by Samantha Helgeson
Meta-Help U? Vol. 5
Good morning! Today we are going to talk about the modern pagan religion Asatru.
Many people follow the spiritual path or religion known as Asatru. Some practitioners prefer the term Heathen, which is also used as an umbrella term for any Pagans that follow the Northern Tradition and belief systems.
What is Asatru?
Asatru is a reconstructionist path that has Northern European and Germanic roots. It is the modern revival of Norse and Germanic paganism. Many that follow this path say the religion is similar to that which existed before the colonization of Norse cultures.
Fundamental Beliefs of Asatru:
Many of the practices, beliefs, and rituals of Asatru center around Norse Mythology. Asatru is polytheistic and believes that divinity is expressed in the forms of the gods and goddesses of the Norse pantheon.
The gods and goddesses are considered living beings that take an active role in the world. There are three types of deities in the Asatru system.
· The Aesir: a tribe of gods and goddesses in Norse mythology, associated with the powers that hold the cosmos together. Many well-known gods and goddesses like Odin, Thor, Frigg, and Baldur are a part of this tribe. They reside in Asgard, one of the Nine-Worlds located in the branches of Yggdrasil.
· The Vanir: a tribe of gods and goddesses in Norse mythology distinct from the Aesir, associated with human and ecological fertility. Freya, Freyr, and Njord are part of the ranks of the tribe. They reside in Vanaheim, another of the Nine-Worlds.
· The Jotnar: the first race in creation, associated with the natural world and the forces that shape it. Giants with chaotic and destructive abilities who are typically antagonists in lore, but some are also ancestors, kin and friends to the Aesir and Vanir.
Asatru is also considered a nature religion, where practitioners work in harmony with nature and the gods. The Winter and Summer solstices (Yule and Midsummer) are considered essential holidays in Asatru, as are the two Equinoxes. It is considered important to honour and respect the divine and thank them for the blessings that one has received. The changing seasons are celebrated through festivals, feasting, merrymaking, and gift-giving.
Those that follow Asatru also believe in some sort of afterlife.
· Some believe that those who have lived virtuous lives will go on to experience greater fulfillment, pleasure, and challenge. Those who have led lives characterized more by vice than by virtue will be separated from kin and doomed to an existence of dullness and gloom.
· Other beliefs are that warriors will end up in either Valhalla with Odin or Folkvang with Freya. Those lost at sea will go to the underwater abode of the giantess Ran, and most people go to Hel, presided over by the goddess Hel.
Ethical Code of Asatru:
Many modern followers of Asatru follow the Nine Noble Virtues. This is an ethical code that some believe to have been originally codified by Edred Thorsson during his time with the Asatru Folk Assembly. However, Odinic Rite members, one with fascist ties, have also taken credit for codifying it in the 1970s.
1. Courage – both physical and moral courage
2. Truth – both spiritual truth and actual truth
3. Honour – one’s reputation and moral compass
4. Fidelity – remaining faithful to the Gods, kinsmen, spouses, and community
5. Discipline – using personal will to uphold honour and other virtues
6. Hospitality – treating others with respect and being part of the community
7. Industriousness – hard work to achieve a goal
8. Self-Reliance – taking care of oneself while maintaining relationships with deities
9. Perseverance – continuing despite potential obstacles
It is important to note that, unlike some religions, Asatru is a religion free of spiritual guilt. There is no concept of “original sin” or of humans being tainted from birth. There is no concept of needing atonement or penance. Asatru places emphasis on personal responsibility and that the future is the product of present actions. Wrong behaviour will bring about consequences, and one must deal with it directly. How one lives their life is up to them, and one does not hide behind doctrine or take refuge in dogma.
Editor note: The section on the Nine Noble Virtues has been updated to reflect the history of codification better.