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Part 2 of 2 parts:

Asatru: Norse Heathenism

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Ásatrú beliefs (Continued):

bullet 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.
 
bulletÓd: 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.
 
bulletCreation Story: A poem Voluspa (Prophecy of the Seeress) contains an Ásatrú 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.
 
bullet 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, Fólkvangr. 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 sent to Niflhel where they are eaten by Nidhogg, a dragon. Those who die at sea are said to enter another hall.  Other deities have their own halls where people go after life on Earth. However, most Ásatrúar do not believe in the myths literally. Some believe in reincarnation along family lines. Still, others believe that the dead inhabit their graves.
 
bullet

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:

bulletTheir local religious communities are called Kindreds, Hearths, or Garths. Male priests are called Goði; priestesses are Gyðja.
 
bullet The Blót: (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.
 
bullet 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. She or he then drinks from the horn.
 
bullet Profession or Adoption: This is the act of making a commitment to Ásatrú to the exclusion of other faiths, by solemnly giving an oath of allegiance and kinship to the Gods of Asgard, the Æsir and Vanir. It is a simple ceremony usually done in the presence of a Goði or Gyðja and the rest of the Kindred, Hearth, or Garth. It is taken on an oath ring or some other sacred object. Some followers of Ásatrú believe that only those with Norse ancestry should be eligible to join.

bullet

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 newborn child. ..."
2,3

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Other rituals: Many followers create rituals for various events in one's life, such as:

  • A naming ritual for newborn.
  • Puberty ritual
  • Marriage
  • Ritual to occupy a home
  • Funeral ritual.

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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 of the annual celebrations. Many Norse symbols have been adsorbed into the celebration of Christmas by Christians: including evergreen trees, Yule logs, holly, etc.

In addition, many kindred or even individual follower may celebrate:

bulletSummer Finding, at the spring equinox, typically March 21. This is dedicated to Ostara.

bulletWinter Finding, at the fall equinox, typically September 21

bulletMidsummer, at the summer solstice, typically June 21.

Some also celebrate days between the solstices and equinoxes. Various traditions within Ásatrú observe them on different dates:

bullet The Charming of the Plow on February 1st weekend, a celebration of Freya and the Disir.

bulletMerry-Moon on May 1st weekend, celebration of spring dedicated to Njord and Nerthus.

bullet Harvest or Freyfaxi on August 1st weekend, the first harvest and a celebration of Frey and his horse.

bullet Fogmoon and Feast of Einherjar on November 11, a celebration of war-dead and of warriors who will be involved in Ragnarok in the future. This coincides with the secular observances of Armistice and Veterans Day.

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.

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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. Öld Norse Names," The Viking Answer Lady, 2015-FEB-06, at: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/

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Other information sources:

  1. "Assembly of the Elder Troth," at: http://www.aetaustralia.org/ http://www.aetaustralia.org/
  2. For a list of Ásatrú 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 Ásatrú group in North America, maintains a home page at: http://www.thetroth.org  They list Ásatrú events, have an on-line membership application form, and describe a new Ásatrú 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. See  http://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 Ásatrú 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 Ásatrú groups are found throughout Scandinavia.

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Three books on Ásatrú that have been highly rated by Amazon.com customers:

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Copyright © 1997 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2017-MAY-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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