3RD EDITION
 Copyright (c) 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 by Lewis Stead. All rights
 reserved. Permission granted for free electronic distribution provided
 of this work in (and only in) its entirety.  Hardcopy editions are
 available for $8 from Asatru Today; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175;
 Wheaton MD 20902.
 When I first became involved with Asatru, there was little available
 in the popular press on the subject of our faith, so I began to write
 an essay here and a pamphlet there on various topics of interest to
 Norse Pagans.  At various times I entertained the notion of fleshing
 out these various pieces into a book and submitting it to a publisher.
 Eventually good quality books became available on Asatru, such as
 kveldulfr Gundarsson's TEUTONIC RELIGION, and I decided to take a
 different route.  While commercial books were available, the best
 contender was trapped in a publishers pipeline for almost 2 years, and
 there was a clear need for information to be made available quickly,
 and more importantly to people who didn't want to spend money to find
 out a bit about the Norse tradition.  I compiled everything together
 in the Spring of 1993, and released the book to the public free of
 charge through various computer networks such as America Oline,
 CompuServe, and the Internet
 So far, hundreds of people have downloaded (and presumably read)
 Ravenbok from various computer networks.  This new medium has allowed
 us to reach people with an unprecedented speed and ease.  It also
 allows frequent updating, since there is no cost to produce or obtain
 the most recent verison.  I have been very gratified by the comments
 I've received, and would encourage other would-be authors to think
 twice about whether we need yet another $9.95 production from Mooncash
 books or whether our community would be better served by free
 information.  I've always been most interested in getting the
 informatino out to people.  If there's already something in
 bookstores, why not get it out to a new audience?  After all, religion
 is about sharing the faith of the Gods, not making money.
 Ravenbok is a continuing project, andthis third edition is new and
 expanded.  It is the first one to carry the name Ravenbok, which comes
 from the original computer name of RAVENBOOK.ZIP.  It first saw
 physical print in the summer of 1993.
 Finally a quick word about intellectual property rights.  While it has
 been released free of charge, Ravenbok remains copyrighted by me.  It
 may only be distributed electronically, FREE OF CHARGE, IN ITS
 ENTIRETY, with nothing added or removed.  Print copies are available
 at the address above, and Ravenbok may not be distributed in hardcopy
 form either free or for charge.  The appendixes are pamphlets my
 kindred distributes, and are meant to be distributed.  eel free to
 copy them, and add your own kindred's name and address (please leave
 ours too!) and hand them out.
 Finally, my thanks to my kinsmen for providing me with support, ideas,
 and contributions to this work.  While I have done the bulk of the
 writing, this book represents the ideas and concepts of The Raven
 Kindred as much as they do my own.
 Lewis Stead (lstead@cais.com)  June 1994, Wheaton, MD
 Less than a thousand years ago the elders of Iceland made a fateful
 decision.  Under political pressure from Christian Europe and faced
 with the need for trade, the Allthing or national assembly declared
 Iceland to be an officially Christian country.  Within a few centuries
 the last remnants of Nordic Paganism, which once stretched through all
 of Northern Europe were thought dead.  However, Iceland was a tolerant
 country and the myths, stories, and legends of Pagan times were left
 unburnt to kindle the fires of belief in later generations.  In 1972,
 after a long campaign by poet and Gothi Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson,
 Iceland once again recognized Nordic Paganism as a legitimate and
 legal religion.
 Iceland and Sweden were the last two bastions of the Pagan religion
 originally practiced by the people of the various Germanic tribes.
 Today Nordic Paganism also known as Odinism, Heathenism, Northern
 Tradition, or Asatru (an Old-Norse term meaning "loyalty to the Gods")
 is practiced in virtually all the countries where it originally
 flourished as well as America and Australia.  It is one of a body of
 religions calling themselves Neo-Paganism which include Druidism, the
 revival of ancient Celtic Paganism, and Wicca or Neo-Pagan Witchcraft.
 However Asatru remains largely unknown even within the community of
 Neo-Pagan believers.
 This book is intended as a basic introduction to the beliefs and
 practices of the Raven Kindred of Asatru.  We do not pretend to be
 experts and won't act as if we were.  Rather we are simply believers
 in the Old Gods seeking to share our practice and research with others
 who are true to the Aesir.  Our aim is to present a simple guide which
 will allow easy understanding of the principles behind Asatru and to
 give hints for further study and exploration.
 While we attempt to be historically accurate to our religion's roots,
 it's important to note that there are many things that we simply don't
 know or which aren't written in stone.  It is very important to us to
 stay as true to the ways of the old Pagans as is possible.  While we
 occasionally need to flesh out our systems where we don't have direct
 evidence of our ancestors ways, we are not likely to simply make up
 things.  In those places where the various myths, legends, and
 folklore are not clear, we have tried to indicate this.
 The most important thing for modern people to remember about Asatru is
 that it is a religion.  It is not a system of magick or spirituality
 or "New Age Practice" which can be grafted onto something else or onto
 which other "systems" can be grafted wholesale.  Asatru is a word
 derived from "As" a God of the Aesir family and "tru" meaning troth.
 To be Asatru is to be bound by loyalty and troth to the Old Gods of
 the North.  While we may believe in the deities of other religions and
 peoples, and even respect them, these are not our Gods.  While we may
 take part in rituals dedicated to other Gods at Pagan festivals or
 ecumenical gatherings which encompass many other religions, we must
 not forget that Asatru is our religion and our primary concern.  One
 simply does not collect membership in Asatru (or any other religion)
 as if one were collecting stamps.  Our Gods are real and worthy of our
 respect.  For modern Asatruar, troth also means being loyal to the
 ways in which our religion was practiced in the past; thus we are not
 eclectic and tend to focus on learning about our ancestors ways of
 worshipping.  We do not present our way as the only "true" Asatru, but
 we do feel that all Asatru should be solidly connected to its roots in
 ancient Norse practice.  Where we do not know the certain answer to a
 question, there is room for exploration, but not for simply making
 something up out of whole cloth.  While inspiration from the Gods is
 an important part of our movement, this is not "make believe" and any
 additions to the historical system should be made with respect to our
 ancient roots.
 Today many people "practice" a number of different religions feeling
 that this is the best way to avoid intolerance, we have a completely
 different view of the world.  Asatru is not a universal religion.  We
 do not see ourselves as a path for everyone.  We are true polytheists
 and see the world as encompassing many religions which worship many
 Gods. While we do not deny the beliefs of others, we also do not
 confuse them with our own.  The idea that "it is all one" is anathema
 to the true Heathen.  To claim that Odin is the same God as Zeus is
 madness. Would one claim that green and red are the same merely
 because they are both colors? If one disagrees with this perspective
 or finds it limiting so be it.  Our belief is also that Asatru is not
 a path for everyone and it is better to find ones own way rather than
 bend the religions of others to fit ourselves.
 In accordance with this non-universalist conception, as much as we
 have been able to, we have not adopted the practices of other Pagan
 religions or magickal systems.  Those familiar with Wicca will note
 that most modern Neo-Pagan systems are derived from it.  This is not
 the case with Asatru.  Our religion began with reconstruction based on
 written sources dating from the ancient Pagan period.  This has been
 followed by over 20 years of innovation and practice within the
 Heathen community.  While we make no pretensions that this has
 resulted in a system that is identical with that of our spiritual
 ancestors, it is at least a system that is our own.
 In saying this I would reiterate that we do not put down any religion
 for it's beliefs.  We merely ask for the integrity of our own.  We are
 not rejecting other systems because they are wrong or because we think
 ill of them, we are rather choosing Asatru because of our love and
 devotion to it.
 The Blot
 The Blot is the most common ritual within Asatru.  In its simplest
 form a blot is making a sacrifice to the Gods.  In the old days this
 was done by feasting on an animal consecrated to the Gods and then
 slaughtered.  As we are no longer farmers and our needs are simpler
 today, the most common blot is an offering of mead or other alcoholic
 beverage to the deities.
 Many modern folk will be suspicious of a ritual such as this.  Rituals
 which are deemed "sacrifices," such as the blot, have a certain lurid
 connotation and have been falsely re-interpreted by post-Pagan sources
 in order to denigrate or trivialize them.  The most common myth about
 ritual sacrifice is that one is buying off a deity e.g.  one throws a
 virgin into the Volcano so it won't erupt.  Nothing could be further
 from the truth.  The other common misunderstanding of sacrifice is
 that the gain some type of energy from the action of killing or the
 fear or suffering of the animal.  This is also untrue, in actuality,
 if you do any kind of slaughtering--ritual or mundane--correctly there
 is neither.  Our ancient spiritual forebears were slaughtering animals
 because they were farmers, and sacrifice was simply a sacred manner of
 doing so and sharing the bounty with the Gods.
 The Norse conception of our relationship to the Gods is important in
 understanding the nature of sacrifice.  In Asatru it is believed that
 we are not only the worshippers of the Gods but that we are
 spiritually and even physically related to them.  The Eddas tell of a
 God, Rig (identified with Heimdall), who went to various farmsteads
 and fathered the human race so we are physically kin to the Gods.  On
 a more esoteric level, humankind is gifted with "ond" or the gift of
 ecstasy.  Ond is a force that is of the Gods.  It is everything that
 makes humans different from the other creatures of the world.  As
 creatures with this gift, we are immediately connected to the Gods. We
 are part of their tribe, their kin.  Thus we are not simply buying off
 the Gods by offering them something that they want, but we are sharing
 with the Gods something that we all take joy in.
 Sharing and gift giving was an important part of most ancient cultures
 and had magical significance.  Leadership was seen as a contract
 between a Lord and follower.  It is said, "A gift demands a gift." A
 good leader among the Norse was known as a "Ring giver," and it was
 understood that his generosity and the support of his war-band were
 linked and part of a complementary relationship.  Giving a gift was a
 sign of friendship, kinship, and connection.  Among the runes, gebo G
 encompasses the mystery of the blot.  In English, the rune is named
 "gift," and the two lines intersecting are representative of the two
 sides of a relationship both giving to each other.  By sharing a blot
 with the Gods we reaffirm our connection to them and thus reawaken
 their powers within us and their watchfulness over our world.
 A blot can be a simple affair where a horn of mead is consecrated to
 the Gods and then poured as a libation, or it can be a part of a
 larger ritual.  A good comparison is the Catholic Mass which may be
 part of a regular service or special event such as a wedding or
 funeral, or it may be done as a purely magical-religious practice
 without any sermon, hymns, or other trappings.
 The blot consists of three parts, the hallowing or consecrating of the
 offering, the sharing of the offering, and the libation.  Each of
 these is equally important.  The only physical objects required are
 mead, beer or juice; a horn or chalice; a sprig of evergreen used to
 sprinkle the mead; and a ceremonial bowl, known as a Hlautbowl, into
 which the initial libation will be made.
 The blot begins with the consecration of the offering.  The Gothi
 (Priest) or Gythia (Priestess) officiating at the blot invokes the God
 or Goddess being honored.  This is usually accomplished by a spoken
 declaration with ones arms being held above ones head in the shape of
 the rune Elhaz Z.  (This posture is used for most invocations and
 prayers throughout Asatru.) After the spoken invocation an appropriate
 rune or other symbol of the God or Goddess may be drawn in the air
 with the finger or with the staff.  Once the God is invoked, the Gothi
 takes up the horn.  His assistant pours mead from the bottle into the
 horn.  The Gothi then traces the hammer sign (an upside down T) over
 the horn as a blessing and holds it above his head offering it to the
 Gods.  He then speaks a request that the God or Goddess bless the
 offering and accept it as a sacrifice.  At the least one will feel the
 presence of the deity; at best one will be able to feel in some inner
 way the God taking of the mead and drinking it.
 The mead is now not only blessed with divine power, but has passed the
 lips of the God or Goddess.  The Gothi then takes a drink of the horn
 and it is passed around the gathered folk.  In our modern rituals each
 person toasts the deity before they drink.  Although this sounds like
 a very simple thing, it can be a very powerful experience.  At this
 point the mead is no longer simply a drink but is imbued with the
 blessing and power of the God or Goddess being honored.  When one
 drinks, one is taking that power into oneself.  After the horn has
 made the rounds once, the Gothi again drinks from the horn and then
 empties the remainder into the hlautbowl.  The Gothi then takes up the
 evergreen sprig and his assistant the Hlautbowl and the Gothi
 sprinkles the mead around the circle or temple or onto the altar.  If
 there are a great number of the folk gathered, one may wish to drop
 the drinking and merely sprinkle the various folk with the mead as a
 way of sharing it. In a small group one might eliminate the sprinkling
 and merely drink as the blessing.
 When this is done the Hlautbowl is taken by the Gothi and poured out
 onto the ground.  This is done as an offering not only to the God
 invoked at the blot, but it is also traditional to remember the
 Nerthus, the Earth Goddess, at this time, since it is being poured
 onto her ground.  Many invocations mention the God, Goddess, or spirit
 being sacrificed to, and then Mother Earth, as in the Sigrdrifa Prayer
 "Hail to the Gods and to the Goddesses as well; Hail Earth that gives
 to all men." (Sigrdrifumal 3) With this action, the blot is ended.
 Obviously this is a very sparse ritual and if performed alone could be
 completed in only a few minutes.  This is as it should be, for blots
 are often poured not because it is a time of gathering or festivity
 for the folk, but because the blot must be poured in honor or petition
 of a God or Goddess on their holiday or some other important occasion.
 For example, a father tending his sick child might pour a blot to Eir
 the Goddess of healing.  Obviously he doesn't have time to waste on
 the "trappings" of ritual.  The intent is to make an offering to the
 Goddess as quickly as possible.  At some times a full celebration
 might not be made of a holiday because of a persons hectic schedule,
 but at the least a short blot should be made to mark the occasion.
 However, in most cases a blot will at least be accompanied by a
 statement of intent at the beginning and some sort of conclusion at
 the end.  It might also be interspersed with or done at the conclusion
 of ritual theater or magic.
 One important thing to note about any Asatru ritual is that ours is a
 holistic religion.  We do not limit our Gods or spirituality to a
 certain time and place.  While the sacrament of the blot is usually
 poured as part of a ceremony, the feast afterwards, singing of sacred
 songs, reciting of poetry, toasts at mealtime, Morris Dancing, etc are
 all part of our religion.  At the first Raven-Thing, our annual
 festival, we began with a great feast, then we held a blot ritual
 which involved a mystery play of Thor and the Frost-Giants.
 Afterwards, we held a sumbel.  All the gathered folk sat for the first
 three rounds dedicated to the Gods, Heroes, and Ancestors, but
 afterwards people came and went (politely and quietly) as they wished.
 The atmosphere of the whole evening was one of ritual and celebration.
 When done appropriately, there's no disconnection between the parts.
 Asatru is also a very vibrant, intense, and somewhat rowdy religion.
 Invocations to the Gods, particularly outside, are often shouted at
 the top of ones lungs, and are punctuated by loud "Hails!" which are
 echoed by the folk When someone in an Asatru ritual says "Hail!" or
 hails a God ("Hail Odin!" for example) it's appropriate to repeat
 after them in a similar tone and loudness.
 The Sumbel
 One of the most common celebrations noted in tales of our ancestors is
 the Sumbel or ritual drinking celebration.  This was a more mundane
 and social sort of ritual than the blot, but of no less importance.
 When Beowulf came to Hrothgar, the first thing they did was to drink
 at a ritual sumbel.  This was a way of establishing Beowulf's identity
 and what his intent was, and doing so in a sacred and traditional
 The sumbel is actually quite simple.  The guests are seated, usually
 in some formal fashion, and the host begins the sumbel with a short
 statement of greeting and intent, and by offering the first toast. The
 horn is then passed around the table and each person makes their
 toasts in turn.  At the sumbel toasts are drunk to the Gods, as well
 as to a persons ancestors or personal heroes.  Rather than a toast, a
 person might also offer a brag or some story, song, or poem that has
 significance.  The importance is that at the end of the toast, story,
 or whatever, the person offering it drinks from the horn, and in doing
 so "drinks in" what he spoke.
