Introduction to Asatru
by Edred Wodanson, Odin's Goði
A brief Introduction to the ancient, pre-Christian,
Ancestral religion of Europe, commonly called “Asatrú”
“We were here before Yahweh created the world!”
Asatrú (sometimes called Odinism) is the ancient pre-Christian, Ancestral religion of Iceland, and Scandinavia. It was also practiced in one form or another, and under various names, throughout Europe, and even into Russia. Simply speaking, Asatrú is an ethnically-dependant religion (Ancestral Religion) with a wide pantheon of ancient gods and goddesses.
Asatrú is often called the religion of the ancient Vikings, however, while this is true, Asatrú/Odinism has an organized history of about 8,000 years (confirmed by archeological findings). Its beginnings go far back into pre-history with evidence dating to 42,000 years ago. The Vikings only lasted about 500 years. So calling Asatrú the “Viking religion” is like calling Christianity the “Ku Klux Klan religion”.
Asatrú is an Earth religion, and we view this Planet as our sacred Mother (Frigga). Odin is our Father (the Sky) and the union between Mother and Father produces life on this Planet, i.e. us. We are their offspring. There are Nine Worlds, this being one of them (Midgard), and most of the gods and goddesses reside in the uppermost world, Asgard (home of the gods). There are also the Alfar (the Holy Elves - friends of mankind), the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves or Dwarves - sometimes friendly, sometimes not), and the Thurs (Giants - enemies of the gods and man).
Many are unaware, but the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, etc.) were taken from, and based on, our ancient religion (with many liberties taken). While we do not have a Holy Book, we look upon the ancient manuscript known as the Codex Regius, as being the words and stories of our gods, and ancient pre-Christian Ancestors. This marvelous book is available today under the name: the Poetic Edda .
Asatrú means to be true to the Ancient Gods and Goddesses of Northern Europe. Asatrú is the Ethnic/Ancestral Religion of the indigenous people who have continuously occupied the Northern areas of Europe for thousands of years, i.e. the English, Germans, Scandinavians, French, etc., and today, their descendants . Asatrú is one of the oldest pre-Christian religions that is still in practice today. Just as the ancient religion of "Shinto" is the official state religion of Japan, so is Asatrú one of the two "official" state religions of the country of Iceland. Fully recognized and supported by the Icelandic Government.
Asatrú (or Odinism, as it is sometimes called) is an ancient, Ancestral, pre-Christian religion that originated in the Northern, Eastern and Western parts of Europe thousands of years ago. It was "officially" eliminated about 800 years ago by the "Church," when the King of Sweden, who had been the last official hold-out, finally converted to Christianity. At that point (1,200 years after the appearance of Jesus) the whole of Europe finally became "Christianized," (officially— politically).
It should be emphasized that thousands continued to practice the "old Ancestral religion" for many centuries, right up to the present time. However, due to the extreme intolerance of the Church most practitioners were forced "underground," pretending to be Christians so as to preserve their lives. Those who were unsuccessful at concealing their "Heathen" practices, were almost certainly assassinated by the Church— their possessions and land confiscated.
In the late 1940's and early 1950's, most countries in the Western world repealed the laws, enacted by the Church, that made the practice of pre-Christian, or "Pagan" religions illegal. Since that time there has been an ever increasing number of those who profess the old ways, the "organic" or natural ways of Ancestral religion.
There are many so-called religions today that fall under the heading of "Neo-Paganism." However, Asatrú and its members should not be included with this grouping. Unlike many Neo-Pagan religions who have blended several different spiritual disciplines together to suit their personal needs, desires, and agendas, the practitioners of Asatrú strive for an accurate, updated version of their Ancestral religion— specifically Asatrú or Odinism. They have not blended the teachings of other religions into Asatrú, but rather have striven, through study, investigation and meditation, to reestablish a faithful version of one of the world's oldest Ancestral religions.
Today Asatrú has been revived to become one of the "fastest growing religions in North America and Europe" amongst the descendants of the ancient Europeans. Tens of thousands have rediscovered their Ancestral religion and reclaimed their ancient birthright! This is not some passing "new age" fad - its present incarnation has its beginnings in the late part of the nineteenth century with the writings of Viktor Rydberg , A. Rud Mills , and others. It has continued to the present day with an ever increasing momentum, even to the point of being named one of the two Official, Government Sponsored Religions of the country of Iceland. With its current growth it can only move strongly into the future.
