Asatru is a Norse polytheistic religion based on legends and accounts of gods and heroes. Its the national and ancestral religion of the Norse Kingdom. Asatru is animistic in nature; more so than other polytheistic religions, such as Kemetism.
Practioners of Asatru are called "Asatrists".
Asatru, similar to religions such as Kemetism, holds that nature is either divine in of itself, or directly influenced by the divine. There are multiple gods who represent different roles in the world. In Asatru, the gods are divided into two distinct groups: the Aesir (generally gods of war and power) and the Vanir (gods of fertility and wisdom). According to legend, there was once a large war between the Aesir and Vanir, which ultimately resulted in unified pantheon.
What distinguishes Asatru from other religions, is that the relationship between the earthly and the divine, is not considered by practioners to be a master-subject dynamic. Instead, Asatrists hold that the gods are "Elder Kin" of humanity's "Younger Kin". To that end, Asatrists don't believe that the divine is difficult to reach, and a god can be invoked at any time for anything.
Though some practioners wil make use of statues and images of gods, Asatru is generally not considered an idolatrous religion. Any statue or carving of a god is generally considered temporary, and few permament shrines exist.
The Aesir are the regarded as the supreme gods of Asatru, with the gods Odin, Thor, Tyr, and Heimdal being Aesir. The Aesir are generally noted for being gods of war, storms, and power. Worship fo the Aeisr was originally more common amongst nobility, and royalty in Norseland, but later spread more as the religion became more centralized. The Aesir are often prayed to for strength in war, and divine favor. The Aesir are the rulers of Asgard.
The Vanir are generally gods of feritility, nature, and wisdom, including gods such as Frey, and his twin sister, Freya. The Vanir were more poular amongst the commonfolk in Norseland, including farmers. The Vanir are often prayed to for bountiful harvests and favorable weather conditions. They are also associated with elves, and the realm of Vanaheim and Alfheim.
The Norse believe in two distinct afterlifes: Valhalla (which is in Asgard), and Helheim. Its held that Valhalla is where those who die in battle go, after being taken up by the Valkeryies.There, they feast, before going out to fight in the Valhalla courtyard. If they die, they come back in the halls of Valhalla, to continue feasting. This is all in prepration of Ragnarok, wherein they will join the gods in battle. Residents of Valhalla are known as Einherjar.
Helheim is the home of those who died outside of battle, ruled by Hel, the daughter of the god, Loki. While there are few true descriptons of Helheim, it is not necessarily considered a bad place, more along the lines of a lesser version of life. There is believed to be a hall in Helheim, however, where men who commit evil deeds go.
Asatru is noted for having a determinist viewpoint of the world; fate cannot be fought, or resisted, and everything that happens is how the Norns determine it. It is belived that the end of the world, Ragnarok, is inevitable. In this legend, the ultimately battle between the gods and the giants will occur, and it will end in the world's destruction. However, the world will later be reborn, and be repopulated Lif and Liftrasir.
Asatru is not as structured as other religions. There are no official religious laws, or priesthood, instead being seers. Seers are not considered priests, holding no true religious authority, often serving the purpose of communing with the gods. Asatrists generally do not gather for larger rituals save for larger festivals, and worship is considered to be a much more private affair.
In earlier Norse history, practioners of Asatru would engage in ritual sacrifice.
Asatru is noted for having a complex, and distinct view of the universe. The universe is built around a massive tree called "Yggdrasil", and out of it branch an additional eight worlds. Each world is ruled by its own respective race.
- 'Asgard': the home of the Aesir
- 'Midgard': the mortal world
- 'Jotunheim': the land of giants
- 'Alfheim': the land of the light elves
- 'Vaniheim': the home of the Vanir
- 'Svartalfheim': the home of the dwarves and dark elves
- 'Musphleheim': the land of fire
- 'Nifleheim': the land of ice and mist
- 'Helheim': the land of the dead who did not go to Vallhala
At the top of Yggdrasil, is a large, unnamed eagle, and at the bottom is a dragon named Níðhöggr, which chews at the tree's roots.