Temple of Our Heathen Gods

So, you are new to Asatru or Heathenry, and not sure where to start?  We have compiled this list of suggestions, steps, and resources for just such a situation.  Now, we've put this in an order that makes some basic sense, but don't feel like you have to do these in order or do everything on this list.  This is simply a compiled list of helpful suggestions.

1.  A very quick and easy first step would be to read the "What is Heathenry?" and the "Heathen FAQ" pages on this very website.  These two resources will give you a very basic introduction to Heathenry and provide you with some information to keep in mind as you move forward. 

2.  Next, you could read the book "Essential Asatru" by Diana Paxon. Its available from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  There are other introductory books to Asatru and Heathenry, but "Essential Asatru" is a quick read, inexpensive, hits the basics fairly well, and gives some idea of the diversity of belief that exists within Heathenry.  I don't really agree with everything in the book, but it is still a fair introduction to Heathenry.  If an introductory book becomes available that is better, we'll change this recommendation.

3.  Start looking for heathens in your area that you can meet, speak with, and perhaps get to know.  Even meeting and talking with one other heathen in your area on a regular basis can really help with your growth as a Heathen.  If there is an active, stable local Heathen group (such as a Kindred or Study Group) in your area that you begin to interact with, this can be enormously helpful.  Heathens in your area with a little or a lot more experience may have suggestions for where to start that aren't on this list.  Keep in mind, you may meet some Heathens that just aren't the sort of people you want to know or have around your family.  But, most Heathens I've met are great folks.  And they are often looking for other Heathens in their area.  With a little work, connections can be made, and everyone will benefit.  For 15 steps to finding other Heathens in your area, including the Worldwide Heathen Map, go to our  "Finding Other Heathens" page on this website.

4.  Whether you are able to find Heathens in your local area or not, it is worth contacting kindreds and other heathens groups in your region.  Visiting Heathens a few towns over or perhaps a three-hour-drive away is another good way experience a sense of community with other Heathens in a face-to-face manner.  You can contact them to see if they are willing to meet with you or you can find out when they are holding an open event and attend.  It is also a good idea to travel to a regional heathen gathering that is attended by a number of kindreds and individual Heathens.  It is well worth the 2 to 5 hour roadtrip to gather with other heathens and their families for a weekend.  For instance, at one time, Jotun's Bane Kindred regularly traveled 3, 8, 11, and even 16 hours to attend regional gatherings here in the Heartland of the United States.  Finding other Heathens in your region is another use for the 15 steps on our "Finding Other Heathens" page on this website.

5.  Reading both volumes of "Our Troth" is a great way to learn a fairly comprehensive picture of modern Heathenry.  They are thick volumes and a lot of reading, but the content is interesting, and reading both volumes will give you a very good foundation for further reading and growth.  If you aren't a commited reader, you may still want to consider obtaining both volumes of "Our Troth" and then reading selected chapters or sections that interest you or that you are curious about.  Reading both volumes of "Our Troth" or other modern books about Heathenry is just the beginning though.  "Our Troth:  History and Lore" and "Our Troth: Living the Troth" are both available at both Barnes & Noble and Amazon
6.  There are two Icelandic sources that you should eventually read in their English translations (unless you happen to be able to read Old Norse!)  "The Poetic Edda" is a collection of poetry about the Gods and the Heroes of our ancestors.  This book is available in various translations that can be found on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Larrington's translation is the easiest to understand, but one of the least poetic. Hollander's translation is one of the most poetic, but sometimes difficult to understand. Bellow's translation is a pretty fair balance of clarity and a poetic sense. Larrington and Hollander's translations come in one volume, while Bellow's translation is split into two volumes (at least the Dover editions do). Bellows translation, among others can be read for free in our Temple Library on our "Poetic Edda" page.

The second Icelandic source is "The Prose Edda" by Snorri Sturluson.  Snorri was Christian living in Iceland shortly after the conversions, and this book was his attempt to preserve the poetic form of his culture.  Eddic poetry depended heavily on poetic kennings and allusions to the religion of our ancestors.  Without some knowledge of the "old religion," the poetry of Snorri's ancestors was nearly impossible to truly understand.  For this reason, Snorri sought to record the stories of our Gods and Heroes in order to ensure the survival of this poetic form.   The "Prose Edda" is also available in various translations. The Byock, Faulkes, and Young translations are all fairly good. Several translations can be read for free in our Temple Library on our "Prose Edda" page.


