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Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism
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Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  479 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A Journey to Fulfillment and Renewal

In Essential Asatru, renowned author and priestess Diana Paxson demystifies an ancient, rich, and often misunderstood religion, and offers a practical guide for its modern followers.

Filled with clear, concise instructions on living Asatru every day, this truly accessible guide takes you on a journey from Asatru's origins in Scandinavian

Paperback, 204 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Citadel
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I liked the historical overview, but found Paxon to be somewhat biased. As a liberal feminist, I appreciate a liberal feminist interpretation. But as an historian, I cannot support some things.

In any case, I didn't read it for a history of the peoples of the region. I read it for an overview of the northern tradition, and that's what I got. I would have appreciated more depth, but as a foundational read, it was fairly good.

I also could have asked for more information about daily practices. Some
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm not really into the fake story though, I'd rather have the plain facts and history when purchasing a nonfiction book. If I want a fake story about Asatru, I'd get a fiction book. Otherwise, I like it.
Michele Lee
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Review by Michele Lee and Michael Lush

Asatru is the pagan path that follows Norse tradition. For laypersons, this means Odin, Thor, Loki, their stories and their kin. Ask any pagan their views on Asatru and you'll get mixed responses. While many people, especially men, find their spiritual home as followers of the Asgardians, it's also been adopted by hateful, racist sects. Asatru, however, is not a racist belief system, in fact it's one of the few ancient paths that holds men and women equal.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
It's very negatively biased in its portrayal of Loki. It doesn't capture the reasons why people choose to worship him. Other than that, it's a good book (so far).
Steve Cran
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Along with the exponetnial growth of Wicca and Neo Paganism there has been an upsurge of interest in the Norse Gods and their mythology. Those that follow the Norse ways are often identified as heathens. Heathen do their best to reconstruct rituals from Norse sources such as the Edda and the Younger Edda. Diana Paxson give forth a great over view for the newcomer and a good refresher for someone more advanced in their studies. Hence it also makes a great reference.

Europe has had the same populat
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I actually enjoyed this book a lot. I found a quick, easy introduction (which is what the book claims to be, so I'm not sure why so many people are complaining about that) to the faith.

The first half is history heavy, which can be a little dry. However, I found her points that the Northern people traveled to various places to be a stark contrast to the "only Northern (i.e. white) peoples can practice" ideals that are (unfortunately) associated with the religion.

The second half is about the Gods
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
While reading ---

Pros - Awesome amount of histories about Norse Paganism and the Vikings. Gives the most detailed history of any book I've read so far, so yay for that.

Cons - Very biased. I would suggest any Lokean to stop reading after page 52 because you will find yourself angry. Great detail is given on the major Gods/Goddesses (even including Hella and Fenris, Loki's children). Talking about myths they are associated with, runes they're associated with, days of the weeks, symbolisms, etc. Bu
Dean Haywood
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be an easy read and a good starter book for anyone who has an interest in asatru
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, for what it was. This was the first book I've read on the subject of heathen spirituality & religion, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I've read a lot about Asatru and other heathen religions and the like, but it's mostly been online in the form of blogs and the various Asatru websites I've encountered. I didn't really learn much from this book, but it was a new perspective on things and overall I did enjoy reading it.

This book is definitely meant to be an introduct
I had heard good things about this book from other people, and I felt like it would be a good starting point for delving into the faith and traditions of Asatru. Plus, it's short and unintimidating, so I figured I wouldn't have to invest too much effort only to decide I wasn't that interested. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good of a read this is. It's well-written, well-organized, and contains a wealth of information for being such a short book. I really couldn't put it down, and read i ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: want
The beginning of this book was heavy on the history, which was kind of hard for me to get through. I am not a history person.

But I did really enjoy the story continuing through each chapter. That seemed like a nice illustration of a theoretical working group. The part when we got to the actual faith was (to me) far more interesting than the history. (But that might also be because I'm not Asatru, and have no interest in following the heathen gods. I'm happy being an animist.)

