Monday, February 02, 2015

Something doesn't add up

Iceland still has worshipers of Thor, so I was a bit surprised to see a story saying they were building the first temple to the norse gods in 1000 years. I figured maybe the Icelandic Thor-ites didn't use temples as a rule, going for lares and penates sorts of private rituals instead. (which is probably all to the good. Notice that the three in the Uppsala temple are the same three mentioned below.)

Surprise. From the article:

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.

“We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Then what exactly do the neopagans propose to worship in the temple? Human psychology?

I wonder what the real pagans make of the "do it yourself" crowd. "The duty to the Rishis can be discharged only by deep study. The duty to the Celestials can be discharged by oblations and offertories alone. And the duty to the ancestors can be discharged only by begetting children and bringing them up properly." Looks more like assigned duties than "following your inner light."


Texan99 said...

I daresay they don't think of it as worshipping so much as meditating pleasantly on what they take to be psychological truths or idealizations.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As to duties versus inner light, CS Lewis mentioned the sharp divide between what Hinduism says it is and what it actually is. That is perhaps true of any religion. but especially so here. There are parallel tracks which seem not to recognise each other.

james said...

True about Hinduism, but it was just an articulate example of paganism. Pretty much all the instances I can remember emphasize duties. The duties may be easy or onerous, but you have no choice about them. There are also typically extra-ordinary actions you can take to try to get good luck, but even those are prescribed forms. Nothing DIY about it.

Retriever said...

I can't help but think that the ongoing eruptions of lava might be encouraging Icelanders to hedge their bets, deity-wise. Forget about the follow your bliss twits. Icelanders are descended from incredibly rugged Vikings and their slaves, many of them killed by successive volcanic eruptions, so the survivors are highly adapted to their unearthly beautiful environment (hence so many movies made their recently, plus Reykavik is a way cool place to hang out). But my point is, if YOU were trying to propitiate somebody in hopes of keeping Hekla from exploding after all this recent extrusion of lava, would you choose Tender Jesus Meek and Mild? Or Mighty Thor? It's interesting that tho we Christians nominally worship a Mighty and Powerful God, we mostly snivel and pray to Jesus our Best Friend, who may not seem powerful enough (to some people) to halt terrifying forces of nature.

Then again, better to worship those old Norse deities than all that waffling about fairies,e tc. which is good for the tourist trade, but seems sort of useless at averting volcanic destruction.

Despite all the horrible film examples of Scandinavian religious faith brutalising people (that minister in Fanny and Alexander comes to mind), I often think the the superimposition of Xity on the Norse Gods and earlier pagan beliefs took less well than, say, Catholicism on all those wood goddesses and spring goddesses in parts of Southern Europe. So is it so surprising now if the Old Ones seem attractive now?

Just amusing myself speculating...

The Mad Soprano said...

So what would worshipers of Thor make of the comic book adaptation?