Mission and Beliefs

MISSION

Forn Sidr of America exists to establish a Universalist and Humanist branch of Norse Paganism, which celebrates different expressions of spiritual identity and promotes the establishment and protection of equity between all human beings.

VISION

An American Heathen spiritual identity rooted in Ancient Norse beliefs with modern evolving values that place the inherent worth of all people before creeds, dogma, or doctrine.

ABOUT FORN SIDR OF AMERICA

Forn Sidr (Forn See-dur) of America is a Norse Heathen faith denomination serving North America. We are a 501(c)(3) Church that aims to provide space, education, and connection for those seeking a compassionate Norse Heathen community. The practice of our faith is commonly referred to as “Heathenry”, “Norse Paganism”, or “Norse Polytheism.”

Many people today are familiar with some of the figures of our pantheon, such as Thor, Odin, Loki, and Freyja. However, our deities are just one facet of our earth-centered religion, which has its roots in the folk practices of Scandinavian Europe. While some may have heard of the beliefs of the “Ancient Norse” and “Vikings”, not as many know that these folk traditions are still alive and well today. We aim to provide space for, and education of, these traditions on North American soil.

The name of our organization, ‘Forn Sidr’, is an old word meaning “Ancient Custom”. The word comes from numerous ancient texts that record information about pre-Christian Scandinavian beliefs. These historical texts are vital to our current understanding the Norse Gods, their cosmology, and their stories. Some of their titles include the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, various Norse and Germanic Sagas, Gesta Danorum, and more. Other important informative sources for American Forn Sidr Heathenry include oral traditions.

As a Humanist denomination of Norse Heathenry, Forn Sidr of America seeks to uphold the religious identity that serves the needs, beliefs, and lifestyle of the practitioner. This we place before any doctrines, creeds, or dogmas. We seek spiritual connection with the natural world through the powers and deities of Norse cosmology, though study of metaphysical wisdom, and through fellowship with humankind. As a Universalist denomination, we invite anyone to practice Forn Sidr who finds meaning and fulfillment in these beliefs, regardless of ancestral heritage or other factors of identity.

Our practices are done with respect to the indigenous cultures that were here on these lands before us.

POWERS RECOGNIZED

We recognize all deities, spirits, and powers from Norse-Germanic cosmology. This includes, but is not limited to:

The Norse Deities

Including deities such as Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyja, Frigg, Frigg’s Handmaidens, Hel, Fenrir, Jormungandr, Gefjon, Bragi, Baldr, Tyr, Skadi, Ullr, Njord, Heimdall, Hodr, Sif, Idunn, and others.

Jotun, Wights, and Landvaetter

Jotun (giants), Wights, and Landvaetter (land-spirits) including local spirits, spirits of wild places, and primordial beings.

Ancestors

Includes chosen ancestors as well as familial ancestors.

Other Beings

Other beings found in Norse Cosmology, including Ymir, Authumbla, Nidhogg, the Norns, Light Elves, Dark Elves, Dwarves, and the World Tree Yggdrasil.

TENETS

Freedom and Autonomy

We recognize Freedom and Autonomy as an inherent human right. Everyone should have the right to determine their own beliefs, values, choices, and maintain personal autonomy of physical body and personal identity according to their own needs and well-being. To uphold and protect the rights of all people as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is something that Forn Sidr of America represents throughout our beliefs and practices.

Responsibility to Community

We hold community second only to freedom and autonomy. The human experience is defined by our relationships with each other. We practice community when we share in these relationships an attitude of collaboration, alliance and support. We seek to establish community between ourselves and all other peoples upon the earth. Our commitment moves us to actively participate in all communities to which we belong, whether they be local, spiritual, provincial, national, global and universal, for the development and wellbeing of humanity.

We hold ourselves responsible to our community. This is defined as immediate religious communities, local communities, provincial communities, national communities, and our global community with other nations. No individual or society is self-sustaining, self-reliant or completely isolated – not in our history and not in our modern global community. Community involvement, action, and support is a core value of our faith.

Frith

Frith is a word from Old Norse, Middle English, and Anglo Saxon which promises Peace and Hospitality, Refuge, Security, and Goodwill between parties. These values are embodied in Forn Sidr and in Heathen Culture worldwide. Frith is a pledge to uphold the well-being and safety of those we extend it to while they are with us, either in our company or in our spaces. Frith is reserved for those that extend the same courtesy. Frith cannot apply to those that would promote violence, oppression, or discrimination towards others we hold under Frith.

Integrity

We hold ourselves accountable for the sincerity of our words and the defining qualities of our deeds; that they should reflect our moral principles and represent the whole of our character. Commitment to our personal integrity requires that we act in consistency with our words, values, and commitments, with constant self-examination to ensure their alignment; and when personal development and new awareness occurs, to adjust these in accordance with our convictions.

