northern belief about religion

[98] These writers often presented paganism as being based on deceit or delusion;[99] some stated that the Old Norse gods had been humans falsely euhemerised as deities. [221][222] "Þrymskviða" also mentions the goddess Vár as consecrating marriages; Snorri Sturluson states in Gylfaginning that she hears the vows men and women make to each other, but her name probably means "beloved" rather than being etymologically connected to Old Norse várar, "vows". 5, 11–12. The main belief in the Baptist church is Baptism. This world was inhabited also by various other mythological races, including giants, dwarfs, elves, and land-spirits. [25] During this period, the Norse interacted closely with other ethno-cultural and linguistic groups, such as the Sámi, Balto-Finns, Anglo-Saxons, Greenlandic Inuit, and various speakers of Celtic and Slavic languages. They were well-known for their success in trade, canoe-building, navigation, fishing and hunting. On the positive side, the book's scope is pretty good. [289] Some pictorial evidence, most notably that of the picture stones, intersect with the mythologies recorded in later texts. Hedeager, "Scandinavian 'Central Places'", pp. [208][209][210] In the early centuries of the Common Era, huge numbers of destroyed weapons were placed in wetlands: mostly spears and swords, but also shields, tools, and other equipment. Sources. [28], In Hilda Ellis Davidson's words, present-day knowledge of Old Norse religion contains "vast gaps", and we must be cautious and avoid "bas[ing] wild assumptions on isolated details". Scholars reconstruct aspects of North Germanic religion by historical linguistics, archaeology, toponymy, and records left by North Germanic peoples, such as runic inscriptions in the Younger Futhark, a distinctly North Germanic extension of the runic alphabet. Andrén, "Old Norse and Germanic Religion", p. 855. An old word for goddess may be dís, which is preserved as the name of a group of female supernatural beings. [96], By the 12th century, Christianity was firmly established across Northwestern Europe. [169], According to Snorri, while one half of the slain go to Valhalla, the other go to Frejya's hall, Fólkvangr, and that those who die from disease or old age go to a realm known as Hel;[170] it was here that Baldr went after his death. Various forms of burial were conducted, including both inhumation and cremation, typically accompanied by a variety of grave goods. [85] Haakon was killed in 995 and Olaf Tryggvason, the next king, took power and enthusiastically promoted Christianity; he forced high-status Norwegians to convert, destroyed temples, and killed those he called 'sorcerers'. Belief in fairy folk: These beliefs are almost died out now, but for many centuries the Irish were convinced of the existence of magical creatures such as leprechauns, pookas, selkies (seal-folk), merrows (mer-people) and the dreaded Banshee. [304] Many regarded pre-Christian religion as singular and unchanging, directly equated religion with nation, and projected modern national borders onto the Viking Age past. [227] In other cases, such as in Iceland, cemeteries show very little evidence of it. [109] There was no single authoritative version of a particular myth, and variation over time and from place to place is presumed, rather than "a single unified body of thought". Their beliefs were based in animism, where the natural world interacts with a supernatural world. [95] For those living in isolated areas, pre-Christian beliefs likely survived longer,[96] while others continued as survivals in folklore. [293] Thor is usually recognised in depictions by his carrying of Mjöllnir. There they waited until Ragnarok, when they would fight alongside the Æsir. [15] Following Christianity's arrival, Old Norse terms that were used for the pre-Christian systems were forn sið ("old custom") or heiðinn sið ("heathen custom"),[15] terms which suggest an emphasis on rituals, actions, and behaviours rather than belief itself. [293], Another image that recurs in Norse artwork from this period is the valknut (the term is modern, not Old Norse). [60], During the Viking Age, Norse people left Scandinavia and settled elsewhere throughout Northwestern Europe. 178–80. [150] A different account is provided in Vafþrúðnismál, which describes the world being made from the components of Ymir's body: the earth from his flesh, the mountains from his bones, the sky from his skull, and the sea from his blood. [53], Andrén described Old Norse religion as a "cultural patchwork" which emerged under a wide range of influences, both from earlier Scandinavian religions and elements introduced from elsewhere. The book provides a cursory look at archaeology of sacred spaces, some linguistic issues and some basic reviews of myths and legends. [239] In contrast seiðr and the related spæ, which could involve both magic and divination,[240] were practised mostly by women, known as vǫlur and spæ-wives, often in a communal gathering at a client's request. In the Middle Ages, several Christian commentators also wrote about Scandinavian paganism, mostly from a hostile perspective. Because their ancestral lands are evergreen forests, the Haida became skilled woodcarvers. [177], Textual