A Great Gathering at the Temple
REPORT ON HARVEST GATHERING
We had a brilliant Gathering last Sunday (19/9/21) with 21 people present. I know many could not attend owing to sickness or work, but they were in our thoughts too. A really powerful celebration of the Cup of Remembrance started the proceedings, at which Alan took the Pledge of Faith. Then we auctioned a painting, a pair of ear-rings and a mead-horn for the Temples Fund, raising, with the collection, nearly £200.
The most important outcome of the Gathering is that we authorised a revision of The Book of Rites, mainly to include two new rituals. One is the celebration of the Cup of Remembrance as a Solitary Rite, which is really necessary especially for those Odinists who are isolated. The other is a rite for the Renewal of Wedding Vows, which married couples whose wedding took place at a registry office or church may wish to undergo if they want an Odinist blessing on their marriage. Also some minor but significant amendments to the wording of the existing rite were agreed, and some additional prayers - as there was space - to add to the section called Private and Occasional Prayers.
The Solitary Rite can also be used when a shorter ceremony is desired, as instead of the usual readings a selection of short sentences and verses are given instead as an alternative. Some of these are really beautiful selections from the Eddas, like jewels mined and put on display. The Book of Rites can be used, after all, to dip into by anyone wanting inspiration for their private prayers.
We also amended and finalised the Temple bye-laws, mainly to ensure that worship will always be Odinist in character and our Temples will not be hi-jacked by those with other beliefs.
After the meeting, several of us retired to a nearby pub for a meal and refreshments. Everybody present commented on how inspiring the day had been and how great it was to meet up with so many like-minded people. Thanks to all who came!
At last we are emerging out of lockdown. On Sunday, 20th June, Midsummer’s Eve, we held the first public moot for some while at the Newark Temple, and it was an excellent occasion with about two dozen present, including long-standing members, members from other parts of the country, and some visitors who came along to meet us and see what Odinism is all about. This was despite the fact that there were a number of our members who felt they should still stay away because they are shielding, which is understandable. I think everyone enjoyed the occasion and welcomed the chance to chat and speak to other Odinists after the ritual. We were also pleased to conduct a Pledge of Faith, a voluntary oath of loyalty to the Gods by one of our members, which is always a very special occasion. It all bodes well for the future!
GREAT NEWS - OPEN DAYS RESUMING!
If you have been wanting to visit the Newark Odinist Temple during lockdown, I have great news for you. We are now resuming our Open Days on Wednesdays from 1pm to 5pm. You are welcome to come along and if you want a brief tour and explanation, the priest-in-charge is happy to give a short talk. Or you may just wish to look around on your own.
We are asking, however, that only hone household at a time can visit for health control reasons.
If you are travelling from some distance please either ring on 07497 436268, or e-mail us at [email protected] to check the Temple will be open, just in case something prevents us from opening on the day. That will avoid a wasted journey. Also if you want to visit at another time, contact us to fix a date and time with us, and let us know when you hope to visit, so we can confirm.
Regular public services are also resuming, which all our members have been looking forward to for many months now during the lockdown. Let us know if you wish to attend. Thank you.
DONATING VIA SMILE AMAZON
Many people order goods through Amazon, books, DVDs, or a range of items. If so, did you know that you can make a gift to the Odinist Fellowship at no extra cost to yourself. If, instead of logging on to Amazon, you log on to www.smile.amazon.co.uk - or just put in “Smile Amazon” into you search engine - you can buy all the range of goods at exactly the same price, but you have the option of directing Amazon to pay a small portion of the purchase price to the charity of your choice - such as the Odinist Fellowship! Do help us in this way. It will cost you nothing and we will benefit as a result. Thank you so much in advance!
NATURAL DISASTERS - CHRISTIAN AND ODINIST REPSONSES COMPARED
The following is the text of a Round Robin sent to members of the Odinist Fellowship in March 2020. Round Robin newsletters are sent regularly to our members free of charge:-
NATURAL DISASTERS - CHRISTIAN AND ODINIST RESPONSES COMPARED
The traditional response of Christianity to plagues and pestilence, or to any natural disaster has always been to claim that it is a punishment sent by God and a judgement on the sins of wicked mankind. So numerous are the instances of this type of response from Christian preachers of all denominations and of all eras, that I really do not have to cite examples as proof. In times of natural disaster the Church’s relex has always been to call on its believers to respond by fasting and penitence.
