“Þat mon verða satt, es vér slítum í sundr lögin, at vér monum slíta ok friðinn.” (Eng. trans: It will prove true that if we tear apart the laws we will also tear apart the peace.) Source: Íslendingabók, by Ari Þorgilsson, 12th century.
As Þorgeirr, the Icelandic lawspeaker of the Alting spoke at the Lögberg around the year 1000. The only way to keep peace in a country, according to Þorgeirr, is the commitment of everyone to keep the same laws and the same religion. In his eyes this meant a complete Christian Iceland. Now, 1000 years later, this same peacefull country begets and embraces the old religion of the Icelanders once again by building the new ‘hof’ or temple for the Icelandic Asatru Society.
The Ásatrú Association (Ásatrúarfélagið) is a Germanic neopagan group in Iceland, founded in 1972. Ásatrú means ‘faith in the Æsir’, and is the old polytheïstic believe system and loyalty to the main Germanic gods (Æsir). These people refer to themselve as Asatruar or heathen. Important gods are for example Thor, Odin, Frey and Freya. Actually, the rise of Germanic neopaganism is also seen in other European countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately to say, but the rise of a temple on the continent is besides desirable, still unthinkable. We don’t have our historical treasures like the family Saga’s and the pagan influenced poem’s of the Edda’s. Without this historica legacy in Northwestern Europe, which in their case was very important in modern Icelandic nation building, we continental pagans have still a long way to go.
In any case, we continental pagans can be pleased for the Icelanders who paved the way for the emancipation of Germanic paganism in Europe. The news of the new temple already reached national newspapers in the Netherlands like the Algemeen Dagblad, Trouw, internet news site Nu.nl, Telegraaf, and the public broadcaster PowNed!. The English newspapers likewise, such as The Guardian, The Independant, the NBC News, The Telegraph and the American Washington Post. Just how special is it, that ignorant minds now, by reading their daily newspaper, suddenly become acquainted with modern Germanic paganism. Let’s step forward with firm steps!
More information on Icelandic paganism in this interview with Jörmundur Ingi, head of the Reykjavikur Goðar: http://grapevine.is/mag/interview/2006/12/01/nordic-gods-alive-in-reykjavik/