Germanic Polytheism as Reference Point: How Familiarity With Germanic Polytheism Guides Analysis

Written by Dyami Millarson

Using what one is familiar with as a reference point is a very human and ancient way to make sense of new information or concepts. The ancient Germanic peoples must have used their religion as a reference point to understand other religions as well. The interpretatio Germanica is, therefore, both ancient and traditional. When encountering novel things, humans inherently seek to recognise and connect those things with things with which they are the most familiar. Relying on Germanic folk religion as a foundation, our ancestors were able to better comprehend and appreciate the polytheistic beliefs of other cultures, and identify them with their own.

In the previous article, I wrote about the similarities between Germanic polytheism and Kalash polytheism, a belief system practiced by the Kalash people of Northern Pakistan. I concluded that from the Germanic ancestral perspective, which I have been studying, there is an underlying identity of various polytheistic traditions. For example, the Kalash polytheism shares a common essence with Germanic religion. Despite the different names used for Deities by the Kalash and Germanic peoples, the Gods they worship may traditionally be considered to be the same. Furthermore, both cultures have developed similar notions of appropriateness for honouring the Gods. This ancestral view extends to other cultures as well, such as the Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Slavs, who traditionally believe that the Germanic peoples worship the same Gods as they do.

As someone who has grown up in Germanic cultures and speaks Germanic languages, I have a natural affinity for Germanic polytheism; familiarity with Germanic cultures and languages yields familiarity with Germanic polytheism. This background has provided me with a unique lens through which I explore and analyse other folk religions around the world. I am grateful for growing up with knowledge of Germanic religion and I fully acknowledge that it is a wonderful starting point in life, because it encouraged me to learn more and deepen my understanding.

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