Ways of the Asatru: Beliefs of the Modern, Northern Heathens

Disarblot by August Malmstrom, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Asatru is a reconstructionist religion of pre-Christian Northern Europe and includes honoring the Norse deities, elements of ancestor worship and a strong commitment to community. Author Michael J. Smith provides a short, practical, down-to-earth guide to this religion in his book Ways of the Asatru: Beliefs of the Modern, Northern Heathens.

A Beginner's Guide to Asatru

While Mr. Smith starts his book with tenets common in Asatru, he addresses the issue of there not being one way to practice the religion early on by encouraging individual practitioners to find their own spiritual path. He has two rules he wants the readers to keep in mind which are:
  • "Be your own scholar, as Asatru is the religion with homework."
  • "Always get different perspectives. This is a religion that has its roots in the past, but is (and must be!) evolved within modern context."
While Ways of the Asatru is an e-book of only 60 pages, the author has packed it full of information geared towards giving those new to Heathenism the tools needed to start practicing the religion immediately. He discusses differing views on divinity within Asatru and gives descriptions of the deities and other beings such as the Jotuns (also known as the giants) and land spirits.

He briefly explains the importance of honoring ancestors in Asatru. He describes the history and meaning of the main feasts, holidays and rituals including the blot and sumbel. He also gives examples of how to incorporate Asatru into everyday life with devotional practice. He doesn't include magic in the book because this isn't stressed in Asatru as much as right living and honoring the gods.

The appendices include sample rituals, symbols of Asatru and beginner's book recommendations so readers can begin to follow his advice on becoming their own scholars. He also gives an extensive bibliography of the books he based his research upon which will prove invaluable to readers who want to go further with their studies.

About Author Michael J. Smith

The author has been involved in Asatru since 1989 and founded the AthelingĂșlf Fellowship which later became the Ulfar aff Jera Tribe in New Hampshire, USA. According to the group's website, they base their religious and ritual practice on Scandinavian polytheistic reconstruction.

He generously offered this book free to the public as well as several other related titles that can be found on the internet. His goal with his books as well as his introductory videos on YouTube seems to be to make Asatru accessible to the general public. In Ways of the Asatru, Michael Smith succeeds in this goal by providing an excellent beginner's resource in the study and practice of this religion.

Publication Details
  • Title: Ways of the Asatru: Beliefs of the Modern Northern Heathens
  • Author: Michael J. Smith
  • Publisher: Harvest-Moon Publishing
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Availability: The book is free to download along with his other titles from the Temple of Our Heathen Gods website.
Source for Mike Smith's bio:  Ulfar aff Jera Tribe. Accessed April 2010.  I believe this site is offline now.

FTC Disclosure:  This book is freely available by the author on the internet and I have not been compensated by the publisher or author for this review.

[Note:  This is an original article by me that was first published at Suite 101.   

© Trish Deneen


  1. The www.ulfar.org website is on it's way to being re-constructed in the coming weeks.


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