Ásatrú is a bit more difficult to discuss when compared to the other Heathenrys we’ve considered in this series because it is not only the most populous of modern Heathenrys, but it is also the most varied and inclusive. Because of the anti-dogmatic and fiercely individualist stance of most Ásatrúar even the very term Ásatrú has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Therefore we are forced here to speak in even broader terms than in our comparisons to Odinism and Théodish Belief.
That being said, here are 10 differences between Irminenschaft and Ásatrú:
1. Modernism vs. reconstructionism: Ásatrúar attempt to reconstruct rituals and other aspects of ancient tradition in an attempt to rebuild a long dead religion leading to a resistance toward changes in belief and practice. Irminen practice a living tradition and honour living gods and do not find a need to reconstruct the ancient past.
2. Irminen rely on an authentic Heathen calendar. Ásatrúar rely on a reconstructed calendar.
3. Many Ásatrú circles are comfortable with “fringe” practices such as the worship of Locho (ON Loki) and soul-cunning (ON seiðR). Irminen find these practices reprehensible.
4. Irminenshaft is composed of German-descended people practicing a German expression of Heathenry. Ásatrú is composed of “Northern Europeans” practicing an Icelandic expression of Heathenry.
5. Irminic esoterica is based on Armanenschaft. Ásatrú esoterica is based on Odianism.
6. Irminenschaft, while encouraging civic action, does not lend itself directly to political involvement. Ásatrú has been consistently divided by various political agendas.
7. Regarding lore, Irminenschaft recognizes a broad canon with the understanding that many sources may be useful, but that the various sources must all be understood within appropriate contexts. Ásatrú recognizes a much narrower canon, reading anything written after the Thirteenth Century with suspicion.
8. Ásatrú bears an underlying connection to Viking romance. Irminenschaft lacks a connection to Vikings or anything similar.
9. Irminenschaft holds tightly to its orthopraxy and orthodoxy. Ásatrú is militantly anti-dogmatic.
10. Irminenschaft places its emphasis on the ancestors and wihtir. Ásatrú places its emphasis on the gods.
And now for some similarities:
1. Irminenschaft and Ásatrú share a laissez-faire social structure.
2. Both Irminen and Ásatrúar believe that an individual can foster an intimate relationship with a deity.
3. Neither Irminenschaft nor Ásatrú accept the notion of a sacral leader.
4. Both Irminenschaft and Ásatrú reject the notion that Heathendom is associated with neo-paganism or any other religious movement.
5. Irminen use a combination of Old High German and Armanic terminology as a liturgical language. Similarly, Ásatrúar use Old Norse and Modern Icelandic as a liturgical language.