(This article first appeared in MOUNTAIN THUNDER magazine, issue #10, Autumn
Spirituality can be defined as
sensitivity or attachments to a particular set of religious values. What
this means, is a particular path to one or more Deities. A persons
spirituality is that individual person's path to the Deity or Deities to
whom she or he is drawn. A path, perhaps, composed of many parts---but all
pointing in the same direction, down the same pathway toward Asgardh.
There are many spiritualities within Asatru. Some are better suited for some
individuals, and others are better suited for other individuals. It is
important that each person find the spirituality that is best suited for
them---and then try to follow it at all times. The idea is to bring Asatru
fully into one's life. Otherwise, people are in danger of letting their
religion become simply a series of social gatherings, toasting the Dieties
(and occasionally asking them for their favors) but nothing more. And there
is so much more.
At this time, the best known spirituality within Asatru is Odhinnian
Spirituality---the Spirituality of Odhinn. (Do not confuse Odhinnian with
Odhian or Odhinnist---each of these three words has a completely different
meaning.) Also popular at the present are the various Vanic Spiritualities,
centered around one or more of the Vanir. The Spirituality of Thorr has some
staunch followers, although---for some reason---not as many as one might
Tyrian Spirituality is a spirityality within Asatru that emphasizes the
virtues and characteristics associated with the God Tyr and the Goddes Zisa
(who are counterparts of each other). In basic terms, Tyrian Spirituality
involves always trying to do what is right, what is fair, what is just, and
what is honest, with special stress on service to, and protection of, the
community---both the Asatru community and the general community in which one
To understand Tyrian Spirituality, one must first have at least some
understanding of the God Tyr. Tyr is known as the one-handed God. In the
Prose Edda (Gylfaginning), Snorri tells the story of how Tyr lost his right
hand to the Fenris Wolf. This story is very symbolic of all that Tyr stands
for: self-sacrifice in order to maintain the safety and stability of the
community. Tyr is the God of justice and true law, the God of keeping one's
word and upholding that which is right.
Some people have though of Tyr as a God of War, a confusion that has existed
as far back as the days of pre-Christian Rome. The Romans called the third
day of the week the Day of Mars, and it is still called martes in Spanish.
This was translated to Tyr's Day in northern Europe---Tuesday in modern
English. However, it is not that simple. Those who call upon Tyr before
going into combat do so because they want to draw attention to the
rightfulness of their struggle, not simply for strength against their
Thorr helps those who call on him and are sincere. Odhinn helps those who
call on him if he wants to. Tyr helps those who call on him if, and only if,
their cause is just.
Tyr is not as exciting as Odhinn, but without Tyr everything would quickly
fall apart. It is Tyr who holds it all together and keeps it all running
Tyrian symbols are: Tiwaz (t) the Tyr Rune, the Irminsul, the Hand of Tyr,
the Bound Fenris Wolf, and the North (Pole) Star---the Constant Star. It
might be useful at this point to say a few words about Zisa, the female
counterpart of Tyr. (I do not like to use the term "wife" because
the relationships of the Gods and Goddesses to and with each other are very
different from those of humans.) There is a reference to her---although not
by name---in the Poetic Edda (Lokasenna, verse 40). Jacob Grimm devotes
several pages to Zisa in his work: Teutonic Mythology. Freya Aswynn also
mentions Zisa in her book: Leaves of Yggdrasil.
We know that Zisa exists because theologically all of the Deities have both
a female and a male form. Unfortunately, very little has come down to us
from ancient times.
Tyrian Spirituality is often called a Code of Honorable Conduct. Tyr and
Zisa can give us one great strength, but it comes with two great
(1) It must never be used for evil, and
(2) The strong must always protect the weak.
Those who follow the path of Tyrian Spirituality are called Tyrians. Before
doing anything, Tyrians ask themselves what are called Ty'rs Three
Questions: "Is it moral?" "Is it legal?" "Is it
beneficial to all concerned?" If the answer to any of these questions
is "No" then they do not do it. The Tyrian exists to serve, to
help. The Tyrian asks no reward, and excepts no reward in turn for service.
The service itself is its own reward.
The Tyrian lives in Midhgardh, and is very much a part of it, but learns not
to worry about the trivia of Midhgardh. Tyrians often work to build things
they know they will never see completed. But that does not matter to a
Tyrian. If the work is good, it is worth doing.
Tyrians say: "The glacier knows where it is going and when it will get
It does not matter if others know or not," Some who study comparative
religion have remarked that there are some similarities between Tyrian
Spirituality and the Zen form of Buddhism---that Tyrian spirituality is
"the Zen of Asatru"---but there are also many differences.
Asatru is a polytheistic religion. There are many paths within Asatru. Each
path has a purpose. All are needed and all work together. Different people
chose to follow different paths. Some pursue the path of Frigg and Odhinn,
seeking always to discover and change things. Others take the path of Thorr
and Sif, defending all they feel should be defended. Still others find the
Vanir path, basking in the warm friendship of Freyja and Freyr. The path of
Tyr and Zisa is one of calm. It does not attract many. It brings no magical
discoveries, no feelings of great strength and power, no material blessings.
It brings only calma dn the reward of service.
Leaves of Yggdrasil
Llewellyn, St. Paul, 1990.
Dumezil, Georges (translated by Alf Hiltebeitel)
Destiny of the Warrior
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.
Dumezil, Georges (translated by Einar Haugen)
Gods of the Ancient Northmen
Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1973.
Dumezil, Georges (translated by Derek Coltman)
M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1988.
Ellis Davidson, Hilda R.
Gods and myths of Northern Europe
Penguin, London, 1964
Ellis Davidson, Hilda R.
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe
Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1988.
Grimm, Jacob (translated by James Stallybrass)
Peter Smith, Glouchester, Mass., 1976.
Snorra Edda (The Snorri Edda)
Islendingasagnautgafan, Akureyri, 1954.
Myth and religion of the North
Weidenfield & Nicolson, London, 1964.
Eddukvaedhi (the Poetic Edda)
Islendingasagnautgafan, Akureyri, 1954.
An Odhian seeks to emulate Odhinn.
An Odhinnian Follows the Spirituality of Odhinn.
An Odhinnist worships Odhinn. Unfortunately the word Odhinnist has become
associated with certain racist groups and is therefore best avoided.
**(this is Gamlinginn's opinion, not everyone in
Asatru/Heathenism agree with it)**