Only in this contemporary era, has the Church changed its tune. and instead adopted a less God-oriented and a more humanistic response by calling on the disaster-struck populace to engage in communal acts of goodwill and co-operation in order to help mitigate its effects. Perhaps it senses that nowadays this is more in keeping with the spirit of the times.
Christianity has always had a problem - essentially, a theological problem - with the existence of evil. It has been particularly hard-pressed to account for the reality of pestilence and disasters, while maintaining its fundamental belief in an all-powerful and all-loving deity. “How could the good Lord allow such things to happen?” the Christians ask, and the truth is that, unless the Church turns round to its adherents and says, “Well, it is all your fault anyway for being so wicked!”, then it does not really have a coherent answer at all.
In fact the core tenet of Christianity, namely, that there is supposedly one sole God, who is infinite in both power and virtue, is utterly confounded by the existence of natural disasters. Anyone with any measure of logical thought can understand this. For if God is infinitely loving, but then fails to prevent harmful disasters, then it proves that he must be limited n his power. Whereas if God is omnipotent, but permits disasters, then it proves that he must be limited in his love towards mankind. There can be no getting around this conundrum, and it has always been both a torment and an embarrassment for Christian theologians.
Odinists, on the other hand, adopts a different stance. Odinism teaches that the Gods are mighty, but not almighty, and that the Gods are beneficent, but not infinitely so.
In fact, Odinists would argue that the concepts of omnipotence and of absolute virtue are meaningless abstractions, which can have no possible existence in reality. After all, even the Christians admit that certain things are beyond the power of their supposedly omnipotent God. For instance, God cannot change what has happened in the past; so, if Rome fell in the year 410, nothing God can do can change that. Nor can he make something exist and not exist at the same time, or make something be what it is not. In fact, there is a whole gamut of things that God cannot do, even according to orthodox Christian theology. So, in that case, what possible logical meaning can the word “omnipotence” possess?
Nor is the concept of absolute virtue or goodness meaningful, in any practical sense. Every moral action involves a choice. Even if a rich man gave away all his goods to the poor, he would still have to choose which poor folk would benefit, and by how much, and who would be overlooked. If you give to charity, unless you give all you possess, then there is something you are holding back, and some charities that you will be favouring more than others, and some interested parties, like members of your own family , who might well feel they had a better claim to your wealth. Odinists therefore say that we should, by all means, act virtuously, but striving for perfection is simply self-defeating. And then there is the whole range of actions that both individuals and rulers have to take to punish wrong-doers, whether it is a parent chastising a child, or the State imprisoning a convict; or to defend themselves for adversaries, whether it is a householder protecting his property from a burglar, or a nation arming itself against an aggressive enemy, where actions need to be taken, that may be less than perfectly virtuous, but which, if not taken would result in a greater harm in the long run. Anyone who thinks clearly on the subject must conclude, that all talk of absolute virtue - and therefore all talk of a God of absolute virtue - is meaningless.
So, we Odinists declare that the Gods are mighty, but not almighty. The Gods are of good intent, but they are not perfect. Our whole mythology shows us that the Gods have to fight and struggle to maintain the order of Nature against the forces of chaos and destruction, and that the outcome of this contest is by no means certain. The Gods use their intelligence, and they sometimes use force, magic, or even subterfuge, but always with the intent of preserving life, order, creativity, and the productiveness of Nature - and yet they often encounter setbacks. And, however we interpret Ragnarok, they also encounter defeats.
This does not, however, answer the ever-pressing question, “Why do pestilences and disasters occur?” The only possible way to answer this question is to give the unvarnished truth. Disasters occur because they are part of the cycle of existence and an integral aspect of life. They occur because it is how things are. We may as well ask, “Why do men and beasts have two eyes and not four or six?” It is how things are! We may as well ask, “Why is water wet or snow cold?” It is how things are! In short, it is part of the tapestry of Fate, part of the Web of Weird. Even the Gods are subject to the decrees of the Norns. So these disasters just are, and the Gods themselves, like us, must submit to the fate of the cosmos.
