The basic design of the flag of Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship was modeled after that of Scandinavian countries in general and Norway in particular. The first distinctive characteristic is the colors themselves. While the red, white, and blue theme is similar to that of the Norwegian flag, the exact colors specified in the Skylands flag are those of the United States of America. The precise tones of red, white, and blue exactly match those of the American flag—for we are after all an American Heathen kindred. We recognize both the significance and the challenges associated with being so.
Many Scandinavian flags feature Christian cross designs. It was clear however that this frequently-used design identified the modern-religious affiliation of many Scandinavian people, or at least that of the 19th Century when they were originally designed. Our flag features a symbol that predates the conversion to Christianity –the rune Elhaz. The esoteric definition of this rune emphasizes the relationship between man and the Gods. It signifies our constant striving toward the spiritual all the while being conscious of our roots and destiny.
At the heart of the blue Elhaz rune is a circular design that depicts the great Nordic hero Sigurd (also known as Siegfried in Germanic lore) engaged in his legendary battle with the dragon Fafnir. The tales of Sigurd are featured throughout our lore and especially in The Poetic Edda. Sigurd, with his great sword Gram ultimately slays the dwarf turned dragon, Fafnir. Sigurd’s mighty sword stabs directly up –symbolically North—into Fafnir on our flag. Fafnir, a symbol of greed and terror is designed in the image of an ouroboros –-a dragon eating its own tail –although our ouroboros has his ferocious fangs turned and directed toward the hero Sigurd. Here, the dragon Fafnir represents a cycle of challenge and struggle –-an eternal battle against the mythic hero –or those who gain inspiration from the old heroes, the old Gods, and the old ways.
The design therefore merges distinctly American colors with a Scandinavian design. It emphasizes our Ásatrú religion and our relationship with the Gods. It symbolizes the cyclical nature of history and the struggle and ultimate victory of heroes against figures of terror, chaos, and oppression. It is the ultimate symbolic representation of who we are.
Supporting members of Skylands Asatru Fellowship are those who would like to support the work of the Fellowship financially or in other ways, like teaching classes. To become a Supporting member, you must complete an application. Please send the following information via email and we will forward an application.
Copy of Photo ID
Supporting membership is contingent upon receipt of annual dues. Your application will be reviewed and voted on by the Board of Directors. If you are accepted as a Supporting member, such membership is granted for one year. Supporting members may extend their membership through additional payment of dues and support. Supporting membership is at the discretion of the Board of Directors and may be revoked based on the behavior of the member and the best interests of our Fellowship.
Ásatrú isn’t really about rituals; it’s about who you are inside–it’s about how you live your life. Members of our Fellowship live their lives by The Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Discipline, Fidelity, Honor, Hospitality, Industriousness, Perseverance, Self-Reliance, and Truth. The outward forms, the myths and the names, can be learned, but if Ásatrú is right for you, it will click with your innermost self, and you’ll know you’re home at last.
But, being human, we also need closure of old ways, and starting a grand new endeavor is an occasion worth marking. Once you’re ready, you can go somewhere quiet, outdoors in nature if possible, and recite the following prayer:
Odin, God of wisdom and wanderers, I am coming home to you.
Frigg, Goddess of family and hearth, I am coming home to you.
Freyr, God of prosperity and plenty, I am coming home to you.
Freya, Goddess of love and war, I am coming home to you.
Thor, God of thunder and protector of mankind, I am coming home to you.
Land-spirits and house-spirits, bringers of luck and weal, know that you have a new friend, I will learn your ways and mind them, I am coming home to you.
Ancestors of old, who watch over me and mine, know that you are not forgotten, I have remembered you, and your Gods, I am coming home to you.
Hail the Gods and Goddesses!
Remember that this is just the first step. Once you have announced yourself to the Gods and your ancestors, reach out to us if you haven’t already. We’re here to help. We’ll help you learn, and we’ll welcome you into our tribe, our halls, and our homes.
Loki and other Norse figures of chaos are not toasted or recognized during the rituals of Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship. We do not include them during rituals and no offerings are ever made to Loki or the various Jotun. Historically, Loki, Hel, Fenrir wolf, etc. were not worshipped by the people of the North. There are no places or sacrificial sites named after these figures. While we do not recommend that a seeker of the old ways worship Loki or the Jotun, there are a wide range of practices and beliefs among Northern Heathens. As such, someone who feels strongly about worshipping Jotuns or Loki may fairly easily locate fellow travelers in other kindreds in the Northeast or around the country.
Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship condemns acts of violence committed by self-described Ásatrúars. Such acts, perpetrated against people and institutions that practice religious faiths other than ours are not representative of our beliefs or our community. We believe that such actions bring dishonor and disgrace to the perpetrators. Our Fellowship stands with law enforcement with the hope that such criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship is a recognized 501(c)3 church based in northern and central New Jersey. We are an active heathen community that holds religious, cultural, educational, and social events. We are not simply an on-line group where people can post the latest meme or complain about this or that. Membership in our Fellowship means that you will take an active part in our gatherings and support our organization and its mission– namely to facilitate the practice of the Ásatrú religion and to assist our efforts to perform outreach to non-practitioners. Our process for membership is fairly rigorous and helps to ensure that members will bring value and honor to our Fellowship.
There are three types of membership in Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship. All three begin with the same process. People who are interested in our Fellowship attend some of our public events. Such events include our Ásatrú 101 series of classes, Meet and Greets, hikes, or public festivals. All of these types of gatherings are advertised on our Website, our Meetup page, as well as on Facebook. Such events are open to all and any who are interested in learning more about our organization or about Ásatrú in general. This Introduction period typically lasts about six months and provides the prospective member an opportunity to learn more about us, and provides our membership an opportunity to learn about you.
Our first level of membership is Associate member. Those who have decided that they are interested in membership, and who are at least 18 years of age, may complete our Application for membership. The Board of Directors will review the application and make a recommendation to the Oathed members of our tribe. At an official gathering of Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship Oathed members present will vote on whether the applicant should be accepted into our Fellowship. If a majority of Oathed members vote in the affirmative, the applicant will be expected to make an annual dues payment. The decision will then be announced – typically during Sumbel. This first level of membership is valid for one year. At the conclusion of the year, the Board of Directors may choose to extend membership for another year or to revoke membership based on participation and general support of our Fellowship (financially or otherwise). Typically Associate members move on to the second level of membership within their first year with our Fellowship.
The second level of membership is Oathed or Full member. Members who are at least 21 years of age may request to move to the Oathed level of membership. At a formal gathering of our Fellowship, the Board of Directors will make a formal recommendation to the Oathed members present. Members will have the opportunity to vote on whether the Associate member should be allowed into the Oathed level. If a majority supports the member’s request to move up the Oathed level, the Associate will take a formal oath on our tribal oath ring. The oath that is taken is both to our Gods and to our Fellowship and its members. Oathed membership is valid for life and comes with various responsibilities.
The third type of membership is Supporting member. Those who would like to support our Fellowship financially or via other means, such as teaching classes, but who do not generally intend to become Oathed members due to oaths or commitments to other tribes, kindreds, or organizations, may provide their contact information and pay annual dues as specified by our Board of Directors. Much like Associate membership, Supporting membership is granted for one year.
Ásatrú is a religion, but Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship is more than a church. We’re a Fellowship – where everyone is there for everyone else. Honor, family, courage, appreciating the simple joys of nature – these qualities and more are what define us as Ásatrúar and as members of Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship. Perhaps it is time to “come home” to Ásatrú.
Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship is a religious organization. We are not affiliated with any political party or movement. Members of our Fellowship have a wide range of beliefs from across the political spectrum. The words or actions of any individual member do not reflect those of Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship. Any member’s actions or words that may bring disrepute to our Fellowship will be subject to disciplinary action as determined by our Board of Directors and the Bylaws of our Fellowship.
Ásatrú is the modern expression of the ancient indigenous religion of the peoples of Northern Europe. It is the worship of the gods of Asgard; Odin, Thor, Freya, and many more. It is also the worship of the spirits of the land, who dwell in springs, stones, trees, and rivers, as well as the honoring of our ancestors, who help make us who we are.
We worship those gods who were worshiped by our ancestors prior to the conversion of the North to Christianity. Odin is the leader of the gods; he is the All-father and patron of kings, poets, and magicians. Thor is a famous enemy of the evil giants who want to destroy the Earth and return everything to the state of primal chaos. Freyr is a god of fertility and prosperity, while his sister Freya is known not only for her great beauty, but her ferocity as well. There are many other gods besides these; Heimdall, Balder, Frigg, Tyr, and others.
