The religious order, Forn Siðr (meaning Old Custom), was granted permission to have an exclusively pagan burial ground. The town of (a town named after Odin) gave the green light to a heathen cemetery at the Assistens Cemetery by the end of the year. This will be the first time in a thousand years that followers of Odin, Thor, or Loki will have a graveyard all their own.
Forn Siðr is the largest member of the Ásatrú alliance (an organization of 35 groups that promotes the old Norse gods). Forn Siðr was formed in 1997 and gained official approval by the Danish government in 2003. It currently has over 600 members.
“When you establish a religious community, you should also be able to serve your members from cradle to grave, so getting a cemetery is a big breakthrough,” said Søren Fisker, Forn Siðr’s vice president and cemetery liaison.
In the past, members had their ashes scattered at sea or be buried in a churchyard. This didn’t sit well with many Asatruar. “Many Asatruar define themselves precisely by being different from the majority of Christians,” said Fisker.
René Dybdal Pedersen of Aarhus University points to the fact that Muslims had previously gained their own cemetery, paving the way for Forn Siðr.
Forn Sidr has already chosen a row of large stones that will form the outline of an 18 meter-long Viking ship, thus forming the boundary of the shared Heathen cemetery. Fisker hopes that other municipalities that operate cemeteries in larger towns will also be sympathetic to establishing cemeteries for Asatruar.
The Center for Cemeteries, which oversees the five cemeteries in the municipality of Copenhagen, would be positively disposed right away. “They could certainly rent an area. We have a very broad definition of what is permissible. But of course we would say no if they suddenly wanted to raise stones that were 15 meters high,” said Tom Olsen, the daily director of cemeteries.
The report is silent about how the followers of Odin will be handled. Will there be giant funeral pyres or perhaps a lake to send the body off via ship? Will there be burial mounds, complete with favorite domestic animals as grave companions?