Ásatrú (Pagan Blog Project)
- Ásatrú is a form of Germanic Neopaganism, which also includes (or is otherwise known as) Heathenry, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Wotanism, Urglaawe, and Theodism.
- The name can be broken down into ‘Asa’, referring to the Æsir, an Old Norse term for the Gods of war, and ‘Tru’, meaning faith. Literally Ásatrú is “faith in the gods”.
- Norse Deities can be divided into two major groups; the Aesir and the Vanir.
- The Aesir are the “Sky Gods”, symbolizing order and justice, power, wisdom, war, and agriculture. Odin is the High God of the Aesir, along with his son Thor (God of Thunder), Balder, Frigga, Tyr, Hod, and the trickster Loki.
- The Vanir are the “Earth Gods”, presiding over the earth and sea, and the natural forces of the world. Key Vanir Gods include Freya, Freyr, Njord, and Aegir.
- The modern days of the week are named after the Norse gods. Tuesday comes from “Tyr’s day” (Tiu), Wednesday comes from “Odin’s day” (Woden), Thursday from “Thor’s day”, and Friday is from “Freya’s day”. Sunday and Monday refer to the Sun and the Moon.
- The most commonly followed Ásatrú moral code of conduct is known as the Nine Noble Virtues, representing the ancient wisdom taken from sources such as the Poetic Edda, the Icelandic Sagas and Germanic folklore. The virtues are Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, and Perseverance.
- Members of Ásatrú organize themselves into small groups called félagið, or lagur (fellowships), godhordhs, kindreds, garths or hearths.
- The two main styles of ritual celebrations are called the Blót and the Sumbel.
- A Blót is a blessing ceremony involving pouring out mead/ale onto the Earth as a sacrifice to the Gods, and sharing that blessing by passing around a drinking horn or sprinkling the mead on participants.
- Literally meaning “blood”, Blót is a historical term for sacrifice or ritual slaughter.
- Today, Blóts are celebrated at Wheel of the Year ceremonies:
Disfest (Disablot) 31 January
Ostara (Ostarablot) 21 March
May Eve (Valpurgis) 30 April
Midsummer (Midsumarsblot) 21 June
Freyfaxi/Freysfest (Freysblot) 1 August
Fallfest/Harvestfest (Haustblot) 21 September
Winternight (Vetrablot) 31 October
Yule (Jol/Yuleblot) 20th December – January 1st
- A Sumbel is a feast, banquet, or gathering, where common practices include drinking ale/mead from a horn, speech making (which often includes boasting and oath making), and gift giving.
- Ásatrú and other Norse religions are also associated with the Runes, used for divination, magic, and writing. It is thought that the God Odin hung from the World Tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nights in order to gain the knowledge of runes. He later passed on this knowledge to the Vanir goddess Freya, who in turn, taught him the magic of Seidr.
- The Ásatrú community is divided over the issue of ancestry and how Ásatrú should be practiced. The two main camps are referred to Folkish and Universalist Heathenry.
- Folkish Heathenry, or Heathenry for the Folk, maintains that the tribal religion should stay true to Northern European heritage and ancestry. Universalist Heathenry believes that anyone can practice Ásatrú, regardless of ethnicity. There is also Tribalist Heathenry, which states that one can practice Ásatrú as long as one makes sufficient effort to understand and adopt the culture of the ancient heathens.
© A Year And A Day (2013)