What is Asatru?
Long before Christianity came to northern Europe, the people there – our ancestors – had their own religions. One of these was Asatru. It was practiced in the lands that are today Scandinavia, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and other countries as well. Asatru is the original, or native, religion for the peoples who lived in these regions. Simply put, you might think of it as ”the religion of the Vikings” since they were its main followers in the years just before our ancestors were forced to adopt Christianity.
What does the word ”Asatru” mean?
It means, roughly, “belief in the Gods” in Old Norse, the language of ancient Scandinavia in which so much of our source material was written. Asatru is the name by which the Norsemen called their religion.
What are the basic tenets or beliefs of Asatru?
We believe in an underlying, all-pervading divine energy or essence which is generally hidden from us, and which is beyond our immediate understanding. We further believe that this spiritual reality is interdependent with us – that we affect it, and it affects us.
We believe that this underlying divinity expresses itself to us in the forms of the Gods and Goddesses. Stories about these deities are like a sort of code, the mysterious ”language” through which the divine reality speaks to us.
We believe in standards of behavior which are consistent with these spiritual truths and harmonious with our deepest being.
How does Asatru differ from other religions?
Asatru is unlike the better-known religions in many ways. Some of these are:
We are polytheistic. That is, we believe in a number of deities, including Goddesses as well as Gods. (We have a tongue-in-cheek saying that a religion without a Goddess is halfway to atheism!)
We do not accept the idea of ”original sin,” the notion that we are tainted from birth and intrinsically bad, as does Christianity. Thus, we do not need ”saving.”
We do not claim to be a universal religion, a faith for all of humankind. In fact, we don’t think such a thing is possible or desirable. The different branches of humanity have different ways of looking at the world, each of which is valid for them. It is only right that they have different religions…..
Asatru is also called Odinism:
- Asatru (pronounced AS-a-tru or OW-sa-tru) is a word which means ”those true to the Gods” in Icelandic. It is one of the words used to label the pre-Christian, native religion of Scandinavia and the Germanic countries. Another term used for these beliefs is ”Odinism,” and it will be used throughout this document as meaning the same as Asatru. (Source: A Brief History of Asatru, or Odinism)
That quote is part of an article titled, Asatru/Odinism: A Briefing for Law Enforcement Officials. It was written in large part in response to the inclusion of Odinism in the FBI’s Project Megiddo report:
Finally, Odinism is another white supremacist ideology that lends itself to violence and has the potential to inspire its followers to violence in connection to the millennium. What makes Odinists dangerous is the fact that many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause. For example, Bob Mathews, the leader of The Order, died in a fiery confrontation with law enforcement. Also, William King relished the fact that he would receive the death penalty for his act of dragging James Byrd, Jr. to his death. Odinism has little to do with Christian Identity but there is one key similarity: Odinism provides dualism — as does Christian Identity — with regard to the universe being made up of worlds of light (white people) and worlds of dark (non-white people). The most fundamental difference between the two ideologies is that Odinists do not believe in Jesus Christ. However, there are enough similarities between the myths and legends of Odinism and the beliefs of Christian Identity to make a smooth transition from Christian Identity to Odinism for those racist individuals whose penchant for violence is not being satisfied. (Source: White Supremacy, Project Megiddo)…..