I'd like to thank you as well. We haven't had much comprehensive information on Asatru on the the site and you've provided a really great read for anybody who is interested... very nicely done!
Hope it's ok that I made it a sticky. I think it rates one.
No, no problem at all. Excellent, actually. I'm kind of trying to break it up into parts, keep it going back and forth. Hopefully that way it can be digested in increments and more fully absorbed and understood. It also helps me keep focused so I don't forget anything. Each segment is pretty much self-contained. Bear with me
As mentioned before, the core unit of the Asatru community is the kindred
, which is a group of individuals, usually from the same general area. Some groups cover a more broad land area and subsequently may meet less often- these types of groups sometimes refer to themselves as tribes
, which may also be a general term for a loose alliance of kindreds. Ritual practices are usually led by a high priest, called a gothi
and/or a high priestess, known as a gythia
. Gothar must be well-versed in the lore and practices of Asatru, and can either be elected or established as such by being kindred founders or owning the land on which rites and rituals are practiced.
Also, some kindreds also appoint a law-speaker
, who works to maintain frith, which is an understood peace among bl?t attendees and kindred members. In some instances, a law-speaker may be required to prevent strife by intervention, which may mean the removal of an individual or multiple individuals from the ritual area until whatever disagreement is settled and frith restored.
Traditional Asatru kindred structure is democratic, and kindred business is usually handled accordingly by vote. Some decisions may be made by majority or
unanimous vote, and all members (including the gothar) have equal say in all kindred matters. New visitors to a kindred may be subject to a probationary period according to kindred bylaws, during which a visitor may be extended invitation to all kindred events and entitled to full and equal hospitality, but without receiving full rights and privileges of kindred members. Membership is usually decided by unanimous kindred vote upon the completion of a probationary period. Membership into most kindreds then requires the swearing of a ritual oath to the kindred and it's bylaws in the presence of all full members. Removal from a kindred requires a formal dissolution of kindred oaths, which is also decided by vote.
The rites and rituals of Asatru are usually, though not always, held outdoors. An outdoor ritual area is known as a ve
, and for obvious reasons the more the private the ve
better. Some kindreds have been able to construct halls
, though it is rare. An indoor ritual area is known as a hof
. A ve
is usually a circular area, which centers around a fire. At the north side of the ve
, there is for those kindreds capable of having one, a horgh
- which is a stationary stone altar. Ours is made from stones donated by kindred members, who brought them from their respective homesteads. Some kindreds, due to location, are unable to construct a permanent horgh
, so many kindreds make do with whatever is available. Within the boundaries of the ve
, it is forbidden to break frith, spill human blood, or defecate under any circumstances.
The core Asatru ritual is bl?t
), which translates as sacrifice
, or worship
. In modern Asatru, the ritual of bl?t
itself varies widely from kindred to kindred, so giving a general overview of the ritual can be quite difficult. Our kindred usually opens bl?t by calling to the God Heimdall- I bid a hearing from all holy wights, the greater and lesser of Heimdall's children
. Heimdall, as the watchman of Bifrost, calls to attendance the Gods of Asgard for bl?t. The phrase given above is from Voluspa
, and after it is spoken a blowing horn is blown three consecutive times- representative of Gjallarhorn. The next step is the hammer rite, which may be performed in it's full or modified form. A ritual hammer is raised high to the northern sky, after which the gothi proclaims Hamar ? Nor?ri helga v? ?etta v?r? ok ok hald hindr alla illska!
- "Hammer of the north, hold and hallow this stead". This ritual wards off ill wights and places the ve
under the protection of Thor. The "hammer sign" is then performed, after which the gothi or gythia may perform the act again in the other three directions or move on to the next part of the bl?t. Following the hammer right, the actual bl?t is performed, which may require the gothi or gythia to recite certain passages of the lore, as well as write and speak their own message in honor of a particular God or Goddess. Immediately following this may be some sort of sacrifice, blessing, or rune galder. There may be more poetry or symbolic or philosophical message after this, then the bl?t is concluded with a blessing and a closing horn-call.
After bl?t usually comes sumbel
. Again, different kindreds may practice sumbel in any number of ways. We usually perform sumbel immediately after bl?t, as do many kindreds- though some may do it the night before bl?t, the night after, the morning after, some integrate sumbel into bl?t, some rarely or never practice sumbel at all. Essentially, it is a drinking ritual- traditionally we drink from drinking horns, though it is not required, and we usually drink beer (the finer the better!) or mead, though I have also seen wine at sumbel several times. Our form of sumbel consists of three rounds of toasts. Sumbel is usually less formal than bl?t, and our's usually begins with the person seated at the northernmost seat. Whoever has the horn
stands when they speak, and if other members feel strongly or are in agreement with what the speaker is saying, they may also stand in support.
The first round is to a God- it could be your patron, your kindred's patron, the God or Goddess honored at bl?t, or just a God or Goddess you're feeling close to at the moment- though it must
be a Germanic God. You may choose, if you like, to elaborate as to why this particular God is special to you at the moment, after which you hail
, and all others in attendence may hail
in agreement. The second round is to heroes and ancestors. This may be a a person you know personally, a historical figure you admire, a living person you admire but may not necessarily know personally, or any relative or ancestor living or passed on. Again, others may or may not choose to join you, after which you hail
. The third and final official round of sumbel is for boasts, brags, toasts, and hopes for the future. You may hail
a person, place, or thing, but for the third and final round you're usually dealing with ideas, accomplishments, and goals- so generally in round three you skaal
Sometimes at moots, high sumbel
performed. In this format, the gothar sit at a "high table"
. The entire group participates in rounds one and three, but only the gothar at the high table participate in the second round.
If possible, most kindreds try to feast
for every bl?t and sumbel. Again, this varies kindred to kindred. Some feast before bl?t, some between bl?t and sumbel, and some after the initial three rounds of sumbel. We usually feast first, and by the time formal sumbel is over we're ready for dessert or seconds.
Some kindreds prefer to dress in period garb for bl?t, sumbel, and other rituals, but others do not. Personally, I don't even own any period clothing and I don't think it's necessary. Really, I'm not sure anyone really thinks it's necessary, and that those who do choose to do it do so for the fun of it. It doesn't serve any practical or ritual purpose. I don't suppose the ancestors dressed like cavemen, and I don't think it's necessary I dress like the ancestors. I usually wear my regular sort of clothes, though keeping in mind that I'll be outside for an extended period of time and it may be cold, hot, wet, or muddy.
Again, if there are any questions, feel free to shoot. I'd be glad to answer them.