Updated: Nov 10, 2021
This is the introduction to a published book of mine, I thought I would share for free as a blog post. What makes a good Heathen? Opinions on this question vary. The large Facebook Heathenry groups will all have different ideas on who a good Heathen is, and what makes a good Heathen. Even the larger Heathen organizations, some of which have in-person groups also will have different opinions.
Most Heathens today are familiar with the term “Asatru.” Asatru means “true to the Aesir.” The Aesir are the primary deities in the Germanic Hall of Gods and Goddesses. “Asatru” is not a word in the Old Norse, Old English, or Old Saxon languages; but was a term invented in modern times. The question I will often ask in this book is: Are modern Heathens and Asatruar true to the Aesir and their Heathen Ancestors?
Let’s define some terms and get some basics out of the way. Most would state that a “Heathen” is an individual who is not an adherent of the major three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. But that is too broad a definition when it comes to Heathenry. We must look to the peoples who at one time held the Aesir as Gods and Goddesses. The Europeans who held the Aesir as deities were known as the “Germanic Tribes.” The “Germanic Tribes” were the tribes that the Romans never conquered. These were the peoples who spoke languages classified Germanic languages. In 9 CE (AD), Arminius, a Cheruskan warlord, defeated 22,000 Roman troops, completely annihilating them; causing Augustus Caesar to abandon his dream of conquering what the Romans called “Magna Germania.” This ensured that the Germanic Tribes in Northern Europe would never be conquered by the Romans. Therefore, the Germanic peoples were outside of the Roman language of Latin and outside of the Roman Catholic religion for almost 800 years until the Christian armies of the Franks under Charlemagne began a crusade of forced Christianization in the late 8th and early 9th centuries.
For our purposes, a Heathen is an individual who honors the Aesir deities by performing one of the following: Solitary ritual, family ritual, or local Heathen community ritual. There are other forms of Heathenry or Paganism, but throughout this book, the word “Heathen” refers to people or peoples who venerate(d) the Aesir. I state "performing ritual" as part of the definition because Heathenry is more than just claiming you are Heathen on Facebook. One either gifts the Gods/Ancestors/Wights or does not.
Pictured below are the lands where the Germanic tribes lived. These are the lands that the Aesir were venerated in historical Heathen times. The only land left out of the picture is England, where Angles, Frisians, and other Germanic people left the lands of modern Netherlands/Germany and brought their Germanic Heathenry with them. We will discuss in more detail later (book only, not the blog), the differences between the Heathenry of the Angles, Saxons, Frisians, and Jutes; and that of the Scandinavian peoples in blue below. The green, yellow, orange, red, and blue areas are where the Aesir were historically venerated.
There are two types of Heathens today. I am not talking about the Folkish vs. Universalist debate. "Asatruar" of both the Folkish and Universalist side of that silly imaginary fence have brought in foreign non-Germanic elements into Asatru, which is the greatest difference between Modern Asatru and Historically based Heathenry. Wikipedia in its article “Heathen Holidays” correctly states that modern Asatru is Norse Heathen Gods and Goddesses with Wiccan Sabbaths as holidays. Most Heathens in the United States and the world venerate the Aesir on Wiccan, Gaelic, and Celtic holidays, while the holy days in which the Germanic Heathens kept in historical times, are almost always tossed aside or are completely unknown and not observed in modern Asatru. I will discuss this in greater detail in the coming pages of this book. Heathenry has the same issues that the big three religions have, adherents who do not read the Lore and learn what the faith is about, just like the monotheistic religions have people who never read Scripture.
