" _is. Ásatrú" (Icelandic for "
Æsirfaith", pronounced|auːsatruː, in Old NorseIPA| [aːsatruː] ; Norwegian "Åsatru", Swedish "Asatro", Danish "Asetro") is a Neopaganmovement inspired by Germanic polytheism, in particular the Norse paganismas described in the Eddas and as practiced prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia.
There are two main strains of "Ásatrú", originating near-simultaneously in Iceland (" _is.
Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið", 1972) and the USA ( Asatru Free Assembly, 1974). While the Scandinavian branch emphasizes pantheist spirituality rooted in medieval and contemporary Scandinavian folklore, the American branch postulates a " native religionof the peoples of Northern Europe" reaching back into the paleolithic. ["Asatru reflects the deeper religiosity common to virtually all the nations of Europe." ( [http://runestone.org/home.html Asatru Folk Assembly] ); " Ásatrú is thousands of years old. It's beginnings are lost in prehistory, but as an organized system, it is older by far than Christianity. Strictly speaking, since Ásatrú is the religion which springs from the specific spiritual beliefs of the Northern Europeans, it is as old as this branch of the human race, which came into being 40,000 years ago." ( [http://asatru.org/ Asatru Alliance] )] In Germany, the term "Asatru" is used in the wider sense of Germanic neopaganism.
" _is. Ásatrú" is an Icelandic (and equivalently
Old Norse) term consisting of two parts. The first is " _is. Ása-", genitive of " _is. Áss", denoting one of the group of Norse pagan gods called _is. Æsir. [Zoega (1910): "one of the old heathen gods in general, or especially one of the older branch, in opposition to the younger ones (the Vanir)" [http://www.northvegr.org/zoega/h037.php] ] The second part, " _is. trú", means "faith, word of honour; religious faith, belief" [Zoega (1910) [http://www.northvegr.org/zoega/h442.php] ] (archaic English "" "loyalty, honesty, good faith"). Thus, " _is. Ásatrú" means "belief / faith in the Æsir / gods".
The term is the Old Norse/Icelandic translation of " _sv. Asetro", a
neologismcoined in the context of 19th century romantic nationalism, used by Edvard Griegin his 1870 opera " Olaf Trygvason". The use of the term "Ásatrú" for Germanic paganism preceding 19th century revivalist movements is therefore an anachronism.
" _is. Ásatrúarmaður" (plural " _is. Ásatrúarmenn"), the term used to identify those who practice Ásatrú is a compound with " _is. maður" (Old Norse " _no. maðr") "man". [Irrespective of sex. [http://www.northvegr.org/zoega/h284.php] , see
Mannaz.] In English usage, the genitive " _is. Asatruar" "of Æsir faith" is often used on its own to denote adherents (both singular and plural).
As "Ásatrú" implies a focus on polytheistic belief in the Æsir usage of the term in Scandinavia has declined somewhat. In Scandinavia, "forn sed" / "forn siðr" "old custom", "Nordisk sed" "Nordic custom" or "hedensk sed" / "heiðinn siður" "pagan custom" are preferred. ["We prefer to refer to our faith as 'den forna seden' (The Old Way) rather than Asatru." ( [http://www.asatrosamfundet.se/ Sveriges Asatrosamfund] )] In both the
Anglosphereand German-speaking Europe, it is widely used interchangeably with other terms for Germanic Neopaganism.cite paper| author =Linzie, Bil| title =Germanic Spirituality| version =| publisher =| date =July 2003| url =http://www.northvegr.org/northern/book/spirituality.pdf| format =
Ásatrú originated as a second (or third) revival of Germanic paganism in the 1960s and early 1970s. The "Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið" was founded on summer solstice, 1972, and was recognized as an official religion by the Icelandic government in 1973, largely due to the efforts of
Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson. Around this time, Stephen McNallen, a former U.S. ArmyAirborne Ranger, began publishing a newsletter titled "The Runestone" independently of the "Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið" in the United States. He also formed an organization called the "Ásatrú Free Assembly", which was later renamed the Ásatrú Folk Assemblywhich is still extant. Else Christensen's " Odinism", which is sometimes identified with the term "Ásatrú", originated around the same period. An offshoot of McNallen's group is the "Ásatrú Alliance", headed by Valgard Murray, publisher of the "Vor Tru" newsletter. The "Ásatrú Alliance" held its 25th annual " Althing" gathering in 2005.cite web| last =Murray| first =Valgard| authorlink =| coauthors =| title =AlThing 25 Report| work =| publisher =| date =| url =http://asatru.org/Althingreport.html#top| format = HTML| doi =| accessdate =February 2007 ]
