So what is Ásatrú anyway? the easiest explanation is This Icelandic termed word is a combination of Ása-, “of the gods,” and -trú, which can be translated to mean “true or loyal to”. So thus, Ásatrú means roughly, “True or loyal to the gods”. The referenced gods are the gods of the Northern Europeans. These are the gods featured in the myths and folklore of the Germanic peoples and are also featured in works and recordings of the Prose and Poetic Eddas. Unfortunately, this path has had some bad rep due to misguided individuals that use it towards a racist or downgrading religion when it is just the opposite. Here we are going to explore this religion that has been around well before Christianity and any modern centralized religion, and how to learn the ways and if this is the path for you hopefully a good start on where to go.
To begin Asatru is an old religion that has been making a comeback lately and I wanted to explore this as I love to learn and always want to understand other paths. Heathen is a common term for ones who are Asatru and it references of the Icelandic or even Germanic and Scandinavian cultures this all stemmed from, granted Heathen is not a term to use lightly as it has meaning and this religion stands by not only by your word but taking your word and standing by it. Asatru has 9 virtues they live by, and they are as follows:
8. Perseverance and Hospitality.
Most would say those are commandments no they are values in which you live your life. I found a Blog that is dedicated to HEanthenry as it’s most commonly referred to and they explained these virtues like this, “Again, they are not commandments, they are a guide. In Asatru, we believe that “we are our deeds” and the outline of these virtues can help us stay on our path. They were originally written down in the 1970’s, adopted from principles and attributes that were found to be those reflected by the gods themselves.” I have to agree on this point a lot of us could take notes and incorporate this into our own practices like most do. Yea there is no text to go off in this Religion there are a couple pieces of literature that need to be read and do some digging you can find them. They also mentioned them, and explain what these works are better than I can, “Prose and Poetic Eddas. Originally written and translated by Snorri Sturluson, the Eddas are written based off of oral lore about the gods. Snorri was a Christian, and though he tried his best to accurately reflect these stories it is doubtful that he was able to do so in a completely unbiased way. Years later, the Norroena Society spent six years with thirty scholars to go back through the Eddas and remove the Christian influence that was found in Snorri’s translation, and composed “The Asatru Edda: Sacred Lore of the North” that kept the Proto-Germanic originality intact” also reading up on Scholric writings of Norse Mythology is good here is a list of PDF’s I can send anyone interested that I found somewhat confusing at first but giver good information on this subject. They are Social Scandinavia in The Viking Age By Mary Welhelmine Williams, Ph.D., Ways of The Asatru by Micheal J. Smith, Think Again by Micheal J. Smith, Religion of Northmen by Rudolph Keiser, The Road to Hel by HILDA RODERICK ELLIS M.A., Ph.D.( A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature), and THE CULTURE OF THE TEUTONS by Vilhelm Grönbech all of these are other literature bases you can read to help start your understanding of this religion. In this day and age, of course, we have social media and can find local or online heathen groups but be careful and really make sure they are a good fit. The blog I mentioned earlier highlights this well, “There are many online groups and pages on social media sites like Facebook that can provide you with a place to meet new people that practice Asatru. If you decide to use social media (blogs, Facebook, online groups) to network and learn, be sure to scroll back through old posts as far as you can and ask yourself:
1) Are they contributing to Asatru in a positive way? What are they doing in the Asatru / Heathen community both online and in the “real world”?
2) Is there drama that they are causing? Don’t get sucked into someone’s personal issues.
3) What are their credentials? (send them a message and ask). Get to know the creator and admins of a site. Anyone that is teaching Asatru should be eager to answer your questions in a way that is both welcoming and informative. If their material on their page seems incomplete, or unreferenced, it should be a red flag. Reputable teachers of a faith, history, traditions, and the lore have spent years studying and learning. They may not have all the answers to your questions, but the answers they do give should sound verifiable, complete, and truthful.
4) What am I learning, or exposing myself to on this site? Does it reflect Asatru principles and virtues?
Asking these questions will help you avoid those who have a personal bias, political agenda, or otherwise are misinforming or making a mockery of our faith and virtues. It’ll also save you a headache and time later on.
You do not need to be a member of a kindred or hearth. Kindreds can be an awesome, and powerful, way of connecting with others that share the Asatru faith. They can provide family, friendship, and personal bonding that is unlike any other connection. However, there may not be a local kindred in your area, and that’s alright. You can find a group of like-minded heathens to get together OR you can choose to remain solitary in your faith. Either is fine, it is the intent and coming to the gods to honor and thank them that is most important.” (Smith, 2003 ) I will have the links to other books and readings for everyone to get.
