The Largest Religions Belong to Either of Two Types

Written by Dyami Millarson

The world’s largest religions fit nicely into two categories:

  • Indian religions
  • Semitic or Abrahamic religions

Based on the latter categorisation, we may also speak of ‘religions belonging to the Abrahamic tradition,’ which is a more verbose way to put it.

Buddhism and Hinduism belong to the Indian tradition, i.e., they are Indian religions, whilst Christianity and Islam belong to the Abrahamic tradition, i.e., they are Semitic/Abrahamic religions.

All of the strains of Germanic folk religion do not fit into any of these categories, but belong to their own separate category.

The Indian tradition is a category that is related to the Germanic tradition, because both traditions may be regarded as sub-categories of the Indo-European tradition. However, the Indian sub-category ranks among the largest religions of the world, whereas the other Indo-European traditions do not, so it is fair to count them separately.

Dreaming About Blood Sacrifice May Aid Research

Written by Dyami Millarson

Performing blood sacrifices or being a witness to them for research may be impractical under many circumstances, although one should definitely try to perforn or witnessed it being perforned at some point in one’s career, because closely observing actual rite is, of course, the best way to conduct a proper investigation into it.

While it may be especially true that observation in this manner is a valid way to explore the nature of blood sacrifice in a polytheistic context, I would argue that we should not dismiss fantasy as a powerful tool in exploring the nature of blood sacrifice. The human imagination is an incredible faculty of the human mind, and this tool bestowed upon us by evolution should definitely not lie dormant as it is often ignored during the research process.

In fact, dreams or fantasies may be useful for formulating scientific hypotheses. Therefore, the creativity of the human imagination may play a vital role in Germanic blood sacrifice research. The human mind in its entirety offers opportunities that ought to be seized, we should definitely make full use of everything that we have got.

Just as the Icelanders still dreamed of pagan dances for many years after the conversion and included the theme of dancing in their fantastic folk stories and Snorri even used a dream setting to treat the Nordic folk religious narrative, one may consider that if one cannot perform blood sacrifices for whatever reason, one may still dream of blood sacrifices at night or fantasise about it during daytime.

Blood sacrifice, while an integral part of ancient Germanic cultural heritage, occupied the pagan psyche, and the ancient polytheists of Germanic Europe would therefore have dreamed of blood sacrifice at night as well. Among animistic-polytheistic peoples, dreams are regarded as valid forms of observation, and this notion may be philisophically interesting for research purposes as well, as we ought to remember that dreams/fantasies are valid ways to explore the pagan forest world, where blood sacrifice was practised, and consequently to develop scientific hypotheses based on these.

Plato’s cave allegory is well-known as well as his discussion of an ideal city. Polytheism researchers or philosophers may develop a forest allegory and the notion of an ideal sacrificial forest (perhaps with nearby human habitation in the form of a village?) to aid blood sacrifice research and draw on artistic inventions in order to further explore the world of the ancient past where there were sacrificial forests also known as sacred forests. The theme of the magical forest has persisted into pre-modern times in Germanic fairytales, as the forests remained a mysterious place essential to the folk psyche and from which he people drew artistic – or perhaps mythological, although I prefer not to use that word – inspiration.

The Role of English in the Revival of Germanic Polytheism

Written by Dyami Millarson

While Latin, the Roman imperial language, has played a significant role in the decline of Northwest European polytheism in the past, English, planet Earth’s global language, is playing a significant role in the rise of Germanic polytheism.

The reasons why English is aiding the Germanic polytheist revival are threefold:

  1. English is a Germanic language and therefore native to Northwestern Europe
  2. English is the language of the world wide web (internet)
  3. English is the first true global language in the history of mankind

The fact that English is originally a Germanic language plays a significant role in garnering sympathy from its speakers for Germanic lore. Being a speaker of English creates a sense of familiarity when one learns about Thor and Othin, for instance.

Therefore, the language that one speaks does matter for the revival of polytheism. The fact that a Germanic language became the world language is a boon to Germanic polytheism, which has, at least in its purest form, been a “dormant religion” for a long time. Of course, elements of the religion, which had become syncretised with the dominant Judaeo-Christian religion, lived on in folklore.

