Asatru means "true to the gods,"  and is an Icelandic word for the religion of the old Germanic people, the ancestors of today's English, Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Icelanders.  The term became official when the religion was recognized by the Icelandic government in 1972 at the urging of the poet, Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson.  Asatru has grown since then, and, though still minute compared to Christianity or Islam, has followers in every part of the world.
    I read about the Norse gods as a child, and felt a strong kinship with them, with their mostly rural world, their sense of honor, their warlike nature.  They were the only gods that seemed to really relate to me and my world.  But there was far less material on them than on the Greek and Roman gods, who seemed much slicker and more cosmopolitan, and who were represented by far more artists and authors from the time of Homer to the present.  It was easier to know them, and when I studied Greek and Latin, I felt that I knew them even better.  I largely got over my childhood feeling that they were culturally alien to me and my background.  But still, they remained someone else's gods, and belonged to a warmer and easier world than the one I knew. 
    One day while my girlfriend, Catherine,  was teaching a night class I was waiting for her and looking around on the internet.  I stumbled onto an Asatru site, and then others.  After class I showed her, and she was very excited.  Catherine had read the D'Aurlies big book of Norse gods as a child, and had always felt at home with the Norse gods.  At that point we were seriously considering joining the Asatru religion.  But then, with more research, I discovered that there were some virilantly racist Asatru groups in the U.S., and decided that this was a can of worms I didn't care to open, so the matter was dropped for a time.  But the gods would not go away, and we shortly decided that this was our religion.  We were married that fall in an oak grove on our farm by an Asatru gythia.  Since then we have joined The Troth, a large, non-racist Asatru group, and attended Trothmoot, their big yearly gathering.  The Troth is the largest single Asatru organization, and involves a wide range of activities and services.
    This rather  romantic picture from the end of the 19th cenntury depicts Odin seated in Valhalla watching the einhejar (those of the slain chosen by Odin's battle maidens to join him in Valhalla (hall of the slain) to fight and party until the final showdown at Ragnarok.  Odin's blue cloak identifies him as at least sort of a sky god, though he is far more associated with death and the underworld.  The winged helmet, like horned helmets belong to Opera tradition rather than history, but they look cool, so why complain.
This is a very stereotyped image of  Northern religion, and what is really a very complex view of the afterlife.  But, as a cliche one could do worse.   It is far better than the popular image of Voodoo, with its Hollywood-inspired zombies lumbering about glassy eyed looking for people to devour.  At least this sounds like fun in a macho sort of way.
Voluspa

Hearken to me, holy ones all,
The high and the low of Heimdalr's line.
I tell at your wish, Valfather, a tale,
The oldest of songs sung among men.

Of Jotuns I tell from the beginning of time,
That nourished my youth in years long past.
Nine worlds I know, nine roots of the tree,
The glorious ash growing deep in the earth.

That was the age when Ymir throve;
No shore there was, nor sea nor wave,
No earth below, or sky above,
Barren and sterile, a yawning abyss,

But then the land was by Bur's sons uplifted,
Midgard in all of its majesty made.
The sun from the south shone on the lands,
And ground was mantled all over with green.

The sun arising far to the south,
Companioned the moon all through his course;
Sun had not heard the place of her hall,
Nor stars their path, nor moon his power.

Then all of the gods gathered in council,
The holy Aesir, to give things their names--
Morning and noon, evening and night;
Midwinter they named, Midsummer as well.

In the meads of Ida the Aesir met.
Altars and temples they timbered aloft,
Established a forge treasures to smith,
Fashioning tongs and well-tempered tools.

Played chess in the garth, gladsome of cheer,
Knowing no lack of lusterous gold,
Until three maidens, thurse daughters came,
From Jotunheim strode, fearsome their strength.

The great gods in council were gathered,
The holy Aesir, and parley they held,
On who should devise the earth-dwelling dwarves
From Brimmir's blood and bone of Blain.

Motsognir was first, mightiest of alf-kind,
King of all dwarves, and Durin after.
Durin directed the labor of dwarves;
Many the man-like beings they made.

Nyi, Nidi, Nordri, Sudri,
Austri, Vestri, Althjof, Dvalinn,
Bivurr, Bavurr, Bomburr, Nori,
Ann and Anarr, Oinn, Mjodvitnir,

Vegg and Gandalf, Vindalf, Thorinn,
Thrar and Thrainn, Thekkur, Litur, and Vitur,
Nyr and Nyradur, Reginn and Radsvid--
Now has been counted the company of dwarves.

