Ásatrú-U Beginner's Course, Spring 2001 Edition

     Welcome! This self-study program is designed for people who have a strong interest in Asatru and want to learn about the gods, rituals, and central ideas of Heathen religion. We expect that most people will take between three and six months to complete the entire course. When you have finished, you should have a good basic knowledge of:

-the gods and goddesses of Asatru
-other beings we honor (e.g., land-spirits)
-the main rituals of Asatru (blót and sumbel)
-the concept of Wyrd ("fate")
-Heathen ideas about the soul and afterlife
-the modern Heathen community - its ideals, organizations, and differences
-types of magic practiced by some Asatruar

     We hope that this course will equip you to dig deeper into areas that draw you as you continue learning about Heathenism. As you go through the course, one thing that will quickly become apparent is that there is no one "right way" to practice Asatru. In selecting the readings and links for the course, we have aimed to give you some sense of the diversity of ideas and practice within Heathen religion. Ultimately, it is up to you to make your own decisions about what Asatru means to you and how you will practice it. We hope that this course will prove useful to you, and we wish you well on your learning journey!

--The Asatru-U Committee


Copyright © 2001, Frigga's Web Association, http://www.friggasweb.org.  All rights reserved.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Course Topics
    A. What is Ásatrú? (Plus glossaries and pronunciation information.)
    B. Wyrd and Orlog
    C. Gods and Other Etins
    D. Wights
    E. The Blót
    F. Death and the Afterlife
    G. Community 1:  Code and Culture
    H. Community 2:  Building and Maintaining Relationships
    I. Community 3:  The Sumbel
    J. Community 4:  Magics of Ásatrú
    K. Chronology of the Heathen World
2. Suggested Reading
3. Organizations
4. Links to Heathen Discussion Groups
5. Other Ásatrú Links


1. COURSE TOPICS

A.  What is Ásatrú?

     The following online documents present a variety of basic descriptions of the Heathen religion. The first seven documents are general overviews of Asatru and are fairly short. The next two go into greater detail about Asatru/Heathen belief. The ninth article is on finding an appropriate Heathen group to join, should you decide to do so. Following that is an article on the difference between Wicca and Asatru which may be relevant to you. Finally, as a general reference throughout your studies, two glossaries of Heathen terms may be found at the end of this section.

     In case you have never heard the word pronounced, you may find it helpful to know that in modern Icelandic, Ásatrú is pronounced "AW sa tru" ("AW" as in "cow") with the accent on the first syllable. However, in English other pronunciations are also used. For example, many prefer the reconstructed Old Norse pronunciation, which would be "AH sa tru."

An Asatru FAQ: What is Asatru, and Do I have To . . . To be Asatru?
by Ingeborg S. Nordén
http://www.erichshall.com/asanew/ingfaq.htm
     This article contains short answers to common beginner's questions. It provides a helpful, quick overview and is a good place to start.

Asa-Who? (A Brief Introduction to the Asatru Religion)
by Ann Gróa Sheffield
http://www.medoburg.org/about/asawho.asp
     This article is more scholarly than Nordén's article above. It discusses the faith of Northern Europe and provides a list of Nordic gods. Forms of worship and values are also covered.

Life With the Gods: The Goal of the Way
by Kveldulf Gundarsson
http://kadlinw.tripod.com/lifewithgods.htm
     This article is the first chapter from Gundarsson's now out-of-print book, Teutonic Religion: Folk Beliefs & Practices of the Northern Tradition. Some of the author's ideas have changed since the book was published in 1993, but the first chapter still makes a good introduction to Asatru as a religion.

Raven On-line, Introduction to Asatru
http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/IntroAsatru.html
     A clear and compact explanation. Explains the Nine Noble Virtues which are followed by some Asatruar.

Basics of Asatru
by Erich Campbell
http://www.erichshall.com/whatis.htm
     This is a very short but pithy article. Of particular interest is a calendar of major religious holidays, known as "blóts," as celebrated by the author's group.

ÁSATRÚ (Frigga's Web Association)
http://www.reeves-hall.org/chaplain_asatru.htm
     Also known as the Frigga's Web FAQ, this document was prepared by Frigga's Web and is included in the Military Pagan Network's companion to the Army Chaplains' world religion handbook. It is necessarily brief and provides a very generalized, broad treatment of the material.

Four Bedposts of Asatru
by Dirk Mahling
http://www.reeves-hall.org/bedposts.htm
     This is a concise explanation of what many Asatruar, including those from "non-Viking" traditions, believe.

Call Us Heathen
by Arlea Anschütz and Steven Hunt
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/callusheathen.html
     This longer article argues that Asatruar should be referred to as "Heathens" and sets out several good reasons for doing so. While making their point, the authors incidentally provide a helpful overview of the different "factions" of Asatru.

How to Find a Heathen Group You Can Trust
by Arlea Anschütz
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/groups.html
     You are encouraged to read this article before attempting to contact an Asatru group, much less find one to ultimately join if that is your goal. It suggests the best way to approach a group, explains that there are ideological differences between some of the groups that fall under the "Asatru" umbrella, and gives advice on how to find a group that will suit you.

