Worshiping Nordic gods like Thor, Odin, Frigg, and Balder gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago, but recently a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland. Ásatrúarfélagið or “Astru,” an Icelandic religious association of the Germanic folk religion, promotes Norse Paganism. They state that while people “don’t believe in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” they do see the stories as “poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
The word “Astru” literally translates to “having faith in the gods.” Its principles are non-authoritarian and decentralized, with no sacred text or official founder, and its philosophy promotes tolerance and individual liberty. All races, cultural backgrounds, genders and sexualities are welcome.
Membership in Asatru has tripled in Iceland in the last decade, making this an exciting time in Iceland! This will be the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age, nearly 1,000 years ago.
The temple will provide the devotees with a place to hold their communal feasts, marriages, name-giving ceremonies, funerals and rite of passage ceremonies for teenagers. Up until now, these ceremonies have been conducted outdoors.
The temple was designed by Magnus Jensen, a Danish-educated architect and Astru member. It will be constructed in an oval shape and will overlook the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik. Not only will the temple have an outstanding view of the city, but it will also utilize the natural rock of the hill for one of its walls. Jensen will incorporate the ancient concept of the “golden ratio,” a geometric proportion regarded as the most aesthetically pleasing to human eye, and will combine natural and man-made materials, and the indoors with the outdoors.