The Icelandic government has recognized the "
Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið" as an official religion shortly after its inception. Other Scandinavian governments have begun to recognize Germanic Neopagan organizations as religious communities with official status from the 1990s (Sweden: " Sveriges asatrosamfund" 1994; Norway: " Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost" 1996; " Foreningen Forn Sed" 1999; Denmark: "Forn Siðr", formed in 1997, recognized in 2003 [ [http://www.fornsidr.dk/dk/60 Forklaring til Forn Siðr´s ansøgning om godkendelse som trossamfund.] ] ). In June 2007 the Spanish government recognized Asatru, " Comunidad Odinista de España-Asatru". The United Statesgovernment does not officially endorse or recognize any religious group, but numerous Ásatrú groups have been granted nonprofit religious status going back to the 1970s.cite paper| author =Linzie, Bil| title =Drinking at the Well of Mimir| version =| publisher =| year =2000| url =http://ragngautr-kindred.org/library/modern/drinking-at-the-well-of-mimir.pdf| format =
Groups and practitioners also exist in
Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Australiaand New Zealand, North America, Mexico, and South America ( Argentina, Brazil, Chile).
Beliefs and practice
"Ásatrú" groups and the individual "Ásatrúarmenn" have no standard means of practice. The "
Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið" (as of 2007) defines "Ásatrú" as belief "in the Icelandic/Nordic folklore, the spirits and entities the folklore represents, in addition to gods and other beings from the Nordic pantheism." [The Icelandic version has "Ásatrú" is a pagan tradition based on tolerance, honesty, magnanimity and respect for nature and all life." ("Ásatrú eða heiðinn siður byggir á umburðarlyndi, heiðarleika, drengskap og virðingu fyrir náttúrunni og öllu lífi.") [http://web.archive.org/web/20061205064006/http://asatru.is/ (2006)] ] The US Asatru Folk Assemblydefines it as "an expression of the native, pre-Christian spiritualityof Europe."
Many Ásatrú groups celebrate with Blóts. Historically, the Blót was an event that focused on a communal sacrifice at various times of the year for a number of purposes. Families and extended family organizations would gather to participate in the communal event.
Modern blots are celebrated several times during the year. Ásatrú communities (kindreds, hearths, mots) have different approaches to the frequency of blots and their means of celebrating them.
Symbel, or sumbel, is a ritual drinking feast. A
drinking hornis passed around over a course of a number of rounds. The purpose of a Symbel is usually agreed in advance. A symbel includes a toast, brag or boast. The act of speaking over the horn symbolizes taking publicly spoken words into the body.Fact|date=March 2008
A "Goði" or "Gothi" (plural "goðar") is the historical Old Norse term for a
priestand chieftain in Norse paganism. "Gyðja" signifies a priestess. Goði literally means "speaker for the gods", and is used to denote the priesthood or those who officiate over rituals in Ásatrú. Several groups, most notably the Trothhave organized clergy programs.Information regarding the Troth's clergy program can be found on their official website here: [http://www.thetroth.org/clergy/] ] However, there is no universal standard for the Goðar amongst organizations, and the title is usually only significant to the particular group with whom they work.cite web| last =Murray| first =Valgard| authorlink =| coauthors =| title =The Role of the Gothar in the Asatru Community| work =| publisher =| date =| url =http://asatru.org/gothar.html| format =HTML| doi =| accessdate =February 2007]
A "Kindred" is a local worship group in Ásatrú. Other terms used are garth,
stead, "sippe", "skeppslag" and others. Kindreds are usually grassroots groups which may or may not be affiliated with a national organization like the "Ásatrú Folk Assembly", the "Ásatrú Alliance", or the "Troth". Kindreds are composed of hearths or families as well as individuals, and the members of a Kindred may be related by blood or marriage, or may be unrelated. The kindred often functions as a combination of extended family and religious group. Membership is managed by the assent of the group.cite web| last =Murray| first =Valgard| authorlink =| coauthors =| title =The Asatru Kindred| work =| publisher =| date =| url =http://asatru.org/thekinrd.html| format =HTML| doi =| accessdate =February 2007]
Kindreds usually have a recognized Goði to lead religious rites, while some other kindreds function more like modern corporations. Although these Goði need only be recognized by the kindred itself and may not have any standing with any other Kindred.