 The sumbel is also an important time for the folk to get to know each
 other in a more intimate way than most people are willing to share.
 Modern society is at two extremes.  At one end are the emotionless
 beings who have been robbed of their soul by modern industrial secular
 culture.  On the other side are those pathetic "sensitive New-Age
 guys" who spend their lives consciously attempting to stir their
 emotions and who force an unnatural level of intimacy between
 themselves and others.  There are some levels of emotional intimacy
 which are not meant to be openly shared with strangers.  Doing so
 reduces their meaning to the mundane.  At sumbel, barriers can be
 lowered in a place which is sacred to the Gods and the Folk.  Thoughts
 can be shared among companions and friends without embarrassment or
 forced intimacy.
 One format for the sumbel with a history in tradition is to drink
 three rounds.  The first is dedicated to the Gods, the second to great
 heroes of the folk such as historical figures or heroes from the
 sagas, and the third to personal ancestors, heroes, or friends which
 have passed from this world.
 Another theme for a sumbel is past, present, and future.  This type of
 sumbel is more of a magical ritual than one of celebration.  The idea
 is to make toasts which bring up some aspect of your past and present
 situation, and a third toast or brag which represents your wishes for
 the future.  One might make a toast to the first Asatru ritual one
 attended as the past, a second to the companions and kindred then
 gathered, and for his third toast might state that he intends to be
 initiated as a Gothi in the coming year.  The purpose would be to link
 the coming event of his initiation with the two already accomplished
 events of pledging Asatru and finding a kindred -- two other important
 rites of passage.  In this case initiation as a Gothi then becomes
 something which is linked to a chain of events that have already
 occurred, rather than an isolated action which might occur.  Thus
 magically, this moves the person towards his goal.
 A third and everpopular type of sumbel is a free-for-all where stories
 are told, toasts are made, and bragging is done until all the gathered
 Odinists are under the table.  Perhaps this is not quite so esoteric
 or purposeful as the previous ideas, but it's certainly in keeping
 with the examples of our Gods and ancestors.  In any case, no matter
 how relaxed a sumbel has become, I have never seen one that was merely
 a drinking event.  Some of the most intense experiences I have had
 with people have come from such "open ended" sumbels.
 These are only ideas.  The sumbel is a very freeform type of thing and
 the framework is very simple to adapt.
 The blot and sumbel make up the mainstream of our modern Asatru
 tradition.  This does not mean that they are the only rituals that
 modern Asatru perform, but in one way or another most rituals revolve
 around one or both of these "generic" ceremonies.
 Profession is one of the most important ceremonies in Asatru.  To
 Profess one's belief in and kinship to the Gods should be an important
 turning point in ones life and the beginning of a new understanding of
 the self.  Profession is, however, a very simple and rather short
 ceremony.  In our kindred we usually profess people during a regular
 meeting, but either before or after the blot offering.
 Profession is not an occult or initiatory ceremony.  It is nothing
 less than its name: one professes (declares, affirms) his wish to
 become one of the Asafolk.  This oath is usually taken by the
 Kindred-Gothi on the oath ring or some other Holy object as follows:
 The Gothi stands in front of the altar and says "Will [insert name
 here] please come forward." After he or she does so "Are you here of
 your own free will? Is it your intention to solemnly swear allegiance
 and kinship to the Gods of Asgard, the Aesir and Vanir?" If the answer
 to both these questions is in the affirmative the Gothi takes up the
 oath ring (or some other holy object upon which oaths are sworn) and
 holds it out to the person professing and says "Repeat after me.  I
 swear to ever uphold the Raven Banner of Asgard, to follow the way of
 the North, to always act with honor and bravery, and to be ever true
 to the Aesir and Vanir and to Asatru.  By the Gods I so swear.  By my
 honor I so swear.  On this Holy Ring I so swear.  Hail the Gods." The
 kindred then replies "Hail the Gods!" and the Gothi finishes "Then be
 welcome to the service of Asgard and the Folk of the Asatru."
 The essence of Profession is making a commitment to Asatru.  It should
 not be undertaken without thought and prayer.  When one Professes, one
 is leaving behind other faiths.  If one isn't yet comfortable in doing
 this, then Profession should be put off, perhaps indefinetly.  It
 should be reiterated here that there should be absolutely no pressure
 put on people to Profess.  False or coerced Professions merely cheapen
 the ritual and the commitment that it represents.  It should also be
 said that Asatru ritual is open to anyone.  You do not need to have
 undergone a ritual of Profession in order to attend kindred events or
 worship the Gods.
 There may be other celebrations connected to a Profession, just as
 other religions hold Bar Mitzvah or Confirmation parties.  When
 someone joins our kindred, we hold a Sumbel of nine rounds, each
 dedicated to one of the values of Asatru (see below) and toast those
 values to the new kinsman.
 There are probably as many modern theories of what an ancient Norse Ve
 or Hof (temple, holy place) looked like as there were ancient Norse
 temples.  I've heard everything (with full scholarly accompanyment)
 from groves in the woods to constructed buildings which were the basis
 for the later Stave Churches of Scandinavia.  In general, I think the
 multiplicity of descriptions throughout the history of our folk
 indicates that our people were of a wide and practical mind about what
 should be present in a temple and what form it should take.  Our
 modern practice tends to reflect this.
 The first distinction we might make in our modern practice is between
 altars that people have in their homes, and the setup of the rooms
 that we perform group rituals in.  For rituals, we tend to use any
 place which is large enough to fit everyone into.  We try to mask the
 normal use of the room, which in the past has included such things as
 covering the television set with a cloth and moving some of the more
 obtrusive furniture out of the room.  The one other preparatory thing
 that I can't recommend highly enough indoors is to line the room with
 candles and get rid of any artificial lights.  The darkness isn't an
 important part of the religious elements of the ritual, but it gets
 rid of a lot of distractions.
 The altar itself is actually a rather simple affair.  We usually
 commandeer a small table for this purpose.  There's no specific setup
 for an altar in Asatru, other than it should look pleasant and hold
 all the implements you will need during the ritual.
 Other than whatever sanctification rite (hammer rite) you wish to do
 in order to consecrate your space, there's nothing else to be done: no
 squiggly Hebrew letters inscribed on the edges of a 9' circle, no
 alchemical elements or "quarter castings." The layout of the folk
 during ones rituals is determined by your space--there's no magical
 formula that requires a circle or any other shape.  If the room is
 square, arrange people in a square.  We tend to form up in a
 semi-circle with the altar in the front, and the Gothi and Valkyrie on
 either side of the altar.
 Of course, whatever else one wishes to do to decorate ones ritual
 space is up to them.  I know people who have decent sized statues of
 the Gods.  Our kindred has a kindred banner (The Raven Banner!) which
 we usually hang behind the altar.  Pictures of the Gods, statuary, etc
 are all appropriate.
 When one is outside, other considerations come into place.  I would
 not recommend doing ritual outside at night or in darkness, unless one
 has been at the site during the day and/or one is planning on spending
 the night.  Getting to the site and setting up in the dark tends to
 take too much time and detracts from the overall experience.  I highly
 recommend rituals at dusk, or if you can drag your kinsmen out of bed,
 at dawn.  Holding a Balder-blot, and meditating on his loss and the
 temporal nature of life while watching the setting sun is a truly
 incredible experience.  The best places to hold rituals tend to be in
 groves that are sufficiently mature for the shade to have killed off
 most of the ground vegetation (traditionally the continental Germans
 held their rituals in groves) or open fields where one can see the
 sky.  Check that the space you have selected is reasonably flat and
 that if you plan on people sitting down that the ground is dry and
 without poison ivy.  Unless you have a firepit, I don't recommend a
 fire--it's more trouble than it's worth.  Forget candles and incense.
 These can be useful psychological aids indoors, but outside they look
 ridiculous--I'll never forget the ridiculous image of a Wiccan ritual
 I attended during which a person with utter seriousness and pomp
 carried a single stick of incense around the ritual site.
 Most everyone I know who is a practicing Pagan of any type has some
 type of space set aside in their home for occasional honoring of the
 Gods.  In some ways this may be a more important thing to concentrate
 on than the setup of your Ve for group ritual work because the form of
 your home altar takes the place of the ritual trappings found when
 working with a group.  The major purposes of a home altar are to
 remind one of the place of the Gods in ones life, and to provide a
 convenient and regular place to make occasional offerings and prayers
 to the Gods.
 Home altars tend to be very eclectic.  In our home, we have the top of
 a bookshelf set aside with an altar holding our usual ritual tools,
 and a few candles.  We have another friend who has no permanent
 shrine, but carries a statue of Thor in a small wooden box.  One side
 of the box can be removed to display Thor, and under the God's seat is
 a small piece of lava taken from Thingvellir.  It's not necessary to
 have all or any of the tools for the blot on ones home altar, unless
 one plans to perform full blots at it.  Offerings in the home tend to
 be candles or incense; not traditional, but simple and part of our
 modern culture.
 The ancient Norse knew four major holidays the Spring and Autumn
 Equinoxes which we call Summer and Winter Finding, and the two
 solstices which we call Midsummer and Yule.  However, there were many
 other minor festivals and modern Asatru have added even more.  A
 calendar of Raven Kindred rituals is provided in an appendix and I
 also encourage anyone to find as many as one is willing to meet for.
 We meet monthly, but some groups meet 8 times a year and also
 celebrate the cross-quarter days of May Day/Walpurgis,
 Halloween/Samhain, February eve or The Charming of the Plow, and
 Lammastide or Freyfaxi,
 Most of our rituals also honor only one or a few Gods or Goddesses at
 any one time.  However, there is no reason why the entire pantheon
 should not be offered prayers and thanks at any occasion.  This would
 be particularly appropriate at the major holidays.  Unlike most other
 groups in the Neo-Pagan movement, we do not necessarily honor Gods in
 male/female pairs.  The boy/girl notion is one taken from the Pagan
 fertility religion of Wicca and isn't necessarily appropriate to our
 Gods, who often represent things other than fertility.  So while a
 Spring ritual held in honor of Freya and Frey as fertility deities
 might wish to honor them together, there is no reason to include Frigg
 in a ritual dedicated to Odin as the God of War.
 Yule is the most important holiday of the year.  Everyone is familiar
 with the shortness of the deep winter days, but in the Scandinavian
 countries this is of even greater importance.  At the Yuletide there
 is almost no sunlight at all, and the climate would have people bound
 in their homes waiting for the return of Spring.
 Yule is a long festival, traditionally held to be 12 days or more.
 After Yule the days began to get longer and the festival represented
 the breaking of the heart of winter and the beginning of the new year.
 Yule was the holiday of either Thor or Frey, although there is no
 reason not to honor both Gods in modern practice.
 Frey is the God of fertility and farming and was honored at Yule in
 the hopes that his time would soon return.  Frey is also an important
 God at this time as shown in the myth "The Wooing of Gerd." Gerd is
 Frey's wife, and she was once a frost giant.  Frey had seen her while
 he was seated on Odin's High Seat, and was utterly taken by her, but
 she would not yield until Skirnir, Frey's messenger or perhaps Frey in
 disguise, threatened her with an eternity of cold.  In this way, Frey
 brings back the summer times by wooing a daughter of cold and frost.
 His love for her brings warmth to her heart and to the land.
 Thor's position at Yule is a bit more savage.  He is the sworn enemy
 of the Frost Giants and Jotnar who rule the winter months, and as such
 is honored as the God who's actions fight off these creatures and
 bring back the spring.
 Our kindred also honors Sunna, the Sun Goddess, at Yule.  However, we
 feel she is more important at Midsummer, when she is at her height.
 The most important symbols of Yule are still with us today.  Most of
 the supposedly secular customs of Christmas are actually Pagan in
 origin.  Evergreen trees and holly which remained green throughout the
 long nights and cold were a promise that spring would once again
 return to the land.  These symbols may also have been a connection to
 the nature spirits who have sway over the return of the warm days. The
 modern conception of Santa Claus as an elf, for whom offerings of milk
 and cookies are left, is possibly a modern continuation of leaving
 offerings for the Alvar and other nature spirits.  The idea of
 children staying up all night in the hopes of catching a glimpse of
 Santa Claus may be a remnant of people staying awake to mark the long
 night and remind the sun to return.  (In the latter case it's
 considered an adequate substitution to leave a candle going all night
 to light the way for the returning sun.)
 Yule is a weeks long festival, not just a single holiday.  The Yule
 season begins on the solstice, which is the Mother Night of Yule, and
 ends with Twelfth Night on January sixth.  As a point of interest,
 January seventh is St.  Distaff's day, which Nigel Pennic has
 suggested may have been a day sacred to Frigg, whose symbol is the
 While one might expect a rather dour theme to a holiday held in the
 darkness and cold, Yule is a time of feasting and gladness.
 The most important custom at Yule for modern Pagans is the swearing of
 Yule oaths.  Our kindred does this at Twelfth Night (aka New Years
 Eve).  We hold a sumbel and we keep the Yule wreath handy for anyone
 who wishes to swear an oath for the coming year.
 There are simply so many different Yule customs, both ancient and
 modern, that one has almost limitless possibilities even when staying
 within Scandanavian and Germanic customs.  In modern practice one
 might honor Sunna on the Mother Night, then hold a blot a few days
 later to Thor, a feast for New Years day which is shared with the
 house and land spirits, and then finish on Twelfth Night with a ritual
 to Frey, whose time is then officially beginning.
 Summer Finding
 Summer Finding is also known to many groups as Ostara, the holiday
 sacred to the Goddess for whom the modern Easter is named.  She is a
 fertility Goddess and her symbols are the hare and the egg.  She was
 an important Goddess of spring to the ancient Saxons, but we know
 little else of her other than this.  Some have suggested that Ostara
 is merely an alternate name for Frigg or Freya, but neither of these
 Goddesses seem to have quite the same fertility function as Ostara
 does.  Frigg seems too "high class" to be associated with such an
 earthy festival and Freya's form of fertility is more based on
 eroticism than reproduction.
 The obvious folk tradition at this time of year involves eggs.  These
 were colored as they are today, but then they were buried, or more
 appropriately, planted in the earth.  Some have suggested that the act
 was purely magical, the fertility of the eggs would then be
 transferred from the animal realm to the plant realm and would
 increase the prosperity of the harvest.  It's also possible that they
 were left as an offering to the alvar and the spirits of the plants.
 In any case a blot should be prepared to the Goddess of Spring,
 however one wishes to honor her, and also to the spirits of the land.
 Midsummer Day
 The summer solstice was second only to Yule in importance to the
 ancient Northmen.  Some groups mark this day as sacred to Balder, but
 we disagree with this.  While Balder can be seen as a dying and
 resurrected Sun God, in the mythology we are most familiar with, he
 does not return to life until Ragnarok and it seems like "bad karma"
 to symbolically kill the sun when you know Baldr doesn't come back
 until the end of the world.  Instead, we mark this day as sacred to
 the Goddess Sunna, who is literally the sun.
 One idea for midsummer is to remain awake all night and mark the
 shortest night of the year, then at sunrise to perform a "Greeting of
 Sunna" and a blot to her.
 Another midsummer custom is the rolling of a flaming wagon wheel down
 a hill to mark the turning of the wheel of the year.  If fire would
 otherwise be a hazard, one could parade a wheel covered with candles
 for similar effect.  It is also a time for general merriment and in
 the Scandinavian countries many of what we know as the traditional May
 Day rituals such as May Poles and Morris Dances were celebrated at
 Midsummer rather than in May.
 In our area Midsummer occurs during a large local Pagan festival, and
 we have gone all out in making it a major holiday with blot, sumbel,
 feasting and drinking.  We are currently in the process of
 constructing a "sun ship" which, with sails of copper reflecting the
 light from small torches, represents Sunna will be brought forth at
 dawning and dusk.
