While they may not be going as far as animal sacrifice and Viking burials, members of a neo-pagan church in Iceland have resurrected some of the old ways in recent decades and now plan to build the nation’s first Norse temple in over a thousand years.
Since its inception in 1972, the Asatru Association’s membership has tripled to nearly 2,400 out of Iceland’s 330,000 population.
That makes it the second biggest religious organization in Iceland after Christianity, which has dominated since superseding the worship of gods like Odin and Thor some 1,000 years ago. But members of Asatru say most do not subscribe to a strict interpretation of Norse mythology.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” high priest Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson told Reuters. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
Construction will begin on the temple in March on a hillside overlooking the capital city of Reykjavik. According to the BBC, the land was donated by the Reykjavik City Council.
The structure will take the form of a half-buried dome and will host various events for the membership, ranging from marriage to naming ceremonies for the membership. The roof will allow sunlight to enter, in keeping with the religion’s close association with nature.