Many Heathens will argue that not agreeing on holy days and not keeping the same rituals and customs, really doesn’t affect Heathenry. They will argue that this is one of the benefits of being a heathen, no uniform practice, no monotheistic orthodoxy. However, this lack of orthodoxy (central belief) and orthopraxy (common practice), greatly affects Heathenry, and is one of the largest reasons why most Heathens are not a part of a local Heathen community. Take Christianity for example. Christmas trees, midnight Mass, giving gifts, Sunday services, stockings on the fireplace, etc. are customs that bind families and spiritual Christian communities together. Christians know what Christmas is about, what they are celebrating, when it is celebrated, and why their holy days are holy and what is being celebrated. They know when they are to get together, on Sundays, and on Christmas and Easter, etc. Most Asatruar do not know what the word “Yule” means, or how many days it was (three days) in historical Heathen times. Most modern Heathens do not know when historical Heathen Yule was, and just assume (wrongly) it was on the Winter Solstice. Nonetheless, orthopraxy (common practices) are essential for giving a local group common ground for customs and holy tides to get together on. Historical Heathens knew when the holy days were. Passages like Hakon the Good 15 and Ynglinga Saga 8 make it extremely clear that historical Heathen communities had an agreed upon date for Yule (and other holy days) and common sidu (customs) and thau (traditions) with these holidays. Modern Heathenry has a lot of Facebook warriors, the majority of whom are not in local Heathen groups. They fight over Universalist and Folkish views, instead of reading the Lore, the Eddas, the Sagas, and the historical calendars that survived; i.e. the things that a local community would find essential. This is the biggest advantage that Historical Heathenry has over modern Asatru; what historical Heathens called “thau” and “forn sidu.” Three historical calendars survived, one from the year 725 CE (AD), one from around the year 830 CE (AD), and the other from the year 930 CE (AD). There is also a great deal of information on the two most important rituals in Historical Heathenry (Sumble and Blot) in the Eddas, the Sagas, and other historical sources. Those who follow historical Heathenry will find accurate historical calendars and plenty of documentation to understand how to do Sumble and Blot. Many Asatruar argue that not many Heathen works survived the destruction that the Christians brought. I agree that, so much was destroyed. But those that make this argument clearly have not dived into the sheer volume of Icelandic Sagas (over 700 hundred), both the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the historical calendars, the Heliand, and the vast amount of Old English poetry that survived (300 some odd poems). All the surviving literature is dozens of times larger than the Old and New Testaments combined. Historical Heathenry will always be a road less traveled, as it requires adherents to spend time learning, studying, and growing. The number of Heathens who read the Heathen Lore that survived will always be a minority.
One decent argument modern Asatruar make is that Wiccan, Celtic, or Gaelic holy days do provide common custom. I do agree that this is true. Most Asatru folk, both solitary and those in groups, do keep the Wiccan Wheel of the Year based on the Gaelic Calendar, and the Celtic Calendar. They also make up some days (for one example, The Troth has created “Days of Remembrance.”) However, groups are very inconsistent in using multiple non-Germanic calendars, leading to a lack of continuity. Not to mention, the Gaelic and Celtic calendars are COMPLETELY different from the Germanic Heathen calendars, just as different as Celtic Gods are from Norse Gods. I have not yet heard any Asatru Heathen give me a rational reason why the historical Heathen holy days should be tossed aside in favor of non-Germanic ones, like Celtic and Gaelic holy days. Some have argued with me: “But Robert, we live in a modern world.” My reply is simple: “But the Celtic and Gaelic calendars are not modern calendars, and just as old (maybe even older) than the Norse and Angle/Saxon calendars that survived. Therefore, to toss these calendars for “older” non-Germanic calendars doesn’t make any sense.” Oddly, modern Asatruar claim they follow “the Old Ways.” Yet, they argue that we should “modernize.” My response is, “Well, which is it? Modern Days or historical Heathen days? And by the way, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have had the same calendar for centuries, for over 1,000 years. I strongly believe, had Heathenry survived, Heathens would not have tossed their holy days aside for ones their Ancestors did not even observe. Prove to me historiocal Heathens would have completely abandoned their holy days had Heathenry survived until today!” Many have also argued with me: “Robert, the Heathens kept the seasons.” When they say this, they mean four seasons. However, all historical Heathen sources state clearly the Heathens had only two seasons (like the trees do, and the world-tree, the Irminsul, was the center of Saxon Heathen society, as trees were so important in Germanic thought. Trees have a season with leaves, and without leaves. Also, birds migrate twice a year, the grass has two periods, of growing and of not growing, etc). Heathens did not observe the equinoxes or the solstices. Both historical calendars state clearly that they are lunar (lunisolar), with Summer and Winter starting on Full Moons in our modern months of April and October. Hence, according to both the Norse and the Angle/Saxon calendar, the start of