Where the Gods are the beings that we honor on special occasions, the spirits of the land are the ones we interact with on a much more frequent basis. They inhabit trees and stones, springs and rivers. Since the land-spirits are much more “local”, they can relate to us much easier than the gods, as they are much closer to our level. Thus, for everyday problems we turn to them, establishing strong bonds of friendship with the spirits that dwell around us. A special type of such spirit is called the house-wight; sometimes called the Tomte or Nisse. These are spirits that dwell in our homes, and are also the focus of a special friendship, as they help the household run smoothly.
We also honor our ancestors, going back through the generations as far as we can go. We believe that a part of each of our ancestors lives on in us, and we honor them with shrines and prayers. Family is very important in Ásatrú, which is why we feel a special closeness to all of our relatives, both living and dead.
Ethics and Morality
Ásatrú provides a strong moral code. One’s personal and family honor is very important, as are the bonds of family in general. Oaths are literally sacred; one of the worst things an Ásatrúar can do is to break an oath. We value strength and independence, but loyalty to someone or something, once given, is sacred as well. It is a simple but effective code; family, honor, honesty, independence, and loyalty.
Different Ásatrú groups will observe different holidays, sometimes based on traditional Scandinavian, German, or British holidays, sometimes including modern observances as well. Most groups will celebrate four major holidays, however. Yule celebrates the middle of winter, and is the origin of many modern Christmas customs such as the Yule log and wassailing. The coming of spring is observed on one or more of several holidays, as are Midsummer and the autumn harvest. Many of these holidays are observed in traditional fashion; bonfires on Midsummer, Yule trees, May Poles, and so forth.
We believe that there are many different possible homes for us after we die. Not only does a part of our soul live on in our descendants, but it is also possible for one’s spirit to live on in the earth as it did in life. Those who are specially chosen by Odin will dwell with him in Valhalla, while the vast majority of people will reside in Hel (with only one “l”); a place of peace and rest. The especially wicked – murderers, adulterers, and oath-breakers – will be condemned to the Corpse Shore, where they are tormented by venomous serpents.
Is Ásatrú for Everyone?
Ásatrú is a native European spirituality. Those of us who practice tribal religions believe that people of every ethnicity and every race should have the exact same opportunity to practice the religion and spirituality of their pre-Christian and pre-Muslim ancestors.
Thus, there are indigenous African religions like Yoruba and Hausa animism, Asian religions like Shinto and Chinese folk religion, American Indian tribal religions, and so forth. We would like to see a world in which the freedom of all peoples, no matter their race or ethnicity, to practice their ancestral religion without interference or appropriation by outsiders, is recognized.
If you’re not of European ancestry, yet still feel a strong pull towards Ásatrú or the Gods of the North, we strongly encourage you to explore the faith of your own ancestors before trying ours. If you still believe Ásatrú is your chosen path, you’re welcome to join us at one of our upcoming events.
Ásatrú means “belief in the Gods.” It teaches honor, loyalty, family, wisdom, and bravery. More than a religion, Ásatrú offers a way of living that is deeply fulfilling – honoring the Gods, the Earth, and our ancestors.
The first great ritual of Ásatrú is known as blót (blessing). Historically heathen rituals were bloody affairs. Oftentimes an animal was sacrificed to the Gods or to a specific God in order to win favor for a good crop or perhaps victory in battle. At times other times, food was used as an offering; this would have been an offering of crops or even ale or mead. It is said that there were also human sacrifices; most prominently offered to Odin and that such offerings may have occurred at the temple at Uppsala in Sweden. Today, typically an offering of mead or food is made.
The second great ritual of Asatru is sumbel, a Germanic term for “feast” or “banquet.” It is called sumbl in Old Norse and symbel in Old English. Some have called it “ritualized drinking,” but it is in fact much more than that. Performed properly, Sumbel is a powerful and magical ritual filled with transformative impact.
When we sit down to sumbel, we reenact a spiritual ritual that our ancestors performed. Our words, spoken over the horn, reanimate those self-same ancestors and Gods. The past and the present merge in the swirling depths of the mead horn as it is passed and all are transformed by the combined might and main. When we participate in sumbel, we celebrate with our friends in the hall, but also with our ancestors and our Gods whose deeds have been recorded deep in Urd’s well.