Thursday, 27 January 2011

Nordic Idolatry

The worship of idols was by no means a universal practice amongst European polytheists. Some are recorded by Ibn Fadlan as worshipping posts in the ground with the faces of the gods carved into them, while King Raedwald of England is said by Bede to have worshipped many wooden carvings of the Gods in a temple. Others are said only to have worshipped in woodland groves, to trees and to rocks rather than man made representations of the deities.

For this reason most idols associated with the Nordic pantheon are long gone. Those not burned by Christians would have rotted away by now. The stone and metal examples below are amongst the few exceptions.

Thor - Iceland

Thor - Iceland

These represntations can be identified as Thor by the presence of the cross shaped hammer he holds. in iceland the hammer resembling a crucifix turned upside down became a symbol of pagan resistance. In each of these cases, Thor is shown to be stroking or pulling his beard, this same gesture is shown in the idol from Sweden below. The gesture may signify deep thought, wisdom or meditation.

Ragnarok - Sweden
This rune stone depicts the final battle of the Gods and the end of the world.

Odin - England
Although this carving is to be found in a church in York, it can clearly be indentified as Odin by the presence of his two ravens.

Odin - Sweden

Frey - Sweden
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