Summer and Winter fell on Full Moons after the equinoxes, as the Germanic tribes lived well north of the equator. I find neo-Pagan or modern Asatru arguments to not be logical. In an Ancestral religion, tossing aside the practices of our Heathen Ancestors in favor of foreign ones makes ZERO sense. I don’t think anyone can rationally argue in an Ancestral religion like Norse/Germanic Heathenry, that ignoring the Ways of our Heathen Ancestors is wise. PS- I find the Christian Church to be more "Heathen" than Asatruar. The church dates Easter via the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Historical Anglish and Frankish Heathens celebrated Ostar or Eostre on the First Full Moon after the vernal equinox. Norse Heathens celebrated this full moon too, but it was called "Sigurblot." It was a Norse blot for "victory" for the coming summer raiding and trading season. Eostre is not a Norse Goddess, despite modern Asatru's (false) claims. Like Catholics wrongly believe prayer to Mary is in the New Testament, it seems many modern Asatruar think "Eostre" or "Ostara" is a Goddess in the Eddas, which implies to me clearly that they have not read the Eddas or Sagas, as Eostre is clearly NOT in the Eddas, and "Ostara" is a Wiccan Sabbath on the vernal Equinox and is a mis-spelling of the Old English "Eostre" and the Old Low Franconian "Ostar." Eostre is also not the name of a moon in the Norse calendar. The Anglish, and Frankish calendars clearly had a moon named Eostre (or Ostar). Let me define a couple more terms: “Heathen,” and “forn sidu.” The word Heathen is found in many historical texts. My favorite historical text is the Heliand, an early 9th century gospel. While many believe I am nuts as a Heathen to read a gospel, the fact is, historical heathenry is in this gospel. The changes made to the gospel story show what historical Heathenry was. Uuoden and his wife Fria (Odin and Frigg to the Norse) are clearly shown in the Heliand; Uuoden with a Raven on his shoulder and Fria’s flying feather shirt are within the pages of the Heliand. What is also in the Heliand, is the word “Heathen.” Please read the Old Saxon passage below, and my notes in blue, which clearly define the term “heathen” in its historical context.
I am an Old Saxon Heathen. I read Old Saxon daily. Old Saxon has a word “forthrun” meaning “ones who brought us forth” or our “Ancestors.” In Heathenry, our Ancestors were venerated. They were venerated more than the Gods and Goddesses daily. At family meals (something often ignored in our modern world where people don’t sit at a family table to share a meal on a daily basis); this was the time when the Ancestors were remembered most. I am not saying that the Gods and Goddesses known as the Aesir were not thought of daily by historical Heathens. What I am saying is that in modern Heathenry, the Gods and Goddesses get all the press; whereas an individual’s more recently departed Ancestors were thought of and venerated more often at the family level in historical Heathen times, as historical Heathenry was Family first, Clan second, Tribe third. Uurd (Old Norse Urthr) was also thought of daily. In the Old Saxon gospel known as the Heliand, Uurd and her Shapers (Urthr and her Norns in Old Norse) were present at every birth, every death, and every significant life event of Christ and John the Baptist, but are completely absent in Scripture. Uurd (or Fate to use a more modern word) is in the Heliand around three dozen times. Modern Heathenry focuses on the Gods and Goddesses almost exclusively, with much less thought given to one’s Ancestors or Uurd. Part of the reason for this is due to the Universalism, as discussing one’s genealogy has been deemed as a racist behavior by some groups. It seems over the top yes, but fear of racism due to the Universalist and Folkish debate has had devastating effects on Heathenry to the point it doesn’t function as historical Heathenry did. For example: The Angles, Saxons, Frisians, and Jutes felt that there was an earth-born God named Tuisto, who gave birth to Mannus, who gave birth to Irmin (Odin), Ing, and Istae. These three Gods were the progenitors of all the Germanic tribes according to Tacitus who divided the Germanic tribes into 3 groupings based on their descent: Irminones, Ingvaeones, and Istvaeones. See Tacitus “Germania” chapter 2, written in the late first century. The sequence in which one God has a son, who has three famous sons, has a resemblance to the Norse creation story of how Búri has a son Borr who has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. I believe the ‘Tuisto to Mannus to Ing, Irmin, and Istae’ genealogy is the beginning of the fully developed Norse Eddaic genealogy of Odin, which obviously evolved over time. My point is, the Gods were considered ancestral. If Heathenry were to go back to its historical roots of venerating Ancestors as much as they were in historical times, and back to its roots of seeing the Gods and Goddesses as Ancestral deities, it risks being labeled incorrectly as “racist.” Historical Heathens were not racists. Two Arab travelers (Ahmad Ibn Fadlan and Ibrahim al-Tartushi) witnessed Norse ritual and wrote accounts of what they witnessed. These travelers were not shunned but allowed to watch. They were not however, allowed to lead ritual. Foreigners were seen as foreigners but were not discriminated against. In Sweden, one particular ritual, Alfablot, was a clan only ritual in which members of the clan did not allow any foreigner to attend. Alfablots were also lead by the women, and not by the men. I will also discuss this in greater detail below (in the book, but not in this blog); but my point is that when the Gods are seen as our Ancestors, it causes issues in modern Heathenry.
