Heathen Essentials

Heathen Essentials Module Index


Welcome to Heathenry (also known as Asatru). Perhaps you are beginning your journey as a heathen. Maybe you are an “interested bystander,” someone who may not be heathen but who knows heathens or is interested in learning more about our religion. Who knows, perhaps you are somewhere in between! In any event, this online, self-study program is for you. It is our hope that, as you work through the readings, essays, and sample questions, you will develop a fuller understanding of Asatru and what it means to be heathen in a modern context.

This course is designed to be both a stand-alone course. You will also need a copy of The Prose Edda, The Poetic Edda, Eyrbyggjasaga and one or more introductory guides.

It is our hope that working through both this online course will provide further depth of understanding.

The Heathen Essentials module is also the gateway to the Lore Program. The purpose of Heathen Essentials is to ensure that all incoming students possess a grounding in the Lore and basic Heathen concepts

After passing the Heathen Essentials test, a Full Troth Member may then enter the Lore Program proper. The Heathen Essentials module counts as 3 credits towards graduation in the Lore Program.

Again, welcome to Heathenry! Luck to you on your journey.

The Lore Program


            For each week, read the selections given. The guiding selection will be from your chosen Introductory guide book; selections from historical primary sources will supplement the main reading. As you go, answer the questions and do the exercises for yourself and to your own satisfaction. When you have finished and feel ready, email the provost (lore@thetroth.org) for the final exam. 

Introductory Guides

We have designed the Heathen Essentials course to work with any one of several guides (with the idea that many students will already have purchased one before starting the Lore Program.) Since each guide is slightly different, it may make sense to read it in order once first, before beginning the lessons of Heathen Essentials.

Choose one of the following guides to read (or reread) for this course:

  • Essential Ásatru: A Modern Guide to Norse Paganism, second edition (Citadel Press, 2021), is a short introduction to the religion by the Troth’s Diana Paxson.  (If you happen to have the older edition, the book’s structure and chapter numbers have not changed between editions.)
  • A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru is an introductory work by Patricia M. Lafayllve one of the founders of the Troth’s Lore Program.
  • Our Troth, third edition. (The Troth, 2020- )This is the latest edition of the Troth’s comprehensive reference and guide to heathenry. Three volumes are planned; the first two volumes are released.  The third should be out sometime in 2022.  Due to its incomplete status, you may need to supplement it with another book for information on community, ritual, and esoterica.
  • The Way of Fire and Ice: The Living Tradition of Norse Paganism (Llewellyn, 2019) by Ryan Smith.

Recommended Translations

            The best translation of the Prose Edda remains that of Anthony Faulkes from the Everyman Library (1995). The Penguin translation by Jesse Byock (2005) is also extremely good.

            Carolyne Larrington offers an excellent prose translation of the Poetic Edda (Oxford 1996, revised 2014.) Lee Hollander’s translation of the Poetic Edda remains popular among heathens, because it is a poetic rendering in Germanic-style verse. Beginners may, however, find it difficult to understand, for that very reason.

            There are two good, current translations of the Eyrbyggja Saga by Penguin; one by is translated by Paulson and Edwards and the other by Judy Quinn.

            You should avoid the older, out-of-copyrights translations available on the internet. These are often repackaged and reprinted as inexpensive editions, but they reflect badly out-of-date scholarship. Be especially careful purchasing editions on line to be sure you’re getting the right thing.