Fili, Kili, Fundin, Nali,
Hefti, Vili, Hanar, Sviur,
Billing, Bruni, Bildur, Buri,
Frar, Hornbori, Fraegur and Loni,
Aurvangur, Jari, Eikinskjaldi--
All have I counted of Durin's kin.

I must name all the dwarves of Dvalin's host,
All those that lived ere Lofar's time.
In marshy wastes their dwelling was;
From that hall of stone on sallies they fared.

These were Draupnir and Dolgthrasir,
Har, Haugspori, Hlevangur, Golinn,
Dori, Ori, Dufur, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir, Skafidur, Ai,

Alf, Yngvi, Eikinskajaldi,
Fjalar and Frosti, Finn, and Ginnar--
Names that will last as long as the earth,
The line of forebears to Lofar leading.

Then came from the host gathered in hall
Three of the Aesir, kindly of thought.
They found on the earth the ash and the elm,
Weak and forlorn, their future unfated.

Breath all wanting, and strength-giving blood,
Language they lacked, and the blush of life.
Odin gave breath, Hoenir gave being,
And blood and blush was by Lofar bestowed.

I know of an ash, Yggdrasil by name,
The dew ever dripping onto its leaves,
From there ever dropping down to the dells;
It stands by Urd's well, stately and green.

Maidens come there and meet at their bower;
Urd is the name of the first of the Norns,
Skuld and Verdandi, the second and third.
Runes they score, and laws they set,
And establish forever the fates of all men.

I have seen the first war the world has known,
When Gullveg with spearpoints was gored by the gods.
Thrice burned in the hall, and thrice reborn--
Lost all their labors; she lives to this day.

Heidi I am called, when to households I come,
Volva far-seeing, well-pacticed in spells,
All magic I know, and tricks for the mind--
To wicked women welcome ever.

Now all the gods are gathered in hall,
In council grave to consider which choice--
A hazardous war not easily won,
Or sharing with foes a half of the feast.

Over the host Odin hurls his spear,
Beginning the battle.  Breastworks are breached;
The fortress of gods lies open to foes.
The warlike Vanes in Asgard walk.

The Aesir all hastened to their judgement hall,
Gathered in council to search out what god
Had sullied the air with the stench of crime,
And given Od's bride to the jotun brood.

Then forceful Thor cut down a foe;
He seldom is still when hearing of such.
Oaths were broken, binding vows,
The troth of gods turned to naught.

I know where is hidden Heimdalr's horn--
Under that tree which touches the sky.
I see a sacred icecicle stream
From Odin's lost eye--Oh, would you know more?
The index for the whole site.  It has sections on my sci/fi fantasy novel, Mythosphere, and much else you might or might not find of interest.
Chess isn't quite the right word here, but I suspect most readers are as ignorant of Norse board games as I am.  (I've actually learned more on this subject since, but won't get into it here.) I like to imagine a  Norse version of Monopoly with castles and monastaries to plunder rather than buy.  The three thurse maidens may be the Norns.
I've followed the usual practice of not translating these names.  They have more resonance in the original--of course it is a resonance the original auther didn't intend, so I'm not sure that this justification is valid. 
I really have no idea what is being said in the last line of this stanza.  If anyone can give a clear and convincing explanation, I'll try to fix it.
This really should be in past tense, but that would make Heidi seem to be the same as Gullveg.   Georges Dumazil seems to think she is, and the one stanza does flow easily into the next, but I prefer to think this is a different being.  A volva is a seer and magic worker.
Od's bride is Freya.  Her betrayer is Loki.  What the gods do next is not clear, but it seems to work.
Ok, I'll admit, the last line is truly odious.  Mistletoe just does not belong in this kind of verse.
Surtr's grasp would be the flames of a funeral fire, a kenning that I added for the alliteration.
Auden's line is "I see one in bonds by the boiling springs."   An Icelander would be familiar with hot springs--nature's caldrons or kettles.  This is an inspired reading, but I'm not sure it's valid.
I've taken three lines here for only two in the original, but it seems to me less absurd than Auden's "From the east through Venomous Valley runs/ Over jagged rocks the River Gruesome." A sax is a single edged, Bowie knife-like blade especially popular with the Saxons.
Why translate Goldcomb's name when the name of another two cock is not?--it may be inconsistent, but Goldcomb is too nice a name to pass up.
My original last line for this stanza was, "I view the death of the Victory-Gods," which catches some of the line that this version misses, but I couldn't leave out Ragnarok, in spite of the way it swallowed the line--took up half the stresses, and forced the use of an r alliteration.
"Forceful Thor"--that sounds pretty wimpy.  Maybe I can come up with something better.
Gullveg is a mystery.  Was she sent as a spy?  As a troublemaker?  Or simply misunderstood?  She comes from the Vanes, but is she an actual goddess, or is she a sort of collective spirit of Vanism?  I see little justification for the common suggestion that she is actually Freya.
Auden's translation begins with Heidi the Volva announcing herself, a passage that is actually much later in the poem.  I think that arrangement is both clearer and more dramatic, but did not feel confident enough to follow him in that.
The first line uses the two different th sounds as an alliteration--something absolutely forbidden.  I'll have to fix this.
And thereby establishing the calandar--a very vital concern for all ancient civilizations.
Logically the gods shouldn't need temples and altars, but their settlement is obviously described in terms of the human model.
Lofar=Loki.  Alternately, this work is attributed to Odin, Vili, and Ve.
Auden says hurled at, but I think he is wrong in this.  Hurling a spear over the foe was a traditional Northern way of beginning a battle.
This line in the Icelandic begins with Mimir's children, which perplexed me.  I didn't know of any children that he had, and since his latter career was spent as a head,  he seemed unlikely to have produced any.  Th reference is probably a kenning for waves.
My Odin page.  It is not complete, but perhaps can never be.