In saying that the Gods are not almighty, it does not follow that they are powerless to help us. just because we declare that they are not perfect in virtue, it does not mean that they are not beneficent towards us. On the contrary, Odinists believe that the Gods and Goddesses are able and willing to assist mankind in it travails. They are both powerful and of good intent towards their Folk. After all, everything is connected, and so all of us, Gods and men, form part of the same great, all-encompassing Web. Although natural disasters may be beyond the power of the Gods to prevent altogether, it nevertheless does not mean that the Gods cannot mitigate their harmful effects, or respond to our prayers for protection.
Some fools say we should not pray to the Gods, arguing that we must act autonomously, standing on our own two feet; they think the Gods are indifferent to our human condition; they do not see them as our helpmates. They are, in practice, atheists, not Odinists - or rather, humanists, motivated by an overweening and ill-founded belief in the omnipotence of humanity. Well, how hollow their arguments ring now! In these times of pestilence and disaster, it is all to apparent that men and women are little, fragile things, tiny parts of the overarching cosmos, small creatures swept along the tide of history like flotsam and jetsam by forces beyond our control . All of a sudden our great systems and civilisations come crashing down. Humanistic hubris is clearly the wrong response to today’s troubles.
Rather, our response should be expressed in religious devotion and faithfulness. Our theology - not the Christians’, nor that of the atheists - is the only viable one. Unlike the Christians, we do not view the Godhead as infinitely remote; unlike the atheists, we are not bereft of spiritual aid. our Gods are powerful friends in high places; they are our firm, allies and comrades; our fates are intertwined with theirs and theirs with ours, and they know it.
In short, the Gods and Goddesses will help those of us who call upon them, but we can only expect their assistance, if we likewise assist ourselves. The Gods help the brave and the wise. So let us act wisely and bravely, while at the same time invoking their holy names for ourselves and our kindred. That is what Odinists do!
At the heart of the rite for the Cup of Remembrance, the sacrifice of mead that we model on that offered by the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa in the presence of Sigurd, we repeat her famed words:
Hail to the Gods! The Goddesses hail! Hail to the all-giving Earth! Wisdom and lore, as long as we live, And healing hands, give us!
Thus we pray to the Gods and the Goddesses, as Sigrdrifa taught Sigurd, for healing hands and the power of health, asking the Holy Powers to extend their hands in healing towards us and to all our comrades-in-faith, sparing us, if the Norns will it, from the ravages of pestilence and peril, so that at last we may regain our strength and our power to do good for the Folk.
Pray thus, and at the same time, take all wise and sensible precautions to protect yourselves and your families, remembering the words of the High One - which, incidentally are my favourite verse in the Havamal:-
Better gear than good sense A wayfarer cannot carry, Better than riches for a wretched man Far away from home.
In the Service of the Aesir!
Ralph Harrison Director
A Thank-You Letter
It is always nice to receive positive feedback. I thought I would share this kind thank-you note from Pete of Yorkshire, who visited our Temple with a friend at a recent Wednesday afternoon Open Day. Here it is:-
“Dear Ralph, Thank you for allowing us to visit the Temple last week. It has a wonderful feel to it and I hope to return when time permits. Many thanks for your time and all the information. We had a fantastic day in Newark and aim to return to camp and walk. I will keep an eye on events and try to come again to coincide with a meeting / ceremony.”
“I do a bit of pyrography and crude woodcraft. Please accept this wooden [Thor’s] hammer as a token of thanks for making us feel most welcome. All the best to you. Hope to see you again soon. Pete.”
Many thanks for that, Pete, and thank you especially for the beautiful Miollnir!
On 7th January 2019 our long-awaited sign- and noticeboard was erected near the entrance to the Temple. The sign reads “Odinism is the original, Old Religion of the English people, the native faith of the northern lands,” and gives other information about the Temple’s services, and how to get in touch, or find out more information.
One of the workmen who installed the signboard commented on the day, that he had often passed by this ancient old building and wondered what it was. Well, now anyone curious about the nature of this listed edifice can read the sign for himself and take steps to find out more, if he wishes. For too long the Newark Odinist Temple has - involuntarily - been a well-kept secret. Now, at last, Odinism is coming in from the dark! May the Gods use this new acquisition to further our holy cause!