 Winter Finding
 I have not come across a great deal of distinctive traditional lore
 about the Autumn Equinox that would distinguish it from the Harvest
 festivals found worldwide.  It seems to have been overshadowed to some
 extent by the Winter Nights which we celebrate at the equinox rather
 than at the more traditional time of mid-November.
 Winter Finding should be treated as a general harvest festival.
 Whichever Gods you invoke for fertility of the land would be most
 appropriate to invoke again at this time.  We have honored Frey &
 Freya and Nerthus & Njord for this purpose.  You can take your pick.
 Even more so than other holidays, a large feast is appropriate at this
 time, perhaps concentrating on local vegetables and grains more than
 Winter Nights
 The Winter Nights are the traditional festival honoring the Disir or
 family spirits.  It is a time to remember your family, the dead, and
 your ancestors.  (For more information on the Disir see the chapter
 "Elves and other Spirits.")
 A Freyablot may be performed at this time as Freya is known as the
 Vanadis (i.e.  the Dis of the Vanir) or the Great Dis, and she seems
 to be the Goddess of the Disir themselves.  This is probably connected
 to Freya's position as recipient of half the battle-slain or her
 ability with seidhr.  One might also simply want to honor the Disir as
 a whole, or attempt to summon and pour offering to your own family's
 Dis.  A sumbel which toasts ones ancestors and passed on friends would
 also be in order.  If a feast is held, it should be quiet and
 respectful of the character of the season.  Another idea is a silent
 "mum feast," a custom which is found the world over.
 The various Halloween customs such as dressing in costume or
 celebrating this time as a time where the worlds of the living and the
 dead connect are more Celtic in origin than Nordic and probably should
 not be part of an Asatru celebration.
 The Old Norse reckoned that there were three races of Gods: the Aesir,
 the Vanir, and the Jotnar.  The Aesir are those beings most often
 referred to in the ancient literature simply as "the Gods," in fact
 the word "As" means "God." They are the Gods of society, representing
 things such as Kingship, Craft, etc.  The Vanir are more closely
 connected to the earth and represent the fecundity of the land and the
 natural forces which help mankind.  Once there was a great war between
 the Aesir and the Vanir, but this was eventually settled and Frey,
 Freya, and Njord came to live with the Aesir to seal the peace.  The
 Jotnar are a third race of Gods and at constant war with the Aesir,
 but there is not and never will be peace in this battle.  The Jotnar
 are never called Gods, but rather referred to as giants.  They
 represent the natural forces of chaos and destruction as the Aesir
 represent forces of order and society.  Just as fire and ice mix to
 form the world, this creative interaction of chaos and order maintains
 the balance of the world.  In the end the two sides will meet in the
 great battle of Ragnarok and the world will be destroyed, only to be
 The Norse notion of the Gods was very much involved with tribalism.
 The Aesir are the Gods of the tribe or clan.  The Vanir are those Gods
 who are allied with the clan, but who are not part of it.  The Jotnar
 or Giants are the "outlanders" or more simply everyone else.
 The Norse Gods were not held to be all powerful or immortal.  Their
 youth was maintained very precariously by the magickal apples of the
 Goddess Idunna.  More importantly at the end of the world a good
 number of the Gods will die in battle.  The Northern view of the world
 was a practical one with little assurance for the future and little
 perfection and the Gods are no exception.
 It is very important to understand that the Gods are real and living
 beings.  They are not mere personifications of natural forces, nor are
 they Jungian archetypes that dwell only in our minds--although Jung's
 work may be helpful in understanding them.  Those divinities who we
 call "Gods" (i.e., the Aesir and Vanir) are also "personal deities"
 who take an active interest in the affairs of mankind, and seek
 relationships with their followers.  This is important to remember
 when we perform ceremonies or pray to the Gods.  They aren't magical
 symbols to be manipulated, nor is our religion some type of giant
 cosmic vending machine where sacrifices are inserted and blessings
 come out. The Gods are living beings and offer us benefits because we
 are their friends and companions.
 The Gods in the Temple: Odin, Thor, and Frey
 The three most important Gods were held to be Odin, Thor, and Frey.
 These were the deities whose statues stood at the altar of the temple
 at Upsalla.  They are considered the most important because of what
 they represent.  Mythologer Georges Dumezil has linked these three
 deities with the three classes of Indo-European culture: the Kings,
 the Warriors, and the Farmers.  Although the fit is not an exact one,
 it is probably true that these three deities most concretely
 symbolized the various aspects of Norse life and culture and most
 people would have found a God who represented their life-experience in
 one of these three deities.
 Odin is the Allfather, remembered today best as a God of war and of
 the berserk rage of the Vikings.  However, he has other aspects which
 are just as strong or stronger.  In the Eddas, he is the leader of the
 Gods, but this is a position which most of the Germanic peoples
 attributed to Tyr.  It's likely that Odin only became ruler during the
 Viking Age, when a God of wile rather than strict justice was more
 necessary.  Being the Allfather, his original position of leadership
 was probably familial rather than legislative.  Most importantly he is
 a God of transcendent wisdom and in relation to that a God of magick.
 He is the God of the Runes, the magical alphabet which holds the
 mysteries of the universe within it.  In most of the non-Viking
 countries, Odin's warrior aspect was played down.  In England, where
 he is known as Woden, he is a gray cloaked wanderer (the inspiration
 for Tolkien's Gandalf) who travels the country, usually alone,
 surveying his land.  Here again we see him in the position of a father
 figure, a warder of the land but not necessarily a King.  Odin is also
 a God of the dead.  Half of the slain in battles go to him to prepare
 for the Ragnarok.  (The remaining half go to Freya.) He also has
 associations with the dead as a practitioner of Seidhr, a form of
 shamanic magick which he learned from Freya and used on various
 occasions to travel to Hel and seek the knowledge of those who have
 passed from this world. It's difficult to classify Odin simply because
 he was such a popular God during the last stages of Norse Paganism and
 thus absorbed many traits of other Gods.
 Thor is probably the best known of the Norse Gods.  He is a simple
 God, the patron of farmers and other folk who are "wise, but not too
 wise" as the Eddas advise us to be.  Thor is best known for wandering
 the world in search of adventure; usually found in the form of giants
 or other monsters to kill.  He possesses tremendous strength and the
 hammer Mjolnir, which was made for him by the Dwarfs.  Mjolnir is
 considered to be the Gods' greatest treasure because it is sure
 protection from the forces of chaos.  Using Mjolnir, Thor is a warrior
 figure, but he is less a professional warrior than a common man called
 upon to defend his land.  He loves battle not for itself as do the
 berserkers of Odin, nor does he have a strong code of honor such as
 that of Tyr--in fact he chronically breaks with honor and kills giants
 whether they have the protection of "hospitality" or not.  Thor is
 associated with thunder, and is also the God of rain and storms, but
 it's important to note that he is not the God of destructive storms.
 Thor is nature as a benefit to man.  The Jotnar are held to be the
 source of the destruction found in nature.  Thor was the God of
 "everyman." He was simple in purpose, strong, and free.  He was most
 beloved of the freemen farmers who populated the Germanic lands.
 Frey is a God of peace and fertility.  If Thor is the God of the
 farmer, then Frey is the God of the crops themselves.  He is a God of
 the Vanir, but lives with the Aesir to secure their treaty with the
 Vanir.  His symbol is the priapus and his blessings were sought at
 planting and other important agricultural festivals.  The word "frey"
 means "Lord" and it's unsure if this is the Gods name or his title. He
 is also known as Ing or Ingvi, so some have speculated his title is
 properly Frey Ingvi--Lord Ingvi.  We do not known a great deal more
 about Frey as few myths have survived which give us any insight into
 his character.  As much as he is a God of fertility, he is also a God
 of peace and Ing was said to have brought a Golden Age of peace and
 prosperity to old Denmark.  Horses are held to be sacred to Frey,
 probably because of fertility connections.
 In general we know much less about how our ancestors worshipped the
 Goddesses than the Gods.  Later Norse culture was very bound up with
 the vikings and it is likely that the Goddesses were deemphasized at
 this point.  More importantly, virtually all the mythology we have
 today was recorded during the Christian period and Christian culture
 had little respect for women, least of all independent and strong
 women like those of Nordic society.
 Freya is the most important of the Goddesses or at least that Goddess
 about which we known the most.  She is the sister of Frey and along
 with him was sent to live with the Aesir in order to seal a peace
 agreement.  Freya is a Goddess with two distinct sides to her.  First,
 she is the Goddess of love and beauty and second a Goddess of war who
 shares the battle-slain with Odin.  Unlike our modern culture, the
 ancients saw no contradiction in this.  She was also a sorceress who
 practiced the shamanic magick known as Seidhr, which she taught to
 Odin.  Freya is the Goddess most often invoked by independent women.
 While she is a Goddess of beauty, she is not dependent on men as is
 the stereotype of so many love Goddesses, but is strong and fiercely
 independent.  She is also known as the Great Dis and probably has
 connections to the family spirits known as the Disir.  In many ways
 she is like Odin in that she is a Goddess of many functions which are
 not always obviously related.  In modern Asatru, many groups have
 placed Freya alongside Odin and Thor on the altar, in place of her
 twin brother Frey.
 Frigg is a most misunderstood Goddess.  She is the wife of Odin and
 many people are too willing to let her be known simply as that.
 However, the old Norse had a much different idea of the place of women
 and of marriage in general.  While marriages for love were certainly
 known, marriage was also a business and social arrangement and there
 were important duties for a wife.  These were symbolized by a set of
 keys which hung at the belt of all "goodwives." This symbolized that
 the home was under the control of the woman of the house, who was
 equal to her husband.  Today we think these duties as very minor, but
 a thousand years ago they were far from trivial.  Up until this
 century most of Europe lived in extended families.  A house,
 especially a hall of a warrior, was not a small building with a
 nuclear family, but an entire settlement with outbuildings, servants,
 slaves, and an entire clan.  The wife of the house was in charge of
 stores and trading with other clans.  It was she that saw to the
 upkeep of the farm, the balancing of the books, and even to the
 farming itself if her husband was away trading or making war.  It was
 as much a job of managing a business as it was being a "wife." For
 these reasons Frigg is still very important and can easily be invoked
 beyond the home.  She would, for example, be a natural patron for
 someone who owned a business. Frigg also shares a lot of
 characteristics with her husband.  She is the only other God who is
 allowed to sit in Odin's seat from which can be seen all that goes on
 in the nine worlds.  It is said that she knows the future, but remains
 silent, which is entirely in keeping with the way women of the time
 exercised their power: namely indirectly.  While in a better world
 this might not be necessary, it is still an important tool for women
 who must exist in a world where men are sometimes threatened by them.
 While Freya is a Goddess who acts independent of "traditional" roles,
 Frigg is a Goddess who works within those roles, but still maintains
 her power and independence.
 Other Gods
 There are of course many other Gods and Goddesses.  Some of these have
 important places in the myths, while some others are mentioned only
 once along with their function.
 The most perplexing God of Asgard is Loki.  He was probably originally
 a fire God, but he is best known as the troublemaker of Asgard.  In
 various minor scrapes Loki arranges to get the Gods into trouble,
 usually by giving away their treasures and then arranging to return
 them.  This is very much in the traditional role of a trickster, who
 keeps things interesting by causing trouble.  However, it's sometimes
 difficult to see Loki merely as a trickster because his actions are
 sometimes simply too evil to be ignored.  Balder was the most
 beautiful and beloved of the Gods and a pledge was extracted from all
 the things in the world that they would not harm him.  The sole
 exception to this was the mistletoe which was deemed too tiny to be a
 threat.  Amused by his invulnerability, the Gods took turns throwing
 objects at Balder, which of course had no effect on him.  Loki took
 the blind God Hod and put a spring of mistletoe in his hands and
 guided him to throw it.  The dart pierced Balder's breast and he died.
 Later a deal was arranged wherein Balder would be allowed to return to
 life if all the creatures of the world would weep for him.  Only one
 refused, an ogress who said she cared not a whit for Balder when he
 was alive and thought him just as well off dead.  The ogress is
 believed to have been Loki in disguise.  For these actions Loki was
 chained beneath the earth and it was arranged that venom would drip
 upon him in punishment that would last until the end of the world.
 With the death of Balder, Loki goes beyond the level of trickster and
 becomes a truly evil figure.  It is known that when Ragnarok comes,
 Loki will lead the legions of chaos against the Aesir and bring about
 the end of the world.
 Indeed Loki's actions certainly do seem harsh, but they are entirely
 in keeping with the Norse way of looking at things.  One of the
 functions of a trickster God is to keep things from becoming stagnant.
 The trickster causes trouble so that people may evolve, for nothing
 brings about ingenuity like need.  The Norse did not believe anything
 was eternal.  In the end even the Gods would die in the battle of
 Ragnarok, which would also destroy the world.  Balder's
 invulnerability was not natural.  As the Edda says "Cattle die, and
 men die, and you too shall die..." It was deemed much more wise and
 valiant by the Norse to live up to one's fate than to try to avoid it.
 It would likewise be unnatural to return from the dead.  One can see
 Loki as merely acting as an agent of nature to return things to their
 normal and correct course.  In such a view, it was not an act of evil,
 but an intervention to stop an evil against the natural order.
 Likewise Ragnarok must come.  It is in the nature of the world to be
 destroyed and then be reborn.
 On the other hand, Loki is a God of darkness.  As far as we know Loki
 was never worshipped, at least not in the same way as the other Gods
 were.  Recognition of his action and his place in the universe is
 essential, but Gods of this type are seldom welcome.  It is
 "fashionable" today to laugh at trickster Gods and see them as a sort
 of jester figure, but we must not forget that their nature is much
 darker than this even when it does serve a purpose.  Change is
 important, but nothing changes the world faster and more thoroughly
 than war.
 While seldom reckoned today among the most popular of the Gods, Tyr is
 extremely important.  He is the God of battle, of justice, and
 (secondary to Odin) of Kingship.  The most important myth concerning
 Tyr shows both his bravery and honor.  He gave his hand as surety to
 the Fenris Wolf that no trickery was involved in the Gods binding of
 him.  When the fetter in fact did bind the wolf, Tyr lost his hand.
 The honor and reliance on ones word is often overlooked in this myth
 in favor of an interpretation of self sacrifice.  However, throughout
 the myths various deals are made and the Aesir easily get out of them.
 It's likely that Tyr could have escaped his fate as well, but one's
 word is one's word and thus Tyr lost his hand because it was less
 valuable to him than his honor and word.  Tyr was held to be the God
 of the Thing or assembly.  While the ancient Norse were not truly
 democratic, and in fact held slaves, within the noble class all were
 reckoned to be roughly equal.  The Thing was a place where the
 landholders would meet for trade and to iron out disputes among them,
 in the hope of avoiding feuds.  Tyr was originally the chieftain of
 the Aesir and the God of Kingship, but he has been gradually
 supplanted by Odin, especially during the Viking Age.  It is likely
 this was because of Tyr's strong sense of honor and justice.  For
 raiding and pillaging, Odin, the God of the berserker rage, was a much
 better patron than Tyr, the God of honorable battle.  This is an
 important thing to note about Northern religion: it is extremely
 adaptable.  There are not hard and fast rules about who is what and
 while the nature of the Gods cannot be changed they are more than
 happy to have the aspects most important to their worshippers
 emphasized.  Just as a person uses different skills and "becomes a
 different person" when they move or change jobs, so the Gods too have
 adapted to new climates and needs.
 While we only know the myth of Balder's death, it is clear that he was
 a God of some importance.  Unfortunately, modern writers, coming from
 a Christian background, have tried to turn Balder into a Christ
 figure. Balder was a God of beauty and goodness, but his name also
 translates as "warrior." It is a mistake to turn him into a "Norse
 Jesus." The mere fact that he died and will return after Ragnarok is
 not enough for this equation.  Another interpretation of Balder is
 that of the dying and resurrected God of the Sun.  This also seems a
 mistake, as Balder does not return from the land of death.  It makes a
 poor symbol to honor Balder on solar holidays, lest the sun not
 return! The remaining major interpretation of Balder is as a God of
 mystic initiation.  While this fits to some extent, we unfortunately
 no longer know.  The equation with Christ has wiped out a great deal
 of lore about Balder and we are left to rediscover his place in our
 modern practice.
