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Thread: Introduction to Asatru

  1. #1
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    relational theophysis and bioregional witchery
    coastal Georgia
    *a little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika*

    Introduction to Asatru

    (I'm totally excited I found this in the pre-crash cache!!! I've been looking for it on my thumbdrives and external hard drive since we crashed!!)
    (BTW this was so wonderfully written by CrimsonHorizons, so make sure you show him some karma love!!)

    ...also, because it was oddly formatted off of Google, I don't know where quotes and other formatting might belong

    Intro to Ásatrú
    by crimsonhorizons

    Ásatrú is the reconstructed faith of the pre-Christian northern Europeans. This includes Germany, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, England, and various others. The faith is based upon what scholarly information that exists, as well as what little writtings we have passed down to us by our ancestors. There are many names by which this faith goes by, including (but not limited to) Forn Sed, Theodism, Heathenry and Odinism. True, there are minor discrepancies between all the various branches of the faith (think Protestant and Catholic but without the animosity), but the major beliefs hold true.

    The following is from a pm where I asked about the differences between the different "denominations" and different names for dieties...

    There are no "official" denominations within the faith, but there are the popular ones. There's Forn Sed, Theodish, Odinist, and Asatru. I'm sure there's more, but those are the major ones.

    It depends on who you ask as to whether or not it's all Asatru. I, as an Asatruarmenn, would say more or less. However, an Odinist would disagree. I think it's all about the same. It's the same faith, but from different viewpoints.

    The gods don't really differ. Odin is Woden, but for the Saxons (you got it!). Just like Thor is Thorr for the Icelanders, Donnar for the Germans, Thunar for the Danes, etc. The gods have many kennings, and the aspect may change a bit between the kennings, but it's really all the same. Envision the difference between how you act around close friends, acquaintances, family members, and strangers. You may appear slightly different to all these people, but you are the same. They just see different sides of you.

    The Ásatrú faith believes in a set of nine worlds, but whether these worlds are physical, metaphysical, or metaphor is under contention. Also under contention is the nine worlds themselves. The worlds that are agreed upon by all are Asgard (home of the Aesir), Vanaheim (home of the Vanir), Muspellheim (land of fire, home of Surtr and the Fire Jotuns), Nifleheim (land of mist, home of the Frost Jotuns), Midgard (home of mankind), Alfheim (home of the Alfs or Light Elves), Jotunheim (home of the Jotuns and Trolls) and Svartalfheim (home of the Svartafls or Swarthy Elves). The ninth world is usually represented by one of the following; Nidavallir (home of the Dwarfs) or Helheim (land of the dead). For those in the Helheim camp, Nidavallir and Svartalfheim are the same place, meaning that Svartalfs and Dwarfs are the same. For those in the Nidavallir camp, Helheim is just a place on Nifleheim, much as Valhalla is a place on Asgard.

    Regardless of your position on the above, the nine worlds are held together by the World Tree, the mighty ash Yggdrasil. It is said to be located at the center of the universe and holds the nine worlds either in it's branches or with it's roots. It is from this tree that the Alfather Odin hung himself in sacrifice in order to gain the runes. The Runes are both an alphabet and a method of magic. Lore holds that the Runes, being earned by Odin, were eventually passed down to mankind, but there are two accounts of how. One account is from Rigsþula, or the story of Rig (Heimdal), that Rig gave them to his son Jarl. Another account is how a man named Kettil Runske stole three Rune Staffs from Odin himself and learned the use of them for magic.

    We Ásatrúarmenn living in North America live by a list of Nine Noble Virtues. These virtues are Honour, Truth, Courage, Fidelity, Discipline, Self-Reliance, Hospitality, Industriousness, and Perseverance (though note that while Ásatrúarmenn living elsewhere have not adopted this set of virtues, they do value them). The family is greatly valued and honored within the community. We also reject any form of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, language, nationality, race, sexual orientation, or any other set of "diverse criteria". One's actions, and those actions alone, are what we judge people (and ourselves) by.

    We follow the Aesir and the members of the Vanir who have joined them. The chief god is Odin, although the most popular god is Thor. The Aesir form the core of the pantheon that we revere, and most Ásatrúarmenn are staunch polytheists. The Ásatrú have do not believe in ultimate Good or Evil, but rather Law and Chaos. The Aesir most often represent Law, while the Jotuns (giants of all varieties) usually represent Chaos. However, the Gods and Jotuns have been know to change roles on occasion.

