Less than a thousand years ago, the elders of Iceland made a fateful decision. Under political pressure from Christian Europe, and faced with the need for trade, the Allthing declared Iceland to be an officially Christian country. Within a few short centuries the last remnants of Nordic Paganism, which once stretched through all of Northern Europe were thought dead. However, Iceland was a tolerant country and the myths stories, and legends of Pagan times were left unburnt to kindle the fires of belief in later generations. Under pressure from the famous poet, Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson, Iceland once again recognized Nordic Paganism as a legitimate and legal religion. A restoration of our ancient faith is likewise in full bloom in America.
This ancient Pagan religion was known as Asatru, an old Norse word which means Troth (loyalty) to the Gods, and modern Asatru is nothing less than the complete revival of the ancient Norse Pagan religion.
Asatru recognizes many familiar Gods and Goddesses. Thor is the Thunderer, the wielder of the divine Hammer Mjolnir. the thunder is the sound of his chariot, the rain his gift that allows the crops to prosper. Odin, the Allfather, is the God who gifted mankind with a divine nature. He is the One eyed God, who traded his eye for wisdom, and hung on the world tree to learn the mysteries of magic and the runes. Odin receives slain warriors in his hall, where they prepare for the final battle of Ragnarok. Frey is a God of peace and plenty who is King of the Elves and brings fertility and prosperity to the land. But a religion without Goddesses is halfway to atheism. The most well known Goddess of our faith is Freya, who wears the sacred necklace Brisingamen and rides in her cat drawn chariot. She is the Goddess of love and beauty, but she is also a fierce Goddess of battle and takes half the battle-slain to her. Frigg is Odin's wife, and she shares in his leadership of the Gods. She is the only other deity allowed to sit in Odin's Seat from which she can see all of the Nine Worlds, and is the patron of the household and of married women. Living alone in the icy wastes, Skadi is a Goddess of strong independence and a patron of hunting and of skiing. Other Gods and Goddesses are worshipped by the Asatru, including Tyr, Balder, Eir, Gefjion, and many others.
Our religion does not concern itself solely with the Gods and Goddesses. We seek the old mysteries of the land, and honor the Landvaettir (land spirits) who dwell in the trees and rocks and are tied to the land and waters. We also honor our ancestors, both those who have gone to the other worlds, and those such as the Disir, who remain connected to Middle Earth in order to watch over and protect their family.
We of the Asatru believe that the goal of living is to lead a worthwhile and useful life, and we reject both the decaying fabric of modern culture as well as the phony moralisms of those who would plunge us back to the dark ages. Our values are based on individual liberty, tempered with responsibility, as outlined in the Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, and Perseverance. In keeping with this independent spirit, we reject religious hierarchy and dogma, even as we respect learned teachers and the ways of our faith.
No individual can stand alone without kinsmen and we believe strongly in the power and importance of the family. A strong religious community is also very important to us and we gather into groups, known as kindreds, to worship our Gods.
While we do not believe any religion is for everyone, the Asatru welcome anyone to our faith who is sincerely interested in pursuing the old ways.