Heathen Religion

BriefHistory

Heathen Religion

Their beliefs and reverence was in the world around, the world in which they lived, the world that they were intimately tied. Heathenism was as it implies practiced on heaths, high places were sacred areas as were woods having within sacred groves under the bows of trees, like great cathedrals.

Wood was of great importance as it was used in so much of their lives hence their great reverence for it and with this comes the Green man of the wood. The uses of wood were great and varied such as building, tools, weapons and cooking implements.

Water was essential and places like springs became sacred places, even today we have well dressing celebrations.

Food again was essential and the ground that produced it and again there was important celebrations to celebrate this i.e. spring celebration for new life and harvest celebration when the harvest was brought in, there was sacrifices given for this.

As this was an agrarian society like ours was until the agricultural revolution, their lives were entwined with it living with abundance and scarcity hence their reverence to it and their fear if the harvest goes wrong and causes a famine. So over time they developed gods who represented different aspects of the world around. The best way to show their main gods is to look at the days of the week, as their society was an oral one nothing has been written down, except by Christian monks who may describe a Heathen ceremony only in the context of a Christian, ancient customs which have been handed down or Archeological evidence where we try to piece together what has been found.

 

Modern English Old Englisc
Monday Monandag
A celebration of the moon that would have been celebrated at every full moon.
Tuesday Tiwesdag
He was the God of courage and war, would have been important to a warrior. The Norse God equivalent is Tyr.
Wednesday Wodnesday
Named after Woden the ruling God of Death, Wisdom and Battle. King’s later put in their lineage as coming from Woden. In Norse, known as Odin.
Thursday Thunresday
This is known as Thunder today, Thunor the protector of the Gods against the giants (the personified forces of nature) being very popular with crop farmers, his weapon was the hammer or the Swastica.
Friday Frigeday
This is the Goddess known as the wife of Woden representing the earth mother, Tiwes was once the father of the air.
Saturday Saternesday
Saturn was a Roman God of Agriculture, of Innocence and Plenty.
Sunday Sunnanday
God of the sun who was worshiped by the Romans

 

Funerals
For a funeral they had a funeral pyre covering the body with artefacts around them depending on who they were, after the cremation their ashes was placed in a pot and buried. Kings were buried under a mound with items for the next world, some like the burials at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk were laid out in a long ship before they were covered over with a mound of earth.

The Priests
Again little is known of these people, but in the British museum there in the vaults is held a manuscript which is of healing remedies, sacred ceremonies and spiritual secrets, a thousand year old wizard’s spell book preserved in the library’s vault. The sorcerer/shaman wormed a picture of this world and the next with spells, potions etc working with the fears and prejudices of the people whose own lives can be very short and violent, the shaman tries to allay these fears and this depends upon the character and intelligence of a man who has a very important position in Anglo Saxon life.