Asatru is the ancient religion of the Scandinavians. It is a Norse term meaning literally a faith or belief in Gods. It is used specifically to refer to the Old Scandinavian Gods known collectively as the Aesir. Asatru has its roots in ancient customs and beliefs, although it is best known from the Age of th e Vikings which was when the stories and customs were written down. Like most other ethnic or folk religions they had no specific name for their religion, although Asatru, Vor tru, “our faith,” or Forn Sed, “ancient ways” are terms that are used in the modern world to describe this faith. The religion was part of the culture, so the beliefs were revealed not only in the mythology, but also in the customs, ethics, and laws.
The gods and goddesses of Asatru
In Snorri Sturluson’s edda (1320 AD) we find a listing of the Aesir (gods), Asynjor (goddesses) and other beings of the Norse mythology and some brief stories which present the ancient mythology. First named is Odin, his son Balder, Thor and his wife, Sib Tyr, Nyord and his son and daughter, Freyr and Freya, Bragi, Heimdall, Hod, Vidar, Ali, Ullr, Loki, AEyir and his wife, Ran. Also named are many of the goddesses, who include, among others, Frigg, Freya, Lofn, Var, and Skadi The mythology also preserves an account a story of two warring groups of deities, the AEsir and the Vanir who pledged a truce with one another and are referred to now collectively as the AEsir.
In English speaking countries four of the days of the week are named after these gods. Tuesday comes from Tiu’s day who is also known as Tyr. Wednesday comes from a compound meaning “Odin’s day,” Thursday from ‘Thor’s day” with Friday from “Freya’s day.” Throughout Scandinavia and northern Europe we find places that were dedicated anciently and named for the gods and goddesses who are still honored in this day and age.
The beliefs of Asatru
Asatru beliefs are rooted in the past and in the sacred mythos and cosmology of the Old Norse and Germanic people. As an ethnic or folk religion the authoritative source of belief that can legitimately be considered Asatru are the precedents found in the traditions, myths, folklore, literature, laws, customs, and cultural concepts which were shaped by belief in the AEsir and other supernatural beings and powers. There is no historical founder or prophet who made revealed pronouncements of law or belief There is no central authority that lays down dogma or tenets.
The beliefs and rites of Asatru are symbolized by the World Tree, which grows at the Well of Urdh or Wyrd. The norns water the World Tree with the water from the Well of Urdh which deposits layers ofsediment over the roots.
A particular quality called hamingfa, “luck” or “fortune”, can be accumulated and passed on to ones descendents. In spiritual terms, this legacy can refer to wisdom, personality, or talent, while in practical terms, this can include one’s wealth, reputation and external family ties.
Asatru and Odinism
There are Asatruar and Odinists who feel that they are the same religion, while many others who are Asatruar or Odinist feel there are distinct differences. The term “Odinist” refers to an individual who is primarily dedicated to Odin, and as such could also consider themselves Asatru, Wiccan, Neo-pagan or simply Odinist, depending on the rites, fellowship and beliefs in which they express their dedication to that deity (and associated deities)
The rites and ceremonies of Asatra
One ritual is the highly ceremonial toast following a formal meal, which parallels the sumbel. The sumbel is a ceremony that includes drinking communally and offering up inspired speech that was binding in terms of oath and intent,
A blat, sacrifice or blessing, is an offering to deity or other supernatural beings. The offering may be a simple sharing of food or drink by an individual to a more elaborate community ceremony. These ceremonies may be performed indoors, or outside in a natural setting.
Additional ceremonies include the naming of a child and its acceptance into the family (ausa vatni), burials, healing, blessings in time of need and divination among others.
Does Asatru practice magick?
Almost all religions practice some form of ritual magick and Asatru is not exception. In the Eddas, sagas, and other literature you will find both men and gods depicted using and teaching galdr (magical chants and songs), seidh (a shamanistic magic involving altered states of consciousness and communication with spirits and gods). .Rune diivination and auguries were also an important part of the spiritual and religious views of the Old Norse and Germanic people