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Author Topic: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism  (Read 1772 times)

alternating_illusion

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Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« on: December 24, 2013, 10:14:39 am »
So I am visiting Iceland this spring, and I was interested in researching more about the history of paganism there. I am pagan myself, so I figure it will be a good way to learn more about the culture I'm visiting plus more pagan beliefs. From what I can tell online, it looks like there is some modern Nordic paganism there, but there's not much I've found yet on the history or much all that specific to Iceland. Does anyone have any resources for both history and modern paganism in Iceland? I will admit, I know very little about Asatru/Heathenism, so I may just not be searching for it right. Also if anyone has any suggestions/experiences about Iceland in general, I'd be happy to hear them. :)

bobthesane

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 02:28:15 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;133844
So I am visiting Iceland this spring, and I was interested in researching more about the history of paganism there. I am pagan myself, so I figure it will be a good way to learn more about the culture I'm visiting plus more pagan beliefs. From what I can tell online, it looks like there is some modern Nordic paganism there, but there's not much I've found yet on the history or much all that specific to Iceland. Does anyone have any resources for both history and modern paganism in Iceland? I will admit, I know very little about Asatru/Heathenism, so I may just not be searching for it right. Also if anyone has any suggestions/experiences about Iceland in general, I'd be happy to hear them. :)

Uh, well... The word Asatru itself is Icelandic. Asatru is specifically Icelandic heathenry. There's a TON of resources on the web, but a quick google search nets so9me of the following results:

http://voices.yahoo.com/iceland-asatru-association-behind-separation-5208229.html
The official website of the Ásatrúarfelagið: http://www.asatru.is/  
  Ásatrúarfelagið, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81satr%C3%BAarf%C3%A9lagi%C3%B0#Politics_and_activism  
  Helgi Pjeturss, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helgi_Pjeturss  
  Iceland "Church Tax", Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax#Iceland  
  History of Iceland, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iceland  

So, yeah. If you couldn't find anything, I am going to assume you didn't actually try Google lol

alternating_illusion

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2013, 04:21:55 pm »
Quote from: bobthesane;133862
Uh, well... The word Asatru itself is Icelandic. Asatru is specifically Icelandic heathenry. There's a TON of resources on the web, but a quick google search nets so9me of the following results:

http://voices.yahoo.com/iceland-asatru-association-behind-separation-5208229.html
The official website of the Ásatrúarfelagið: http://www.asatru.is/  
  Ásatrúarfelagið, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81satr%C3%BAarf%C3%A9lagi%C3%B0#Politics_and_activism  
  Helgi Pjeturss, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helgi_Pjeturss  
  Iceland "Church Tax", Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax#Iceland  
  History of Iceland, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iceland  

So, yeah. If you couldn't find anything, I am going to assume you didn't actually try Google lol

 
Thanks for the links. I did google it, but I didn't see anything that said it was specifically Icelandic. Most referred to it as a general thing in Northern Europe. It also only gave me more modern movements. So I will go through those links and see if I can find out more.

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2013, 05:55:46 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;133844
So I am visiting Iceland this spring, and I was interested in researching more about the history of paganism there. I am pagan myself, so I figure it will be a good way to learn more about the culture I'm visiting plus more pagan beliefs. From what I can tell online, it looks like there is some modern Nordic paganism there, but there's not much I've found yet on the history or much all that specific to Iceland.


For historical paganism, the definitive texts are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, both written in Iceland in Icelandic in the 13th century.

I commend your decision to prep before your trip; in my experience, that's the best way to travel. I've been to Iceland twice, and it's a fascinating place, with a landscape unlike any other I've seen.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

bobthesane

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 06:38:45 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;133866
Thanks for the links. I did google it, but I didn't see anything that said it was specifically Icelandic. Most referred to it as a general thing in Northern Europe. It also only gave me more modern movements. So I will go through those links and see if I can find out more.

Oh, you are only going to find modern movements. Asatru is a modern attempt at reconstructing the previous faith system from before the Conversion. There are no 'holdovers', and anyone who says otherwise is frankly full of shit. About all that was left after 1000 years of Christianity were some very strongly held folk beliefs and heavily romanticized stories of 'the good old days'.

Asatru itself started in Iceland and spread from there to North America and Europe. Along the way, other (very similar in many cases) reconstructed faiths began to take root, like Theodism (Anglo-Saxon heathenry), Asatro (Swedish), Forn Sedr (Norwegian), Die Sitte (German), etc.

alternating_illusion

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2013, 02:58:10 am »
Quote from: Altair;133870
For historical paganism, the definitive texts are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, both written in Iceland in Icelandic in the 13th century.

