|The sun 10th December 2011|
|sacrifice from the Illerup findings, Moesgård Museum.|
|The Sun Horse, Mindeparken|
In pre-christian time there was no term like the religious term of today. What came closest was the term sidr, which means customary or custom. The change of religion at the arrival of Christianity was called nýr sidr (= new custom), and the traditional religion was called forn sidr (= the custom of the forefathers). The gravity in the pre-christian religion was the religious praxis, the sacred actions, the rituals and the worship of the gods.
|Amulet with Thor's Hammer|
|country road 10th December 2011|
|cult house, Tulstrup|
|Stone for animal sacrifice?|
|cult house, Moesgård|
|figure in Gravlev|
|Midvinterblót, Gamla Uppsala, painting by Carl Larsson, Sweden|
Gamla Upsala was one of the last bastions of the old religion in Middle Sweden, and it was still of great importance when Adam wrote his report. He describes a magnificent temple, golden all over, with depictions of the three most important gods. The most prominent was Thor in the middle, on one side he had Odin and on the other Frej, Adam tells that Thor reigned the sky, where he ruled over the rain, the wind and the thunder, and he secured good weather for the harvest. He had a scepter in his hand. Odin was the god of war and courage, his name meant the furious one, and he was depicted as a warrior. Frej was the god of peace and physical satisfaction, and he was depicted with a large fallos. Each god had his own priests, and people sacrificed to the god whose help they wanted right now. Thor was invoked in famine and sickness, Odin in order to gain victory and Frej for fertile marriage.
A few of the ancient rituals are similar to ours. The ancient people of the North were celebrating midwinter and solstice and the return of light with sacrifice of the animals and a common meal. We still slaughter the pig and gather family and friends for a common meal - and our sacrifice might be the presents we give on Christmas eve.
See post from December 2009 about: Winter Solstice.
photos 2002-2011: grethe bachmann