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Thread: How 'Pagan' Was Norse Paganism?

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taras Bulba
    Evidence of shamanism has been found globally in isolated regions of the Americas, Asia, Africa, regions of Europe and Australia.[/b]
    The word shamanism has been used to describe applied animism (in general) but in the most accurate use, it refers to the northern Eurasian and American cultures and it is found mostly in cold climate lands over 50 degrees latitude. The shamanism of northern Indo-European cultures shares a set of ceremonies and values with Siberia and Hokkaido at the other end of Eurasia which include the bear cult and the use of fly agaric as just two examples of this continuity of beliefs.

    True, and many in the ancient world mistook Christianity as another mystery cult. But the charge Christianity borrowed elements or is based off these mystery cults is unfounded. Much of what Christianity "borrowed" was more artistic or cultural in nature. Or example, its charged that Christianity took halos and angels from these mystery cults. Not true, both can be found in the Bible. What Christianity did borrowed however, is how angels and halos are artistically depicted. This was not uncommon in the ancient world, however.
    The Mystery cults are known to have shared an Eastern Mediterranean origin with the Bible so I don't understand why the Old Testament changes anything about pre-Christian ideas in Christianity.

    Indeed, as I keep saying Christianity is both an organized and folk religion. Paganism is largely a folk religion but not organized. Fletcher explains thats one reason why Christianity one, because it had the union and discipline of organized religion to overcome the varied and divided paganisms; yet at the same time incorpated the folk religious elements that were held dear to pagans. They switched from one form of folk religion(paganism) to another (folk Christianity).
    The Northern religion was becoming organised through social evolution at the time when Christianity arrived there, because the presence of religious organisation is associated with social complexity. This is why Christianity, as a Mediterranean religion, was more organised than the cults in the northern societies.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    I will address at least some of atlanto-med's arguments tommorrow hopefully. This will be a work in progress.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    I'll deal with what I can at the moment. Sorry people, as I said in one thread, Im short on time and will not be able to get into much details with discussions.

    Quote Originally Posted by atlanto-med
    The word shamanism has been used to describe applied animism (in general) but in the most accurate use, it refers to the northern Eurasian and American cultures and it is found mostly in cold climate lands over 50 degrees latitude. The shamanism of northern Indo-European cultures shares a set of ceremonies and values with Siberia and Hokkaido at the other end of Eurasia which include the bear cult and the use of fly agaric as just two examples of this continuity of beliefs.
    Alright.....Im going to have to get back to you on this. I know Im saying this alot...but I will.

    The Mystery cults are known to have shared an Eastern Mediterranean origin with the Bible so I don't understand why the Old Testament changes anything about pre-Christian ideas in Christianity.
    Well theres already a thread about this that I plan on discussing with Alkman, so I'd prefer we keep it there. Although for now, here's what Peter Brown had to say about this.

    “We tend to think only in terms of ‘pagan survivals’ within the Church. We do not often give attention to the adaptation, by non-Christians, of Christian rituals….A lively process of the borrowing of rituals between pagans and Christians appears to have taken place in both directions. Pagan communities borrowed Christian signs and rites. The sign of the Cross would be made sacrificial banquets. The names of Christian angels and saints would be shouted at the solemn toasts around the table. Above all, monks and clergymen came to offer services which non-Christian ritual specialists had previously provided.”
    --Peter Brown The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity AD 200-1000 Pg.153


    The Northern religion was becoming organised through social evolution at the time when Christianity arrived there, because the presence of religious organisation is associated with social complexity. This is why Christianity, as a Mediterranean religion, was more organised than the cults in the northern societies.
    Yes Fletcher notes how at least the Baltic pagans tried to build an organized religion around their paganism, but in the end they failed. And this may get back to what Jonathan Kirsch noted that a "Pagan church" is a contradiction in terms. The union and discipline of organized religion is alien to paganism, and Kirsch was noting about classical paganism not Northern paganism. Julian the Apostate tried to build a pagan church, yet that didnt go far even among fellow pagans. So I dont think the argument of Christianity being a Mediterranean religion really stands much.