This not very profound page deals with going to Trothmoot, and  being with a hundred Asatruar at once.
This stanza repeats verbatim a stanza above.
Jormungandur: the Midgard Serpent.  Palebeak, a giant eagle.  Nailfarer (Naglfar), the boat of the dead made of dead men's nails.
Muspel's--shouldn't this be Hel's rather than Muspel's, especially since the boat doesn't come from the south?  Byleist = Loki..
branches' bane = fire.  "sky splits"--I like the lack of unstressed syllables.  It would have been easy to have regularized the number and placement of unstressed syllables,  but it would also have been in anapestic tetrameter, like "The Night Before Christmas."

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Hlin=Frigga.  Beyla's bane is Frey.  He is killed by Surt.
down to theheart--his sword reaches the heart by way of the throat.  The common epithet for Vidar,
"the silent" does not actually exist in the original.  I added it to give the line its fourth stress.
Hlothyn--another name for Earth.  Earth is Thor's mother.  His father is Odin.
My Icelandic version of this has only the first two lines of this stanza, though they are less relevant than the second two, considering that Fenris is dead at this point.
Jotun--Etin in English, but more often translated, giant.

I like this image of the chessmen a great deal.  It is too bad that this is probably not quite what the poet meant.
Hodur--Baldur's blind brother, and inadvertantly, his slayer.  Hropt--Odin.
The Vanir, the "other" Germanic gods..

A little discussed pair of Northern twin-gods, apparently Vanir.

A meditation on Asatru and the land.

A poem about a warrior-
woman going to the burial mound to claim her father's sword.

