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Thread: Iceland Is Officially Worshiping Norse Gods Again

  1. #21
    Senior Member Plantagenet's Avatar
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    The problem with these theories is that there is a living form of Indo-European paganism which springs from the same source as Germanic paganism, namely the Hindu tradition, and it is very "religious", metaphysical, and very concerned with truth indeed and behind the polytheistic surface lies a monistic depth.

    Based on what we know about the Druids, the Indo-European pagan tradition closest to the Germanic one both in space and culture, is that they taught an immortal/indestructible spirit, transmigration, cycles of time, and were concerned with attaining wisdom, i.e. direct insight or access to what they called the "Otherworld", which was conceived as a timeless and eternal realm coexistent with the world we are familiar with.

    It is also known that ancient Germanic pagans engaged in spiritual practices. To take two examples, there was utiseta, which was "sitting out" on a power place like a grave, which is quite similar to Indian yogis who meditate at charnel grounds. Another is galdr, a spell or incantation that was apparently repetitive in nature and hence similar to Indian practices like mantra.

    As is apparent from the above, the ancient pagans also firmly believed in the existence of magic (the Runes being magic and Odin being a master of magic and runic wisdom, i.e. insight into spiritual realities) and also believed all of nature as being animated and alive with spiritual powers. They also all believed in postmortem life of some form or another, perhaps differing for nobles/heroes/sages and commoners but nonetheless a belief in life persisting beyond the grave.

    In short, the ancient pagans were "religious", saw the sacred and magic all around them, believed in Absolute Truth/eternity, truly believed in the gods who were more than just personification of natural forces, engaged in spiritual practices, rituals, etc.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plantagenet View Post
    In short, the ancient pagans were "religious", saw the sacred and magic all around them, believed in Absolute Truth/eternity, truly believed in the gods who were more than just personification of natural forces, engaged in spiritual practices, rituals, etc.
    While I find your post interesting, I am not at all convinced that the heathens of old even had a concept of 'Absolute Truth'. I do not mean that they emphasized a subjectivity or even where aware of that; I just don't think they had institutions or methods to 'measure' an individuals' adherence to orthodoxy.

    Not that it would matter to me btw. I don't feel compelled to repeat any of my ancestor's erroneous conceptions, even the ones that for the time and age, are impressive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hornedhelm View Post
    Great post, Quaestor.

    I've always felt that polytheistic religions were developed out of necessity to explain natural phenomenon, both in nature and human personality. This is why most of the gods serve some function such as providing winds, rain, sunlight etc while also having very human personalities and flaws.
    I'm not convinced that it was this literally, and I do not think that people back in that time actually litterally believed that e.g. thunder was caused by Donar's/Thor's/Þórs chariot. They might have been personifications of natural phenomenons, rather then explanations; a subtle difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by hornedhelm View Post
    Monotheistic religions seem to have evolved from polytheistic roots, but I've always wondered why? Where did we get the idea of one all powerful being? Why the shift? I've heard it said that it was easier to consolidate power that way. Maybe the Victor in warring tribes would subjugate the losing tribe into worshipping their cult/ gods.

    Thoughts?
    I think this is some form of degeneration (not primarily in a moral sense, but in the extent that one is rooted in the physical environment). Initially the Hebrews in Israel worshipped one god, but they did recognize at least the nominal existence of Baäl etc.: the gods of rival tribes. They did not worship these, but recognized their existence (although it is up for interpretation whether they only acknowledged the existence of these deities' cults, or really thought these 'idol gods' did exist in a similar way as their 'YHWH adonai' existed. Also there seems to have been a period in ancient Israel, where YHWH had a companion goddess as his wife. So, when the Jews where more in resonance with their physical environment, the cult of YHWH seems to have been less fully monotheistic.

    I'm contriving and speculating here now, of course. Also, Akhnaton's cult probably predated the Hebrew monotheism, but Akhnaton was also not very much in tune with his environment.

    In the European middle ages, there was one god, but also one Satan, and a huge number of Angels and Demons, so how monotheistic where the people back then?

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    Back for Thor: How Iceland is Reconnecting with its Pagan Past

    Interest in the Norse myths revived, as elsewhere, in the late 19th century, and again in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Edda manuscripts were returned to Iceland from Denmark.
    On Thursday, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, who lives near Reykjavík, flew to the tiny fishing town of Höfn on Iceland’s coast to conduct a marriage ceremony.

    He is not a churchman or a registrar; in fact, he is a pioneering film composer and musician who has collaborated with Sigur Rós and Björk among others. But thanks to his position as high priest of Iceland’s neo-pagan Ásatrúarfélagið or Asatru Association, he has an authority formally recognised by the Icelandic state to conduct marriages, name children and bury the dead.

    The ceremony itself, Hilmarsson said shortly before departing, would be a simple one: after performing a hallowing ritual to sanctify the space, he would read from one of Iceland’s celebrated epic poems and then invoke three ancient Norse gods and, “as a countermeasure”, three goddesses including the fertility deity Freyja. The couple would then grasp a large copper ring and make vows to each other, and that would largely be that. “It’s a short ceremony; there’s no preaching because the idea is it’s the couple who are marrying themselves, and I just sanctify that.”

    Hilmarsson has conducted more than 200 weddings during his time as high priest, but he and the Norse pantheon of Thor, Odin, Freyr and Frigg are likely to find themselves even busier in future. In the 12 years since he took over its leadership, membership of the Ásatrúarfélagið, which the Icelandic government recognises as a formal state religion, has increased sixfold. In March, after decades of planning, the group will start building what is almost certainly the first temple to the pagan Norse deities since Iceland was officially converted to Christianity in 1000AD.

