Below are a list of questions we thought might help illustrate a general idea about what Asatru is to us. To read a topic, simply click on the question and more information will expand below.
- What is Asatru?
In short, Asatru is the continuation of a centuries-old spiritual tradition that found its peak in and around the Viking Age. Currently, it is a vibrant and modern religion with thousands of adherents across nearly every continent on Earth!
Sometimes called 'Germanic Paganism' or simply 'Heathenry,' Asatru aims to connect people with their past, while attempting to brighten their future through community involvement, environmental awareness, and spiritual enlightenment. There are many diverse ways of understanding the religion; a polytheistic pantheon, coupled with pantheistic/animistic views are common, and practice ranges from simple pragmatic acknowledgement of the Gods/spirits to formal rites and magical studies.
- What is it all about, really?
Asatru is about community:
Our social, emotional, and spiritual interactions with those around us shape our everyday lives. Whether it's grabbing coffee with some friends, or getting together to study runes, our community is the key to our growth. We always stress acceptance, mutual aid, and cooperative strength, and we hold our members to the highest standards.
Asatru is about family:
We believe that a great way to understand yourself and why you are here is to understand where you have come from. A strong connection to family can provide this insight, as well as connecting us to one of the most sacred tenets of paganism: a reverence for those who came before us. Of course, we're not all expert historians, but in simply understanding the gifts we've received from our ancestors and honoring these gifts by living properly is a great way to start.
Asatru is about tradition:
As members of a religion with a rich history of mythology and ritual, we are the keepers of a cultural mindset for future generations. There is a wealth of knowledge imparted to us by great minds of the past. However, we also understand the importance of maintaining a balance between reconstruction of the old ways and keeping our faith in a modern context. We have the amazing opportunity to be part of something boasting hundreds of years of practice, while being able to bring a modern light on an ancient and beautiful world view.
Asatru is about the Earth:
Asatruar possess a keen understanding of the sacred nature of our environment. Through a better understanding of the Earth, we seek to give back as much as we can for all the gifts we receive from it.
Asatru is about acceptance:
Our religion has, unfortunately, been marred by false and hateful people in the past. Asatru is not, however, a religion of xenophobia or racism. We strive, as modern Asatruar, to practice acceptance of all peoples, regardless of racial, spiritual, sexual, or gender affiliations.
- What about the Gods/Goddesses?
I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't mentioned Odin, Thor, Frigg, or any of the other Gods/Goddesses yet. These beings are of supreme importance to our faith, and their guidance helps us find not only our paths, but each other. Understanding of the deities and spirits that guide our faith is a fundamental part of who we are, but our commitment to our community, our family, and our planet come first. Only then are we giving due respect to the Gods and their work in our lives.
- What about runes?
Modern media has proliferated the idea of runes and runic magic greatly throughout the past few years. It is important to understand, however, that not everything spouted off in a coffee-table book, or recounted in a video game storyline is the truth.
'Runes' (roughly translated as 'mysteries') are a series of ideas, sounds, symbols, shapes, words, numbers, and so much more that house the secrets of how our universe works. Some Asatruar devote themselves to studying these mysteries. Our community houses many of the area's leading minds regarding runic studies and we regularly meet to discuss and share. Runic study is, however, not for everyone, and not at all a requisite for participation in our religion. It's simply another facet of our long-lived, and vibrant view of reality.
- What do Asatruar do?
Asatruar are just like everyone else. We work, go to school, play music, and spend time with family. Contrary to some misconceptions, we do not live in a state of perpetual re-enactment. Our lives follow a modern path, and our religion accompanies us.
As for religious rituals, there are a few activities that are common to most groups of Asatruar:
Symbel — The most popular get together for many Heathen groups, at symbel we get together and pass a horn of drink (cider, mead, or maybe just plain water). When one has the horn, they give thanks and 'hails' to someone or something that has been influential in their life recently. This is often a God/Goddess, an ancestor, a friend, or even a personal role-model.
Blot — Slightly more formal than symbel, blot is seen as a sacrificial ritual. Food, poetry, and items of personal importance are among the things that could be given to a specific God/Goddess, group of Gods, or spirit, in return for the many gifts these being impart to us. Blot can be elaborately choreographed, but often follows a 'symbel style,' consisting of several rounds honoring the spirits with offerings of libation.