|Knights of Othin's Eye|
Coat of arms of the ORW.
|Type|| Ásatruar religious order|
(from 1848 also military order)
|Headquarters|| Fichtelberg (1781–1848)|
|Attire||Black robe with grey hood and red belt|
|First Hochmeister||Erich Hildebrandt Ritter von Hutten|
|First Großmeister||Heinrich Ritter von Amsel (Hákon Vilhjálmursson)|
|Current Großmeister||Sigurð Óðinnsson|
The Order of the Knights of the Eye of Othin (German: Der Orden der Ritter des Wotansauge; Swedish Den Heliga Riddarorden av Oden) is the principle organisation, aside from the NAPN, that handles all government affairs in the Commonwealth of Niflungland.
The ORW constitutes the majority of the government outside of the legislative branch. In particular, the High Court of the Order, consisting of the nine highest ranking members of the ORW, is the basis for the Niflungan legal system. The General Council of the Order is not officially a legislative institution, but is consulted by the Vísir on almost all legislative decisions. In social terms, the ORW is the only officially recognised institution for dogmatic and doctrinal issues of the State Religion, Ásatrú.
Originally founded in 1781 in Lehnin, Brandenburg, the organisation has grown to a nationally-recognised civilian Order as well as military order incorporated into the Niflungan national army. Its present Grand Master is Vísir Sigurð Óðinnsson, who serves as the sixth Grand Master of the Order.
The organisation is divided into three principle branches, each of which service a different Homeland of Niflungland. The most unique is the Scottish branch, known as the Order of Fathers (Lallans: Order o oor Forbeirs; Scots Gaelic: Bi ’g òrdachdainn Sinnsreanar), which unlike the other two, appeals directly to the native Celtic religion of the Highland Scots in addition to the Germanic faith of Norse-Scots. The Swedish branch, known as the Holy Chivalric Order of Othin (Den Helige Riddarorden av Oden), is most explicitly Nordic, since the Swedes have the closest tie to that faith and the scripture associated therewith. The German branch, which is the main branch, retains the primary name of the Order and adheres to a Nordic-Teutonic style of faith, which maintains the old gods and uses Nordic texts like the Eddas as well as various continental texts as the basis for myth and lore.
On the Winter Soltice in 1781, a small gathering of Dukes, Princes, and Margraves gathered in the crypt of the ruined cloister in the village of Lehnin in Brandenburg, the only secret meeting-place they could find safely. The group of twenty-one men styled themselves “Hochorden der Söhne Wotans”. Their purpose was the re-awakening and reorganisation of the pre-Christian religion of their ancestors. Many had studied Runic inscriptions throughout Europe, and had visited the ruins and historical remains of rune-stones and picture-stones in Götland, Sweden and Öland. Their initial symbol, the Valknut, was adopted as the Order grew, rivalling other large ceremonial organisations such as the Order of Free and Accepted Masons. By 1790, the King had heard of the organisation and was intrigued. He had spies infiltrate the Order to find a secret meeting place, and attended incognito in 1791. The meeting place he had been led to was in the Fichtelgebirge, the famous Teufelstisch (“devil's table”), a natural rock formation in the midst of the forest of the Fichtegebirge. Here he is said to have had a conversion experience that so overwhelmed him that he converted himself publicly to the Old Ways in 1795. The Order by this time had become known as the Hochorden der Wotansöhne, and had expanded membership into full and observing members, allowing a massive conversion between 1795 and 1798. By the time of King Jörg's death in 1800, fully 30% of the population had left Christianity and become at least observing members of the Order.
In 1805, King Robert I declared the existence of a united Christian Church, the Vereinigte Kirche Nibelungen (“United Church of Niflunga”), challenging the fledgling Order by bringing all Christians under a single umbrella church and therefore organising a resistance to the conversions and changes that Jörg II had brought about. The Order knew it had to organise more or its successes would be for naught. The King had made efforts in Scotland to suppress any Order activity, but in Germany such laws were harder to enforce, since a large percentage of the population were against the rule of the Scottish king and as a sign of loyalty to the Niflungan dynasty converted to the worship the last king had adopted. In an effort to take advantage of the general dislike of King Robert, the Hochorden reorganised itself into Der Orden der Ritter des Wotansauge, and dedicated themselves chiefly to Wotan (Óðinn in the original Norse). They structured themselves largely after the old Holy Orders of the Crusades, establishing ranks and titles beyond their primitive structure of the first 25 years. Specifically, they modelled the structure after the Order of Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hospital in Jerusalem and the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.
