My journey to the Asatru religion started with a simple question to my grandfather. I asked him who his grandfather was, and because he had become distanced from his father at a young age, and lost contact with that side of his family, he could not remember. My grandfather was in his 80's at the time so I did not think it that strange that he did not remember. So I decided to start doing some research. I went to the graveyard where his father was buried and got the dates off of his gravestone, and then went to the library to look at some microfilm and microfiche. Sorry, back then there were no computers or Ancestry.com ! You had to do a lot of leg work. Through months of research I found out that his grandfather's name was Jacob Isaac Bergen, and his great grandfather's name was Simon Hillyer Bergen. It appeared that we were Dutch, but I could not find any records going further back.
Then it began ! I started to be " directed " into finding things. I had pretty much given up trying to find out more about my family, but then by chance I overheard someone at the Mormon Church, ( They hold a lot of family records. It has something to do with them saving a soul by keeping their records.), say that the Alexandria Library at Rutgers University had a lot of family records, and it was open to the public because it is a state university. So I figured what the heck, I can waste one day looking at some microfilm there. I did not think I would find anything new, but felt "compelled" to go. After finding nothing I turned in the microfilm and was leaving when the attendant remarked that they had some really old family history books up on the second floor. I was tired and not really in the mood, but the librarian offered to take me up there and show me so it was hard to refuse. Incredibly they had a book titled : " The Bergen Family : One of the Early Settlers of New York and Brooklyn......". The first pages told the story of Hans Hansen, (Van Bergen was added to his name by the Dutch in 1633), a ship's carpenter who came over from Norway in 1633. I knew, or thought I knew, that we were Dutch, and yet I kept on reading. I spent hours reading every page ! Then at page 477 I saw Bergen # 527, Simon Hillyer, father of Jacob Isaac Bergen, and all the dates matched perfectly ! I was of Norwegian descent with some Dutch mixed in !
And then I heard the first whispering ! " You are one of us" ! It scared the Hell out of me ! I thought it was my ancestors at the time reaching out and speaking to me, which is scary enough, but soon realized it was something much more. The whisperings grew over time and I kept being "steered" towards anything and everything in the Viking culture. It is funny, and I have never told anyone this, but I at first thought the three distinct voices I was hearing were the " Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost ". You know the holy trinity of Christianity. But one was very distinctly female ! At this time I was a confirmed Agnostic, and actually had just reached this level of faith from Atheism, because science could not say how the first bits of matter formed in the universe. All they could say was that it was "just there ". To me that left open the possibility of a higher power.
Then one day I was at my local Borders book store, in the history section, and saw a book written by Ed Fitch, called " The Rites of Odin". How this book wound up in the history section I do not know, but it was lying flat, and on the cover were drawings of Thor, Odin, Freyja and Loki. I swear they looked as though they were staring right at me ! Not knowing exactly what it was I brought it with me, and read it at one of the tables as I drank a cup of coffee. I think I knew even before opening to the first page that these voices that I was hearing were the old Gods and Goddesses, but I only knew them as myths. I was stunned to find that the old religion was in revival, and that it was now known as Asatru, " Faith in the Aesir ". I don't know if you can actually sense someone smiling, but I sensed that the Triad of Thor, Odin and Freyja, were pleased that I finally knew the truth.
From that point on my life spiraled faster and faster into the Asatru religion. I was talked into buying a computer, bought Galina Krasskova's book on Northern Tradition religions; contacted her; told her my stories; she told me to tell everyone via a blog website; then went to Iceland and gained a greater understanding of what the Gods and Goddesses wanted from me. When I came back I started writing stories and poems, something I had never done before for the Gods ,( though I did write a few poems to describe my confusion before this ), and became the Godi and Kennari of An Independent Asatru to help those who are just entering our religion to adjust to the "God's Ways". Believe me if I did not condense this part of my life it would be a book unto itself.
You may ask why the Gods and Goddesses don't just say, " You are Asatru, be one of us." My theory is that at any point in this journey of discovery, I could have simply turned my back on what they were showing me, and I think The Triad would have disappeared and left me alone. I think They make you work in a slow process of learning to see if you are worthy of Their attention. I also don't think that you can take in everything They can show us all at once. It is just too much ! So They slowly, over time, guide us through a maze of obstacles, and those who make it through know the Gods and Goddesses at a higher level than can ever be known from just reading books about them.
The question I have no answer for is, " Why did they choose me "? I hate organized religion ! Yes, I said HATE ! Nothing in my opinion lessens the personal experience that one can have with their Gods and Goddesses than collecting those processes into an organized and structured religion. I love the Gods and Goddesses on a personal level, somewhat like the experience one has with loving their "soul mate". Not in a sexual way of course, but in that personal way that only two people can experience together. There is no room in that process for me, for an organized and structured religion. And yet here I am, a part of that process. That my friends is the dichotomy of my life !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !