Thursatru for Dummies
In the past I've done a section on Lokeans for Dummies and Asatru for Dummies (which I will link at the bottom of this post). Ideally, my goal is to go through the various sects of Heathenry and write an introduction for all of them, then later expand on them. The one I would like to focus on today is known as Thursatru. Now, Thursatru is actually (generally) not accepted to be a really defined sect of Heathenry, and often Heathens disregard it completely. It's definitely not traditional, and a lot of Heathens view it as "new-age neo-pagan rubbish". I personally dislike it, simply because the people who define themselves as Thursatru often give it a bad name. However, I'd like to discuss it just the same!
What is Thursatru?
This, my friends, is Thursatru/Jotnatru. Traditionally, Thursatru never existed. It is a purely modern creation. It is the belief in, honor of, and worship of the "thurses". The people who say they are thursatru believe the Giants they are working with to be the darker, more adversary aspects of the jotunfolk. It is a Gnostic left hand path type of religion. It really seems like they are trying to cram Norse tradition into a Neo-Gnostic box. They are completely anti Aesir, anti Vanir, and they even claim to be anti jotun. (On a personal note, I think this is a really questionable thing. Nowhere in literature or in spirit workers PCPG has there ever been a difference between a Jotun and a Thurse. Most practiconers and Heathens dont see a difference between the two words, as throughout literature they are both dual-used words for the same thing. Where this sudden separation came from- I dont know.)
The whole thing focuses on the idea of Chaos and Anti-Cosmic powers. They claim to work with deities such as Ymir, Loki, Gullveig, Fenrir, Hel, Midgard Serpent, Nidhogg, and such. As for realms, they tend to focus on the "underworld" aspect, and regard Helheim as a "dark chaotic place". As Stephen Grundy, or Kveldulf Gundarsson, recently expressed in our Lokean group: "I think the main difference between Thurstru and Rokkatru, is, as far as I can see, that Rokkatru is saying, "hey, let's look at these wights who have been Officially Categorized as Evil...and once you get to know them, they can be quite friendly and are, anyway, a definite part of the functional universe and should be appreciated as such", whereas Thursatru is saying, "hey, these wights are Officially Categorized as Evil and isn't that *cool*!" Also, I can't say I'm wild about the "down with the material universe, spirit-only" approach..". Like a lot of other LHP groups, there seems to be the whole "become your own God" aspect in their practice as well. While traditionally the literature in Norse tradition does say that people did, can, could become Gods in their respective right (through the process of being given that gift after you died, or being blessed by a large majority of people, etc.. Stephen is currently writing a thesis on it)- it just really seems out of the culture. I dont know any other Heathens with that outlook.
How is it practiced?
Good question! At this point, it's a very individualized sort of thing. Because many Thursatru- practicioners consider themselves to still be Heathens (eclectic or otherwise) they still often do blots (which are akin to rituals and offerings) and sumbels (drinking, feasts, sacrifices, etc). It is not well defined, or widely practiced, however. As far as I am aware there are no kindreds or grouping of practicing thursatruars in real life. Most of them seem to meet on the internet and converse through forums. This type of path seems more for individuals than for groups. They have no specific holidays or meetings like asatru, though they often take predefined holidays (such as the Varblot) and turn it into a holiday for their specific practice.
Thursatru has no "code of ethics" like Asatru, and tend to disregard the NNV (Nine Noble Virtues). Of course, like all the other sects of Heathenry, Thursatru focuses on developing a personal connection to the deities you work with (in this case, solely the Jotun). Thursatru urges people to meditate on the various Jotun and invoke them in their practices. They do offerings for the jotunfolk, build altars to them and so on. The types of herbs and materials they use in this correlate with their idea of Niflheim and Jotunheim (where the Jotunfolk are said to live).
Rokkatru vs Thursatru
Rokkatru is not the same as Thursatru at all. If anything, Thursatru is going to be shining a bad light on the Rokkatruars and making the practice seem like something that it isnt. Most Rokkatruars like to include the Aesir, Vanir and other entities into their workings, but simply choose to raise their horns to the Jotunfolk first. They dont want to get involved in the Ragnarok business, they dont care about the politics and whatnot in the practice, they just see the Jotun as an important part of the entire tradition and choose to honor them as such.
Thursatruars are the "rebels" who are cheering on the chaos of Ragnarok, painting the Jotun out to be chaotic "black magic" type of beings. They are purposefully creating dualism in a tradition that has never had dualism.
In all honesty, a lot of Heathens dont even like to split Heathenry up into "Asatru", "Odinism", "Vanatru" and so on. Those words really label and put a limit on your belief. When you think of Asatru, you immediately assume that person worships only the Aesir as their main group: but Ive known many asatruars who work with entities outside of that boundary just as well. There is no need to keep creating subdivisions. Thursatru is quite literally just the opposite of Asatru. Just as some Asatruars view the Jotun as their enemies, the Thursatru view the Gods (Aesir and Vanir) as theirs. Essentially, theyve created a rift in Heathenry. Personally I see this as just divine politics, and I think everyone would do their best to stay out of it. You can worship and honor and work with whoever you want, Jotun or God. But to start drawing lines and proclaiming a group of entities as your "enemy" in your practice is a little arrogant, and playing with things you dont want to be involved in. As Ive said before when mentioning seidhr, channeling and pathwalking: your best bet is to keep your head out of the politics in Heathenry between those groups, its none of your business and you dont need to be in the middle of it.
All I see this as is provoking needless hate between groups of Heathens.
I have several issues with Thursatru. As someone who considers themself to be a Lokean/Rokkatru- I, myself, have experienced a lot of hate from Heathens due to the misunderstanding of what a Lokean or Rokkatruar is and what we believe. We are often not allowed to attend the Troths main events (where many Heathens gather). We are not allowed to worship Loki or his kin (Jotun worship is extremely disliked and hated by other sects of Heathenry) at public rituals. We are often shoved out of site in the community, and disregarded for our intellect and seriousness in our spirituality.
We strive very hard to gain acceptance in the Heathen community, and many of us feel very angry that Thursatru is taking all our work and turning it back around. I work with Loki very closely, and often am having to explain to people that he is not akin to Lucifer, and he is not a "bad guy". I have to point out several references from the Eddas and lore where it shows that Loki is a God of Change and Chaos, but not evil, only needed. But then when Thursatru comes along, they claim the opposite and paint Loki (and all other jotunfolk) out to be "evil" and immediately the other sects of Heathens like to then lump the Lokeans/Rokkatruars with the Thursatruars.
Please understand when you read this that we do not all believe this, and it is a very different practice.
You can read some more about it here:
Lokeans for Dummies
Asatru for Dummies