Asatru for Beginners by Erin Lale
Review based on the 2010 digital edition When I decided to delve into Heathen social media and digital sources, the basic Google and Amazon searches brought up 3 books:
1.) Asatru for Beginners by Erin Lale
2.) Essential Asatru by Diana Paxson
3.) The Asatru Edda by The Norroena Society (Mark Puryear & Others)
I purchased the 2nd, burned through it in a couple days and received the first digitally and again burned through it in one night. I had already a working knowledge of the Sagas, lore and myths but was leary to jump into social media because it was rampant (and still is) with white pride/white supremist/white power Neo Nazi groups who latch onto the modern race construct to exclude those who are not white (and ONLY white because ethnicity, heritage and culture cannot be seen on someone’s skin) from practicing Asatru (or any other type of Northern European/Germanic path); or even following the gods. But I did and this book offered IMHO the best primer for practice and introduction level knowledge of American Asatru.
Now there is a difference in American Asatru and Asatru as practiced in Scandinavia, not to mention Odinism, Wotanism, Forn Siðr, Urglaawe and Celtic Paganism. It relies heavily on academia, community interaction online and IRL, UPG, modern lore interpretation and conventional practice with traditional flavors and/or influence. Erin Lale is a social media friend of mine via Facebook and Ive tried many times to get her to administrate at the American Asatru Association Faceboo page/group, but being a busy author (fiction and non-fiction), her duties do not allow it. But I do goto her often for information and her opinion. She’s extremely approachable and informed. She told me this book was written during a time when heathen information was gathered through actual sumbles and blots and celebrations, MSN groups and websites. There was no social media like Facebook to dive into for information about any subject. And this book reflects that. It offers a basic 101 knowledge of modern Asatru practice in America with information from many cultural aspects of Germanic heathenry.
Rituals, names of gods, background, attributes, modern practice and customs. Erin even asked if I would help revise the book for a 2017 edition she hopes to put out. A great honor, indeed. Erin’s book is one I go back to often for a refresher on basic information. With so much eclectic paganry and Neo-Pagan ideals flooding modern heathen pages and groups, the basics can be lost. Frith is the best example. People’s narrowsighted OPINION of it (because they 99% of the time get it wrong) really murkies the water and makes neophyte examiners of Asatru run. When I started writing this review, I re-read the book from cover to cover in roughly 3 hours. Not hard to do since I read about Heathenry constantly online and in print.
Like most American Asatruars or Heathens, Erin’s views are not shared by all (Shoot, mine, hers and the other admins at AAA – Beth and Shirl – are different lol we all could be different points at the end of a Celtic Cross!). But unlike many (myself included), they are helpful for those just looking into Asatruar for interest or a sincere interest in following the northern path. Erin’s entries of Freyja are very indepth, as she is Freyja’s Gythia. Also the section on Heathen takes on political and personal issues like abortion, drug testing and politics are different and interesting to read. Many Heathens Ive encountered are staunch conservatives, pro-gun, anti-Big Government, many are Libertarians and then there’s the rarely discussed (because it’s a male dominated faith vocally) abortion (which Ive noticed most are pro-life). The book is very clean, neat and to the point. As I said, it is a great primer. It is not bogged down with unsubtantiated UPG or spirutual fluff that might tickle the Neo-Pagan newb, and offers a bibliography for academia to back up ideas put forth (so important in books, a bibliography..). The rituals section will really help those who are seeking to learn more of Asatru. Most New Agers come from stables/groups who typically read Raven Kaldera, DJ Conway and seem to rarely (for shame…) touch on Raymond Buckland. Also, I want to mention that this book SHOULD be encouraged by parents for their children to reading if they’re raising their children in Asatru in the USA. I cannot recommend this book enough. So many new heathens come into AAA and ask what they should do, theyre new and what to read. Asatru for Beginners is what every pagan and/or heathen should start off with.