Souls Belong to the Lakes

Written by Dyami Millarson

The Gothic term sáiwala, which is a cognate of the synonymous English term soul, may be related to the Gothic term sáiws, which is a cognate of the English term sea. Sáiws (pl. sáiweis) has a couple of meanings, namely lake, sea and marshland. Tacitus, Adam von Bremen and other sources of evidence point to the Germanic peoples as making offerings to sáiweis (pl.). If we may assume that the Germanic peoples sacrificed to sáiweis (lakes, seas, marshlands), then what does that mean for the relationship with the concept of sáiwala? It means that the soul itself is tied or connected to sacred sáiweis; the Urðarbrunnr Well of Urth, which is located at one of the three holy roots of the World Tree, may be interpreted as a sacred sáiws as well, or may at the very least be likened to it for insight’s sake.

After all, the sáiwala soul is connected with urðr fate from birth to death, and since urðr fate is connected with the Urðarbrunnr, it is not strange to suppose that the sáiwala soul shares a connection with the latter as well. We may suppose that the Urðarbrunnr is the beginning and end of the soul; it is whence the soul came and it is whither the soul will go. I recall watching a movie about knights in my youth where the corpse of a king was laid to rest on a raft and was then pushed to drift into the lake or sea (I am unsure of what kind of body of water it really was), and finally it was shot with a burning arrow so the raft would catch fire and would finally sink to the bottom of the sáiws (lake, sea). This scene might, coincidentally or not, been linked to a medieval Germanic ritual, as one can easily understand the burning of the king’s corpse as a way of sending the king’s soul into the sáiws.

This reminds me also of the bog mummies or bog bodies, and these finds have always made me consider the possibility that these were sacrifices according to the pre-Germanic tradition, which would be continued in Germanic times. Whether these were just sacrifices of ordinary humans or criminals is a moot point, because the Germanic peoples did not make such distinctions either in their time; any such execution, i.e. taking of a life, would have been accompanied by rituals as religion was an integral part of life (remember the social structure was more identical to that of a theocratic society as seen in the Middle Ages than anything we have in modern times where religious and secular affairs are separated, which would have appeared artificial and unfathomable to the ancients), and so what might now be regarded as the death penalty would then have been considered a sacrifice to the Gods, who could provide guidance of the sacrificial victim’s soul and with the proper rituals of dedication to the Gods, a vengeful spirit’s wrath could be averted.

It has been said that the Germanic peoples sacrificed their “worst men” to placate the Gods (see p. 59 of The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia), and this further supports the notion that the Germanic peoples may as well have sacrificed their criminals, although not all instances of human sacrifice necessarily need to have been executions of criminals; it is known that kings, who could not ensure good harvest, have been sacrificed. Additionally, Hangaguð God of the Hanged is another name for Othin and this appears to be connected with those who were killed by strangling. Killing living beings by binding with ropes to trees (i.e., strangling) seems to have been a consistent theme in ancient Germanic religion. The whole process must have been a magical rite similar to dancing around the maypole (cf. the German folk religious concept of Tanzbaum dance tree). Others have apparently had similar thoughts about the potential connection between bog mummies and sacrificial religion, it is definitely worth reading one such paper.

Why Were Germanic Sacrifices Usually Communal?

Written by Dyami Millarson

The reason why the blood sacrifices of Germanic religion tended to be communal instead of communal is practical: it was no easy task to slaughter large animals such as cows and horses (see more examples here and here). An individual could slaughter a cock or pig on his own, but a cow or horse is a whole different story.

Naturally, small animals would have been more closely associated with small feasts, large animals with large feasts. The latter would have been a lot less frequent than the former. After all, one does not need to slaughter large animals that frequent as their meat can feed human beings for a longer period of time if preserved properly.

Another reason for why the Germanic peoples tended to perform blood sacrifices together is cultural: people in the Middle and Classical Ages had a strong sense of community and they tended to do everything together. One might get a sense of this in tight-knit traditional village communities around the world.

People living in the medieval and classical times were a whole lot more communal than people are today, and so it is to be expected that it was only natural for them to perform slaughtering rituals together.

When it came to slaughtering large animals, obviously more knowledge and skill was required than with slaughtering a small animal. Here is where trained professionals might have come into play; people who served as priests must have possessed more intimate knowledge how to perform the slaughter than others. Priests are religious leaders and as such, usually distinguished or prominent men such as (petty) kings and earls took the role of priest in Germanic society.

So, to some extent, the slaughter of large animals may have been outsourced to experts as we do today in the modern world. Smaller animals could, of course, be slaughtered by anyone with some basic skills, but large animals obviously required more skills and so it was convenient to let skilled priests take care of it.

Priests combined the slaughtering ritual with fate-reading and other religious elements, so the slaughtering itself had higher significance than merely just slaughtering an animal for food and absorbing the power of its spirit. The priests could discern fateful messages during the slaughtering process and they would have looked for signs that the Gods accepted their bloody offering.

Blood sacrifice is nothing more than the highly ritualised form of slaughtering animals for meat; it has a close relationship with food and eating. The knowledge for blood sacrifice was essential for life and it was inherited. The knowledge for slaughtering small animals would have been common among all folks, but that of large animals would in all likelihood have been reserved to the most knowledgeable. So, priests would have had the function to transmit knowledge of how to slaughter animals properly, and this knowledge, as was all knowledge in the Germanic pagan world, was closely linked with the traditional religion.

Dutch Folklore About Stinging Nettles

Written by Dyami Millarson

Rembert Dodoens, whose family originally comes from Frisia, is known for having published a Dutch plant book titled Cruydt-boeck in 1554. Dodoens was born in 1517, which is the exact year that marks the end of the MIddle Ages if we use the Protestant Reformation as the event that marks the historical separation between medieval and post-medieval Europe. Being perhaps a child of the Middle Ages, Dodoens grew up in a changing world. Nevertheless, he must have possessed linguistic and cultural knowledge of the old medieval world and this may be seen in his medieval-looking Dutch language. Dodoens ought to have been aware of medieval lore about spirits. His plant lore is very extensive and offers us, to some extent, a glimpse into medieval plant knowledge, which may be connected with the the knowledge that the Germanic pagans had of the natural world around them.