Politics and controversies
Ásatrú organizations have memberships which span the entire political and spiritual spectrum. Many adherents are solitary practitioners who practice their religion alone with their family or a small local community, and are not involved with organized "Ásatrú". Despite the wide divergence of beliefs and politics, the sole common denominator amongst adherents of "Ásatrú" is the goal of reconstructing and practicing the historical pre-Christian religion of the
Folkish Asatru, Universalism and racialism
Some groups identifying as Ásatrú have been associated with
neo-Naziand " white power" movements.cite book | first =Matthias | last =Gardell | authorlink = | coauthors = | year =2003 | month = | title =Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism | chapter = | editor = | others = | edition = | pages =269-283 | publisher =Duke University Press | location = | id =ISBN 0822330717 | url = ] This was notably an issue in the 1980s, when the Asatru Free Assemblydisintegrated as a result of tensions between the racist and the non-racist factionsFact|date=May 2008.
Today, the three largest US American "Ásatrú" organizations have specifically denounced any association with racist groups. [From the "
Asatru Alliance's" Bylaws: "The Alliance is apolitical; it is not a front for, nor shall it promote any political views of the 'Right' or 'Left'. Our Sacred temples, groves and Moots shall remain free of any political manifestations." [http://asatru.org/bylaws.html] ] [From the " Asatru Folk Assembly's" Bylaws: "The belief that spirituality and ancestral heritage are related has nothing to do with notions of superiority. Ásatrú is not an excuse to look down on, much less to hate, members of any other race. On the contrary, we recognize the uniqueness and the value of all the different pieces that make up the human mosaic." [http://runestone.org/flash/home.html] ] [From " The Troth's" Bylaws: "Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation shall not be practiced by the Troth or any affiliated group, whether in membership decisions or in conducting any of its activities."
[http://www.thetroth.org/organization/bylaws.html] ] A dividing issue is whether a person is "Folkish", meaning that an emphasis on ancestry and ancestor worship is a part of their belief system.
Inmates of the "Intensive Management Unit" at
Washington State Penitentiarywho are adherents of Ásatrú in 2001 were deprived of their Thor's Hammer medallions. [ [http://www.prisonerlife.com/articles/articleID=3.cfm Walla Walla's Suppression of Religious Freedom] Verify credibility|date=July 2007] In 2007, a federal judge confirmed that Ásatrú adherents in US prisons have the right to possess a Thor’s Hammer pendant. An inmate sued the Virginia Department of Corrections after he was denied it while members of other religions were allowed their medallions. [ [http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=18629 First Amendment Center: Va. inmate can challenge denial of Thor's Hammer] ]
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs does not list any Ásatrú symbols as available emblems of belief for placement on government headstones and markers. [ [http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm/hmemb.asp Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers - Department of Veterans Affairs] ] According to federal guidelines, only approved religious symbols — of which there are 38 — can be placed on government headstones or memorial plaques.
Ásatrú Folk Assemblyhave demanded such a symbol.
