Iceland To Get Its First Norse Temple In 1,000 Years

Norse gods have been making a comeback in popular culture, with Thor and Loki now staples of the summer box office. But the ancient religion is making a spiritual comeback, too, at least in Iceland.

Asatruarfelagid, a neopagan organization, plans to start construction next month on the country's first Norse temple since Christianity arrived in the island nation roughly 1,000 years ago.

The video above is in Icelandic, but shows some of the plans for the circular, half-sunken temple.

While the temple will be dedicated to ancient Norse ideals, the leader of Asatruarfelagid said the context is a bit different in modern times.

"I don't believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet," Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a musician who is also high priest of Asatruarfelagid, told Reuters. "We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology."

The Reykjavik City Council has donated land for the temple, but the group has to raise nearly $1 million for the building itself, which will be set into a hillside and topped with a dome to let in sunlight, the BBC reported.

Once completed, the temple will accommodate 250 worshippers. It will host weddings, funerals, naming rituals, initiation ceremonies and more for the group's 2,488 members, which Reuters says is triple the number from just a decade ago.

The Asatruarfelagid, which began in 1972, says on its website that its values are "based on tolerance, honesty, honor and respect for the ancient cultural heritage and nature," and follows the principal that "each person is responsible for themselves and their actions," according to a Google translation.

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