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Library - Theology - Ásatrú (or Asatro; a.k.a., Heathenry)

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Ásatrú (a word meaning "believe in deities" in the Old Norse language, for "asa" refers to Germanic deities and "tru" means "faith") is an ancient polytheistic religion that is believed to have originated at least as early as c. 38,000 BCE, although as an organized religion it more likely began in c. 6,250 BCE.  As a prominent facet of some Norse cultures (including the Vikings), it was practiced throughout regions that now encompass many European countries including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandanavia, etc.

The Vikings, in particular, were no more violent than the other peoples of their times -- the descriptions of Viking raids and invasions were primarily written by their enemies, who were hardly unbiased.  Both the Islamic and Christian cultures used means every bit as bloody, if not more so, than the Norsemen, and it was a very rough period in history for all concerned.

Deities:   Supernatural agents:   Beliefs:   Traditions:
  • Thor, god of thunder and son of Odin
  • Odin, god of war, Frigg's husband
  • Frey (a.k.a., Freyr), god of verility and prosperity
  • Freya (a.k.a., Freyja), goddess of love and beauty
  • Frigg, goddess of motherhood and Queen of Æsir, in
  • Skadi (a goddess)
  • Ostara (a goddess)
  • Aegir
  • Balder (a.k.a., Baldr), and son of Odin and Frigg
  • Bragi
  • Forseti
  • Heimdall
  • Hel
  • Loki
  • Njord
  • Ran
  • Týr (a.k.a., Tyr), god of law and associated with heroic glory
  • Ull
  • Vithar
  • Æsir (lesser gods of clans)
  • Vanir (lesser gods of fertility of earth, forces of nature)
  • Jótnar (lesser god giants of chaos and destruction who are at war with Æsir)
  • Landvaettir (land spirits)
  • Ratatosk (red squirrel protector and inhabitant of the great tree Yggdrasil who is a messenger of news and gossip, and keeps the Eagle above and Dragon below, who are at war, from destroying the tree)
  • The great tree Yggdrasil
  • Many different possible destinations after death
  • Humans are members of the animal kingdom, which is regarded as a noble heritage
  • Deities live within all people and animals
  • Ragnarök (the Twilight of the gods)
  • Blot (a blood-sacrifice to the gods)
  • Fainings (alcoholic sacrifices to the gods)
  • Sumbel (a round of drinking involving oaths and toasts)
  • Homebrewing of high-quality mead

Worship services are famous for the consumption of alcoholic beverages and liqour-filled deserts which often conclude as a successful faining.  This faining is regarded as an alcoholic sacrifice because it facilitates the unselfish act of sharing one's sober capabilites of rational coherence and physical coordination with the deities.  The side-effect of deities accepting a sacrifice of rational coherence and physical coordination is the worshipper's consequential lack therein, particularly with the more generous sacrifices resulting in longer durations of drunkeness.

There is no central authority or officiator who has a direct connection with the deities, no doctrine, and a limited set of tenets, for followers of Ásatrú generally believe that the deities live within all people and animals who are generally free to be themselves.

The influence of Norse Mythology seems to have had a significant impact on North American culture, and it is assumed by some that this includes the naming of four of the seven English week days -- Tuesday is Týr's Day, Wednesday is Odin's Day, Thursday is Thor's Day, and Friday is Freya's Day.

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