I have seen many Facebook posts saying that Odin is All-Father, i.e. father of all peoples. To be blunt, this is not what the phrase meant to historical Heathens. History proves this to be true as well, as the Romans and Greeks for example had their own pantheons of Gods and Goddesses which clearly did not include Odin and the Aesir. Odin was completely unknown in Japan and China for example, and Africa. The Aesir were not known by most of the Europeans, but were known only to the Germanic tribes. The Norse were aware that many peoples whom they encountered were not familiar with their Gods and Goddesses. These are not racist statements, but historically accurate ones. It is like stating that Jesus was a Jew, or that Zeus is a Greek God.
When a prominent Asatru group puts on their Facebook site the words “white, European ancestors…” we have two problems. Outside of the glaring word that will cause people to think about racism, we have a false idea that all peoples of Europe knew the Aesir. When the Saxons traveled the seas, or the Norse Vikings were on a raid in a foreign land, they did not expect the foreigners to know of their Ancestral Gods.
There is another very important word that is found in the historical sources: forn-sidu. In a sense, this is a compound word, “forn” meaning “old” and “sidu” which means “customs” or “ways.” All Heathen groups today claim that they follow the “Old Ways.” I find this to be decidedly untrue. Wicca was founded in 1954, a fact that cannot be argued. Wiccan holidays, are simply modern versions of the old Celtic Calendar. As stated above, the Celts did not venerate the Aesir, and their holy days were not the same as that of the Norse or the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, and other Germanic tribes. While I am sure my readers have already figured out that I am a historical Heathen, a reconstructionist; I do not think it is up to me what individuals do. I do however believe all people who label themselves Heathen should know what they do in terms of their holidays and rituals, and be honest about where they come from. Heathens for example should know that “Ostara” is a mis-spelling of the Goddess Eostre or Ostar, who is only known to the Saxons, Angles, Franks, Jutes, and Frisians. Ostar is only attested by Einhard in his Life of Charlemagne, chapter 29 written in 830 CE (AD); and by Bede in his De Temporum Ratione of 725 CE (AD). Einhard was a Frank discussing the Heathen Saxon calendar, and Bede was an Angle (from Northumbria) writing of the Angles and the Saxons and their calendar. Ostar/Eostre/Easter is not mentioned in any Norse source, not the Icelandic Sagas or the Prose or Poetic Eddas, or any Norse document. Ostara is a made-up word, an attempt by Jakob Grimm in the mid 19th century in his “Deutche Mythologie” to reconstruct Bede’s Eostre into the High German language of his day. Problem with this is Einhard, who was one of our two sources of the Goddess Eostre/Ostar, was a High German Frank and clearly used the word “Ostar.” Therefore, the High German word for “Easter” is Ostar. Ostar and Eostre are words that are both pronounced the same. One is Old English (the language of the Angles) and the other is Old Saxon (the language of the Saxons) and Old Frankish. Please remember, both Old English and Old Saxon were written in Runes. But the letters you are reading here are Latin letters, though I am writing in modern English. My point is the Christian monks, who preserved both Old English and Old Saxon, wrote down these languages with Latin letters, making guesses as to their spellings. Writing Old English or Old Saxon with Latin letters is about as logical as writing Hebrew with Latin letters. Germanic languages had sounds that the Latin languages did not have, and often two letters were used for one Germanic Rune, like “ph” “th” and “uu” (w; is a double-u. Please note that the Romans did not have a Y sound, as the Latin and Greek Y had more of a U sound. Therefore, students of Old English and Old Saxon must rely on wise judgement, as words like “thegnos” “negel” “segel” “dag” are really G letters pronounced like a Y in the Old Saxon/English language like their modern English equivalents: thane, nail, sail, day, etc.) My point is, “Ostara” is a Wiccan Sabbath, and a mis-spelling the Old English Eostre and the Old Saxon Ostar. If a modern Heathen wants to use the Celtic or Wiccan calendar to venerate Norse or Saxon Gods and Goddesses, that is their choice. Historical Heathens have a completely different religion, and thought process, and need to break away from the large Asatru movement. This may sound like a radical statement. But it is sincere.
