Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

What are the main differences between calling yourself an Asatru and a Heathen?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    The answer is the same as the differences between identifying as Catholic or Christian. Heathenry is the overall worldview, Asatru is a specific, generally folkish, modern interpretation of the Norse Heathen faiths. The word was first used in the late 19th century to describe a branch of occultism and religiously inspired volkism, it was then reused in the early 1970s to name two independently formed revivalist Norse religions in Iceland and the US subsequent to the establishment of Theodism in the US which is an Anglo-Saxon reconstructionist faith. Asatru in the US was a reaction against Wicca and an attempt to recreate the "folk way" of the Norse people, whilst in Iceland it was a reconstruction of the religion followed in the Sagas in Iceland.

    Heathenry has many "sects", Asatru (US) and Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið (Iceland) are just two, others are Theodism (Worldwide), Odinism (Worldwide), Forn Sidr (Denmark), Forn Sed (Norway and Sweden) plus many more. These grouping have specific practices and rites that may or may not be shared with other groups. If you believe in the Heathen worldview and deities then it is fine to identify as Heathen, to identify as Asatru one should be clear about the specifics of the Asatru beliefs.

    While it is true that Heathenry is older than Christianity in Northern Europe the Heathen period of Woden/Odhinn centred cults is not older than 2000 years with its height in the 5th and 6th AD centuries for Anglo-Saxons and for the Norse this lasted up to the 9th century. Prior to the Woden/Odin cults of kingship the main god is Tyr this period is much older but still within the time span of the European Iron Age. Heathenry as it is known from the post-Roman/pre-Christian period is not found in the Bronze Age where we find a proto or pre-Heathen collection of faiths that developed into the Heathenry of the Iron Age.

    Source(s): 24 winters a Heathen
  • 1 decade ago

    There are several different types of heathenism. There are several different names for the gods and goddesses, separated by tradition and time. The tools used in each instance may be different, but for the most part, the observances of Holy Tides and the rituals are quite similar.

    Anglo-Saxon: Anglo-Saxon Heathenry follows the accounts of the two Germanic tribes who invaded the British Isles, the Angles and the Saxons. The most identifiable characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon heathens is the use of the seax, a short sword unique to the inhabitants of the British Isles. Germanic Heathens use different names for the same gods as the Norse. There are no glaring differences between Germanic and Norse traditions. Whether they practice Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Sed, or Theodism they are all Heathens. they can also be classified as folkish, tribalist, or universalist. Folkish insist on the necessity of Northern European heritage, Tribalists take the middle approach between these two perspectives, and emphasizes the cultural identity and history of (reconstructed) Germanic traditions without an emphasis on heritage or ethnicity, and Universalists say that any one who want to follow, or are called by the gods can be a Heathen. The darkside is that there some scumbags who use Heathenism to justify thier racist beliefs. They are NOT true Heathens.

  • 1 decade ago

    Heathenry is a broader descriptive term that includes a variety of Teutonic polytheist beliefs, For example Asatru, Odinism, Theodism, Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Irminsweg - Germanic Heathenry, and I'm sure I forgot some.

    Asatru is just one of them - it's a partly reconstructed norse polytheist belief with a strict hierarchic structure, as defined in the 70's by McNallen and Sweinbjorn Benteinsson, (And the name "asatru" was only invented then, it's NOT thousands of years old.) and as it is practiced today in United States and Iceland, almost exclusively.

    Norse polytheism has many other forms, among them historic reconstructionism which is the most fundamentalist of the norse polytheist paths.

    I prefer to be called a Norse Heathen than Asatru.

    That's it in a nutshell :)

    Edit: LOL, why does anybody else even bother answering, when we have the ultimate authority (Noddy) on R&S? :D Brilliant answer - as always :)

  • 1 decade ago

    All Asatruars are Heathens but all Heathens are not Asataruar. My own perspective is that Asatru is a variety of Heathenism based more on the Viking-Age Scandinavian (more specifically Icelandic) model. It is much less hierarchical than some other varieties of Heathenism, especially Theodism.


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  • Long before Christianity came to northern Europe, the people there - our ancestors - had their own religions. One of these was Asatru. It was practiced in the lands that are today Scandinavia, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and other countries as well. Asatru is the original or native religious belief for the peoples who lived in these regions.


    It means, roughly, "belief in the Gods" in Old Norse, the language of ancient Scandinavia in which so much of our source material was written. Asatru is the name by which the Norsemen called their religion.


    Asatru is thousands of years old. Its beginnings are lost in prehistory, but it is older than Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or most other religions. The spiritual impulses it expresses are as ancient as the European peoples themselves - at least 40,000 years, and perhaps much older. World religions

    Asatru (Norse Heathenism)

    horizontal rule. I suppose that it is like the old addage that All poodels are dogs but all daog aren't poodles. it seems that Asatru is a Norse form of Heathenisim.

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