Personal piety in Nordic heathenism

  • Åke Ström
Keywords: Paganism, Norse religion, Scandinavia, Piety


Usually, Nordic heathenism is thought of as a fairy-tale or as an impersonal, collective event. Sacrifice (blót) and ethics appear to be the main facts. Was there anything at all like piety, and could it, in this case, be spoken of as personal? The inhabitant of the North stands out as a more collectively thinking person, attached to dynasty, housecarls and family. However, there are a couple of examples in the texts of a "personal faith" and an interest in "the individual or his soul or destiny". It is quite clear, that the collective and impersonal traits in old Norse religion were far more prominent than in the religious currents of today, but there was in Nordic paganism a personal piety, too. It appeared not only in personal opinion and personal means of expression, but also in daily life as well. The single peasant, Viking, fisherman, artisan, housewife, was in his or her everyday work totally dependent on the blessing of the gods and on protection from the attacks of the demons. He who succeeded enjoyed this personal success because of personal sacrifices, personal fortune and personal blessing.
How to Cite
Ström, Åke. (1990). Personal piety in Nordic heathenism. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 13, 374-380.