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World religions

Part 1 of 2 parts:
Asatru: Norse Heathenism

Spelling:
There are a number of options for the spelling of the name of this religion. We have been informed that "Asatro" is the
correct Swedish spelling. It is:
"... a combination of the words 'Asa', refering to the Asa-gods och Asarna (The Asa) ... and the word 'Tro', simply meaning
'belief'. Thus, it means something in the lines of "Belief in the Asa-gods".
On the other hand, satru and Asatru are more popular on the Internet than Asatro by a factor of 12. If we used the latter,
people using a search engine to find our essay would not be able to locate it. So we will use "satru" and "Asatru."
History of the religion:
satr is frequently regarded as one of the Neopagan family of religions. That family includes Wicca, Celtic Druidism, an
re-creations of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other ancient Pagan religions. However, many satrar prefer the term
"Heathen" or "Pagan" rather than "Neopagan;" they look upon their tradition as "not just a branch on the Neopagan tree"
but as a separate tree.Unlike Wicca, which has gradually evolved into many different traditions, the reconstruction of
satr has been based on the surviving historical record. Its followers have maintained it as closely as possible to the
original religion of the Norse people.
Asatru or 'satr' is an Icelandic word which is a translation of the Danish word "Asetro."Asetro was "first seen in 1885 in
an article in the periodical "Fjallkonan". The next recorded instance was in "Hei'inn si'ur ' 'slandi" ("Heathen traditions in
Iceland.") by 'lafur Briem (Reykjav'k, 1945)." It means "belief in the ?i>sir," the Gods. "satr" is a combination of "Asa"
which is the possessive case of the word 'sir (sir) and "Tru" which means belief or religion.
Throughout Scandinavia the religion is called Forn Si'r (which means the Ancient way or tradition), Forn sed (the Old
custom), Nordisk sed (Nordic custom), or Hedensk sed (Pagan custom). Other names are:
Norse Heathenism, Germanic Heathenism, the Elder Troth, the Old Way, Asetro, Vor Si r (our way), Forn Si r (Ancient
way), Forn sed (the old custom), Nordisk sed (Nordic custom), or Hedensk sed (Pagan custom), Odinism or Folkish 'satr'.
The religion's origin is lost in antiquity. At its peak, it covered all of Northern Europe. These countries gradually converted
to Christianity.
In 1000 CE, Iceland became the second last Norse culture to convert. Their prime motivation was economic.
Sweden was ruled by a Pagan king until 1085 CE.
During 1387, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the last Pagan nation in Europe to convert.
Icelandic poet Goi Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson promoted government recognition of Asatru as a legitimate religion; this
status was granted in 1972. Since the early 1970's, the religion has been in a period of rapid growth in the former Norse
countries, as well as in Europe and North America.
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Corruption of satr:
It is not unknown for otherwise decent religions to become corrupted by incorporating racist, sexist, anti-semitic, and
homophobic beliefs. For example:
The Christian Identity movement within Protestantism is one part of the extreme right wing of the Christian religion
which has adsorbed such beliefs.
During the early part of the 20th Century, The National Socialist Party in Germany under Adolf Hitler attempted to
pervert satr by grafting parts of the religion onto the Nazi racist beliefs. This blasphemy died at the end of World Wa
II. However, some neo-Nazi groups -- largely in the U.S. -- are now attempting to continue the practice.
This type of activity is in no way related to the restoration of satr as a legitimate Heathen religion. There is a very strong
anti-racist, anti-Nazi stance among national Asatru groups in the Scandinavian countries. This is also found in almost all
satr groups in English speaking countries. They typically have a clear rejection of racism written into their constitutions
Unfortunately, some anti-racism groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (in
its Megiddo report) have mistakenly accused the entire religion of racism.
Many people are exposed to the name "satr" through role playing games, such as Mage: The Ascension. Unfortunately,
the satr of these games bear little resemblance to the actual religion.
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satr beliefs:
satr is a polytheistic religion. There are three races of Deities in the Norse pantheon. They are all regarded as living
entities who are involved in human life:
The sir: These are the Gods of the tribe or clan, representing Kingship, order, craft, etc.
The Vanir: These represent the fertility of the earth and forces of nature. They are associated with the clan but are not
part of it.
The Jtnar: These are giants who are in a constant state of war with the sir. They represent chaos and destruction.
At the upcoming battle of Ragnarok, many of the sir are expected to die. The world will come to an end and then be
reborn.

Specific Gods: Some of the more important are:
Thor is the Thunderer, who wields Mjlnir, the divine Hammer. His chariot racing across the sky generates thunder.
Thursday (Thor's Day) was named after him.
Odin is the one-eyed God; he gave up one of his eyes in order to drink from the Fountain of Knowledge (some source
say Fountain of Wisdom). He is a magician. He learned the secrets of the runes (Northern European alphabet) by
hanging himself on the tree Yggdrasil for nine nights.
Frey (a.k.a. Freyr) is the God of fertility, the weather and farming. He was born on the Winter Solstice, approximately
December 21. His father was Njord.

