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History of Asatru

Asatru, the modern attempt to revive the old Norse faith, was founded by the Icelandic farmer Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1924–1993). Beinteinsson was a sheep farmer and a priest in the religion, who published a book of rímur (Icelandic rhymed epic poetry) in 1945. In 1972 he petitioned the Icelandic government to recognize the Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið ("Icelandic fellowship of Æsir faith") as a religious body. It did so in 1973, and Denmark and Norway have since followed.

According to one Asatru website, similar communities were formed in the USA and UK at the same time as those in Iceland, each unaware of the existence of the others. This is a sign that "Odin, the wanderer, is once again seeking worshippers." (Irminsul Ættir)

Today, there are small groups of Asatru adherents throughout Scandinavia and North America. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, in the 1990s the approximately 300 Icelandic adherents hoped to dechristianize Iceland by the year 2000, the 1000th anniversary of the island's christianization.


Barrett, David B., George Thomas Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson (eds.). “Iceland.” The World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World. Oxford University Press.

Hinnells, John R. (ed.). Penguin Dictionary of Religions. London: Penguin Books, 1997.

Polomé, Edgar Charles; E.O.G. Turville-Petre. “Germanic religion and mythology.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Web. Accessed 22 Nov. 2016.

Rev. Patrick "Jordsvin" Buck. “Asatru, An Ancient Religion Reborn.” Irminsul Ættir. Web. Accessed 22 Nov. 2016.

Further Reading

Heathenry (new religious movement).” Wikipedia. Web. Accessed 22 Nov. 2016.

Article Info

Title History of Asatru
Last UpdatedNovember 22, 2016
URL www.religionfacts.com/asatru/history
Short URLrlft.co/750
MLA Citation “History of Asatru.” ReligionFacts.com. 22 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 26 Feb. 2017. <www.religionfacts.com/asatru/history>

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