Do you have a friend whom you trust well,
from whom you crave good?
Share your mind with him, exchange gifts with him,
visit with him often.
(Hávamál, verse 44)
Whether you’re new to Ásatrú in general, or Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship in particular, we want to make your experience with us a positive one.
Although it’s been around in its modern form for more than forty years, most people today don’t know much about Ásatrú. If that describes you, you might want to consider coming to one of our “Ásatrú 101” classes. They’re designed for beginners (or old-timers who would like to sharpen up on things), and are a perfect way to ask questions, learn the basics, and get to know the most important part of Ásatrú – the people who practice it. Short version – Ásatrú is the modern version of the ancient religion that was practiced by the northern and western Europeans before they were converted to Christianity. Ásatrúar honor many Gods and Goddesses, and value family, honor, and courage.
Slightly longer version – Ásatrú (pronounced ow-sah-troo) is the modern form of the ancient pre-Christian spirituality of Northern Europe. It was the faith of the Angles and the Saxons when they conquered England, and the faith of the Vikings as they explored the world.
Ásatrú emphasizes the bonds of family and tribe, personal honor, and courage. When you become an Ásatrúar, you are entering into a community where we take care of our own. Ásatrú honors the ancient Gods and Goddesses of the North; Odin, Thor, Freya, and many more. We also recognize that the land itself is alive, and honor our ancestors as those that have made us who we are today.
Ásatrú emphasizes the bonds between people. When you come home to the faith of your ancestors, you’ll be joining a tribe of like-minded people who’ll stick with you through thick and thin, and who expect the same of you. You’ll never find a better person to have at your side, or at your back, than a fellow Ásatrúar.
We have a series of short articles dealing with various topics, the basics of Ásatrú and also the sorts of things that modern people expect to get out of a religious experience (although the answers you find might not be the sort of thing you’re used to!). Bear in mind that Ásatrú isn’t much for dogma, and it’s hard to find something that applies universally to every Ásatrúar out there, but what we’ve collected generally applies to Ásatrú as we practice it in Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship.
We believe that ancestry is relevant to our faith. As such, we 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.
While we understand that some Ásatrúar are comfortable with Loki, as an enemy of the Aesir who leads the giants against them at the final battle where most of the Gods will be slain, we do not offer him praise or worship, nor any other enemy of the Gods, such as Fenrir, etc. and we ask that our guests and members honor that choice at our events.
Worship and other meetings
Unlike most Christian churches, we don’t have regular weekly services, with sermons and so forth. We do hold monthly offerings to the local land-spirits, and celebrate the major heathen holidays together, but most of the time we spend with one another isn’t focused on religion so much as it is on social and educational get-togethers.
We don’t yet have a permanent dedicated space, so we meet in various public facilities and private homes.
What should I wear?
While people are welcome to wear “ritual garb” for one of our major gatherings such as Yule or Midsummer, it’s not required. If not, you should wear casual, clean clothing (ripped or dirty clothing would be considered disrespectful). Casual clothing is appropriate for classes, meet-and-greets and the like, where no ritual activity is going on.
Are children welcome?
Children of all ages are welcome at our events, and are expected to participate in rituals with their parents. Just be aware that you are responsible for your children, and often our events take place at private homes. If your children are disruptive or destructive, you will be expected to control them and/or pay for any damage they might inadvertently cause.
Am I expected to make a donation?
Voluntary donations are always welcome, but only really expected if your host has provided snacks, a meal, soda, etc. (and even then, we completely understand that it may not always be possible). Except for major gatherings, those are not paid for out of membership dues, but are provided on a volunteer basis. If you want, you can also make a donation online.
What about “Pagan Standard Time”?
Except in extraordinary circumstances, events will begin when they are scheduled to begin, and we will not hold things up because you are running late. If you will be late, it is customary and polite to let someone know. If you are so late that you arrive in the middle of a ritual, you are asked to please remain outside until the ritual is over (unless you have made arrangements ahead of time). Coming into a ritual in the middle is not only rude, but it is disrespectful.
What about drugs?
Illegal drugs of any sort are strictly forbidden at all Skylands Ásatrú Fellowship activities. We also ask that people not arrive to our events under the influence of such substances. Anyone violating this policy will be asked to leave. Anyone violating this policy twice will be asked to never return.
What is the Skylands?
“The Skylands” refers to the five counties in northwest New Jersey: Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren. Together, the Skylands is one of the most beautiful and “natural” regions of the Garden State, with mountains, forests, farmland, rivers, and lakes. Our Fellowship was founded in this region, but people from all over are welcome, as long as you can make it to events.
Have other questions?