Thor Ewing   Gods & Worshippers

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Gods and Worshippers is about the community of worshippers and the act of worship, and sheds new light on Viking and Germanic society as a whole. For the first time, we see how the pagan world really worked.

The main body of the book divides into two parts:
  • Part 1 considers the realities of pagan worship, including temples, priests and sacred groves, sacrifice and law, and suggests that religion was so intimately intertwined with other aspects of pre-Christian society that it is impossible to distinguish between religious and secular institutions.
  • Part 2 looks at possible realities behind myths of Valkyries, Norns and Odin the wanderer, suggesting that these tales reflect real-life societies of initiates, which operated in parallel to mainstream society, according to their own distinctive morality and laws.
An epilogue discusses pre-Christian funerary rites.

This book suggests that human sacrifices were made for legal as well as religious purposes, in a world where secular chieftains operated as priests.  But this was not a theocracy, since these priests represented their people to the gods and not vice versa.  Ewing also suggests that Norns and Valkyries really existed as part of a parallel society of religious initiates, which also included one-eyed Odin figures who could be venerated as the god himself.

Read the ‘Contents’
Read the ‘Introduction’
Read the ‘Conclusion’

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