by Edred Wodanson
Ásatrú or Odinism is the ancient pre-Christian religion of Iceland, and Scandinavia. It was also practiced in one form or another, and under various names, throughout Europe, and even into Russia. Simply speaking, Ásatrú is an Ancestral religion with a wide pantheon of ancient gods and goddesses.
Ásatrú is often called the religion of the ancient Vikings, however, while this is true, Ásatrú/Odinism has an organized history of about 8,000 years (confirmed by archeological findings). Its beginnings go far back into pre-history with evidence dating to 42,000 years ago, while the Vikings only lasted about 500 years.
Ásatrú is an Earth religion, and we view this Planet as our sacred Mother (Frigga). Odin is our Father (the Sky) and the union between Mother and Father produces life on this Planet, i.e. us. We are their offspring. There are Nine Worlds, this being one of them (Midgard), with most of the gods and goddesses residing in the uppermost world, Asgard (home of the gods). There are also the Alfar (the Holy Elves - friends of mankind), the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves or Dwarves - sometimes friendly, sometimes not), and the Thurs (Giants - usually enemies of the gods and man).
Many are unaware, but the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, etc.) were taken from, and based on, our ancient religion (with many liberties taken). While we do not have a Holy Book, we look upon the ancient manuscript known as the Codex Regius, as being the words and stories of our gods, and ancient pre-Christian Ancestors. This marvelous book is available today under the common name: the Poetic Edda.
Ásatrú means to be true to the Ancient Gods and Goddesses of Northern Europe. Ásatrú is the Ancestral Religion of the indigenous people who have continuously occupied the Northern areas of Europe for thousands of years, i.e. the English, Germans, Scandinavians, French, etc., and today, their descendants . Ásatrú is one of the oldest pre-Christian religions that is still in practice today. Just as the ancient religion of "Shinto" is the official state religion of Japan, so is Ásatrú one of the two official state religions of the country of Iceland. Fully recognized and supported by the Icelandic Government.
Ásatrú / Odinism is an ancient, Ancestral, pre-Christian religion that originated in the Northern, Eastern and Western parts of Europe thousands of years ago. It was "officially" eliminated about 800 years ago by the "Church," when the King of Sweden, who had been the last official hold-out, finally converted to Christianity. At that point (1,200 years after the appearance of Jesus) the whole of Europe finally became "Christianized," (officially politically).
It should be noted that thousands continued to practice the "old Ancestral religion" for many centuries, right up to the present time. However, most practitioners were forced "underground," pretending to be Christians so as to preserve their lives. Those who were unsuccessful at concealing their so-called "Heathen" practices, were commonly assassinated by the Church— their possessions and land confiscated.
In the late 1940's and early 1950's, most countries in the Western world repealed the laws, enacted by the Church, that made the practice of pre-Christian, or "Pagan" religions illegal. Since that time there has been an ever increasing number of those who profess the old ways, the "organic" or natural ways of Ancestral religion.
There are many so-called religions today that fall under the heading of "Neo-Paganism." However, Ásatrú / Odinism and its members should not be included within this grouping. Unlike the Neo-Pagans who have blended several different spiritual disciplines together to suit their personal needs, desires, and agendas, the practitioners of Ásatrú strive for an accurate, updated version of their Ancestral religion specifically Ásatrú or Odinism. They have not blended the teachings of other religions into Ásatrú, but rather have striven, through study, investigation and meditation, to reestablish a faithful version of one of the world's oldest Ancestral religions.
Today Ásatrú / Odinism has been revived to become one of the "fastest growing religions in North America and Europe" amongst the descendants of the ancient Europeans. Tens of thousands have rediscovered their Ancestral religion and reclaimed their ancient birthright. This is not some passing "new age" fad - its present incarnation has its beginnings in the late part of the nineteenth century with the writings of Viktor Rydberg, A. Rud Mills, and others. It has continued to the present day with an ever increasing momentum. With its current growth it can only move strongly into the future.
SO WHAT DO ASATRUAR / ODINISTS BELIEVE?
First and most importantly, we believe
that religion is natural, and Ancestral. We believe that all genuine religion comes out of the ancient, pre-history of a particular people or race. In other words, true religion is totally dependant on the historical origins of its followers. We believe that a religion cannot be arbitrarily founded by one person, no matter who they claim to be. True religion must come out of the ancient, natural, indigenous past of its people. Genuine religion has no founder that is the simple truth of it. At the same time we respect the rights of individuals to pursue whatever spiritual interests or religious teachings they may choose to adopt, as personal freedom is very important to us.
Some examples of what we consider to be genuine Ancestral, or natural religions are: The various Native North American Tribal Religions that existed in Vinland before the arrival of the Europeans. "Shinto" - The ancient, pre-Buddhist, Ancestral religion of the Japanese people. "Judaism" - the religion of the Jewish race, an ancient religion that evolved out of their pre-historical past. The "Bon" - an ancient Ancestral religion that rises out of the pre-Buddhist past of Tibet. "Voodoo" - One of the ancient, pre-Christian religions of Africa.
In the same way, Ásatrú / Odinism (or one of its many variations), is the ancient, Ancestral, pre-Christian religion of the White race that grew out of Northern, Eastern and Western Europe.
Asatrúar and Odinists generally believe that . . .
1. Strength is better than weakness - tempered with kindness.
2. Courage is better than cowardice - tempered with wisdom.
3. Sensuality is better than guilt - tempered with common sense.
4. Honor is better than dishonor - tempered with resolve.
5. Freedom is better than slavery - tempered with accountability.
6. Tribalism is better than isolation - tempered with respect.
7. Sacrifice is better than avarice - tempered with survival.
8. Activity is better than sloth - tempered with finesse.
9. Lineage is better than "universalism" - tempered with patience.
We are also aware of a wide pantheon of gods and goddesses. Briefly speaking, some of these deities are: Odin - AllFather of the gods; Frigga - AllMother of the gods; Freya - goddess of sensuality; Frey - god of the Feast; Tyr - god of Battle and Justice; Thor - god of Defense; Njord - god of the Sea. There are many other gods and goddesses not covered in this introduction.
Religion is "Ancestral" by its very nature. We are descended from an ancient pantheon of gods and goddesses. These beings interact on many levels with their descendants.
Personal freedom, within the Tribal environment, is of the highest importance. Enslavement of any kind, for any reason, is unacceptable.
We are an integral part of Nature. This sacred Earth is our Mother. The sky, our Father. The interaction of the two has given life to this planet.
We must look to the past if we are to secure the future. Our ancient Ancestors and gods are waiting to teach us what we need to know to live successfully on this planet.
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