The Essentials of Asatru: Community, Food & Nature
Asatru, or Norse Paganism, can be a challenging faith to get your head around. It takes time and effort to dive deep into the history, our ancestors, the practice, and rituals within the faith. However, if I should focus in on a few things that I, personally, think that sums up Asatru quite well – I would go for Community, Food, and Nature.
Asatru is first and foremost about the folk and the community. This is both true for the history of our ancestors and for the faith today. Both the Poetic Edda and the Hávamál, among other original sources, signifies the importance of social qualities, such as hospitality, family, brothers and sisters, and the community at large. The essence of many stories within the faith are also often surrounding gatherings of people, sharing food and drinks, feasting, doing offerings together, sitting around the fireplace together, and so forth.
This is more relevant than ever before, if you can say so, since the modern times have in many cases left people feeling alone and disconnected from our communities and the surroundings that used to be our main focus in life. Luckily, many gatherings, markets, festivals, etc. are increasingly happening all around the world. This happens as more and more people select this path and seek to live a life that’s connected with the community and our nature as living beings.
Food is essential. Both for our survival and as an event for gathering people, sharing, and supporting the community and each other. Good food is nourishing for our bodies and minds. Sharing food is good for our well-being, community, and sense of belonging. Food is also included in the Poetic Edda and Hávamál when talking about hospitality and gatherings. Sharing food is in our DNA. It brings people together and it unites people under one roof.
Today, many gatherings include making and sharing food and drinks together as an essential part of the events. This includes not only eating the food and drinking the drinks, but also collecting the ingredients and making the food and drinks – together. The process of making the food and drinks is similarly important to sharing the food and sitting together in communion.
In Asatru, nature is our main house of worship. This is where we often meet with our fellow folk, this is where we calm down, and this is where we connect with our gods through rituals and practice. Nature is key to our spirituality and the lifestyle it is to live as an Asatrui. Like community and food, the importance of nature is mentioned throughout all the original sources that we have available today, including the Poetic Edda.
We meet in nature, we venerate in nature, we live in nature. Asatru is a polytheistic and animistic faith and lifestyle. Polytheistic meaning that we venerate many gods, and animistic, meaning that we venerate spirits within select parts of the world surrounding us. This includes prominent, often elder, trees. It can include weather phenomena. It may include stones and rivers, mountains and forests, deserts, and lakes. Really it is a connection that we feel and that we connect with. And of course, it also includes animals and other living beings that we share the world with.
Thus, Asatrui and other pagans, are often some of the first to ensure that the nature around us is clean and inhabitable by not only ourselves, but also the animals, bugs, birds, fish, butterflies, plants, trees, and others that make this place a truly beautiful place to be.
Community, Food & Nature
Bringing it all together, community, food, and nature are some of the most essential parts of what it means to live as an Asatrui. This is part of our history, but interestingly, these three things are more relevant today than ever before. We need a flourishing and healthy community, we need enough and healthy foods, and we need the beautiful, and hopefully, healthy nature around us. Because without it, we’re nothing.
Personally, every day when I get out of bed, I think about these three aspects of life; community, food, and nature. Every day, I plan of what to do with each of them today. And every day, when the day comes to an end, I rank my day in terms of these three factors; community, food, and nature. Specifically, I give each factor a health ranking of either red, yellow, or green. This helps me to live the life that I want to live, and doing so with respect and care for the folk and our surroundings – everywhere, and every day.