The Way of the Nordic Gods and Ancestors: Why the Nordic Ancestors Regarded Nordic Polytheism as Cultural Heritage

Written by Dyami Millarson

Cultural heritage is a modern term. However, the Nordic ancestors did have the inherited concept of siðr at their disposal to describe their religion. Siðr may be translated as custom, habit, and may therefore be compared to Latin mōs. The Romans conceived of their religion as Mōs Majōrum, which translates to Custom of the Elders. Not unlike the Roman polytheists, the Nordic polytheists certainly viewed their siðr/mōs as inherited from their ancestors. Likewise, the Frisian polytheist King Radbōdus regarded the native religion as connected with the ancestors, motivating him to stay loyal to the native religion. Since siðr/mōs is viewed as inherited in this context, either of the terms may be interpreted as heritage. In Dutch, we have an old expression zeden en gebruiken, which, in the context of talking about volkeren peoples, is used to signify culture. Siðr/mōs may likewise be interpreted as meaning culture. The paleopagans, therefore, saw their religion as a cultural phenomenon and since they recognised that their religious culture was inherited, we can say they certainly viewed it as cultural heritage. The Nordic paleopagans must have regarded their siðr as divinely inspired. Consequently, their religion may be described as Ása Siðr Culture of the Nordic Gods or Ása ok Álfa Siðr Culture of the Nordic Gods and Ancestors. One may also freely render the aforementioned locutions as Way of the Nordic Gods and Way of the Nordic Gods and Ancestors.

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