Moving on There are many gods and Goddesses to get to know and like most paths you can connect to one or more of them. The blog has a good list of them, but like most of US that know some Norse Mythology the mention of Odin, Thor, Frejya are a big spotlight but there are many and each have a role to play, and the are know as Aesir. Now there is group of gods and goddess known ad they Vanir, and they are “The Vanir are a primary group of deities that are known for their inspiration, wisdom, fertility, objectivity, and a deep connection to the earth.
Freyr / Frey: God of light, prosperity and fertility. Twin brother of Freyja. Son of Njord (mother is unnamed but is thought to possibly be Nerthus). Husband to Gerd, whose hand in marriage was won when Freyr gave up his sword that is said to have been his fatal downfall, as he will be the first killed in Ragnarok because he does not have the sword with which to fight Surtr. Freyr resides in Alfheim and is either the patron god, or ruler, or the elves. Skadi is sometimes listed as his mother, but more accurately she would be his step-mother.
Njord: Father of Freyja and Freyr. God of the sea and shore. Njord was married to Skadi but she hated living by the sea, so the two lived apart and separately with Skadi living in her homeland of the mountains and Njord remaining by the sea. Other places within the Eddas list Skadi as being married to both Odin during his exile, and Ull at a later date. It is said in the Vafthrudnismal that Njord will return at Ragnarok but does not specifically state whether or not he will survive (though it is widely thought by scholars that he does).
Freya / Freyja: Twin sister of Freyr. Goddess of fertility, seidr, magic, war, and death. Freya receives half of the battle-slain on the battlefield and gets first pick. The other half go to Valhalla to live with Odin. Freya’s Hall is Sessrumnir in the land of Fólkvangar (Also known as Folkvang: Field of Folk). Freya learned the art of seidr from Gullveig who came to her in disguise as a handmaiden. Freya was married to Od, and after he left she had many love affairs and is said to have been a consort of Odin as well. She received the beautiful necklace Brísingamen from the Dwarves, but only after having slept with four of them, which upset Odin greatly. There are many stories about Freya in the Eddas.
Gullvieg: She is listed among the Vanir tribe of deities and the cause of a great deal of mischief through the use of seidr, the magical art that she later taught Freya. She is also thought to be a healing deity since the Vanir were well educated in the healing homeopathic arts. The Aesir punished Gullvieg three times for her crimes against them by burning her, and each time she rose again. She is sometimes compared to Ran, the sea goddess and wife of Aegir, who is also said to share similar attributes and a love for gold. (Ran’s hold is tiled with gold and sailors would carry gold coins in their pockets to appease her should they find themselves in her net). After her third punishment, the Vanir found the judgment of the Aesir as unfair treatment towards Gullvieg for punishing her for crimes she had committed in past incarnations and demanded reparations be made. It is thought that this was the initial strife that caused the Aesir-Vanir War.
Kvasir: God of inspiration, teaching, and mead. He was killed by two dwarves Fjalar and Galar who grew tired of Kvasir’s lectures. They mixed his blood with honey into a large cauldron (Odhrorir) which became mead of poetry. Whoever drank the mead was said to be immediately filled with inspiration and poetry. When Odin heard of the mead, he was intent on acquiring it and eventually was able to get drink from it after seducing Gunnlod who guarded it inside of a cave within Jotunheim (land of the giants).”
So there are many Aesir and Vanir to learn from each teach their own lessons, but like all paths with any deity, you have to earn it by your actions and your practice of the path.
There are runes to learn from the ancient texts and we have seen them come up even on the path I am you can study these runes but it may take years or a lifetime to understand them. I have only scratched the surface of these ancient texts, and it’s a marvel of the intricacy of them. Also finding a mentor or a rune expert which is called a Vitke’s can help as well.
