Ásheimur Temple, which is situated in Northern Iceland, stands as a testament to the resurgence of ancient Norse and Germanic paganism and the enduring spirit of Ásatrúarfélagið, the Icelandic Pagan Association. Serving as the country’s inaugural consecrated heathen temple, Ásheimur temple has become a sacred place for the local heathen community and a symbol of cultural preservation. Let’s have a closer look at the fascinating story behind Ásheimur Temple, its construction, and the role it plays in fostering the beliefs and practices of Ásatrúarfélagið and other contemporary heathens.
A Haven in the Hjaltadalur Valley
Nestled within Iceland’s picturesque Hjaltadalur valley, Ásheimur Temple finds its home on the land of Efri Ás, a normal Icelandic farm raising dairy cows and sheep. The visionary behind this extraordinary sanctuary is Árni Sverrisson, the farmer of Efri Ás, who also happens to be a devoted heathen priest. Árni, along with his wife, family, and friends, embarked on a remarkable journey to construct a traditional heathen temple called Ásheimur.
A Labor of Devotion
The construction of Ásheimur Temple commenced in 2010, fueled by Árni’s unwavering dedication to resurrecting the ancient traditions and beliefs of his Norse ancestors. Through countless hours of toil and unyielding determination, the temple took shape and transformed into an 80-square-meter structure by 2014. Designed to emulate the essence of Viking age heathen temples, Ásheimur features stone and turf walls, a sturdy wooden framework, and a captivating turf-covered roof.
The temple’s construction was a labor-intensive process that involved the use of traditional building techniques. The stone and turf walls were constructed using methods that have been used in Iceland for centuries, while the wooden framework was built using traditional woodworking techniques. The turf-covered roof was constructed using a method called “turfing,” which involves laying a layer of turf over a wooden frame.
Reviving the Spirit of the Vikings
Ásheimur Temple serves as a place of worship and gathering for members of Ásatrúarfélagið, the Icelandic Pagan Association. Local heathens, as well as individuals with a keen interest in Ásatrú, frequently converge within the temple’s hallowed walls to partake in rituals, ceremonies, and discussions. These meetings not only provide an opportunity for spiritual connection but also foster a sense of community, reinforcing the cultural and historical significance of Ásatrú in Iceland.
Ásatrúarfélagið: Guardians of Ásatrú
Founded in 1972, Ásatrúarfélagið plays a vital role in preserving and promoting Ásatrú, the ancient pagan faith of the Norse people. With a growing number of members, the association actively engages in various cultural and educational initiatives, making Ásatrú accessible to the wider population. Ásheimur Temple stands as a testament to Ásatrúarfélagið’s tireless efforts in revitalizing the heathen traditions that once thrived in Iceland.
Prior to the establishment of Ásheimur Temple, Ásatrúarfélagið did not have a physical temple in which to conduct their rituals. Instead, they held their meetings in rented spaces or outdoors in nature. The establishment of Ásheimur Temple has provided Ásatrúarfélagið with a permanent space in which to hold their meetings and conduct their rituals.
Preservation of Norse Heritage
The consecration of Ásheimur Temple marks an important milestone in Iceland’s cultural landscape, emphasizing the significance of preserving and celebrating the country’s Norse heritage. As one of the few remaining countries with ancestral ties to the Vikings, Iceland serves as a custodian of a rich and ancient past. Ásheimur Temple acts as a tangible link to this history, allowing visitors to experience the spiritual connection between past and present.
Welcoming to all
While Ásheimur Temple primarily serves the local heathen community, its doors are open to all those that are interested in Ásatrú. The temple acts as a bridge, inviting enthusiasts and curious visitors to immerse themselves in the rituals, traditions, and wisdom of the Norse pagan faith. By fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity and open dialogue, Ásheimur Temple encourages the exploration of Norse and Germanic paganism.