In 1807, Hákon Vilhjálmursson became Hochmeister of the Order, and immediately set out to reform the entire structure. By the next year he had laid down the structure which to this day is maintained with very small changes by the ORW. The Order exploded in the German lands amongst romantics who sought a return to the medieval structure of the Teutonic Knights and were disenchanted with Scottish rule instead of their native German king. By 1810, the original four balleis (“bailiwicks”) of the Order had exploded into 18 bailiwicks across Nibelungen. These have been maintained as “religious provinces” even to today, while the medieval term balleis refers to individual districts ruled by Komturen (Commandants) rather than Landkomturen (Provincial Commandants). King Malcolm took the throne in the same year that Hákon was elevated to the old position of Hochmeister, a title he altered to Großmeister in 1808. Malcolm ended his father's exile of the monarchy to Scotland, appealing to the people as a new dynasty of all Niflunga. This curbed growth of the ORW after 1812, but could not take away the success they had gained thus far by the Order. Securing the place of the Order both in the minds of the general population as well as the royalty was a foiled assassination attempt against the king in 1815.
The ORW won the good graces of the king for two high-ranking knights, both Scotsmen, who had to that point kept their membership secret for fear of being ejected or made enemy of the state. King Malcolm officially recognised the Order when he decorated both men for their services to the state and announced that the ORW was in no way responsible for the attack, instead blaming French spies, and expelling all French-speaking citizens of Niflunga. His actions won him a great deal of support within the ORW as well as the various German nationalist circles that had already begun to take shape.
The Order worked quietly to expand its numbers over the course of the next forty years, and sucessfully became the premier nationalist organisation in Niflunga; in fact, all of the representatives from Niflunga sent to the Nuremburg Reichstag were members of the ORW. Competition with the VKN was significantly weakened by the fact that by 1830, all Swedish-speaking citizens had become either Observing Members or First Degree Knights of the Swedish-language branch of the ORW, Den Heliga Riddarorden av Odin. The HRO, however, was only active in Öland, where the majority of Swedish speakers lived, and the ORW still competed with the VKN on the mainland with German-speaking Swedes. Work was made easier for the Scottish branch of the ORW, the Order of the Fathers, however, because of Malcolm's recognition of the organisation. The Highland Scots had converted to their pre-Christian Celtic traditions in larger numbers than any of the other Scots, bringing with them heavy Pictish influence that made the OF very unique from the ORW.
The successes of the ORW and its cadet Orders continued under Malcolm for the duration of his reign. The happenings of 1848-49 brought a very distinctly anti-communist policy to the ORW, leading to open and violent conflict between socialist revolutionaries and ORW Knights. It was during these conflicts that a uniformed, armed wing of the ORW began to develop and the new grade of Genosseritter, meaning “Companion Knight”, was created for knights of the ORW who took up arms in her name. The ORW fought on the pro-government side of the revolts, which often led to swift closure of any conflicts. After the rebellions, the ORW retained the arms and uniformed service it had adopted in a resurrected form of the Wotanssöhne. The Genosseritter grade was granted 18 degrees, one for each rank in the military service, and by 1850, the “Sons of Odin” consisted of nearly 10,000 men across Niflunga. This number declined somewhat during the reign of Johann I, whose grandson was elevated to Großmeister in 1902. This elevation followed a period of royal endorsement of the organisation, beginning with Johann I, whose son was brought into the OF when he was 14 years of age.
Prince John was very active in the ORW on the continent as well as in the OF, where he had spent the majority of his youth. He had by 1865 become the Landspitler (“Regional Archivist”) of the Order of Fathers, responsible for the archives of law and history of the ORW in Scotland. During his time as Archivist, he became intimately familiar with the Order, insofar as a regional office would allow access to important documents. He was instrumental as a member of the Generalkapital in the design of the 1868 seal of the Order, adopted to incorporate the new military aspects of the Order as well as to adapt the organisation to compete with other various Orders and secret societies that had arisen during the 18th and 19th century, such as the Christian Free Masons and Ancient Order of Hibernians that had arisen among Irish immigrants in Scotland. These numbers had significantly dwindled after the overthrow of British power in Ireland in the 1890s, and many Irishmen repatriating to Ireland from Niflunga at that time. The ORW played a integral role in converting Irish immigrants who remained in Glasgow and assisting the VKN in accepting protestant refugees from Ulster to Scottish lands. Up to this point, however, the OF competed with the AOH and Free Masons for membership in Scotland, making success there of the ancient faith a greater struggle than anywhere else.