    As for social evolution, Fletcher noted that conversion to Christianity played a big part in this. Whenever a ruler converted, he soon had access to some of the best political advisors in the world. This was certainly the case with Prince Volodymyr in Kieven Rus, with the help of Byzantine advisors he united the Rus. Volodymyr tried to unite the Rus under the pagan banner of Perun, but that failed.

    Oh well hopefully this sunday I'll be able to figure out more and get back to this.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    Here's another interesting quote from Peter Brown that I mentioned about the presence of folk Christianity existing under pagan domination in Britain. Many people thought Christianity was eliminated under pagan rule, but this was not the case.

    “Nor had Christianity vanished entirely from the Saxon areas of Britain. The Saxons of eastern Britain were overtly pagan. But this did not exclude considerable ‘subliminal’ awareness of Christianity. They had ‘Welsh’ slaves, and, in many areas, pagan Saxon lords controlled a peasantry for whom Christianity had survived, even without an organized clergy, as a ‘folk religion’. Such ‘folk Christianity’, practiced by the conquered people, was largely invisible to outsiders. Irish Christians in Iona wrote of the ‘whole of the land of Saxons’ as ‘darkened by the shadow of heathendom and ignorance.’ The monks sent by Gregory evidently felt the same. Yet, when Augustine finally arrived in Kent, in 597, he soon learned that the shrine of a local Christian martyr, called Sixtus, was visited by the Britons of Kent. The shrine dated from Roman times. The Britons themselves knew little about the martyr; but they had continued to worship at his grave. What Augustine encountered was a humbled, but recognizable, remnant of what had once been a community of Romano-British Christians. Such communities must have existed elsewhere, in other parts of ‘Saxon’ Britain.”
    --Peter Brown The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity AD 200-1000 pg. 341-2

    Whats interesting is that this is direct contradiction of the common stereotype we have of the peasents secretly practicing paganism as a folk religion while under the domination of Christian authorities. And as Brown notes, this folk Christianity existed throughout Europe during this period. So folk religion is not a pagan monolopy.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taras Bulba
    Well theres already a thread about this that I plan on discussing with Alkman, so I'd prefer we keep it there. Although for now, here's what Peter Brown had to say about this.

    “We tend to think only in terms of ‘pagan survivals’ within the Church. We do not often give attention to the adaptation, by non-Christians, of Christian rituals….A lively process of the borrowing of rituals between pagans and Christians appears to have taken place in both directions. Pagan communities borrowed Christian signs and rites. The sign of the Cross would be made sacrificial banquets. The names of Christian angels and saints would be shouted at the solemn toasts around the table. Above all, monks and clergymen came to offer services which non-Christian ritual specialists had previously provided.”
    --Peter Brown The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity AD 200-1000 Pg.153
    I appreciate that youre going to say more about this, but I dont understand what the borrowings from Christianity in other Mediterranean religions, have to do with the origins of Christianity in the Hellenised East. It just agrees with what Im saying about Christianity being a part of the Mediterranean world, like Mithraism was.

    Yes Fletcher notes how at least the Baltic pagans tried to build an organized religion around their paganism, but in the end they failed. And this may get back to what Jonathan Kirsch noted that a "Pagan church" is a contradiction in terms. The union and discipline of organized religion is alien to paganism, and Kirsch was noting about classical paganism not Northern paganism. Julian the Apostate tried to build a pagan church, yet that didnt go far even among fellow pagans. So I dont think the argument of Christianity being a Mediterranean religion really stands much.

    As for social evolution, Fletcher noted that conversion to Christianity played a big part in this. Whenever a ruler converted, he soon had access to some of the best political advisors in the world. This was certainly the case with Prince Volodymyr in Kieven Rus, with the help of Byzantine advisors he united the Rus. Volodymyr tried to unite the Rus under the pagan banner of Perun, but that failed.