 Minor Gods
 Of the other important Gods, Heimdall is the guardian of Asgard.  He,
 as Rig, is also one of the Gods who fathered mankind.  Njord is the
 God of sailing and sailors.  Unless one travels on the sea, he is
 probably of little importance to you, but if one does sail, he is your
 natural patron.  If Njord is the God of sailing and of man's use of
 the sea, then Aegir is the God of the sea itself.  He is married to
 Ran who takes drowned sailors to her home after their death.  Aegir is
 considered to be the greatest of brewers, and our kindred honors him
 in a special holiday due to the importance of mead in our modern
 religion.  Bragi is a much overlooked God who is the patron of
 taletellers and bards.  Other Gods more or less overlooked in the
 myths include Forseti, who renders the best judgments, Ull, a God of
 hunting who is the male counter to Skadi, Vithar, the son of Thor who
 is as strong as his father, Vali, Odin's son who will avenge his
 fathers death at Ragnarok, and Hod, the blind God who was led to slay
 While we might say that certain Gods are more important than others,
 this is in many ways not accurate.  We would be better served to say
 that some are more popular.  The Norse concept of the relationship
 between men and Gods was one of friendship.  A man would honor all the
 Gods as worthy and existent, but would usually find one as his special
 patron.  It is not surprising, considering this, that Thor is the most
 popular of Gods.  If the average person was searching for a God very
 much like himself, Thor would be the obvious choice.  Likewise, a God
 such as Njord would have been extremely important to sailors and
 fishermen, but would have been almost completely unimportant as a
 patron to inlanders.  The less well known Gods are just as powerful as
 their more well known contemporaries, they merely have power over a
 less well known aspect of life.
 There are also many Goddesses other than Frigg and Freya, but we know
 very little of them.  Eir was said to be the greatest of healers, and
 is for this reason very important.  There is no healer God as the
 ancients held that medicine was a craft for women and not for men, but
 modern male healers should certainly invoke her.  While Skadi has a
 very small part in the myths, many modern Asafolk find her a
 compelling figure.  She is the snow-shoe Goddess, who travels in the
 isolated mountains hunting with her bow.  She is married to Njord, but
 they are separated as Njord can't abide the mountains, and Skadi can't
 sleep in Njord's hall where she is kept awake by the pounding of the
 sea.  She is an excellent role model for women who work alone and who
 are independently minded.  Oaths are sworn to the Goddess Var, but
 little else is known of her.  Lofn might some day be of importance to
 you, she is known to bring together lovers who are kept apart by
 I have merely touched upon the Gods here.  It is important for
 everyone who would practice the religion of the North to get to know
 the myths and the Gods.  An appendix is included which outlines
 various sources for more information.
 The Jotnar
 The Jotnar or giants are the sworn enemies of the Gods.  While the
 Aesir represent order and the Vanir represent the supportive powers of
 nature, the Jotnar represent chaos and the power of nature to destroy
 man and act independent of humankind.  In the end, it is the Jotnar
 who will fight the Gods at Ragnarok and bring about the destruction of
 the world.
 In essence despite being called Giants or Ogres, the Jotnar are Gods
 just as much as the Aesir or Vanir.  In many cases they correspond
 very closely to the Fomoire in Celtic mythology.  Most simply put, the
 Jotnar are the Gods of all those things which man has no control over.
 The Vanir are the Gods of the growing crops, the Jotnar are the Gods
 of the river which floods and washes away those crops or the tornado
 which destroys your entire farm.  This is why they are frightening and
 this is why we hold them to be evil.
 The Jotnar are not worshipped in modern Asatru, but there is some
 evidence that sacrifices were made to them in olden times.  In this
 case, sacrifices may very well have been made "to them" rather than
 shared "with them" as was the case with the Vanir and Aesir.  It would
 be inappropriate to embrace them as friends and brothers in the way we
 embrace our Gods.  One doesn't embrace the hurricane or the wildfire;
 it is insanity to do so.
 As I've suggested earlier, the Jotnar aren't grouped so much by their
 commonalities, but by their non-membership in the Aesir.  Thus, some
 of them are benign, while others are apparently evil to the core.
 Aegir, Skadi, and several of the wives or mates of the Aesir are from
 Jotnar stock.  Others, such as those appearing at Ragnarok, seem to
 have no redeeming characteristics and are entirely hostile.
 The world of ancient Paganism was hardly limited to the worship of the
 Gods.  There are various other beings who were honored, and "Elf
 worship" was often the hardest part of Paganism for Christians to
 destroy.  It was easy enough to substitute one God for another, but it
 was quite another to tell the common people that the elves which
 brought fertility to the land were not real!
 In the various folktales and sagas we find very little which would
 lead us to a concrete system of what spirit was responsible for
 exactly what.  Today, we call these various figures, who are neither
 mortal nor God, "Wights." We are sure of the place of the Valkyries,
 who were responsible for bringing the slain to Valhalla, and also for
 choosing who in battle would die.  They seem, judging by their
 actions, to be supernatural beings of some type.  However, Valkyries
 appear in various places as very human figures and their exact nature
 is difficult to determine.  Sigrdrifa was a Valkyrie who was cursed by
 Odin because she refused to bring victory in battle to those whom he
 had chosen.  Her punishment was to be married to a mortal, and the
 implication is clear that this would end her days as a Valkyrie.  It's
 equally clear that she has great knowledge of the runes as she tutors
 Sigurd after he awakens her.  In most respects she seems to be a
 normal human woman, although a very wise and independent one with
 great powers.  Elsewhere, Voland and his brothers are said to have
 found three Valkyries sunning themselves without their swan-coats.
 When the brothers steal their feather-coats and hide them, the
 Valkyries again appear as otherwise normal women.  This does not seem
 entirely in keeping with a supernatural origin, and it's possible that
 some kind of magickal order of Priestesses has become confused over
 time with the supernatural beings we know as Valkyries or that mortal
 women may somehow ascend to the position.  The swan-coat seems very
 similar in description to Freya's falcon-coat and the entire issue may
 be something related to the practice of seidhr.  As far as we know,
 the Valkyrie were not worshipped as such, but were considered more the
 messengers of Odin.  They also serve the mead at Valhalla, and because
 of this whoever pours the mead into the Horn at Blot or Sumbel is
 today known as "the Valkyrie" (no matter what sex).
 The other spirits whose place seems fairly clear are the Disir.  These
 are spirits who are intimately linked with a family.  There is also
 some indication that they are linked with the land, but this would be
 in keeping with the old ways.  We forget sometimes that many
 landowners in Europe have been living in the same place since before
 this continent was discovered.  The land becomes an intimate part of
 the family and its identity, so it is natural that family spirits
 would also oversee the family land.  Disir are seen as women who
 appear at times of great trouble or change.  They are somehow linked
 to the family bloodline, and seem most closely linked to the
 clanchief.  There is one scene in one saga where a spirit, apparently
 a Dis, is passed on from one person to another who are not blood
 relations.  However, these two friends are closer than brothers, so
 while the link is apparently not genetic, it is definitely familial.
 We know the family Disir were honored with blots at the Winter Nights
 and that they have great power to aid their family.  As far as their
 origin, it's possible that they are ancestral in origin.  They may be
 ancestors whose power was so great that they were able to continue to
 see to their clan.  Or it's possible that the Disir are the collective
 spirit of the family ancestors.  Freya is called the great Dis and
 there may be some linkage here to her position as a seidhrwoman.  We
 know from the sagas that Seidhr was involved with talking to various
 spirits (including the dead) and its possible that this is the source
 of Freya's name.  It is also possible that she performed much the same
 function as a Dis to her tribe the Vanir.
 Closely linked to the idea of the Disir is the Fylgia.  These spirits
 are attached to an individual person in much the same way that the
 Disir are associated with a family.  Fylgia usually appear either as
 animals or as beautiful women.  They correspond to the "fetch,"
 "totem," or "power-animal" in other cultures.  Most of the time the
 fylgia remains hidden and absent, it is only with truly great or
 powerful persons that the fylgia becomes known.  They may have
 something to do with Seidhr as well, because many sagas offer evidence
 of spirit travel in the shape of animals.  This corresponds exactly to
 notions of shamanism found in other cultures.
 The remaining spirits include Alvar or elves, Dokkalvar or dark elves
 or Dwarfs, kobolds, and landvaettir.  While some have defined one
 being as doing one thing and another serving a different function, I'm
 not inclined to draw very sharp distinctions between these various
 creatures.  They all seem "elfish" in origin, and there seems to me to
 be no pattern of associating one name with a specific function.  We
 know that various landvaettir or land spirits were honored with blots.
 We also know that Frey is the lord of Alfheim, one of the nine worlds
 where the alvar are said to live.
 Of all the remaining spirits, the dwarfs are the most consistent in
 description.  We know that the dwarfs are cunning and misanthropic in
 character and incredible smiths, capable of creating magickal objects
 so valuable they are considered the greatest treasures of Asgard.
 Thor's hammer Mjolnir, Freya's necklace Brisingamen, and Sif's golden
 hair are all creations of the dwarfs.  They live beneath the earth and
 have little to do with mankind or the Gods unless one seeks them out.
 What place they had in the religion we no longer know.  It would seem
 wise to invoke them as spirits of the forge, but I can think of little
 other reason to disturb them.
 Elves are the most difficult magickal race to pin down.  Mythological
 sources tell us that the Alvar or light elves live in Alfheim where
 Frey is their Lord.  However, we also have the enduring belief in
 folklore of the elves as faery-folk: beings associated with the
 natural world.  These two conceptions of elves might still be linked,
 however, as Alfheim is known to be a place of incredible natural
 beauty, and Frey, their leader, is an agricultural deity.  To further
 confuse this issue, Norse folklore has a strong belief in the
 Landvaettir, or land spirits who may fit into either or both of these
 categories.  I'm inclined to lump them all together as similar beings
 that we simply don't know enough about to tell apart.  What is
 important is that Asatru, like all Pagan religions, honors the natural
 world and the earth very deeply.  Whether one calls the spirits of the
 land as the elves, the faeries, or the landvaettir, or uses all of
 these terms interchangably, respect is all important.  Asatru is known
 for being one of the most politically "conservative" of the modern
 Pagan religions, but you'll find few of us who aren't staunch
 One of the most important spirits to honor is the house-spirit.
 Folklore is also filled with stories of various spirits variously
 called faeries, elves, kobolds, brownies, tom-tin, etc who inhabit a
 house and see to its proper conduct.  In the usual form of the tale,
 they offer to perform some housekeeping functions, but eventually turn
 on the owners of the house when they are insulted by overpayment.  We
 don't have any concrete evidence for how our ancestors honored these
 beings, but this is not surprising because such a thing would not be a
 public observance and it's unlikely it would be recorded in the sagas
 or Eddas.  We usually leave a bowl of milk out when we feel we need
 their help in something.
 In general folklore does not paint the various elves and spirits as
 particularly benevolent figures.  With the exception of house spirits,
 who as spirits of a manmade object are bound to us on some level, they
 seem most interested in staying out of the dealings of mankind.  There
 are numerous stories of people who spy upon elf women and force them
 to become their brides.  Inevitably the women are unhappy and
 eventually escape, leaving their husbands emotionally devastated.
 There are also numerous stories of spirits who haunt the woods and who
 will drag wayward travelers into rivers to drown or to some other
 untimely death.  When people do have dealings with the elves these
 beings seem to operate on an entirely different set of expectations
 than we do.  Most of us would be gratified by the gift of a "bonus"
 from our employer, yet time and time again in folklore this is the
 easiest way to anger a house spirit.  We know that elves were honored
 with blots, but it's just as possible that these ceremonies were made
 in propitiation to them rather than in kinship as are our blots made
 with the Gods.  We suggest caution in dealing with beings with a set
 of values so foreign from our own.  They should be approached in the
 same way one would approach a person from a country whose ways are
 very very different.
 In general, we're also very reticent to make decisions about
 classifying the various "other peoples." It would be very easy to draw
 lines and place certain spirits into little boxes which label their
 function, but that seems overly mechanical and of little utility.
 Elves and other "wights" are not human, and it might be too much to
 try to classify them in other than subjective terms.  It's probably
 best to simply make your intent clear, experiment, and use the terms
 which work for you.
 There are a whole classification of Gods which are not truly part of
 the Aesir, Vanir, or even the Jotnar.  Wayland the Smith is the best
 example of this that we can offer.  Wayland, called Volund in the
 Norse version, is the greatest of smiths, but it's clear in the
 mythology that he was more or less a human man.  The myth tells of how
 he lost his wife and was enslaved by a human King.  While his powers
 allow him to outwit and take vengeance on the king, it's clear
 throughout that he's not on the level of a Thor or an Odin.  What one
 does about these demi-Gods or local Gods is a good question.  I see
 nothing wrong with pouring a blot in their honor and dealing with them
 as you would any other God or Goddess.  On the other hand, they are
 not part of the Aesir and I think it might be disrespectful to honor
 them with the Aesir or as part of a ceremony dedicated to the Aesir as
 they seem of a different nature.
 Ancestor Worship:
 Honoring ones ancestors was one of the most sacred duties of the
 Norsemen.  One of the most important parts of greeting new people was
 the exchanging of personal lineages at sumbel.  The worship of the
 Disir is closely linked to ancestor worship.  However, it is difficult
 for modern day Pagans to seriously engage in ancestor worship.  We
 are, for the most part, without a strong connection to our heritage,
 and even if we feel motivated we would probably need to skip at least
 a thousand years back to find ancestors who would not have been
 appalled by our Heathen beliefs.  One substitution for ancestor
 worship in the modern Asatru movement has been the veneration of heros
 from the Sagas and legends of our people.
 The manner of how we honor ancestors is also somewhat troubling.  I
 reserve the blot ritual to Gods and other powers, and I'm not sure if
 it's appropriate to pour a blot to an ancestor, no matter how
 important he was.  I think the most important part of ancestor worship
 is remembering, and the sumbel seems the most important part of that.
 While we discuss ancestry, I must mention that some modern Asatru
 groups, in part because of holdovers from 19th century cultural
 movements, have placed a great deal of emphasis on ancestry in terms
 of race and ethnic heritage.  Many (although not nearly as many as
 some hysterical commentators would have you believe) have held that
 Asatru was a religion for whites or Northern Europeans only.  In my
 not particularly humble opinion, this is pure idiocy.  The basic
 argument for this is that people of other cultures do not share the
 same background and values.  This is certainly true, but the key word
 in my opinion is culture, and all Americans by definition share a
 culture. Also, while I admit I would think it doubtful that people
 from outside of our own cultural heritage would be attracted greatly
 to Asatru, if they are it is for a reason and they should be welcomed
 and not shunned.  It proves the worth of our religion and way of life
 that it is so strong that one would leave his own cultural path behind
 to take up ours.
 As far as culture is concerned, the ancestry of the ancient North is
 alive and well in modern America.  A thousand years ago settlers
 sailed to Iceland to avoid the growing influence of powerful kings and
 centralized government.  This centralization of power was one of the
 things which Roman Christianity brought with it.  Two hundred years
 ago, we in America rebelled against our king for much the same
 reasons.  Our culture is much more profoundly influenced by the
 Vikings than most would care to admit.  Our law is based on English
 common law, which in turn has roots in Norman and Saxon law.  (Both
 the Saxons and Normans were descended from Germanic tribes.) Our
 culture is based on many of the same ideas which the Northmen held
 dear: the importance of the individual and the belief that individual
 rights outweighed collective rights.  Thus, it is my assertion that we
 are all descended, at least in part, spiritually from the ancient
 Scholarship offers us little help in determining how organized the
 ancient religion of Asatru was.  We know that there was a large temple
 at Upsulla, and we know that some areas had taxes which were clearly
 intended to support the religion.  We also have abundant evidence of a
 much less organized system in which people met in sacred groves or
 built their own Hof's and thus became a Gothi (Priest) or Gythia
 (Priestess).  Such temples were generally maintained by the family
 after the builders death, the title being more or less inherited by
 whomever was lord over the land.
