Most of us already know what Ásatrú means (“faithful to Gods”). As far as etymology is concerned, ‘Ása’ comes from ‘Æsir’ and ‘Trú’ from ‘faithful’. However, we will not focus on the etymological aspect, but on the spiritual and historical Ásatrú concept.
Ásatrú, and its derivative form ásatrúar, is the modern revival emerged halfway through the 19th century to name all the beliefs and myths that Scandinavian and Germanic people had until circa 12th century. The faith in Æsir and Vanir predominated in the area that we call nowadays ‘Scandinavia’, a Baltic and Germanic territory. At the same time, Slavic mythology comes from its neighbouring countries and thus, influenced each other. However, it is not the concerning suject today.
It is also called Norsk sed (Norse tradition), Forn sed (old tradition), Vor sed (our tradition), as well as Vanatrú, a controversial branch that has a particular point of view, mainly based on Gods and Goddesses called Vanir, like Njord, Jörd, Kvasir and Gullveig among others. There are other movements like Odinism/Wotanism and Theodism.
We believe in a blind divine energy or essence, which might at first seem far-fetched. It is a spiritual connection with our ancestors, Gods and Goddesses, with everything around us and ourselves. It consists on living harmonically with everything preceding us and having a moral commitment to transfer it onto our descendants. Ásatrú is an interdependent spiritual reality that concerns us and we concern it. The Gods and their attributes are also conceived as a embodiment of human values and natural forces.
Behaving as an Ásatrú and living by it allows us to be aware of the harmony that life offers, the balance and actions we bring from the past, affect us today and will affect us in the future, Wyrd itself. But accepting chaos at the same time as a part of the natural cycle of life
Ásatrú is not related to a given nationalist and/or rationalist concept as many may think. It is indeed a notion that silences Gods and Goddesses’ voice and rejects their will but allows us to live courageously and happily, communicate with our Gods in brotherhood, with no submission nor slavery. They are the ambivalent deities that join us in order to cope with the chaos of destructive forces. We are responsible for our own words and actions; the Gods do not help us or offer us everything we need immediately, we have to fend for ourselves and be guided by their omens and advices.
We observe nature as a temple, as a sacred being that we have to respect and honour. Ásatrú is a belief which world view is organised in as a whole and which spirituality source is found in Nature. The Gods represent nature in all its splendour, its movement, evolution and natural harmony. Besides, all feast days are related to the seasonal cycles in which we organise ceremonies (or blóts) honouring the Mother Earth and its attributes, as well as the Æsir, Vanir, ,Vættir, Landvættir, Dísar and Einherjer, our ancestors.
The most known books of Ásatrú are the Edda (Poetic Edda and Prose Edda) which display the the myths and some traditions of our faith, the world view of our ancestors, as well as our Gods’ great deeds and acts. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that Snorri Sturluson, who gathered the poems that afterwards would give birth to the Edda, was a Christian and some structures and scenes are remnants of Christianism. However, the Edda are neither sacred or prophetic texts that can be considered as an ‘Ásatrú Bible’, but poems and texts dealing principally with ancestral values and acts. It is a collection of oral tradition myths about Gods and northern heroes.
Many have written about Ásatrú and few know how to live it faithfully; some people call it “being a Viking”, but others think it is drinking beer or mead and wearing a Mjölnir, forgetting the spiritual side of Ásatrú.
We contacted Bjørn Bull-Hansen, a famous Norwegian writer and a follower of the Viking life, so as to ask him what he thinks of Ásatrú and his point of view:
Bjørn does not consider himself a follower nor an atheist. As far as he is concerned, our belief is our ancestors’ religion and pre-Christian faith did more for Norway than Christianism. Philosophically, Ásatrú is the best way to see ourselves and the world around us. As for our values, we never give up and we show gratitude for everything achieved with determination.
He observes Gods and Goddesses as powerful strengths and symbols. He identifies himself with Tyr, with whom he lived for years while writing The Tyr Trilogy, and with Thor, who had in mind during his childhood when he looked at electrical storms and lightning coming from Mjolnir. He enjoyed imagining Thor behind the clouds in a carriage pulled by many billy-goats.
Regarding the politicization of Ásatrú by European and American organizations, he believes that the use of ancestral symbols for political and personal purposes is unsuitable, as well as politics should not sully the Norse culture essence or its old tradition.
As you can see, Ásatrú is neither hate or racialism, it is not what Europe and America are unfortunately showing us. Our ancestors, our Gods, our spirit lives in a harmonic cycle with nature and with cycles of creation, destruction and changes that make us connect each other. Ásatrú is the veneration of the vital cycle: life and death.