The Differences and Similarities with Wicca
by Arlie Stephens
http://ansuz.worldash.org/asatru/articles/intro/wicca_compar.html
     This article compares and contrasts Asatru and Wiccan ideologies. It may be of interest if you have previously been involved with Wicca, as there are differences which are more profound than some people realize.

Wordhoard: A Glossary of Heathen Belief
compiled by Winifred Hodge Rose with additions by Swain Wodening
http://www.ealdriht.org/glossary.html
See also,
Irminsul Aettir Glossary
compiled by Haukur Þorgeirsson
http://www.irminsul.org/arc/011ht.html
     As you work through the materials in this course, if you find some specialized terms that you don't know and can't find in your dictionary, these glossaries may be of help. The "Wordhoard" gives both Old Norse (ON) and Old English (OE) terms, as well as some modern terms, while the "Irminsul Aettir Glossary" confines itself primarily to Old Norse.

Note:     You may be unfamiliar with the characters eth (uppercase=Ð, lowercase=ð) and thorn (uppercase=Þ, lowercase=þ). Some authors of materials suggested by this course use them to spell words of Old Norse or Old English origin, the names of modern Icelanders, and Heathen "faith-names." Both characters are pronounced "th"; usually eth (ð) is the "voiced" version while thorn (þ) is the voiceless version. For example, if you were using these letters to write the words "other" and "thin" you would write them "oðer" and "þin". Various authors transliterate these characters in different ways: either may appear as "th", but eth also shows up as "d" or "dh". (Thus, Óðinn = Odin.)

B.  Wyrd and Orlog

     The concept of Wyrd formed a major part of our Heathen ancestors' world view and is fundamental to Asatru. It can be a complex concept to get your mind around, but the article at the end of this section does a good job of setting it forth.

Action:          After reading and thinking about the article below, identify nine people who have strongly influenced who you are today-- ancestors, friends, teachers, anyone who has fulfilled this role for you. Think about how they have helped to shape the person you have become and how you in turn influence other people in your life. Consider: are there other connections between the nine influential people besides their effect on you? Have they affected one another?

     When you have thought through the pattern of connections and influence from as many angles as you can discover, make a concrete representation of some kind of the web of connections. This might be a diagram, a picture, a model, an essay-- whatever works for you.

The ash [Yggdrasil] is of all trees the biggest and best. Its branches spread out over all the world and extend across the sky . . . . The third root of the ash extends to heaven, and beneath that root is a well which is very holy, called Weird's well.
               ---The Prose Edda, Anthony Faulkes translation, p. 17.

Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel! (Wyrd ever goes as it shall!)
               ---Beowulf, line 455.

What is Wyrd?
by Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/whatwyrd.html

C.  Gods and Other Etins

     The following documents list and describe the main Heathen deities. Notice that the spheres of influence of the gods overlap-- they cannot be described simply as "goddess of X, god of Y," and they do not come in matched pairs. Also understand that while some Heathens have a special relationship with one of the gods, a "patron," many others do not. Take note of which of the gods are "Æsir," which are "Vanir," and which are neither-- this will help you get a handle on their natures as you read the stories about them later on.

     After finishing this section, you should know something about the major goddesses and gods and at least some of the minor ones. You should also know at least some of the stories about them.

Action:     After reading these general materials, begin to read supplemental material on one or more of the deities that interest you. A suggested reading list is below in Part 6 of this outline. Most people will find that The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland is the best place to start. As Arlea Anschütz admonishes in an article later in this course, don't skip the endnotes!

Hail to you, gods!  Ye goddesses, hail!
Hail to the holy throng!

               ---The Prose Edda, Lokasenna; Bellows translation.

Gods and Goddesses of the Troth
http://www.thetroth.org/ourfaith/gods.html
     An extensive list of the Norse gods, that includes alternative spellings of their names in Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon, etc. In some cases, the meanings of their names are also given. The list includes attributes of the various gods and in some cases provides short reminders of stories connected with them.

List of Norse Beings
by Nicole Cherry
http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~cherryne/list.html
     This list is shorter than the one above. However, it has much longer summaries of stories associated with the gods that it does include. It also discusses which names are probably alternative names for other gods, and even identifies one god, Sataere, that some modern scholars argue is not in fact a Norse god at all. (The page includes a link to an updated page with a prettier design, but the content of the original is preferred.)

Gods of the Ealdriht
by Swain Wodening
http://www.ealdriht.org/gods.html
     List of holy beings from the Ealdriht (Anglo-Saxon) perspective. This list differs from lists of "Norse Beings" in that there are some omissions, such as Balder, and some additions, such as Forseti. Many Heathens believe that the Anglo-Saxon and Norse deities are generally the same, differences in spelling and surviving lore notwithstanding.

Germanic Goddesses
by Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/goddesses/
     Information on thirty-four different goddesses with a javascript index. The creator of the page has taken the trouble to provide public domain images of the goddesses. This site is particularly valuable because the author has included lengthy quotations from primary sources (in translation) about many of the goddesses, plus "question and answer" pages for them. Unfortunately, the architecture of the page makes it difficult to print out for offline study, so plan to spend some time online reading it. Don't forget to read about the unfamiliar goddesses-- you may be surprised.