During the reign of Johann I in the German and Swedish territories, the power of the ORW solidified, as Free Masonry was eventually absorbed into the VKN as a strictly Christian organisation, thus eliminating them as separate competition. The rise of martial movements elsewhere in Germany aided the ORW in redefining itself as a more medieval knightly order, a militant religious order with a social and military mission. The Generalkapitel of the ORW saw an opportunity in Scotland to seize upon an old Highland sense of clan struggle against foreign invasion. The redefinition of the VKN and Christianity as foreign invaders in Scottish lands brought the ORW into conflict with Johann II after he accessed the throne in 1873. The new king's own conflicts with the German Emperor demanded he sponsor the VKN, eliminating the ORW's advantage over its rival. Johann, however, was willing to send his son for the same training he himself underwent. Much to his chagrin, however, Karl Wilhelm eventually ceased to be a spy for Johann, who had abdicated his place as Archivist and merely maintained his knighthood in the Order. The young prince became immersed in the ORW to a level Johann had never achieved, and by 1898 had sworn fealty to the Order to secretly become the ORW's agent in the Royal house, in an effort to resist the increasing liberalisation of government Johann I and his son were in the process of undertaking. Karl Wilhelm, an absolutist who favoured the power of the aristocracy and royalty, was loath to see powers taken from him before he was even on the throne. He took up the roll of the Ordenskanzler in 1900, and upon the death of the Grossmeister in 1902, he was elected to become the undisputed head of the entire Order.
The following years were increasingly tense in terms of relations between the ORW and the crown. There was much promise of Karl Wilhelm taking the throne and restoring the ancien regime of social hierarchy, but the increasing liberalism of the world at large as well as new social trends imported from America and developing in Europe meant it would be increasingly difficult to resist social change and the collapse of popular morality. The new liberal economy caused a massive boom in the early 1900s but by 1908 had begun to slow and had turned downward by 1912. The Order capitalised on the general reaction against the corruption of elected politicians, declaring official support for a small national conservative party that had been founded in 1906 by a group of young disgruntled aristocrats and elderly guild masters, being terribly effected by the liberal reforms of Johann II and his father over the course of the past 50 years. The Nibelungische Reichspartei, most often translated “Niflungan Empire Party”, but more accurately rendered “Realm-Party of Niflunga”, failed to win much of the electorate, lacking the funds of powerful industrialists and factory-owners who had funded the mainstream parties. Nevertheless, its endorsement by the ORW meant a surge in membership not only from the disgruntled aristocrats, but also the descendants of the peasantry who had converted with Jörg II in 1791. The elections of 1914, however, showed a general upturn in fortune for the ORW and its officially endorsed political party with the assassination of the aging Emperor Franz Joseph and his replacement with the highly conservative Karl VIII (after a brief legal rule by the liberal Franz Ferdinand).
The NRP was associated in the Imperial Diet with Deutschkonservativ Partei, which it departed in 1915 after disputes over its religious affiliation, to join with the far larger Altreichspartei, formed as the official right-wing party in the Reichsrat of the newly re-formed Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation under Karl VIII. The ORW gained prominence on a German national level during this time, and was officially recognised as a chivalric, though not religious, order in the Empire. The German war successes, as well as incursions into Britain from Niflungan Scotland meant an explosion in popularity of the anti-liberal movements in Niflungland, chief among which were the NRP and the ORW. The collapse of the Russians in 1917 in the face of their war with British-backed Finland and American-supported Japan meant a major defeat for the Eastern Powers (as history remembers them). Communists took control of the Russian government with French aid, and America's entry into the war in early 1917 added fresh troops to the French and Italian fronts. The ORW and NRP saw that defeat was becoming a very real possibility, and Johann II had already entered dealings with the British to end the war on the Northumbrian front, in defiance of his rival Emperor Karl. Meanwhile, Niflungan troops were encouraged by the news of their King's negotiations to abandon the line, along with Hanoverian troops who were in similar talks due to a long-standing good relationship with the British. An American blockade of the German coast and closure of both exits to the Mediterranean finally choked the German Emperor at home, leading to the surrender in November 1918 that led not only to the second collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, but the dissolution of the entire Austrian-led German state.
