Parallel Worlds in Germanic Folk Religion

Written by Dyami Millarson

There are nine worlds in Nordic folk religion. We may safely assume that there were multiple worlds in the other strands of Germanic folk religion as well. Mithgarth, Asgarth, Alfheim, Svartalfheim and Jötunheim are all worlds that exist parallel to each other. So the Germanic peoples believed in parallel worlds: the Álfar are parallel humans, so are the Æsir, so are the Jötnar, so are the Dvergar, so are the Vanir. The worlds they inhabit are alternate worlds that are reflections of the same human, spiritual or divine condition; they reflect the same reality essentially.

Parallelism is a quintessential characteristic of Germanic folk religion; Parallelism is the truth underlying the structure of the Germanic universe (Germanic religion may be termed Germanic universism as it encompasses the Germanic understanding or view of the universe, though one should not confuse universism with universalism). The following synecdoche rings true for Germanic folk religion: divinity mirrors humanity, and humanity mirrors divinity. Natural parallelism as a structural feature of Germanic folk religion is the reason for the principle of divine diversity; the Germanic peoples believed in many deities, because they believed in parallelism as reflected in nature.

Germanic folk religion is, doubtlessly, a reflection of nature, and hence it may be termed nature religion. Nature is what inspired the Germanic peoples; for they lived in nature. The boundary between the Germanic village and nature was very small and arbitrary; the Germanic peoples lived very close to nature like other indigenous people around the globe who built their villages in nature. The home of the Germanic peoples was nature, so it is not surprising that nature informed their religious worldview.

The multiplicity of any kind of living organism is a given in nature; it is necessary for any species in nature to not be the only and last individual of their kind. For divinity to be one would mean to the Germanic mind that the Gods are a dying breed. If there were only one human being, that would mean the human race is dying. The fertility of the divine races was seen as reflective of their vitality; nature always reproduces, and reproduction is an imperative in nature. Multiplicity and multiplication were fully embraced in Germanic religion, hence fertility was always seen as an important factor in religious rite and story.

Human beings, spiritual beings and divine beings are all quintessentially belonging to the same man-like prototype with natural imperfections and moral defects; humanity, spirituality and divinity are overlapping in Germanic religion, hence I could speak of the human/spiritual/divine condition in this article as being the template or blueprint for the various mirror reflections of reality that are presented to us in Germanic folk religion.

One may superficially say that there are multiple realities or truths in Germanic folk religion, but these are actually multiple copies of the same reality or truth. These parallel realities are simply reflecting that there are universal laws governing the world, regardless of what reality one finds oneself in. The philosophical implications of this are huge; the grass is not greener elsewhere, but everyone is subject to the same fate, ørlög, primordial law.

The other worlds being replicas or replications of our human world is highly engaging and appealing from a philosophical perspective; the Germanic peoples would have looked at the other worlds and realised that the other man-like beings had it no better than them; this gave them hope automatically, as it meant that they were already living in utopia and had to make the best of life in the world they lived in. This is a very natural way to view the world; for this natural worldview helps one to deal with the harsh realities of the world.

Germanic folk religion is an acceptance of the state of the world, an acceptance of the state of nature; the natural parallelism found in Germanic religion shows us the Germanic understanding of utopia, the world in which they lived was already ideal to them because the natural world, which they inhabited, was their eternal ideal to which they aspired. The Germanic peoples could not imagine a better world than the natural world which they inhabited; they saw nature as perfect, and this is a sentiment we can certainly relate to in modern times.

Furthermore, it is important that the Germanic peoples did not fully perceive the other worlds as distinct from their own; there was always overlap. The worlds were all interconnected, and there were frequent interactions between them. Therefore, the boundaries between the worlds are blurred; the distinctions are arbitrary rather than absolute. While the worlds are part of one underlying reality, they are governed by the same universal laws, and this means that their distinction is, fundamentally, not that relevant. In other words, while one may say they are copies or replicas of the same prototype, they are actually an interconnected web; the worlds are part of the same system, and that is why they display parallelism that makes one realise they are essentially the same. The best way to think about the worlds is that they are parallel threads in a web as they belong to the same natural systemic structure and they are subject to the same natural dynamics of evolution.

In conclusion, one may understand the parallelism of the multiple worlds in Germanic religion to be a confirmation of the idea there is only one world. The Germanic peoples did not call these parallel worlds ‘worlds’, but they spoke of only one ‘world’ (age of man) and all the other realms, which I previously called worlds, were simply alternate kingdoms of man that were part of the same age of man; these realms existed parallel to each other in perpetuity. All realms being part of the same ‘age of man’ is important; they exist at the same time, they do not exist within another timeframe. Therefore, these worlds or realms are not parallel worlds in the sense they belong to other timeframes, but time runs the same in all of these worlds and therefore they exist in the same reality.