D.  Wights

     Unlike some pagan religions, Heathenry involves more than having a relationship to the gods. After reading the articles below, you should have some understanding of who the Idises, Elves, Dwarves, Land-Wights and Huldfolk are and what humankind's relationship to them is. In some cases, it is hard to distinguish them from gods.

     Kveldulf Gundarsson once wrote, with respect to the importance of cultivating a relationship with holy beings other than the gods, the following much-quoted passage:

I recently was published in IDUNNA [an Asatru magazine] as comparing a Heathen's period relationships with wights and such as thus: a Viking Age Scandinavian would go to the wights (di'sir, a'lfar, landwights) on a daily basis, as s/he would to a neighbor; to the god/desses occasionally, as to a chieftain (and much more often if the two were close friends); and to the greater beings (such as Earth) very rarely, as to a king or queen. This is a very class-oriented analogy, which may beg a lot of argument on specifics, but I think it makes my general point.
(Listserv posting to asatru-FORN_SED 11/15/1998.)

Matrons and Disir: The Heathen Tribal Mothers
by Winifred Hodge
http://www.friggasweb.org/matrons.html
     An extremely interesting and informative article on a topic that is seldom addressed in popular culture but is a highly significant part of Heathen belief. The Heathen tribal mothers were venerated by ancient Europeans for more than 500 years until the practice died out under the influence of Christianity.

Alfs, Dwarves, Land-Wights, and Huldfolk
by Kveldulfr Hagan Gundarsson, Alice Karlsdottir, and the folk of Hrafnar
http://www.thetroth.org/resources/ourtroth/alf.html
     Note that these beings are not necessarily as one might think of them after experiencing modern sword & sorcery fantasy literature, or even early modern folklore. This article is Chapter 22 from a large on-line Asatru compendium published by The Troth.

Landtaking and Leavetaking: Rituals for Moving House
by Ann Gróa Sheffield
http://medoburg.org/heresies/landtaking.asp
     Describes the early Icelandic ritual of land-taking. Relying primarily on information extracted from Landnámabók (a 13th century history of the original settlers of Iceland), the author explains how this ritual can be adapted to the needs of modern Asatruar by giving two examples of rituals of this type in which she has participated.

E.  The Blót

     These materials will help acquaint you with what to expect at a Heathen blót in solitary and group settings, with blót etiquette, with some other features of Heathen celebrations and ceremonies, and with instructions on writing prayers. However, none of these articles should be taken as prescribing the "right" way to do a blót -- different groups have different styles. However, all blóts are based on a Heathen understanding of hospitality and generosity. A blót is not "magic," but rather a way of honoring the gods. No amount of reading can teach you how best to do this-- ultimately, you must do it yourself.

Action:     After reading this section, write a Heathen invocation of your own, perhaps requesting that one or more deities aid you as you learn about Asatru. (Don't worry-- if you don't feel comfortable doing so yet, you need not actually use the invocation.)

Hail to the Æsir!
Hail to the Asyniur!
Hail to the bounteous earth!
Words and wisdom give to us noble twain,
and healing hands while we live.

               ---The Poetic Edda, Sigrdrifumal; Thorpe translation, stanza 4

Do-It-Yourself Ritual Kit
by Manny Olds
http://www.reeves-hall.org/diy.htm
     This "kit" consists of several pages on Asatru ritual and sets out very clearly the elements of each. Included are the skeleton of a blót and descriptions of specific religious ceremonies (e.g. for different holidays) which you can easily flesh out yourself.

Worship: The Húsel or Sacred Feast
by Swain Wodening
http://www.ealdriht.org/haligwaerstow/blot.html
     This article gives more detailed information on the historical basis of the húsel (Old English term for blót). The article includes an outline of the rite as drawn from early writings and archaeological evidence and is followed by an outline for a version suitable for use today.

Worship: Bedes or Prayers to the Gods
by Swain Wodening Canote
http://www.ealdriht.org/prayers.html
     This article gives information on historical Heathen prayer and includes two prayers in Anglo-Saxon-- one historical, and one a modern reconstruction-- both with full translations. The article also sets out the structure common to the prayers which you can easily use as an outline for creating your own. Also note what Mr. Canote writes about the physical attitude in which prayer was performed.

F.  Death and the Afterlife

     Both the nature of the human soul and its fate after death are of great interest to Heathens, but there is no clear consensus about either, and Asatru makes no promises of "eternal reward." The only certainty is:

Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die, --
fair fame of one who has earned.

               ---The Poetic Edda, Havamal; Olive Bray translation

     Part of this ambiguity comes from the fragmented nature of the sources. There are hints that Heathens did not think in terms of a single, unified "soul," but instead saw human beings as complexes of biological, intellectual/emotional, and spiritual components. Some modern Heathens have suggested various descriptions of this "soul complex," but none has yet been widely accepted. Similarly, the lore describes many possible fates for the dead, from feasting in Valhall to living on in the grave-mound to meddling in the affairs of one's descendants. The article below provides a first introduction to some of these concepts about the self and death.