7.  There are two books written by Mark Ludwig Stinson, of Jotun's Bane Kindred, that can be particularly helpful to new heathens.  Both the "Heathen Gods" and "Heathen Tribes" books are collections of essays on enormously practical topics within Heathenry.  The essays cover a wide-range of topics including what it means to be and live as a Heathen, starting and maintaining a Kindred, raising children in a Heathen family, and other aspects of our Faith and way of life.  Of course these books represent one Heathen's perspective, and should be viewed as such.  Both books are available as free PDF downloads (but are also available in paperback or hardback) in the "Heathen Bookstore" here on our website.

8.  In order to gain a base level of understanding of the cultural aspects of our Ancestor's world-view, "Culture of the Teutons" is a great source.  It is a book well worth reading.  This book is available as a  free PDF download (but are also available in paperback or hardback) in the "Heathen Bookstore" here on our website.  We're not suggesting this book because it is in our Bookstore, but rather this book is in our Bookstore because we feel it is important enough to make readily accessible by putting it back into print.
9.  Heathens really never stop learning.  Once you get the basics down, there are plenty of topics and resources to dive into based on your interests.  For a list of good books to consider reading, check out the "Suggested Further Reading" page on our website.

"That's a lot of Reading!"  

All but two of the above suggestions involve reading books or other materials.  This is a fairly effective way to gain knowlege and learn what you need to learn to make the transition from the mainstream Christian-influenced culture within which we are all raised to a Heathen world-view.  What if you aren't a strong reader or even enjoy reading?  Well, don't feel too bad about it.  Our Heathen ancestors didn't read or even have books.  If reading just isn't your thing, there are some audio book resources available, podcasts, and possibly the opportunity to learn directly from other Heathens.

And while there is a lot to learn, Heathenry is at its very core about family and community.  It is our opinion that you can read all the books you want and have all the book-learning in the world, and you will still not be able to fully grasp what it is to be truly Heathen without knowing and interacting with other Heathens face-to-face in at least some fashion.  If you are new to Asatru, seek out other heathens in your area or your region as part of your learning process.  Finding and meeting with other heathens will add a depth to your knowledge, that books alone cannot provide.  Meeting with and knowing other heathens can quickly accelerate your learning and enculturation process.  The association and interaction with other heathens allows you to put what you are learning into practice, and it will drive and motivate you to incorporate what you are learning into your everyday life.

If you have trouble finding Asatruars or Heathens in your area, don't give up.  Keep trying.  Even finding one other Heathen with which to meet and learn together will be worth whatever effort you put into making it happen.

Interacting On-Line with Other Heathens?

You'll notice that none of the Suggetions above talk about interacting with other Heathens on-line on message boards, e-lists, or social networking sites.  It is not that interacting on-line or getting information from the internet is inherently bad.  After all, you are reading this on-line right now.  But, interacting on-line with Heathens can be a mixed-bag.  There are definitely pit-falls.  You don't really know the people you are interacting with, even if the internet gives you the illusion of knowing them.  Unless you've met them and gotten to know them face-to-face, the Heathens you interact with on-line are simply pixels on a screen, portraying themselves as they wish to be perceived.

On-line Heatheny can also very political.  I don't mean in a governmental Democrats vs. Republicans way. I mean, there is a lot of personal politics on-line.  There are Heathens that push personal agendas or who want you to join an on-line Heathen organization and send them dues every year.  There are factions, trolls, and generally misguided people who seek to personally destroy those Heathens that believe or practice their faith differently than they do.  It can be a fairly negative place to interact with people.  Not always...but often enough that it feels necessary to give a warning about it.

If you ask questions about Heathenry on-line, you aren't really sure who the person is who is giving you answers or whether the answers are good and wise answers.  How do these people actually live their lives?  Who are they really and do they actually live by Heathen values?  Real-life interaction is so much more valuable and meaningful than on-line interaction.  For this reason, we didn't list on-line interaction as one of our suggestions above.  All that being said, you are reading this on the Temple of Our Heathen Gods website.  So, obviously if you are reading these words you are already reaching out on-line.  LOL.  Just be cautious.

For a comprehensive list of more books to read, visit our Suggested Reading Page.

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