Anglo Saxon Religion

2303 words - 10 pages

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Anglo-Saxon Religion

Historically, religion has played a huge role in every major civilization. The Anglo-Saxons are no different. Their religious history is an interesting one because they were both pagan and Christian. It can be clearly seen in the course of England’s history just how important religion was to the stability and unification of the many scattered kingdoms in Britain.

Eric John, the author of Reassessing Anglo-Saxon England, tells us that the Anglo-Saxons were pagans for the first two centuries that they were in England. Bede tells us that the names of the months were significant (Hred-monath: March- the celebration of the goddess Hretha), as well as the significance of hills and mounds, such as the Harrow on... View More »

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(Anglo-Saxon Paganism)

There were also numerous practices and rituals that were performed by the pagan Anglo-Saxons which also have bearing on many things still around today. For example there is the “Blot” or ritual sacrifice, which took place in the November, back then called Blot-monath. Joseph Bosworth, an English scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature and language provides a translation of a Christian Anglo-Saxon looking back on his ancestor’s heathen practices.
“Se monaþ is nemned on Leden Novembris and on ure geþeode blotmonaþ, forþon ure yldran, þa hy hæþene wæron on þam manþe hy bleoton a, þæt is, þæt hy betæhton and benemdom hyra deofolgydum þa neat þa þe hy woldon syllan”

“This month is called Novembris in Latin, and in our language is the month of sacrifice, because our forefathers, when they were heathens, always sacrificed in this month, that is, that they took and devote to their idols the cattle which they wished to offer”
(Anglo-Saxon Paganism)
The modern English word “bless” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “blothisojan” meaning “to smear with blood,” which shows more clearly the sacrificial aspect of the word. Another ritual practiced by the early Anglo-Saxons was the “symbel” or ritual drinking feast. The point of this was to achieve a mystical revelation through the consumption of large amounts of alcohol (typically mead). This is associated with divination or even a quest for good fortune by gaining “alignment” with destiny (wyrd again). Aside from the drinkers themselves, other participants included the “symbelgifen,” or the host, the ...

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