Part II: Jǫfnuðr
Part II: Jǫfnuðr
IMG_20200809_163053_175.jpg

Åsmund, son of Vikar, is the source of much of Fróði’s beginnings of Óðr. A Geatish Seiðmann with an undetermined date of birth, but possibly some years younger than Fróði due to his later death in 756 CE. He was illiterate but orally passed on the details of Fróði’s life sometime during the 8th century to scribes in Uppsala.

Fróði had conversed with Åsmund many times from 713 CE as Fróði began to more intensely seek spiritual comforts . In 716 CE Åsmund confirmed his belief that Fróði had been approached by Skaði after witnessing the resumption of his catatonic states. "I saw the Óðri on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead”. Fróði was insistent that he could distinguish his own thoughts during these experiences and not in a state of absolute possession, just extreme concentration.

Åsmund assisted Fróði with interpreting his visions and encouraged him to follow through with the commands of the deities that appeared before him. Fróði began preaching to the people of Visby as the occurrences of Óðr began to rapidly increase in frequency to the point of occurring almost several times a day. He would repeat the Sagas of the Æsir and the Vanir that many would have known, but with an almost frightening fanaticism which began to speak against the Goðar. It cant be determined how much influence Åsmund would have had on Fróði’s interpretations, but it is generally accepted that Fróði concluded the most radical interpretations as Åsmund’s status as a Seiðmann ingrained him more thoroughly into the established social structure as opposed to a Bóndi like Fróði.

Fróði repeatedly told of the gods displeasure with the secular jarls and other Goði who did not truly honour them or even truly followed their example. These statements were controversial as subservience to a Norseman of higher social rank was still important if not as important as in other cultures. Mechanisms existed such that a person could move himself from one class to another however. The vast majority of Norsemen belonged to the middle class, the Karls or Bóndi. These people were freemen and land owners. While Jarls were normally distinguished by their wealth or prestige, Fróði insisted that their rule over freemen was illegitimate if they were not honourable in the eyes of the gods in Asgard.

He preached of a type of “egalitarianism” or a state of Jǫfnuðr that exists due to the Æsir–Vanir War and how the men of the earth have yet to achieve this unity. The Æsir have command over power and war, much like that of the earthly Konungarnir and jarls, while the Vanir are connected to cultivation and fertility, work associated with the Karls. Any indication of the authority of the Æsir over the Vanir is related not to that of material wealth or achievements greater than the other gods, but through paternalism and nature of their divinity. Thus, the nature of the relationship between the rulers and ruled should be of the same type. Fróði would still insist that the gods look favorably on those who achieve much in life. This is especially apparent if these acts are dedicated to the gods, but that the lowly farmer faithful to the pantheon would also reach Valhöll provided he shares equal conviction and dedication. Fróði preached that Fólkvangr and Valhöl are in the same plain of existence and that souls pass between the two areas as they please - as he was told by Óðinn during an instance of Óðr.

The implications of these views of Fróði would deeply upset the Goðar and jarls as it called into question their authority, an office not traditionally held with much religious connotations. At the time rule in Norse society was largely held with de facto might rather than symbolism or “right”. The chief of Gotland, annoyed by the insults indirectly aimed at his position, imprisoned Fróði and Åsmund in preparation to execute them, but due to pleas from Yrsa he instead chose to banish them “along with their followers”.

Fróði settled himself and his followers in Karelia sometime between 717 CE and 718 CE. They brought with them most of their belongings and lived alongside various Finno-Urgic tribes in the region for a number of years, but Fróði would secretly keep correspondence with associates in Gotland during this period, often travelling to Gotland, but not daring to set foot in Visby.

Åsmund reports that Fróði’s instances of Óðr occurred less frequently but were now more intense and vivid. Fróði explained his experiences to a tietäjä who was very intrigued by his descriptions and interpreted it as him entering what the Finns called the “realm of spirts”. Åsmund was against the meddling of a Finn in what then was regarded as an ethnocentric religious tradition, but he would later state that this notion was misguided - a result of what later would be interpreted as “miss-placed spirits”.

This tietäjä was called Ylevä, who was a woman of undetermined age. To assist Fróði she brought him into a sacred grove to perform a ritual and assist in the interpretation of his Óðr. The exact location of this grove is unknown but it is thought to have been in the area of Ingermanland. After consuming a “potion of herbs” Fróði was able to communicate while experiencing Óðr and described to Ylevä what he was seeing. Fróði described seeing animals and humans within the grove that Ylevä could not see. She identified them as Haltija. Fróði was protected by many different Haltija according to Ylevä, which assisted his survival in Ahvaland. Haltijas could be found everywhere in nature, both in the biotic and abiotic parts. Every human has a haltija. The tradition blends with the concept of the Norse Vættir.

