Asatru Religion: Back to the Roots

Germanic mythology

In a modern world where numerous religions and faiths compete for attention and devotion, there is one movement that calls for a return to ancient roots and a reinterpretation of old deities. The Asatru religion revitalises the polytheism of Northern Europe, reflecting the richness of the region's culture and history.

Originating in 1972, the Asatru religion represents a variety of beliefs and practices that are reflected in rituals, ceremonies and worship of Norse gods, goddesses and spirits of the earth. Supported by various groups around the world, this movement brings together people seeking a return to traditional values and rituals.

The word "Asatru" comes from modern Icelandic and means "belief in the Æsir," the main tribe of Norse deities. People who practise this religion often identify themselves as pagans, and the term "paganism" is commonly used to refer to a wider range of modern religions associated with various polytheistic traditions in northern Europe dating back to around 2000 BC. Despite the presence of a clergy known as goðr (singular goði), there is no central Asatru authority and no established dogma. There is a great diversity of beliefs and practices throughout the pagan world.

The history of Northern European polytheism stretches from the Bronze Age to the Viking Age, a long period during which local variants developed among the Germanic peoples of continental Europe, the Scandinavian countries, and the British Isles. Although widespread practice ceased with the advent of Christianity, private worship is documented over the next several centuries. Some beliefs and rituals survived into the twentieth century as elements of folk religion in the Northern European diaspora.

Since the founding of Ásatrúarfélagið ('Aesir Faith Fellowship') in Iceland in 1972, modern practice has spread around the world through a mixture of national organisations, regional gatherings, local worship groups and solitary practitioners. Ásatrúarfélagið has been recognised by the Icelandic government since 1973, and Ásatrúarfélagið is now the largest non-Christian religion in Iceland. In the United States, the Department of Defence officially recognised the Ásatrú religion and paganism in 2017, thus granting full religious rights to practitioners in all branches of the military.

Who are the pagans

The central figures in the Asatru religion are gods such as Odin, Thor, and Freya, but respect is paid to a large number of figures. Asatru is a world-accepting religion; the emphasis is on doing the right thing in this life rather than expecting an otherworldly afterlife. Practitioners claim that "we are our deeds", meaning that the sum of actions is paramount.

Blot is the central ritual of Asatru. Ancient Norwegian word meaning "sacrifice", it is used to refer to a ritual in which sacrifices are made to gods, goddesses, spirits of the earth and important people who have passed away. A blot is often held outdoors and the offering is most often some type of alcohol (usually ale, beer or mead). The ritual can be held as often as the community wishes, and forms the basis of major holidays such as Midsummer and Yule.

The modern beliefs and practices of the Asatru religion reflect the richness of the texts and mythologies of Northern European peoples. Practitioners of Asatru look to these sources for inspiration and guidance in their faith.

The image of Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, is often used as a symbol of Asatru faith and commitment to the religion. Many practitioners wear pendants with this symbol as a sign of respect and devotion to their deities.

The Asatru religion is a unique and vibrant religion that continues to attract followers with its multifaceted and deep connection to the ancient roots of Northern European culture and faith. In a world saturated with religious diversification, Asatru is a prime example of a religious tradition that remains relevant and meaningful in today's society.


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