Auden's trans. of The Lay of Volund
There is some question about the authenticity of this half-stanza.  Some versions leave it out.
"and now I sink"--the seer's vision fades.
    Having been through this poem line by line, I have to confess rather less enthusiasm for Auden's translation than I had originally.  I still like his opening, but many of the later lines are flat or overly Tolkeinish.  Much is just not worthy of one of the great poets of the twentieth century.  As for this version, I would like to believe that some of the worse lines will be fixed in time, though such things have a way of not getting done.  I started this poem with a real burst of energy, and it was not until I was too far into it to quit that I paused to ask myself why I was doing it at all--there was little chance it would help either my reputation as a poet or as a scholar.  And, if I wanted a version on this page, there were others I could have used.  I half-suspect it of being Odin at work--after going through this poem line by line, I certainly do have a deeper feel for the subject matter, so I am the gainer whether anyone else is or not.  If anyone does decide to reprint this version in part or the whole, it is not essential to inform me, though I would appreciate it, and would at least like to be given credit.  It seems to me silly to be possessive about something that is never going to make me any money.
So many people assume that the word "firmament" means earth, perhaps it is not too patronizing to mention that it means "sky."
Contrary to what many would expect, the Germanic people saw the moon as male, the sun as female.
    Since I can add little to what has been said already by others, I will conclude with a version of the best known and most informative of the Eddaic poems, Voluspa.  The version is mine, and is not to be taken too seriously as proper alliterative poetry.  Auden has been my primary influence and, in general, my favorite translation.  The poem is long, however, and should be read at leisure, and so for those who are just passing through, I have placed the links above it.
    There are many excellent Asatru sites, some beautiful, some scholarly and informative, and some, both.  It will be long before these pages rival some of those, but here, at least, is a start.
    Unlike Christianity (or Wicca), Asatru is a religion with a lot of gods and other nonhuman entities.  There are two groups of gods, the Aesir, who are the predominant group, and the Vanir, some of whom have been adopted into the Aesir.  The gods are, of course, mysterious and unknowable in some sense, but in another, they are very knowable.  One may know them from the stories, and one may further know them by spiritual experience.  They seldom announce who they are when they appear in dream or in some other way, but one generally knows.  Many people are primarily committed to one god or goddess.  Males tend to follow male gods, and women to follow female ones, but not always.  It is largely a matter of compatibility, for the divinities have strong personalities.  Odin has the most followers, but some really do not like him, especially moralistic people who dislike his "whatever it takes" approach to what needs to be done, his quirkiness and moral flexibility, his ruthlessness, his intimate friendship with the somewhat disreputable Loki.  Such people usually prefer Tyr or Heimdal.  Blunt, straight-forward people like Thor.  Even Loki has followers.  Among goddesses, Freya is most popular, but even goddesses we hear little about can make their presence felt.
Crops will grow on unsown ground,
All bad made good, then Baldur will come
To live with Hodur in Hropt's Hall,
The war-god's home.  Oh, would you know more?

Then Hoenir shall rule the rods of fate,
And Odin's brothers' sons shall build
Their hall in Windhome--Would you know more?

Brighter than sun I see a hall
With roof of gold on Gimle's height.
In happiness there will have their home
The righteous who shall all time remain.

Now comes from high, all power to claim
A mighty king, master of lands.

Then flies from the depth the dragon of dark.
From fells of Nitha, Nidhogg flies,
Wings bearing bodies of men,
The gleaming snake . . . and now I sink.
Loud howls Garm at Gnipahelli,
His fetters broken, Fenris runs.
Far have I looked, yet farther I see--
To the final ruin, to Ragnarok.

I see the earth rise from the sea,
And all the ground once more is green,
The waters fall, the eagle wings
Aloft, and fishes at the foot of cliffs.

The Aesir meet on Ida's meads,
Of the Midgard Serpent speak again,
Remember the feats of former years,
Recall the god of wisdom's runes.

Forgotten in the grass they find
The golden chessmen, glorious forms
The gods had owned in days gone by.
Now further harm to Hlin shall come,
When Odin fares forth, Fenrir to fight,
And Belya's bane to battle with Surt.
Then shall fall the love of Frigg.

Now Vidar approaches, Valfather's son,
Fierce to the fight, Fenris to slay,
Driving his blade down to the heart;
Thus Vidar the silent his father avenges.

Hither there comes Hlothyn's son
Against the gaping girdler of Earth.
Odin's son the serpent strikes.
Men in fear their homes forsake.
Then nine full steps he staggers back,
And fearless sinks, by the serpent slain.

The sun turns dark, Earth sinks in sea,
The glittering stars drop from the sky.
Steam burst forth, and hungry flame,
The firmament is singed with fire.
Loud howls Garm at Gnipahelli,
His fetters broken, Fenris runs.
Far have I looked, yet farther I see--
To the final ruin, to Ragnarok.

From the east comes Hrym, holding his shield,
In Jotun-rage Jormungandur writhes,
Splitting the waves.  Palebeak screams,
Tearing dead limbs.  Nailfarer is launched.

A boat from the east bears Muspel's brood,
While Loki stands at the helm and steers,
A monstrous host by Fenris led,
The band that fares with Byleist's brother.

Surt brings branches' bane,
The sun of the battlegods sets on his sword,
Mountains topple, troll-women flee,
The slain throng Hel-road, sky splits.
Brother with brother battles to death,
Sisters' sons each other slay,
Faithless the world, fornication filled,
An axe age, a sword age; shattered are shields;
A wind age, a wolf age, till the world wastes.
And man to man no mercy shows.

The waves surge high, and loud is heard
Heimdalr sounding the Gjallarhorn,
Holding it high aloft.  Beneath,
Men hearken on the road to Hel.

Yggdrasil trembles, the towering ash,
Loud the leaves shudder.  The Jotun is loosed.
Odin hearkens to Mimir's head.
Surt's spawn shall slay him soon.