 Today, most kindreds are independent.  The Ring of Troth is the
 largest organization and is highly structured in governing, but very
 unstructured in beliefs or practices.  They offer clergy recognition,
 charter kindreds on three levels, depending on how organized the group
 is, and have a system of regional stewards to coordinate local
 activities.  There are also many smaller organizations, either
 regionally based or formed from groups with other links, such as The
 Raven Kindred Association or Skergard.
 The Priesthood
 The clergy of Asatru are known as Gothi (Godman/Priest) or Gythia
 (Godwoman/Priestess).  These are honorary titles only.  Being called
 Gothi does not mark any administrative or religious power or rank
 within Asatru as a whole.  The Gothar are those who have chosen to
 take on more responsibilities.  Anyone in Asatru can reach the Gods
 through their own prayers or blots without being a Gothi.
 As to what makes one a Gothi, the requirements would vary from group
 to group.  Some might have written criteria, while others might leave
 it up to the persons heart.  The true test of a Gothi is not one of
 credentials, but of whether the folk take one seriously or not.
 Certainly a Gothi is one who has a long term relationship with the
 Gods and Goddesses.  One does not, for example, simply read this book
 or practice the religion for a few months and then proclaim oneself
 Gothi, to do so would invite scorn and laughter.  A competent Gothi
 should have studied the Eddas and Sagas and know the history of our
 religion.  He or she should also know a bit about the runes, and the
 other mysteries of our tradition.  One should also note that this is a
 public office and the Gothi of old had responsibilities as leaders of
 the community.  Most importantly one must be sincerely dedicated not
 only to the Gods, but to the duties and calling of being a religious
 leader.  There's no push to move to a "higher" level of the Priesthood
 as there are in religions or magickal orders with "degree systems" and
 if you do not feel compelled to take on the responsibilities of being
 a Gothi or Gythia, there is no need for you to and much to say that
 you should not.
 Most persons who were given the title Gothi in the old days were
 dedicated to a single God.  The title most often formed their last
 name: Thorolf Thorsgothi for example.  This dedication to a God or
 Goddess was usually part of one's family heritage and was passed down
 to your children.  While there is no compelling reason why one cannot
 act as Priest to the entire community of Gods and Goddesses, it is
 most common for one to be dedicated to a single deity.  A kindred may
 have persons who are each dedicated to a different deity, or it may
 orient itself towards a single deity as did families in the Sagas.
 One national organization, The Ring of Troth, offers official
 ministerial recognition on two levels: Eldership and Godmen.  The
 Elder program entails a great deal of study in the ways of our ancient
 forebears.  Elders are intended not so much to be everyday ministers,
 but to be teachers and sources of information for the Folk at large.
 The second program, entitled one Godman or Godwoman, is intended for
 more day to day clergy.  A Godman must be informed about the lore of
 our modern religion and familiar with the Gods and rituals of Asatru
 and capable of performing them, but does not go into deep academic
 study in the manner of an Elder.
 The Kindred
 The most basic unit of Asatru religious worship is the hearth or
 homestead.  This is nothing more than it sounds like: a household of
 Asafolk who worship the old Gods and Goddesses.  Several individuals
 or hearths may group themselves into a "kindred," which is a term that
 has many meanings to many different groups.  Some kindreds have many
 members and function like mainstream churches, others are more
 familylike and attempt to hold to their privacy.  The place of a
 kindred is more or less analogous to a clan or small tribal group.  A
 kindred is made up of people you are familiar with and with whom you
 meet in person and in it's best sense it's an organic grouping,
 however it's not the same sort of bonding that one would find in a
 single family or even in an extremely close knit group of friends.  In
 a true Pagan society, the kindred would be found on the level of a
 farmstead or small village.
 The ritual blots are most commonly done on the level of the kindred,
 or in meetings where more than one kindred comes together.  The
 rituals of a Hearth might be less formalized and more "homey" in
 atmosphere. The blot ritual is based on a religious observance that
 was part of the official public aspect of ancient Asatru, and its
 likely that there were many other private rituals that would not
 necessarily be appropriate for a kindred to take part in together. For
 example, a kindred might not honor the individual family Dis or the
 house-spirits unless all members of the kindred lived together or were
 tied by blood as well as companionship.
 Most persons will want to join or found a kindred in their area,
 however, before one runs out and begins to solicit people, you should
 think about what you are doing.  The very name of our groupings,
 "kindred," implies a great deal more than does membership in a church.
 Today we are accustomed to religious institutions that are more or
 less anonymous and sterile.  A kindred should not be this way.  While
 we must be open to all, we need not act as if we were a public
 facility with no more intimacy than a department store.  It is best to
 start small and gather people as they come to you.  Once you are
 established, get involved in the local Pagan community if you are not
 already. Attend a few events of the local Leif Erikson society or the
 Sons of Norway.  Open one of your blots to the public and take note of
 people who are attracted to Asatru.
 A kindred is something which should form organically.  It's not a good
 idea to push ones friends into joining unless they are sincerely
 interested.  In the Raven Kindreds we usually wait until people ask to
 formally join, unless we perceive they are waiting to be asked.  On
 the other hand, Asatru is not a secret religion or one open only to
 "initiates" as many Neo-Pagan faiths are.  We must be open to
 outsiders who are truly interested.
 People in a kindred should be aware that they are making a commitment
 to the group.  The first duty owed to our kindreds would be regular
 attendance.  The kindred cannot function if people do not attend.  I
 have heard some say that making a monetary donation should be
 sufficient.  I say this is simply not true.  While the money most
 certainly does help, it cannot make up for the impression made on new
 people when they are the only ones showing up for a ritual.  Also
 since Asatru is still a growing religion a lack of regular attendees
 will lead to only one view being put across instead of many peoples
 personal takes on a subject.
 The next duty we have to our kindred is loyalty.  I will assume that
 every kindred has some sort of leader whether it be an elected leader
 or not.  This person has taken on the responsibility of being in
 charge of the kindred as a whole.  I say that we should ask these
 leaders what we can do for them to make there job easier.  I am not
 saying that we have to center our lives around whatever kindred we may
 belong to, but sometimes just asking if we can pick up the mead will
 take a lot off the mind of the person in charge.
 Another duty we have to our kindred is helping the other members of
 that kindred.  This could include the simple willingness to give a
 ride to events, but also on a deeper level to really be their for each
 other in times of need.  We must remember that while our religion
 espouses the glory of the individual, that individual usually only as
 good as the community from which he came.  We also do not want to be
 like other religions we member of the same church are strangers to
 each other.  The fact that we have chosen the word "kindred" to name
 our religious bodies should mean, in practice as well as definition, a
 much closer relationship to each other then is found in most, but
 certainly not all, mainstream churches.
 One of the basic functions of a religion is to offer a set of values
 on which mankind is to base it's actions.  This, sadly, is one area
 where Paganism has often failed.  The cult of anti-values has held
 sway, taking moral relativism to extremes perhaps even farther from
 common sense than fundamentalist moral legalism, even to the point
 where I have heard rape, murder, and genocide defended on the basis of
 "cultural differences."
 However, values remain important.  All one needs to do is look at the
 morning paper to see the results of a society that has in many ways
 embraced the cult of anti-values.  Thievery, murder, and plunder exist
 in our cities to extents which would have appalled our ancestors--no
 matter how many times they went a' Viking.  While this is hardly what
 the Pagans who have embraced the cult of anti-values had in mind, it
 is to my belief a natural outgrowth of the same basic philosophical
 concept.  The chaos in our country is the dark shadow of the modern
 rejection of moral legalism.  What should have been an evolution from
 a legalistic moral/religious culture to one of flexible honor based
 values and self-responsibility has instead become a morass of chaos
 and immorality.  The lesson we should all learn is that while there is
 no definitive list of sins; right and wrong still exist.
 As usual Asatru offers a sensible solution.  Our faith deals not in
 legalisms and rules nor in unchecked chaos and relativism.  We instead
 acknowledge the existence of right and wrong, good and evil, but we
 deal with actions according to basic philosophical concepts that are
 applied by the keen intellect of Odin, the simple common sense of
 Thor, and the solid honor of Tyr--the gifts of the Gods to us.
 Asatru posits that the basic place of moral judgment is within the
 human heart and mind.  We as human beings with the gift of
 intelligence are sensible and responsible enough to determine right
 from wrong and act accordingly.  The Gods teach us through the
 examples of their lives, as chronicled in the Eddas, and through
 various pieces such as the Havamal which directly offer us advice.  In
 the modern history of our faith, various Asatru organizations have
 outlined simple sets of values which they hold up as simple guidelines
 on how to live ones life.
 The Odinic Rite (the major Asatru group in England) has one of the
 most cohesive and sensible of all those we've seen and this set has
 been adopted by the Raven Kindred as an "official" statement of our
 beliefs.  We do this not only as a moral guide for our members, but
 also to say to the world what it is that we stand for--our good name
 in the community being important to us.  Finally, this list is used
 when someone formally joins the Raven Kindred and we hold a sumble and
 toast the 9 virtues to the new member in the hope that they will apply
 them to their life.
 The Odinic Rite lists the 9 Noble Virtues as Courage, Truth, Honor,
 Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, and
 It would be hard to get much argument on any of these values from
 anyone.  They simply and briefly encapsulate the broad wisdom of our
 Gods and ancestors.
 In virtually every statement of values applied to Asatru, Courage is
 listed first.  As Stephen McNallen has said, courage and bravery are
 perhaps the values which the Vikings are best known for.  However,
 despite our history, few of us face such turmoil as a literal battle
 for ones life.  In fact, I believe it might be easier to manifest
 courage in such a situation than to do so in the many smaller day to
 day occurrences in which courage is called for.
 The most common of these occurrences for modern Pagans, is the courage
 to acknowledge and live ones beliefs.  It is also, sadly, the one that
 we most often fail at.  While we may often be full of the type of
 courage that would lead us to face a shield wall, many of us quake at
 the thought of the topic of religion coming up at the office or a
 friend asking what church we attend.  We won't offer easy answers, but
 we ask this: if you toast the courage of your ancestors to fight and
 die for what they believed in, can you trade away your religious
 identity for a higher salary or social acceptance?
 In an essay on values there is also the question of moral courage. The
 way of Tyr is difficult--to lose ones hand for ones beliefs--but, Tyr
 thought the price worth paying.  In a million ways modern society
 challenges our values, not just as Asatruar who are estranged from
 mainstream religious practice, but for religious people in an
 increasingly not just secular, but anti-religious culture.  Values are
 also not in favor in modern society.  Breaking or getting around the
 rules is encouraged to get ahead.  Living honorably is simply too
 inconvenient.  I think most people, Asatru or otherwise, find this
 repugnant, but the only way to change it is to have the courage to
 refuse to take part in it.
 The second virtue, that of Truth, is the one that most led our kindred
 to embrace the Odinic Rite's statement of values as our own.  Early in
 our discussions, we decided that no matter what values we chose to
 hold out as our own, truth must be among them.  It is a word that
 holds so much in its definition, and includes such a wide variety of
 moral and philosophical beliefs that we were all drawn to it as a
 simple statement of what we stood for.
 At least one of the reasons we wanted to adopt it was the simple issue
 of honesty.  As Bill Dwinnels said at a recent sumbel while toasting
 truth and honesty: "if you don't want people to know about something,
 don't do it." Truth, in the sense of honesty, is essential to personal
 honor and also to any system or morality that is not based on rigid
 legalism.  If one is to uphold an honor code, one must be brutally
 honest with oneself and with others.
 Truth is also the Truth that comes with a capital T--the kind of Truth
 that one talks about in terms of religion or morality.  It's common to
 talk of different peoples having different "truths," but it's equally
 important to remember that while we acknowledge that each person or
 people has their own belief as to what Truth is or where to find it,
 there finally is a single Truth.  This is not the Truth as we believe
 it, but ultimate Truth.  While we may respect other people's "truths"
 and seek our own, we must never forget our search for The Truth.  Like
 the Holy Grail of Christian legend, it may never be ours to reach, but
 when we cease to search we perish.
 Honor is the basis for the entire Asatru moral rationale.  If anything
 comes out in the Eddas and Sagas it is that without honor we are
 nothing.  We remember two types of peoples from ancient times: those
 whose honor was so clean that they shine as examples to us and those
 who were so without honor that their names are cursed a thousand years
 after they lived.  Good Asatruar should always strive to be among the
 However, honor is not mere reputation.  Honor is an internal force
 whose outward manifestation is reputation.  Internal honor is the
 sacred moral compass that each Asatruar and God should hold dear.  It
 is the inner dwelling at peace which comes from living in accordance
 with ones beliefs and with ones knowledge of the Truth of what one is
 doing.  It is something deeply personal and heartfelt, almost akin to
 an emotion.  It's a "knowing" that what one is doing is right and
 decent and correct.
 In many ways while the most important of all the virtues it is also
 the most ephemeral in terms of description.  It is all the other
 virtues rolled together and then still more.  The best way I have
 found to describe honor is that if you are truly living with honor,
 you will have no regrets about what you have done with your life.
 Fidelity is a word that is far too often defined by it's narrow use in
 terms of marital fidelity.  By the dictionary it simply means being
 faithful to someone or something.  In marriage this means being true
 to ones vows and partner, and this has been narrowly defined as
 limiting ones sexual experience to ones spouse.  While I have found
 this to be great practical advice, many treat fidelity as if there
 were no other ways in which one could be faithful or unfaithful.
 For we Asatruar fidelity is most important in terms of our faith and
 troth to the Gods.  We must remain true to the Aesir and Vanir and to
 our kinsmen.  Like marriage, Profession (the rite in which one enters
 the Asatru faith, similar to Christian confirmation or Wiccan
 initiation) is a sacred bond between two parties; in this case an
 Asatruar and the Gods.  In order for such a relationship to work, both
 must be honest and faithful to each other.
 Asatru, although currently being reborn, is at its roots a folk
 religion and we also uphold the value of fidelity to the ways of our
 ancestors.  This is why historical research is so important to the
 Asatru-folk: it is the rediscovering of our ancient ways and our
 readoption of them.
 In any discussion of the values of Asatru, discipline is best
 described as self-discipline.  It is the exercise of personal will
 that upholds honor and the other virtues and translates impulse into
 action.  If one is to be able to reject moral legalism for a system of
 internal honor, one must be willing to exercise the self-discipline
 necessary to make it work.  Going back to my earlier criticism of
 society, if one rejects legalism, one must be willing to control ones
 own actions.  Without self-discipline, we have the mess we currently
 see in our culture.
 Looking at discipline in terms of fidelity, we see a close connection.
 Many Pagans go from faith to faith, system to system, path to path.
 Asatruar are much less likely to do this.  The discipline of keeping
 faith with our Gods and the ways of our ancestors is part of our
 modern practice.  In this way, we limit ourselves in some ways, but we
 gain much more in others.
 Hospitality is simply one of the strongest core values at the heart of
 virtually every ancient human civilization.  In a community/folk
 religion such as our own, it is the virtue that upholds our social
 fabric.  In ancient times it was essential that when a traveler went
 into the world he could find some sort of shelter and welcome for the
 night.  In modern times it is just as essential that a traveler find
 friendship and safety.
 In our modern Asatru community, we need to treat each other with
 respect and act together for the good of our community as a whole.
 This functions most solidly on the level of the kindred or hearth
 where non-familial members become extremely close and look out for
 each other.  It can mean hospitality in the old sense of taking in
 people, which we've done, but in modern times it's more likely to mean
 loaning someone a car or a bit of money when they need it (that's
 need, not want).
 Part of hospitality is treating other people with respect and dignity.
