothing but my spear, as a spiritual practice. Incidentally, I have had formal training in use of the spear as a weapon; an art I practice regularly. I do not recommend that you go into bear or even deer county alone, armed only with a spear. I am a lifelong outdoorsman and martial artist, unusually skilled in the use of a spear. Please enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly. ^
- A word of caution: A person could do serious and irreparable damage to their body swinging a heavy weight around such as a sword or ax: torn ligaments and tendons, damage to or dislocation of joints, and spinal injuries, particularly in the manner to which I have alluded. Also, a sharp sword or an ax can potentially kill; possible yourself. If you choose to pursue this activity, go slow and use extreme caution. I recommend you exercise with practice weapons. ^
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fox Skógurson is a member of Odinia International living in the United States. From the age of nine, he was the primary caretaker of his family’s quarter acre garden. Fox was reared on his family’s remote horse and cattle ranch. He tamed his first horse at age seven, and trained hunting dogs in his teens. In his late teens, he practiced survivalism on an abandoned family ranch property by subsistence farming, hunting, and gathering. In his mid-teens (1979) Fox discovered his own Odinic path, unaware of anyone else following a hereditary spirituality based upon Germanic Folk Religion. Fox Skógurson’s lineage includes notable figures from the Viking Age.