    Oh well hopefully this sunday I'll be able to figure out more and get back to this.
    Unlike the northern cultures, the empire of Julian the Apostate had a state religion for centuries so I dont see why Julian is relevant to the northern evolution towards a state religion. My point was that a pagan state religion was emerging at this time in association with state formation, and with paralells in Koreo-Japan at the same time and from a similar shamanic foundation. I didnt say a state religion had been established in Germanic countries but that one was emerging, the cult of Gaut, and that it contrasted with a folk religion that was associated with fertility. Its this folk religion that survived Christianisation as folk Christianity, because the belief in Elves (a category that overlapped with the Vanir) continued outside the organised aspects of Christian religion.
    Last edited by morfrain_encilgar; Saturday, November 13th, 2004 at 07:24 AM.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taras Bulba
    Here's another interesting quote from Peter Brown that I mentioned about the presence of folk Christianity existing under pagan domination in Britain. Many people thought Christianity was eliminated under pagan rule, but this was not the case.
    I dont know why anyone would thinf folk Christianity would have been eliminated by the Saxons. The record of sources, shows that it certainly wasn't.

    However without a church, Briton folk Christianity would have been close to pre-Christian folk religion.

    Whats interesting is that this is direct contradiction of the common stereotype we have of the peasents secretly practicing paganism as a folk religion while under the domination of Christian authorities. And as Brown notes, this folk Christianity existed throughout Europe during this period. So folk religion is not a pagan monolopy.
    Folk religion is a concept applied to complex societies. It just relates to the seperation of folkish religion from organised aspects of religion, so naturally theres a folk Christianity as well as a pre-Christian folk religion. Theres continuity between the Christian and pre-Christian folk religions because the folk religion was Christianised, unlike the aristocratic religions, which were replaced.

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    Post Re: How 'pagan' was Norse paganism?

    I guess the rise of the Saxons under Duke Widukind in 782 was also a pagan reaction against violent christianization an a return to the old gods.
    I´m not quite sure how much the ancient norse an saxon worship differt from each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taras Bulba View Post
    Well the truth is we dont know what "paganism" really was. It had no consistent doctrine, it changed constantly generation after generation. Greeco-Roman Paganism by the fourth century AD was completely different from paganism of Classical times, in fact it was heavily Christianized.

    As for non-Classical paganism, we know little. Almost everything we know about non-Classical paganism is based on what Christian writers wrote often generations after conversion. As Fletcher said, we dont really know for sure what the pagans converted from. As for pagan "survivals", Fletcher deals with that brilliantly, saying that the Church often allowed them so as to make the transition for the pagans easier.



    Exactly, I cant believe somebody(not here, but elsewhere) actually claimed Revelation is based on Ragnarok. How is that possible? Revelation was written in the first century, and was officially added to the canon at Nicea. This just doesnt make sense.


    Actually a lot what is in the Bible came from Norse mythology and the European pagan religion speaks almost the same as other pagan religions which date back long before the Bible was written so Ragnarok could be the original story.

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    So what exactly is the argument for Valhalla being some kind of "heathenized" version of the Christian "heaven"?
    Just because it can be compared in a way doesn't mean that one has to be copied from the other.
    Valhalla isn't the only place in the higher realm of Asgard (at the top-level of Yggdrasil) where dead "spirits" could travel after physical death, according to the lore. Half of those who died a heroic death where taken to Freyja's Folkvangr.
    The other alternative were of course the lower, more shadowy realms of Helheim, ruled by the goddess Hel, who was associated with the realm of death itself, it seems - although also other gods such as Odin and Freyja (both having some aspects dealing with war) were associated with the phenomenon of death.
    Helheim didn't seem to be a particularly negative place to be, though. Perhaps not the highest and most glorious goal achieveable, but in no way some vengeance or punishment for having been "sinful" or anything like that. Rather it was a place you could rest out and be reunited with many of your dead ancestors.
    There's not anything particularly Abrahamic about having concepts of higher realms in the world.
    The only Christian thing in this area is the absolute distinction between the "almighty", "only" God on the one side, and the created, physical world on the other (with God being totally separated from the world).
    In paganism it seems that the concepts of different realms etc. was of a very interwoven nature, and not absolute opposites.
    The same can of course be said about the relationship between man and the Gods/divine forces of the world.

