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Jimmy Davis on the Religion of ┴satr˙

Asatru is the modern form of the traditional pagan religion of Northern Europe. The word itself means "true to the Aesir" which are the sky gods of heathenry (a more inclusive term) but include the Vanir (earth/sea deities) who are allied with them. It alsois used to distinguish itself from related forms of Heathenry, such as Theodish Belief (Anglo-Saxon retro-heathenry), Skergard Faith (a very post-modern form of Asatru which has apparently folded but considering the amount of effort expended may resurrect itself in some form) and Norse Wicca.

Since Asatru is the modern form of the traditional heathen religion of Northern Europe, does that make Asatru a folk religion?

Yes, it has become a truism to assert that Asatru is a folk religion. By "folk" it means the religion of a people. It is the common elements which binds families and tribes together even across geographical boundaries. Thus, even though the ancient Germans, Anglo-Saxons, Frisians, Danish, Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders spoke different languages and in some situation non-neighbors (even enemies at time), they shared a common religion. This religion was inherited by being passed down from generation to generation from the time when all Northern European peoples were one tribe. As that tribe expanded its influence and size (by absorbing non-indo-european peoples into its tribe through language and culture), it became multi-tribal. Those tribes became the basis of the nations. One should keep in mind that those nations during the 19th century went on to expand world-wide, especially the English/American tribe. So that today, many nations not genetically Northern European speak Northern European languages and have adopted its culture and traditions. It can be said that all peoples who speak a Northern European language as their primary language are our folk.

Is Asatru racist?

No. There is nothing within Asatru ritual or mythology which can be used to justify racism. The same goes for ancient heathenry. That being said, there are some Asatruar who are racist and seek to use the religion for their own political agenda. Many of these people mask themselves as racialists or white separatists.

How did Asatru revive?

Asatru and other reconstructed forms of paganism arose out of the occult revivals of the late 60's and early 70's. The roots of such a revival can be traced back to the Renaissance era in which the Christian church started to lose its power over the intellectual class. This class was creating the foundations of a scientific materialism which would eventual over throw the Church's dominion over society. At the same time, they were becoming interested in the Classical pagan gods and religious ideas which they studied along with the Greek texts. The during the Romantic reaction to industrialism and early capitalism, interest in the old gods and myths returned. This was followed in the late 19th century with a wide spread interest in spiritualism, theosophy and High magick. It was from this later source that the modern revival sprung and its main manifestation was Gardnerian Wicca and its many offspring. Many burnt out of Wicca quickly and sought a more historically base religion. This turning way from Wicca gave rise to the Celtic and Asatru reconstruction movement.

Since Asatru was subjugated by Xianity centuries ago and no one could practice it, how was it reconstructed?

Since ancient heathenry was not a religion of a Book like Xianity there was not a single source to go back and refer. Instead, we have numerous sources which give small pieces to an enormous puzzle. There are descriptions of the northern peoples and their way of life in classical literature based upon travelers accounts. Xianity when it won over a king to its cause would pass laws outlawing certain aspects of the old faith. So if there is a law against "the eating of horse flesh" made at the time of conversion, then a guess could be made of the use of a horse sacrifice and of worshippers sharing it. Then we are fortunate that the Iceland converted with little hostility shown the old faith and that it was highly literate. For it was in Iceland that the old poems and myths of the Aesir were first written down in books called the Eddas. Also, the Icelanders were very proud of their ancestors and recorded their deeds in texts called sagas (usually centered upon a single family) which occasionally described life during heathen times (as seen by Xians living about 150 years after the conversion). Then there are survivals of god names within our language, i.e. place names and the days of the week. And finally, the evidence of archeology. All of these give but a piece, but from them a reasonable reconstruction of heathenry has been made.

How do I find out more?

There are several Web sites containing Asatru and heathen related text and information. I would suggest using Yahoo or some other search engine and search for "Asatru."

Mail comments to Jimmy Davis (shaku@ix.netcom.com)

Irminsul Ăttir