accounts suggest a spectrum of rituals, from large public events to more frequent private and family rites, which would have been interwoven with daily life. They carved wooden dance rattles, batons, effigies and panels engraved with spiritual imagery, and also painted spirits on canoes and houses. [199] Mentions of people being "sentenced to sacrifice" and of the "wrath of the gods" against criminals suggest a sacral meaning for the death penalty;[200] in Landnamabók the method of execution is given as having the back broken on a rock. Some of the goddesses—Skaði, Rindr, Gerðr—are of giant origins. Masks were an important part of Haida culture and religious practice. breach of a taboo) and proximate causes (e.g. [145] Most scholars believe the jǫtnar were not worshipped, although this has been questioned. It is simply impossible to list all varieties of religion 1 as we as a species have created an almost infinite variety of religious and transcendental ideas. [266][267][268] Based on the dearth of archaeological evidence for dedicated cult houses, particularly under early church buildings in Scandinavia, where they were expected to be found, and additionally on Tacitus' statement in Germania that the Germanic tribes did not confine their deities to buildings,[269] many scholars have believed hofs to be largely a Christian idea of pre-Christian practice. [36] A large amount of mythological poetry has undoubtedly been lost. [193], The texts frequently allude to human sacrifice. [26] Enslaved individuals from the British Isles were common throughout the Nordic world during the Viking Age. [90], Across Germanic Europe, conversion to Christianity was closely connected to social ties; mass conversion was the norm, rather than individual conversion. 2 Regional Cuisine While America's culinary offerings are diverse, the North and South have regional cuisines that showcase some of … The book looks at Northern European beliefs, myths, and archaeology and seeks to build a general picture of pagan religions among Celtic and Germanic peoples. [193][204] For example, at Birka a decapitated young man was placed atop an older man buried with weapons, and at Gerdrup, near Roskilde, a woman was buried alongside a man whose neck had been broken. [236], The gods were associated with two distinct forms of magic. Theophoric place-names, including instances where a pair of deity names occur in close proximity, provide an indication of the importance of the cult of those deities in different areas, dating back to before our earliest written sources. [216], Old Norse sources also describe rituals for adoption (the Norwegian Gulaþing Law directs the adoptive father, followed by the adoptive child, then all other relatives, to step in turn into a specially made leather shoe) and blood brotherhood (a ritual standing on the bare earth under a specially cut strip of grass, called a jarðarmen). There are documented accounts of encounters with both Thor and Odin, along with a belief in Freja's power over fertility. [104] Snorri was also part of this revived interest, examining pagan myths from his perspective as a cultural historian and mythographer. They sang songs and told stories, which were passed on through successive generations. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe - Kindle edition by Davidson, Dr Hilda Ellis, Davidson, Hilda Ellis. [149] [293] Iconographic material suggesting other deities are less common that those connected to Thor. Some churches use a sprinkling of water as Baptism, but most practice full immersion, where the candidate is fully immersed in water.This symbolizes the disciples’ own baptism as stated in John 3. [149] Some of the features of this myth, such as the cow Audumbla, are of unclear provenance; Snorri does not specify where he obtained these details as he did for other parts of the myths, and it may be that these were his own personal inventions. Revivalist fervor swept the northern United States in the early 19 th century. [224], Grave goods feature in both inhumation and cremation burials. [151], In Snorri's Gylfaginning, it is again stated that the Old Norse cosmogony began with a belief in Ginnungagap, the void. [54] The Germanic languages likely emerged in the first millennium BCE in present-day northern Germany or Denmark, after which they spread; several of the deities in Old Norse religion have parallels among other Germanic societies. [218] The bride wore a linen veil or headdress; this is mentioned in the Eddic poem "Rígsþula". [16] The earliest known usage of the Old Norse term heiðinn is in the poem Hákonarmál; its uses here indicates that the arrival of Christianity has generated consciousness of Old Norse religion as a distinct religion. [155] Grímnismál also claims that Yggdrasil has three roots; under one resides the goddess Hel, under another the frost-giants, and under the third humanity. It may be called “Norse religion”, “Teutonic” or “Germanic Religion”, “Ásatrú”, “Odinism”, or other names by those who are returning to its practice today. Simek, "Odin's (self-)sacrifice", p. 249. [197] In Gautreks saga, people sacrifice themselves during a famine by jumping off cliffs,[198] and both the Historia Norwegiæ and Heimskringla refer to the willing death of King