I commend your decision to prep before your trip; in my experience, that's the best way to travel. I've been to Iceland twice, and it's a fascinating place, with a landscape unlike any other I've seen.


Thank you! I will check that out! I'm very excited for this trip; it sounds like it will be absolutely incredible.
 
Quote from: bobthesane;133881
Oh, you are only going to find modern movements. Asatru is a modern attempt at reconstructing the previous faith system from before the Conversion. There are no 'holdovers', and anyone who says otherwise is frankly full of shit. About all that was left after 1000 years of Christianity were some very strongly held folk beliefs and heavily romanticized stories of 'the good old days'.

Asatru itself started in Iceland and spread from there to North America and Europe. Along the way, other (very similar in many cases) reconstructed faiths began to take root, like Theodism (Anglo-Saxon heathenry), Asatro (Swedish), Forn Sedr (Norwegian), Die Sitte (German), etc.

 
Ah that makes more sense. Yeah the more I looked the more it seemed there isn't much knowledge about historical paganism there. I guess that's pretty typical for a lot of European paganism but I was hoping for at least some history. But the modern movements are still very interesting! I also didn't realize how Christian Iceland was/is. I suppose it makes sense being as it's in Europe, but I for some reason didn't think about it.

bobthesane

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 09:24:55 am »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;133922
Ah that makes more sense. Yeah the more I looked the more it seemed there isn't much knowledge about historical paganism there. I guess that's pretty typical for a lot of European paganism but I was hoping for at least some history. But the modern movements are still very interesting! I also didn't realize how Christian Iceland was/is. I suppose it makes sense being as it's in Europe, but I for some reason didn't think about it.

Ah, for historical paganism, turn to the Sagas :)

yennork

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 10:36:24 am »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;133922

Ah that makes more sense. Yeah the more I looked the more it seemed there isn't much knowledge about historical paganism there. I guess that's pretty typical for a lot of European paganism but I was hoping for at least some history. But the modern movements are still very interesting! I also didn't realize how Christian Iceland was/is. I suppose it makes sense being as it's in Europe, but I for some reason didn't think about it.

:confused:

Do you mean to say Icelandic/European neo-pagans doesn't know their own history? I hope I misunderstand you, as that would be insulting as well as condenscating. As for pagan revival being new and modenr, well, it is. The old ways are dead and gone, only traces remain. The new pagans are buildning on those traces, creating a religion that works today. Even if the asatru had lived on, it would have been vastly different from what it was a thousand years ago.

Modern Icelandic people are just that - modern. Most of them doesn't even believe in elves and trolls. ;)

As for Iceland being a christian country, well, yes, it is. But christianity in the Nordic countries (as in the rest of at least western Europe) is about tradition, not faith. The Church (just the one, the state church with close ties with the government) has played such a large role in peoples lives it's hard to imagine baptisings-weddings-funerals not happen outside church...

Enjoy your visit! I've yet to meet someone visiting Iceland not finding it fascinating!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 10:38:00 am by yennork »
Never mind what should be or what might be or what ought to be. It\'s what things are that\'s important.

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alternating_illusion

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Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 02:33:35 pm »
Quote from: yennork;134057
:confused:

Do you mean to say Icelandic/European neo-pagans doesn't know their own history? I hope I misunderstand you, as that would be insulting as well as condenscating. As for pagan revival being new and modenr, well, it is. The old ways are dead and gone, only traces remain. The new pagans are buildning on those traces, creating a religion that works today. Even if the asatru had lived on, it would have been vastly different from what it was a thousand years ago.

Modern Icelandic people are just that - modern. Most of them doesn't even believe in elves and trolls. ;)

As for Iceland being a christian country, well, yes, it is. But christianity in the Nordic countries (as in the rest of at least western Europe) is about tradition, not faith. The Church (just the one, the state church with close ties with the government) has played such a large role in peoples lives it's hard to imagine baptisings-weddings-funerals not happen outside church...

Enjoy your visit! I've yet to meet someone visiting Iceland not finding it fascinating!

 
No I meant that just the specifics of very old pagan religion history is pretty sparse in general for anyone studying it. Hence the whole need for reconstructionism. Not that any specific group knows more or less of what is available. Like you say about the old ways being mostly gone unfortunately; the history just often doesn't exist. I find those parts of paganism the most fascinating, but unfortunately so much has been lost, which is why I love it when I can read something written very long ago and thus by someone who was at least somewhat closer to it. I'm finding the prose Edda very fascinating for that reason. Not that modern movements aren't interesting and relevant too! I'm just someone who loves old history, so going as far back as possible with paganism is always my favorite thing to study.