Asatru does have holidays similar to pagans and other paths the rituals and how they are celebrated are different, but that is the joy learning about other paths seeing how they celebrate and live. Their holidays are called something different and depending on when or what they are celebrating the name is different as well. They have a Blot which is, “is a time to honor and celebrate the gods, usually with a meal and toasting with libations of mead that is commonly consumed from a drinking horn. There is generally a time of reading from the lore, rune study, and several rounds of toasting with each person raising their toast to a chosen deity of their choice and speaking a few words of appreciation to that god/goddess. Some people also choose to honor the Desir, their line of female ancestors, and this type of blot is known as a Disablot, in which the toasts are directed at thanking them for the prosperity and good fortune that has been brought into their home. A blot is not specifically a time for asking things of the gods. It is a time of recognizing what’s already been given and showing our appreciation” (O’Brien, gythia Heather, 2013) and a Sumbel which is, “A sumbel is similar in format to a blot, with the same types of libations and toasting. The difference is that during a sumbel, oaths and boasts are often made during one of the rounds of toasting. There are generally two that are held during the year. A person may choose an oath to a god they have decided is their patron, or make an announcement of a future goal (such as becoming Gothi within the next six months, or finish reading a translation of the Eddas). At the next sumble, the person will be able to share what they have accomplished. It is a time of celebration and self-focus.” (O’Brien, gythia Heather, 2013) Their celebrations are Yuletide (winter solstice) starting around Dec.20 and lasts for 12days, Disting/ Charming of The Plow happened first New Moon of February, Ostara ( spring equinox) happens around March 21st, Waluburgis Night which is April 31st-May1st, Midsummer (Summer Solstice) around June 21st, Freyfest/Lammas which is around August 1st, Fallfest (autumnal equinox) which is around Sept. 21st, Harvestfest/winter nights which is around October 31st, and then there are like pagans we Esbats which are lesser holidays but are celebrated none the same and they are :
January 9 – Remembrance for Raud the Strong (a Norwegian chieftain whom Olaf Tryggvason killed for refusing to convert. The end of a metal horn was put down Raud’s throat; a poisonous snake was then put into the horn and the other end heated to drive it along…).
February 9 – Remembrance for Eyvind kinnrifi (whom Olaf Tryggvason tortured to death when he refused to convert, by putting a metal brazier filled with burning coals on his belly).
February 14 – Folk etymology has led to this day being called ‘Feast of Vali’ in modern Asatru. Actually, St. Valentine has no demonstrable associations with Vali, nor to the thinly disguised heathen Lupercalia rites which take place on this day. Nevertheless, many Heathens make a blessing to this god at this time.
March 28 – Ragnar Lodbrok’s day, when we celebrate this famous Viking’s sack of Paris.
April 9 – Remembrance for Haakon Sigurdsson (Haakon the Great), one of the Jarls of Hladhir, a great defender of Heathenism in Norway during the brutal period of forced conversion to Christianity.
May 9 – Remembrance for Gudrod of Gudbrandsdal, whose tongue was cut out by the Norwegian king ‘St. Olaf’ (not to be confused with Olaf Tryggvason despite the similarity of names and methods. St. Olaf, otherwise known as ‘Olaf the Fat’ or ‘Olaf the Big-Mouthed’, was canonized for his efforts to convert Norway by fear, murder and torture).
This Norwegian martyr spoke out against the tyranny of the Christian fanatic Tryggvason and urged others to resist him. For this, the king had his tongue cut out.
June 9 – Remembrance for Sigurd the Dragonslayer (known in German versions of the story as Siegfried).
July 9 – Remembrance for Unn the Deep-Minded, a woman who was one of the great chieftains of the Icelandic settlement.
July 29 – death-date of Olaf the Fat.
August 9 – Remembrance for King Radbod of Frisia, who, standing at the baptismal font, changed his mind and refused conversion when told that his place in the Christian Heaven would mean his separation from the souls of his ancestors.
September 9 – Remembrance for Hermann the Cheruscan, an embodiment of German freedom, who kept Germany from being overrun by the Romans and suffering destruction of their culture and language such as was experienced by occupied Celtic Gaul.
October 9 – Leif Eriksson Day – Remembrance for Leif Eriksson and his sister Freydis Eriksdottir, leaders of the earliest known European settlement in America.
October 28 – Remembrance for Erik the Red.
November 9 – Remembrance for Queen Sigrid of Sweden. Wooed by Olaf Tryggvason, the relationship ended sharply when she told him that she had no intention of leaving the gods of her fathers and he slapped her across the face. She was the chief arranger of the alliance that brought him down.
November 11th – Feast of the Einherjar, in which the fallen heroes in Valhalla, and in the halls of the other Gods and Goddesses are remembered.
November 27 – Feast of Ullr and Skadi, Weyland Smith’s Day celebrating the greatest of Germanic craftsmen.
December 9 – Remembrance for Egill Skallagrimsson, great Viking Age poet, warrior and rune magician. (Odins Volk, n.d.)
I hope some this can shed some light on this great religion and I hope to see it flourish more throughout the years I know I learned a lot just in the research and reading I have done for this article, and I can only hope to have done it justice. If you would like any of the PDF’s I have mentioned you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to send them to you, they were points of reference in this article as well. Also check this blog on WordPress here is the link and they were a great reference as well https://asatruassembly.wordpress.com/ they have a great list of resources and the reading list I know I will check out. Also, this website helped with information as well as odinsvolk.ca or google Odins Volk good information to get there. I appreciate all my readers. Thank you