Back in 2013 and 2014, when I was getting ready to start gathering sources for my masters’ thesis in Old Norse Religion, I realized something: while the vast majority of medieval Norse-Icelandic sagas were readily accessible in Old Icelandic, quite a few of them were hard to get a hold of in translation. Sure, I could have soldiered on, armed with only my trusty Old Icelandic-English dictionary and go through every single saga in the original language, but it would have taken such a long time that, had I done so, I’d probably still be at it today. What I needed were more general editions and translations, with enough notes and index-entries to quickly find relevant information. When it came to the more popular sagas, such as the so-called “family-sagas” (Íslendingasögur), I had little problem finding good versions. In my excessive exhaustiveness, however, I found a severe lack of material related to the more obscure sagas.
The Ásatrú religion can offer new perspectives on climate change ethics via examination of the modern practice of historically grounded ritual known as blót – a rite that foregrounds reciprocity with the earth, inherent value in the natural world, transtemporal human relationships, global connectedness, and the consequences of human action. In addition to discussing Ásatrú textual sources and examples of ritual, this column offers a new ethical model for responding to issues of climate change. Ásatrú is a religion with a life that already relates to reality in a way that addresses major issues raised by climate change ethicists. Practitioners are both certain and competent in a life-practice that directly engages relationships within the transtemporal human community and with the wider world. Through study of lore and celebration of ritual, the practice of Ásatrú reinforces understanding of reciprocal relationships with the natural world, inherent value of living things, connections to past and future peoples, interrelatedness of all human actors, and consequences of human actions.