Dómaldi as a sacrifice after bad harvests. [127] The status of Loki within the pantheon is problematic, and according to "Lokasenna" and "Vǫluspá" and Snorri's explanation, he is imprisoned beneath the earth until Ragnarok, when he will fight against the gods. [305], "Norse religion" redirects here. From this emerged two realms, the icy, misty Niflheim and the fire-filled Muspell, the latter ruled over by fire-giant, Surtr. [298] Also inspired by these Old Norse and Germanic tales was J. R. R. Tolkien, who used them in creating his legendarium, the fictional universe in which he set novels like The Lord of the Rings. [173] In these thirteenth century sources, ghosts (Draugr) are capable of haunting the living. [121] This practice has been interpreted as heathen past influenced by the Christian cult of the saints. [30] It is nevertheless unclear what function these picture-stones had or what they meant to the communities who produced them. [143] They are described as both the ancestors and enemies of the gods. Among the most widespread deities were the gods Odin and Thor. The Moravian Church is sometimes confused as its own religion, one that is similar to the Mormon or Amish faiths, but in fact it's not a separate religion. Andrén, "Old Norse and Germanic Religion", p. 855. Classroom is the educational resource for people of all ages. [30], Oðinn has been identified on various gold bracteates produced from the fifth and sixth centuries. Regions, communities, and social classes likely varied in the gods they venerated more or at all. Hamingjur, dísir and swanmaidens are female supernatural figures of uncertain stature within the belief system; the dísir may have functioned as tutelary goddesses. [201] Such a practice may have been connected to the execution of criminals or of prisoners of war;[202] on the other hand, some textual mentions of a person being "offered" to a deity, such as a king offering his son, may refer to a non-sacrificial "dedication". Among those who do observe a religion, the primary religion in the North is Roman Catholicism, while Southern Baptists are the most common group in the South. [265], Several of the sagas refer to cult houses or temples, generally called in Old Norse by the term hof. [233], The myth preserved in the Eddic poem "Hávamál" of Odin hanging for nine nights on Yggdrasill, sacrificed to himself and dying in order to secure knowledge of the runes and other wisdom in what resembles an initiatory rite,[234][235] is evidence of mysticism in Old Norse religion. The Old Norse word brúðhlaup has cognates in many other Germanic languages and means "bride run"; it has been suggested that this indicates a tradition of bride-stealing, but other scholars including Jan de Vries interpreted it as indicating a rite of passage conveying the bride from her birth family to that of her new husband. [57] Accounts from this time were produced by Tacitus; according to the scholar Gabriel Turville-Petre, Tacitus' observations "help to explain" later Old Norse religion. The Tsimshian are native to Alaska's Annette Island and the northwest coast of British Columbia near Prince Rupert. [253] However, the scholar Jan de Vries regarded seiðr as an indigenous shamanic development among the Norse,[254][255] and the applicability of shamanism as a framework for interpreting Old Norse practices, even seiðr, is disputed by some scholars. [241] Some of the cult houses which have been found are located within what archaeologists call "central places": settlements with various religious, political, judicial, and mercantile functions. In the early 19th century, the Lewis and Clark Expedition made contact with the Chinook and described them as a peaceful, prosperous people. [284] However, there are exceptions. [251] Since the 19th century, some scholars have sought to interpret other aspects of Old Norse religion itself by comparison with shamanism;[252] for example, Odin's self-sacrifice on the World Tree has been compared to Finno-Ugric shamanic practices. The Saga of Hákon the Good in Heimskringla states that there were obligatory blóts, at which animals were slaughtered and their blood, called hlaut, sprinkled on the altars and the inside and outside walls of the temple, and ritual toasts were drunk during the ensuing sacrificial feast; the cups were passed over the fire and they and the food were consecrated with a ritual gesture by the chieftain; King Hákon, a Christian, was forced to participate but made the sign of the cross. See disclaimer. This movement created a North-South split in Europe, where generally Northern countries became Protestant, while Southern countries remained Catholic. For example, "theism" is any religion that contains god(s), and "polytheism" is a form of theism. Andrén, "Behind 'Heathendom'", pp. [281] In Old Norse society, religious authority was harnessed to secular authority; there was no separation between economic, political, and symbolic institutions. 