I thought the chapt
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a very basic starting source for learning about Norse paganism. While the little kindred "stories" are entertaining, they don't really do much to teach in my opinion. Though they are welcoming breaks from the history chapters. I was not expecting that much of ancient history to be touched. I was hoping for a little more information on day to day practices and perhaps how solitary heathens would operate without a kindred. I am not sure I would like to be a part of a kindred, so findi ...more
Jon Gardner
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I just finished reading the book “Essential Ásatrú – Walking the Path of Norse Paganism” by Diana L. Paxson. As someone still seeking clarity in defining how best to categorize my own set of beliefs and ideals, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to review this book based on merit alone. However, I feel comfortable in saying that this book reads very well. It includes a wealth of information on history, lore, and the values held dear to pagans of all walks. I would recommend this book to any ...more
Alexandra Heeter
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introduction to the northern heathen religion. I appreciate the specifics given without spelling our rituals or tools, giving the reader the ability to build those themselves and stating that the gods like when one does so. The information given is thorough without being monotonous, and beginning each chapter with a piece from a fictional or true sumble is a great tool. I will warn that some of the information on active kindreds and tools in the back may be out of date
Feb 26, 2010 rated it liked it
A nice primer for the Norse paganism faith. I appreciate that there's quite a bit of attention paid to the history of these cultures, and found myself wishing that the second half of the book, which deals with the actual practice aspects of the religion, were fleshed out a bit more. There's a good section of further reading suggestions, however, to encourage the reader to go more deeply into the subject.
Jeffrey Jelmeland
Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in Asatru
This was the first book that I picked up on the topic of Asatru, and the study of the ancient Nordic faith. I found it to be a very informative work, and it gave me a nice background and overview of the faith at work. Not a deep book, but it is meant to be an introduction to the faith, not a detailed resource. That said, the author provided some incredible resources in the appendices, and many of the books referenced are now on my wish list.
Really well-done as an intro book. I didn't feel like she was marketing the religion to me, just giving me some details about it and referring me to more in-depth info if I feel called to Heathenism. It did not promise to make you a magical witch overnight or say you'll know everything you need to know. Instead it, wait for it, introduced the reader to the religion. I am quite pleased, and pretty sure I'm going to pass the book along to a friend.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: heathenry
This was a book that going into it, I kept hearing people talking about how great it was. It was a book, also, that I could easily pick up at any bookstore locally.

Once I got it home and started reading it, I noticed there was a lot of misinformation based on the author's unfounded biased opinions. With that said, having a title such as Essential Asatru, can be misleading if the content is based more on personal opinion, rather than fact.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I found this a thorough and interesting introduction to Asatru. There are an enormous amount of references to follow up on, and the book is easy to read. It's not dry, but it's also got enough academic meat to it to be credible. I especially like the fictional gathering that leads us through the chapters.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Heathens and those wishing to learn about Heathenism
This book is the best for explaining, in an accurate, well written, well researched way, over all what Asatru/Heathenism is. It gives a very balanced, fair, and easy to understand explanation of things. There is not much here of a how-to nature about Asatru, just explains well what it is, for those totally new to it.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
A very fluffy book that is supposed to be about Asatru, but is really just another neo-pagan fluff fest with only a vague passing resemblance to a true Heathen worldview. Maybe a decent intro to Asatru, but not really a good place to actually learn about our ancestors beliefs.
Carol Palmer
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This book gives a basic overview of Norse paganism without going too deeply into the nitty gritty details. It does provide basic details of a ritual and there are resources if you want to go further and find a kindred.
May 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: religion
This is extremely watered down. I would MAYBE recommend it for someone in grade school or early middle school. However, people at higher reading levels are better off reading historical texts or just networking through the internet to learn more about Asatru.
Feb 13, 2011 is currently reading it
Love it so far...a good introduction, but will have to delve further when i'm with this.
Jul 18, 2011 marked it as looks-interesting
Found through review at Magickware's Book Reviews.
Liz H
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
EXCELLENT introduction to Asatru. I highly recommend it to anyone looking into that path or who is just curious.
Jul 18, 2008 marked it as to-read
Good book. Informative but easy to read.
There's also an interview of the author about her new book, at:
Dec 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Taking on my trip out to my Wyoming
Useful, but I don't think it's one that I'll need to hold onto.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good book with basic info on Asatru.
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Diana L. Paxson (born 1943) is a novelist and author of nonfiction, primarily in the fields of Paganism and Heathenism. Her published works include fantasy and historical fiction novels, as well as numerous short stories. More recently she has also published nonfiction books about Pagan and Heathen religions and practices.

In addition to her multiple novels and collaborations, she has written over
More about Diana L. Paxson...