 Many of our Gods are known to wander the world and stop in at people's
 houses, testing their hospitality and generosity.  The virtue of
 hospitality means seeing people as if they were all individuals with
 self-respect and importance.  Or perhaps from time to time, they are
 literally the Gods in human form.  This has profound implications for
 social action in our religion.  Our response to societal problems such
 as poverty (that's poverty folks, not laziness) is in many ways our
 modern reaction to this ancient virtue.
 In terms of our modern community as a whole, I see hospitality in
 terms of frontier "barn raisings" where a whole community would come
 together and pool their resources.  This doesn't mean we have to
 forget differences, but we must put them aside for those who are of
 our Folk, and work for our common good.
 Modern Asatruar must be industrious in their actions.  We need to work
 hard if we are going to achieve our goals.  There is so much for us to
 do.  We've set ourselves the task of restoring Asatru to it's former
 place as a mainstream faith and by doing so reinvigorating our society
 and culture.  We can't do this by sitting on our virtues, we need to
 make them an active part of our behavior.  Industry also refers to
 simple hard work in our daily vocations, done with care and pride.
 Here's a few concrete examples.  If you are reading this and don't
 have a kindred, why not? Stop reading now.  Go and place ads in the
 appropriate local stores, get your name on the Ring of Troth, Wyrd
 Network, or Asatru Alliance networking lists, and with other Pagan
 groups.  Put on a workshop.  Ok, now you're back to reading and you
 don't agree with what I'm saying here? Well, be industrious! Write
 your own articles and arguments.  Write a letter to the editor and
 suggest this material be banned--better that than passivity.  Get the
 blood moving and go out and do it.  That's how it gets done.  The Gods
 do not favor the lazy.
 The same holds true for our non-religious lives.  As Asatruar we
 should offer a good example as industrious people who add to whatever
 we're involved in rather than take from it.  We should be the ones the
 business we work in can't do without and the ones who always seem to
 be able to get things done.  When people think of Asatru, they should
 think of people who are competent and who offer something to the
 This doesn't just apply to vocational work, but to the entire way we
 live our lives.  It is just as much a mentality.  The Vikings were
 vital people.  They lived each day to its fullest and didn't wring
 their hands in doubt or hesitation.  We should put the same attitude
 forward in all that we do whether it is our usual vocation, devotion
 to the Gods, or leisure time.
 Self Reliance
 Industry brings us directly to the virtue of Self-Reliance, which is
 important both in practical and traditional terms.  Going back to the
 general notion of this article, we are dealing with a form of morality
 that is largely self-imposed and thus requires self-reliance.  We rely
 on ourselves to administer our own morality.
 Traditionally, our folkways have always honored the ability of a man
 or woman to make their own way in the world and not to lean on others
 for their physical needs.  This is one of the ways in which several
 virtues reinforce and support each other.  Hospitality cannot function
 if people are not responsible enough to exercise discipline and take
 care of themselves.  It's for those that strive and fail or need
 assistance that hospitality is intended, not for the idle who simply
 won't take care of themselves.
 In terms of our relationships with the Gods, self-reliance is also
 very important.  If we wish the Gods to offer us their blessings and
 gifts, we must make ourselves worthy of them--and the Gods are most
 pleased with someone who stands on their own two feet.  This is one of
 the reasons for the Asatru "rule" that we do not kneel to the Gods
 during our ceremonies.  By standing we acknowledge our relationship as
 striving and fulfilled people looking for comradeship and a
 relationship, rather than acting as scraelings looking for a handout
 from on high.  It takes very little for a God to attract a follower,
 if worship simply means getting on the gravy train.  We, as Asatruar,
 are people who can make our own way in the world, but who choose to
 seek a relationship with the Gods.
 In mundane terms being self-reliant is a simple way to allow ourselves
 the ability to live as we wish to.  In simple economic terms, if one
 has enough money in the bank one doesn't need to worry as much about
 being fired due to religious discrimination.  We can look a bigot in
 the face and tell him just where he can put it.  It's also nice to
 have something in the bank to lay down as a retainer on a good lawyer
 so we can take appropriate action.
 On the other side of this is self-reliance in the sense of Henry David
 Thoreau, who advocated a simple lifestyle that freed one from the
 temptations of materialism.  Again, here we are able to live as we
 wish with those things that are truly important.  Religious people
 from all faiths have found that adjusting ones material desires to
 match one's ability to meet them leaves one open for a closer
 relationship with deity and a more fulfilling life.  While our
 ancestors were great collectors of gold goodies, they didn't lust for
 possessions in and of themselves, but for what they stood for and
 could do for them.  In fact, the greatest thing that could be said of
 a Lord was that he was a good "Ring Giver."
 Being self-reliant also means taking responsibility for ones life.
 It's not just about refusing a welfare check or not lobbying for a tax
 exemption, but also refusing to blame ones failures on religious
 intolerance, the patriarchy, or an unfair system.  The system may, in
 fact, be unfair, but it's our own responsibility to deal with it.
 In societal terms, we have become much too dependent on other people
 for our own good.  As individuals we look to the government or to
 others to solve our problems and as a society we borrow billions from
 our descendants to pay for today's excesses.  Most problems in this
 world could be solved if people just paid their own way as they went.
 The final virtue is Perseverance which I think most appropriate
 because it is the one that we most need to keep in mind in our living
 of the other values.  Our religion teaches us that the world is an
 imperfect place, and nothing comes easy.  We need to continue to seek
 after that which we desire.  In this imperfect world there are no free
 lunches or easy accomplishments--especially in the subjects we have
 set before ourselves.  If we truly wish to build an Asatru community
 that people will hold up as an example of what committed people can
 do, then we must persevere through the hardships that building our
 religion is going to entail.  We must be willing to continue on when
 we are pushed back.  If one loses a job for ones religion, the answer
 is not to go back and hide, but to continue until one finds a vocation
 where one can more forward and live as an Asatruar should.
 Finally we must persevere when we simply fail.  If one's kindred falls
 apart because of internal strife, one should go back and start over.
 Pick up the pieces and continue on.  If nobody had done this after the
 disintegration of the Asatru Free Assembly, this would probably never
 have been written.  We must be willing to continue in the hard work of
 making our religion strong--not just when it is convenient and easy to
 do so, but when it gets hard, inconvenient, or just plain boring.  To
 accomplish without striving is to do little, but to persevere and
 finally accomplish a hard fought goal brings great honor.
 As with most Neo-Pagan religions, Asatru posits a belief in magic and
 the spiritual realm.  However, people must remember that the bedrock
 of Asatru is faith in the Gods, and magic is but a part of our customs
 and folklore, not a substitute for faith or something separate from
 it.  Practicing magic, even magic of a Northern type, does not make
 one Asatru, nor is the practice of magic a requirement to be an
 Asatruar or to perform rituals in honor of our Gods.
 The most common type of magic found in the Asatru tradition is that of
 the runes.  The runes are a magical alphabet which in various forms
 was found throughout the Germanic world.  The most common form used in
 Asatru today is the "Elder Futhark" (runic alphabets are called
 futharks, a word constructed from the first 6 runes) which is believed
 to be an older and more true form than the later versions such as the
 Anglo-Saxon set of 33 runes.
 People are most familiar with the use of runes for divinatory
 purposes, and they are indeed used for this purpose.  Asatru believes
 that there are forces, shaped by our past and the history of the
 world, that affect the world and the way the future comes to be.  We
 believe that the forces of Wyrd and Orlog (without a dissertation to
 explain them fully, both words translate roughly to "fate") can be
 examined and to some extent tell us what is going to happen.  On the
 other hand, we do not believe in predestination.  Future events are
 shaped by our actions, and we can change them.  If we change our
 actions, we change the future.  So the runes are not a perfect
 prediction of what will occur because the future is in flux.  They
 are, however, an important tool for exactly the same reason.
 The most common way to read the runes is to pull forth three runes
 representing the past, present, and future.  All of these are
 important, because only in looking at the past and present can we
 understand a prediction of what will occur in the future.
 However, divination is but a small part of runic magic.  The runes are
 important and powerful symbols that represent the very forces that
 hold the nine worlds together, and they make very powerful
 meditational symbols.
 The runes are also useful in active magic.  The most common way to use
 them in this manner is to carve a "bind rune" or a symbol made up of
 more than one rune, all of which together are intended to produce an
 effect.  The most common of these would be a rune carved on a single
 line with one rune pointing to the left and the other to the right.
 However, the more complex a rune is, the more powerful it can become.
 For more information on runes, consult the books recommended in the
 Another important type of magic is called seidhr, which seems to have
 been a "shamanic" tradition within ancient Asatru.  This type of magic
 involves going into a trance, and journeying to the other worlds.
 Here, one could journey to consult the spirits of nature, the Disir,
 or the ancestors.  Unfortunately little information is left to us
 about seidhr.  We know that Freya was a skilled practitioner and that
 she taught it to Odin.  It was considered to be a woman's magic, and
 Odin is taunted about it by Loki.  Although today most persons
 exploring seidhr are women, there is no such prejudice against men
 interested in it.
 In what records we do have, the trance of the seidhrwoman was created
 through another person singing songs or chanting while the seidhrwoman
 was elevated on a platform.  We don't know much else about the
 practice.  However, around the world shamanic techniques are
 remarkably similar, and the main difference seems to be the cultural
 context, which provides a map to interpreting the otherworlds.  The
 best approach might to be explore some of the material on the general
 phenonenon of shamanism, and then apply that to what little we do
 The third major type of magic found in modern Asatru is "galdr" or
 chant magic.  The simplest form of this is "rune galdr" or the simple
 chanting and "vibrating" of the sounds of the runes in order to invoke
 their powers.
 The Raven Kindred meets on the first weekend of each month and for the
 four major Norse holidays: Summer and Winter Finding (Spring & Fall
 Equinox), Summer Solstice, and Yule.  Traditional festivals which have
 been moved to fit our monthly schedule have their traditional date in
 parenthesis.  Festivals marked with a "*" are particular to the Raven
 Kindred.  There are other holidays which our kindred does not meet to
 celebrate, but which are recognized by Asatru and celebrated on an
 individual or family basis.
 1st weekend -- Frig's Distaff -- Celebration of Frigga and the home
 1st weekend -- Disting -- Celebration of Freya and the Disir (Trad.
 2/14 )
 1st weekend -- Founding of the World.  Celebration of Odin, Vili, and
 3/21 -- Summer Finding - Celebration of the Goddess Ostara.  Also a
 celebration of the Raven Kindred's founding, Spring Equinox 1991.
 1st weekend -- Alfarblot.  Sacrifice to the elves and nature spirits
 (traditionally celebrated as part of Disting)
 1st weekend -- May Day/Walpurgis.  Celebration of spring which we
 dedicate to Njord and Nerthus.  (Trad.  5/1)
 1st weekend -- Festival of Mead dedicated to Aegir and also to Bygvir
 and Beyla*
 3/21 Summer Solstice -- Dedicated to Sunna, Goddess of the Sun
 1st weekend -- Blot in honor of Baldr*
 1st weekend -- Freyfaxi, first harvest and celebration of Frey and his
 horse (Trad.  8/1)
 1st weekend -- Discovery of the Runes, celebration of Odin as the God
 of Wisdom (Odinic Rite holiday celebrated 8/25)
 9/21 Winter Finding -- Disirblot (Disirblot traditionally 10/13-10/15)
 1st weekend -- Tyrblot, celebration of Justice and Honor.  (Supreme
 Court session begins 1st Monday in October)*
 1st weekend -- Einjerhar, celebration of war-dead and Ragnarok
 Dedicated to Odin and Freya  (Trad.  11/11 -- Armistice Day)
 1st weekend -- Winterblot, dedicated to Skadi and/or Ullr*
 12/21 -- Yule, multiday festival dedicated to Thor et al
 (Traditionally a festival lasting from the Mother Night 12/21 to New
 Years Day)
 The Raven Kindred has developed a slightly different form of the Blot
 ritual which we use.  This has come to pass because of a desire for
 more personal involvement as well as a smaller group of people than
 would be appropriate for a major blot.
 The major change, outside of a few cosmetic differences, is that we
 have added a "mini sumbel" to the blot ritual in place of the
 sprinkling in which we offer three rounds of toasts: the first
 dedicated to the God or Goddess being honored and the remaining two to
 anything the participants deem appropriate which is not inimical to
 the purpose of the blot.  (i.e.  don't toast the Jotnar during a
 ritual to Thor.)
 Setting the mood: Chant to Odin, Vili, Ve
 To begin each ritual we offer a three round chant of "Odin, Vili, Ve."
 This serves two purposes.  First we are linking ourselves to the Gods
 of creation and thus to the connections between Midgard and the Gods.
 Second and perhaps more appropriately it allows people to get
 themselves mentally prepared for the service.
 Hammer Rite
 We offer an invocation to Fire and Ice which are the central elements
 of the creation of the world.  We ask that the place we are meeting be
 blessed and Holy for the coming of the Gods.
 Statement of purpose
 We far too often ignore this, but it's a good idea to have the Gothi
 or Gythia who is presiding greet the participants and state something
 general about the purpose of the ritual.  It need not be complicated
 "We gather together today to celebrate the Winter Nights as our
 ancestors did.  To honor our ancestors, the Disir, and Freya the Great
 Dis and to renew our bonds as a family [kindred]."
 General Prayer
 At this point one of our members usually offers up a prayer to the
 Aesir and Vanir collectively to thank them for their bounty since the
 last time we met and to ask their blessings upon the kindred and its
 Personal invocations
 We reserve a time between the opening of the ritual and the blot
 ceremony for people to offer any prayers or other invocations they
 feel necessary.  This is the time when we Profess new members of
 Asatru.  Other activities done at this time have included a kindred
 member thanking Saga, the Goddess of wisdom, for her recent graduation
 from college.
 Invoke deity of occasion
 At this point we make a point to specifically invoke and honor the
 deity that we are bloting.  We attempt to list as many names and or
 functions of the God as possible and this serves a dual purpose in
 reminding the attendees of who the God is and why we are honoring Him.
 This is, however, separate from the offering.
 At this point we like to remind ourselves why we are here and what the
 Gods mean to us.  We sit and someone either offers a spoken meditation
 or more often reads a story from the mythology.  While most of us
 enjoy the poetic edda, we usually use a modern prose version of the
 myth as it is easier to follow.
 Offer/sanctify mead
 The Gothi takes up the horn and his assistant (often called "The
 Valkyrie" by Asafolk) fills it with mead.  The Gothi then steps to the
 altar and holds the horn aloft and asks the God to partake of it and
 charge it with his power.
 Toast to the deity of occasion
 This is when we begin to deviate substantially from the standard
 Asatru blot ritual.  Beginning with the Gothi the horn is raised and a
 toast drunk to the God.  The horn is then passed around to the Folk
 and a personal toast repeated.  The only rule here is that the round
 is dedicated to the God invoked.  Many times the toasts are personal
 thanksgiving or requests for aid or wisdom.
 At the end of the round the remains of the horn (and there should be
 some) are poured into the blotbowl.
 Remaining toasts
 We then take two more rounds to toast whatever Gods, ancestors, and
 beings each person wishes.  There is not necessarily any continuity
 from one person to the next.  Brags or oaths are also appropriate at
 this time.  Professions, other major oaths, and major works of
 thanksgiving or praise are usually done before the blot.  The second
 and third toasts are usually reserved for small things.
 Thank deity
 Finally we always remember to thank the deity and ask for his
 continued blessings on the Folk present.
 Oath Ring ceremony
 Our kindred has a ceremony that affirms our dedication to each other,
 to the kindred, and to the Gods.  Each full Professed and accepted
 Kindred member comes forward and takes hold of the oath ring.  (We are
 blessed in having a 6" diameter brass oath ring made for us by a
 kindred member.) One person then recites a rede concerning itself with
 the symbol of a ring and something which connects us to the Gods, the
 Earth, and to each other.
 I should repeat, only kindred Members participate in this.  If you
 haven't sworn on the oath ring, you don't take part in the ceremony.
 We have enlarged this at public events to all Professed persons, but
 change the rede to remove references to the kindred.
