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Thread: Asatru: Is It the Right Term to Use?

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    Senior Member Wayfarer's Avatar
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    Post Asatru: Is It the Right Term to Use?

    How appropriate to folk here is the term "Asatru" concerning the indigenous faith of the Germanic Folk?
    Literally Asatru means belief or faith in the Aesir. It appears it also has a generic meaning applying to all the Gods in general, including the Vanir Gods as well as the Aesir Gods.

    Yet by naming the faith after the Aesir, even if it does also include the Vanir, it can imply there is a tendency towards favouring the Aesir over the Vanir Gods.

    Asatru isnt the standard name for Germanic Folk beliefs as there are other Heathens who call themselves by other names, who feel the term Asatru is not fitting.

    Other terms that are used:

    Heathen which means dweller on the heath. It also has a meaning of wildness. Unlike Asatru and other names it isnt a recently coined name. Other Germanic languages also have a form of the name. Although there is negative conotations to the word heathen, a result of judaeo christianity, i dont feel it is as negative as, for example Paganism. Personally i favour this name.

    Forn Sed is a term used mostly in Scandinavian countries or variants of it. Meaning old or ancient customs. Although it is a Scandinavian word, Old English has Fyrnsidu which has the same meaning.

    Theodism is another one i like. Its meaning is Folkish, coming from the Old English od meaning tribe or folk. Its related to Deutsch and Diets.

    There are other names such as Odinism, Norse Tradition, Vanatru etc but i think they have too narrow a meaning.

    I'd like to hear the opinions of what other folk here have on this matter.
    Last edited by Wayfarer; Friday, December 2nd, 2005 at 12:44 AM. Reason: grammar and spelling
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    Post Re: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    I call myself heathen because I recognize all the nordic gods as either facets of the collective soul of our tribes and people or of the primordial elements, not just one tradition or a few of them

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    Post Sv: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    I call myself satrar sincee I belileve in the Norse Gods, the sir. I also do believe in the Vanir, but they're not "my" Gods.

    I don't call myself "Heathen" or "Pagan" for I have a specific faith, the faith of the Norse; "Heathen" or "Pagan" is too general; Wiccan people use this term and I really can't link myself with them.

    By being an satrar I am automatically daticated to forn sir, the ancient customs of my folk.

    Theodism is not my faith for I don't feel any connection with the Anglo Saxon deities and customs.

    Actually satr is a quite new word; it was first mentioned in 1885. The original term might have been something completely different.
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    Post Re: Sv: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    I'm glad to see you have a great deal of clarity with your beliefs. Its very important to have a clear idea of what it is you believe in, otherwise it makes difficult to outwardly express your faith and it becomes nothing more than just a hobby or a fantasy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwlfin
    I call myself satrar sincee I belileve in the Norse Gods, the sir. I also do believe in the Vanir, but they're not "my" Gods.
    Asatru would obviously fit those who are true to the Aesir like you have said.
    What do you think of folk who worship both the Aesir and Vanir without any bias to either of the Gods yet still call themselfs Asatruar? Do you think it would still be correct?

    The Vanir Gods are connected with fertility and the land and seas wheras the Aesir Gods with war. You say you believe in the Vanir but they arent your Gods, can you please elaborate a bit on what you mean by that?

    Some people believe that the Aesir are above the Vanir in a hierarchy of sorts however tha Vanir are still Gods. Others might pick and choose their Gods in a Wiccan sort of way.

    Some scholars believe the Vanir were pre indo-european Gods and the Aesir were IE Gods. Is this what you mean by them not being your Gods?
    A! Fredome is a noble thing
    Fredome mays man to haiff liking.
    Fredome all solace to man giffis,
    He levys at es that frely levys.
    A noble hart may haiff nane es
    Na ellys nocht that may him ples
    Gyff fredome failyhe, for fre liking
    Is yharnyt our all other thing.
    Na he that ay has levyt fre
    May nocht knaw weill the propyrte
    The angyr na the wrechyt dome
    That is couplyt to foule thyrldome,
    Bot gyff he had assayit it.
    Than all perquer he suld it wyt,
    And suld think fredome mar to prys
    Than all the gold in warld that is.
    Thus contrar thingis evermar
    Discoveryngis off the tother ar,


    Scots is our mither tung; an gin we dinna hain it,
    thare naebody gaun tae hain it for us.


