After 1,000 years of Christianity, Iceland returns to Nordic paganism

by Veronica Coffin on February 3, 2015

 

 

Map of Iceland

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The West really is well into the post-Christian era, the implications of which I dread to ponder. Or didn’t you know that Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, contrary to the continuing malicious portrayal of them as Christian, actually were animated by a race-based nationalism founded on Nordic myths and gods. (See Eric Vieler, The Ideological Roots of German National Socialism.)

Reuters reports on Feb. 2, 2015 that although worship of pagan “gods” in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago, a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.

Membership in Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods, has tripled in Iceland in the last decade to 2,400 members last year, out of a total population of 330,000, data from Statistics Iceland showed.

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

Ásatrúarfélagið’s high priest Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson said, “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet. We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Note: In other words, this 21st century version of Nordic “faith” is Iceland’s version of wiccan.

The temple to the Norse gods will be circular and will be dug 13ft down into a hill overlooking the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, with a dome on top to let in the sunlight. Hilmarsson said, “The sun changes with the seasons so we are in a way having the sun paint the space for us.”

The temple will host ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. The group will also confer names to children and initiate teenagers, similar to other religious communities.

Iceland’s neo-pagans still celebrate the ancient sacrificial ritual of Blot with music, reading, eating and drinking, but nowadays leave out the slaughter of animals.

~Éowyn

 

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