A form of modern Paganism modelled loosely on the religious Traditions of the Norse or pre-Christian Scandinavian cultures detailed in the Poetic Edda of the Codex Regius and other ancient manuscripts, and in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson.
The term means 'loyalty to the Gods of the Aesir' and the beliefs of Asatru are focused on the activities of the gods and Goddesses of the twin races of the Aesir and Vanir, chief among whom is Odhin, or Odin, who derives from Woden (the Wagnerian Wotan) in Germanic tradition who, in turn, gives his name to Wednesday (Wotan's Day).
The Aesir are engaged in a constant war of attrition with the forces of darkness and cold and their conflict resolves itself in a cataclysmic day of destruction, Ragnarok, when the earth is cleansed by fire and flood, and a new generation of gods and humanity, sheltered from the apocalypse by the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, replace the corruption of the old order.
However, that being said, the everyday religious life of Asatruar's is not focused on the struggle between the gods and the juntar. Asatru is much less good/evil orientated than Christianity, and since some of the gods used to be Jintar, the struggle isn't rarded as all important.
Asatru is a growing religious movement both in northern Europe and, more recently, in North America. In Iceland, Sweden and Denmark it is accepted as an official state religion in parallel with Christianity.
In keeping with its Norse origins it is more patriarchal than many comparable Pagan religions, and many Asatruar's prefer the title 'Heathen' to 'Pagan', believing that Asatru is not just a 'branch on the same tree' as Wicca and other Neo-Pagan religions, but from an altogether different and quite seperate tree. Its priests are Gothi and its priestesses Seidkonas or Volvas and it has traditionally celebrated three major festivals, Siggiblot in the spring, a Harvest Festival in late summer, and Thorriblot to mark the Winter Solstice.
The conduct of Asatru is focused strongly on principles of loyalty, honour, courage and fellowship and its concerns include the healing arts and environmental issues.
see also: NORSE PAGANISM
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one defintion may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differring practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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