Moral Engineering: Does Germanic Folk Religion Assume Man Can and Must Be Changed?

Written by Dyami Millarson

Can man be socially engineered according to Germanic religion? Is the goal of Germanic religion to change man?

To answer this question, we need to understand the moral ambiguity that pervades Germanic folk religion.

Although there is a moral code (code of honour) inherent in Germanic folk religion as it is considered worthy to live an honourable life, the moral code of Germanic folk religion is about self-acceptance (being oneself), and therefore it is an acceptance of moral intuition (wisdom) and in-born human conscience.

There is no clear path towards what is moral in Germanic folk religion as the world is not seen through a black-and-white lens; evil and good are intertwined, and morality is thus an acceptance of both good and evil, creating moral ambiguity.

In other words, the morality of Germanic folk religion is moral ambiguity. Germanic folk religion is about man and fate; man will become what he is meant to become, and he will find, by his own intuition, what he is meant to be.

The flow of life is whatever it is; and Germanic religion is the acceptance of that. A Germanic polytheist is thus fate-accepting, life-accepting; amor fati, the love of fate, is the slogan that characterises his life.

All in all, Germanic folk religion is not about changing man or creating a mankind that is better, but it is about man finding himself, accepting himself for what he is meant to be. The goal of Germanic folk religion is not change (social engineering), but acceptance; and therefore its central message is finding peace with one’s fate whatever it may be and this requires one to embrace moral ambiguity.

The goal of Germanic folk religion is the self-actualisation of man; for man ought to find his own potential in life. Germanic folk religion seeks to get out of man whatever is already inside of him; and nothing but that which is already present in man is what concerns the goal of Germanic folk religion.

Germanic folk religion is thus about helping mankind to realise its potential; it is about maintaining man as he is, and letting him become whatever he is meant to become. As a force of maintaining the order of the universe, Germanic folk religion is a device that helps man achieve whatever he is meant to achieve in his lifetime.

Germanic folk religion is like a wise old man who is meant to help a young hero on his perilous journey; Germanic folk religion provides the young hero with wise council, and the young hero may ignore that advice at his own peril.

While Germanic folk religion helps the hero on his way to victory, it takes a passive role in the background; Germanic folk religion is a philosophy that adopts the moral indifference of a wise old man who has seen too much, has come to accept moral ambiguity as a fact of life due to his many worldly experiences and has seen the survival benefit of letting moral ambivalence be his moral compass (guiding philosophy of ethics) in life.

Germanic folk religion does interfere with the life of the protagonist in the sense that it seeks to nudge him in the right direction in accordance with his destined potential; but it does not interfere with the right or wrong choices of the protagonist, as he is free to choose to accept or neglect the prudent councils of the ancient old ones who are responsible for maintaining the order of the universe.

So, Germanic folk religion is both interference and non-interference; it does not seek to change the hero (or villain) fundamentally so as to make him a better human being, but it seeks to help the hero (or villain) to become whatever he needs to become in order to fulfil his destined role in life. Everyone has their role to play and Germanic folk religion does not interfere with the order of things; it accepts man’s nature as it is, regardless of whatever that may be, and it helps man on his way, giving him wise council so that he may achieve his full potential.

Man will ultimately be judged, by men and Gods alike, on the basis whether his actions were worthy or not; an honourable name or good reputation is what ultimately matters according to the Germanic folk religious worldview. In other words, one has to maintain one’s face throughout one’s life and one should not lose face; and even if one loses face, one should try to regain one’s face, thus use actions in order to restore one’s lost honour. Germanic society is a society based on reputation, and man’s reputation is regulated by one’s actions.

The Adventure of Defining Germanic Polytheism

Written by Dyami Millarson

This site is about the adventure that is defining Germanic polytheism. This site, which contains my musing about the definition of Germanic folk religion, is a philosophical quest.

If one wishes to understand Germanic polytheism, one has to investigate it; and to investigate it, one has to seek a definition of Germanic polytheism.

I enjoy the journey of seeking a definition for Germanic polytheism all the way; this will be a long journey because there are many aspects that we will have to consider.

No matter what we talk about on this site, the purpose is nevertheless to find out what Germanic polytheism means; this is an essential question for both beginner and advanced student of Germanic polytheism.

Basically, this site is based on a philosophical question regarding a basic definition; and this question leads to a lifelong quest that has to be embraced.

Embracing this quest makes one a philosopher; and as a philosopher seeking the truth behind the definition of Northwestern European folk religion, I am an eternal disciple of Germanic polytheism.

In order to be a teacher, one has to be a good student; and if one wishes to teach others about Northwestern European folk religion, one has to study it oneself first.

Defining Germanic Polytheism On Its Own Cultural Terms

Written by Dyami Millarson

Germanic languages possess concepts which ought to help define Germanic polytheism on its own cultural terms.