Let me give this example, a true story about me. I was a member of one of the largest Facebook pages of Asatru. This organization’s Facebook page at the time had over 14,000 people on it. This movement, claims to be (as of June 2017) the largest growing Asatru movement in the world. This could be true. I posted on their group around the time of the Wiccan Ostara, about Sigurblot. Sigurblot one of the four attested Norse holidays in the lore (see Ynglinga Saga chapter 8). I asked why people were posting about their celebration of a Wiccan holiday, and explained that Ostar was not a Norse Goddess. Many people took offense, including the leaders. I asked them why no one mentioned or celebrated Sigurblot which is listed in Ynglinga Saga chapter 8. The leaders literally read my post, and they replied stating that Sigurblot was not in Ynglinga Saga chapter 8. They stated that “victory blot” was. However, Sigurblot is an Old Icelandic word that means “victory blot.” The leaders decided that I “made up” Sigurblot as a Norse holiday, and threw me out of their Facebook page. These are Heathen leaders of possibly the largest Asatru group in the world, that had zero idea what Sigurblot is. The leader of this group said his favorite TV show was “The Last Kingdom.” Season 2 of the last Kingdom was released in America the same day I was tossed from their group. I bring this up because in Episode 4 of Season 2 of The Last Kingdom, a character mentioned Sigurblot as being the major blot that begins summer. Obviously, the folks at BBC America, Netflix, and Carnival who produce The Last Kingdom know historical Heathenry better than these leaders. I have met many people who do LARP and SCA. While they are re-enactors, and not Heathens, they know what Sigurblot is, and many non-Heathens who are fascinated with Norse culture do. I understand that we live in a time of two very successful TV shows: Vikings and The Last Kingdom. These two shows are bringing people into Heathenry in droves. But they also are bringing in a very large group of people who will never read the Sagas, Eddas, or historical sources, who read websites by un-educated Asatru “leaders” and just believe what they say without any form of verification or self-study. The WWW has more inaccurate information about historical Heathenry than accurate information about Historical Heathenry because those who write these Websites have failed to study the historical sources. They are like Catholics who never read the Bible who believe that prayer to Mary is in the New Testament, but will never read the New Testament to know otherwise.
This brings me to the two reasons why I am writing this book: 1. I am hoping to educate people on the historical Norse and Saxon holy days. I will post the Saga, Edda, and historical source references below proving what holy days the Norse and Saxons kept. 2. To encourage historical Heathens to create their own local groups outside of the large Asatru Organizations, as Sumble, Blot, and all rituals which are in Asatru today, are not modeled after the Lore or historical sources, and the holy days are taken from modern Wiccan Sabbaths or the Celtic calendar. While these are not bad or wrong in their own right, I have learned that historical Lore reading Heathens simply do not mix well with neo-Heathens. This is not an attack on neo-Heathenry (modern Asatru), but simply a true statement. If one wanted to do Sumble the way it is shown in Beowulf vs 489-675, or Heimskringla Olaf's Saga Trygvasson chapter 35; almost 100% of all Asatruar would oppose such a thing. (Please see my chapter below on Sumble Facts and Myths, in the book, not this blog.) While many may argue, “But Robert, who cares if they do Wiccan holy days?” I get it, in a sense doesn’t matter. However, some people in these groups will read the Lore, the Sagas, the Eddas, and ask “Why are we not doing what the Norse or Heathens did in historical times?” This always happens, a minority reads the Lore, are truly interested, and want to put into their lives the practice of living the Lore. Now some may reply, “But Robert, not everyone who reads the Lore would want to do such antiquated practices!” To this I would reply, “If the practices are antiquated, why do you think the Gods who loved and accepted these practices are not also antiquated? Why do you claim that you promote the Old Ways when you don’t follow them and feel they are antiquated?”
