A Revival of Old Norse Traditions Through Temple Building
New religious movements are seeing a revival of pagan religions and traditions. Neopaganism is an umbrella term for modern paganism, which strives to revive, reinterpret, and experiment with pre-Christian polytheistic religions (Maglicco). These revived Pagan religions differ from more prominent Christian religions because they are polytheistic rather than monotheistic and also draw heavily from traditional folklore. In the context of revived pagan traditions I look to Iceland where a public shrine will begin to be built this month as the islands first major temple to the Norse gods Thor, Odin and Frigg since the Viking age. As Maglicco discusses in her article about neopagan religions is that these traditions seek to recreate the magical universe they attribute to ancient and indigenous religions (165). Regarding this belief the high priest Hilmar Orn Hilmarsso, who promotes faith in the Norse gods even commented that they “see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.” The revival of these religions allows for the people to worship and practice a belief that dwindled down 1000 years ago. This modern pagan revival has seen great popularity, Asatruarfelagid is the association that promotes faith in the Norse gods and it’s membership has tripled in Iceland in the last decade, proving that these folklore traditions can still live on. This new temple design is meant to be circular, built on a hill overlooking the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, and having a dome roof as to let sunlight in naturally. This temple is not only meant for worship and recognition of these Norse gods but also to host ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. I find the revival of the Norse gods and the temple being built in their honor a great way to promote Norse and Icelandic religion, culture, and identity without adhering to the negative connotations that can often be associated with new religious movements.
“A new guard for Asgard: Iceland building first temple to Norse gods in 1000 years.” The Globe and Mail. February 2, 2015. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/a-new-guard-for-asgard-iceland-building-first-temple-to-norse-gods-in-1000-years/article22743857/) [http://bit.ly/1wZNNbC]
Magliocco, Sabina. “Neopaganism.” New Religious Movements. New York. Cambridge University Press. 2012. Print. Feb 2015.