How to Begin Practicing Asatru, Today!
by Stephen A. McNallen
Suppose you have decided that you are ready to begin practicing Asatru. How can you start?
First of all, you don't have to get anyone's permission, or join any organization. Nor do you have to be an expert in the traditional lore of the Germanic peoples at this point in your development. Academic knowledge is important, but it can come later. You can start following our ancestral spirituality right now, today.
How? Here are some suggestions:
Begin living by the moral code of our ancestors. You'll find a list of appropriate virtues listed elsewhere on this site, in the article titled " Twelve Traits ." Memorize them, or copy them and put them where you will see them every day. Compare your deeds to the standards of the Germanic Way and begin shaping your life along a nobler path!
Honor the Holy Powers . Walk outside, and somewhere where you have privacy, raise your arms in greeting, look skyward, and say something like:
"I salute you, the Holy Powers of my people! Not as a slave or servant, but as a freeborn member of the Folk and as your younger kin. Nor do I come to you on my knees, but standing proud and tall. Speak to my soul, that I may grow in wisdom. Be my inspiration as I strive to grow wiser, stronger, and larger of spirit. May my feet walk the way of my noble ancestors, as I continue my journey!"
Later you will want to honor the deities in a more individual way, but a simple declaration like the one above will get you started.
Honor the ancestors. Make a simple shrine for them in your house - on a small table, or your night stand, or on a shelf, for example. On it, place photos of your forefathers and foremothers and perhaps items that belonged to them. Remember them daily, talk to them, share your life with them. Placing flowers on this shrine every now and then would be a nice touch. Recall them on their birthdays.
Bless your meals. You can say something like -
"In the names of the Holy Powers may this food be blessed, and may it bless us who partake of it. May it connect us with the Earth and Sky from which it came, to the Holy Powers, and to each other. Let it help us to live, to grow, and to work our will in the world!"
All these things are simple, but they are things you can do right now, today. In the following section we will consider some of your next steps.
Following Asatru: After the First Step
The guidelines given in the previous section were pretty elementary, but they will get your feet planted on the Way of our ancestors.
Now it's time to start learning.
There is a vast amount of information on the AFA web site, and most of it will be useful in your quest. In particular, visit the Resources page and examine the growing list of items archived there.
Then, purchase and read some of the essential works on Asatru. You will find our suggested reading list elsewhere on this site.
The AFA's Living Asatru is a good guide to day-to-day living of our ancestral religion. Also useful is A Book of Uncommon Prayers , which offers some simple and non-submissive ideas for talking with the Gods and Goddesses. In addition, the AFA produces two videos providing a broad overview of our religion; these are Steve McNallen on Asatru and Asatru: A Native European Religion . All these, and more, can be ordered directly from us.
Northern Magic by Edred Thorsson gives information on Asatru and on some of our traditional magical lore, as well. The Rites of Odin by Ed Fitch also contains much of value. It is important we make clear that Fitch's book in particular does not depict Asatru as practiced in the AFA, but there is still a wealth of information contained in its pages.
Two volumes of mythological lore and heroic tales are The Poetic Edda by Lee Hollander and The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. The Eddas are available in several different translations, and you may want to investigate several of these.
Of the books that relate to the practice of native European religions in ancient times, almost anything by H. R. Ellis Davidson can be recommended without hesitation. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe is the best starting place, though Myth and Symbol in Pagan Europe is also superb. For an introduction to the culture of our tribes as seen through Roman eyes read The Germania and Agricola by Tacitus, available in Penguin paperback.
Certainly you can practice Asatru all by yourself - but it was meant to be shared with others! You can contact Asatruar in your area through The Grove , a feature on the AFA's web site. If there's no one in your area, please feel free to contact the AFA directly.
The items listed above will give you a firm theoretical basis in Asatru. But only actual practice will bring true development. Asatru is defined not by what you know or even what you believe, but by what you DO! The way of our ancestors is meant to be lived, not dryly dissected by people who have lost the passionate essence of the Gods and the ancestors.
In particular, it is important to honor the main seasonal festivals to consider yourself Asatru. Winter Nights, Yule, and Easter are usually considered the essential three holy times that must be celebrated.
You have embarked on an adventure - the journey back home, to your ancestral heritage. Congratulations, and may your reward be rich!