This great religion's origin is lost in antiquity. Scandinavia is really the last place this culture has existed in it's purest form, untouched by the influx of Semitic and Oriental religion and culture that has jaded our cultures today. Asatru or �satr� Literally means "True to the Aesir". There were two sets of gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Vikings, Vanir and Aesir. Asatru is considered a Pagan Religion; However, many Asatruers prefer the term "Heathen" to "Neopagan" and look upon their tradition as "not just a branch on the Neopagan tree" but as a different tree.
Asatru can be thought of as an ethic, as a philosophy or a way of life. This ethic is best expressed in the Nine Noble Virtues, which are : Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-reliance, and Perseverance. Many of which our culture has forgotten. Asatru places the highest value of human freedom and individuality. This is true in both secular and religious matters, and while they honor their gods and goddesses, they will never grovel before them. The great Gods and Goddesses are models and inspirations. They are our friends, and we will never be their slaves. we do not live in fear of our Gods and Goddesses. "Asatru believes in human action. Not waiting for the afterlife to be happy: you must seize your happiness in the here and now! By heroic action you can take your life in your own hands." Your deeds reflect your soul. Asatru should attempt to live their lives with honor, enriching their families and their communities.
Asatru is practiced in many ways. There are Celebrations of the Seasons with Feasts and Festivals. The Two Main Rituals are the Blot and the Sumbel. Blot means Sacrifice, some say that blot means blood. But, usualy Honey Mead, beer or Cider is used, which all is consecrated to the Gods and Goddesses being Worshipped. The Sumbel is a formal gathering of friends and family to celebrate the givings of the gods and to toast them, some make oaths, etc.
Some Major things associated with the Asatru relgion:
The Gods: Thor, the Thunderer, friend of the common folk, and Odin, Allfather, chief God, poet, and wandering wizard, we worship many others, including Tyr, God of war and justice; Ingvi Frey, God of peace, fertility and nature ; Baldr, the bleeding God, and Heimdall, the Watchman of Asgard. The Goddesses, Frigg, wife of Odin and Mother of Gods and Humanity; Freya, Goddess of fertility, love, magic, and war; Idunna, Goddess of renewal; Hel, who rules over the place between death and rebirth; Nerthus, the Mother Earth Goddess mentioned in Tacitus' Germania, and many others. We also reverence the spirits of nature and various guardian spirits, such as the Disir and Alfar which are the Elves.
The World Tree Yggdrasil:
Yggdrasil is the giant ash tree that links and shelters all the worlds. Beneath the three roots the realms of Asgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim are located. Three wells lie at its base: the Well of Wisdom (M�misbrunnr), guarded by Mimir; the Well of Fate (Urdarbrunnr), guarded by the Norns; and the Hvergelmir (Roaring Kettle), the source of many rivers. Four deer run across the branches of the tree and eat the buds; they represent the four winds. There are other inhabitants of the tree, such as the squirrel Ratatosk ("swift teeth"), a notorious gossip, and Vidofnir ("tree snake"), the golden cock that perches on the topmost bough. The roots are gnawed upon by Nidhogg and other serpents. On the day of Ragnarok, the fire giant Surt will set the tree on fire. Other names for the tree include: Ask Yggdrasil, Hoddmimir's Wood, Laerad and Odin's Horse.
The Eddas and Sagas:
unlike nearly every other tribal religion, is that the Asatru have a written body of lore, the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda and many, many sagas, all collected in Iceland in the Middle Ages and preserved. They are to long to go into great detail about.. but, i will eventually get them all set up on my web page..