Some may argue: Why not just use UPG? Why not just make up stuff and through trial and error come to a more “modern” practice? My response: Our Ancestors had more centuries experience at venerating our Ancestral Gods than we do. To ignore their great wisdom is foolish. Most likely, a twelve-year-old historical Heathen forgot more Heathenry than we will ever know. The Gods and Goddesses want us to “worth” ourselves before them. This is what the word “worship” literally means, i.e. “geld” meaning “worth-ship.” Anything worth having in life: a career, marriage, children; requires work. The more you put in, the more you will get out. Our Ancestors knew how the Gods would be pleased, and they also were wise enough to know our Gods are not like the Christ God, always forgiving and under the false belief that the Gods, Goddesses, Wights, and Ancestors would always listen to us no matter what our behavior is. We are our deeds. Half-assed unresearched ritual will not make anyone worthy of the Gods and Goddesses, nor our Ancestors. We need to approach the Gods and Goddesses the way they want to be approached, and not necessarily how we want to approach them.
The fact of the matter is, a Heathen trying to recreate historical Heathenry in our modern world will not last long in modern Asatru. And I have learned, you can’t change them, and you should not try. That is more christian in mindset, i.e. conversion. The best thing to do is found a separate local community that does Heathenry based on the Lore, the way historical Heathens did. Those who want Christain/Wiccan holidays will not give those up. And they can continue in their faith, causing no harm. (I say “Christian” because twelve days of Yule and Ostara are really Heathen Xmas and Easter. People have a hard time breaking away from monotheistic thought, though almost all claim otherwise.)
My friend, Joseph Charles Koerner told me once: “As a Reconstructionist, a central operating principle of mine is to accept the ancestors as they really were and not romanticized them into what modern/post-modern sensibilities say humans should be. In fact, I assert that the more one learns about the ancient mind, the more one begins to understand the cultural context of the holy days, and why those ancient cultures believed them necessary. In other words, I don't understand people who raise a horn and say, "Hail to the ancestors!" when they disagree with 85% of what those ancestors believed and practiced in their daily life. How is this returning to our roots? Isn't that what New Age does?”
Throughout this book, I will be comparing two forms of Heathenry, or two forms of Asatru: 1. Modern Neo-Heathenry (that the large Asatru groups and organizations follow) and 2. Historical Heathenry from the Sagas, Eddas, and historical sources. To simplify this out of the gate, historical Heathens are different from modern Asatruar in two major ways: a. They follow one of the three historical calendars that survived from Heathen times, instead of following Wiccan or Celtic or other non-Germanic holidays. b. They use the Lore and historical sources to design their rituals which take place according to one of the two historical lunar Heathen calendars. Modern Asatruar on the other hand, follow Wiccan versions of Sumble and Blot, not based on the historical sources or the Lore.
What I plan on doing in this book, is showing what makes Historical Heathenry different from modern Asatru Neo-Paganism, i.e. the calendars of the historical Norse and Saxon peoples, and how ritual was done according to the ancient source materials. I am going to quote websites of the major Heathen groups, which clearly state what these Heathen groups believe, and compare their practices and their holy days with the Eddas, Sagas, and the historical sources highlighting how different they are. Please note that all Neo-Heathen or Neo-Pagan websites that I cite here, are as of June 2, 2017. Sometimes, I will not come off as polite, I am sure. For example; many neo-Pagans or neo-Heathens celebrate a holy day named after a Christian saint who persecuted Heathens and advocated the destruction of their faith, and their holy places. I should call that out, bluntly. I will site my sources. This may be unpleasant, but some things just need to be said.
