Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/6363
Ásatrú á Íslandi við upphaf 21. aldar. Uppruni, heimsmynd og helgiathafnir
Ásatrú in Iceland at the Beginning of the 21st Century. Origins, World View and Rituals
Rannsóknin sýnir að túlkun og endursköpun á heiðnum trúarbrögðum frá því fyrir kristnitöku hafi jafnvel hafist áður en kristnin var orðin ráðandi í Norður Evrópu. Endursköpunin heldur áfram gegnum endurreisnartímabilið á 13. öld, endurreisnina hina síðari, lærdómsöld, rómantíska tímabilið, nýrómantíkina og loks tímabilið í kjölfar heimsstyrjalda.
Heimsmynd er í eðli sínu persónubundið fyrirbæri en þó túlkuð í samræmi við hefðir, venjur, stofnanir og hugarfar þess hóps sem einstaklingurinn tilheyrir. Út frá þeim skilningi á hugtakinu sýnir rannsóknin fram á að ásatrúarmenn trúa á ólík öfl í náttúrunni sem hvert um sig hefur mátt sem annað afl hefur ekki. Trúarbrögðin eru því að einhverju leyti náttúrubundin en að sama skapi svæðisbundin enda þarf sjómaðurinn á öðrum öflum að halda en bóndinn svo dæmi sé tekið.
Vegna þess hversu einstaklingsbundin trúarbrögðin eru er umburðarlyndi gagnvart ólíkum trúarskoðunum innan ásatrúarhópa sem og öðrum trúarbrögðum.
Helgiár ásatrúarmanna markast af sólarganginum og árstíðaskiptum. Helgiathafnir ásatrúarmanna nefnast blót og má skipta þeim í fjóra flokka, þ.e. opnar athafnir sem tilheyra árshringnum, aðrar opnar athafnir, einstaklingsbundnar athafnir sem tilheyra lífshringnum og aðrar einstaklingsbundnar athafnir. Athafnirnar eru persónulegar og jafnvel einstaklingsbundnar.
The title of this dissertation based on qualitative research is Ásatrú in Iceland at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Origins, World View and Rituals. The central part of the dissertation deals with the kind of phenomenon that the ásatrúarfélag represents in modern Icelandic society, but also examines how the fieldwork interviews demonstrate an particular interpretation of the past through the religious life of the members of the ásatrúarfélag. Another field of interest is the way in which Icelandic medieval literature is used as part of their religious life.
The Ásatrúarfélag is a religious organization in Iceland, founded on the First Day of Summer, 1972. It was granted recognition as a registered religious organization in 1973 and was the first heathen organization in the world to receive this official recognition. On 1st of December 2009, the Ásatrúarfélag boasted 1395 members. Even though the Ásatrúarfélag is the largest non-Christian religious organization in Iceland, there is a general lack of information about the heathen religious life in Iceland today. The same applies to the activities of the Ásatrúarfélag, and is mostly because of the lack of academic research in this area. This dissertation hopes to redress that situation. In addition to my own interviews and participant observation of rituals over the last two years (2009-2010), I have used news, interviews and articles that have appeared in Icelandic newspapers, information from the Icelandic Bureau of Statistics, and other information gleaned from documents held in the National Archives of Iceland; publications issued on behalf of the organization; information contained on websites; and other written sources such as academic works and biographies, but especially the biography of Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, the first allsherjargoði.
The dissertation contains 8 chapters. In the first chapter, I discuss the background for this research, the research methods used and the organization of the dissertation. Chapter 2 introduces several key concepts, such as religion, faith, ritual and heathenism. Chapter 3 then examines the research history into modern heathen religions. The following chapter examines the founding of the Ásatrúarfélag, noting that it formed part of a long long history of reconstructing and reinterpreting the nature of the heathen religion that was dominant in the Nordic countries before the advent of Christianity. The chapter focuses on this history, from the formal arrival of Christianity in Northern Europe, through the early renaissance of the 12th century, the later Renaissance, the Age of Learning, the Romantic period, the Neo-Romantic period and finally the period after World War II. The following chapter traces the history of ásatrú beliefs and practices in Iceland from 1972-2010, mostly focusing on the Ásatrúarfélag itself. After tracing the history, an attempt is made to explain the worldview and political views of the members of the society, noting, for example, their emphasis on environmental protection and on “the traditional”. The seventh chapter then focuses on ásatrú rituals in connection with the religious year which is related strongly to both the sun and the life circle. The final chapter contains the main conclusions which argue that ásatrú is a religion like any other, strongly connected to nature and seeks justification for its existence in Icelandic medieval literature.