People are shaped by the zeitgeist. The fact that Dodoens was at the crossroads between medieval and post-medieval culture makes him an interesting character. In my view, it is unfair to say that Dodoens – despite his novel innovations that broke with established medieval traditions – was distinctly non-medieval, because, from our modern perspective, Dodoens was much more medieval than he was “modern” like us. After all, Dodoens lived much closer to the Middle Ages than we do; we are further removed in time from the Middle Ages than Dodoens was. If we take the Reformation as the definitive point where the Middle Ages ended, we may say that Dodoens’ parents were born and grew up in the Middle Ages. Dodoens reasons in a medieval manner and his way of explaining things is medieval. The only difference is that the post-medieval environment is more tolerant; medieval culture and language were not being wiped out, but they were being phased out gradually by an environment of cultural and linguistic blossoming. Complicating things is that, in fact, the suppressed cultural and linguistic elements of the Middle Ages were suddenly becoming more apparent in the post-medieval world, and so one may argue that the post-medieval world was actually more medieval than the Middle Ages; the oppression and suppression had been reduced, so what had been lying dormant in the Middle Ages could now finally awaken. Just as languages between ages are transitory and do not suddenly change, cultures between different time periods are transitory and do not abruptly change. So, early 17th-century Dutch will look like the 16th-century Dutch language, and early post-medieval culture will look very much like medieval culture. However, the winds of rapid change had started to blow in the 16th century and this would become increasingly visible in the ages that followed the 16th century.

In the year 1608, an amended version of Dodoens’ plant book was published, which contained addenda by various anonymous botanists. The 1608 expanded version of the book contains a passage where stinging nettles are mentioned as a remedy against “spirits and apparitions”. Curiously, the original 1554 version of the book does not contain this entry. So it was not Dodoens himself who transferred this spiritual knowledge, which probably had medieval origins. I had once discovered the passage in the book of Dodoens, but could not find it back after a lot of labour reading through the book over and over again; I found it very strange that the passage that I was looking for was not there, it had magically disappeared. It was only much later that I came to realise that I had read the passage in a later version of the book, which had not been edited by Dodoens himself. The passage from the expanded version (p. 225) that I worked so hard to retrieve is the following:

Early 17th-century Dutch

De ghene die de Netelen over hem draeght / met wat bladeren van Vijfvinger-cruyt / die sal vry zijn van alle geesten ende voorschijnselen die den mensche pleghen te vervaeren: want sy benemen den mensche alle vreese/als sommighe versekeren.

English

Someone who wears stinging nettles over himself / with some leaves of five fingerwort / shall be free of all ghosts and apparitions which tend to terrorise the individual: because they (i.e., the herbs) remove all fear from the individual/as some assure.

Important to remember here is the fact that Dodoens did, in all likelihood, not write this passage himself and it was added later. It does, however, offer us a glimpse into contemporary Dutch folklore, even though it was added 54 years after the original version was published. This addition must be seen in the context of an environment that is culturally increasingly tolerant to folklore, as this was already quite some time after the Reformation. Folklore had previously been heavily suppressed and it was now only starting to carefully rear its head. I have already previously talked about how the Reformation lead to a pagan renaissance; as a result of Protestantism, medieval paganism could make a resurgence.

I would have liked to put more time and consideration into my words in this article, but as fate would have it, I wrote it somewhat hastily while I am not in the position to spend more time on this than I have already done. Therefore, my assertions here and there might have needed more nuance and deliberation, but I simply had to go with what came to my mind and leave it as it is without any significant improvement. Of course, I may improve upon my current writings at a later time; I consider this article to be a public entry of a diary that records my thoughts.

Eating Strong Animals Made Germanic Polytheists Strong

Written by Dyami Millarson

We know the modern adage, you are what you eat. The ancient polytheists of the Germanic world had this folk wisdom as well, and it was so profound a wisdom to them that it was a basic principle of religion to them: having sacrificed a strong animal according to the ancient tradition, the strong animal’s spirit is transferred to the human sacrifiers who consume the animal’s meat, blood and bones. So, the Germanic polytheists believed that eating strong animals made them strong.

On Monday 20 December 2021, I was having a soup made of a cock (male chicken, called rooster in US) which we slaughtered on Sunday 19 December 2021 during full moon. It was my first time slaughtering chickens. Before, during and after the experience, it made me think about the philosophy of existence. It helped me gain more insight into the ancient Germanic traditions of communal blood sacrifice, as it allowed me to understand better, from a spiritual perspective, why blood sacrifice was a communal rather than individual affair; doing this together helps with the bereavement process (verwerkingsproces in Dutch).

I believe that everyone should actually experience what it is like to take another being’s life before you consume the meat, because it is a spiritual experience that makes you ponder about existence in the human world (which may also be called Mithgarth). I am thankful I could experience this because when we buy chicken in the supermarket, we miss this spiritual aspect of the acceptance of the transition between life and death as well as the transition from death to feeding other life. When I was having the chicken soup on Monday, I was thinking especially about the latter transition and as the meat of the cock was really strong, it made me ponder the notion that eating strong animals makes us strong.

Taking the life of an animal with your own hands for the consumption of all of its meat is not just a spiritual or philosophical experience, but it is also an ethical matter of taking responsibility. Modern people like deferring the responsibility of slaughtering animals to others or even machines, this seemingly dissolves us of guilt and responsibility so we do not think much about it when we buy meat in the supermarket and consume it on a regular basis. However, when we do take responsibility, it makes us much more mindful of the meat and where it came from.

If one were to live according to the ways of the ancestors in the modern day and age, I believe it is relevant to incorporate the notion of taking responsibility for the meat that one consumes; where possible, it is best to slaughter animals yourself so that you feel the full responsibility of your actions and know the value of the meat. To me, it seems logical that the traditional polytheist ancestors would have fully agreed with such a philosophical notion of taking responsibility; we have to do this with our own hands and we should experience the entire spiritual process.

Slaughtering an animal for meat was a part of growing up among the ancients, and since we still consume meat in the modern day and age, I do not see why we should shun the entire spiritual process, we are missing the spiritual part where we take matters into our own hands and my heart tells me we should reclaim this spiritual aspect of existence that we are currently missing when it comes to consuming meat; meat is not just about consumption, but also taking a life and we ought to be part of the process of helping the animal spirit pass on to the afterlife. It is a very intimate process when you take an animals life, and this ought to be done properly.