 Pour libation
 Finally we leave the Hof and pour a libation on the physical earth,
 adjourning outside to do so if we are indoors.  The blot hitting the
 ground signals that the ritual is truly over.  When we are working
 indoors in a living room or other non-dedicated space I always make
 sure I am the first to return and extinguish candles, turn on electric
 lights, etc.  This provides a good hint to people's minds that the
 ritual is, in fact, over.  If we had a dedicated space, the procession
 outside to pour the blot would also empty the Hof and we would adjourn
 to the feast rather than returning to the temple.
 This ritual would be ideally performed at sunrise on the day of the
 summer Solstice.  If possible the folk should gather while it is still
 dark or even better, remain awake throughout the night in vigil.  A
 secondary time would be at noon on the Solstice.  This ritual should
 not be performed at night.
 At any point in this ritual, within the realm of logic and dramatic
 flow, the parts marked as Gothi and Gythia may be shared among the
 folk.  In addition, the parts are not necessarily sex specific, but
 the terminology is used as a convenience.
 Set Up: An altar should be placed in the center and the folk should
 form a circle around it, leaving space in the center for the "action"
 to take place.  For this ritual you will need some sort of mead or
 beer, a horn or chalice, an offering bowl, a hammer for consecrations,
 and a wheel of some sort, preferably a wagon wheel to symbolize the
 turning of the wheel of the year.  Any reasonable tools may be
 substituted.  The Wheel is placed on the ground near the altar or on
 the altar with candles around the rim (unlit).
 Consecration of space
 The Gothi goes to the center of the folk and forms the invocational
 position of the elhaz rune, both hands in the air at a rough 45'
 Gothi: We gather here to honor our sacred lady Sunna, who on this
 Solstice Morning, reaches her height of power.  All hail Sunna!
 All: Hail Sunna!
 The Gythia takes the hammer and walks to each of the four corners and
 consecrates the space.
 Gythia: Hammer, hallow and hold this holy stead, that it will be a
 fitting place for our worship of our sacred lady Sunna! Hammar, Helga
 ve thetta ok hindra alla illska!
 Gythia returns hammer to altar and faces the altar.
 Gythia: I consecrate and hallow this altar to the work of our sacred
 lady Sunna! Here on this Solstice morning may the might of the Gods be
 brought to our holy stead.  May the warm light of Sunna heat our
 hearts and hold our spirits.
 Gothi: Our holy lady watches and waits for the blot in her honor. Hail
 All: Hail Sunna!
 (At this point it would be most appropriate for a song or reading to
 be performed.  It should obviously be about Sunna or the sun or
 something appropriate to the day.)
 Gythia: Our lady Sunna is the light of knowledge, the warmth of love,
 and the heat of our passion.  Let us spend a moment in silence,
 contemplating those things which she brings us.
 Leave a few moments for silent prayers and meditation.
 Gothi: Holy Sunna.  Lady of the Sun.  Light of the heavens.  Ever
 pursued and ever free.  We gather to greet and welcome you and offer
 you gifts on this day.  We offer to you our prayers and love, our
 devotion and strength, our kinship and honor.
 All face the sun and form the elhaz posture.
 All: Hail to thee Sunna, light of Har newly risen.  She whose holy
 light shone upon our ancestors of old and she who's light will shine
 upon our children.  We give you hail and welcome.  Fill our hearts on
 this Solstice morning with your warm rays that your fires may burn in
 our hearts throughout the year.  Hail Sunna!
 A few moments of silence are appropriate here.
 Gothi: Now it is time to offer sacrifice to our holy lady.
 Gythia takes horn and Gothi fills it with mead.  Gythia holds horn
 above her head, in the direction of the sun.
 Gythia: Here is our sacrifice, the essence of our love and spirit.  We
 offer it to you as a token of our kinship and our love.  As you drink
 of it, may your power fill this holy hlaut and feed our spirits.
 Gythia drinks from the horn and it is then passed around the folk,
 each taking a drink, with the horn returning to the Gythia.
 Gythia: Hail to thee Sunna!
 Gythia pours remainder of horn into the offering bowl.  Gythia and
 Gothi take the bowl and evergreen sprig and walk around the folk,
 sprinkling the mead to the four corners and on the folk.  Finally they
 return to the center and sprinkle the wheel.
 Gothi: Hail the sacred wheel of the sun.  Now it is the longest day of
 the year and the sun is triumphant, but all changes and the wheel
 Gythia lights candles on the wheel and members of the folk take it up
 and parade it around the grounds.  A song or chant would be
 appropriate at this time.  "The sun burns, the wheel turns!" for
 example.  Once the procession is done (this decision should be based
 on the subjective feelings of those involved and not planned out) the
 wheel should be returned to the altar.
 Gothi & Gythia assume the invocation position
 Gothi: Sacred Lady Sunna, Summer Sun now strongest.  We thank you for
 your blessings of warmth and light.  May you reign long.
 All: Hail Sunna!  Hail Sunna!  Hail Sunna!
 Gothi takes up the hlaut bowl.
 Gothi: Now our rite is ended and the sacrifice is made.  The wheel
 turns.  To Sunna, to the Gods, to the Goddesses, and to Earth, mother
 of us all, we offer this holy mead, from the Gods to the Earth To us.
 From ourselves to the Earth to the Gods.  Hail!
 Gothi pours contents of the hlaut bowl on the ground, possibly in the
 center of the wheel.  If this ritual is done indoors, the libation
 should be poured outside afterwards.  We usually trek outside
 immediately even if the ritual is an apartment.  The physical action
 of pouring the libation is an important psychological trigger to both
 Gods and men that the ritual is over.
 Our rituals are held on the afternoon of the first Saturday of each
 month.  We tell people to arrive at 2:00pm, and plan for a ritual at
 4:00 followed by a feast.  This is a rough timeline, intended to
 shepherd people through a complete ritual from when one awakes in the
 morning, to when people go home.
 At least one week before, get invitations and/or schedules in the
 mail.  If you give folks some sort of paper to hold onto they will be
 much less likely to forget about the ritual.
 9:00	Get up.  Fritter away time answering e-mail, watching
 Scooby-Doo reruns, etc.
 10:30	Clean the house.  Get personal items such as bills and
 checkbooks out of where people might see them.  Stash excess books in
 bedroom.  Sweep and vacuum floor.  Clean kitchen, make sure the
 dishwasher is run and dishes put away so there will be enough for the
 Folk.  Put any food or drink items away that one doesn't want the Folk
 to eat.  Check altar, clean and dust it, offer a prayer and light the
 24 hour candle on it.  Put out any new magazines or books of interest
 on the coffee table.
 12:00	Shower and get dressed.
 12:30	First people arrive--at this point the only folks present are
 a few "core" members of the kindred who are there to help, not just to
 attend.  Immediately send people out to buy food and drink.
 1:30	Food arrives.  Unpack it and determine what we've forgotten.
 Put out munchies, make sure beer/wine is chilling.
 1:45	Other "core" kinsman calls as he is about to leave for ritual
 site, let him know what previous "foraging" trip failed to obtain (in
 our kindred's case, usually gravy mix), and have him/her stop to pick
 it up on the way.  Arranging for someone living closeby to call just
 before leaving for exactly this purpose is a very good idea.
 2:00	First people begin arriving at house.  This is when we tell
 people to arrive, but generally they float in throughout the
 afternoon.  As a few people begin to arrive, seek "volunteers" to help
 with any food prep tasks that can be done at this point like slicing
 vegetables or making stuffing.  When this is done, stash it in the
 2:30	If everything has gone well, all the prep cooking stuff should
 be done and the dishes used washed and dried.  Hosts, cooking people,
 and organizers can now relax and socialize.
 3:45	Person who assured you last night they would be coming calls
 to announce they can't make it.  Begin to get people to think about
 ritual and divide up any parts that aren't previously spoken for.  If
 you are cooking something like a roast that requires more than an hour
 of cooking, put it in now.  Get the ritual space cleared out and the
 altar set up.  Take phone off hook or turn off ringer
 4:00	If you do so, get dressed (tunics, etc) for ritual.  Begin
 Ritual.  If you have any new people, even if they purport to be
 Asatru, once you have gotten the candles lit, the blot-drink open, and
 everyone ready, go over each step of the ritual.  This is also a good
 way to make sure that each person knows when their part is, and
 remembers that they are doing it.
 Set the mood: Chant to Odin, Vili, Ve--When the Gothi/person in charge
 is sure that everyone is ready, start the Odin, Vili, Ve chant.  This
 goes for three rounds.
 Hammer Rite--Appropriate person steps forward and takes up hammer, and
 performs hammer rite.
 Statement of purpose--Gothi ritually welcomes people to the blot and
 announces what the purpose of the ritual is and otherwise reminds
 people of why they have come together.
 General Prayer--Someone steps forward to the altar and offers a prayer
 to all the Gods and Goddesses for their blessings and asking that they
 help us to have continud prosperity.
 Invoke deity of occasion--Gothi steps to front of altar, raises hands
 in Z position and calls for the God or Goddess of the occasion to come
 forth to Midgard.
 Meditation--Person leading meditation indicates that people should
 sit.  A few moments of silence are offered for people to get
 comfortable.  Meditation is offered.  When it is over, the keyword we
 usually use is "rise now and receive the blessing of Odin (or
 appropriate god-name)."
 Offer/sanctify mead--The Gothi takes up the horn and his assistant
 (called "The Valkyrie") fills it with mead.  The Valkyrie replaces the
 bottle on the altar.  The Gothi steps to the front of the altar and
 holds the horn aloft and asks the God to partake of it and charge it
 with his power.
 Toast to the deity of occasion--After offering the horn to the deity
 and making the first toast, the Gothi passes the horn to the person
 next to him.  If there are a large number of people the Valkyrie
 should watch and if necessary come forward with the bottle to refill
 the horn.  At the end of the round the remains of the horn (and there
 should be some) are poured into the blotbowl by the Gothi usually with
 some appropriate words, and the Valkyrie then refills it.  This
 process is repeated for the next two rounds.
 Thank deity--The Gothi thanks the deity and bids him/her continue to
 watch over the Folk.
 Oath Ring ceremony--The Gothi takes up oath Ring and the full kindred
 members come forward and grab ahold.  The recognized kindred leader
 offers up the rede.  The Gothi then replaces the Ring on the altar.
 Pour libation--Someone, often the Valkyrie, takes up the blotbowl and
 leads the people outside for the libration.  The Gothi is the last
 person to leave, and makes sure the door is closed, etc.  After the
 libation is finished, the Gothi hurries back to be the first one in
 and turns on the lights, which is an important cue to everyone that
 the ritual is indeed over.
 5:00	Ritual Over.  Put someone in charge of getting the room back
 to normal.  Person in charge of food grabs a few "volunteers" and sets
 them to work getting the rest of the food together.  Other folks
 socialize or help as they wish.
 5:30	Set tables and put out anything that people don't need to get
 for themselves such as napkins, salt & pepper, butter, etc.  Offer a
 "last call" for folks to get drinks before the food is served.  Slice
 roast and anything else that needs to be.  Get serving spoons where
 they'll be needed or put food onto serving platters, etc.
 5:45	If you are serving food out of the kitchen bring it out.  If
 you aren't, cook and "volunteers" grab plates full and then announce
 food is ready for the rest of the people.  Much feasting ensues.
 5:55	Person who called at 3:30 announcing they couldn't make it
 arrives.  Says he called, but the phone was busy.  Host puts it back
 on hook.
 6:30	All the food being gone, the feast is declared over.  Host is
 thrown out of kitchen and told to sit down while folks wash dishes and
 clean up.  (If this doesn't happen, reconsider who is invited.)
 7:00	First person leaves.  Hit everyone up for $$ for feast
 contributions (this would be better done when they arrive, but it
 rarely happens that way).  Write down anyone who doesn't have the cash
 and owes you.  If this happens with any frequency, reconsider who is
 8:00	Put The Vikings in the VCR.
 10:30	Vikings movie finishes.  Most guests leave.
 11:30	Guests have drifted out until "core" kindred members are the
 only folks left.  Talk over ritual and how it went.  Bitch and laugh
 about flakey visitor who will never come back (you hope).
 12:30	Last people leave.  Go to bed.
 Mead is one of the oldest drinks known to man.  In the ancient Norse
 tradition it is beloved of both Gods and men.  The patron God of mead
 and brewing is Aegir, a God of the sea, reckoned as one of the Giants,
 who is the greatest of brewers.  It is to him that the Gods went to
 when they wanted mead and ale brewed for Asgard.  Bygvir and Beyla are
 servants of the God Frey; their names reckoned as "barley" and "bee."
 "Kvasir's blood" is a kenning for mead.  Kvasir was an early God, who
 was murdered and his blood brewed into mead that gave wisdom.  Snorri
 tells us that Odin ate no food, but drank only mead.
 In modern Asatru, mead is an important part of our basic ritual known
 as the blot.  In ancient times, the blot was a sacrifice in which the
 blood of a slaughtered animal was offered to the Gods.  Today, we
 generally offer mead or ale in a similar manner.
 The essence of brewing is a true wonder of nature.  One introduces
 yeast in to a liquid that is rich in sugars.  The yeast eats the sugar
 and excrete's alcohol.  In wine, the liquid is grape juice.  In beer,
 it is a mixture of water and malted grains.  In mead, it is a mixture
 of honey and water, although occasionally people will mix in fruit for
 To brew mead you will need the follow ingredients for each gallon of
 mead: 2 1/2 lbs of honey, 2 teaspoons of "acid mix" (Sold as pre-mixed
 in winemaking stores.  It contains malic, tartaric, and citric
 acids.), 1 teaspoon of yeast energizer, one packet of wine yeast (1
 packet of yeast will do for 1P5 gallons of mead, I suggest champagne
 yeast and highly recommend against mead yeast.  I have never had a
 decent mead made with mead yeast.  Bread yeast is absolutely not
 acceptable.).  You usually make mead in 5 gallon batches.
 You will also need some equipment.  First, if you don't already have
 one, you'll need a good quality pot that will hold at least 2 or 3
 gallons.  It should be made of either stainless steel or
 enameled--your basic corn or lobster pot will do.  Second, you'll need
 a variety of goods sold at the local beer and winemaking store.  If
 you are just starting out, you are probably best off buying a kit
 which will contain the following: a five gallon plastic keg the cover
 of which has a hole in the center meant for a stopper (the primary
 fermenter), a plastic siphon hose attached to a piece of hard plastic
 tubing (a racking cane), a piece of hard plastic tubing molded into an
 "S" shape (an air lock), a little device that either looks like a tiny
 plunger or two pieces of plastic, one of which fits over the other (a
 corker), a device that looks like a giant glass thermometer (a
 hydrometer), a bottle brush, a package of "sanitizer," and a bag of
 corks.  Oh, you'll also get a little booklet that will give you
 helpful advice on brewing grape wines.  I've found these booklets are
 generally good, but tend to go into more work than is necessary for
 The kit will run around $30P$50, and the individual items about a
 third more than that if you buy them separately.  If you are buying
 them separately, you don't really need the hydrometer and you can use
 household bleach instead of the sanitizer.  The yeast and chemicals
 will run you another $10, and the honey another $20.  I recommend
 looking at a health food store, where you can often get higher quality
 all-natural honey in different varieties and larger quantites at
 prices much cheaper than at the supermarket.  Most beer and winemaking
 stores will be happy to sell you bottles, but I recommend asking at a
 local restaurant as they are usually eager to get rid of a few.  You
 can't reuse corks.  This is all you need.  Your bill for making your
 first 5 gallons will be about $80, and will make 20 or so bottles. So,
 the cost for home-brewed mead is around $4/bottle for the first batch,
 and $1.50 thereafter.
