Intro to Heathenry
Welcome to Heathenry!
The Asatru Community is here to help answer the common questions asked of newcomers to the Path of the Völva/Vitki. (The Mystic/Shamanic branch of Norse Paganism, known as Heathenry, or Asatru.)
To be proficient as a Völva/Vitki, and to be adept in the arts of Seiðr, one must be an adept practitioner of Heathenry!
“Odin the Wanderer” by Georg von Rosen (1886)
What is Ásatrú?
Originally, Ásatrú was simply known as “The Old Ways”. However, after the arrival of Christianity, those who practiced Ásatrú were often called "Heathens", which at the time meant "those who live on the heath". Ásatrú was practiced in the lands that are now known as: Scandinavia, England, Germany, and France. Ásatrú is the closest thing we have today to the original and/or native religious belief for the peoples who lived in these regions.
What does the word 'Ásatrú' mean?
Ásatrú roughly translates to "True to the Aesir" in Old Norse, the language of ancient Scandinavia.
When did Heathenism start?
Heathenism began close to the 7th century. Unfortunately, it's beginnings are lost in pre-history, but it is known as one of the most ancient religions in the world. The spiritual impulses it expresses are as ancient as the European peoples themselves - at least 40,000 years, and perhaps much older.
How do I "Ásatrú"?
This is a popular question, and the reason for this "Intro to Heathenry"! To live a Heathen life and to call oneself Ásatrú, the practitioner must take upon themselves the task of LEARNING. You must read ALL of the Lore known as: the Prose and Poetic Edda’s, the Icelandic Sagas, the Hávamál, and the Germania Tacitus. It is important to learn all of the archaeological, as well as historical, documentation you can find. A Heathen should learn the runes; not for the idea of performing “divination,” but to understand the only surviving writing left to us by our forebears.
Once you become familiar with the Old Norse Traditions and Mythology, the next step is to make it a LIVING faith by stepping into sacred space of your own design and honoring your Gods, your ancestors, as well as the spirits of the place where you reside, by communing with them on a regular basis! This is accomplished by performing Blots, Sumbels, and by Utiseta (out sitting-meditation).
Why Norse Paganism?
We as Ásatrú inherited through time and location changes not only our Ancestors general disposition of freedom, self-reliance, and self-pride, but also their predominant mental, emotional, and spiritual traits of independence and self-responsibility. The religion which best expressed their innermost nature - Ásatrú - is better suited to us than differing cultures throughout the world. To be a Heathen, we must practice Heathery.
We hope that this has answered some of our newcomer's questions!
"I want to be a Heathen, how do I start?” The Answer: This is called ‘the religion with homework’ for a very good reason. No one can introduce you to the Gods.. you must discover them for yourself! This can only be accomplished through being proactive in your diligence to seek them out, get to know who they are, as well as develop a solid working familiar relationship with them.
-Bringing the Old Ways to Heathens Today-