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Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  50 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

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Paperback, 204 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Citadel
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Katie
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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Aaron Blum
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Idk what the hate is about. Whether something actually happened or not, it doesn't matter because it doesn't take away that special something. Who cares if someone says the history of this book might not have happened, it was real in my imagination and that's good enough for me.

Anyway. Rune casting connects my European (Norwegian) roots with my Jewish roots, as it blends Jewish Kabbalah with European heathenry. I encourage more Jews with European ancestry to look into BOTH sides of their roots.
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Passenger B.
Neo-Pagan fantasy misconstrued as "spirituality," and combined with more than just a handful of new age concepts. This brand of "Asatru" is definitely not based on *anything* the ancestors - be they Norse or Germanic - believed.
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.
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Ashley
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.
Wulf
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.
Jeff
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.
Chromium Kitty
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: paganism
I don't think the little "story" told in parts at the beginning of each chapter did this book any favors, and I wonder whose idea it was to include it. Why do I mention this and what has it got to do with this book? Well, as a socially awkward person I wondered whether this was how a real kindred operated, and the author seems to strongly imply all heathens should consider seeking a kindred. The hosts (priest and priestess) and some of the members seemed awfully judgmental. Besides making me won ...more
Dawnrenae
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Diana Paxson's book Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism (2006) has got to be one of the very best beginner books I have ever read, on any particular tradition.

Over the last little while, as a priestess hoping to be well versed in religions and traditions, Essential Asatru has everything I love to see in a book.

This guide teaches you not only the history behind the lore, but also the history of the Northern people, the migrations, and the conversations. it also teaches the stud
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Elizabeth
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pagan-books
As a beginner resource, I found it very informative and helpful. The terms were well explained, but not much detail was gone into. I didn't mind how the beginning of each chapter started with a part of the example of a kindred gathering, but the italics eventually got on my nerves, so I eventually skipped them. The chart in the section on the gods is a handy thing, and I plan on utilizing that in the future (especially in regards to the halls of each god, that is absolutely useful). I may need t ...more
Kadin
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).
Carole
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-pagan
If you're not familiar with Asatru as I was, this is a good read.
Jack
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in alternative religions/beliefs
Recommended to Jack by: several friends that are Heathens
I have to admit that one of my life-long hobbies has been studying the different forms of religious beliefs around the world. Religious beliefs intrigue and amuse me. It has also lead me down my own personal path as a "psychological deist" - meaning that I believe in a "creator", but not a particular "god" or "goddess." As Heinlein put it:

"History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unk
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Ed
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was looking for a basic primer on the modern Asatru movement of restoring the spirituality and religions of the Nordic people and was not disappointed. It covered a basic introduction, some history as well as some of the modern understandings of the Modern Heathens and Pagans who are seeking to restore the heritage of the Norse Mythology.

Paxton covers it all but I would caution that her coverage is by her own admission incomplete and very wide but not very deep. One thing that is a unique tou
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Zach
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good read on the history of Germanic pre-Christian history and their system of religion. I've been told that it's outdated but it is congruent with other reading I've done on the subject and is very clear about some of the modern problems the community faces.

The little vignettes at the start of each chapter are fine. Kinda corny but ultimately a decent look at what these rituals often look like in the world today. So far none of the criticisms I've heard seem very meaningful.
Shawna Skeens
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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Carry-Atlinder
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
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Madge
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 introduction
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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
Kharm
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
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Heather
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
Sonya
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
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.
Crystal Sarakas
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.
sjams
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.
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
David
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.
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.
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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
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