    As for Ragnarok, I can't see anything especially Christian/Abrahamic about this either.
    What else can this be than the start of a new cycle, and what's more pagan than that?
    Ragnarok is not some absolute endpoint at a linear conception of time and history, which takes humanity from point A (banned from the garden of Eden), to point B (Judgement's Day when JHVH again shall rule the world without opposition).
    Ragnarok is simply the understanding of the battle-like nature of the universe, and the interplay of chaos and order, unconsciousness and consciousness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olavsson View Post
    So what exactly is the argument for Valhalla being some kind of "heathenized" version of the Christian "heaven"?
    Just because it can be compared in a way doesn't mean that one has to be copied from the other.
    Valhalla isn't the only place in the higher realm of Asgard (at the top-level of Yggdrasil) where dead "spirits" could travel after physical death, according to the lore. Half of those who died a heroic death where taken to Freyja's Folkvangr.
    The other alternative were of course the lower, more shadowy realms of Helheim, ruled by the goddess Hel, who was associated with the realm of death itself, it seems - although also other gods such as Odin and Freyja (both having some aspects dealing with war) were associated with the phenomenon of death.
    Helheim didn't seem to be a particularly negative place to be, though. Perhaps not the highest and most glorious goal achieveable, but in no way some vengeance or punishment for having been "sinful" or anything like that. Rather it was a place you could rest out and be reunited with many of your dead ancestors.
    There's not anything particularly Abrahamic about having concepts of higher realms in the world.
    The only Christian thing in this area is the absolute distinction between the "almighty", "only" God on the one side, and the created, physical world on the other (with God being totally separated from the world).
    In paganism it seems that the concepts of different realms etc. was of a very interwoven nature, and not absolute opposites.
    The same can of course be said about the relationship between man and the Gods/divine forces of the world.

    As for Ragnarok, I can't see anything especially Christian/Abrahamic about this either.
    What else can this be than the start of a new cycle, and what's more pagan than that?
    Ragnarok is not some absolute endpoint at a linear conception of time and history, which takes humanity from point A (banned from the garden of Eden), to point B (Judgement's Day when JHVH again shall rule the world without opposition).
    Ragnarok is simply the understanding of the battle-like nature of the universe, and the interplay of chaos and order, unconsciousness and consciousness.
    The absolute best post in this thread

    And for the record, Heathenism lives inside every single, true Germanic soul. It's in there. You just have to tap it to release it. How do you do that you ask? It's extremely tiresome to try and explain. I think first and foremost we have to relieve the stress of trying to connect the pieces of the past. We are here NOW. And knowing the state of the world I think it is vital that every Heathen be a Traditionalist as well. Especially and specifically because of the current state of the world and our people. All of it is negative and destructive spiritually. Even the toughest and most calloused Germanic gets afflicted by media, sloth, manipulation, depression etc. from time to time. Also, the more you know about your ancestors and how they lived day to day the better. Because through the spirit of the ancient is how you will get reconnected to your true Pagan essence. It sounds like bullshit right? But it's the only way. But only if you're a true Germanic. If you're mixed with this and that and you're awfully materialistic and like "things" you're probably not a Germanic Heathen. All Heathens were born into this modern world with a serious chip on their shoulders from day 1! Like total and absolute rejection of xianity and problem with corrupted authority (schools, laws etc.), felt neglected and unwanted, outcasted ... which only afflicted us when we were young, naive and growing. A fully developed Heathen never feels rejected, we are above that emotion. Naturally born environmentalists. When I was always called a "liberal sympathizer" for being what is considered in america a "left-wing" ideal, environmentally aware. I have always been an environemntalist. In actuality it is a true Pagan and Conservative ideal. A natural connection to nature and a natural repulsion to christ. Do you see how this was conflicted inside of me? Once I turned 30, my eyes, heart, mind and spirit was awakened. WIDE. Heathenry is NOT a trend or a farce or a social club for misfits. We germanics have a natural DNA enforced connection to it. If you can't get connected through deep thought meditation and discipline, then either you are too far brainwashed or you are not Germanic. It is in our BLOOD. I don't have writing and history to prove it, I have zero physical evidence ... but I don't only believe it to be .. I KNOW IT TO BE.
    "The mystery and secret of Wotan is not that "knowledge" of him is passed along through clandestine cults or even through the re-discovery of old books and texts--but rather that such knowledge is actually encoded in a mysterious way in the DNA, in the very genetic material, of those who are descended from him." - Secret of the Gothick God of Darkness

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