Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nordic Paganism

Nordic Paganism Image
Nordic Paganism is a Reconstructionist form of Paganism. The primary source materials are literary texts written in medieval Iceland in the historical range of 1100 to 1300, in the Germanic-Scandinavian language variously known as Old Norse or Old Icelandic, which is indeed quite similar to modern Icelandic. These texts are believed by modern Nordic Pagans to preserve Pagan beliefs from long before Iceland’s conversion from Norse Paganism to Christianity in the year 1000, an event that will be discussed in a later section. Several categories of texts are important to modern Nordic Pagans. First, there is the collection of largely mythological poems known as the Poetic Edda, with individual Eddic poems providing accounts of the past creation and future destruction of the world, the nature of the Norse universe, and the adventures and misadventures of the various gods, as well as the exploits of certain nondivine heroes and heroines. Further information on the same topics is given in a supplementary text, the Prose Edda, written by the medieval Icelandic scholar and statesman Snorri Sturluson.

The leader of the Norse gods is Odin, the one-eyed god of wisdom, war, magic, and poetry, among other powers and functions. Other prominent Norse deities include Thor, the reliable protector of humankind who brandishes a hammer to smash malevolent giants and other foes; Tyr, god of war and oaths; Frigg, the wise wife of Odin; Baldur, the son of Odin, fated to first be slain by his own brother and then return from death to rule the world; Loki, the sometimes harmful, sometimes helpful god of guile and trickery; AEgir and Ran, god and goddess of the sea; Freyja, the goddess of fertility, love, and war; her twin brother Freyr, also associated with fertility; Njorthur, god of seafaring, fishing, and commerce and father of Freyja and Freyr; and Hel, the goddess of death. Other deities are described in less detail in the Old Norse literature, and other classes of supernatural beings such as Elves and Landspirits, worshipped in both ancient Norse tradition and modern Nordic Paganism.

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