    Scots is our mother tongue; and if we do not preserve it,
    nobody will preserve it for us.

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    Post Re: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    I often feel that, as a Christian, my opinion is unwelcome on topics like this; but words belong to all of us who use a language, and words about our people matter to all of us.

    I don't like Asatru as a general term for the natural religion of Germanic people generally. I think Blutwlfin's use of the term is exemplary it is a specific term that rightly applies to a specific set of beliefs.

    One of the problems I have with the term Asatru is, as you mentioned Wayfarer, the exclusion of the Vanir. According to Tacitus (for what his opinion is worth), the Angles primarily worshipped Nerthus two thousand years ago, and I think she is one of the Vanir (she certainly is not of the sir, at any rate). So Asatru was not the faith of many of my ancestors.

    Another problem I have with the term is its theocentrism. I suspect many of our ancestors didn't worship any gods, and yet still had deep religious convictions.

    Another problem I have with the term is its modernity. I don't feel like it applies to any of my own non-Christian family members, since none of them would have used it.

    A final problem I have with the term is its tendency toward misleading people into thinking of the faith as monolithic. They hear Asatru and think that the religion can be described as neatly as, say, Lutheranism. The religion in question is and was very diverse, with almost as many interpretations as practitioners. It is even more diverse a religion than Christianity or Islam. If there could be a name like Hinduism for it, then that might be appropriate I suppose Theodism comes close (since Hinduism is the belief of the Indians and Theodism is the belief of the Teutons), but if Blutwlfin feels that name doesn't apply to her, then I have a hard time thinking of it as appropriate for a general term.

    Personally, I tend to be kind of vague when naming the faith, using phrases like "our folk religion," or "our ancestral religion." In some ways, I like Hverungur's use of the term "folkway" even better, since the word religion is itself confusing for a lot of people in this too-secular age, and since religion is a Latin word.

    For me, the primary importance of our ancestral religion is the fact that it was the religion of my ancestors (as it was of all of ours). I would like to find a word for it (of Germanic origin) that highlights the ancestral quality of the faith, a word that means "the faith of our ancestors." But of course, unless that word started getting used by others, it would be pointless for me to use it in communication.

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    Post Re: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    I'd lean towards saying that there is no "right term" that describes the indigenous faith of the Teutonic peoples, for heathenry has never been dogmatic. This is the wonderful thing about it. It allows you to accomodate your personal views and preferences.

    There is constant change in nature, cycles of birth and death. Hence, it would be wrong to reject terms because they are fairly new, old but dubious, too narrow, or too wide. The most important thing is what describes your perspective best.

    I prefer the word "Heathen" also. Fostering the heritage of the Aesir is certainly an important aspect but only one aspect in my world outlook.
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    Post Re: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    Good question, Wayfarer. Several important points have already been made, I agree with Leofrics criticism of the theocentric assumption, since much of the daily faith centered on "lesser gods", like giants, elves, "tomtar" (house-gods/house-protectors), ancestors, and so on (often those were also the ones to survive into our century).

    Probably one just has to realize that our ancestors faith was polycentrist, and more open to personal interpretation than most of todays religions. Thus, every individual who accepts this faith will have a different emphasiz and maybe also a different name that describes his/her emphazis better. Personally I often use Asatru, but that is more based on routine and not a conscious choice.

