What is Asatrú?
Im not sure how many people have asked me this question since I have been an Asatruar, but it has been many. And the answer is difficult to define to the satisfaction of other Asatruar. There is an individuality within Asatrú, which is both a very great strength and a deadly vulnerability. But to attempt the answer... Asatrú is the spiritual beliefs and traditions of the Teutonic peoples. The author Edred Thorsson explains the etymology of the word Asatrú on pp. 2-3 of his, "A Book of Troth". He states that Asatrú is an Icelandic word made up of two parts; Asa, meaning "of the Aesir" and tru, usually translated as "faith". The author goes on to say that in order to completely understand the word's meaning you must examine the root of the term "tru". Tru is derived from the root word "deru" (Indo-European) meaning firm, solid, or steadfast. The terms troth, trust, true, and even tree are traceable to the root of "deru". In popular usage, however Asatrú has come to refer to not only to those who are "Trú to the Aesir", but to those who are "Trú to the Vanir", and even to those who are "Trú to more or less following some of the traditions of the Teutonic Folk". If you ask a hundred Asatruar this question, "What is Asatrú?" you will get a hundred different interpretations. To some of us, it is a term which describes the traditions of the Teutonic peoples, meaning their culture, customs, festivals, etc.; and to those Asatruar, this is not a "religion", it is a way of life. Others of us like to think of Asatrú as a religion, while still others have as many different views on the gods and goddesses and our relationship to them as one could possibly come up with. In order, then, to better define the answer to the question, "What is Asatrú?", lets look at what, if any, elements of belief, or tradition are common to almost everyone calling themselves Asatruar. Not everyone who calls themself an Asatruar believes the same things about the gods and goddesses, even to the point of some of us holding conflicting beliefs about which of the gods and goddesses are still existent!
We all, though subscribe to some basic ideas about personal honor, ethics, and following through with our convictions, no matter who it may offend. These convictions of personal honour are well described by the Nine Noble Virtues and the Six - Fold Goal. The Nine Noble Virtues are: Courage (heartiness), Truth, Honor (worthiness), Fidelity (troth), Discipline (hardiness), Hospitality (friendliness), Industriousness (work), Self-reliance (freedom), Perseverance (steadfastness). And the Six - Fold Goal is: 1.Right 2.Wisdom 3.Might 4.Harvest 5.Frith 6.Love The Nine Noble Virtues are matters of personal honour which we, as Asatruar all strive to attain. The Six - Fold Goal is a statement of our beliefs as a people. Those some Asatruar have never even heard of the Six Fold Goal, it fairly well describes those things for which we are willing to live, and die. We believe we have the right to 1. Right. The following of Just Law for the benefit of all. This does NOT mean restrictions, this means that we, as a people, generally recognize that there must be just Laws if we are going to exist together in an advanced society, and that having and following those Laws is Right. We also believe in the societys right, as a whole, and the individuals right to attain 2. Wisdom. We recognize the importance of 3. Might as it relates to both individuals and societies and we hold that it is Right and True for the Might of the individual or society to dominate those of lesser Might. In this case, this is more of a recognition of a reality that exists in our physical world of Midgard, than it is of any kind of idealist belief that "Might Makes Right". We recognize that it is good and Right for a person or a society to develop their Might. The next Goal, that of 4. Harvest, is the belief that we deserve the fruits of our labours. That it is Right for us to reap the cycles of nature, to provide nourishment for the folk. 5. Frith is the peace and prosperity that comes with the fulfillment of the Nine Nobles Virtues and all the Six - Fold Goal. Frith refers to the thriving of the folk, in this case, the Asatruar. 6. Love, is the Goal most often unappreciated, in my opinion, by the rest of society. When most people hear Love as one of the Goals, they assume it to mean the romantic love between two people, or maybe the love of an adult for their child. And while these are beautiful and worthy things, the Love referred to here is the vitality and lust for life embodied in Frey and Freyja. It is the erotic thrill of life itself, the lust of passion and the senses, the enjoyment of pleasure. This is natural to our people and, we believe, Right for us to enjoy. These things, then, are some of the basic ideas which go into defining "What is Asatrú?". All Asatruar strive for the Sixfold Goal and try to attain the Nine Noble Virtues, although how each of these is understood is largely a matter of individual interpretation. These are our values, made by our ancestors and by us, and will form a foundation of strength for the modern Asatruar. Now, it is up to us, the modern Asatruar, to use these values, passed down to us, to find a way to make the individuality which permeates paganism as a whole, and practically defines Asatrú, into a source of great strength. Our challenge is to keep that same individuality from dividing us against ourselves; as united individuals, we can accomplish anything. Onward to Victory!
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