The Moonlit Path: A Discussion on Pathways and Traditions

The Asatru Path
There are few paths that are as firmly rooted in their beliefs as the Asatru path.  Even among Pagans they are often misrepresented and misunderstood.  Fortunately, I’ve had some exposure to this path as good friends of mine practice this belief system.  I’d like to share a bit about what I have learned with you.

Asatru is the modern recreation of the Old Norse faith which came out of Germanic tribes.  Like the name suggests they strongly adhere to the Norse Pantheon and most will only work with Norse Gods and Goddesses.  Like most Pagan paths there isn’t a definitive text, though the mythology is preserved and referenced in the Eddas.

Norse deities fall into a couple of main categories: the Aesir and Vanir, and the Jotnar.  The Aesir and Vanir are those that deal with natural forces and fertility.  The Jotnar are those associated with war, chaos, and destruction.  From these main divisions of deities there are a few that may be familiar to you.  A few of the deities associated with Asatru/Norse Paganism are Odin, Thor, Freyr and Freya.

The Asatru venerate their ancestors and the Gods.  These are observed in their rites.  There are two main rituals that are practiced. They observe the sumbel and blot, which is pronounced bloat.

The sumbel is a ritualized toast that takes place in rounds.  Typically there are three rounds to the sumbel, though there can be more, where a horn is passed from one participant to the next.  These are for toasts, boasts, and oaths.  Though not always performed in this order a typical sumbel follows the following format:

    1. The Rounds are called open by the host/hostess.
    2. The First Round is dedicated to the Gods/Goddesses.
    3. The Second Round is dedicated to Ancestors or Heroes.
    4. The Third Round is an open round for oaths, poems, etc.
    5. The Rounds are closed and offerings and libations are made to the Gods/Goddesses.

The blot is the main Asatru ritual.  The ritual format is in a format similar to other pagan pathways.  The celebrations follow similar patterns to other Pagan holy days as they are centered on the seasonal cycle.  The main celebrations include:

Summer Finding – Spring Equinox

Winter Finding – Fall Equinox

Midsummer – Summer Solstice

Yule – Winter Solstice

The Asatru have a high sense of honor.  They are guided by their belief in Wyrd, which is covers both a sense of fate and luck.  The personal destiny of an individual is dependant on their past and on what is transpiring in the present.  They do not take lightly vows or oaths that are made.  From personal experience, it is stressed that you do not say anything during a sumbel that you do not intend to do as you are mixing your collective energies, or Wyrd, together.  Thus, you are intertwining your destinies.

This is a brief overview and by no means is meant to be an all encompassing look at this pathway.  There are many intricacies and beliefs that I was not able to touch on in this snapshot.  Also, many Asatru have personal touches that make their practice uniquely their own.

Asatru (Germanic Paganism). (2010) Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Religion Facts: http://www.religionfacts.com/a-z-relition-index/asatru.htm

Norse Paganism. (2010) Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse_paganism

The Basics of Sumbel.  (2010) Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Asatru Basics: http:www.erichshall.com/asanew/sumbel.htm