How with the Aesir?  How with the elves?
Jotunheim groans.  The gods are gathered.
The dwarves lament by doors of stone,
The masters of cliffs--Oh, would you know more?
He feeds on the flesh of those that fall,
And streaks with blood the halls of the blest.
Deep-shaded thereafter the summer sun,
The wind not kind--Oh, would you know more?

The giant's sentry, happy Egther
Sits and harps upon his hill,
And high upon a branch there crows
The fair red cock named Fjalar.

And goldcomb crows over the gods,
Waking the heroes in Odin's hall.
Another is heard of soot red hue,
Hidden by earth in the hall of Hel.

Loud howls Garm at Gnipahelli,
His fetters broken, Fenris runs.
Far have I looked, yet farther I see--
To the final ruin, to Ragnarok.
A flood of sword and sax I see
That gushes down the venemous glen,
A stream from the east that Slith is called.

Stood in the north in Nithavollum
A shining hall of Sindri's kin.
Another stood on Okolni
The brewhall of Brimmer of the Jotun brood.

Another I see with its door to the North,
Far from the sun on the shores of death.
Venom drips from the vent above;
The walls are formed of serpent weave.

There up to their waists in water I see
Oathbreakers, killers, corrupters of wives.
There Nidhogg sucks blood from bodies dead.
The wolf rends flesh--Oh, would you know more?

East in Ironwood the Old One waits,
Foster parent to Fenrir's brood,
And one, troll-like, the worst of these,
Shall catch and make the moon its meal.
Baldur I saw, most blessed of gods,
Odin's dear son, his doom yet unknown.
Growing aloft is a graceful herb,
The mistletoe, a magic plant.

Harmless seeming, in Hoder's hand
Grim it became.  But soon was born
A brother to Baldur; Hoder's bane
At one night old slew Odin's son,

Nor washed his hands, nor combed his hair
Till the slayer he saw in Surtr's grasp.
But Frigg the while in Fensalir wept
The loss of her son--Oh, would you know more?

One I see bound where the caldron is kept,
Like Loki he seems.  Sits Sigyn beside,
Woeful of mind--Oh, would you know more?
I was seated outside when Odin I saw;
The oldest of gods gazed into my eye.
What would you know?  What need of me?

Where now is your eye, Allfather, I know--
Mired in the depths of Mimir's well,
And Mimier each morn mead from it drinks,
From Odin's pledge--Oh, would you know more?

Gems and gold rings you gave for my lore;
Wider and wider I see through the worlds.

Valkeries I saw flock from afar,
Gathering to ride to the realms of men.
Skuld bore a shield, Skogul as well,
Gunn, Hild, Gongul, Spearskogul;
There are the names by which they are known--
Ygg's maids mounted for Midgard to ride.
The first of these deals with stories of the Volsungs, famous  in Germanic legend.  The second translates the eddaic poem of Sigurd awaking the Valkyrie.
This is not intended as your one-stop Asatru site.  Some things I have covered well, some not so well, and some hardly at all.  Below are some additional links to significant sites.
This is to the Troth site.  It is the official site for the Troth
organization, and is quite large with a wealth of information.

This is to the Midhnott Sol Regintroth, a huge Asatru site with, among other things, the complete Thorpe translation of the edda.
This site is to Jordsvin's page.  It is quite large, and is a major source on seithr, the Norse equivalent to shamanism.

This is the link to the Viking Answer Lady's page.  If you have an esoteric question on any Norse subject, contact her.
This page has now passed 20,000  hits
Rune Poems
The surviving rune poems  from Iceland, Norway, and Anglo-Saxon England.
Poems, original and translated from the story of the Volsungs as told in the Edda and the Volsunga Saga.
A page on meadmaking.
Modern rune poems.
A continuation of the Odin page
with the Havamal.
A page about the Skadi, the winter goddess.
In making this page I never guessed how it would grow.  And since space for the links was limited, I crowded each new page in until no room remained, and so I have just completed the hours long task of spreading it all out.  Now, if only I had added another digit to the hit counter. --Jack Hart
Hrafnagaldr Odins, Odin's Ravens' Song.


Faeroese and Danish ballads of Sigurd.
Odin's rune poem from the Havamal.
My translation of "Odin and Billing's Daughter" from the Havamal.
Trans. of "The Song of  Grotti" with critical analysis. 
My translation of the Havamal, with notes.