The natural consequence of English being the global language is that English is the language of scientific research and hence there is a wealth of scientific literature on Germanic religion published in the English language.

It is, after all, no wonder that there has been a particular interest in Germanic polytheism in the English-speaking world since that is the pristine religion of the Anglo-Saxon forebears, whose language would evolve into Modern English.

While English is a natural language that has been turned into a global language and it is not like Esperanto which is not associated with any particular cultural history, English is associated with a cultural history that has its roots in Germanic paganism.

The world wide world, where English is undoubtedly the most dominant language, allows everyone to host their own website and this enables anyone who is interested sharing information on Germanic polytheism to do so.

Furthermore, the internet allows its users to find information on any topic they are interested in, and so information about Germanic polytheism has become more easily accessible than ever and now the taboo surrounding the topic is dissipating.

Germanic polytheism has been demonised by the Church, but the sudden renewed interest in this topic during the 19th century has slowly started to create an environment that is favourable or conducive to the return of Germanic polytheism.

Last but not least: while the English language is linked to its pagan past in one way or another, it is quite inevitable that people’s curiosity will be sparked and read about this topic at some point on the internet. Germanic paganism is ubiquitous.

Speakers of English are more and more interested in their cultural and linguistic roots, and this is also making them interested in seeking out their religious roots. The natural result of this search for roots is that they will arrive at polytheism.

We are seeing the return of Germanic polytheism as a dominant player on the world stage and this is the result of English being the vehicle of international communication. The trend of the rise of Northwestern European folk religion will continue into the foreseeable future.

Sacred “Garden” trees of Norway and Sweden

Stories from the Wood Wide Web

When I was doing research about trees in Norway I found this interesting paper by Douglas Forell Hulmes about “sacred trees of Norway and Sweden: a friliftsliv quest” and was of course immediately intrigued. His abstract was very promising:

What began as a curiosity about the traditions and folklore related to trees planted in the center of many farms in Norway, “Tuntre“, and Sweden, “Vårdträd“, led me to a recognition of a tradition that can still be observed in the cultural landscape today. The tradition can be traced as far back as the Viking period, and directly linked to the mythology of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. I have been studying these traditions as they relate to the field of environmental education as an example of mythopoetic stories and folklore that influence moral and ethical regard for nature.

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As I am not a native speaker…

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The Role of Latin in the Christianisation of Germanic Europe

Written by Dyami Millarson

The role of Latin in the Christianisation of Northwestern Europe was threefold:

  1. it allowed the clergy to cross linguistic barriers
  2. it allowed the clergy to read old Church documents
  3. it allowed the Church to learn from the Roman Empire

Latin is the sine qua non which made the Christianisation of Northwestern Europe possible. Without the language of the Roman Empire, Christianity would likely not have spread so far and wide. Latin boosted the missionary efforts of the Church.

The Church could stay connected with all its missionaries and give them proper directives as they shared a common language. Not only did they all manage to speak a common language, but they also wrote a common language.

While the Church had a common written and spoken language, communication with all its missionaries on the ground was made possible. These missionaries might be able to speak local languages, but they also mastered Latin.

The communication infrastructure of the Church was simply very efficient. They could easily cross linguistic barriers without second thought. It didn’t matter where their missionaries came from in Europe as long as they knew Latin.

The Church possessed all the knowledge of the Roman Empire. This gave them a huge strategic advantage. They had an absolute monopoly over written history and thus they possessed man’s most powerful tool of propaganda.

The Germanic peoples didn’t have the written knowledge of the Roman Empire at their disposal. If they had, after defeating the Roman Empire on the battlefield, properly dispersed all of the written imperial knowledge over Germania prior to the conversion efforts of the Church, one can only wonder about how the course of history could have been changed in its entirety.

Writing is a powerful weapon, and that is what we ought to learn in hindsight from what happened during the Christianisation of Northwestern Europe.

Perhaps if clergy members had defected en masse to Germanic paganism and made the “secret written documents” of the Church publicly accessible for their pagan brethren, the pagan Northwestern Europeans could have developed a consistent strategy that matched that of the Church, which possessed the knowledge of the Roman Empire, and thus reversed the trend.

The Germanic peoples were dealing with a massive form of information asymmetry, which meant that all the odds were stacked against them. Furthermore, the communications of the Church were by far the most superior.

While we have explored two dimensions of the Latin language just now, there is also the dimension of being able to read centuries-old documents in Latin. This allowed the Church to easily communicate (its mission) across the centuries.

Up to this day, one can easily read the earliest Church documents as long as one knows Latin. The Church had access to ancient history, it had access to the future and it had access to all its most dedicated members at any time.

The Church did not only possess knowledge of the Roman Empire, but by commanding its language, they possessed the ability to expand the religious borders of the old Roman Empire with the written and spoken word alone.

The Church had modelled itself after the Roman Empire and so they possessed its communication infrastructures completely. The most important is that they were able to learn from how the Roman Empire functioned as a bureaucracy.

So this sums up why linguistic knowledge can be such a game-changer. Since the Germanic peoples hadn’t put tremendous efforts into learning the spoken and written Latin language and dispersing the Roman imperial documents over their native lands for study by its elites who also functioned as priests, they had essentially lost the chance to prevent the conversion efforts of later ages.

The military successes of the Germanic peoples initially caught the Church off-guard, and had the Germanic peoples been more linguistically interested after their conquests, they could have consolidated the power of their cultural religion.

While the Empire was crumbling and the very existence of the Church was threatened by the invading non-Christian hordes from all sides, the Germanic peoples soon lost the initiative due to lack of linguistic foresight.

Had the Germanic peoples taken note of all the communications of the Roman Empire and made this knowledge their own, they could have significantly strengthened their tribal homelands and prepared them for the future.

This was essentially a problem of knowledge transfer and the Church filled in the void that had followed after the Germanic conquests. In fact, by not seizing the opportunity to gain control over all Roman knowledge, the Germanic peoples enabled the Church to uproot the Germanic victories and eventually figure out how to turn the tables on the Germanic victors.

Language plays a much more important role in history than people realise, and particularly the Latin language has played a very important role.

Proto-Germanic or something akin to Proto-Germanic could have served a very similar function as Latin if the Germanic peoples had properly studied Latin and its inextricable relationship with the Roman Empire.

Latin is a gateway to classical history, and all of this knowledge could have been translated into a common Germanic language at the time. If this knowledge had been committed to writing in this common Germanic language, it could have inspired many generations to come under the premise that they should keep learning the Germanic language originally used for translation and analysis.

In essence, the Germanic peoples could have easily replicated the success of the Roman Empire because all of the resources of the Roman Empire were at their disposal upon their military successes over the crumbling Empire.

While this is a story of missed linguistic opportunities, it also highlights how important it is to study foreign languages and cultures properly. The Latin language was the vehicle of the Roman Empire and there was certainly a lot to learn.

Even if the Germanic peoples possessed very valuable knowledge of their own, they had nothing to lose from studying Latin and they only had everything to gain; it could not be overstated that they ought to have made more of an effort to study the language of the Roman Empire and send materials back to their Germanic brethren up north in order to study the language and its culture properly.

Of course, we have the benefit of hindsight and they didn’t have that at the time, but that means that we should be so wise as to learn from the past and draw lessons that we may use for shaping the destiny of polytheism, for which nothing is more important than ensuring its own intergenerational continuity. The instinct of any religion is to survive, for the survival instinct of humans is linked to it.

Animals Bearing Messages From the Gods

Written by Dyami Millarson

The polytheists living in the Viking Age and early Germanic times saw omens everywhere. They were firmly convinced that the Gods attempted to communicate with them in mysterious ways, and that they Gods were trying to warn them about their destiny; in fact, they believe that virtuous and heroic humans, who were well-liked by the Gods, were worthy of being spoken to by the Gods.

