Greinasafni: Icelandic Times
Cursing the Gods
While most people are familiar with the red-haired god of thunder Thor who smote his opponents with his mighty hammer Mjölnir, not as many would agree that he actually resides in Valhalla drinking with his buddies Odin and Loki. Ásatrúarfélagið, the largest non-Christian religious organization in Iceland, does however hold the Old Norse gods in high regard and follow their ways in modern day Iceland.

Ásatrúarfélagið says it is open for those who believe in the Nordic and Icelandic folklore, the spirits and entities the folklore represents in addition to gods and other beings from the Nordic pantheism. The purpose of the organization is keeping alive the old traditions, beliefs and ways and restores the Ancient Way to its former glory, reclaim Iceland‘s cultural heritage and honor the ways of the old Nordic Gods. As a fully licensed religion Ásatrúarfélagið performs various ceremonies such as naming rituals, marriage and funerals. One of the biggest events for Ásatrúarfélagið is the „blót,“ in which members gather for a feast and celebrate the gods by cursing them. In 2008 Ásatrúarfélagið had over 1.200 registered members.

Unique scholarly tradition
The Norse Mythology flourished during the Viking Age in the Scandinavian countries, but it was primarily in Iceland that the mythology was  documented. Snorra Edda and Eddukvæðin, written during the 13th century, are the primary source of information on the religion and its traditions from that time. These unique scholarly feats have fuelled great respect and pride for the old traditions in Iceland, made evident by the practice of Ásatrúarfélagið.

A Long Time Coming
Celebrating the Old Norse gods publicly was outlawed in Iceland in the year 1000, although heathen rituals continued in secrecy. Not until 1874 was the ban lifted with a new constitution. Ásatrúarfélagið was founded in the year 1972. There was a perceived need of a methodological preservation of the old traditions and the founders were adamant that an official religion should be founded. Having been dormant for hundreds of years, the Old Norse gods had lost their credibility and it is said that the minister of justice and ecclesiastical affairs, of that time, perceived Ásatrúarfélagið’s application as a joke. Ásatrúarfélagið however gained the status of an official religion the following year and has been growing ever since; it even had a representative in congress at one point in time.

Photo: Thor's battle against the giants (1872)

Mårten Eskil Winge

Welcoming religion

Even though Odin, Thor and their cohorts can seem unwelcoming characters and even openly hostile at times, Ásatrú is a religion based on  tolerance, honor, honesty and respect for nature and all life, with each person responsible for his or her own actions.

Tengt efni

Eldri tölublöð
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