Sometime around the year 1,000 A.D., the people of Iceland converted to Christianity. The old Norse religion was eventually stamped out—although some syncretic elements endure to this day. Now the tide is shifting. A modern revival of the worship of traditional Norse gods, including Thor and Odin, has prompted some believers to begin building the first major Norse temple that Iceland has seen in a millennium. The Guardian reports on the growing movement:
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.
“We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
Membership in Ásatrúarfélagið 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 new temple just outside of the capital city of Reykjavik will host weddings, funerals, initiation rites, naming ceremonies, and other neo-pagan ceremonies:
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.
-via Marginal Revolution