Diversity

We distinguish the inherent value of each individual within our global community as sacred. The celebration of what makes us all unique as individuals and what that diversity brings to community and society reflects the core values held by our Ancestors, Powers, and Deities. It is therefore core to our religious identity to promote and protect diversity of human agency and expression in all its forms. We acknowledge the presence of and are committed to overcoming our internalized racial, social, economic, and cultural biases as an integral part of our oath to Diversity and Inclusion.

Environmental Stewardship

We recognize the interconnected relationship that humans have with the earth; and that while we are a part of nature, we are also uniquely positioned to impact it on a larger scale than any other creature. We accept this potential for great impact with equal responsibility: to act in conscious understanding of how we care for, and interact with, our natural home and its other inhabitants. Responsible environmental stewardship requires direct and mindful action to reduce our impact, preserve ecosystems, and to reinvigorate communities and species that are under threat.

Compassion

We see compassion as an intentional practice—literally “to suffer together.” This allows us to recognize ourselves in all sentient beings, and to reject the illusion of arbitrary differences. It is only in a state of compassion that we are called to challenge our assumptions of others. We bear witness to each other’s suffering and seek to understand it. The interconnection and interdependence of humanity also requires compassionate accountability; to see a person’s inherent worth and well-being and gently, but resolutely, call them back to that.

HOW FORN SIDR IS PRACTICED

There are many ways to engage in American Forn Sidr religious practice. Some expressions of faith may involve but are not limited to:

  • Acknowledgement and interaction with Norse Deities.

  • Veneration of Ancestors, which is not limited by ancestry or strictly blood relation. For the purpose of “Ancestors” we recognize them as anyone a practitioner identifies with being a deceased predecessor.

  • Acknowledgement and/or veneration of other spirits and figures from Norse or Germanic folklore, including, but not limited to; dwarves, elves, jotuns (giants, or etins), trolls, and other land spirits (wights or landvættir).

  • A belief and veneration of powers and processes that do not include deities, spirits, or ancestors. Someone may pair agnostic or atheist beliefs with an intentional Forn Sidr spiritual practice that does not include the belief in literal autonomous and/or connective spiritual beings.

  • Respect for and living in harmony with nature, its inhabitants, and acknowledging the passage of time in the form of seasonal celebrations throughout the year (such as blots and festivals).

  • Acknowledgement and celebration of significant transitions in life, from naming ceremonies to funerals.

  • Responsible caretaking of the land and the environment.

  • Recognizing the inherent sacred value of the land, protecting and awakening its holy places, while also respecting the peoples that previously inhabited it prior to colonization by European and American colonials.

  • The preservation, teaching, and practice of spiritual and metaphysical wisdom.

  • Exploring myths, stories, and literature of Forn Sidr worldview and cosmology as a guideline for practice.

  • Fostering spiritual practice through various creative expressions, such as storytelling, music, dance, historical recreation, cultural expression, culinary arts, and crafting.

  • Creating an individual connection with the Powers through personal ceremony, offerings, and communion.

  • Connection with the self and the Powers through healthy grooming and hygiene, including keeping hair/beard well-kept and naturally long as a reflection of personal identity and a symbol of commitment to their religious practice.

  • A belief in possessing a soul. Can include the belief in the eventual reincarnation of that soul in the afterlife.

  • A belief in an afterlife spent in one of various realms or locations best suited to the individual, including but not limited to: Hel’s Hall (Helheim), Baldr’s Hall (Breidablik), Frigg’s Hall (Fensalir), Freyja’s Hall (Fólkvangr/Sessrumnir), Forsetti’s Hall (Glitnir), The Holy Mountain (Helgafjell), and Odinn’s Hall (Valhalla).

TEXTS AND OTHER GUIDING SOURCES

The Poetic Edda, The Prose Edda, Gesta Danorum, Norse Mythology, Norse Epic Poetry, Norse Sagas, and other Norse-Germanic folklore are starting points for formulating our beliefs, with the understanding that these texts should be taken in context with the author’s worldview, the times they were written, the geographic location in which they originate, the cultural context in which they existed, and how they compare to modern day practice.

Texts should be utilized in conjunction with other sources derived from modern anthropological understanding, archaeological finds, and new developments in the interpretations of older sources as a basis for beliefs and practices of Forn Sidr. Oral tradition, as well as historical or modern folklore, can also be used as valid guides for practicing Forn Sidr.

Forn Sidr of America is a world-affirming religion, and therefore our ethics, values, and understanding of history should evolve to match the needs and awareness of modern society.