SO WHAT DO ASATRUAR / ODINISTS BELIEVE?
First and most importantly, we believe that religion is natural, "organic", and Ancestral. We believe that all "genuine" religion comes out of the ancient, pre-history of a particular people. In other words, true religion is ethnically-dependant. We believe that a religion cannot be arbitrarily "founded" by one person, no matter who they claim to be. All "real" religion must come out of the ancient, natural, indigenous past of its people. Genuine religion has no founder— that is the simple truth of it. While we respect the rights of individuals to pursue whatever spiritual interests or religious teachings they may choose to adopt, we cannot and will not accept these "made up" religions as being anything more than "cults." Cults designed to enslave their followers... usually under the guise of words like "freedom." and/or "equality". When in reality, and upon closer examination, these cultist teachings usually remove most real freedom, and create new levels of prejudice and deceit amongst the so called “faithful”. We cannot accept this way of thinking within the confines of Asatrú / Odinism.
Some examples of what we consider to be genuine Ancestral, natural or "organic" religions are: The various Native North American, Tribal Religions that existed in Vinland before the arrival of the European. "Shinto" - The ancient, pre-Buddhist, Ancestral religion of the Japanese people. "Judaism" - the religion of the Jewish race, an ancient religion that evolved out of their pre-historical past. The "Bon " - an ancient Ancestral religion that rises out of the pre-Buddhist past of Tibet. "Voodoo" - One of the ancient, pre-Christian religions of the Black race that came out of Africa.
In the same way, Asatrú / Odinism (or one of its many variations), is the ancient, Ancestral, pre-Christian religion of the White race that grew out of Northern, Eastern and Western Europe.
So-called religions that are founded by individuals claiming to be "God" or some incarnation of "Him/Her" on this planet, are in reality nothing more than cults, in our opinion.
"True religion is Ancestral, all else is fraudulent."
We also believe in a wide pantheon of gods and goddesses. Some of these deities are: Odin - AllFather of the gods / god of the Runes / god of magik / god of poetry / god of the dead; Frigga - AllMother of the gods / goddess of Marriage / goddess of childbirth / goddess of the Dawn; Freya - goddess of sensuality / battle goddess / goddess of Magik; Frey - Brother of Freya / god of the Feast / Fertility god; Tyr - god of Battle and Justice; Thor - Son of Odin / god of defense / god of revenge / god of farming; Njord - god of the Sea / Father of Frey & Freya (there are other gods and goddesses not covered in this introduction).
Besides what has already been stated, most Asafolk live their lives by a set of Nine basic principals:
1) Most would agree that it is better to be strong rather than weak. Weakness makes us vulnerable to attack - mentally and physically. Strength allows us to live in freedom and peace! ("You must prepare for war, to have peace.")
2) The problems and challenges of life should be faced with resolution and courage. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "Whatever does not kill us, only makes us stronger."
3) Life should be a joyous experience! We should not feel shame, for example, because of sexual (heterosexual) desire and activity. The sensual aspects of life should be enjoyed without guilt!
4) We should live our lives with honor and nobility. Lowering ourselves and acting with baseness can only detract from our people - ourselves.
5) Freedom (mental, physical & spiritual) is extremely important to all people. Anyone who would enslave us, in any form, for any reason, can only be viewed as an enemy!
6) The loneliness of this modern world must be reversed. People must reunite with family, clan and tribe, otherwise the future of mankind is in doubt!
7) We must live in the here and now. Having blind faith in some "world-to-come," serves no one. While developing our mystical or spiritual side we must also be severely practical.
8) As long as a river keeps moving, it lives. if it stops it will surely stagnate and die. We, like that river, must always be active - physically, mentally and spiritually - less we become stagnant and die!
9) "Universalism" - the idea that all peoples of this world are "one and the same," is absurd, and if it prevails, will only succeed in removing the freedom, individuality and uniqueness of the diverse peoples and races that inhabit this Earth!
We must look to the past if we are to secure the future. Our ancient ancestors and gods are waiting to teach us what we need to know to successfully live on this planet!