Soul, Death and Rebirth
by Stephan Grundy, Alice Karlsdóttir, and Swain Wodening
http://www.thetroth.org/resources/ourtroth/soul.html
     This is Chapter 26 from a large on-line Asatru compendium published by The Troth.

G.  Community 1:  Code and Culture

     Now that you have the general background, it is time to branch out into some more specific material on different approaches to the modern religion of Asatru and on historical cultural attitudes. The first article in this section concerns how to do one's own research well, and the second article gives some context for the pre-1300 CE Germanic source materials we rely on. In a religion like ours, which so depends on solid historical research and yet which also requires the leavening of personal religious insight to be a living faith, it is essential to have well-developed skills in critical thinking.

     The materials below will also explain that Heathenism has boundaries concerning the right way to act and has codes of conduct (although exactly what they are is not universally agreed upon).

One brand takes fire from another, until it is consumed,
a spark's kindled by a spark;
one man becomes clever by talking with another,
but foolish by taciturnity.

               ---The Poetic Edda, Havamal; Caroline Larrington translation, stanza 57

Reliable Sources of Information on Germanic Religion
by Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/sources.html
     This article explains how to distinguish reliable sources from unreliable sources and discusses how to assess the different levels of reliability within those categories.

Heathenry and Historical Reconstruction
by Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz
http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/reconstruction.html
     A short explanation of the historical, social, and literary context of early medieval Germanic literature, such as the eddas and sagas, which are relied upon in reconstructing Heathenism.

The Nine Noble Virtues for Kids (and Other Interested Parties)
by Annette Hinshaw
http://www.friggasweb.org/nvirtues.html
     Don't be put off by the word "Kids" in the title of this article, go ahead and read it anyway. It is a nice explanation of what the Nine Noble Virtues are and what they mean to many Asatruar.

Homosexuality in the Viking Age
by Gunnora Hallakarva (The Viking Answer Lady)
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/gayvik.htm
     Not only an interesting article on an unusual subject, but a fine example of well-done research. The Viking Answer Lady explains that based on materials written by Christian writers 200 years after the fact, it appears that male homosexuality was disapproved of during the "Viking age." However, she goes on to explain that the reasons for disapproval were not what one might expect: it was seen as a form of cowardice, a lack of self-reliance, or a refusal to reproduce in a time and place where having children was important to survival. Among other sources, Viking age insults are examined for the clues they offer on this topic. Some of the insults quoted are awesome in their comprehensiveness.
     In the article she also considers attitudes toward female homosexuality and "unmanly" practices in connection with the gods, priests, and magic. After you read this, the story of Loki taking the form of a mare and giving birth to Sleipnir will take on another dimension.

The Tectonic Plates of Asatru
by Karl Donaldsson
http://www.geocities.com/svalich/faults.html
mirrored at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8798/faults.html
     By now, you will have realized that there are a number of conflicting "theological" positions that fall under the Asatru umbrella. While one or another may be right for you, it probably won't be right for everyone. This essay is a subjective attempt to identify and categorize some of these positions. Even though it is subjective, it provides an excellent overview of the different attitudes held by many Heathens. You are likely to find it a helpful source of information even if you don't agree with the author on every point.

The Role of Gothis In Modern Asatru
by Manny Olds
http://www.reeves-hall.org/role_of_gothi.htm
     An illuminating article examining the role of gothis (priests) in ancient and modern Heathen religion. The article compares the historical role of gothis to modern expectations of Christian ministers and describes the method of handling the function of minister used by Quakers. It ultimately reaches some conclusions about what the current role of gothis is in Asatru and what it should be.

H.  Community 2:  Building and Maintaining Relationships

     "Frith," meaning something like "peace and security," is important in the Heathen religion as it is to everyone-- even though it is the very opposite of what is associated with "Vikings" in the view of popular culture. After reading these articles you will understand what it is and why it is important. The model for frith is sharing between members of a kindred: among families, among associations, and between humankind and the gods. As Dirk Mahling (author of the Four Bedposts, above) once wrote, "Share your loot with your band."

The withered fir-tree which stands on the mound,
neither bark nor needles protect it;
so it is with the man whom no one loves,
why should he live for long?

               ---The Poetic Edda, Havamal; Caroline Larrington translation, stanza 50

On the Meaning of Frith
by Winifred Hodge, and the Frithweavers’ Guild
http://www.friggasweb.org/frith.html
     Explains that frith is not peace, rather peace is often an outgrowth of frith. It exists in the relation between members of a kindred, between leaders and their followers, between the gods and the folk. The article describes the medieval "frithguilds," which took the place of kin groups during a time of great social upheaval, and explains what the frithguilds can tell us about the earlier concept of frith.

The Word Frith
by Eric Wodening
http://wodening.ealdriht.org/eric/frith.html
     Begins with an etymological discussion of what the word means and where it came from. The article continues with a discussion of frith in conjunction with the rule of law and considers what happens when things don't work together as they should. Finally, the author theorizes about what this tells us about how Heathens should act.