To me emotionally, it makes sense to believe that the animal spirit transfers its power to the human who consumes its meat. When we are present during the process of the animal’s death, we share a very intimate moment with it and we are also going to be the ones who will absorb its powerful spirit. When I ate the chicken soup on Monday, I felt much more intimate with the meat because I had slaughtered this cock myself, and I felt deeply thankful to the cock’s spirit. I noticed that the cock’s meat was very strong in texture and very tasty as well; this feeling made an image of a strong spirit entering my body appear before my mind’s eye.

Essential Germanic Polytheism: Strength in Numbers

Written by Dyami Millarson

The idea of strength in numbers is the essence of Germanic polytheism. The plurality of the divine or numinous world is seen as a sign of strength. The fact that the Gods are many/plural is what makes them strong.

As polytheists, the Germanic peoples worshipped the Gods in groups of two, three and possibly twelve. The number 2 stands for special connection, 3 for holiness and 12 for wholeness or totality.

The “twelve” Germanic Gods, with the exception of Othin as he represents the whole anyway and his mention therefore magically invokes all the Gods, are possibly Thor, Njorth, Frey, Tyr, Ull, Heimdall, Balder, Hodur, Frigg, and Freyja.

The effect of mentioning these twelve deities is that this would be regarded as “having mentioned all the deities.” Twelve was regarded as a powerful number by the polytheists; they believed in the magic/power of numbers.

Although there are more Gods than 12, naming 12 Gods suffices as the magical property of 12 is that all the Gods are invoked. Therefore, the number 12 has maximum effect for worship in case all the Gods’ attention is required.

The Germanic peoples did, however, invoke two or three Gods at a time the most frequently; it was customary to worship dualities and trinities. These groupings are usually recognisable by the fact that the names of such deities at least alliterate or else they may even be identical or similar-sounding.

Germanic deity pairs include Frey and Freyja, Vali and Vithar, the brothers Alcis, Sól ok Mani (Sun and Moon), Æsir ok Álfar (the Æsir and Elves), husband and wife Nerthus, etc. The Vanir have a tendency to come in pairs (usually divine twins).

The Æsir, who also include Vanir, may be worshipped in groups of three: Othin, Thor and Frey. This trinity may be perceived as the leaders or the most popular deities of the Æsir, therefore they represent the Æsir as a whole and worshipping them together may be regarded as the worship of all the Æsir.

Significant Gods, particularly outlier Gods, may be worshipped individually as well: Othin, Thor, Frey, Ull, Forseti (originally a Frisian God), Njorth, etc.

It is important to remember that the Gods are numina; they are essences of the universe or cosmos in which we live, and they are Gods in the sense that they are powerful spirits which have the qualities of extraordinary living men such as wizards, smiths, kings, etc. Combining all their resources and skills is what makes the Gods an exceptionally powerful/strong community.

There were many Germanic clans/tribes in the past, and the Gods ought to be regarded as the most powerful tribe/clan in the Germanic world. The Germanic clans/tribes had different relationships of power, some tribes were stronger than others and yet all culturally agreed that the Gods were the strongest.

Terugkeer des heidendoms: middeleeuwen, drukpers en protestantisme

Geschreven door Dyami Millarson

Het protestantisme was een hulp voor het heidendom. De Reformatie was een volksopstand tegen de gevestigde orde. Deze volksopstand verzwakte de kerk. Als gevolg ontstond er meer vrijheid en ruimte voor het heidendom. De kerk had het heidendom – dat verweven was met het christendom – eeuwenlang onderdrukt. De kerkelijke onderdrukking van het heidendom kwam tot een einde na de volksopstand en sindsdien kon men openlijk nieuwe belangstelling hebben voor het heidendom. De gesteldheid van Noordwest-Europa was veranderd nadat de volksopstand was voorgevallen; er was geen verbod meer op volksbelangstelling voor de oude kennis. De wederopleving van de Noordwest-Europese cultuur viel voor vanwege het feit dat het op dat ogenblik in de geschiedenis er geen kerkelijke tegenwerking voor heidense belangstelling meer was onder de adel.

De oude kerkelijke adel hield het heidendom van het volk onder de duim. Hierdoor was er een onhoudbare stand van zaken onstaan tussen volk en kerk. Het was een broeihaard voor opstand en het was louter een vraag van tijd alvorens deze door de adel gevreesde opstand zou voorvallen. De Reformatie was de beantwoording aan deze vraag. De kerk had eigenlijk een onverholen heidense volksopstand verwacht, echter de opstand kwam in de onverwachte gestalte van het protestantisme dat de katholieke kerk als heidens beschouwde. Jarenlang was de katholieke kerk namelijk uit angst voor een volksopstand bezig geweest het volk ervan te overtuigen dat een heidense terugval gevaarlijk was, dus de kerk had niet verwacht dat de eigen propaganda tegen hen zou keren; daar zij herhaaldelijk een vloek uitspraken over het heidendom, was hun eigen vloek tegen hen gekeerd.

Het christendom is een tweespalt; terwijl het heidendom na de kerstening overleefd heeft als onmisbare kern van de volksgeest of -kennis, het christendom draagt onbewust het heidendom met zich mee, en hierdoor ontkwamen – en ontkomen – zowel katholicisme als protetantisme niet aan het heidendom. Op het ogenblik van de Reformatie is het heidendom meegelift. De Reformatie luidde het einde van de middeleeuwen in en de openlijke belangstelling voor de oude kennis van het heidendom smeedde op het aambeeld der geschiedenis van Noordwest-Europa het begin van het nieuwe tijdperk na de middeleeuwen. De middeleeuwen kunnen samengevat worden als het tijdperk der onderdrukking des heidendoms. Met het protestantisme kwam er een einde aan deze onderdrukking en daarom was de volksopstand tegen de gevestigde orde van de katholieke kerk van innerlijk belang voor het heidendom om onder het juk van de kerk vandaan te komen: het protestantisme heeft het heidendom bevrijd van het katholieke juk.

