Section 1. ASATRU
Asatru is a re-constructionist form of Germanic Paganism , who’s practitioners seek to revive world views that are akin to those of Europe prior to Christianization, using surviving historical source materials. Sources used by Germanic Pagans include Scandinavian and Icelandic Old Norse sources like the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, as well as sources from continental Europe like the Nibelungenlied and Anglo-Saxon sources such as Beowulf. Some also make use of folk tales from later periods in European history, as well as deriving inspiration from archaeological evidence.
- Polytheism. Asatru is polytheistic, believing in a number of Gods and Goddesses, to whom adherents offer their allegiance. Deities come from various different North European mythologies, and include Norse deities like Odin, Thor, Tyr, Baldur, Frigg, and Freya, as well as Anglo-Saxon divinities such as Woden and Eostre, and continental entities such as Holda and Nehalennia.
- Cosmology. Adherents of the Asatru faith commonly adopt a cosmology based in Norse mythology in which our world – known as Midgard – is one of nine realms, all of which are linked to a cosmological world tree called Yggdrasil. Each of these worlds is believed to be inhabited by another type of being; humans live on Midgard, while dwarves live on another realm, elves on another, giants on another, and the divinities live on two further realms. Most practitioners believe that this is a poetic or symbolic description of the cosmos, with the different realms representing higher realms beyond the material plane of existence.
- Creation. In the beginning, there were two regions: Muspellsheimr in the south, full of fire, light and heat; and Niflheimr in the north, full of arctic waters, mists, and cold. Between them stretched the yawning emptiness of Ginnungagap, and into it poured sparks and smoke from the south and layers of rime-ice and glacial rivers from the north. As heat and cold met in Ginnungagap, a living Jötunn, Ymir, appeared in the melting ice. From his left armpit, the first man and woman were born. From his legs, the frost jötnar were born, making Ymir the progenitor of the jötnar. Most sources identify Ymir’s oldest son as Thrudgelmir, who bore Ymir’s grandson, Bergelmir. The other jötnar are usually unnamed. Ymir fed on the milk of the cow Auðhumla. She licked the blocks of salty ice, releasing Búri. Búri’s son Borr had three sons, the Gods Odin, Vili and Vé. The three slew Ymir, and all of the jötnar (giants) except for Bergelmir and his wife were drowned in the blood. From Ymir’s body, they made the world of humans: his blood the seas and lakes, his flesh the earth, his bones the mountains and his teeth the rocks. From his skull they made the dome of the sky, setting a dwarf at each of the four corners to hold it high above the earth. They protected it from the jötnar with a wall made from Ymir’s eyebrows. Next they caused time to exist, and placed the orbs of the sun and moon in chariots which were to circle around the sky.
Odin, passing through the world of the jötnar, found two beautiful young giants named Sól and Máni, sun and moon. They were brother and sister, and their father had named them after the beautiful lights in the sky. Odin decreed that Sól and Mani should drive the chariots of the sun and the moon across the sky, and to ensure that their journey was always constant and never slowed, he created two great wolves. These wolves were called Hati and Sköll, and they were placed in the sky to pursue the chariots and devour them if they caught them.
- Fate. According to Asatru belief based in Norse mythology, three sisters known as the Norns sit at the end of the World Tree’s root. These figures spin Wyrd, which refers to the actions and interrelationships of all beings throughout the cosmos. These three figures are sometimes termed “Being, Becoming, and Obligation” or “Initiation, Becoming, Unfolding”.
Our personal Orlog is fate set in motion by the events of our own lives, which are set in motion by our ancestors lives.
- Wights. Asatru is animistic, with practitioners believing in sentient non-human entities commonly known as wights that inhabit the world, and each of whom is believed to have its own personality. Some of these are known as land-wights and are believed to inhabit different aspects of the landscape, living alongside humans, whom they can both help and hinder. Others are deemed to be house-wights, and are believed to live within the house, where they can be propiated with offerings of food. Wights are often identified with various creatures from European folklore, such as elves, brownies, and trolls. Asatru practitioners also believe in and respect ancestral spirits.
- Afterlife . According to the lore, the soul is not a single entity, but a composite of parts both physical and metaphysical, a microcosm of the immense macrocosm. The soul is typically thought to have nine to twelve parts.
The most famous post-death destination is Valhalla. The devotees of Odin who die heroic deaths will be his guests in Valhalla. The death-song of Ragnar Lodbrók describes this belief, so, too, does the poet of Eiríksmál. In Ynglinga Saga it is further said that warriors who mark themselves with a spear and devote themselves to Odin will go to Valhalla.
Helheim (in Niflhiem the world of ice and mist) is the Realm of Hel, the Goddess of the dead. The realm of Hel is merely a place of the dead, but for people who died of old age or sickness, it is not a place of punishment, but a place of rest and peace.
- Ethics. Asatru ethics strongly emphasize loyalty, hospitality and family. It is common for practitioners to be expected to keep their word, particularly sworn oaths, and to take personal responsibility for their actions.
These values are formalized in an ethical code, the Nine Noble Virtues, which is based largely on the Hávamál from the Poetic Edda.