Living Ásatrú Today: Musings on Community, Frith and Responsibility
by Ragnheid
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/2171/opinions/respons.html
     Written for an audience of Heathen clergy but understandable by a layperson, this article discusses how the interrelations between members of the Heathen population are changing and why this is good and bad. The author, who is a professional anthropologist, suggests ways Heathens can and should strive to become more of a community.

I.  Community 3:  The Sumbel

     These articles will acquaint you with what a sumbel is and what to expect at one. A sumbel is not just a formalized drinking party. It is a way to build kinship between the human participants of the sumbel and between humans and the gods, and it is also a way to tie those bonds and our deeds more strongly into the web of Wyrd.

     The first article explains sumbel in general. The second article describes an Anglo-Saxon style sumbel, which contains elements which are less commonly seen in the other styles of Heathenry. If you attend a sumbel, avoid awkwardness by making sure you find out in advance from the hosting group how they tend to do things, as sumbels can vary considerably while retaining the same basic elements. It is considered bad form to get drunk.

Action:     After reading the materials in this section, compose your own toast or boast to a deity, an ancestor, or your own deed (either done or to be done).

I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea.
As I sat in the boat with my band of men,
I meant to perform to the uttermost
what your people wanted or perish in the attempt,
in the fiend's clutches. And I shall fulfil that purpose,
prove myself with a proud deed
or meet my death here in the mead-hall.

               ---Beowulf, Beowulf's formal boast; Seamus Heaney translation (lines 632-638)

The Basics of Sumbel
by Erich Campbell
http://www.erichshall.com/asanew/sumbel.htm
     A very short explanation of what sumbel is and how it is commonly performed.

An Anglo-Saxon Symbel
by Eric Wodening
http://wodening.ealdriht.org/eric/symbel.html
     The author examines examples of sumbels in historical sources, particularly Beowulf, and offers suggestions on how one might be reconstructed.

J.  Community 4:  Magics of Ásatrú

     Belief in or practice of magic is not required of Heathens, and there are more than a few who have followed our religion for many years without ever having attempted "magic." Nevertheless, some Heathens do believe in and practice magic. The following articles present a description of various magical practices which are attested to in Germanic lore and how they are adapted for modern Heathenry.

     Of the magical concepts described, the runes are probably the most used, and even some Heathens who do not believe in magic have a passing familiarity with them. Runes are sometimes used for marking religious items rather than for magical purposes. Even if you have not the slightest interest in "magic," you may find it an interesting and useful exercise to determine how to transliterate your name into runes. Warning: do not rely on Ralph Blum's books on runes.

Runes wilt thou find,      and rightly read
     of wondrous weight,
     of mighty magic,
     which that dyed the dread god,
     which that made the holy hosts,
     and were etched by Odin.

               ---The Poetic Edda, Havamal; Lee Hollander translation, stanza 142

Norse Magic
by Lewis Stead and the Raven Kindred
http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/RBMagic.html
     Excellent, one-page introduction to Heathen magic. It places magic within the framework of the Heathen religion; introduces the runes (Elder and Anglo-Saxon Futharks), divination and active rune magic; mentions Wyrd and Orlog; gives a concise explanation of Seidr; and even mentions galdr. This article does not discuss spae-craft (but see Paxson's article below). This page is a chapter from the Ravenbók, which is an online Asatru reference book published by the Raven Kindred.

The Runic Journey: An Online Exploration of the Norse Runes
by Jennifer Smith
http://www.tarahill.com/runes/index.html
     The first page of this elegant and well-written site will give many beginners all they want to know about the runes, in that it is an introduction of the Futhark as a tool for writing and magic/divination. Those who wish to go further may easily navigate to pages on history, rune meanings, magic and divination.

The Elder Futhark With Sound (RA Format): Pronunciations of the Runes
Rune names by Klaus Düwel, pronunciations by Answin. Site by Óðindís
http://www.angelfire.com/on/Wodensharrow/elderfuthark.html
     Included because of the high quality of Wodensharrow. This site includes a sound recording of each individual rune, which is particularly helpful for those who don't have access to face-to-face contact with other students of the runes. Warning: because of the sound files (as well as heavy use of graphics), the site may cause some older web browsers to crash. This site has a lot of interesting material including the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda, the Rune Poems, etc.

Runes, Seiðr, Spæ
by Swain Wodening
http://www.ealdriht.org/runes.html
     A comprehensive introduction to the runes prepared by a very learned Heathen. Includes brief interpretations of the runes as well as basic information on their use in divination and magic. The spae ritual as performed in Erik the Red's Saga is also described.

The Return of the Völva: Recovering the Practice of Seið
by Diana L. Paxson
http://www.vinland.org/heathen/hrafnar/seidh.html
     A user-friendly article written for the periodical Mountain Thunder, this essay introduces Seidh as a form of "Norse Shamanism" and takes the reader on a guided journey according to the procedure used at Hrafnar. The article ends with a statement on the purpose of Seidh and ways that it can be used in modern society. (For additional Mountain Thunder articles, see http://www.vinland.org/heathen/mt/.)