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    Sv: Re: Sv: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayfarer

    Asatru would obviously fit those who are true to the Aesir like you have said.
    What do you think of folk who worship both the Aesir and Vanir without any bias to either of the Gods yet still call themselfs Asatruar? Do you think it would still be correct?
    The translation of the word satr means "faith in the sir", so it would obviously not fit to people who also worship the Vanir. Heiinn or Forn sir might be the right term for those people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayfarer
    The Vanir Gods are connected with fertility and the land and seas wheras the Aesir Gods with war. You say you believe in the Vanir but they arent your Gods, can you please elaborate a bit on what you mean by that?
    Oh no, the sir not just were the Gods of or with war while the Vanir are connected with nature and fertility. See for example Vali, Baldr, Vr or Vili - they were sir, but not neccessarily connected with anything concerning war, but were Gods of nature, of spring and the light, of love and water and clouds.

    The sir are - for me - the highest norse Gods; most powerful, most helpful, most wise. I believe in the existence of the Vanir as well as in the existence of the sir, but I just feel a less stronger connection with them. Maybe because they stand (IMHO) for some sort of "state" or "condition", while the sir seem to be in constant movement, development.


    I might be a bit strict with the terms, but since I've seen a lot of people soiling Norse faith with claiming being "satr", but actually are some sort of New Age Wiccans and people using the term "Heathen" while worshipping some Inka-Gods I want to stick to the right terms to describe what I am.

    I am simply not a Heathen in the correct sense of the word. Heathen just means "someone who does not believe in Christianity". Yes, of course, I am not a Christian, but I'm also not a Muslim - and for the Christians a Muslim is a Heathen. I belileve in the faith of my ancestors (forn sir), and I do it in a special way: I'm an satrar.
    Last edited by Blutwlfin; Monday, December 5th, 2005 at 01:22 PM.
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    Sv: Asatru: Is it the right term to use?

    Please be patient with my english, ok?
    Just ask if there is something here that is not clear or if my english sucks
    And.. this post became abit wierd I see

    There is ofcouse different ways to use our old "religion" today.

    Example: You can worship the valious and guidelines of the ancient religion as a "guidebook" for the healthy indo-european nature.

    From the spectre of sirs and Vanir you can choose the once that fit you the most. Some of our forefathers could make smaller religious groups of worshipping Thor or Ty. Some worshipped Heimdallr and some Odin as idols.
    Some took Thor as highest Idol.

    The term Forn Sed requires in my view a practice of the custom.
    They did not seperate the "religion" from "reality".
    They could not question theire religion in the ways we can question juda-christianity today. For them the sirs and the world in Yggdrasil was reality. It was theire story, theire own. Our story, our own

    Gro Steinsland is a Norwegian expert on viking culture and theire customs.
    She opens one of her book asking: What can we call this ancient custom?
    She decides call it "Indo-european religion"

    Perhaps our children could live up to the tag Forn Sed if we teach them right.
    Religions worst enemy is Logic (Loke)
    We are now living in a world of logic, science and culture mixing after 1000 years of christian rules and regulations. Sure, we are stained by that.
    There is alot of christian valious and christian ways to view life in the germanic people and contries today.

    It is very hard to get an understanding of how importaint the forn sed was.
    It is also har to understand how the world of Yggdrasil affected their view on life and the world around them. The sirs impact on our life before Christianity was very special.

    To understand forn sed/satru/paganism you have to forget what you have learned from the christian-european way of religion. In my case the christian-norwegian way of religion.

    Quoted from Varg Vikernes - The Ancient Religion:
    A lot of ethnic Europeans are reluctant to call themselves Pagans, although they would like to call themselves Pagans. The reason for that is amongst other things that: "There are so many dirty, filthy, ganja-smoking hippies who have taken use of the term" (to quote a friend of mine), and sensible people don't really want to be associated with such people.

    In Norway I have been seen as a reason for people not to call themselves Pagans too, and some of the so-called Pagans in Norway have also campaigned against me to ostracize me and alienate me from the whole Pagan movement, but ironically the people who don't want to be associated with me are the same dirty, filthy, ganja-smoking free-love hippies who in turn scare others from calling themselves Pagans.

