Wolves of Vinland

A controversial Norse neopagan group embracing a blend of mythology and identity politics.

The Wolves of Vinland is a Norse neopagan group based on the outskirts of Lynchburg, Virginia, known for its distinctive blend of pagan spirituality and controversial political ideologies. The group, which has been active since the early 2000s, was founded by brothers Paul and Matthias Waggener. It has garnered attention for its blend of Viking-inspired rituals, Odinist beliefs, and a commitment to what they perceive as a traditional, tribal way of life.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) classified the Wolves of Vinland as a hate group in 2018, citing the organization’s extreme ideologies and activities that align with neo-völkisch movements. The neo-völkisch movement, as outlined by the SPLC, seeks to revive the ethnocentric and pagan traditions of the Germanic peoples, often intertwining these beliefs with white supremacist ideologies.

The group has been linked to various controversial activities and ideologies, including white supremacy and anti-Semitic beliefs. They draw on Asatru, a pagan religion based on ancient Norse faiths, which has been co-opted by some white supremacist groups for its lack of Judeo-Christian influence, making it appealing to those holding anti-Semitic views. While Asatru itself is not inherently bigoted, its adoption by certain white supremacists has led to a problematic association with racist ideologies.

The Wolves of Vinland’s activities include ritualistic practices such as animal sacrifices, aimed at connecting with the Norse gods and enhancing personal and communal strength. These practices are steeped in the group’s interpretation of Odinist sacrifice, where blood and life are offered in exchange for wisdom and glory, purportedly bringing them closer to their deities and ancestors.

Despite the group’s controversial standing and ideologies, it portrays itself as a spiritual and tribal community, seeking to live according to what members consider the principles and values of their ancestors. However, the group’s association with extremist ideologies and actions has led to significant criticism and scrutiny, particularly concerning its impact on community relations and potential to incite violence.

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