In the Georgacarakos v. Watts case Peter N. Georgacarakos filed a pro se civil-rights complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against 19 prison officials for "interference with the free exercise of his Ásatrú religion" and "discrimination on the basis of his being Ásatrú". [ [http://www.kscourts.org/CA10/cases/2005/08/05-1180.htm Georgacarakos v. Watts] ]
In the United States, Ásatrú members were in dispute with the Umatilla over the status of
Kennewick Man, the 9,000 year old remains of a man found in Washington. [cite web | url = http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wic.html#otherrelig | title = What is Creationism? American Indian Creationism | publisher = Talk.origins| accessdate = 2008-09-22 | date = 2002-12-12 ] The body is anthropometrically much closer to the Caucasian racethan the groups making up the current Native American population, [cite journal | last = Morell | first = V | year = 1998 | journal = | volume = 280 | issue = 5361 | pages = 190-192 | title = Kennewick Man's Trials Continue | doi = 10.1126/science.280.5361.190] and was claimed by the Ásatrú as an anscestor.
Asatru in Germany and Austria
Neopaganism in the United States
Neopaganism in the UK
* [http://www.religionfacts.com/a-z-religion-index/asatru.htm Ásatrú (Germanic Paganism)] - ReligionFacts
* [http://altreligion.about.com/library/faqs/bl_asatru.htm Asatru (Norse Heathenism)] - AltReligion
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/asatru.htm Ásatrú (Norse Heathenism)] -Religioustolerance
* [http://www.scribd.com/groups/view/4516-odinism-and-asatru The Odinist/Asatru Library (pdf. files)]
* [http://ravencast.podbean.com/ (Ravencast-The Asatru Podcast)]
** [http://asetrofaellesskabet.dk// Asetrofællesskabet]
** [http://www.fornsidr.dk/ Forn Sidr]
** [http://www.asatru.is/ Ásatrúarfélagið]
** [http://www.forn-sed.no/ Foreningen Forn Sed]
** [http://www.bifrost.no/ Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost]
** [http://www.fornsed.se/ Nätverket Forn Sed]
** [http://www.asatrosamfundet.se/ Sveriges Asatrosamfund]
** [http://www.aetaustralia.org/ Assembly of The Elder Troth]
** [http://www.asatru.ca/ The Canadian Ásatrú Portal]
** [http://www.odinsvolk.ca/ ODIN'S VOLK KINDRED]
* New Zealand
** [http://www.asatru.org.nz/ New Zealand Ásatrú Fellowship]
** [http://www.asatru.org/ Ásatrú Alliance]
** [http://www.runestone.org/ Asatru Folk Assembly]
** [http://www.groandi.org/ Galdragildi]
** [http://www.idhavellihof.org/ Iðavelli Hof]
** [http://www.thetroth.org/ The Troth]
** [http://www.urglaawe.org/ Urglaawe]
* United Kingdom
** [http://www.odinistfellowship.co.uk/ The Odinist Fellowship]
** [http://www.eldaring.de/ Eldaring]
** [http://www.ggg.de.vu/ Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft]
** [http://www.nornirsaett.de/ Nornirs Ætt]
** [http://www.vfgh.de/ Verein für germanisches Heidentum]
** [http://www.hetrad.nl/ Het Rad]
** [http://odinist.nl/ Odinic Rite Netherlands]
** [http://www.hagal.be/ Werkgroep Hagal]
** [http://www.traditie.be/ Asatrú-Werkgroep Traditie]
Latin Europe& Latin America
** [http://www.asatru-argentina.com.ar/ Hermandad Asatru Folkvang Argentina]
** [http://www.runestone.com.ar/ Asatru Folk Assembly - Sitio Oficial en Español]
** [http://geocities.com/tribudeheimdallr/ Tribu de Heimdallr / Heimdallr's Tribe]
** [http://www.fornsed-brasil.org/ Asatru Vanatru Forn Sed Brasil]
** [http://www.forn-sidr-france.org/ Forn Sidr France]
** [http://www.lesfilsdodin.com/accueil.htm Les Fils d'Odin]
** [http://www.comunitaodinista.org/ Comunità Odinista]
** [http://fornsed.es/ Gotland Forn Sed - Ásatrú Vikingo]
** [http://www.odinismo.com/ Circulo Odinista Europeo]
** [http://www.asatru.es/ Comunidad Odinista de España-Asatru]
* Czech Republic
** [http://www.asatru.cz/ Heathen Hearts society]
** [http://www.asatru.ru/index1.htm The Mysteries of the North] ----
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