Icelandic pagans will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Þór, Óðinn and Frigg as construction begins next month on the first major Ásatrú temple since the Viking Age, reports the Guardian.
Although pagan worship officially gave way to Christianity in Iceland around 1,000 years ago, Ásatrú has never completely disappeared and membership in Ásatrúarfélagið – which promotes faith in the norse gods – has tripled in Iceland in the last decade to 2,400 members last year.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
The temple, which will be built in Öskjuhlíð, overlooking Reykjavík, will be circular and dug 4 metres down into the hill, with a dome on top to let in the sunlight.
“The sun changes with the seasons so we are in a way having the sun paint the space for us,” Hilmar Örn said.
Similar to other religious communities, the temple will host ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and confer names to children. Members of Ásatrú also celebrate the ancient sacrificial ritual of Blot, but do so by eating and drinking, reading and listening to music – not by actually slaughtering any animals.