Heathens make fun of Christians at times, saying they will follow anyone off a cliff. I would say back to the Heathens who say that, “Don’t do the same. Read the sources. Before you celebrate a holy day, research it, learn what it is about, when it came about, and if our Germanic Heathen Ancestors celebrated it.” In other words, know what you do and why you do it. Just going through the motions will not worth yourself to the Gods and Goddesses, nor your Ancestors.
Lastly, to close this introduction, I must state that many modern Heathens who do not read the historical sources do not realize that the Saxons and Angles had a different “pantheon” than the Norse. The Saxons, Angles, and all Nordic tribes did venerate the Aesir. Only the Norse knew the Vanir. Only the Saxons, Angles, Frisians, Franks, and Jutes knew of Ostar, Hretha, and Sahsnoth. I mention this, because most Heathens today are Norse Heathens, and not Saxon or Anglo-Saxon Heathens. I respect both of these forms of Heathenry, but since the Norse did not know Ostar, or Eostre, obviously Norse Asatruar who do “Ostara” not only are doing a Wiccan Sabbath practice, but incorporating a Goddess who is not even in Norse literature into their practice, a Goddess who was not a Norse Goddess at all! Now, many will ask “What is the harm in that?” My response: “No harm. But you teach newcomers that Easter is a Norse Goddess by this practice. By stating that you are a Norse Heathen group, and doing things Norse Heathens did not do historically, the newcomer will assume your practice is historical Norse Heathenry. What I expect, is that you know what you do and why, and are honest when teaching this to your groups.” I think this is fair. Most Catholic priests know that the word “Christmas” means “Christ Mass.” I expect Asatru leaders to know the basics of Heathenry.
Nonetheless, I hope you all are more inspired to read the Germanic Lore and historical sources, to learn and appreciate what our Heathen Ancestors did, by reading this short book. I cite my sources. Without any further delay, let us first delve into the Lore and historical sources and see what holy days Germanic Heathens kept in historical times, before comparing them to modern Asatru’s calendars. (Skipping from my book's intro to my books conclusion, after showing that the modern Heathen "organizations" by their own public websites and published books contradict the Eddas, the Sagas, and the historical Calendars that survived in the chapters of my book.).
Let me begin my conclusion by stating that the Asatru Folk Assembly, the Asatru Alliance, The Assatru Community, Inc. and the Troth are not “wrong.” They are modern Asatru groups or organizations. If Historical Heathenry is not for you, I do respect that, and you are free to chose the path of neo-heathenry or neo-paganism, and not a reconstructionist or historically based Heathenry. If you chose the non historical path, I expect you to be honest and not lie to people claiming you do the "Old Ways." Dishonesty is not a noble virtue.
The purpose of this book is to use these organizations’ own words to state what they teach and believe based on their public websites as of June 2, 2017. The goal was not to bash them or to say anything negative. In my humble opinion, this is an important time for Heathenry. Two very successful TV shows, History Channel’s “Vikings” and BBC2/Netflix/Carnival’s “The Last Kingdom” are bringing in lots of new people into Heathenry. These newcomers, read the major Heathen organization’s websites and the first thing they think is that these organizations are teaching what historical Heathens did. My book is to give a simple background of what the “Norse” or “Viking” Heathens really celebrated, and how they celebrated. My goal was to do the same for the tribes of the Angles and Saxons.
If Historical Heathenry is for you, I am easy to find on Facebook (Robert Sass.) Please reach out. There is a historical Heathen group in the Chicago area with over 30 members. I am the founder of the group. If you are not from Chicago, I would love to help aid anyone sincerely interested in learning historical Heathenry. I give away free PDF copies of my Saxon Heathenry books. However, there is no substitute for reading the historical sources.
Thank you for reading, and I would encourage all of you to read the Eddas, the Sagas, the Heliand, and Old English poetry.
Robert Sass, June 3, 2017 Join us on Facebook, in the closed group called "Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry"