What is Ásatrú?

VA emb-55 Hammer of Thor_2

Thor’s Hammer is commonly worn as a symbol of faith.

Ásatrú is the most common modern name for the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic world and its modern day revival and reconstruction. It translates into English as “Faith in the Gods.” You may have heard of Odin, Thor, Tyr, Frey, Frigg, or Freyja. These are just a few of the gods and goddesses worshipped in Ásatrú today. Ásatrú is a polytheistic religion that believes in many gods and goddess but it also venerates and worships our ancestors and the spirits of the natural world called landvættir. Today, Ásatrú is a vibrant and growing faith that seeks to reunite people with the Gods of the North through revival and reconstruction of the cultural practices and beliefs of our ancestors.

Ásatrú is not an organized religion with a central ecclesiastical organization. It is a folk religion, the beliefs and customs of the peoples of the North. There is no single authority that defines what is or isn’t part of our religion and the practice of Ásatrú varies from person to person and from place to place. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain common beliefs and practices that unite and define us. On the contrary, being a religious movement based on the indigenous customs and practices of the different tribes of the North, there is a great deal of scholarship that has gone into analyzing source material to give us an understanding of the religious practices, beliefs, and customs of our ancestors as they were practiced before the Northern tribes were converted to Christianity. Today, Ásatrú is bringing these ancient practices and beliefs forward in time and rebuilding the various folkways of our ancestors and reuniting people with the Old Custom.

There are as many different ways to practice Ásatrú as there are Ásatrúar. Much of the material we have today that we use in reviving our religion comes from Scandinavia, but not all of it. The Norse tribes were not the only people to know our Gods. The peoples of Anglo-Saxon England, as well as the inhabitants of the continental European areas where the Germanic tribes settled, also had an intimate relationship with the Gods. Because there is such a broad territory where our ancestors lived, and centuries of time through which they lived, there is a great deal of diversity in Ásatrú today. Some people focus solely on one cultural or tribal group while others look to the entirety of our cultural and historical heritage to develop their own practices and way of worship.