Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sacred Groves in Germanic and Scandinavian Heathenry: An Introduction and One Family’s Experience

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Groves In Scandinavian Heathenism
Groves In Scandinavian Heathenism
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Date:August 5, 2014
It was about two years ago that my wife and I moved into our new home. Prior to that, I made an oath that within one year of us moving in, a godpole would be carved and erected on the property we were looking at. I am happy to say that since then, a godpole has been carved in honor of Freyr, and it is not only “in” the ground, but in a grove on our property that was prepared by myself, my wife and a handful of heathen friends. Inside this grove which is bordered by a rock wall on both sides and a rather large deadfall pine in the back, is the Freyr godpole.   There also stands a carved Thor godpole, and a hörg onto which offerings are poured. In the grove are also two mounds underneath which are offerings that were given during a Winternights celebration held here along with us and the members of another local group. As heathens, groves and sacred spaces are one example of the many places in which we worship that is substantiated both in the history of our ancestors[1] and in the practice of modern heathens today. The purpose of this essay is to shed some light on the historical examples of sacred groves, and how my family has taken that information and applied it to our lives.

The two godpoles standing in the grove.

In Guta saga the word “stafgardur” is used for a fenced off area of worship “people believed in groves and mounds, shrines and stafgardur and pagan gods.”[2]  There is also a similar expression from early Northumbrian law, “fridgeard”, referring to a fenced area containing a rock, tree or spring. It seems that groves were exactly that, groves of trees or cleared out areas where worship took place, these groves were usually marked off by stones or a fence which would underline the concept of an “inner space” and an “outer space” with the former being more sacred or “off bounds”[3] .