Category: Religious and Group Identity

PANTHEON? WHAT PANTHEON?

This article might be regarded as a follow-up to several other papers and articles that the present author has presented in recent years on the subject of religious change and diversity in the Nordic countries during the Migration Period and Viking Age (see, for example, Gunnell 2007, 2010,2013 and forthcoming a). The papers in question echo in

Continuity: Folklore’s Problem Child?

Abstract: : This essay examines the role of continuity in the study of medieval Northern popular cultural. Among other issues, it questions: the nature of continuity as a concept; the roles “tradition” and “continuity” have played in the development of folklore studies historically (e.g. Finnish Historical-Geographic Method, the “superorganic”) and their value today in relation

The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda, And Related Figures

MOST of our knowledge of Germanic myth is derived from the Old Icelandic texts and especially from the Eddas. The Eddic tales centre their attention on the trials and triumphs of the male members of the pantheon and tell us little of the female forces.’ That these wielded power we learn, however, from votive monuments, from the names of

Studying Religion-Concepts, Methods and Dilemmas

My paper aims at addressing some of the problems and challenges faced by the study of religion(s) and at presenting briefly the academic context of that study. Originally published: (February, 2009) Confluence. Iterdisciplinary Communications 2007/2009.  Willy Østreng (ed). Centre for Advanced Study. http://www.cas.uio.no/publications_/confluence.php

“I Have Long Desired to Cure You of Old Age” Sibling Drama in the Later Heroic Poems of the Edda

The current decade in medieval studies, both literary and historical, has brought what has been characterized as the “affective turn.” It problematizes our understanding of past emotions and feelings in the light of new research into biological and psychological universals, while remaining aware that, within what Barbara Rosenwein has characterized as “emotional communities”, emotion and

The Religion of the Vikings

What will be outlined here are the religious beliefs and rituals of the Scandinavians in the eighth to the eleventh centuries including those who went for trade, plunder or settlement abroad, that is, the ‘vikings’ properly speaking. Some among them were already Christians but the vast majority of the population still clung to their traditional religion. From a modern

Myth and Ritual in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Landscape

I grew up in the forest region of northern Sweden. As a young boy, an old female relative of mine, an aunt to my father, told me now and then of her encounters with the ‘small people’ when she was herding cattle as a herdess at the seter in the forests, especially of the beautiful

How Uniform Was the Old Norse religion?

One often gets the impression from handbooks on Old Norse culture and religion that the pagan religion that was supposed to have been in existence all over pre-Christian Scandinavia and Iceland was rather homogeneous. Due to the lack of written sources, it becomes difficult to say whether the ‘religion’ — or rather mythology, eschatology, and

Odin, Magic, and a Swedish Trial from 1484

If we are to believe any number of histories, spiritual life in medieval Scandinavia, and especially the conversion to Christianity, is readily summarized: paganism collapsed against Christian conversion efforts in dramatic fashion at a meeting of the Alþing, or when a missionary bore hot iron, or an exiled king had a deep religious experience, or

The Orcadian Links of Snorra Edda: Norse Literature in Orkney?

Download From her Site This article looks at the evidence for connections between Iceland and Orkney, and the influence this may have had on Snorri’s Edda.   Originally Published: Snorres Edda I Europeisk og Islandsk Kultur. RitstjóriþRedaktor: Jon Gunnar Jørgensen. Reykholt Snorrastofa, Cultural and Medieval Centre. (2009). Judith Jesch: https://nottingham.academia.edu/JudithJesch

Know Thine Enemy: Scandinavian Identity in the Viking Age

“In speaking of Viking attacks and settlements, the primary historical records often employ national identities like Dane, Northman and Swede to identify their foe. Unsurprisingly such terminology has also often been used by scholars examining these events. Yet such a notion has been questioned, and it is argued that the enemies of the Vikings were

The Convergence of Paganism and Christianity

“In the north of Europe, conversion was not a simple replacement of the old pagan religion with Christian belief; rather, a convergence of two living world views took place, creating for at least several centuries a composite with strong ties to the pagan past.” Originally Published: 31st International Congress on Medieval StudiesKalamazoo, Michigan 1996 Deborah