I am pleased to say that the bollards we ordered for the Newark Odinist Temple were installed on 14th and 15th June 2018, just in time for our Midsummer Gathering on 17th. There are two at the south, and five including one removable bollard at the north bay. These bollards will help avoid collisions by vehicles with visitors exiting the building, and also prevent cars crashing into the building itself. All those who attended the Gathering also agreed that not having our beautiful little Temple overshadowed by large 4 x 4s and vans parked right up against its walls, adds greatly to the appreciation of the listed building’s architectural and historic merits. The Newark Odinist Temple must rank among the top five of the town’s most significant buildings, from the architectural point of view, and at long last that fact can be properly evaluated by the visitor and passer-by.
Lease on Land Signed, Sealed and Delivered!
On 3rd January 2018 a lease on land at Bede House Court valid for seven years at a peppercorn rent was granted by Newark & Sherwood District Council to the Newark Odinist Temple Trust. Previous news items announced that this move was pending.
Clause 9.5 of this lease states, “The Tenant (i.e. N.O.T.T.) shall within 12 months of the date of this Lease erect bollards of a type and in locations to be approved in writing by the Landlord (i.e. N.&S.D.C.)”.
It should also be noted that clause 9.2.(c) states, “The Tenant shall not obstruct any public road, footpath, right of way or any means of access to the Property.” This must be read in conjunction with clause 1.11 which states, “Any obligation on the Tenant not to do something includes an obligation not to allow that thing to be done and an obligation to use best endeavours to prevent that thing being done by any person.”
Clearly therefore, we are obliged to use our best endeavours to halt the obstruction of the footpath and forecourt by fly-parked motor vehicles. And we shall proceed with alacrity in arranging the installation of the long-overdue bollards, Gods willing!
No Entry Charges! It's the Law!
One of the matters discussed at the Midsummer Gathering 2017 was a change to the Temple Bye-Laws. These are laws not just for the Newark Temple, but for all future Odinist Temples in the land.
The new Temple Bye-Law makes it clear that entry charges must never be levied on those entering the Temples for prayer, worship or contemplation, which of course includes those who merely visit to admire the architecture or artworks.
We are well aware that many Christian churches and cathedrals charge for entry. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London charges the grand sum of £20 per head. Think what that would set back an average family wanting to show the children around Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. I think if he could see how mercenary the C. of E. has become nowadays, he would be shocked.
No, we Odinists say that a Temple is a house of the Gods open to all men, women and children who wish to come to it. The Gods do not charge for their favours. Nor should we. It is a Temple, not a museum or an amusement arcade, that we should seek to profit from people’s desire to encounter the spiritual. Our decision seems like the only honest option.
A copy of the revised Temple Bye-Laws is now displayed in the Temple’s lobby.
The Newark Temple Now Registered as a Charity
In November 2015 we were able to announce that the Newark Odinist Temple had been registered by the General Register Office as a place of worship under The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855. Not only was this the first temple dedicated to the Old Religion of England to be so registered, but it also obliged the General Register Office, an official government agency, to add ‘Odinism’ to their list of recognised religions.
Now we have some more good news. On 10 October 2016 the Newark Odinist Temple Trust was registered as a religious charity by the Charity Commission of England & Wales, and of course this is the first heathen temple to be recognised as a charity. It is registered under charity number 1169576. The Trust, and its trustees, Ralph Harrison, Ian Holt, Ian Briggs, Donald Holden, David Rigden, Matthew Boyd and Wulf Grimes, will be responsible for the running and upkeep of the Temple. (More recently, Alan Peace and Bob Warren have been added to the number of trustees.)
Both these steps forward not only help us operate more effectively in promoting Odinism, but they have also put Odinism on the map among the world’s religions. Not so long ago, it was common to hear people ask, ‘Odinism? Is that a real religion?’ Of course, we have always known that Odinism is the one true Old Religion of our people. The Anglican Church is a recent invention of the 16th Century; Catholicism was introduced among us only in the 7th Century; but for centuries and centuries before, going back into the mists of pre-history, our folk have worshipped the elder Gods of the Odinist faith.
Now, at last, the Law of this land gives credence to our religious status. And none can gainsay us!