Irminsul Ăttir

Susan Granquist on the Religion of ┴satr˙

┴satr˙ (Ah-sah-tru) literally means faith in the gods and goddesses who were collectively referred to as the Aesir, best known from the Icelandic Eddas and sagas, and the Scandinavian and Teutonic myths and folklore. Although indigenous to Northern Europe there are practitioners all over the world. Until the early nineteenth century the spiritual traditions, customs and ways of worship from pre-Christian times were simply referred to as "our way," or "our faith." There are other modern religions that include a worship of the Aesir such as Wicca and Odinism but ┴satr˙ places a strong emphasis on the cultural aspects and old ways. Although ┴satr˙ is an ethnic religion it does not support religious or racial bigotry or hatred. ┴satr˙ar support the right to religious freedom as well as the right of those who gather together to define their own fellowships in terms of faith, commitment and kinship for all free from oppression or malice.

There is a strong emphasis on the study and discussion of Northern European literature, folklore and history, as well as learning traditional skills and ways of living that have practical applications in today's world. There's no scripture in the generally accepted sense, instead the religion relies on a practical ethical system that is to be found as much in the old Scandinavian and Germanic laws as in the Eddas, sagas and other literature which reflect the complex world view which is similiar in many ways to other "primitive" and ethnic religions which also honor ancestral spirits and those that dwell in the land, water, wind and forests.

There is a deep respect for principled behavior since law and order are at the heart of the most basic concepts found in the cosmology. ┴satr˙ philosophy recognizes the ethics of the Norse and Germanic people as being appicable to a modern world and the basis of the religious traditions: Courage, integrity, self-reliance and taking responsibility for one's own actions, industriousness, perserverance, maintaining a sense of justice (including an innate sense of fairness and respect for others), loyalty to one's family, friends and community, generosity and hospitality were all virtues to strive for and live by. A belief in an afterlife is also an important part of ┴satr˙ and the obligation to remember both ancestors and one's responsibility to future generations are also important concepts in ┴satr˙ ethics and spirituality.

Many ┴satr˙ar include the study of runes in their daily rituals and spiritual practices as focuses for mediation and personal understanding. Like the I Ching the runes are best understood from within the cosmology and culture that they were an integral part of. Runes, with a complex of meaning from secrets to song, are part of a rich magico-religious world view reflected in the fu■ark as a mirror of the cosmology as mythical elements. Sei­, a Norse and Germanic shamanic magic is also an important part of the traditions, although less widely practed and more specialized.

Individuals often form small groups for purposes of group worship or study that may be called by a variety of names, the most common being kindreds, people drawn together by feelings of kinship to form an intentional extended family; and a fÚlag or fellowship. A hearth or steading often refers to an individual family, there are also go­or­, garth or hof. Many still follow the tradition of worshiping outdoors in a natural setting.

There is no one central authority or presiding body although larger organizations are formed by voluntary association and recognized principles of assembly (■ing or thing). Organizational and administrative titles vary, but are generally based on terms of chieftaincy and leadership which were in many cases also viewed as sacral offices. Typically, a priest or priestess is referred to as a go­i or gy­ia respectively and requires a lifetime commitment of dedication, study and devotion to the community as well as the deities. The go­ (pronounced as goth'ee) or gy­ia (prounounced as geath'eah) conduct the rituals and ceremonies of ┴satr˙, blessings, weddings, funerals and namings among others.

The head of a family and recognized leaders of groups may preside over and lead rites and rituals on behalf of their members in gatherings, but individuals are expected to be largely responsible for their own spiritual welfare, performing personal rites and observances at need. Meeting with others for the High and Greater Blessings of the year is expected and it is the mutual responsiblity of the individual and the go­i or group to hold meetings to observe the Blessings (blˇts) of the Year as well as other rituals of a community nature.

ę 1995, 1998 Susan Granquist. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for non-profit distribution as long as the material (except contact address) isn't altered and this copyright notice is included.
Irminsul Ăttir