Fróði did not accept this interpretation at first, insisting at one point he was seeing Thor, to which Ylevä replied “Tuuri?”. Through further rituals Fróði and Ylevä began to link the Norse figures with those of Suomenusko and used terms for similar figures interchangeably. Åsmund was adversarial to these ideas, but in time he too could not deny the links. Fróði continuing to experience Óðr was according to him a sign that they were following the right path.

As Fróði began to tell of these new instances of Óðr to people in Gotland, many began to turn away from him, claiming he had “become a wizard” or the thrall of a Kven woman. A small few still kept meeting with him in secret to learn more of this new Óðr. Some even insisted he write down his ideas. They wanted proof of Fróði’s existence to those of high social standing who were literate in other parts of Scandinavia.

IMG_20200809_163057_619.jpg
 
Last edited:
And something also tells me that the achievement Got Land is not out of reach...

But still well done! I haven't seen a very successful Norse pagan TL, but I would be happy to see one right here!

Oh, and I want to ask, how prevalent is syncretism or zealousness is Norse going to be towards other religions?
 
So it seems like the aim here is a more organised and unified Norse tradition that also absorbs/syncretises Finno-Urgic traditions as well. This is interesting, because it puts the Norse faith on a much stronger footing down the line and if it works, it will be a more than viable alternative to Christianity when it eventually comes knocking, one rooted in ethnic traditions that will be much harder to Christianity to overcome.
 
So it seems like the aim here is a more organised and unified Norse tradition that also absorbs/syncretises Finno-Urgic traditions as well. This is interesting, because it puts the Norse faith on a much stronger footing down the line and if it works, it will be a more than viable alternative to Christianity when it eventually comes knocking, one rooted in ethnic traditions that will be much harder to Christianity to overcome.
Why would Finnic influence make it stronger?
 
Part III: The New Goðar
Part III: The New Goðar

IMG_20200810_011447_565.jpg


Ingermanland for a time remained a type of place of exile for Fróði and his followers, a land dominated by nomadic tribesmen and wilderness. The followers consisted of mostly unlanded norse freemen, their families and Finnish converts mostly of Ylevä’s clan. Fróði used this opportunity to attempt to organize his communal polity in accordance with his interpretations of Óðr. He decided upon writing a code for his followers to use in their interactions with each other and those who have yet to accept belief in his Óðr. These laws were largely based on a synthesis of Norse and Finnic practices but also many of his own ideas which he would say came through Óðr.

All children, even from concubines and consorts of the faithful, must be accepted into the family as legitimate via a ritual of sprinkling with water, or Ausa Vatni. Rejecting one’s own blood without good reason is regarded as an abhorrent act. Additionally, it is important that in the case of bearing children with someone outside the faith, it is expected that the faithful party enforces their paternal right over the child above that of the unfaithful. All those born outside the faith can be brought into the fold, but only via marriage with a faithful and ritual confirmation by a Seiðr.

To avoid the presence of angered Väki who follow deceitful individuals that profess faith but in reality have not been confirmed, the Seiðr must be able to write down the names and titles of the faithful and uncover those outside the fold. Along with this Fróði stipulated that coercion to become faithful is equally frowned upon as the belief then is not genuine.

Fróði further specified that the soul is not an actual singular individual, but consists of three parts. The first of these is the Hamr or Henki, a person's life force, which presents itself as breathing, the beating of one's heart and the warmth of their body. Henki is received prior to birth and it leaves at the moment of death.

Next is the Vættir or Luonto of a person, which can be described as the personal haltija of an individual. It is a guardian spirit or protector of a person. A Luonto should be strengthened and maintained by reciting galdrs daily. Not reciting a galdr may lead to a Luonto leaving a person's body without the person dying, but its lengthened absence will cause problems, such as susceptibility to corruption, disease or misfortune.

Lastly a Fylgja or an Itse is a spirit received at the time of birth or a few days after. It is what defines one's personality and receiving an Itse makes one a person. To Fróði this made the period shortly after birth critical and is what justified great care and the reciting of galdrs for an infant unable to do so initially. Neglect of an infant during this period and the failure of obtaining an Itse leads to sicklyness, misery and stillborns. This period lasts until the child is able to speak. It is encouraged that knowing what galdrs to recite on certain days must be obtained from a faithful Seiðr.

