by Steven A. McNallen

Asatru is the original, pre-Christian religion of the peoples of northern Europe. It was followed by the various tribes that became today's Englishmen, Germans, Scandinavians, Dutch, and related groups. A similar religion and way of life was practiced by the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Baltic, and Slavic peoples. Because of this overlap and the movement of peoples in ancient and modern times, it is fair to make a general statement that Asatru is a religion that expresses the heritage of people of northern European descent as a whole. In short, this is the faith of your ancestors! Because it is our native belief, it best expresses our way of looking at the world.

Our forebears believed in a number of Gods and Goddesses. Some of us think of them as real in the most literal sense, and others of us view them as symbols that help us understand the divine aspects of the universe. However you consider them, it is useful to know the names and functions of the main ones.

•  ODIN - father of the Gods, associated with wisdom, poetry, victory

•  THOR - a God of strength and might, defender of the Gods and men

•  FRIGGA - mother of the Gods, wise, involved with family and children

•  TYR - one-handed God renowned for sacrifice, valor, and war prowess

•  BALDER - most beautiful of the Gods, soft-spoken, bold, and good

•  SKADI - mountain-dwelling Goddess who hunts on skis

•  HEIMDAL - watchman guarding the Rainbow Bridge to the realm of the Gods

•  IDUN - Goddess who keeps the magic apples that renew the Gods' youth

•  FREYA - Goddess of love, fertility and procreation, but with a warrior aspect also

•  FREY - virile fertility God whose domain includes love, joy, prosperity

•  NJORD - God connected with the sea as a source of food and prosperity through trade

Most of these Gods and Goddesses belong to the family or tribe we call the Aesir, but the last three are of another line, the Vanir.

What does our religion value? We preach and practice courage, honor, the importance of the family and ancestral bonds, strength, freedom, the preservation of our kind, and joyful, vigorous life.