Asatru (Pronounced AH-SAH-TREW) is the ancient sytem of belief that was practiced in Scandinavia and Northern/Central Europe prior to Christianization during the Dark Ages.
Literallly, Asatru translates as “True to the Gods”.
The practice of Asatru centers around the Teutonic/Norse pantheon of deities. These include the Wise and enigmatic Wotan, the mighty hammer-wielding Thor, the kind, giver of plenty Frey, and the seductive goddess of love and nature, Freyja. The total Asatru Pantheon is much larger and complex than these 4 deities, and full disclosure of these is not suitable for this introduction.
Followers of the Tru path hold themselves true to 9 noble virtues which they believe distinguish those who are honorable, upright individuals who know and deserve their place within society and those who are scheming manipulators, not worthy of a place within the Tru society. The paramount virtue within Asatru is Honor, and the Tru hold their esteem in the highest regard. The rede of honor is a 24 part code which the Tru follow as a guideline for honorable behavior.
Followers of Asatru hold themselves to the ancient values of the north. Family, Clan, Tribe, and Nation are of primary importance. In Asatru, the well being of one’s self and immediate family is the most important concern. The rearing of one’s children is considered a sacred duty, and steps are taken to ensure that children are instilled with a sense of duty, responsiblity, and respect. Ancestry is extremely important within Asatru. Followers believe in the concept of an “Ancestral Soul” a type of spiritual reservoir that contains the memories and mysteries of one’s blood ancestors, all the way back to the dawn of man. This reservoir manifests its self as instinct and genetic predisposition. We must resemble our ancestors in so many ways, and through blood and ritual we are linked to them forever. The Tru believe that just as they glean spiritual fulfilment through their ancestors, their descendents will do the same through them. Long after their bodies pass from this world, their ancestral memory will live on in the blood of their children’s children.
The organization of Asatru centers first around the immediate family or clan, then the kindred. Kindreds may be composed of few or many followers of Asatru who unify themselves in purpose and service. Other associations who follow this general guideline are the “Troth” (Truth/faith), the “Hof” (Hall/homestead) and others. While these oraganizations may refer to themselves differently, their purposes are the same: to unite the Tru folk in religious practice. A Troth or Hof may also be composed of many different and kindreds, all united in purpose. Traditionally, many kindreds would also come together on an annual basis for a meeting called a “Thing” or “Allthing”. Here, leaders of kindreds would settle disputes, discuss matters of import, and unite in religious practices.
The ritual practice of Asatru centers around the “Blot” (Pronouced BLOAT) or sacrifice. Literally, Blot means “Blood, to strengthen” There are 8 principal Blots that must be observed on or around specific times of the year.
These include Yule (Winter Solstice), Midsummer (Summer Solstice), Winter Finding, (Fall Equinox), etc. Other celebrations are also held in honor of historical and mythical figures, as well as just for the sake of having a good time. At specific Blots, sacrifices are offered to specific deities within the pantheon. These sacrifices are intended to honor the gods, show appreciation for their influence, and to generate favorable conditions for the near future. These sacrifices are not of blood, but of the human efforts of the Tru individuals present.
The leaders of these rituals are referred to as the male “Gothi”, and female “Gythia”. They are tantamount to both priests and social leaders, and are required to devote many years of study and practice to their craft. Among a group of kindreds, an “Allsherjargothi” would be elected to oversee religious practices for the much larger group.
Many see Asatru as an ignorant or ridiculous religious practice. This stems from their inability to see past the literal, profane meanings within Asatru, into the deeper meanings and mysteries present. When speaking of Gods, Dwarves, Giants, and other aspects of the Asatru mythology, care must be taken not to attempt a literal interpretation. The truth within Asatru is present in the metaphorical explanations of the universe that can be divined through research into the mythology and practice of ritual.
An example of this may be the Myth of Frey’s marriage to the giantess Gerd. A profane interpretation of this myth would lead the reader to be hard-pressed to accept it as literal truth. On closer examination, “Gerd” literally is translated as “Field”. Giants by their nature are strongly associated with dull, uninspired matter. The Old Norse word for Giant is “Thurse” which means: Dull. In the myth, The Inspiring influence of the fertility God Frey is by necessity “Married” to the uninspired, lifeless Giantess whose name means “Field” and joy in the heavens results. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this myth is talking about the necessary fertilization of a field so that life-giving food may be grown from it.
More coming soon.