Specific Goddesses: Some important ones are:
Freya (aka Freyja) is the Goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, and perhaps a dozen other attributes. She leads the
Valkyries who take the souls of some slain soldiers to Valhalla (Odin's great hall).

Frigg is Odin's wife. Her name has been secularized to a slang term which refers to sexual intercourse.According to
the Encyclopedia Mythica:"
"Frigg is one of theforemost goddesses of Norse mythology. She is the patron of marriage and motherhood, and the
goddess of love and fertility. She has a reputation of knowing every person's destiny, but never unveiling it....In some
myths she was rumored to have had love affairs with Odin's brothers Ve and Vili."
The name of the sixth day of the week, Friday, came from Frigg.

Skadi is the Goddess of independence, death, hunting and skiing. Scandinavia may have been named after her.
Ostara, is a Goddess of fertility who is celebrated at the time of the Spring equinox. She was known by the Saxons as
Eostre, the Goddess of Spring, from whom we have derived the word Easter. Ostara's symbols are the hare and the
egg.

Other Entities Other Deities are Aegir, Balder, Bragi, Forseti, Heimdall, Hel, Loki, Njord, Ran, Tyr, Ull and Vithar.
Followers of satr also honor the Landvaettir (land spirits) of the forest, earth and streams.

Life Values: Asatruars in North America have created a list of Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity,
Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance and Perseverance. The family is greatly valued and honored. The
reject any form of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, language, nationality, race, sexual orientation, or "other
divisive criteria".

World religions
Part 2 of 2 parts:
Asatru: Norse Heathenism

This topic is continued from the previous essay


satr beliefs (Continued):
Origins: Humanity is literally descended from the Gods. Three brothers, Odin, Vili, and Ve created
people from two trees and gave them the names Ask and Embla. Another deity, Rig visited the earth
and established the social classes.

d: This is the gift of ecstasy provided to humans by the Gods. It is what separates humanity from
other animals, and is our eternal link with the Gods.

Creation Story: A poem Voluspa (Prophecy of the Seeress) contains an satr story of the creation of
the universe. Between Muspelheim (The Land of Fire) and Niflheim the Land of Ice was an empty
space called Ginnungigap. The fire and ice moved towards each other; when they collided, the
universe came into being. Odin, Vili and Ve later created the world from the body of a giant that they
had slain.

After death: Unlike many other religions that have Heaven or Hell as a final destination after death,
Norse myths indicate that there are many possible locations. Half of the heroic, battle-slain warriors go
to Freyja's field, Flkvangr. She is said to get first pick. Helheim is the neutral realm where most
people go upon death. Helheim is ruled by the goddess, Hel (or Hela). Oathbreakers and other
dishonorable people are eaten by Niddhog, a dragon. Those who die at sea are said to enter another
hall.However, most satrar do not believe in the myths literally. Some believe in reincarnation along
family lines. Still, others believe that the dead inhabit their graves.

The end of the world: Ragnar'k (a.k.a. Ragnar'kkr, Ragnar'k, Ragnarok; literally the fate of the Gods) is
the anticipated apocalypse. It involves a great battle between the Gods and the J'tnar -- a race of giants
with superhuman strength. Unlike Revelation in the Christian Scriptures, prophecies of Ragnar'k are
very specific: the events leading up to the battle, the timing of the battle, who will kill whom, etc. are
all believed to be known. Wolves will eat the sun and moon. The stars will stop shining. Mountains
will fall; trees will be uprooted.
"Fumes will reek and flames will burst, scorching the sky with fire. The earth will sink into the sea."
Most of the Gods will die. Only one human woman and one man, Lifthrasir and Lif, will survive. Their
offspring will eventually repopulate the world through incestuous relationships, and live in peace. 1
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Asatru rituals and practices:
Their local religious communities are called Kindreds, Hearths, or Garths. Male priests are called
Goi; priestesses are Gyja.

The Blt: (pronounced "bloat" or "boat;" sources differ) This is their most common religious ritual. It
is a sacrifice to the Gods. In olden days, as with almost all ancient religions, an animal was consecrated
to the deities and then slaughtered. This was not seen as a bribe or as a method of capturing the power
of the dying animal. It is simply the way in which the ancient Norse shared their bounty with a gift to
the Gods. Currently, the animal sacrifice has been replaced by the offer of beer, juice or mead.
Afterwards, those present are either sprinkled with the liquid, or drink it in sequence.

The Symbel: This is a ritual drinking celebration, in which a horn filled with a drink is passed around
the group. Each person delivers a greeting; a toast to the Gods, ancient heroes, or one's ancestors; or a
story, song or poem. He or she then drinks from the horn.