Spae-Craft, Seiðr, and Shamanism
by Kveldúlfr Gundarsson
http://www.thetroth.org/resources/kveldulf/spaecraft.html
     Written by a Ph.D. in Norse studies, this article is scholarly and very well-researched. It includes numerous quotes from primary sources (with translations) and was originally published in Idunna, The Troth's magazine.

K.  Chronology of the Heathen World

Asatru Chronology (up to 1992)
Taken from Teutonic Religion by Kevldulf Gundarsson, additions by Grimnir Svithrirsson http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/4178/asatru/chronology.html
     This is a timeline of Heathen religion from the earliest days to its modern rebirth.

2.  SUGGESTED READING

     You can only go so far with material printed out from the internet or read online. In particular, many of the public domain translations of the Eddas that are available on-line are not especially accurate even if they are stylistically pleasing to read. For the purposes of religious study, you want the most accurate translation you can get; we think the ones below are among the best. Similarly, much of the best modern professional scholarship on the Heathen religion and its lore is also not available online either. Crossley-Holland's retellings of the myths are excellent, much better than anything you are likely to find for free online. Finally, Simek's dictionary is a useful reference. You probably won't need it immediately, but it will be helpful in your future studies. The course committee believes that all five of the books below are well worth buying and reading.

  1. Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson. Edda, trans. Anthony Faulkes, Everyman Press, 1992. ISBN 0-460-87616-3.
  2. Poetic Edda. The Poetic Edda, trans. Carolyne Larrington, Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-283946-2.
  3. The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Pantheon Books, 1981. ISBN 0-394748468.
  4. Gods & Myths of Northern Europe, H. R. Ellis Davidson, Bell Publishing, 1972. ISBN 0-140136274.
  5. A Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Rudolf Simek, trans. Angela Hall, 1996. ISBN 0-859-915131.

3. ORGANIZATIONS

     The following organizations may be contacted for further information on various aspects of Heathenry. They are presented in reverse alphabetical order. Listing does not constitute endorsement by any member of Asatru-U. Please be aware that the organizations listed represent a wide range of theological and political opinion within Heathenism. Descriptions were taken from the organizations' own web pages and therefore reflect the opinions of their authors and not necessarily those of the Asatru-U Committee or its members.

The Troth
http://www.thetroth.org
     The Troth is dedicated to exploring, practicing and promoting the pre-Christian religion of the Germanic peoples, who include the English, Norse, Icelanders, Swedes and Germans, among others. This religion is known by various names, including Ásatrú, Heathenry, the Elder Troth, and others. Although there are many variations in beliefs and practices within this faith, and many ways of describing and classifying these differences, we all share a defining personal loyalty to, or "Troth" with, the gods and goddesses of the Northlands, such as Odin, Thor, Frigga, and many others; a deep respect for our Germanic religious, cultural and historical heritage; and a strong determination to practice the moral principles followed by our noble predecessors, including Courage, Truth, Honor, Loyalty, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-reliance, and Steadfastness.

Theodish
http://www.geocities.com/theodish_belief/index.html
    Gering Theod is a group devoted to the revival and practice of Theodish Belief. Theodism is Retro-Heathenry, which means that we are dedicated to practicing the religion of our ancestors in an authentic, traditional tribal form which is as close to the elder ways as possible. Our main goal is to offer worship to our great Germanic gods and goddesses in ways that are not just what we prefer or think is easiest, but rather, in forms which will be the most pleasing to the gods themselves. We seek to re-establish the tribal form of heathenry which our ancestors practiced, and to serve the cause of the gods by providing quality lore study materials and essential aspects of Germanic culture to the heathen community.

Stav: A Norwegian Family's Teachings
http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/pbrough/stav/index.html
     Stáv is a Northern European mind, body and sprit system. The basis of Stáv is Runes, specifically the Danish or Younger Futhork. There are several aspects to Stáv, which can be equated to other better-known systems. The first aspect is the stances, these are at the core of Stáv; they are the embodiment of the runes on which they are based. The stances bring many benefits including low impact exercises, promoting healthy natural breathing, improved posture and relaxation. In addition to the physical benefits the stances promote the flow of megin (life force). In this aspect Stáv is a lot like Tai Chi. As well as the stances Stáv also includes a martial art aspect and a healing aspect but also many other aspects. Stáv is not only all of these but it is also a way of life and outlook.

Northvegr
http://www.northvegr.org/
     The Goals of the Northvegr site: 1. To act as a freely available resource for adherents of the Northern spiritual faith of the Northern Way and for all those who live by the pre-Christian spiritual faiths of Northern Europe also known as Heithni. The goal of the Félag, which hosts this site, is the creation and promotion of a viable and healthy community of genuine Northern faiths in which member kindreds and tribes support each other in an environment of mutual cooperation. 2. To promote, in general, Northern European cultural heritage. 3. To act as a freely available resource for Northern European and Indo-European studies, by providing an extensive online library of texts.

