Asatru: religion of the Asa

An interview with Karl – Asatruan

 

DL

For the benefit or new (and old) readers of Penton who have not had an opportunity to explore Asatru, could you give me a detailed definition and explanation of your religion / spirituality / belief system?

Karl

 

Broadly speaking, I believe that we ascribe to the idea of a religion that has its roots in pre-Christian Europe, we have come home to Asatru – the religion of the Asa – as it is the most complete of the very-rarely recorded European religions. As modern Asatruars we honour the lives and deeds of our ancestors, from the pre-Christian age as well as later. We honour the Disir – the spirits of the land, the waters, the stones and the sky for we have much to honour them for. We walk with the Asa and the Vanir, our pantheon of mighty and honoured gods – we honour them and bring them gifts. Those of us that have studied the old ways thoroughly will become proficient at galdr and seidhr magic.

We live by the nine sacred virtues, gleamed from the lore by the English Odinic Rite; Courage (Boldness), Truth, Honour, Loyalty (Fidelity), Discipline (Self-rule), Hospitality, Industriousness, Independence and Perseverance (Steadfastness)

In short, it is our way of signifying our link with our common European heritage and with a belief system that is non-linear and is not polarized between the concepts of “good” and “evil” or that there are only two harbours for the soul after we have left this world.

The Rhine

DL

Do you practice your faith with others? Are you members of an established group / organization?

Karl

No, we do not practice together yet – contact with other Asatruars via Facebook has set the ball rolling for future encounters though. No we are not members of any established groups unless you want to take into account the two groups on Facebook that Conrad and I administrate. ‘Ansetrou Suid Afrika‘ for Afrikaans speaking heathens and ‘Asatru South Africa‘. These are platforms that we’d like to use in the forming of Heaths in South Africa, we have to walk before we can run.

DL

What role does magic play in your religious practice, and as an Asatruan, how do you define / understand “magic” ?

Karl

Personally I have not yet attempted to use magic for anything except calling upon and hailing the Disir during the making of offerings. In Asatru, as I understand it, magic is a flowing thing that inhabits every thing around us. There are two main types of magic that can be further subdivided, firstly Galdr and secondly Seidhr. Rune-related magic falls under Galdhr, but is used primarily for divination or the placing of spells and wards. Altering another person’s dreams and placing of wards and charms as well as the use of “kitchen” [folk] magic are not uncommon.

DL

Could you explain the difference between galdr- and seidhr-magic / practice?

The Goddess Freyja

Karl

Galdr – the magic of Odhinn, is a Song or Spell which would include verbal, ceremonial and rune-related magic. Galdr can be used for healing, defense and offense. It is usually associated with men but can be successfully done by women.

Seidhr – the magic of Freyja, usually performed on a high platform or from a high place, can be seen as the more meditative and shamanistic of the two as the trance-state is frequently entered. Seidhr is used in the placing and removal of luck, prosperity and fertility and as well as the ability to send ones “self” forth in the shape of an animal, essentially – to shape-shift. Seidhr is usually performed by women but it is not uncommon for men to be proficient at it.

DL

Would you describe your religious practice and belief ‘reconstructed’ ?

Karl

Yes, the lore and texts that we have are from Roman, dark-age Christian and Muslim resources as the Northern Europeans rarely wrote anything down because of the predominating oral tradition. All our lore and tales come from these sources and have been reconstructed from them.

DL

Do you think that ancestral inheritance is a required prerequisite to becoming an Asatruan?

Karl

Personally, yes I do. What is the use of a native tradition if its doors are open to those that are not of the same mindset or shared cultural history? If you grew up in a heathen house-hold and do not have heathen ancestry then It its a moot point as you would adapt to the traditions and religion of the house. I believe, for other indigenous religions it is very much the same, unless the group as a whole accepts you, then membership of an indigenous religion that you are not indigenous to, will elude you.

The God Thor

DL

Is Asatru a politically active religion?

 

Karl

Asatruars are more active in communities and neighbourhoods rather than affiliated to any specific political agenda. Most Asatruars are independent in their political motivations but there are groups in the US and in Europe that claim to follow the Asa and Vanir, whose ideas are a bastardization of the old ways to fit in with a racially motivated, right-wing political agenda. It is a truly sad affair, as it seems that they are not able to distinguish between the concept of folk (common people/men/tribe), with their antiquated fascist ideas of race.

DL

Do your colleagues, friends and relatives know of your religious affiliation, and do they understand and accept it?

Karl

I have told some of my family and most of my friends, and my friends are more accepting than my family. I have told my family that if they have any questions then they must ask – sitting in the darkness of ignorance will get them nowhere. It has negatively affected my work though as a business acquaintance refused to do business with me after he found out that I was heathen. This led to me creating two separate profiles on Facebook; one is my business account and the other is my spiritual account.

DL

Do you identify modern reconstructed Asatru as falling within Paganism (identified here as a new religious movement)?

Karl

Yes, in my opinion. Asatru as we know and understand it has only been an official religion in Scandinavia since 1972. Some would say no, that it hearkens back further, but it can be classified as neo-pagan.

 

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