326–27. Along with masked performances, Haida people celebrated with communal feasts called potlatches. [130] Ancestor veneration may have played a part in the private religious practices of Norse people in their farmsteads and villages;[131][132] in the 10th century, Norwegian pagans attempted to encourage the Christian king Haakon to take part in an offering to the gods by inviting him to drink a toast to the ancestors alongside a number of named deities. [citation needed], It is harder to find ritualised deposits on dry land. [198] It is possible that some of the bog bodies recovered from peat bogs in northern Germany and Denmark and dated to the Iron Age were human sacrifices. [155] It also claims that a serpent gnaws at its roots while a deer grazes from its higher branches; a squirrel runs between the two animals, exchanging messages. The general Old Norse word for the goddesses is Ásynjur, which is properly the feminine of Æsir. [275][280], There is no evidence of a professional priesthood among the Norse, and rather cultic activities were carried out by members of the community who also had other social functions and positions. [273] The building site at Hofstaðir, near Mývatn in Iceland, which was a particular focus of Olsen's work, has since been re-excavated and the layout of the building and further discoveries of the remains of ritually slaughtered animals now suggest that it was a cult house until ritually abandoned. 4. [247] Practitioners such as Þorbjörg Lítilvölva in the Saga of Erik the Red appealed to spirit helpers for assistance. The 2011 UK census showed 40.8% Catholic, 19.1% Presbyterian Church, with the Church of Ireland having 13.7% and the Methodist Church 5.0%. Shamans wore decorative masks and went into trances while performing healing rituals. [158] The Ragnarok story suggests that the idea of an inescapable fate pervaded Norse world-views. [27] Different elements of Old Norse religion had different origins and histories; some aspects may derive from deep into prehistory, others only emerging following the encounter with Christianity. [224][225] Both cremations and inhumations are found throughout Scandinavia,[224][226] but in Viking Age Iceland there were inhumations but, with one possible exception, no cremations. [175], In mythological accounts, the deity most closely associated with death is Oðinn. [211] This practice extended to non-Scandinavian areas inhabited by Norse people; for example in Britain, a sword, tools, and the bones of cattle, horses and dogs were deposited under a jetty or bridge over the River Hull. The archaeologist Anders Andrén noted that "Old Norse religion" is "the conventional name" applied to the pre-Christian religions of Scandinavia. Items in lower case italics are classes of religion and not actual religions. Of the originally heathen works, we cannot know what changes took place either during oral transmission or as a result of their being recorded by Christians;[34][35] the sagas of Icelanders, in particular, are now regarded by most scholars as more or less historical fiction rather than as detailed historical records. [152] A river produced by these realms coagulated to form Ymir, while a cow known as Audumbla then appeared to provide him with milk. The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest -- in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington and Oregon -- each have their own history, culture and religious traditions. [298] By the 21st century, Old Norse religion was regarded as one of the best known non-Christian religions from Europe, alongside that of Greece and Rome. [159] There is much evidence that Völuspá was influenced by Christian belief,[160] and it is also possible that the theme of conflict being followed by a better future—as reflected in the Ragnarok story—perhaps reflected the period of conflict between paganism and Christianity. Magnus Olsen developed a typology of such place-names in Norway, from which he posited a development in pagan worship from groves and fields toward the use of temple buildings. [134][135], The norns are female figures who determine individuals' fate. Norse society also contained practitioners of Seiðr, a form of sorcery which some scholars describe as shamanistic. In both Landnámabók and Eyrbyggja saga, members of a family who particularly worshipped Thor are said to have passed after death into the mountain Helgafell (holy mountain), which was not to be defiled by bloodshed or excrement, or even to be looked at without washing first. In particular, he is connected with death by hanging; this is apparent in Hávamál, a poem found in the Poetic Edda. [295] A bronze figurine from Rällinge in Södermanland has been attributed to Freyr because it has a big phallus, and a silver pendant from Aska in Östergötland has been seen as Freya because it wears a necklace that could be Brisingamen. The Haida live in Alaska, Prince of Wales Island and British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands. [223], Burial of the dead is the Norse rite of passage about which we have most archaeological evidence. [270][271], Since Olsen's survey, however, archaeological evidence of temple buildings has come to light in Scandinavia. [108] The myths were transmitted purely orally until the end of the period, and were subject to variation; one key poem, "Vǫluspá", is preserved in two variant versions in different manuscripts,[e] and Snorri's retelling of the myths sometimes varies from the other textual sources that are preserved.

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