As long time readers of this blog already know, I am a priest of Odin. I get asked, periodically, why I refer to myself as a priest rather than a godhi. The answer is because I am not a godhi. And neither is anybody else, more or less. Yes, yes, I know that “godhi” is usually translated as “priest,” and most people use it as the ancient heathen word for priest. Trouble is, that’s not very accurate.
Godhis did indeed perform priestly duties. They had priest-like relationships with the gods and landwights. And they were so much more than that as well. They often functioned as lawyers, and a godhi had to be well educated in legal matters. They also performed many other civil functions, including acting as scribes and notaries. A godhi had to be a historian too. It was often mandatory that a godhi be a landowner, and possibly even wealthy. A godhi was not just any person who had a special relationship with the gods, you see. A godhi also had to have a special relationship with the community, had to be something of a community leader.
Leading blots and sumbels is one thing, being a godhi is something more. It does not help our people to disregard so much of the ancient ways just so that we can use some of the ancient words. That sloppy, “me-first” kind of thinking is turning our religion into a massive live action role playing game. This is the year 2014, not 914. Being a heathen today means living in today’s world while respecting and learning from the ancient world. Godhis are a thing of the ancients. I am a priest, because that is the way today’s world is.