Today i’m going to talk about an important figure to the Norse/Germanic Paganism, but this one is not a king, nor a hero from the old sagas, but he became an historical figure in a more recent time, today i’m going to talk about Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson.
Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson was born at the 4th of April of 1924 in Iceland and died at the 24th of December in 1993. In 1972 he founded the group called Ásatrúarfélag, the Icelandic heathen organization were he was the chief góði to te day of his death. His beliefs were officially recognized by the Icelandic government as a religion in May 1993, seven months before he died.
He belonged to a family of farmers, he himself was a farmer and since childhood he had a close connection with the old gods of the Norse pantheon, at the age of sixteen he started writing his own poems and songs about the Norse gods, inspired by the sagas, he also gave a great contribution to the Icelandic history. He was also a man with the knowledge of healing herbs and such natural remedies, for he lived alone in the wilderness, and whenever he got sick, it was too far away from any hospital or anyother kind of medical help, so he would gather the herbs he needed to heal himself.
As you may know, Icelandic people were very tied to the Norse beliefs before Christianity came, and when the christian faith started to spread all over this icy continent, the old religion was forbidden, illegal, but not lost, for the next 970 years people still worshiped the old gods, hiding that from the eyes of the church because they feared it, it was the strongest political and religious power in the country. Only after 1874 people had the right of religious freedom of choice, and so they whoever wanted, could leave the church. In the 70’s of the XX century, Iceland lost many devotees of the Christian faith and started to spread again its faith, it was in these times that Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson founded the heathen group called Ásatrúarfélag, a group that still believed and whorship the old Gods and also the Landspirits, the hidden folk. The group was small but it grew faster than the expected, many people were still hiding their beliefs from the church and found the group to be their leap towards a free religious right, free from constraints and fears. Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson and the people of his group were Asatrú, they believed in the Aesir gods, it was the most important Norse pantheon to them, as you may know, the Norse gods are devided into groups, but Beinteinsson’s group was focused only in the Aesir, an important step to the future generations who wanted to learn more about their history, the old religion and beliefs, and also to be connected with the land, which was in fact one of the main purposes of Beinteinsson’s group, to be in contact with the landspirits and the spirits of their ancestors. It appears that it wasn’t hard for Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson to have this religion aproved by the Icelandic government, it is in their laws that no one can do missionary work and spread their religious beliefs by imposing it to people, the beliefs just come on their own when people want to accept them with freewill. Iceland being a country where the majority of people still went to church because they felt forced to but still worshiped the old gods behind closed doors, with this new opportunity to be free in their beliefs, it spread quickly, however, Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson had to talk with the Minister of Justice to have the permission to officialize a religion and appling a license to practice the religion, since then, they have the same rights as the church, or course the church and the Bishop was against this, but still they managed to gain ground because many important people from the government and the media liked the idea of bringing the old religion back.
Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson was a great figure who helped a lot bringing the old Norse beliefs again, they have always been there, but hidden because people feared the power of the church and the christian faith, but Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson stimulated the awakening of the old beliefs and people now feel lighter and free to be what they are, to choose whatever spiritual path suits them, what brings them happiness and confort.
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