Profession or Adoption: This is the act of making a commitment to satr to the exclusion of other
faiths, by solemnly giving an oath of allegiance and kinship to the Gods of Asgard, the sir and
Vanir. It is a simple ceremony usually done in the presence of a Goi or Gyja and the rest of the
Kindred, Hearth or Garth. It is taken on an oath ring or some other sacred object. Some followers of
satr believe that only those with Norse ancestry should be eligible to join.
Selection of names for children: From Yahoo! Answers'"Best Answer:"
"In general, parents named their children after a deceased relative or hero. In some way the child was
believed to inherit with the name the gifts or personality of their namesake. ..."

"It was very common to give children the names of honored relatives, for the Northmen believed that
children would partake of the virtues of the ones whose names they bore. Relatives recently dead, in
particular, were thus remembered by their kindred, a custom resulting from a half belief that the spirit
of the beloved dead lived again in the little child. ..."

The religious basis of the practice was that a departed ancestor is reborn and again rejoins the living
members of the family if his/her name is given to the new-born child. ..." 2,3
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Seasonal days of celebration
Their main holy day is Yule, which starts on the winter solstice (typically December 21) on the Mother
Night of Yule. This is the day with the shortest daytime and longest nighttime of the year. The celebration
lasts for 12 days or more. This is the most important day of the year. Many Norse symbols have been
adsorbed into the celebration of Christmas by Christians: evergreen trees, Yule logs, holly, etc.
In addition, many kindred or even individual follower may celebrate:
Summer Finding, at the spring equinox, typically March 21. This is dedicated to Ostara.
Winter Finding, at the fall equinox, typically September 21
Midsummer, at the summer solstice, typically June 21.
Some also celebrate days between the solstices and equinoxes. Various traditions within satr observe
them on different dates:
The Charming of the Plow on February 1st weekend, a celebration of Freya and the Disir.
Merry-Moon on May 1st weekend, celebration of spring dedicated to Njord and Nerthus.
Harvest or Freyfaxi on August 1st weekend, the first harvest and celebration of Frey and his horse
Fogmoon on November 1st weekend, a celebration of war-dead and Ragnarok Dedicated to Odin and
Freya.
Many followers of satr in North America observe Einherjar, held annually on November 11. Thisi
coincides with Armistice or Veterans Day. It honors those who have been killed in battle and have joined
Odin's warriors in Valhall. Some groups hold a feast on the 9th of each month to honor Norse heroes.
Other groups hold rituals at full moons. Additional days are celebrated at other times during the year by
different traditions.

References and further information:


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are
not necessarily still active today.
1. "Ragnar'k," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
2. "Asatru Baby Names?," Yahoo! Answers, at: https://answers.yahoo.com/
3. ld Norse Names," The Viking Answer Lady, 2015-FEB-06, at:
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/
Other information sources:
1. "Assembly of the Elder Troth," at: http://www.aetaustralia.org/ http://www.aetaustralia.org/
2. For a list of satr home pages, consult Yahoo at: http://dir.yahoo.com/
3. The Irminsul 'ttir Asatru Page has an enormous amount of information online at:
http://www.irminsul.org/ Included is a brief description of Asatru, news, a world-wide contact
map, sources of material, etc. A very inclusive site.
4. The Troth, which is perhaps the largest satr group in North America, maintains a home page
at: http://www.thetroth.orgThey list satr events, have an on-line membership application
form, and describe a new satr boy scout troop in Utah!
5. Jordsvin's Norse Heathen website contains extensive information and many links on "Norse
Religion, Rune work, Seidhr (Norse 'shamanism,' very roughly speaking...), and much more!"
See:http://home.earthlink.net/
6. Raven Online is the home page of the Raven Kindred Association. They publish a periodical
Asatru Today. Subscription is $17.50 per year. They also publish the book Ravenbok. Much of
the above information was taken from this site. Seehttp://www.ravenkindred.com/
7. The Asatru Alliance of Independent Kindrids is a free association of local groups, called
"kindreds". They publish a magazine Vor Tru and have a FAQ section, many articles and links to
other Asatru groups. See: http://www.asatru.org
8. Dr. Jenny Blain from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax NS Canada has made available
anthropological papers on Asatru. They can be downloaded at: http://www.geocities.com/
9. There are satr groups in Ottawa, Canada; Uppsala, Sweden; and in at least the following states
of the US: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, MI, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH,
OK, OR, PA, VA, WA and WI. See the Kindred List at http://ravenkindred.com for addresses.
Other satr groups are found throughout Scandinavia.
10. Three books on satr that have been highly rated by Amazon.com customers are:

o Kveldulfr Gundarsson, "Teutonic Religion," Llewellyn Publications


(1993). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

o Patricia M. Lafayllve, "A Practical Heathen's Guide to Asatru," Llewellyn


Publications (2013). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online
book store
o Diana L. Paxson, "Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse
Paganism," Citadel (2006). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com
online book store
Copyright 1997 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-FEB-08
Author: B.A. Robinson