While free men are encouraged to honour great leaders and deeds, Fróði made it frequently clear that such loyalty must only be given to those who are faithful and declare their deeds and wealth the result of Óðr. In relation to this he also made regular reference to the importance of obtaining wealth as well as to pursue with great vigour one’s own personal success to the best of their abilities in order to honour the gods or patron deities. The unfaithful, the misguided or outsiders, can still live, work and pursue their own goals freely among the faithful, but they must accept the authority of the Seiðr and Goðar, authority which is granted by adherence to Óðr.

Disputes or disagreements between the faithful shall be mediated in order to prevent needless feuds and bloodshed. The mediator should preferably be a Seiðr that knows both parties and if no solution can be arranged the two parties are permitted to settle disputes via a dual if both agree to the prospect. This is also only allowed after an appropriate ritual is performed by the Seiðr. Acts of killing with no religious backing are outlawed with the punishment being death. If a dispute exists between the unfaithful and the faithful, the unfaithful cannot request a dual unless they take the appropriate steps to become faithful or can find a faithful individual willing to fight the dual on their behalf. In the latter case if a dispute cannot be settled with a dual, the unfaithful can be declared an outlaw if the Seiðr regards him as the party that is causing the dispute, so long as the individual is given 3 days notice before the status takes effect.

Seiðr (gen. Seiðrmenn or Seiðkonur) are appointed by Goðar ( gen. Goði or Gyðja). The first of the new Goðar were chosen among Fróði’s followers, the very first being Åsmund and the second Ylevä. The Goðar were sent out into Ingermanland and the Baltic to bring Óðr to other seers, shamans and freemen.

The account goes that one of these faithful followers of Óðr, a Gyðja, made her way to Visby during the autumn Blót of 723 CE where chief Þorfinn of Gotland was performing the sacrificial rites. She disrupted the festivities in the hall of the chief, and attempted to proselytize to the resident seer. The chief and the seer attempted to calm the Gyðja. It is unclear what exactly transpired but it is said that “upon learning of her true intentions of Óðr, they had her imprisoned and some weeks later hanged”. According to the story the chief personally took a spear and stabbed her as she suffocated. However, it is said that her corpse reportedly hung from the tree for 9 days without showing any signs of decay. No carrion birds preyed on her either, except reportedly two ravens that were perched on her lifeless body.

It is unknown who this Gyðja was, but tradition holds it may have been Ulfhild or Ysra. However, this is based off mere speculation relating to the writings of Åsmund where he talks of Fróði’s family imitating Óðinn and them gaining entry into Fólkvangr and Valhöl. No mention of Fróði’s family is ever again made in the Saga.

Nonetheless it is very much confirmed that many Seiðr and Goðar were well received as evidenced by the continuing stream of followers who came from the rest of the Baltic upon hearing of the ideas of “Fróði sá Óðri”. Fróði and the new Goðar of Óðr would assist these new followers and make literate Seiðr of many of them. Most would then again repeat the process and go out to establish themselves nearby holy sites and distribute the writings of Fróði or simply preach it to the various peoples of this region, but mainly to the Norse as they were the most susceptible at this point in time. A parallel society developed within some parts of Scandinavia and the Baltic, sometimes ending in various instances of friction between different parties. By the year 730 CE almost every urban center or holy site within the region had heard of or encountered followers of this cult of Óðr.

IMG_20200810_011450_602.jpg
 
Last edited:
Well done! The written doctrine is done, but the work is not over... Now enough time must pass to the process of capturing the hearts and minds of rulers, as well as holy sites. And then reform for a more central religious authority
 
In the future, a more unified religious system between the Finns and Norse makes for a stronger total Scandinavia. I meant 'stronger' here in terms of regional unity and potential political power rather than in the faith itself.
Ah, I see what you did there! But don't you think a Russian/Scandinavian equivalent is also terrifying? Just want to know what you think of that, a more brotherly feel between Nordic, Finnic, and Slavic cultures/religions would unify them a lot.
 
Ah, I see what you did there! But don't you think a Russian/Scandinavian equivalent is also terrifying? Just want to know what you think of that, a more brotherly feel between Nordic, Finnic, and Slavic cultures/religions would unify them a lot.
Oh absolutely.

Pagan religions tend to be syncretic at their core, with gods being swapped left and right and names being interchangeable (Ceasar referred to the Celtic gods in terms of the Greco-Roman gods rather than by their native names). It seems like the idea of this timeline might be to create a sort of 'governing body' of Pagan religion which could be applied to many different pantheons.

