Vanatru: Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

I’ve been meaning to get to this post for a long time. I’ve already touched on this in other posts, but I think it’s time to devote an entire post to setting the record straight regarding some odd things that are going around about Vanatru and Vanatruar.

Please note: I can really only speak for myself and my own experiences. Please keep this in mind as you read this.

Misconception #1: In order to be Vanatru, you must only honour those deities considered Vanir (usually Freyr, Freyja, and Njord) all the time.

While some may choose to exclusively honour deities they consider to be Vanir (whether by birth or marriage) this isn’t a requirement. You may primarily honour one of them, or you may simply have one of them as a fulltrui (although, people in this last group don’t usually identify as Vanatru).

Misconception #2: Vanatru is just another name for Norse Wicca.

This one should be obvious to anyone with working brain cells, but let’s touch on it anyways. I can’t speak for others, but yours truly is not Wiccan, in either the British Traditional or Eclectic sense, here is a brief list of points detailing why:

  • I am a polytheist, not a duotheist/ditheist/bitheist
  • I don’t cast circles
  • I was never initiated into a coven
  • I don’t use an athame, a chalice, a wand, or a pentacle in my rites
  • The concept of polarity is irrelevant to me
  • I don’t follow the Threefold Law or the Wiccan Rede
  • I honour a moon god and a sun goddess
  • While I might offer cakes and ale to my deities, it isn’t a regular part of my rituals

That’s just a short list, I could spend time exhaustively picking apart that argument, but you get the idea.

That is not to say that there aren’t Norse Wiccans out there, but to lump all of Vanatru under the heading of Wicca is just sloppy research.

Misconception #3: All Vanatruar are liberal hippie vegetarians who sleep around/are just doing this to get laid.

Let’s see, yours truly is:

  • Politically liberal
  • Not particularly hippie-like
  • An Omnivore (with occasional lapses into carnivore status)
  • A virgin, single, and with no current prospects, and probably not interested in you anyways

In my experience, Vanatru does tend to attract more liberal folks who have, shall we say, a more relaxed attitude towards sexuality. However, vegetarianism is not a requirement to be Vanatru, and I think someone has confused a more relaxed attitude towards sexuality with nymphomania. Seriously, if I wanted to get laid, I can think of way easier ways to do it than adopting a religion. One cannot help but detect a bit of insecurity on the part of those who so readily lob this one at Vanatruar. It may be that there are people desperate enough to adopt a religion in order to cruise (or worse, abuse others) but it makes about as much sense as me assuming that all Asatruar are chest-thumping dick-swinging lorehumpers, and they’re not (they’re called Asshattru).

Related: Vanatru is associated with child abuse.

Really, everyone? Really?

Misconception #4: Heathens worship ALL the gods! How can Vanatruar work with an incomplete pantheon?

You know, I’ve always found this one kind of funny, because, outside of the fact that adherents tend to be racists, no one really seems to have a problem with Odinism, or with people who are dedicated to one deity or another. In fact, most Heathens can’t even agree on which entities are deities, these include:

Loki

Sunna

Mani

No, seriously, someone once tried to tell me that Sunna and Mani weren’t deities, they merely represented the gravitational pull of the Earth and the orbital path of the Earth around the sun, or were “poetic metaphors” or something.

My point is, many Heathens do acknowledge ‘the Aesir and Vanir’ in general in their rites, but honestly, when’s the last time you heard of a “mainstream” kindred doing a blot to the Alcis? Or to a host of goddesses whose names (and perhaps some vague associations) still survive?

The thing is that no one honours all the deities all of the time. You might only have one or two that you feel a particular kinship with, your kindred might celebrate particular deities at particular times of the year, or you might place more emphasis on your ancestors than the deities.

I think somewhere along the line someone was under the impression that someone who exclusively honours X group doesn’t believe in Y group, or thinks that Y group is evil, or something. And yes, I know of at least one person who likes to treat Odin and co. as if they’re all cosmic bullies who abuse the poor, innocent Vanir.

As for me, no, I don’t personally honour Odin, Tyr, or Thor, but that doesn’t mean that I think they’re evil or that they don’t exist, I just don’t honour them.

