For the first time since the age of the Vikings, Icelanders will be able to publicly worship at the altar of Thor (or any other Norse god they choose). This month, construction begins on a temple dedicated solely to the Norse gods, where neo-pagans can celebrate ancient rituals, perform marriages and lay people to rest under the watchful eye of Odin. It’s the first temple of its kind in Iceland for at least 1,000 years, when Norse gods last dominated the religious scene.
Norse paganism gave way to Christianity in the 11th century, but in recent years, a new sort of paganism has rapidly gaining popularity. The Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that fosters faith in Norse gods, has seen its membership triple in the past ten years. These modern pagans practice an altered form of worship then that of 1,000 years ago, which no longer includes things like animal sacrifices.
According to Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, the pagan stories of old are seen as more of a metaphor for the forces of nature and humanity. “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmarsson.
The temple itself will be a circular shape with a dome on top to let in sunlight, which will alter the look of the interior of the building as the sunlight changes throughout the seasons. The structure will be dug 13 feet down into a hillside, overlooking the country’s capital Reykjavik.
Via the Guardian