When it comes to a religion, the practices associated with a belief system are what bring the group and communities as a whole together. The main practice connected to the Old Norse and Germanic religion is animal and human sacrifice. This is usually done in an open space, such as a forest. Besides animals, humans were also sacrificed in the name of the gods. Prisoners of war were used in this manner to pay homage to their victory. Another popular sacrificial item was an ox, where the blood was used to sprinkle about a certain area of celebration. The meat was then eaten and toasts were made to gods, including Odin, Njord and Freyr.
Associated with the fertility deities, there were women referred to as Volna, which traveled from home to home, sharing their gifts filled with prophecy. One of the main things that they did was foretold the fates of children, which was quite popular in those days. The place of worship for the ancient form of this religion was rarely conducted within a temple. During the later periods of time, wooden temples were established. As for the modern form of the religion, the groups of Asatrus are referred to as Kindreds, Hearths, as well as Garths. The head of the religion are the priests and priestesses, which are known as Gothi and Gythia. The main ritual associated with the Asatru is called blot. The ritual is in reference to blood and is associated with sacrifice. Instead of using animals for sacrifice, the followers use mead instead, which is a mixture of wine and honey. This is offered to the gods. Sometimes, beer or cider can also be used. Worshippers drink some of the beverage, while the rest of it is poured to the ground as a libation.
Another important practice among the Asatru is called sumbel, which is a ritual toast that is comprised of three different rounds. The first round is attributed to the gods. The first to benefit from this ceremony is Odin. He earned this right because it is he who won the mead of poetry from the Giant Suttung, which is another story completely. During this first round, a few drops are poured out to the god, Loki, who is known as the trickster. This is an attempt to avoid any pranks he may try to place upon you. The second round is to pay homage to those important individuals that are no longer among the living at that time. This includes ancestors, as well as those who died and have earned an honorable place among the people. The third round is considered open to suggestions.
While the main holidays throughout North America concentrate on various milestones throughout history, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, the Asatru days of celebration focus on other important times of the year. The Asatru holidays tend to focus on the seasons, where the 21st day of various months marks numerous celebrations. The spring equinox is celebrated on March 21st. It is called the Summer Finding and it is dedicated to Ostara. The fall equinox occurs on September 21st, which marks the celebration of the Winter Finding. On June 21st, the summer solstice is observed. This is when the Midsummer celebrations kick off. The most important holidays associated with the Asatru religion is called Yule. This sort of celebration begins on the same day as the winter solstice, which is on December 21st. This particular event is also celebrated for a lengthy period of time, lasting for 12 days.