    Not that this is a religion like many others. He may be building a temple to Thor and his fellows, but Hilmarsson says he doesn’t pray to the Norse gods or worship them in any recognisable sense, nor does he believe in the literal truth of the texts – the treasure-trove of 13th century Icelandic “Eddas” recording the mythology of earlier times – on which the religion is based. He cheerfully admits that the rituals and blods or gatherings that the group practises are no more than creative reimaginings of how pre-Christian Norse people related to their deities.

    “So yes, it’s partly a ‘romantiquarianism,’” he says of his faith. “But at the same time, we feel that this is a viable way of life and has a meaning and a context. It is a religion you can live and die in, basically.”

    Happily for him and the group’s 3,000 members, the Icelandic government agrees, meaning that the organisation is entitled to a share of the religious taxes that each Icelandic citizen is obliged to pay. The result, after more than a decade of careful saving, will be the wooden-clad new temple or hof, built on a quiet section of Reykjavík’s shore with a wall of south-facing glass designed to capture the rising and setting sun on the shortest day of the year.

    There, the group will gather for weekly study and for the five main feasts of the year when, under the leadership of a robe-clad Hilmarsson, they will gather around a central fire, recite the poems, make sacrificial drink offerings to the gods – unlike some pagan groups they do not practise animal sacrifice – and feast on sacred horsemeat. (Is it roasted on the fire? “Oh no,” laughs Hilmarsson. “We have caterers.”)

    By the time the Icelandic Eddas were written down in the 13th century, an active belief in the pantheon of historic gods they describe was already archaic. For centuries, however, the Viking world from Iceland to the Black Sea had been shaped by belief in the central world-tree of Yggdrasil, the hammer-wielding god Thor, the one-eyed, raven-attended Odin and a host of elves, trolls and nature spirits. Rosa Thorsteinsdóttir, a folklorist at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Icelandic Studies who has been collecting and archiving the country’s oral legends, says it is impossible to know whether the pre-Christian stories survived in the oral folklore after the country’s conversion, but even after a millennium of Christianity, nature beliefs never quite died out. “People tell fairy stories of the hidden people; there are nature spirits that walk over the country and you should not disturb them. These stories are alive.”

    Her own name, she notes, is derived from Thor’s stone – “there are many, many names in Iceland linked with Thor”.

    Interest in the Norse myths revived, as elsewhere, in the late 19th century, and again in the spiritually conscious 1960s and early 1970s, when the Edda manuscripts were returned to Iceland from Denmark.

    The reason for the recent flowering in neo-paganism among Iceland’s young is less easily explained, however. On a mild Wednesday evening in central Reykjavík, a group of a dozen or so members have gathered for the organisation’s weekly reading group, to pore over the elder Edda. Several of those present are in their 50s, but more than half are twentysomethings. The atmosphere is less that of a ritualised session or religious prayer meeting than a lively Chaucerian study group with beer and biscuits, in which members interrupt a lively debate to share their delight in a favourite image or metaphor.

    Linus Orri, a thoughtful 25-year-old environmental activist, says he thinks the group’s appeal lies in the fact that “in a world that is quite artificial, here there seems to be an interest in the real, something authentic – whether that’s searching for some older wisdom or the truth about how society was, or whether it’s [our] commitment to nature, I can’t really say”.

    “Also, the group is so incredibly inclusive. You get a really unpretentious group of people for some reason. Nobody would pretend to be having a conversation with Thor, for example.”

    For Sólveig Anna Bóasdóttir, a professor of theology and ethics at the University of Iceland, the growth of paganism may be explained by the country’s complicated relationship with religion – in one sense, Iceland is a highly secular society, but she says 90% of 14-year-olds still undergo confirmation in the state Lutheran church, which remains rich and powerful thanks to the country’s religious taxation.

    “In Iceland we don’t really have this situation with the evangelical churches on the rise. Rather, it would be these alternatives that are quite moderate, like the Ásatrúarfélagið, that hold the appeal. People respect them.”

    The country’s financial crisis since 2008 has been another factor, says Sigurboði Grétarsson, a musician and active member in his 20s.

    “We don’t have a separation of church and state. While our healthcare is in the drain, the church is getting millions and millions. People are getting fed up and wanting to go back to heathenism, to the roots.”

    (The Guardian)
    http://whiteresister.com/index.php/1...its-pagan-past

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    As the Nazis understood, it is not the religion itself. It is the fact the religion is a product of that particular culture which is important. So in reinforcing this particular religion, the whole culture is being reinforced. With humans, culture and biology are closely connected as in no other creature. There is an actual feed back loop between the two. So reinforcing the religion of that culture reinforces the culture which reinforces the Icelandic people as biologic entity.

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    https://icelandmag.is/article/asatru...ligion-iceland

    The old Norse paganism is doing great in Iceland. According to figures from Statistics Iceland 3,583 people belonged to Ásatrúarfélagið, the pagan association, on January 1. The membership has grown by 244% since 2007, making paganism the fastest growing religion in Iceland over the past decade.
    Pagans making a comeback after a millennium
    The figures show that the share of Pagans in Iceland now tops 1% of the population for the first time for nearly a millennium. In the year 1000 Christianity was adopted as the national religion of Iceland by the Viking age commonwealth parliament, Althingi at Þingvellir. While it was still permissible to observe the old religion in private, the old pagan ways quickly receded in the face of Christianity. Now, 1000 years later the old Norse paganism Ásatrú is making a comeback.

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