On/File: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, People, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

Nordic animism is a growing phenomenon in Scandinavia, seeking to return to a native spirituality while distinguishing itself from Neopagan groups holding to ethnic nationalism. Founded by Swedish religious historian Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen, the diffuse movement has been influenced by the Brazilian religion Candomblé and links environmentalism with the return to animism. Rasmussen teaches that Odin, the Norse king-god, belongs to other orishas or spirits that are prominent in the teachings of Candomblé and other West African-based Yoruba religions. Largely non-institutional, this spiritual movement has been popularized by Scandinavian bands and is mainly expressed in blogs and festivals, such as Saturnalia in Denmark, and in the movement’s revised animistic Swedish rune calendar and trademark raven flag. Nordic animism seeks to counter nationalistic Heathen groups and closely identifies with Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, a protest movement fighting climate change. It is also part of a trend of Scandinavians wanting to return to nature and expressing dissatisfaction with multicultural urban life. Yet Rasmussen has been criticized for teaching that the movement cannot authentically exist outside of Scandinavia.

(Source: Paper presented by Frederik Gregorius at the conference of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, November 20)