With followers of Ásatrúarfélagið having tripled in the last decade, Iceland is to build its first temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.
A modern variation on Norse paganism has boomed in popularity in recent years, not because people believe its wildly supernatural tales but because they see its stories as ‘metaphors’ for life.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið.
“We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”
Members will now be able to pray to Thor, Odin and Frigg in public in the temple, which will be circular and domed and situated on a hill overlooking the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.
Norse paganism was pushed to the sidelines by Christianity a thousand years ago, but Ásatrúarfélagið’s memebership has tripled in the last decade, now comprising 2,400 of the country’s 330,000 population.
The temple will hold weddings and funerals and observe Blót, a traditional ritual involving drinking to the gods using a drinking horn before holding a feast. They tend to leave out the slaughtering of animals now though, as it is simply “too much trouble”.