De kerstening van Noordwest-Europa hield welomschreven in dat het heidendom naar de achtergrond verdween en het christendom op de voorgrond kwam. Dus terwijl het christendom uiterlijk christen is, is het innerlijk heidens onder het volk. Namelijk het volk bezit van oudsher heidense kennis, gebruiken, sprookjes, enz. De adel zat strakker in het geloof onder het katholicisme en zwoor het heidendom af; dit zorgde voor een ongemakkelijke verhouding tussen adel en volk dat uiteindelijk uitmondde in de Reformatie. De uitvinding van de drukpers – en de uitbreidende mogelijkheden om steeds meer en sneller te printen met de drukpers – was de aanjager van de Reformatie. Waar de oude geletterde adel geen belang voor de oude kennis had, had de nieuwe geletterde adel veel belangstelling en duldde wel degelijk grondige bestudering van de heidense bronnen van kennis. Gezien de volksopstand is het begrijpelijk dat de protestantse kerk soberder is en dat het de materiële weelde van de katholieke kerk verfoeide; de katholieke kerk was vooral een speeltje van de rijke adel geworden en deze weelde werd een symbool van onderdrukking.

Het protestantisme is een echt Noordwest-Europees fenomeen: het omlijnt de culturele grenzen van Noordwest-Europa en dit laat zien dat het protestantisme een culturele revolutie was. Met dank aan protestantse onderzoekers is de volkskennis van Noordwest-Europeanen steeds beter vastgelegd – dit bevestigt eveneens dat het protestantisme een culturele beweging was. Ikzelf heb tijdens mijn studie van de Friese talen aanschouwd wat voor een geestelijke weelde aan volkskennis er in de kleine Friese talen schuilgaat en veel van mijn kennis heb ik uiteindelijk ook te danken aan het protestantisme, die de Noordwest-Europese geest bevrijd heeft na de uitvinding van de drukpers. Sinds de Reformatie is de geest uit de fles en kon het brandend vuur des heidendoms niet meer geblust worden en de geletterde Noordwest-Europese bevolking zou het heidendom als interessante bron van kennis niet meer uit het oog verliezen. De 20ste eeuw was het einde van het protestantisme en sindsdien kon het heidendom zich goed losweken van het christendom, waardoor de werkelijke wederopleving van het heidendom – met hulp van onderzoek naar het heidendom dat door protestanten van voorgaande eeuwen gedaan is – kon beginnen. J.H. Halbertsma was een Friese protestantse christen die schreef over het Friese heidendom, terwijl hij wel degelijk heidense gebruiken herkende en verzamelde. Hij deed echter neerbuigend over het heidendom, maar hij heeft wel een positief boek over het boedhisme geschreven. Het boedhisme heeft immers dezelfde functie als het christendom jegens het plaatselijk of inheemse geloof: het is een vervangingsgeloof dat per se moet heersen over het oude en het moet onderdrukken om diens doelen te bereiken.

Met het Meiji-herstel begon het oude volksgeloof van Japan los te weken van het boedhisme, en Noordwest-Europa zal eenzelfde ontwikkeling ondergaan, waardoor het met Japan te vergelijken zal zijn. Eeuwen van bestudering van het heidendom zijn voorafgegaan aan het daadwerkelijke verval van het protestantisme en het ogenblik van het nieuwe begin voor het heidendom is aangebroken. Terugkijkend op de geschiedenis was de wederopleving van het heidendom onvermijdelijk. De kerk kon onmogelijk het heidendom verdelgen, en het heidendom kon op de achtergrond overleven op dergelijke wijze dat het zich nog dieper nestelde in het kern van het volksbestaan terwijl het uit adellijke kringen verbannen was. Het heidendom werd in volkskringen gebezigd en daar leefde het voort al dan niet in gewijzigde vorm omdat aanpassingsvermogen noodzakelijk voor overleving was. Echter in deze tijd waar er geen verbod op oorspronkelijk heidendom is, kan het heidendom weer terugkomen in diens oorspronkelijke en ongewijzigde vorm.

Uit dit schrijven blijkt dat de verhouding tussen de middeleeuwen, drukspers en protestantisme belangrijk zijn voor het begrip van de terugkeer des heidendoms. De cultuurverschrijven als gevolg van de Reformatie dient niet gekenmerkt te worden als een herstel van de belangstelling in de klassieke oudheid, maar als en herstel van de belangstelling in heidense kennis die eigen is aan de oudheid. Namelijk is ‘belangstellign voor klassieke oudheid’ slechts een eufemisme voor het heidens herstel dat op dat ogenlijk in de geschiedenis voorviel. Daarmee was de grond gelegd voor een dieper heidens herstel in de navolgende eeuwen. De terugkeer naar de oude wortels kon niet in een klap geschiedenis – het was een lange ontwikkeling die langzaam maar zeker gebeurde. De ontwikkeling richting het heidendom is een belangrijke beweging in de geschiedenis, waar Noordwest-Europa zichzelf herontdekt en steeds beter wordt in het begrip van de kennis die algemeen goed was onder de Noordwest-Europese voorouders in de oertijd. De terugkeer naar het begin en de oorsprong is het gevolg van afnemende maatschappelijke onderdrukking die afleidt van de zoektocht naar het eigene. Ieder tijdperk kent hindernissen, maar het de voorgenoemde terugkeer is voorbestemd.

Onderdrukking ongergaan was het Noordwest-Europese noodlot. Echter, deze ervaring maakt de terugkeer naar de jeugd van het Noordwest-Europese bestaan des te zoeter. Europeanen van noordwestelijke afkomst verlangen terug naar hun wortels en dit is een geschiedkundige ontwikkeling die zal toenemen in een wereld waar de Noordwest-Europeanen zich niet thuis – dus ontvreemd – voelen. Het heidendom is het eeuwige heim en tevens het eeuwige geheim van het bestaan voor de Noordwest-Europeaan. De aanschouwelijk goddelijke voorbestemming van de terugkeer van het heidendom toont aan dat de gunst der Goden teruggekeerd is – de Goden hebben medelijden en daarom breekt er een gunstig tijdperk aan. De voorouders wisten wellicht niet de weelde te waarderen die zij hadden door zo dicht bij de Goden – en daarmee de natuur of het wereldlijke – te staan, en de huidige heidenen zullen dit meer kunnen waarderen dan de oude heidenen door de onderbreking in de gestalte van eeuwenlange onderdrukking. Nu mag het heidendom zich weer ontwikkelen, bloeien en worden wat het zal worden.