They have plenty of followers who love them dearly, I am not one of them.

That’s it.

It’s not that they are bad, or they don’t exist, they’re just out of focus (or not in focus, as the case may be). The Vanir aren’t just trotted out for Freyfaxi so that your kindred can give tacit acknowledgement to “the fertility deities that make everyone very uncomfortable” before shoving them aside and bringing out the MANLY AESIR WARLORDS, FUCK YEAH! They are relevant the whole year round.

Oh wait, are you pissed because I’m essentially doing the exact opposite of what you’re doing?

Here’s a tip: deal.

Anyways, those are probably the most common ones, here are some other things I’d like to clear up.

The relationship between Vanatru and Waincraft

Waincraft began as the personal gnosis of a few Vanatruar who have since cut ties with Vanatru specifically and with Heathenry in general. While material that comes out of the Waincraft movement might be interesting to Vanatruar (and while I do have a Waincraft category on my blog), the two paths are separate, related, but separate.

The relationship between Vanatru and “Celtic” traditions (including Druidry, CR, and related faiths)

Again, some Vanatruar have taken to adopting the label “Vanacelt” to describe themselves, or are interested in looking at the commonalities between Norse and Celtic tribes. However, this is, like many things to do with Vanatru, not a requirement (although there is nothing wrong with being multi-trad). For those of you who are interested in comparative religions, it might be worth looking at this subject in more detail, but again, not a requirement.

Again, these are just the big ones. If you’ve seen any I haven’t mentioned, tell me so in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “Vanatru: Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

  1. Thanks for this post. 🙂 I’m not planning on practicing Vanatru any time soon, but I find it to be an interesting “branch” of Asatru.

  2. I don’t understand why this would be hard. I am a gardner, my first contact with the gods was through that and Frau Holda. I tend to focus on the Vanir more than the Asa. I still honor and respect Odin, Thor and Frigga. I have no issue with Loki or Angrboda or any Rokkr. And why is Vanir automatically Wicca? I don’t know why I thought pagans would be more open minded then Christians but I am finding there is just as much infighting. And I don’t know why child abuse would come into it.

  3. Somebody said Vanatru was connected somehow with Child Abuse? That’s profoundly upsetting.

    Do you know the reference? I’d like to know the background on that accusation in case it comes around my yard.

    –Ember–

    1. AFAIK, it was the personal experience of one of the mods of Asatru Lore who responded to a question about Vanatru warning that someone who identified as that was also a child molester, but I don’t know anything beyond that.

      You can see the post in question here: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=38f3cfb51e784e335c59916f54feb37b&topic=16549.0;p=2

      This was honestly the first I’d heard of it, I have no idea if the cops were involved or anything, and I’m inclined not to trust the word of anyone from that crowd, as they’ve said some very nasty things about anyone who doesn’t practice their brand of dick-swinging, right wing Heathenry. If it does come up, I’d treat it with the same disdain that I would racists who use Heathenry as an excuse for white supremacy.

      1. Ah, I see – they’re taking issue with the folks at Cauldron Farm. Interesting – I’m not aware of Vanatru being strongly associated with Cauldron Farm in the first place, but the rest is pretty typical. *sigh*
        -E-

        1. It’s not so much that Vanatruar are associated with Cauldron Farm (as with any community, opinions vary) it’s that certain folks like to take every opportunity to bash them (and Asatru Lore is populated with harder-than-hard recons who are all about the dick-swinging, gun totin’, right wing Heathenry) or, see this post I wrote about them: https://adventuresinvanaheim.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/stay-classy-asatru-lore/

          The amount of butthurt commentary I received because of that post was just unbelievable.

  4. I’m an asexual omnivore dedicated to Freyr, but very willing to ask/thank other Norse deities for their favors. My politics are mostly left-wing, but not extremely so. And I have never practiced Wicca of any kind: I may use Thorsson’s “Hammer Rite” to bless my ritual space, but that’s the closest to anything Wiccan that I’ll ever do. What I am is a Norse Heathen, and a Freyswoman. If you’ll pardon my word choice, “Screw the stereotypes!”

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