Frigga's Web
http://www.friggasweb.org
     Frigga's Web is an organization established to honor the goddess Frigga. Frigga's' Web promotes the activities, purposes and benefits that are within Frigga's domains of power and interest, and is designed to support Frigga's aims of building a strong, multi-faceted, viable Heathen community in the modern world, and provide a space that is focused on peace, frith, and the practical arts and skills of running and living in that community.

Asatru Folk Assembly
http://www.runestone.org/
     Long before Christianity came to Northern Europe, our ancestors there had their own, native religions. One of these was Asatru. It was practiced by the Scandinavians, Anglo-Saxons, Germans, and related peoples for thousands of years. Today, that religion is practiced, promoted, and further developed by their descendants in the Asatru Folk Assembly.
     We at the AFA believe that the faith of our forebears best expresses our innate spiritual impulses, and we seek personal and collective fulfillment in this ancient yet ever new path. We strive to realize not merely a religion in the narrow sense, but a comprehensive way of looking at the world, in harmony with Nature, with our innermost essence, and with our kin.

Asatru Alliance
http://www.asatru.org/
     Ásatrú means true to the Old Norse Gods. Ásatrú is the Ethnic Religion of indigenous Northern European People. It is the religion of our ancestors, one of the oldest still in practice, dating back to the beginning of this branch of the human race, some 40,000 years ago.

Angelseaxisce Ealdriht / Anglo-Saxon Eldright
http://www.ealdriht.org
     Thaet Angelseaxisce Ealdriht or Anglo-Saxon Eldright (as it is called in modern English) is the ancient and modern religion of the Germanic tribes that invaded what is now England in the 400s CE. It is related to the religion that produced the Old Norse myths about such gods as Odin, Balder, and Frigga. As such it is a part of the modern religious movement known as Ásatrú or Heathenry.

4.  LINKS TO HEATHEN DISCUSSION GROUPS

     Many people, especially those who have little direct contact with other Heathens, have found online discussion groups to be an excellent way to gain information, build contacts and relationships and enrich their spiritual growth. The following cover a wide variety of interests and viewpoints. With the exception of the entry for A.R.A. (alt.religion.asatru), descriptions are taken from the groups themselves. The descriptions do not reflect the opinions of the Asatru-U Committee or its members.

Internet Terms
http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/listterms.htm
     Read this short page for abbreviations commonly used in posts on Heathen mailing lists.

(In reverse alphabetical order)

Saxontroth
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saxontroth
     This list is a place where Germanic Pagan folks can discuss various topics of relevance to our religion. Continental and Anglo Saxon heathenry are topics that are especially encouraged on Saxontroth. Discussions of the Eddas and modern runology and Norse heathenry are welcome, but the main focus of this list is Anglo Saxon and Continental Germanic. Racialists and other persons who seek to distort Germanic paganism into an excuse to promote hatred towards those of other races are not welcome on this list.

Our_Meadhall
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/our_meadhall
      A Hall where Heathens & other folk talk about anything in Life. Joining this list, *DOESN'T* mean that you accept *ANYTHING* anyone else writes. Give such regard, as you would want to gain. Be pleased to note that we have Folk here from many Lands, not just Lower or Upper Vinland (USA & Canada).
     Asatru isn't for the faint of heart; it is for Men & Women who respect Freedom, of Association and Disassociation, of Speech and Belief, of Self and Kinfolk. You don't have to accept anyone herein, based upon their ideas of Troth, ethnic identity, body type or features, personal ideology, sexual orientation, wealth (or lack), hair (or lack), modernist or antiquarian nature.
     All are welcomed, but the door IS guarded. No anonymous profile will gain entry, until the Hall Wardens can vouchsafe you... Heathenry is our everyday FOLKWAY, the Lore of Life. No one is due a seat in the Hall, even after you get in. We earn our place day by day, through our words of wisdom, wit and worth. We are neither sages nor fools, just men and women speaking our piece and, hopefully, listening to the other end of the conversation. The Hall is Warded.

Norse Course
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/norse_course
     A course in Old Norse for beginners. The teachers will post lessons with exercises for students to complete. Your teachers here are two young Icelanders with interest in languages and Old Icelandic studies. This is exclusively a language group. There are no religious or political strings attached. Everyone is welcome. Course materials are available at http://www.hi.is/~haukurth/norse/.

Heathenbooks
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Heathenbooks
     Heathenbooks is a private book club that extends a welcome to all. We are not a teaching facility, nor do we claim any special expertise. Posts reflect only each member's opinion.
     The moderators take turns selecting a book, which is then read and discussed one section at a time. It is asked that posts pertain to the book being discussed. We hope to be of benefit to people new to Asatru and those who wish to read and compare notes and thoughts with others while taking responsibility for deciding what to believe.
     We also encourage the posting of book reports (including fiction) and reading lists of interest to Heathens.
     Heathenbooks is interested in what you think of a particular book.

Heathen Herbs
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HeathenHerbs
     Appropriate topics for this list are growing and using herbs in a Germanic Heathen / Asatru context, from practical uses to folklore, magic, crafts, etc.