De drukpers werd in 1440 door de Noordwest-Europese goudsmid Johannes Gutenberg uitgevonden en de drukpers werd mettertijd verbeterd. Zoals eerder vernoemd was deze uitvinding de aanjager van de cultuurverandering. De drukpers bleek de ontwrichtende technologie te zijn die de wind – of liever de storm – der verandering over Noordwest-Europa deed waaien. In onze tijd is dat het internet. Als we er op een heidense manier naar kijken, dan hebben de Goden kennelijk deze technologiën, die de stapsgewijze terugkeer van het heidendom begunstigen, geschonken aan de Noordwest-Europeanen. Immers, de Goden zijn vanuit traditioneel heidens perspectief geesten van inademing en ingeving. Deze wijze kennis – die geen toeval kan zijn – is ons langs het onderbewuste ingeblazen en ingegeven en de herkomst, oorsprong of bron dezer kennis kan, vanuit een heidens geloof in (voor)tekenen in het algehele bestaan, niet anders dan goddelijk zijn. Namelijk, de heidenen ontvingen berichten van hun Goden door middel van voortekenen, en de oude heidenen zouden de wederopleving – na een voorspelde eindstrijd – zien als voorbestemming aangezien het oude geloof door de Goden begunstigd is, en er zichtbare tekenen zijn in de geschiedenis die niet aan toeval toe te schrijven zijn omdat alles in de richting van de heidense terugkeer bewogen is.

De oude heidenen zijn met geweld neergeslagen en bekeerd; vervolgens werd het overlevende heidendom zwaar onderdrukt en gevangen gehouden door de kerk. De middeleeuwen zijn met de Reformatie tot een einde gekomen – men kan een ander ijkpunt nemen voor het einde der middeleeuwen maar met de Reformatie kwam er duidelijk een culturele breuk met de oude gevestigde orde. Ongehinderd door de autoriteiten van de oude kerk, volgde daarna een tijd van toenemende culturele opbloei en hernieuwde interesse in de oude kennis der heidenen. Kenmerkend aan het overgeleverde Noordse heidendom is de eindstrijd waarin de Goden sneuevelen en de uiteindelijke wederkeer der Goden en mensen. Deze profetische voorspellingen zijn iconisch voor het Germaanse heidendom; de oude heienen luisterden naar zulke profetische voorspelling. De neergang en wederopgang van het heidendom is onderdeel van een voorbestemde cyclus, en wij kunnen het nieuwe tijdperk zien als een nieuw, beter begin. De onderbreking is geen nadeel, maar de terugkeer laat zien dat de Goden noch verdwenen zijn uit de de geest des volks noch opgehouden zijn het oude volksgeloof te begunstigen.

De terugkeer – met alles dat daaraan is voorafgegaan – is een heidens wonder en geheim. De middeleeuwse adel kon zich wel degelijk inbeelden dat het heidendom zou terugkeren en zij vreesden ook daadwerkelijk dat hun macht eindig was. Hun macht bleek inderdaad niet oneindig te zijn en als zij de toekomst hadden kunnen zien, hadden zij tot hun schrik moeten ontdekking dat de terugkeer des heidendoms onvermijdelijk was. Uiteraard moet wel vermeld worden dat deze terugkeer gaat om het terugkeren van het heidendom naar de voorgrond – het is niet meer een heimelijke kracht op de achtergrond. Deze verschuiving is belangrijk, maar het heidendom is nimmer helemaal weggeweest. Het heidendom was altijd aanwezig, maar nu kan het wederom diens oeroude gedaante aannemen omdat het niet meer verhinderd is terug te keren naar diens oorspronkelijke vorm. Metamorfose – of gedaanteverandering – is heidense magie die toegepast kan worden op kritieke momenten voor het overleven. Terwijl het heidendom een gedaanteverandering ten gunste van het voortbestaan heeft ondergaan in de middeleeuwen, kan het nu weer terugveranderen naar diens echte vorm. Vanuit dit standpunt beschouwd is het heidendom een evolutionair succesvolle religie; hij buigt mee met de wind des tijdgeests en staat ferm wanneer het tij zich keert.

De heiden smeedt het ijzer wanneer het heet is. Dit is beslist een waarheid. De begunstiging der Goden – en de denkbeeldige besprenkeling van het volk met het offerbloed van geluk – is wisselend zoals het lot. De Goden hebben kennis van het lot en gedragen zich naar het lot; wij zullen het geheim van deze cyclische beweging nimmer begrijpen, maar wij kunnen dit wonder van het lot wel omarmen. De aard van het lot is eenmaal zo en dit kunnen wij niet veranderen. De Goden – en wij ook – leven naar het lot, wij ondergaan het noodlot; er zullen goede en slechte tijden komen, en wanneer wij door de Goden verlaten zijn, moeten wij blijven geloven in hun terugkeer, die het lot voorschrijft of ‘van tevoren weeft’. De toekomst is geweven en de wereld beweegt in de ronde draden des levenswebs. Kringvormigheid is een eigenschap of kenmerk van het lot omdat het een web is dat de gang der tijd bepaalt terwijl het gewoven wordt door Godinnen aangezien het weven bij de voorouders met name een vrouwelijke aangelegenheid is. ‘s Werelds ondergang die voorspeld is in het heidendom houdt ook een wedergeboorte des werelds in, wat betekent dat indien de Goden ten onder gaan in de eindstrijd, de Goden wederom herboren worden. Met andere worden, terwijl de Godenbomen in Noordwest-Europa omgehakt mogen zijn en moesten sneuvelen vanwege de ingang van het christendom, is de terugkeer van deze heilige bomen, die als Goden of Godenbeelden vereerd dienen te worden, voorbestemd.

De symbolische verdwijning en het weder voor de dag komen van de Goden is een heidens ritueel; verdwijning en terugkeer zijn een belangrijk thema in het heidendom. Vandaar is de verdwijning van het heidendom in het middeleeuwen – althans, het naar de achtergrond verdwijnen – als een heidens ritueel te beschouwen of als een heidens teken op te vatten. Heidense symboliek is terug te vinden in de geschiedenis omdat heidense symboliek thematisch is; het kijkt naar de geschiedenis, niet als een rechte lijn, maar als de eb en vloed van natuurkrachten, en het verlangen naar het polytheïsme is een natuurkracht die onderdeel is van de mens, aangezien de aard van de mens niet te veranderen is en de mens uiteindelijk altijd zal wederkeren naar zijn oerhoedanigheid. De mens kan zichzelf niet ontsnappen en daarom is het interessant om de symbolische betekenis van historische gebeurtenissen vanuit een heidens perspectief te aanschouwen. Voor het heidendom is de val niet het einde, en het opkomst niet het begin; de val ging slechts vooraf aan de opkomst, dus de christelijke dualiteit is verbroken door de cyclische werkelijkheid die het heidendom sinds mensenheugenis kenmerkt. De mens krijgt door de terugkeer der Goden een nieuwe mogelijkheid om zijn heil te zoeken in de heilige wouden en zijn band met het wereldlijke bestaan te versterken; de wereld waar wij in leven is heilig, het heet Midgaard, de tuin van de Goden voor de mens, en de mens is, ongelijk het christelijk narratief, volgens het heidendom juist niet uit deze heilige tuin geschopt door de Goden maar in deze tuin gezet om de natuurlijke heerlijkheid en lust des menselijken levens te mogen ervaren.

