Defining Germanic Polytheism On Its Own Cultural Terms

Written by Dyami Millarson

Germanic languages possess concepts which ought to help define Germanic polytheism on its own cultural terms.

Germanic religion may be defined as heiðr (honour) or blót (sacrifice). Both are essentially the same in the Germanic context.

Heiðr or blót is what motivated Germanic society; it defines Germanic culture, for it permeates it.

Polytheism may be rendered as goðablót (sacrifice to the Gods), which is a specification of blót (sacrifice).

Goðablót stands for the poly- in polytheism, for it specifies that the sacrifice is to many Gods.

Theism in the Germanic context practically means blót, for the divine exists chiefly to be sacrificed to.

In other words, the Germanic theistic principle is that the divine is not to be understood, but sacrificed to.

Thus is the difference between orthopraxy and orthodoxy, and this is relevant for the definition of religion in the Germanic cultural context.

Since Germanic culture and religion are interwoven, there is no point in trying to make an artificial distinction.

One may try to define Germanic religion as a subcategory of aspect of Germanic culture, but this is false, because Germanic religion is as inherent in Germanic culture as vice versa.

The distinction of culture and religion is therefore absolutely not relevant in the Germanic context, and in fact should rather be regarded as one and the same.

Germanic society had a religious culture and a cultural religion, it was a society where the religion-culture dichotomy did not exist nor matter at all.

So while one may try equating heiðr with culture, one ought to recognise that Germanic culture is blót; for it is the Germanic custom to sacrifice.

In other words, blót is heiðr and heiðr is blót, which shows that the lines between culture and religion are totally blurred in the case of the Germanic tradition.

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