This is probably one of those topics I never thought anyone could request. Do not get me wrong, it is not because it is not interesting at all. It is indeed a quite important topic but it has never been very relevant. And when I say relevant, I mean well known to anyone outside Iceland or any Scandinavian country. Things changed when this Ásatrú In Iceland movement started an important expansion outside of our borders. People from many countries not only wanted to know about it but they joined it as well.
What is then “Ásatrú”? If you take its literal meaning, we can easily get an idea. It comes from the words Ása and Trú, which means True (loyal) to the Æsir, The group of main gods of the Nordic Pantheon. In Scandinavia it is also known as Norsk Sed (Nordic tradition) or Forn sed (old tradition). And it is nothing but a new religion based on the revival of the ancient pagan traditions that were alive before the Christianization. That is why it is under the category of German Neopaganism. Nowadays Ásatrú In Iceland is increasing its followers.
It is not just a bunch of people desiring to revive the old customs. It is nowadays an official religion in Iceland and recognized as a religious organization in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The followers of this religion think this was the gift of the original people of Northern Europe. It was part of our Nordic tribes and ancestor for centuries. For this reason, they consider Christianism to be just a tiny recent moment in their lives. Something not natural for them, nor their way of living. Coming back to the origins is not just a nostalgic movement, but what they are meant to do as human beings.
Just like any other religion that was been brought back to life, they have different branches. Some of them are based on the Viking times. Most information available out there comes from such tribe and times. Other branches are based on the Visogoth or Normadic among others. Regardless of this, Ásatrú in Iceland is a not dogmatic religion. This means that every person and community can have their own concept and practices. But they are indeed some common points anyone should build their believe on:
- Life is good and should be lived happily and with bravery.
- Relationship with the gods is not about subjugation but harmony. Anyone can have a direct communication with them.
- You are responsible of your acts. Whatever you do, will bring its own consequences, good or bad.
- One must cherish and worship nature.
- Mankind does not need salvation. Man and women require a state of freedom. This way they can face their destiny with bravery and in an honorable way.
- Humanity is linked to their ancestors. And oneself will become part of our descendants and the same time.
There are different types of ceremony and cults in the Ásatrú:
- Blót or main religious cult.
- Those related to festivities, usually consist in festive dinners.
- The representation of traditions and folklore.
Blóts procedure imply to devote a place or area to the gods, here is where the ceremony will take place. Then three libations are made and afterwards, the oblation.
People would stand in circles and a recipient (usually a hollowed horn) with the libation is then passed on. The first toast is dedicated to the gods, the second to elves and Dísar and the last one, to their ancestors.
The Unexpected Revival Of Paganism Through Ásatrú In Iceland
It does not matter what religion you practice or if you even believe in something or not. These ceremonies and believes are a window to learn about a culture. To understand the way they are through its customs. If you would like to deepen your knowledge about the Nordic Customs, go ahead. It will surely help you discover a side of Iceland that is not commonly seen.