De mens heeft met de terugkeer der Goden een nieuwe kans gekregen om zich met de natuur te verenigen, en vrede te maken met de wereld waarin hij leeft. De mens, wiens plicht het is om de heilige tuin te verdedigen, moet als tuinier goed zorgen voor de heilige tuin die hem door de Hoge Goden geschonken is. De mens kan zijn heil zoeken bij de Goden, wat inhoudt dat hij zich kan omringen met de natuur want Goden laten zich onder de Germanen vertegenwoordigen als heilige bomen, waarin men hun gezicht gewaar kan worden; Goden zijn bomen met een menselijk gezicht, en dus de Goden zijn het voor de mens herkenbare gezicht der natuur, waartoe de mens zich altijd kan keren – of op voorbestemde cyclische tijdstippen – indien hij behoefte heeft aan toenadering tot de oer die achter alles schuilt, en zo zal, gelijk de heidense voorouders, de mens zijn heil kunnen vinden in de toekomst. De heilige tuinen van Japan stemmen de mens tot rust, het voldoet aan een innerlijke behoefte van toenadering tot de natuur, en deze innerlijke behofte zal eveneens vervuld worden door de heilige tuinen – of wouden – der Germanen van de toekomst, die hun natuur- of wereldgeloof herontdekt hebben als heil voor mens en ziel op de aarde, waarmede wij op een zorgzame wijze dienen samen te leven. De natuur of wereld is waar het goddelijke leeft en vertegenwoordigd is en dat is waar het goddelijk volgens de oude heidenen gezocht hoort te worden. De Chinese tempels van Hongkong zijn huizen voor godheden en zijn vaak omringd met natuur die rust en stilte bieden, een afwisseling met de drukte der stad. De natuur om de tempel heen is de heilige tuin, die bij de Germanen ook voorkwam indien er tempels gebouwd werden; het was een stukje ongerept natuur. De functie die de Hongkongse tempels hebben is een vergelijkbare functie die huizen voor Goden onder de toekomstige Noordwest-Europeanen kunnen vervullen; desalniettemin zijn huizen voor de Goden volgens het oude Germaanse gebruik niet noodzakelijk, en zijn de heilige tuinen of parken op zich voldoende.

The Centuries of the Oppression of Paganism

Written by Dyami Millarson

The Centuries of the Oppression of Paganism or Oppressive Centuries may be an alternative name for the Middle Ages. The transition from the Middle Ages to the post-medieval centuries was one characterised by a renewed interest in paganism. People euphemistically call this a renewed interest in classical culture, but what they really mean by “classical culture” is paganism, particularly in elite circles. After all, the ages that preceded the Middle Ages were thoroughly pagan and the Middle Ages were simply an interlude between centuries of pagan culture among elites.

The old Church elites did their best to suppress paganism as explained in my previous article. Oppressing paganism was a matter of survival for the old elite. It was a precarious situation to be in. There was a widening cultural division – and dissatisfaction – among the populace versus the elite in the Middle Ages. Protestantism tapped into this popular anger and ushered in a new era of paganism. Ironically, the protestants accused the Catholics of paganism, whilst Protestantism as a popular vehicle was actually a vehicle for paganism.

The difference between Catholicism and Protestantism lies not so much in the fact that both embrace paganism, but the fact that Protestantism allows for more open interest in paganism whereas Catholicism delegates this to the realm of secrecy. Protestantism offers paganism a sigh of relief while it gives paganism the freedom it needs to make a comeback after being imprisoned by Catholicism. Catholicism imprisons paganism by synthesising with it whilst also keeping silent about it and condemning it if needed for reasons of maintaining power.

Protestants accused the Catholics of being “pagan” and the opposite side accused the Protestants of being pagan as well. The protestants knew how to play the game of the Catholics, who had been trying to prevent a popular uprising with their propaganda against a pagan revolution. Thus, the pagan revolution came not in the form of an explicitly pagan revolution but cloaked itself in a form that looked Christian and would prove fatal to the old powers. Protestantism acting as a pagan vehicle is not as strange as it may sound at first, because paganism was part of the cultural subconscious of the populace and the ordinary folk, quite inevitably, carried their pagan cultural heritage over from Catholicism to Protestantism.

The Protestant revolution, which was actually a pagan revolution, occurred in Northwestern Europe, where the culture was already different from the rest of Europe and this may be seen as a distinctly Northwestern European phenomenon, as Northwestern Europe started to assert itself culturally. Northwestern Europe broke free from the cultural influence of Rome, and set out to shape its own path; this meant a new interest in pagan heritage. After the fall of essentially Roman influence in Northwestern Europe, the Northwestern European elites became increasingly more open-minded towards exploring paganism.

The renewed interest in paganism meant that the elites were interested in the knowledge of the pagan Roman, Greek and Germanic peoples. The literate elites rediscovered themselves with this old knowledge, and this is what led them in the direction of exploring Germanic paganism. The cultural shift that took place is that the literate elites had grown from being anti-pagan to pagan sympathisers, which can still be felt today. Germanic paganism finds itself today in a sympathetic environment, which is more open to a pagan resurgence than ever.

The end of the Christian era was essentially the 20th century, and this meant the end of the synthesis between Christianity and paganism, as the latter survived whilst the former was increasingly fading into the background. Paganism is seen in all sorts of Northwestern European folk traditions. Paganism has countless ways of manifesting itself, and that is why it has proved so enduring. The 21th-century, if current trends continue, will see a confluence of many European ways of thinking and it will all come together in paganism; it is inevitable that paganism will face obstacles and hurdles along the way, but it has overcome great peril before and it survived the oppressive ages, so it has the power to survive.