    I guess nobody has the exclusive rights to the term, but we can do some research and find out more about what Paganism is and was really all about. The term "Pagan" derives according to some from Latin "paganus", that simply means villager. The English term "villain" is originally the same term: a person living in a village or in the countryside. People believe this term was used on the Pagans because Christianity came to the cities first, meaning the people living in the countryside still practiced the old religion for some time, before they too were converted to Christianity - and in the meanwhile were seen as villains.

    The other theory is that Pagan derives from Greek "pagos", that means stone monument or menhir, a term used because the Pagans practiced their rites around stone monuments, like Stonehenge, Externsteine, the stone temples in Ancient Greece, the menhirs in Northern Europe and so forth. Yet we don't know what Pagan really derives from or what it means.

    The other general term used in English is "Heathen". This is the name used by the Christians on the Pagans living in Northern Europe - in the heathery areas by the Atlantic Ocean. So it only means "a person living in a heathery area". That tells us even less about the Pagan religion than the term "Pagan".

    "Odinist" is a modern term, so I won't even bother writing about that, but satru ("belief in the sir" or "faithful to the sir") too is a term invented by Christians and in the Christian era. Instead of a belief in the Hebrew "God", they believed in the sir, the Norse family of gods, so they were simply "believers in" or "faithful to" the sir (that is plural from the Norse ss, that translates as "a source to divine utterance").

    So what did the Pagans themselves use as a name for their religion? Well, why would they need a name for it, when it was the only religion they had and knew of? In Japan they didn't call their Shinto religion by a name either, not until they needed to be able to separate their native religion from the foreign Buddhism and Confucianism. So why should our forefathers name their only religion anything? What we call Paganism was to them simply their age-old traditions, customs and mysteries (secretive religious rites). In Scandinavia we have a name for the old magical practice that supports this claim. You might have heard of sei, that is known as the ritual magic tradition of the Scandinavian women. Norse sei, as a mere of word, has a meaning, and it is the same as Norwegian sed, that simply means "custom". So they called their magical customs nothing more than "the custom".

    The spell casting in Ancient Scandinavia is known as galdr. This was the more masculine type of magic involving runes and incantations, so it should not surprise anybody when I say that galdr translates as "to crow" or "scream", and that it is understood as "incantation" or "magic song".

    When they called their religious customs "the customs" and their magic songs "the magic songs" why should they have some fancy name for the rest of their religious traditions? There simply is no primordial name on the ancient religion. For that reason I have chosen to most often just call it "the ancient religion", as that is the most precise and accurate description I can come up with.

    There is another meaning to the term Pagan, though, that I have not yet mentioned. It is also understood as a name of those who are not Jewish or who don't have a Jewish faith (id est any form of Chirstianity, Islam or Judaism). Because of that I feel comfortable using the term "Pagan" when describing myself (even though it reveals very little about my actual beliefs), because I am not a Jew and I don't have a Jewish faith either.

    However, many of these "Pagans", who claim to have a Pagan faith, have built their faith on Christian interpretations of the ancient religion, and because of that actually believe not in the European gods, but in the European gods as the Christians see them. That is why I ridicule many of the so-called Pagans and feel that we don't have a common goal, because their religious practice is nothing but a mockery of the ancient religion and in fact looks more like some sort of perverted Christian faith, where the whole worldview and philosophy is thoroughly and absolutely Christian.
    Varg Vikernes has alot to say on the subject so here is something to read

    He says alot of things I do not agree with, and alot of things i do agree with.

    Links:
    The writings of Varg Vikernes

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    I too refer to myself as an satrar - while I recognize the Vanir - it is the sirr to whom I rervere. I have no problem with the term Heathen nor with Forn Sir - but do not and I repeat do not call me a pagan LOL.

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