Updated: Jan 21, 2020
This article is intended for discussion. What was historical Heathenry? Is it different from Modern Asatru? (And upfront, I will say Asatru is no better or worse than the Heathenry I keep.)
Why is the moon always forgotten? Everything in modern paganism is about the sun, and all other celestial bodies are seemingly ignored. Our Ancestors saw all the signs in the sky. For example, Jolmanuthr, meaning "Yule Moon." How many people have you heard say "Jol-manuthr" or even know that Yule was a moon and not just a holiday?
The Ynglinga Saga (chapter 8), from the year 1225, lists the three great blots of the year: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day (first day of summer), a Victory-blot.”
This passage states Mid-Winter is about good crops... It does not state Yule or Mid-winter was about the sun. I can pull many other passages to discuss by the way…
The first day of Winter in Norse lore is called "Winter Nights" or "Haustblot" or "Disablot." This is on the Full Moon of Haustmanuthr (meaning "Harvest Moon”), most often in late October, during the harvesting of crops. Three Full Moons after Winter Nights is "mid-winter" or "Yule." This is on the Full Moon of Jolmanuthr, meaning "Yule Moon." Three full moons after Yule is Sigrblot, on the full moon of Goa moon, the start of Norse/Germanic Summer.
Heimskringla Olaf’s Saga Helga 77 “In Sweden there was an age-old custom whilst they were still heathen that there should be a blot in Upsala during Goa moon. Then they would blot for peace and victory for their king. People from all over Sweden were to resort there.” PS- Sigrblot means "victory blot."
The Norse/Germanic word for "moon" is related to the word "month." A month is a lunar cycle, or it was before Christianity and Roman Catholicism and Rome's solar ways changed the entire world. Why do we call a 28, 29, 30, or 31 day fixed period a “month” when it ignores the moon entirely? (Romanization). Heathens did not have a week or days of the week, they had days of the moon, literally. The moon is an easy calendar in the sky no one can argue with.
How many Heathens claim that at least four days of the week are named after Norse gods? (This was a process that started in England, not Scandinavia by the way.). Only Christianity, Judaism, and Islam believes in a One True God who created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. A "week" was not a term Germanic/Norse peoples knew until Roman Catholics and the Roman world introduced that concept to them... And I can pull 9th century poetry to prove Heathens had days of the moon (that were numbered, not given names), not days of the week… Days of the week came with Christianization, and Romanization. And by the way, Christmas means “Christ Mass.” The Christ Mass is a mid-night Mass in Rome done by the pope at Midnight on Dec 24th into the 25th. The Christ Mass has NOTHING to do with Historical Pre-christian and HEATHEN Yule. But a Latin Roman Mass in later Sweden did sound exactly the same as a Latin Mass in Rome…
Asatru has no idea what historical Heathens did, when their holidays were, nor what they believed. They come across to the general public as over-enthusiastic cosplayers that expect others knowledgeable about religion to take them seriously. This is why I am not an Asatruar. I follow “Aldsidu” a word attested in poetry 400 years OLDER than the Eddas and Sagas. I am not better than Asatru, and Asatru is free to do whatever it wants. BUT… most people when adopting a new faith, after leaving Christianity, should do a little fucking research. (Research means “historical sources” and not articles on the internet written by a bunch of hippies quoting zero sources making blind statements as fact.)
What is Yule? What was it about? How was it celebrated? When was it? If someone who celebrates Yule doesn’t even know what it is about, how can they even claim it is important to them? And PS, Winter Nights is the most attested holiday in the historical sources, but because former Christians are used to Xmas and Easter, all we see is happy Yule and Ostara posts (and Eostre was not even a Norse Goddess.) I see this as Christianity continuing in Asatru. Prove me wrong…
I should also note, Asatru does teach orthodoxy. The Wiccanized sumble is universally accepted. I am accused of pushing orthodoxy incorrectly because I am seen as one who attack's Asatru's orthodoxy. (Their dating of Yule to the Solstice is universally pushed by every Asatru organization I know of), and their one cup/horn in a CELTIC circle sach person channeling energy one person at a time, is the Wiccan Sabbat style of Sumble taught by every Asatru org I know of. Asatru has orthodoxy... and I am seen as (rightly so) attacking their orthodoxy and claiming it is not Heathen historically...
For clarity's sake: I do not consider Asatru "wrong". They are free to do whatever they want. However, they should be honest, state they have not done research when they have not, and state their ways are "new" when they are. Dishonesty doesn't follow the Heathen principal of treuua (loyalty, truth.) If they are into the new ways, admit it. Don't claim new ways are historical ways. Nothing wrong with being honest and saying "I follow the Old Gods and new ways."
Also, in complete fairness, most Asatruar are online keyboard warriors. Sure, SOME (the vast minority) have actually done some ritual at home or with others. Most are non-conformists who claim they do... This has been my experience with so many online people I have met... I am thankful to the minority of people that actually practice Heathenry, and are not just discussing SJW issues and other Asatru ideals online. To me a true "Heathen" is one who actually lives and practices the faith (if we are to call it that...)
And the historical groups will ALWAYS be the clear minority, and the overwhelming minority. Asatru will ALWAYS be bigger than Old Ways Heathenry. And that is fine. Lastly, Aldsidu is an Old Saxon word that means "Old Ways/Customs." This word was used in Old Saxon poetry to define the culture/religion/belief of the Saxons. The Saxons knew what their old customs were. They had words like sidu and uuisa ("uuisa" is the Old Saxon word that means "traditions"). Traditions and Customs are just that: Traditions and Customs. What is the difference between Customs and Orthodoxy? Customs and Traditions fall under the definition of "orthopraxy" and not orthodoxy. Religions are generally defined by one of two things: belief or practice. These are the concepts of orthodoxy (belief in a doctrine) and orthopraxy (emphasis on practice or action). Historical Heathenry and Aldsidu certainly emphasized practice and action over belief. An example of orthodoxy in christianity is belief in Jesus is the only way for salvation (John 14:6). Judaism is more about orthopraxy. Jews are not likely to criticize other Jews on what they believe, but on whether or not they keep kosher or observe shabbat. The difference between historical Heathenry (Aldsidu and other forms) and Asatru, is when customs and traditions are celebrated, and how customs and traditions are celebrated. Old Ways Heathens should not criticize Asatru for doing new ways, and vice versa. But I think Old Ways Heathens do have the right to criticize Asatru for claiming new traditions are historical traditions.