 Making mead is easy.  First find a good quality pot that will hold 2P5
 gallons.  It should be either stainless steel or ceramic coated (a
 "corn" or "lobster" pot is usually a good bet).  Rinse it out either
 with the sanitizer (following the directions on the package) or with a
 10P20% bleach solution.  This is to sterilize it.  Everything you use
 must be completely sterile, including any spoons or siphons or
 anything else that comes in contact with the mead including your
 hands.  Of course, after sterilizing everything rinse the bleach in
 hot water until you can't smell it, and then rinse it a bit more for
 good measure.  The reason for sterilizing is that yeasts naturally
 present in air can contaminate your mead, and unlike the helpful
 yeasts mentioned above, most airborne yeast excrete vinegar rather
 than alcohol.
 Dissolve the honey in water, and bring it to a boil, adding the acid
 mix and yeast energizer.  If your pot will fit all 5 gallons of water,
 that's great.  Otherwise just put in enough water to dissolve the
 honey.  Bring the mix to the boiling point, and skim off the "scum"
 that floats to the surface.  If you wish to add fruit, like a handful
 of berries or apple slices, do this now and cook until they are soft
 and/or dissolved and then strain them out.  If you don't want to go
 through this, jelly makes an easily dissolved additive.  If you do
 decide to add fruit, make allowances for the qualities of the fruit.
 If you are adding something tart or acidic like strawberries or
 rasberries, reduce the amount of acid mix you add to the brew.
 Once you've brought the mix to a boil or boiled down the fruit, pour
 the mixture into your large vat--which you have sterilized with bleach
 mix and rinsed while you were waiting for the mead to heat up.  (Most
 books recommend siphoning it into the primary fermenter (the large
 plastic vat), so I suppose I should as well, but to be honest I've
 always poured it.  At the boiling point, there's only so much that can
 contaminate the mixture.) If the pot you boiled the honey and water
 mixture wouldn't hold enough water, add the remainder to the fermenter
 now.  If you aren't going to be able to boil all the water, which will
 cause most of the trapped gasses to escape, you will probably want to
 use bottled water.
 Put on the cover and let the mixture cool to room temperature.  If it
 is hot, it will kill the yeast.  Once it's cool, mix the yeast with a
 cup of water in a small bowl and let it get rehydrated for 10P20
 minutes, then open the primary fermenter, and add the yeast.  This is
 called "pitching" the yeast.  Close the fermenter, and put on the
 The airlock is a nifty little piece of hard plastic tubing, bent into
 an "S" shape--looking and acting a lot like the drain pipe under the
 sink.  You put some water in it (about 1/2 an inch on each side of the
 "S"," and the escaping gasses from the fermentation will push their
 way through the water in the airlock.  This allows the pressure to
 escape, but leaves the fermenter sealed so nothing can get in from the
 outside.  (You'll understand it when you see one.) In anytime from a
 day to a week from when you put the cover and airlock on, gasses will
 begin to bubble out of the airlock showing you that the mead is
 fermenting.  All the books tell you this will start within a day, but
 sometimes it takes a little longer.  If it doesn't start in a week,
 consider throwing in another packet of yeast and a teaspoon of yeast
 energizer.  You might also see if the room you have placed your
 fermenter in is too cold.  (Cement floors in basements radiate a lot
 of cold and will slow your fermentation to a crawl, even if the room
 is heated.) I've had best results with the fermenter between 65P75!.
 You might also take some care not to put the fermenter on a carpet.
 Sometimes the fermentation will go berserk and foam will ooze out of
 the airlock during the first week.  Usually this only happens with
 beer, but it can be a mess, so the fermenter should probably stay in
 the kitchen.
 In one to three months, you will see the fermentation slow to a stop
 or near stop.  This happens either because the yeast has converted all
 the sugar to alcohol, or, more likely, there is a sufficient amount of
 alcohol to kill the yeast (how did this stuff ever evolve?).  This is
 another reason for using champagne yeast--it is tolerant of higher
 levels of alcohol, so you will get a much stronger brew.
 You then need to bottle your mead.  Soak the corks in water for at
 least an hour if not a day before you bottle, to get them soft and
 pliable.  Sterilize the bottles, and the racking cane and tubing.  The
 racking cane is a siphon devide with the intake about a 1/2 inch above
 the bottom level, so you don't get any of the yeast sludge into the
 bottles.  The sludge is pretty disgusting looking and tastes twice as
 bad.  You want to make sure not to disturb it.  This means not
 swishing around the racking cane.  It's also helpful to put the
 primary fermenter up on the table a few hours before you are going to
 bottle, so any sludge disturbed will have time to settle.  One more
 thing--always siphon, never pour the mead, and sterilize the siphon
 and racking cane.
 Finally, you need to cork the bottles.  Most kits come with one of two
 types of corking devices.  Both push the cork through a narrowing
 passage that compreses it, so it will fit into the bottle neck and
 then expand, forming a seal.  The first is a plunger style device,
 with a hole in the side.  You put the cork in, and place the whole
 device over the bottle, and then push down on the plunger and the cork
 slides into the bottle.  The second type of corker (and the one I
 prefer) consists of two pieces of plastic.  One is hollow, and you
 place the cork inside of it.  You then fit the second piece, over the
 first.  It has a stopper inside which pushes the cork down through the
 hollow piece, into the neck of the bottle.  I find this latter type a
 bit more stable.  I was always tipping over bottles with the plunger
 type, this doesn't seem to happen with the two piece one.  Very
 occasionally you'll get corks that simply won't go in.  This is
 usually due to a knot hidden in the middle of the cork.  It usually
 means chipping the cork out of the corker with a knife or pushing it
 back the way it came.
 We've found the bottling works best in teams of three, one holding the
 top of the racking cane in the fermenter (and avoiding the yeast
 sludge), a second at the bottom of the siphon filling the bottles, and
 a third person corking the full bottles.  When we get down to the part
 with the sludge, we usually put that in a separate bottle and drink it
 as soon as its marginally clear to "test" the mead.  It will probably
 taste horrid, but this will change with age.  If it's vinegar, start
 buying salad oil because there's not a lot more you can do other than
 make dressing.
 Once corked, set aside to age until the mead clears.  It's best to age
 it from four to six months, but at least give it time to clear. During
 this time you can get occasional problems.  Primarily, if fermentation
 hasn't entirely stopped, it will continue in the bottle. This is how
 you get the pressure in champagne and sparkling wines and it can make
 a wonderful sparkling mead The problem is that champagne bottles are
 designed to hold high pressure, and the cork is a special type
 "locked" on with a metal cage.  If you get too much pressure, the
 corks will pop out of the bottles usually spraying mead all over the
 place (this happened to us when a heat wave started the fermentation
 again and increased the pressure).  There's no real remedy for this,
 it's part of the fun and actually quite rare.  If the bottles you open
 seem to be sparkling, then beware of this and store your mead
 someplace cool and uncarpeted.  If they aren't sparkling I wouldn't
 worry about it.  Look on the bright side, the crown caps on beer
 bottles don't pop off, so when the pressure gets too high, the bottle
 Drink and enjoy.
 Basic mead recipe:
 12 pounds of honey
 10 t acid mixture
 5 t yeast energizer
 1 package champagne yeast
 Dissolve honey in water.  Bring to a boil.  Add acid mix and yeast
 energizer.  Pour into fermenter.  Allow to cool.  Pitch and add yeast.
 Copyright )1994 by Lewis Stead, permission granted for free
 distribution.  Please send additions and corrections to Lewis Stead;
 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902 or through e-mail to
 The Ring of Troth P.O.  Box 25637; Tempe, AZ 85285-5637 The Ring is an
 international organization for Norse Pagans of any type.  It is
 governed by an appointed High Rede of 9 persons who guide the national
 affairs of the Ring.  They offer a number of programs including an
 Elder training program for prospective clergy, and recognition for
 local Kindreds.  Dues are $24 and include a subscription to Idunna.
 If one does not wish to join, Friends of the Troth may receive Idunna
 for $24 as well.  Family memberships are $33 and include 1 copy of
 The Raven Kindred Association 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD
 20902 The Raven Kindred Association offers correspondence connections,
 help with setting up kindreds, regional coordination, booklets and
 pamphlets as well as sponsoring a New Year's/Yule Thing.  Membership
 is available to kindreds or individuals who agree with the RKA
 Declaration of Principles.  The RKA strongly encourages its members to
 join other affiliations in addition to the RKA.
 Skergard 9155 Dyer (#B-80-158); El Paso, TX 79924 Skergard is a small
 alliance in the SouthWest with three kindreds and a journal.  They are
 governed by a High Rede and Asst.  High Rede, in conjunction with a
 council of Gothar, representing each God or Goddess.
 Asatru Fellowship of Illinois; 858 W.  Armitage (Suite 139); Chicago,
 IL 60614
 Asatru Fellowship of Ohio; PO Box 271; Carrollton, OH 44615
 Barnstokker Garth; PO Box 1972; Seattle, WA 98111
 Chimney Rock Kindred; PO Box 448; Bayard, NE 69334
 Dragon's Hearth; 1015 Rutledge Ave; Phoenixville, PA 19460
 Erntefreude Hearth; 322 Cedar Ave; Highland Park, NJ 08904
 Eyvindr Hearth; 210 Alamo; Las Vegas, NM 87701
 Fire and Ice Kindred; PO Box 10036; Cranston, RI 02910
 First Iowa Church of Asatru; 1600 Buterfield (Suite #211); Dubuque, IO
 Freya's Folk Hearth; 537 Jones St #165; San Francisco, CA 94102
 Fridrik Kindred; PO Box 1245; Frederick, MD 21702
 Garrison Hearth; RD3 Box 298; Averill Park, NY 12018
 Gring Thod; PO Box 8062; Watertown, NY 13601
 Glen Vdis Hearth; 19710 63rd Lane NE; Seattle WA 98155
 Gray Wolf Kindred; PO Box 441308; Indianapolis IN 46244
 Hamilton Hearth; 15558 Spangler Rd; Dillsboro, IN 47018
 Hamm Hearth; PO Box 8152; Bridgeport, CT 06605-0996
 Hammer Oak Kindred; 1517 San Francisco (Suite #4); Berkeley, CA 94703
 Hammer of Thor Kindred; PO Box 222514; Carmel, CA 93922
 Hammerstead Kindred; PO Box 22379; Lexington, KY 40522
 Heidentor Hearth; 1314 1/2 Lindsley St; Sandusky, OH 44870
 Herig Hearg; PO Box 7055; Bryan OH 43506
 Hrafnaheimr Garth; 7954 West Third St; Los Angeles, CA 90048
 Hrafnar Garth; PO Box 5521; Berkeley, CA 94705
 Irminsul Garth; PO Box 18812; Austin, TX 78760
 Margivegr Group; 1550 Larimer (Suite #170); Denver, CO 80202
 Moonstar Hearth; 1264-L Sheridan Dr.; Lancaster, OH 43130
 Mountain Moot Kindred; PO Box 328; Elizabeth, CO 80107
 Nund Bara Garth; PO Box 4371; Sunland, CA 91041
 Nordland Hearth; PO Box 596; Marshall, MN 56258
 Ratakosk Kindred; PO Box 216; Sherwood, OR 97140
 Raven Kindred North; PO Box 1137; Sturbridge, MA 01566
 Raven Kindred South; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton, MD 20902
 Ravenswood Kindred; PO Box 212; Sheridan, IN 46069
 Ravenwood Sibja; PO Box 1012; Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
 Skergard Garth; PO Box 1755 (Suite #250); Nederland, CO 80466
 Skergard's Fjallagard Hearth; PO Box 233; Rollinsville, CO 80474
 Skergard's Fjallaheim Hearth; 10621 Birthstone; El Paso, TX 79925
 Skergard's Naglfar Hearth; 6856 Amster Rd; Richmond, VA 23225
 Torwald Kindred; PO Box 417; Rollinsville, CO 80474
 Ullrshavn Hearth; PO Box 84396; Fairbanks, AK 99708
 Ullsbekk Kindred; PO Box 1156; Denver, CO 80201
 Vlissinger Garth; 4019 164th St (Suite #586); Flushing, NY 11358
 Vrilhof Hearth; PO Box 472; Cambridge, MA 02139
 Wednesbury Thod; Route 1, Box 120; Huntsville, MO 65259
 Wolfraven Steading; PO Box 1349; Browns Mills, NJ 08015
 Yggdrasil Kindred; PO Box 23940; Tucson, AZ 85734
 Zakharias Steading; 984 East 900 South; Salt Lake City, UT 84105
 Hlidhskjalf Garth; 1513 Thurlow St; Orleans Ontario K4A-2K9 CANADA
 Northern Light Hearth; PO Box 8427; Victoria, BC V8W-3S1 CANADA
 Wolf's-Joint Hearth; PO Box 36097; Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J-3S9 CANADA
 Recommended Magazines:
 Idunna -- $24/year.  The journal of the Ring of Troth.  Idunna
 concentrates on fairly heavy academic subjects, runelore, translations
 etc within a religious framework.
 Asatru Today -- $15/year, 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton, MD
 20902.  Independent Asatru journal.  Concentrates on modern religious
 Asatru with community news and announcements.
 Fjallabok -- $24/year, P.O.  Box 233; Rollinsville, CO 80474.  Monthly
 magazine which also acts as newsletter for Skergard.  General Asatru
 articles and some controversial opinions.
 Theod -- $15/year.  P.O.  Box 8062, Watertown, NY 13601.  Journal of
 Theodish Belief, the ancient Anglo-Saxon religion very closely related
 to Asatru.  Digest sized with nice layout.
 The Runestone -- $10/year; P.O.  Box 445; Nevada City CA 95959.
 Published by Stephen McNallen & Maddy Hutter, this is the
 reincarnation of the AFA's seminal journal on Asatru.  Interesting
 commentary, interested in heroic viking past.
 Recommended Books:
 A Book of Troth by Edred Thorsson (Not a book without imperfections,
 but presents the basic rituals of Asatru).
 Myth and Religion of the North, E.O.G.  Turville-Petre (Excellent
 academic introduction to Norse mythology.)
 The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley Holland (basic mythology in modern
 language and retelling, excellent for readings or meditation)
 Our Troth by The Ring of Troth & Friends of the Troth.  (A huge volume
 of Norse rituals and belief compiled by The Ring of Troth from its
 members and associates.  Highly Recommended.  $17 postpaid for Ring of
 Troth members, $25 for non-members.)
 The Poetic Edda, Lee Hollander translation (basic mythology in an
 excellently translated poetic version.)
 The Prose Edda, Jean Young translation (basic mythology)
 Rhinegold, Stephan Grundy.  (Novel retelling the Volsung Saga, written
 from a modern Asatru Viewpoint.  Gives an excellent picture of ancient
 Germanic life and religion.)
 The Raven Kindred Ritual Book (basic text on Asatru ritual and
 beliefs, $8 from  Asatru Today.  Available for free download from
 online services or Moonrise BBS at (301)J593-9609 or e-mail to
 The Road To Hel, and any other works by H.R.  Ellis-Davison (All her
 works are excellent introductions to Norse myth and worldview)
 Teutonic Religion, Kveldulfr Gundarsson (basic text on modern Germanic
 Computer Network Resources:
 There is a Runes & Asatru conference on the Pagan/Occult Distribution
 System (PODSnet).  The following are long term stable boards: The
 Mountain Oracle, Colorado: 719-380-7886, Mysteria, California:
 818-353-8891, Sacred Grove, Washington State: 1-206-322-5450,
 Moonrise, Maryland/DC: 301-593-9609, Baphonet, New Jersey:
 1-201-434-5026, Pandora's Box, Ottawa Canada: 613-829-1209, PODS,
 Sydney Australia: 61-2-833-1848, PODS Melbourne Australia:
 The Troth Line is an internet mailing list for Asatru.  To subscribe,
 send a message to majordomo@io.com consisting of the following
 message: "subscribe troth ".  The list itself is at
 troth@indial1.io.com.  The list operates by echoing messages to your
 e-mail account and is accessable through America Online, CompuServe,
 Delphi, and tens of thousands of other locations.
 An excellent FTP archive of Pagan material can be found at
 ftp.lysator.liu.se and includes a section dedicated to Asatru and
 Norse Paganism.