    The Ásatrú faith places death in high regard. It is not something to be feared, but rather something to look forward too as a natural progression of life. In death, we are reunited with our kith and kin, and with the Gods. The Gods and Goddesses all have their own feast halls which they draw their favoured dead to. The hall of Hel is the most common place for one to end up. Helheim is not like it's Christian counterpart, there is neither torture nor pain. It is instead a resting place, where one can be with one's ancestors. Valhalla is perhaps the most popular of halls, being Odin's hall, and is reserved for those slain in battle and for the extremely brave. Thor's hall, Bilskirnir is another hall that is very popular. It is said that Thor will take virtually anyone who asks into his hall, provided that they have led a virtuous life. There is a place for the dregs of society, the oathbreakers and kinslayers, but it is debated as to where that place is. A majority of heathens believe that these Lawbreakers are sent out through Helheim into Nifleheim, the land of Ice.

    There is no "pope" figure amongst the Ásatrú community. Most Ásatrú organizations are led by a council of people. In olden times, an Althing was called to decide upon whatever problems faced the people. A Thing is an assembly where all "voting" members (free men and women) could have their say, and an Althing is a massive Thing with more than one tribe present. Today, Althings are used to gather together various Kindreds (the modern day form of a tribe) and get their votes on whatever needs to be addressed.

    The holy days are contested amongst the various branches of our faith, but we all celebrate our holy days the same. Blots and Sumbels are the two chief ways of celebration. A Sumbel is like a party with the gods and goddesses invited. We pass the horn (or glass, goblet, chalice or whatever else we hold our liquid in) around those gathered and toast the gods and ancestors, boast of our successes, or ask for help. A Blot is basically just a Sumbel but with a more formal atmoshpere.

    This is neither a complete nor in-depth look at the faith that is Ásatrú, but it is a nice starting point. For more information, I strongly suggest the following links: - Ásatrú Folk Assembly (formerly the Ásatrú Free Assembly) - AFA's declaration of purpose - The Odinic Rite - The Troth (formerly the Ring of Troth)

    Also, for an unbiased look at Ásatrú, try these links.

    For more on the Runes, I suggest the following sites:

    I also suggest looking for other facts in wikipedia Topics include Norse mythology, Germanic paganism, Norse paganism, Neopaganism, Asatru, Odinic Rite, Theodism, Polytheistic reconstructionism, and many others.

    Here's a list of books on the subject of Asatru that I recommend:

    Myths of the Norsemen- Helene Guerber
    Beowulf- unknown, Seamus Heaney translation
    Poetic Edda- various unknown, Bellows translation
    Norse Myths- Kevin Crossley-Holland
    Nibelungenlied- unknown, George Henry Needler translation
    Prose Edda- Snorri Sturluson, Arthur Brodeur translation
    Gods and Myths of Northern Europe- H.R. Ellis Davidson
    The Road to Hel- H.R. Ellis Davidson (under Hilda Roderick Ellis)
    Tuetonic Religion- Kvelduf Gundarsson
    Germania- Tacitus, M. Hutton translation
    Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe- H.R. Ellis Davidson
    The Sagas of the Icelanders- Örnólfur Thorsson (or, for a more managable book for your wallet, go with: The Sagas of the Icelanders: a selection- by same)

    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  2. #2
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Finding sanctity.
    Mistress of the Ban

    Re: Introduction to Asatru

    Awesome find!
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

    Mostly art.

  3. #3
    Sr. Member Crimson Horizons's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Heathen Recon
    Lubbock, TX

    Re: Introduction to Asatru

    Od's blood, it is amazing just how much my worldview has changed in a few short years! I suppose the only thing I can add at this time is that my above opinion is more indicative of what is known as a "revivalist" viewpoint. None of the above information is necessarily wrong, just note that not all Ásatrúarmenn will hold with said information, especially those identifying themselves as "reconstructionists". However, I still think that, while I no longer agree with everything posted above (just look to my recent comments about the NNV and Yggdrasil), it still works fine for a basic Intro to Ásatrú.
    "The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right."--Mark Twain

    "There are only two types of people in this world who walk around beardless; boys and women. I am neither one." --Ancient Greek saying

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Nature Heathen

    Re: Introduction to Asatru

    Asatru is only one form of Heathenry, there are several other forms. But this form is the closest to the original faith.

  5. #5
    Bronze Member LiadanWillows's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    ~Eclectic Pagan~
    Saginaw, MI
    "Whether you think you can or think you can't, either way you are right." -Henry Ford

    Re: Introduction to Asatru

    I have a friend that belongs to an Asatru group. Very interesting!  9

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