They held no doubt that the Gods spoke to them, and that this meant they were virtuous in the eyes of the Gods; while these beliefs were so firmly held – the degree of conviction was definitely strong – by all of the Germanic peoples practising folk religion, they believed without any shred of doubt that they were liked by the Gods and that for this reason, the Gods were doing them many favours.

Germanic people saw divine messages in the sky in the form of birds, clouds and other celestial objects and phenomena; they closely watched the motion of everything in the skies, hoping that this might tell them something about their fate. Everything that moved in the sky was believed to have a spirit, and therefore flying birds, moving celestial bodies and phenomena in the night sky were regarded as manifestations of the spiritual world, to which the Ansiwiz (major deities, big spirits) and Albīz (numinous beings, elves, lesser spirits) belonged.

They saw divine message on earth in the form of wild animals and domesticated animals; they closely watched the movements of horses and the intestines of slaughtered cattle. They not only paid attention to the motions that they observed on earth and in the sky, but they also paid close attention to sound; they listened to the songs of birds and they listened to the breezing of horses.

Germanic folk religion definitely included an emphasis on careful observation of one’s local natural environment. After all, being familiar with one’s surroundings was vital for the survival of the Germanic peoples. If a foreign army encroached upon their territory, they could perhaps have heard it in the songs of the birds in the forest as they might fall silent or show other unusual behaviours.

The songs of birds and other sounds of the forest may be a way to tell whether there are intruders in the local environment. The forest communicates and the Germanic peoples were paying attention to this natural communication that was occurring around them. They were in touch with nature and they possess knowledge about their local ecology: they knew the normal sounds and motions that occurred in nature, and they knew how to recognise deviations from the norm.

Those deviations could provide them with a lot of information about what was to come, and so this allowed them to react properly to any impending disaster. The forest might warn them about an invading army or a natural disaster. The forest was their friend who protected them from harm and so they listened to the forest. The Germanic peoples were not just forest-dwelling peoples, but they were one with the forest in which they lived and they had successfully adapted to the forest.

A First Outline of Germanic Religion With Frisian Characteristics

Written by Dyami Millarson

In this article, which may be regarded as a tentative religious treatise, I will treat Germanic religion as an uncountable concept just like one may treat Germanic polytheism as uncountable. Therefore, I will view the Frisian strain of Germanic religion as Germanic religion with Frisian characteristics.

What is Germanic religion or polytheism with Frisian characteristics? What are those Frisian characteristics? What we should look at first are the Frisian Gods and then we should take a quick glance at the lesser spirits, for all these bigger and smaller Wights (supernatural beings) define Germanic religion.

The following Gods of the Frisians, who were also Vikings (cp. the Estonians who had adopted Viking culture), come to mind:

  • The Frisian Viking God Fosite, which was adopted among the Norse Vikings as Forseti and to whom the island Fositesland was dedicated, which had sacred cattle grazing on the island, and a sacred spring, from which one had to draw water in silence (this is perhaps equivalent to the water-cleansing rites performed before entering a Japanese Shinto shrine), and is nowadays often equated with Heligoland (see here), and whose name has been theorised by Grimm and others to be connected with Poseidon, making him the aquatic God of the sea-faring Frisians which dwelled along the North Sea coast, and with whom the sacrifice of those found guilty of robbery may be connected, for it was deemed fit according to the Frisian law that thieves be given to the sea;
  • Baduhenna, whose sacred grove has been mentioned by Roman historian Tacitus in his ethnographic treatise of Germania;
  • Hludana, who was apparently worshipped in Frisia as an inscription dedicated to her was uncovered in 1888 during an excavation in the village Beetgum, which is located in Fryslân, the Frisian-speaking region of the Netherlands;
  • The Frisian equivalent of Othin, whose name has been preserved in the weekday woansdei, which is the Frisian name for Wednesday, and who was assigned a prominent place in the Germanic religious belief system by the Frisians, Saxons and Franks in the region that would become the Netherlands;
  • Stavo, which is a deity in Frisian folklore and may be seen as an epithet of Othin, although one may also consider Stavo a folkloristic fiction of later date while it could be argued with equally convincing vigour that there might be some truth to the Frisian folklore and that Stavo was a distant memory of Othin or some covert reference to him that was meant not to upset the Church;
  • Thingsus, who may also be called Mars Thingsus or simply Mars and whom the Frisians of Twente worshipped as probably their equivalent of the sky deity Tyr, whose name has been preserved in the Frisian weekday tiisdei (Tuesday), although Thingsus may also have been a latinised early epithet of Fosite;
  • The Frisian equivalent of Ingvi or Frey, who was worshipped among the Ingaevones, from which the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and Saxons have sprung;
  • The Frisian equivalents of Thor and Frigg/Freyja, who are remembered in the weekdays tongersdei (Thursday) and freed (Friday) coming after Othin’s day (woansdei) and thus making the ancient Germanic family trinity complete;
  • The sun and the moon, which are also said by the ancient historians and chroniclers to have been worshipped by the Frisians, which is made plausible by the fact that the sun and moon were personified and seen as deities among the ancient Norse and are also preserved in the Frisian weekdays moandei (Monday) and sneon (Sunday), inherited from Common Germanic, and Eligius, who had preached among the Frisians, said in his anti-pagan sermon that pagans swore their oaths by sun and moon and called them their lords, waited for a particular phase of the moon to begin something and shouted at the lunar eclipse.

The family of the Gods in the Frisian strand of Germanic folk religion may be assumed to be generally the same as that of other strands, and thus although the Frisians may have had their own religious characteristics, they would generally have worshipped the same divine entities as the other Germanic folk religionists of that time, for all tribal strands of Germanic religion had a common descent, which was definitely noticeable in the choice of deities. The various strands were thus interchangeable; hence Fosite, who was worshipped among the Frisians as one of the principal or chief deities, could be easily adopted by the Norse.

While I have elaborated on the chief deities or spirits, I should also give an overview of the lesser spirits. All of the water-based and land-based Frisian wights (i.e., spirits) that I am going to discuss reflect the common beliefs of the Germanic polytheists. It should therefore be borne in mind that all of the following ancient numinous beings that the Frisians have believed in since time immemorial have equivalents or clear matches in other Germanic belief systems:

  • The Frisians have believed in spirits (geasten in Clay Frisian) and souls (sielen in Clay Frisian) since ancient times; both aforementioned spiritual concepts are universal among all Germanic-speaking peoples.
    • Frisians – whilst judging from their folk stories called mearkes – believe in various ghostly appearances; ghosts (spoeken in Frisian) may take animal forms or more anthropomorphic (human-like or man-like) forms. An interesting mix of the two is the Frisian belief in werewolves (wjerwolven or wearwolven in Clay Frisian); it ought to be noted that the belief in the werewolf is universal among the speakers of Germanic languages. Equally universal is the belief in helhounds among the Germanic peoples and as far as I can recall, there are Frisian tales of canine ghostly apparitions (i.e., ghostly dogs); as the concept of helhûn (hellhound) exists in Frisian, the belief in the hellhound traditionally exists among the Frisians (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and it is as prevalent as among the neighbouring indigenous people of Groningen where the ghostly dog is known as Borries or Barries (see here, here and here), which, along with the Frisian folk religious conceptions of the hellhound, may be regarded as an equivalent of the Nordic hellhound Garmr (cp. the Greek hound Cerberus guarding Hades). Another instance of a ghostly apparition in Frisian folktales is the ghostly horse featured in the German novel Der Schimmelreiter which is set in 19th-century North Frisia, a traditionally Frisian-speaking region situated in Northwest Germany. Somewhat similar to the lindworm we will discuss later in a commentary that is placed between brackets, the Frisians traditionally believe in a ghostly ‘worm’ (see here), being the Anguis fragilis, which I have caught on a few occasions. It is said in Frisian folklore that this animal can heal itself and this self-healing is believed to be proof of its virulency (somewhat like the Hydra dragon that Hercules had to fight).
    • There is linguistic evidence that the ancient Frisians believed in elves (alven or elven in Clay Frisian, the latter form being the result of Dutch/English influence and the former being the original heritage word from Old Frisian) and dwarfs (dwergen in Clay Frisian). These have generally survived in modern Frisian folklore as ierdmantsjes (gnomes, kobolds) and tsjoensters (witches). There are also many Frisian folk tales about folk healers called wûnderdokters (which are also featured in folk stories relating to lintwjirmen, tapeworms, see commentary below) and this may be regarded as a genuine remnant of folk medicine among the Frisians, reminding one of the Mersenburg charms where uuodan (Othin) says miraculous words to magically heal the foal of balder (Baldur).
    • The Frisians of yore also believed in the Germanic incubus or mare (nachtmerje in Clay Frisian) as well as the nixie (bûzehappert in Clay Frisian) which is common to all Germanic peoples. The mermaid (seewiif in Clay Frisian) is a being that is akin to the nixie. Additionally, in ancient times, the Frisians believed in giants (reuzen in Clay Frisian) which are the Germanic anti-Gods and they also believed in dragons as Germanic anti-heroes (the Germanic heritage word for dragon is wjirm in Clay Frisian and by the way, wurm in Middle Dutch also meant dragon, but the Latin-derived term draak has completely replaced the equivalent Germanic heritage word wjirm; the word lintwjirm, which is a cognate of the English lindworm, is nowadays used chiefly to mean tapeworm, a kind of worm, and does generally not refer to a Germanic type of dragon anymore, as lintwjirm is used to mean tapeworm even in folk tales, see here and here, yet the cognate word lindeworm/lendeworm is used in a Groningen Low Saxon folk story of the early 19th century to mean a Germanic dragon).

