Germanic Gods as Cultural Symbols

Written by Dyami Millarson

The Germanic Gods were powerful unifying cultural symbols in the Germanic-speaking world. They were banners people could rally behind. The cultural symbolism embodied by the Germanic Gods may be expressed artistically (such as through depictions in the form of embroideries, wooden statues, dolls of various materials), linguistically (such as through names and formulae) and ritually (such as through blood sacrifice, dances, and other mannerisms or habits people associate with the Gods).

Functionally, we may analyse the Germanic Gods as cultural symbols. Yet, we should not forget that to the Germanic peoples, the Gods were living forces that were locally present in the natural environment. They were beings of nature, though more powerful than all other beings that are also found in nature. So, when we speak of cultural symbols in our analysis of Germanic religion, we must be careful to point out that Gods are living cultural symbols; so analysing them as cultural symbols is truly comparable with analysing living human beings or other living entities as cultural symbols.

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