Who knows, though? Fusing the Finnic traditions with the Norse traditions is fascinating enough on its own.
 
Eh, many Finn's living in the coast and at Tornio alongside with some of the Sami people were already 'norsified' at this time because of heavy wars and trade with the Swedes, heats and gotlanders. The old Finnish god's had much in common with the Norse pantheon and they were designated as 'foreign names for our gods'. The Finnish paganism in the west was largely already norse with regional tweaks during this time period.
 
Eh, many Finn's living in the coast and at Tornio alongside with some of the Sami people were already 'norsified' at this time because of heavy wars and trade with the Swedes, heats and gotlanders. The old Finnish god's had much in common with the Norse pantheon and they were designated as 'foreign names for our gods'. The Finnish paganism in the west was largely already norse with regional tweaks during this time period.
In terms of organising the religion, however, you also have the side effect of creating Norse literacy among the Finns. Such a thing would start the process of 'Norsifying' the Finns even further (using 'Finns' as shorthand for Finno-Urgic peoples here, not specifically the people of Finland).
 
In terms of organising the religion, however, you also have the side effect of creating Norse literacy among the Finns. Such a thing would start the process of 'Norsifying' the Finns even further (using 'Finns' as shorthand for Finno-Urgic peoples here, not specifically the people of Finland).
For example whilst in eastern Finland, Ukko, was regarded as a separate god, in the coasts, it was considered to be Thor with a Finnish name. Sagas also differed during this time. Ahti was also considered to be Njord by many in the west coast. Akras was associated with Freyr, etc. The Finns in the west were already norsified by the time of this TL largely
 
So, will this just end up as a more codified, unified, and organized version of the Norse and Finno-Ugric religion? If so, Scandinavia might very well avoid Christianization, but at the same time, there will be a definite limit to how far this faith can spread - the upper limit will be the entirety of the Norse and Finnic worlds, plus any lands that they can conquer, colonize and/or assimilate. If the Saxons can hold against the Franks, the best-case scenario might be essentially the entirety of the the OTL Low Countries and Germany, as well as the British Isles (the Anglo-Saxons had already been Christianized by this point, but the Vikings did successfully invade and hold much of Britain later on) and North Atlantic lands that the Vikings colonized, such as Iceland, Greenland, and, most intriguely, Vinland. In the east, some equivalent of the Kievan Rus’ with a Varangian ruling class could be conceivably brought into the faith, though it would be heavily syncretized with Slavic paganism. More generally, it will be interesting to see how this religion interacts with pagans in places such as Poland and Lithuania, as well as the Hungarian raiders of Europe, who did not convert to Christianity until they settled down.

At the end of the day, though, even if this religion is nominally open to convert, I do not see how much attraction it would hold for regions outside of Norse rule that are not more heavily Christianized. In fact, a case could be made that, rather than a Northern European Islam, this would be more of a Northern European Hinduism, in that it is a codified, organizer version of the tradition Indo-European religion of the continent capable of holding its own with Abrahamic religions.

That being said, it will be interesting to see how Christendom fares stuck between the realms of this religion and the conquering Islamic armies to the south...
 
In the future, a more unified religious system between the Finns and Norse makes for a stronger total Scandinavia. I meant 'stronger' here in terms of regional unity and potential political power rather than in the faith itself.
I mean it's more likely that a unified Norse people would just assimilated the demographically weaker Finns, just like the Arabs assimilated South Arabians and many other Arab-like peoples around them. I don't think having Finnic influence in the religion would significantly change things.
 
Huh, I was under the impression that Skade was primarily worshipped/known in Norway and that eastern Scandinavia used Ull instead. Norse faith was not centralised nor especially consistent. Gods, villains and their stories and the releveance of them and their stories changed depending on where you were and the outside influences. Balder, for example, i thought to be a rather late addition with inspiration of Jesus.
 
Huh, I was under the impression that Skade was primarily worshipped/known in Norway and that eastern Scandinavia used Ull instead. Norse faith was not centralised nor especially consistent. Gods, villains and their stories and the releveance of them and their stories changed depending on where you were and the outside influences. Balder, for example, i thought to be a rather late addition with inspiration of Jesus.
Not exactly.....though accounts differ a lot.
Early Saxon references do call a son of Woden named 'Bædæg' and the myths largely coincide with each other. And probably the name 'balþa' was also used to refer Baldur with the Geats during the Swedish-Geatish wars apparently. Christ could have had an influence later on, but the deity itself was already there being worshipped
 
Top