And thank you! I am really looking forward to it!

hlewagastir

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 03:49:36 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;134081
Like you say about the old ways being mostly gone unfortunately; the history just often doesn't exist. I find those parts of paganism the most fascinating, but unfortunately so much has been lost, which is why I love it when I can read something written very long ago and thus by someone who was at least somewhat closer to it. I'm finding the prose Edda very fascinating for that reason. Not that modern movements aren't interesting and relevant too! I'm just someone who loves old history, so going as far back as possible with paganism is always my favorite thing to study.

 
Yes, but we still know, or have pretty good ideas about, a fair bit of the pre-Christian religions in Northern Europe..

Remember that academia has advanced quite a bit since Snorri Sturluson. We probably know much more about pre-Christian religion today than he could ever hope to.
IOW, the antiqueness of something is not a sure hallmark of it's usefulness as a source; source criticism should be applied with equal vigor to works of the 13th century as to those of the 19th century.

yennork

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Re: Icelandic Asatru/Heathenism
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 05:21:12 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;134081
No I meant that just the specifics of very old pagan religion history is pretty sparse in general for anyone studying it. Hence the whole need for reconstructionism. Not that any specific group knows more or less of what is available. Like you say about the old ways being mostly gone unfortunately; the history just often doesn't exist. I find those parts of paganism the most fascinating, but unfortunately so much has been lost, which is why I love it when I can read something written very long ago and thus by someone who was at least somewhat closer to it. I'm finding the prose Edda very fascinating for that reason. Not that modern movements aren't interesting and relevant too! I'm just someone who loves old history, so going as far back as possible with paganism is always my favorite thing to study.

And thank you! I am really looking forward to it!


Thank you for the clarification! :)

But you have to be careful. The Prose Edda might be closer in time to the pagan days, but Snorri Sturlasson was a well-read and well-educated man, and very much a man of his times. When he wrote his book on how to understand old poetry and how to create new, he was eager not only to make the old gods humans, he made certain these humans had a connection to the Troyan war and the admired Graeco-Roman culture.

Him sorting the Gods into big unhappy families, living more or less in the samr place, with aristochratic Odin at the top reeks of Graeco-Roman influence to me. Perhaps UKG, but still...
Never mind what should be or what might be or what ought to be. It\'s what things are that\'s important.

Granny Weatherwax

alternating_illusion

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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 11:47:31 pm »
Quote from: hlewagastir;134092
Yes, but we still know, or have pretty good ideas about, a fair bit of the pre-Christian religions in Northern Europe..

Remember that academia has advanced quite a bit since Snorri Sturluson. We probably know much more about pre-Christian religion today than he could ever hope to.
IOW, the antiqueness of something is not a sure hallmark of it's usefulness as a source; source criticism should be applied with equal vigor to works of the 13th century as to those of the 19th century.

 
Oh yes, I definitely realize it's no more useful because it's older. I'm just an ancient history nerd!

alternating_illusion

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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 11:49:32 pm »
Quote from: yennork;134097
Thank you for the clarification! :)

But you have to be careful. The Prose Edda might be closer in time to the pagan days, but Snorri Sturlasson was a well-read and well-educated man, and very much a man of his times. When he wrote his book on how to understand old poetry and how to create new, he was eager not only to make the old gods humans, he made certain these humans had a connection to the Troyan war and the admired Graeco-Roman culture.

Him sorting the Gods into big unhappy families, living more or less in the samr place, with aristochratic Odin at the top reeks of Graeco-Roman influence to me. Perhaps UKG, but still...

 
Yes it was very helpful that the introduction noted that his viewpoint was very nonpagan. I can definitely see that as I'm reading it, although I'm still very much enjoying it. But I realize it may not be an entirely accurate representation of the pagan thinking that predated it.

alternating_illusion

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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 11:51:53 pm »
Quote from: alternating_illusion;134138
Oh yes, I definitely realize it's no more useful because it's older. I'm just an ancient history nerd!

 
To clarify, I just like reading things that were written a long time ago. I fully realize they had their own biases, and I think that's what fascinates me. That even something written a thousand years ago is still mixed with human complexity and often inaccuracy. I definitely keep it in mind though that many academic endeavors may be more accurate than one person'a recollection, and I definitely find the academic work interesting and valuable as well.

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