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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.
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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