Europe and the West as a whole in the 21st and 22nd centuries might look increasingly like the religious landscape of East Asia; there will be pockets of Christianity, but there were will very powerful pagan institutions in the West. The resurgence of East Asia itself might also give further impetus for a grand pagan revival. Japan itself might offer us a glimpse of what any pagan European might look like; it will emphasise family values, folk traditions, and respect for invisible beings. Middle Easterners and Asians are bringing the Islamic strain of monotheism to the West and Islam – with the reality of conversion – is a growing religion among Europeans as well, but this is not likely to affect current trends where Europeans are moving towards paganism and paganism is becoming symbolically more and more recognisable as well as culturally relevant in the European subconscious.

It must, however, be noted that even Islam synthesis with paganism, and many folk religious elements can be found among adherents of Islam. So pure monotheism is, in practice, not a reality among Islamic adherents either – just like with Christianity. Paganism has never since the Christianisation of Northwestern Europe in the Middle Ages been so iconically recognisable as it is today. This is proof of a clear shift in cultural mood among European populations. The stars are aligning in a way that clearly favours the full restoration of paganism to its old cultural relevance. The disappearance of paganism from the European cultural scene is unthinkable now, as the genie is out of the box and the circumstances leading to the widespread acceptance of explicit paganism are unlikely to be altered in the coming centuries, where European paganism might, if the current trends of space travel continue unabated, even be carried to distant planets named after pagan deities.

The Role of Protestantism in the Pagan Resurgence

Written by Dyami Millarson

Protestantism, which was a development that inaugurated the coming end of the medieval order, was a destabilising force for the Church in Northwestern Europe. While the popular revolution in Northwestern Europe weakened the medieval Church elite, it also inaugurated a great pagan resurgence in Europe. The old Church elite had been anxiously trying to keep “popular paganism”, namely the paganism of the populace, in check and the era of “monotheistic elite vs. pagan populace” was coming to a close as the lines started to become blurred following the popular revolution, the momentum of which Protestantism was riding.

The populace did in all likelihood not support Protestantism because they truly believed in it, but rather because they saw the opportunity to revolt. The momentum for revolution had built and Protestantism rode that momentum. Protestantism simply offered a monotheistic justification for the revolution. However, under the surface, much more was going on. There had been an age-old cultural tension between the elite and populace in medieval times, the long-dreaded uprising that the Church elites had been trying to prevent had finally arrived when the revolution justified by Protestantism finally occurred.

Leading up to the revolution was widespread dissatisfaction. After Europe had been fully christianised, the new Church elites and the populace grew ever more distant. Finally, people needed a renewal as the elite and popular cultures had grown too far apart to be reconcilable. The elites’ fear of a pagan uprising from the populace was correct and they focused on their energy on trying to prevent it, but they might not have expected a monotheistic justification for such an uprising. The synthesis between monotheism and polytheism eventually fateful; the Protestants officially saw the old elites as “pagan” and accused them as having forsaken monotheism, and thus the Protestants used the elites’ own propaganda to break free from their iron grip upon the populace and this freed paganism from medieval suppression.

In Northwestern Europe, paganism was never truly gone. It had always lived on among the ordinary people and the elites knew this. The Middle Ages had ended in an uneasy stalemate between paganism and monotheism. While the latter ascended the highest echelons of power, the former was banished from elite circles. It was, however, impossible to truly eradicate paganism; this would have required the complete eradication of all pagan knowledge preserved in texts, pagan festivals, and pagan spiritual beings. The Church did certainly try, but did not succeed. Furthermore, the situation was complicated as the Church derived legitimacy in Europe from its pagan sources as it claimed to be the heir to all the glories of past pagan times. This tenuous situation, with the Church trying to gain legitimacy through paganism, exposes the vulnerability of the Church.

The medieval Church was, contrary to modern imagination, not an all-powerful organisation and it did not achieve a fully indoctrinated Europe. It had to make concessions due to the limits of its power. The Church had to make an uneasy “peace” with paganism; it still tried to wage a cultural war on “popular paganism.” As this was the state of affairs in the Middle Ages, there was always a high chance that paganism would come back with a vengeance. The prospect of a pagan uprising was as real as day in the Middle Ages, and that is basically also how the Middle Ages ended when the inevitable finally happened. After all, there is no other way to interpret the social acceptance of popular interest in paganism in the ages that followed the Middle Ages, this had been a strict taboo in the Middle Ages.

The post-medieval centuries were much more accepting – as well as accommodating – towards a resurgent interest in paganism. This interest often still required a monotheistic justification, but decreasingly so as time passed. Northwestern Europe – and Europe as a whole – has been in a very gradual process towards the re-acceptance of paganism. This process, which is the accumulative result of ages of developments, is picking up pace in recent decades. The acceleration of this pagan resurgence may be seen as the result of technological developments; the revolutionary technology of the printing press is what helped paganism – as well as Protestantism – and finally the internet did the same. Paganism in the post-medieval ages is the result of the printing press and the accelerated growth of paganism in the modern age is the result of the internet.

It was inevitable that paganism and Protestantism would ride the same wave of revolution after the invention of the printing press. Protestant writers across Northwestern Europe, whose works were spread far and wide across the European world with the aid of the printing press, would later profess interest in Germanic religion. Thus, if one desires to understand the factors that explain why Protestantism played an out-sized role in the resurgence of paganism, one should accept the following facts: (1) the printing press was the driving technological force behind the popular revolution against the old order of the medieval Church, (2) the Middle Ages witnessed tension between the Church elites and pagan populace, and (3) as the old elites had feared a pagan uprising, Protestantism offered a monotheistic justification for exactly that uprising and proved to be a historically decisive destabilising force that weakened the power of the old Church and thus paved the way for the acceptance of the contemporary paganism of the populace as well as the study of the old paganism that had existed prior to monotheism.

It would be historically inaccurate not to acknowledge the service that Protestantism has done to the resurgence of paganism. Thanks to Protestantism, paganism was freed from its medieval shackles. Freedom is what it needed in order to heal from imprisonment and gradually make a full recovery. Paganism is the rising star of the European cultural scene. The forces of history have aligned for bringing about the return of Germanic religion, and it is fair to acknowledge the useful role that Protestantism has played. Protestantism was the sword that ended the hegemony of the medieval Church, and Protestantism rode on the back of an inherited pagan horse, whose rider would never abandon him as the horse is simultaneously the human rider’s dear companion and beloved heirloom. So there is nothing wrong in being thankful to Protestantism for bringing the spirit of paganism as ancient European cultural force back to the foreground, and consequently, paganism is no longer shunned from the very centre of European cultural power as well as it is no longer excluded from European high culture; polytheism is now an incrementally normal part of European cultural discourse.