The NRP and ORW were quick to appeal to the Niflungans' sense of betrayal, shared generally by all Germans at this major defeat. The Order declared Ragnarök upon the signature of the surrender, meaning essentially a call to arms for the Niflungan right-wing. The NRP joined with several Scottish Nationalist parties in driving British incursions out of Edinburgh, and an ORW spy in London was ordered to place a bomb in the Palace of Westminster, as a means to distract the English government and assist the Scottish resistance. They were more successful than they had hoped-- the bomb exploded in the house of lords during royal visit, essentially decapitating the English state and creating a succession battle the likes of which had not been seen since Henry VII. Meanwhile, the leaders of the NRP, placed in prison by Royal power, were freed in a joint effort by NRP members and the ORW, sparking the beginning of the 1919 revolution.
The ORW's military wing was of prime importance as the NRP came to power, and served as the basis for the organisation of the various Freikorps in Niflungland under the NRP banner as the Sturmkommando (“Storm-troop” or SK), a short-lived paramilitary force that fought alongside the Wotansöhne in the Niflungan Civil War. Karl Wilhelm, the Grand Master of the ORW, was disowned by his father and replaced with his liberal cousin, Malcolm, finally dashing all hopes of a peaceful succession to ORW power in 1919. Shortly thereafter, he was responsible for the defeat of Royalist forces at the Battle of Lindow, capturing his father and bringing him before the High Court of the ORW for sentencing.
With the collapse of Scottish royalists and the capture of Johann II, the NRP under Sigurð Angatýrsson was in complete legal control of the Kingdom of Niflunga. Recognising the ORW as its religious allegiance, the NRP joined with Swedish and Scottish branches to form the Nationalaristokratische Partei Niflungland, and reorganised the state into the Commonwealth of Niflungland. The incorporation of the ORW into government was made reality with the passage (by executive order) of the Constitution of Niflungland, declaring the Hochgericht (High Court) of the ORW the National Appellate Court, responsible for the interpretation of both secular and religious law in Niflungland. The Vísir, as the new executive was named, included only high-ranking ORW members in his Council of Ministers, and made Grand Master Karl Wilhelm official Ministerführer (“Prime Minister”) of the new government. Under Karl Wilhelm's leadership, the headquarters of the ORW had relocated to Leipzig in 1919, but with government status it was clear that a new arrangement would have to be found. The High Court remained in Leipzig as per Angatýrsson's “three capital” solution, while the ORW Generalkapitel appointed that it would now hold chief headquarters in Leipzig, with regional headquarters in Berlin, Kalmar, and Edinburgh, the capitals of the three Niflungan Homelands.
The Order is structured to this day according to the Rule of Hákon as was laid down in 1808, named for Hákon Vilhjálmursson, the assumed name of Heinrich Amsel, son of Wilhelm Amsel, one of the founders of the Hochorden in 1781. The Rule organised the ORW into a distinct structure, headed by the Großmeister (Grand Master), elected by the Generalkapital (General Council) of the Order upon the death or removal of his predecessor. Below him are three Hochmeisters (High Masters), each with a specific title and office.
The first and highest is the Ordenskanzler (Chancellor of the Order), who serves as religious deputy to the Grand Master and heads the religious wing of the ORW. Beneath him are three Landmeisters (Regional Chiefs)—who serve essentially as the counterparts to Catholic Archbishops—who, in turn, have beneath them a number of Landkomturen (Provincial Commanders), who oversee all legal and religious issues in the Order in specific province for which they are responsible. Below these are the Komturen (District Commanders), who are responsible for individual bailiwicks and all of the goðar (“priests”) in them and specifically deal with theological questions, with the ability to ordain new goðar, remove a goði from his ordination, hold ceremonies, and direct the local komturei, or “Commandry” of their district, dealing with local finances and record-keeping of the ORW. The lowest rung below the Ordenskanzler are the goðar themselves, the priests of the ORW's faith, who are ranked typically as 9th degree Ritter, (Knights). All Ritter below the 9th degree are regular members of district chapters.
The second Hochmeister is the Ordensmarschall (Marshall of the Order), who oversees the military wing of the ORW, the Wotanssöhne, who are today attached to the Niflungan military, but were once merely a small armed militia attached to the ORW. The ranks have developed over time, but the basic structure of Ordensmarschall – Rittermarschalls (Knight-Marshal) – Genosseritter (Knight Companion) still basically remains, and despite an increase in official militarisation, all members of the Wotanssöhne, regardless of rank, are Genosseritter of the ORW.
