Monday, March 19, 2007

A Short History Of Asatru

A Short History Of Asatru Cover Heathenry or Asatru (pronounced OW-suh-troo) is a modern name given to a living ethnic religion which embraces the indigenous polytheistic spiritual beliefs and sacred cultural formations of Pre-Christian Northern Europe. The first historical Heathens didn't have their ultimate origin in Northern Europe, but were parts of the great Indo-European family of cultures which all began somewhere in the steppes and river valleys of the Eurasian continent, north of the Black Sea.

That family of people would eventually migrate away and settle in ancient Europe, Iran, and India. Once long ago, these dynamic and world-affecting people all embraced similar Gods and sacred cultural institutions. Over time, cultural differentiation, migration, and diffusion of the Indo-Europeans led to the formation of groups recognizable as "Germanic" or "Teutonic" and "Celtic", as well as Roman, Greek, Slavic and many others. Asatru, as a term, is from the Old Norse and Icelandic languages, and it means "Belief in the Gods". The real seeds and root-impulses of Asatru go back as far as the Bronze age, as the symbolism and mythology of the religion reveals.

Asatru today refers firstly to the survival and revival of the belief in the Gods of the Indo-European peoples of Northern Europe. Secondly, it refers to the modern life-ways engaged by people today that draw their form and inspiration from what we know the ancient pre-Christian Northern peoples were doing religiously and how they lived, under the guidance of their cultural beliefs, institutions, and sacred stories.

Asatru was last practiced, in a form close to its present shape, in Iceland, up to the year 1000. In that year, the Icelandic assembly voted (under severe political pressure and threat of isolation from the Christian nations of mainland Europe) for the entire island to become Christian. Making offerings to the Old Gods and honoring the Ancestors was not immediately outlawed because of this ruling, but it became so later. It is believed that the practices and beliefs of the Old Way persisted behind closed doors (a great possibility in tolerant Iceland) until 1973 when the Icelandic Assembly recognized Asatru as the traditional indigenous faith of the people, and bestowed legal status and protections upon it. Asatru Hofs or temples, as well as cemetaries specifically for those who died in the faith, now exist in Iceland and in other places.

From Iceland, and on the heels of some of the earlier attempts to reclaim the old Heathen faith from continental Europe, Asatru spread out and new groups of people called back to the old faith began to appear. The various historical cultural sub-divisions of the Northern peoples- Angle, Saxon, Jutish, Norse, Swedish, Danish, Continental German, and others- have all been given both scholarly and poetic/spiritual attention in the last decades and have been successfully and respectfully tapped as sources for reborn Heathen religious and cultural lifestyles.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Allen Greenfield - The Secret History Of Modern Witchcraft
Martin Van Buren Perley - A Short History Of The Salem Village Witchcraft Trials
Stephen Mcnallen - What Is Asatru
Samuel Croxall - The Secret History Of Pythagoras
Allen Greenfield - A True History Of Witchcraft