There Are Simply Many Gods

Written by Dyami Millarson

Based on the nature of Germanic folk religion, the principle emerges that there are simply, naturally or totally many Gods. This is the only traditional Germanic principle on the quantity of Gods. If the multitude of Gods was the norm in Germanic religion, how could it be successfully propagated across generations and among (neighbouring) foreign peoples? After all, might it not be harder to propagate a diversity of Gods than a single divinity, or doesn’t this make a difference? How easily transferable is this diversity?

Full appreciation of the entire diversity of the Germanic divine beings may take some time to cultivate, but it may not take longer than learning any only-one-deity religion. While Germanic folk religion is a totally-many-deities religion, the diversity of Gods is encoded in its very poetry. There is, in Germanic religion, no way to escape the poetical reality of divine diversity. Being exposed to merely a few lines of Germanic poetry will already make one aware that there are totally many Gods.

Growing aware that there are totally many Gods is not that hard, as one may assume. Monotheism holds no evolutionary advantage over polytheism in terms of simplicity or in terms of being more easily learned. It is really not that hard to acquaint oneself with the names of the Germanic Gods, and polytheism is by no means a maladaptive trait for any religion.

Germanic polytheism did manage to adapt to monotheist suppression, which is a testament to its resilience. Monotheism never completely won in Medieval Europe, nor did polytheism completely lose, the picture is rather more blurred as native European polytheistic culture and foreign Middle-Eastern monotheistic culture fused into a double-faced cultural synthesis with a foreign outer layer and a native inner layer.

The multitude of ghostly and devilish beings that medieval Europeans believed in may be seen as a major victory for polytheism under adverse circumstances, chiefly caused by a prevailing zeitgeist among elites that did not favour explicit polytheism. The survival of implicit polytheism did, however, render the idea of only one deity hollow – it was but an assertion and nothing more.

Affirmations do not change reality. Polytheism cannot be wished away. It is a strong cultural force rooted in people’s psyches, and therefore it is highly transferable. In other words, polytheism is adaptive and is by no means easy to kill. Medieval elites constantly feared a return of polytheism, perhaps a popular uprising with polytheistic tenets among the populace.

Instead, the end of the Middle Ages took a more piously monotheistic turn, yet soon an appreciation for the hidden polytheistic layer began to develop and an inevitable resurgence of old beliefs began. The Middle Ages may be characterised as a hypocritical period of self-denial; European cultures had to deny their polytheist self. However, as soon as Europe steered away from medieval dogmas, it became ever more socially acceptable to look honestly in the mirror and embrace the pagan past.

The renewed interest in this intrinsically European past prior to the advent of monotheism may be seen as the beginning of a new era of explicit polytheism. Times have irreversibly changed, the zeitgeist has turned more favourable towards polytheism. The thesis might be put forward that the resurgence of explicit polytheism was only a matter of time and betting against its inevitable return was supporting the wrong side of history.

The genie is out of the box. Renewed interest in polytheism in past ages following the Middle Ages has made European polytheism – including Germanic polytheism – ever more accessible, and irreversibly so. The lid could not be kept on polytheism, it was a spiritual force that was awaiting the right time to break out and retake its rightful historical place in the cultural scene of Europe. Polytheism has already started infiltrating the highest echelons of European culture since the end of the Middle Ages, and has been building up momentum in the last decades.

Where elites had desired to distance themselves from popular beliefs in the Middle Ages, the post-medieval elites had become ever more culturally integrated with the populace. The cultural tension between elite and populace as experienced during the Middle ages was ultimately untenable and held back societal potential. Tensions eased as integration continued during the ages that followed the Middle Ages and as the political influence of the Church elite dwindled as the “Popular Ages” started, which have been seeing a return to – and a yearning for – the pagan roots.

Germanic Folk Religious Adoration of Blood

Written by Dyami Millarson

The early Germanic peoples were fascinated with blood. When studying Germanic folk religion, the centrality of blood as a topic and symbol has been often overlooked or deliberately ignored due to modern negative conceptions – as well as fear – of blood. In the ancient Germanic world, blood was highly respected. While blood is the force of life, it was an integral part of many Germanic rituals. Blood played an important role in blood sacrifice rituals and blood brotherhood rituals.

To understand the Germanic philosophy, we have to set aside our modern, especially urban, disgust with blood. Rather than seeing it as filthy and repelling, the Germanic nature peoples perceived it as pure and regenerating. Sacrificial blood was therefore considered sacred, and it was sprinkled on the attendants of a blood sacrifice.

Blood is essential to life and if one embraces nature, one ought to embrace blood as a substance of natural purity intrinsically associated with life. Germanic blood sacrifices are a celebration of life, because such rites are dedicated to blood as a force of life leaving the victim’s body. Blood sacrifice is an ancient way of helping the victim to say farewell to life and welcome the afterlife. The rite is dedicated to the transition from life to death, and this transition between two worlds is an awe-inspiring miraculous and important moment for living creatures.

Of course, there is an element of appeasement in the sacrificial blood rite. The creature, which is sacrificed, is dedicated to the Gods before consumed by humans; this is the religious tradition through which humans rendered the meat safe to consume without invoking the wrath of a vengeful animal spirit. The Gods drink liquids, and it can be presumed they drink blood, as that is a life force with regenerative powers. Sacrificial blood was smeared onto the tree idols of the Gods and the symbolism of this must be that the Gods gain life – and youth by extension – from the sacrifice and the sacrificers of blood are therefore contributing to the life – and youth – of the ancient Gods; those who sacrifice blood give power to the Gods.

Blood is not just a bestower of life force, but it is a symbol of binding living entities together as well. The magical binding properties of blood are particularly relevant in a rite such as blood brotherhood. The mixing of blood symbolises kinship, and therefore a familial duty to protect each other. Blood could thus be a source – as well as a symbol – of familial rights and duties. All of this is to highlight how immensely important the concept of blood was in the pristine Germanic world, and this article ought to prove to the reader that blood as a topic must not be overlooked when studying Germanic traditional religion.