The final Hochmesiter is in charge of all internal functions of the ORW itself on a massive, nation-wide level, the Ordenskomtur. He oversees the actions of the three interior departments of the ORW: Großtrappier (Record-keeper), Großtreßler (Treasurer), and Großspitler (Archivist). These offices are typically held by the three Kommandantmeisters (Commandant Masters) of the Order.
The Generalkapitel of the ORW is comprised of all ranking members (i.e. above the rank of Fahrenritter), and is responsible for the election of a new Grand Master when the sitting Grand Master dies or is removed from his office by the veto power of all nine members of the Hochgericht (High Court), comprised of the three High Masters, three Commanding Masters, and three Regional Chiefs. The Chancellor of the Order leads the High Court of the Order as Chief Justice.
The structure of the ORW may be visualised thus:
In addition to the Order's offices and titles, there are a division of ranks laid forth by the Rule of Hákon, arranged thus:
Grand Master (Großmeister)
High Master (Hochmeister)
Knight Warden- 3 degrees (Wächterritter)
Knight Companion- 18 degrees (Genosseritter)
Knight Errant- 9 degrees (Fahrenderritter)
Knight Ewart- 9 degrees (Ritterführer)
Knight- 9 degrees (Ritter)
Each of these has a place in the ORW in terms of rank. The first three are fairly straightforward, the Grand Master being both a title and rank, having no degrees, the High Masters, likewise having no degrees specific to them, and the Commandant-Masters likewise. The degrees of a basic Knight carry through straight to the Grand Master, who is legally a 33rd degree Knight of the Order, followed by High Masters, who are 32nd degree, Commandant-Masters who are 31st degree, and so on. In addition to this general degree, however, there are specific degrees which run parallel. There are 3 degrees of Wächteritter, or Knight Wardens, who by 3rd degree are eligible to be chosen by the Chancellor as Landmeisters. This is followed by 9 degrees of Fahrendritter, or Knight Errant, who from 6th degree and above are eligible to be made Landkomturen, and also 9 degrees of Ritterführer, the Knight Ewarts, who by 3rd degree may be made Komturen. Only a 9th degree Knight or higher, however, can be ordained a Goði to serve as a priest and intercessor in local communities. All members are 1st degree Ritter, or Knights of the Order, except for Observing Members, who maintain a status of membership without dues paid or without rights to conduct Blót, or sacrifice.
The Grand Marshall of the Order was given in 1848 a new role as the commander of the military wing of the Order, a resurrected version of the Hochorden der Wotanssöhne. Members of this branch were ranked as Genosseritter. These are the largest segment of the Order outside the low-level Knights and Goðar (priests, typically town mayors). They presently constitute a major wing of the Commonwealth military (Gemeinwesenswehr Militäreinheit "Wotanssöhne"), the elite troops in Niflungland, absolutely loyal to the Vísir and religiously devoted to the nation and its Gods, for whom Óðinnsson as Großmeister des ORW is representative as the Seher und Sprecher der Altgötter- "Seer and Speaker of the Ancient Gods". They are attached to the regular army as a specialised branch, themselves numbering so large they constitute fully one-fifth of the entire Gemeinwesenwehr. Their uniforms are specially designed as well as their ranks. Unlike the rest of the army, their uniforms are black, with a gold lining for higher ranks and silver lining for lower ranks. Their emblem is the symbol of Justice and Righteousness, the Tiwaz rune, which they wear on their upper right arms. Besides this, the symbol of death, the skull, a symbol of Odin's power over death, graces their caps. To the people, they are a symbol of nationalism and receive many contributions which keep their organisation running (as an Order, they do not receive State funds, and have taken a vow of poverty, devoting all their own personal wealth to their Order.) They are commanded by the Ordensmarschall, Rittermarschall Dietrich Faust. The ranks of the Detachment were devised by Faust himself and follow the Order:
|Rank in HWS||Equivalent in Regular Army||English|
|Rittermarschall des Reichs/Ordensmarschall des ORW||No equivalent||Knight-Marshal|
|Degen||Hauptfeldwebel||Sergeant, First Class|
|Unterdegen||Feldwebel||Sergeant, Second Class|
|Ritter-Grenadier||Gefreiter||Private, First Class|
|Grenadier||Schütze||Private, Second Class|