- Self Reliance
Section 2. Rites and Practices
Asatru groups assemble for rituals in order to mark rites of passage, seasonal observances, oath takings, rites devoted for a specific deity, and for rites of need. These rites also serves as identity practices which mark the adherents out as Germanic Neopagans. During religious ceremonies, many adherents choose to wear clothing that imitates the styles of dress worn in Iron Age and Early Medieval Northern Europe. They also often wear symbols indicating their religious allegiance. The most commonly used sign among Heathens is Mjöllnir, or Thor’s hammer, which is worn as pendants, featured in Heathen art, and used as a gesture in ritual. It is sometimes used to express a particular affinity with the god Thor, although is also often used as a symbol of Heathenism as a whole, in particular representing the resilience and vitality of the religion. Another commonly used Heathen symbol is the valknut, used to represent the god Odin or Woden.
Heathen places of worship can be ve, simply “sacred enclosures” which can be woods or natural shrines, and hofs, temple buildings which can be constructed within a ve or not.
- Blót. The most important religious rite for Germanic Neopagans is called Blót, which constitutes a ritual for providing offerings to the gods. Blót typically takes place outdoors, and usually consists of an offering of mead, which is contained within a bowl. The gods are invoked and requests expressed for their aid, as the priest sprinkles mead onto statues of the deities and assembled participants with a sprig or branch of an evergreen tree. This procedure might be scripted or largely improvised. Finally, the bowl of mead is poured onto a fire, or onto the earth, as a final libation to the gods. Sometimes, a feast is held afterward. In other instances, the blót is less ritualized and much simpler. In this it can involve a practitioner setting some food aside, sometimes without words, for either gods of wights. Aside from honoring deities, communal blots also serve as a form of group bonding. Sometimes, communal blots may include — or be part of — rites of passage. Examples of these last are the naming of newborn children to whom the parents give names of Germanic origin, but also handfastings and funerals.
- Sumbel. Sumbel is a ritual drinking ceremony in which the Gods are toasted. Sumbel often takes place following a blot. The sumbel commonly involves a drinking horn being filled with mead and passed among the assembled participants, who either drink from it directly, kiss the side of the horn, or pour some into their own drinking vessels to consume. During this process, toasts are made, as are verbal tributes to Gods, heroes, and ancestors. Then, oaths and boasts (promises of future actions) might be made, both of which are considered binding on the speakers due to the sacred context of the sumbel ceremony. Sumbel is considered a fate-weaving ritual, a commitment to future evolution, a ritual conditioning the Wyrd of the community.
- Seiðr. Seiðr is a trance-like meditative practice usually performed by women. It’s practice is based on the account of Guðriðr in Eiríks saga. Although such practices do differ between different groups, oracular seiðr typically involves a seiðr-worker sitting on a high seat while songs and chants are performed to invoke gods and wights. Drumming is then performed to induce an altered state of consciousness in the practitioner, who then goes on a meditative journey through Yggdrassil to Hel. The assembled audience then provide questions for the seiðr-worker, which they then reply to using information that they have obtained in their trance-state.
- Galdr. Galdr is another form of Germanic Neopagan magical practice involving chanting or singing. As part of a galdr ceremony, runes or runic poems are also sometimes chanted, in order to create a communal mood and allow participants to enter into altered states of consciousness and request communication with deities. Some contemporary galdr chants and songs are influenced by Anglo-Saxon folk magical charms, such as Acerbot and the Nine Herbs Charm.
- Runes. Asatru practitioners often practice forms of divination using runes; as part of this, items with runic markings on them might be pulled out of a bag or bundle, and read accordingly. It is common for Asatru practitioners to utilize the Elder Futhark as a runic alphabet.
- Moot. In Anglo-Saxon England, a folkmoot was a governing general assembly consisting of all the free members of a tribe, community or district. It was the forerunner to the witenagemot, which was in turn, the precursor of the modern Parliament. Modern practitioners of Asatru convene moots from time to time to conduct official business, meet new prospective members, or hold disciplinary hearings.
Section 3. Festivals
The festivals of Asatru are largely based on the chief points of the agricultural year. There are typically eight major festivals, roughly six weeks apart, which coincide with the cycle of the seasons, the Equinoxes and Solstices. These include:
Charming of the Plow, February 2. Agricultural ritual Honoring Frey
Feast of Vali. February 14. Celebration of the Family Honoring Hodr|
Ostara March 20-21 Celebration of the Spring Equinox
Walpurgisnacht April 30 Celebrating May Eve, Honoring Freyr, Hel, Frigga
Midsummer June 20-21 Summer Solstice Celebration Honoring Baldur
Frey Faxi August 28 Harvest festival Honoring Freyr
Winter Finding September 20-21 Fall Equinox Celebration in Honor of Odin
Feast of the Einherjar November 11 Celebrating those who died in Battle
Winter Night October 14-15 Harvest festival celebrating Freyr and the Disir
Yule 12 nights ending December 31. Celebrating the new Year, Honoring Freyr.
Such festivals can be held on the same day each year, although they are often celebrated by Heathen communities on the nearest available weekend, so that those practitioners who work during the week can attend. During these ceremonies, practitioners typically recite poetry to honor the deities, which typically draw on or imitate the poems originally written in Old Norse or Old English. Mead or ale is also typically drunk, with offerings being given to deities. Fires, torches, or candles are also often lit.
Section 4. Folkish heathenry.
The Irminfolk deems Germanic Paganism to be an indigenous religion of a biologically distinct European ethnicity. The Irminfolk asserts that the Asatru religion appeals to the collective unconscious of people of ethnic European ancestry through a common ancestral bloodline. This philosophy is commonly known as “folkish heathenry”.