Iceland builds temple to the Norse gods

Iceland builds temple to the Norse gods February 3, 2015

In the once firmly Lutheran nation of Iceland, some residents are erecting a temple to the Norse gods. From Iceland to Build First Temple to Norse Gods since the Viking Age, UK Guardian:

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.  Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.

Membership in Asatruarfelagid 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.  The temple will be circular and will be dug 4 metres (13ft) down into a hill overlooking the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, with a dome on top to let in the sunlight. . . .

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.

Well, how pagan are they really, if they don’t believe in Odin and won’t sacrifice animals?  And, as Todd asks, who alerted me to this story, “why anyone would bother building a temple to a metaphor?”  This sounds like a highly-domesticated version of the old Berserker religion, with all the trappings of church (baptizing babies, confirming teenagers, having weddings and funerals), with little of how the Vikings actually worshiped.  Or maybe it’s just liberal paganism, parallel with liberal Christianity.

(Lars Walker, resident expert in all things Norse, help us out here!)

HT:  Todd

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