What is gnostic Asatru? Gnosis is a Greek word that can be translated as “knowledge” or “understanding”. An inner spiritual knowledge that most people cannot comprehend or experience. Most people claim that the pre-Christian religion that is known as Asatru, was an ethnic religion. The deities are first and foremost impersonations of the powers of nature and of human traits. A primitive, polytheistic religion that is not as far developed as, for example, the monotheistic Christianity.
In reality, the pagans who prayed to Odin and to Thor, to Frigg and to Freyja, put lots of effort into developing their poetry and skaldic art. The Skalds were highly respected, and their writings were more and more complex. If Asatru was merely a primitive ethnic religion, why would they put so much effort into writing poetry? This is when the gnostic aspect comes in.
Most religions have an official side, in which most people, in fact all people, can participate. There are annual high feasts, funerals and weddings. You need no or very little knowledge to be able to join those religious ceremonies. However, you need plenty of knowledge to comprehend the deepest parts of the religion, the main message of the religion if you will. All humans do not have the same need of spirituality, or the same ability to understand spiritual messages. In Christianity, the most dominant religion of the Western world, Freemasonry appeared. Everyone could be Christian, but many people with the need for higher knowledge and spiritual development sought the secret orders. We will not discuss Freemasonry further here, but the point is that similar activities must have been occurring in the pre-Christian societies. There existed several different religious organizations that were like Masonic orders in the Roman Empire, at the end of the ancient times. Those who were involved in those organizations gathered to pray to Mithra, Dionysius or other gods. Those organizations were not open for just everyone.
The Asatruans could gather during annual high feasts and during other festive times. Everybody could join those ceremonies. But could everybody really understand a poem or a sacred text in the days of yore? Poetry was a way to penetrate deeper into the spiritual world, the spiritual reality. Asatru was a poetical religion.
The world, or the entire universe, was created by the worlds of fire and ice who melted together. In that union, the cow Audhumbla appeared. The cow licked out a man out of a block of ice, and that man’s name was Búri. Búri got a son named Bur, who in his turn had three sons, Vile and Ve are the names of two of them, but the oldest son is Odin. The three brothers killed the giant Ymir, and created the entire world out of Ymir’s remains.
The Gods created the world, but the world is also created out of a giant. The Gods stand for the higher and spiritual aspects of existence, and Ymir, or his body, stands for the lower and material aspects. Once again, the Gods; Odin, Vile and Ve, later create the humans out of the tree species ash and elm. The proto – ancestor’s names are Askr and Embla. The spiritual world meets the material once more.
The Gods, or more accurately the Aesir, are divine powers that are related to the heaven. The powers that most goddesses derive from, are the ones that represent earth and soil, Vanir and Alfar. A few of the Vanir have also married giants (Jötnar). As an example, Skadi married Njord (a Vanir), and Gerd is married to Frey, also of the Vanir. Hel, the death goddess, is from the kin of giants. She is an earthly, in fact sub-earthly power. Those who die in the human world (Midgard) come to Hel. Those who are loyal to Odin, the first of the Aesir, go to Valhalla instead, that lies behind Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. Those who are followers of the spiritual world, go to heaven, whilst those who possess earthly knowledge and abilities go to Hel. Bragi, the son of Odin and the god of the Skalds, comes to receive those who get to Valhalla. That is clear proof that Asatru is a poetical religion.
We must grow further and search for the inner core of Asatru. The time is up to find a higher truth in Asatru. It is time not just to talk about the needs for culture and identity, not just to feel the inspiration in the annual high feasts, but also to partake of the great knowledge that only few are able to comprehend. It is time for gnostic Asatru!