Norse paganism is a term used to describe the religious traditions which were common amongst the Germanic tribes living in Nordic countries prior to and during the process of the Christianization in Northern Europe. Norse paganism is therefore a subset of Germanic paganism, which was practiced in the lands inhabited by the Germanic tribes across most of Northern and Central Europe until the end of the Viking Age. Our knowledge of Norse paganism is mostly drawn from the results of archaeological field work, etymology and early written materials.

Many sites in Scandinavia have yielded valuable information about early Scandinavian culture. The oldest extant cultural examples are in the form of petroglyphs or helleristninger [1]. These are usually divided into two categories according to age: "hunting-glyphs" and "agricultural-glyphs". The hunting glyphs are the oldest (ca. 9,000 -- 6,000 B.C.) and are predominantly found in Northern Scandinavia (Jämtland, Nord-Trřndelag and Nordland). These finds seem to indicate an existence primarily based on hunting and fishing. These motifs were gradually subsumed (ca. 4,000 -- 2,000 B.C.) by glyphs with more zoomorphic, or perhaps religious, themes.

The glyphs from the region of Bohuslän are later complemented with younger agricultural glyphs (ca. 2,300 -- 500 B.C.), which seem to depict an existence based more heavily on agriculture. These later motifs primarily depict ships, solar and lunar motifs, geometrical spirals and anthropomorphic beings, which seem to ideographically indicate the beginning of Norse religion.

Norse god figures are divided between the Aesir and the Vanir. A blending of the original hunter/gatherers god figures and a younger agricultural based belief system.

The Germanic tribes rarely or never had temples in a modern sense. The Blót, the form of worship practiced by the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people resembled that of the Celts and Balts: it could occur in sacred groves. It could also take place at home and/or at a simple altar of piled stones known as a "hörgr". However, there seems to have been a few more important centres, such as Skiringsal, Lejre and Uppsala. Adam of Bremen claims that there was a temple in Uppsala (see Temple at Uppsala) with three wooden statues of Thor, Odin and Freyr, although no archaeological evidence to date has been able to verify this.

While a kind of priesthood seems to have existed, it never took on the professional and semi-hereditary character of the Celtic druidical class. This was because the shamanistic tradition was maintained by women, the Völvas.


Germanic paganism refers to the religious traditions of the Germanic peoples preceding Christianization. The best documented of the Germanic Pagan religions is 10th and 11th century Norse paganism. Scattered references are also found in the earliest writings of other Germanic peoples and Roman descriptions. The information can be supplemented with archaeological finds and remnants of pre-Christian beliefs in later folklore.

The Germanic religion was a polytheistic religion with some underlying similarities to other Indo-European traditions. The principal gods of Viking Age Norse paganism were Odin (ON: Óđinn, OHG: Wodan, OE: Wōden) and Thor (North Germanic: Ţórr, OHG: Donar, OE: Ţunor). At an earlier stage, the principal god may have been Tiwaz (North Germanic: Týr, OHG: Ziu, OE: Tiw).

Me like Wiki