Iceland to Build First Norse Gods Temple Since Viking Age

The first major temple devoted to the Norse gods since the Viking Age will begin construction in Iceland this month, the Guardian reports.

The temple, which will be of circular shape, will be embedded into a hill overlooking the capital Reykjavik, with a dome that will let the sunlight come through.

The Christian faith took over the worship of Scandinavian gods such as Thor, Odin, and Frigg about 1,000 years ago. But in the last decade, a modern take on Norse paganism has experienced a remarkable surge.

The association Ásatrúarfélagið, which promotes the Norse faith, has tripled its members in the last decade, reaching a number of 2,400 believers out of a total population of 330,000 Icelanders.

“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, told the Guardian, explaining the modernization of the faith. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Iceland’s neo-pagans still take part in the traditional sacrificial ritual of Blót but, instead of slaughtering animals, they now celebrate in a more gentle manner, through music, reading, eating, and drinking.

Ásatrúarfélagið will host ceremonies such as weddings and funerals in the temple, as well conferring names to children and initiate teenagers.

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