Oaths (i.e., the Germanic equivalent of contracts) may be seen as the natural basis of the legal system, for the law is built on verbal agreements (or written agreements as in modern society). The Frisian polytheists can be presumed to have sworn oaths at sanctuaries, sacred stones, trees, wells, enclosures and cross-roads. The sanctuaries may have been man-built structures or they may have been natural structures in nature that were seen as dwelling-places of the spiritual or divine. The aforementioned locations are also the ancient Frisian locations of worship.

Folk Religions of Kartvelian Mountain Peoples

Foundation Operation X for languages, cultures and perspectives

Written by Dyami Millarson

Kartvelian is a language family spoken by various peoples in the Caucasus region. The Kartvelian languages are interesting, because there appears to have been contact between Proto-Kartvelian and Proto-Indo-European. For that reason, we should not be surprised to find parallels between the Kartvelian religious systems and the belief systems of ancient speakers of Germanic. Today we will be looking at the religions of traditionally isolated Kartvelian peoples who live high in the Georgian mountains. My article exhibits what I could gather on this relevant topic, but I will do more research in the future and hope to visit the region myself for further investigations.

The Khevsur people, which lives in Khevsureti, practises syncretic religion retaining ancient elements of their prior folk religion. The Khevsur people has its priests with whom they convene in sacred places where the priests perform ancient rituals. Defying the anti-religious sentiment that…

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Germanic Cultural Religion

Written by Dyami Millarson

The Germanic peoples practised a cultural religion, where culture and religion were blended. While we have established this, we should immediately ask: what were their priorities from the perspective of their cultural-religious worldview?

Food was way more prominent in the Germanic cultural-religious worldview than many in the modern world may realise. Food was way up the list of priorities in the ancient Germanic world. Famines were a common occurrence back then.

Although a historic explanation may be offered for the prominence of food in the Germanic worldview, it would be incorrect to overlook the fact that there is also a timeless aspect to this perception, because food is still essential today.

We live in a world of abundance, but we are still biological beings that need food in order to sustain their biological bodies. In this biological regard, we are no different from our Germanic forebears who dwelled in these Northwest European lands.

As food was an all-important topic that pervaded the Germanic worldview, the Germanic ritual of blood sacrifice should be seen in this light. No doubt, the Germanic peoples of yore practised blood sacrifice on a regular basis.