Germanic religion may be defined as heiðr (honour) or blót (sacrifice). Both are essentially the same in the Germanic context.

Heiðr or blót is what motivated Germanic society; it defines Germanic culture, for it permeates it.

Polytheism may be rendered as goðablót (sacrifice to the Gods), which is a specification of blót (sacrifice).

Goðablót stands for the poly- in polytheism, for it specifies that the sacrifice is to many Gods.

Theism in the Germanic context practically means blót, for the divine exists chiefly to be sacrificed to.

In other words, the Germanic theistic principle is that the divine is not to be understood, but sacrificed to.

Thus is the difference between orthopraxy and orthodoxy, and this is relevant for the definition of religion in the Germanic cultural context.

Since Germanic culture and religion are interwoven, there is no point in trying to make an artificial distinction.

One may try to define Germanic religion as a subcategory of aspect of Germanic culture, but this is false, because Germanic religion is as inherent in Germanic culture as vice versa.

The distinction of culture and religion is therefore absolutely not relevant in the Germanic context, and in fact should rather be regarded as one and the same.

Germanic society had a religious culture and a cultural religion, it was a society where the religion-culture dichotomy did not exist nor matter at all.

So while one may try equating heiðr with culture, one ought to recognise that Germanic culture is blót; for it is the Germanic custom to sacrifice.

In other words, blót is heiðr and heiðr is blót, which shows that the lines between culture and religion are totally blurred in the case of the Germanic tradition.

The Natural Formula Behind Polytheism

Written by Dyami Millarson

Polytheism is based on the formula that unity ≠ diversity in nature. Polytheism fundamentally rejects the notion of unity or oneness in nature. Diversity is the quality of being many, and that is the Germanic definition of nature.

The definition of nature is relevant to Germanic polytheism because that definition is what underlies Germanic polytheism. For this reason, the formula that unity ≠ diversity while nature = diversity is vitally important.

In conclusion, the Germanic theists do not define nature as one but many, and therefore they do not define the divine, which is inherent in or equal to nature, as one but many, which means that theism in the Germanic context is necessarily polytheism and categorically rejects the notion of monotheism based on the nature of the divine as observed by the Germanic theists since time immemorial.

How Is Germanic Polytheism to Be Defined?

Written by Dyami Millarson

English dictionaries offer the following definition of polytheism based on orthodoxy: the belief in or the doctrine of many Gods.

Simultaneously, many dictionaries offer an alternative definition based on orthopraxy: the worship of many Gods.

Polytheism tends to be not only based on shared beliefs, but shared rites. The latter are at least equally important, if not more important, in any polytheistic tradition.

In the case of Germanic polytheism, the emphasis lies clearly on rites. Truth be told, the Germanic polytheists were indeed firmly convinced of certain things, but there can be no doubt as to their priorities; for their beliefs were all geared towards sacrifical rites.

The working definition of Germanic polytheism should be adapted to the Germanic situation: Germanic polytheism is the sacrifice to the Gods. Whilst everything was geared towards sacrificial rites in relation to the Gods, the essence of Germanic polytheism is sacrifice and the Gods may be simply defined as the ‘recipients of sacrifice’.

Therefore, theism exists in the Germanic context only in relation to sacrifice and its definition ought to include a notion of sacrifice. In the Germanic tradition, theism cannot exist outside the context of sacrifice; for all Gods accept sacrifice.

Germanic (poly)theism is based on the underlying assumption that sacrifice is the legitimate or true way to communicate with the Gods; sacrifice is the holiest of acts or deeds in this context and so we cannot escape defining Germanic (poly)theism in this way.

Thus, we may conclude that the Gods exist in the Germanic tradition to be sacrificed to, and that there are necessarily many recipients of sacrifice in Germanic theism, so that this theism cannot escape being polytheism.

Polytheism is philosophically intrinsic to the Germanic tradition; for the Germanic sacrifice required many recipients. The Germanic peoples sent gifts to nature in all of its aspects; they took from the nature beings, but they also gave back directly to nature beings.

In essence, the Germanic peoples did not conceive of nature as an abstract uncountable concept but as living countable beings, and therefore it is more apt to speak of nature beings in the Germanic context rather than nature, which is an abstraxt concept alien to Germanic culture, which only recognised multiple nature beings and no single nature.

Germanic culture only recognised natural diversity and rejected unity as unnatural, which shows how Ancient Germanic people looked at the universe. Indeed, Germanic religion may be termed Germanic universism because it is a peculiar way od looking at the universe.

One may say one forest is a whole, but a forest is actually many trees. The Germanic peoples did not see there is nature, but based on their strict observation, they only saw many beings and they did not require the conceptnof nature as they stuck to their philosophical basic definition of the world they lived in: nature = many beings.

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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