Heathen Parents
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HeathenParenting
     Started this list to connect Heathen Parents around the World. To Share Ideas and to nurture the role of the parent. Focus on children and their heathen upbringing/education. In Asatru, Norse or Germanic Heathenism, the Elder Troth, the Old Way. Asetro, Vor Sidr (our way), Forn Sidr (Ancient way), Forn sed (the old custom), Nordisk sed (Nordic custom), or Hedensk sed (Pagan custom). Odinism or Folkish Ásatrú. Norse Wicca is also related but distinct (see WICCA).

Hammers and Attitudes
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HammersandAttitudes
     HammersandAttitudes is a forum for Thorians and those interested in the Big Guy to ask questions and make comments about Thor as well as Asatru in general. This is a straight talking, no nonsense group with strong opinions and a practical perspective.

Galdrabok
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/galdrabok
     This list is designed for those who have an understanding of the Runes and Runic Magick (or those who wish to learn). It is a place where Runic magicians can come together to swap spells, formulas, insights and anything else they feel they need to express in regards to the Runes.

Futhark
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Futhark
     This is a forum for the discussion of the Runes.

Asynjur List
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asynjur
     This list has been created as a forum for discussing the goddesses, disir, and other female aspects of the Northern tradition (Asatru, Norse Wicca, etc). It is meant to bring more focus on the feminine aspects of the past and present. Everyone is welcome to join. Discrimination on basis of gender, sexuality, race, or any other arbitrary designation is not accepted nor will it be tolerated in any form.

ASHMAIL
http://www.smartgroups.com/groups/ashmail
     Welcome to Anglo-Saxon Heathen Mail! Anglo-Saxon Heathen Mail is a list dedicated to the discussion and study of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and Asatru in general. It is sponsored by the Anglo-Saxon Ealdriht, a tribal community dedicated to the worship of the ancient Gods of England and continental Saxony.
[Note, this is a new listserv provider as of May 2001. List archives from before that date are still available in the old location, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ASHMAIL.]

The Asatru Daily Quiz
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Asatru-Daily-Quiz
     The Asatru Daily Quiz mailing list is a list in which your quiz masters (Q.) at Asatru-DQ will quiz you each day onyour knowledge of the lore, culture and history of Asatru. Each day a question will be presented. Do you have the knowledge it takes to answer the question? Some questions will be easy some will be hard. There will be something for the experienced Asatruar as well as the newcomer.

The Asatru List [a/k/a "Janna's List"]
http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/asalist.html
     The Asatru list is an internet mailing list for the communication of ideas and information between Asatru folk and interested parties. Posts on any topic connected with the practice of Asatru are welcome.

Asatru-U
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Asatru-U
     This group will discuss development and implementation of Asatru (Germanic Heathen) courses for different kinds of students; for different levels of rigor and abstraction; and for directed and independent study. The group will also develop introductory materials that can be distributed offline.

A.R.A
http://groups.google.com/groups?oi=djq&as_ugroup=alt.religion.asatru
Usenet: alt.religion.asatru
     A.R.A is the only public Newsgroup devoted to Asatru. The group is open to anyone whose Internet Service Provider is configured to support newsgroups. Periodically this newsgroup becomes more or less useless because of the large amounts of spam (or worse) that are posted to it, as well as the endless flame wars that it seems to foster. The archives (on Google Groups at http://groups.google.com) may be more helpful than the current postings, but please take everything you read with a boulder of salt.

5.  OTHER ÁSATRÚ LINKS

     Links to various Asatru resources which might be helpful.

The Viking Answer Lady
(Not an Ásatrú site as such, but a great source of historical information.)
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com

Squirrel.com Ásatrú Page: Many Ásatrú Links
http://www.squirrel.com/squirrel/asatru/

Asatru Basics - Keeper of the Seasons Hall
http://www.erichshall.com/asanew/newtotru.htm

 

 
Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?
Would you know more, or what?
-- Poetic Edda, Voluspá    

 

Last update: 10/23/2003.


In the interest of pursuing our goal of disseminating information about Asatru:
     On or before May 31, 2002, this text may be copied in its entirety only and freely distributed, on the mandatory conditions that: no fee may be charged, credit must be given to Asatru-U, and the copyright notice must be attached to all copies. This permission specifically does not include the right to repost on the Internet or to distribute via an e-mail list or newsgroup. Adaptation, or republication in any other form, by any entity other than Frigga's Web or Asatru-U is strictly prohibited. Updates of the course will be posted at the Asatru-U website at http://www.asatru-u.org. Please check back!


Update history:
10/18/2001, updated entry to update Asatru_N_Action to Our_Meadhall.
10/17/2001, updated links to material at Frigga's Web site.
8/28/2001, updated links to material found in Our Troth, corrected typo.
10/22/2003, updated links to material found at Erich's Hall, Medoburg Kindred, The Troth, Skvala, The Viking Answer Lady, and Eric Wodening's Page, replaced defunct link to Wednedbury Theod with Gering Theod, updated Midhnottt Sol entry to Northvegr, removed defunct link to CIAK.