However, what many fail to understand is the context of blood sacrifice. We may define blood sacrifice, particularly animal sacrifice, as a ritualised act of slaughter. In the ancient times, there were no slaughterhouses which would do the work for us.

The way for the Germanic peoples to get meat was to slaughter the animals themselves and they did so in a ritualised manner. They called in the help of the Gods to assist them in pacifying the angry soul of the sacrificial animal.

Killing an animal was not an act that humans ever took lightly. As intelligent beings, humans have always been acutely aware that they took a life. In the past, they didn’t have mechanised systems to make the slaughter a distant affair.

In fact, the slaughter of an animal for obtaining its meat was a very intense affair in the Germanic past, and that made it all the more harrowing when a hungry community had to resort to slaughtering an animal to feed its members.

While the Germanic peoples needed the meat, the sacrificial rite was a magical affair where the Gods were invoked to assist in dealing with the animal’s soul. The entire local community was involved in this affair as it was crucial to their well-being.

Blood sacrifice was thought of as a way to bring good luck to the community. This is quite understandable because if the rite were not performed properly, the Gods would not be pleased or the angry soul of the animal would come to haunt them.

To the Germanic peoples, sacrificial blood was holy. After all, blood was and still is the substance of life; to the Germanic peoples, it had magical and spiritual properties, because when a creature was bleeding to death, its spirit was leaving.

The sanctity of blood is related to the correct observation that it is linked to life. This is why blood plays such an important role in blood sacrifice. After the animal had been slaughtered, Germanic priests caught the blood in a sacrificial bowl.

The blood was not wasted. In fact, this holy substance was smeared on the tree sanctuaries or the idols of the Gods that were carved into the wood of trees. The holy blood was also sprinkled on the witnesses of the blood sacrifice.

This is the manner in which the God idols and the witnesses were sanctified. The power of the spirit of the animal was conferred to them and would protect them. The blood had protective magical properties, warded off disease, and so on.

So, while slaughter was not a mechanised process in the Germanic times, the Germanic peoples had to get intimate with their sacrificial victim. They ascribed a spirit to their victim and they treated their victim with due respect.

This cannot be said of modern slaughterhouses where the spiritual aspect of slaughter is sorely neglected, the souls of animals are not tended to. The Gods of the Germanic peoples had the role of guiding the animal souls in the afterlife.

While the Germanic Gods, also called höpt (fetters) and bönd (bonds) in Old Norse, are not invoked in the slaughterhouses nor are the animals brought before sacrifice trees before meeting their end, the animal souls receive no proper guidance.

The spiritual guidance that is offered to the animal spirits is inherent in the sacrificial rite of the Germanic peoples and required no second thought. It was an obvious aspect of the rite that they performed, it required no elaboration.

We have now come to grasp how the Germanic cultural religion is properly associated with blood sacrifice, which is contextually related to food. We may ask: did blood sacrifices occur with any regularity and so when may we expect it?

Blood sacrifices occurred in cycles every year. It is not like Germanic peoples would slaughter animals every single day. A community could live off the meat of a slaughter animal for a long time and so there was no need for excessive slaughter.

Sacrifice was done in moderation. This is highly understandable because the Germanic peoples had to be careful with their scarce resources. It is even recommended in the Poetic Edda that one should not sacrifice too much.

The sacrificial cycles that occurred in the Germanic religion were entirely related to the cycles of food and slaughter. Major cycles of slaughter occurred in midsummer and midwinter, which fall on the summer and winter solstices respectively.

The Germanic peoples sacrificed for peace, victory, longevity and good harvest. Such were their general concerns in life. One ought to understand that personal concerns were linked to those of the community; everything was communal.

Similarly as in folk religions in East Asia, the Germanic folk religious prayers were simple and they were focused on the common good (of the tribe or clan). The topics of the prayers were highly stylised and would be pretty much the same every time.

The content of the prayers may thus be regarded as quite fossilised throughout the ages, for the concerns expressed therein would be timeless. The Germanic peoples desired peace, victory, longevity and good harvest in all ages.