The Gods

In part because ours is a reconstructed belief, and in part because it represents a more primitive form of Teutonic myth, Anglo-Saxon Heathendom has an ambiguous and dreamlike feel to it when compared to Norse Heathendom. The lines between God, Giant, Elf, Ancestor, and Hero are at best blurred and, quite often, nearly nonexistent. Take Weland the Smith for example. He is a prince of the elves, an apparent god of blacksmithing, depicted as a semi-divine yet semi-human hero, and is said to be the son of a giant. Likewise, Wóden, the king of the gods, is also said to have been an earthly king who sired noble lines that are with us still. For many, such ambiguities would be problematic but, for we Anglo-Saxon Heathens, they are the strength of our religion.

Truthfully, it is the dreamlike quality of the belief that draws many of us to Anglo-Saxon Heathendom. Because our mythic understanding is piece-mealed from Norse lore, English folklore, and the scant Anglo-Saxon references that have survived, the only way for us to truly reconnect with our gods is through holy-work (honorary feasts, offerings, sacred dramas, songs, dances, and magic). This, coupled with the dedication to scholarship that is required to reconstruct such ancient rites, makes for a Heathendom that compels the true seeker closer toward the gods. To grasp the holy mysteries of Anglo-Saxon Heathendom one must search out the dreamlike mythic landscape of Olde England wherever and however it may be found. It is in this search that one rediscovers the gods in a way that those equipped with a more answer-ready corpus of lore might otherwise overlook. Or, as we are so often heard to say, “everything you are taught is false, everything you learn is true.”

Of the gods themselves, who can count them? Some we know from the holytides of the year or the days of the week, yet most are the very gods worshiped by our Norse neighbors or our Germanic continental cousins and are thus known to us through poems, songs, sagas, hagiographies, and histories that have survived the Middle Ages. Yet it may be that not every goddess who was given offering on Hálogaland was worshiped by the West Saxons. Of such things no living man may say for sure. As such, in the Ealdríce, we find it wiser to err on the side of belief. Far luckier is it to worship more gods than our Anglo-Saxon forelders did than it is to risk godlessness.

What follows are the names of many, though by no means all, of the gods given worship in Ealdríce.

Of the Ése (Æsir), there are:
Wóden, the All-Father
Fríg, his wife
Þunor, his bairn
Sibbe, wife of Þunor, goddess of family
Wuldor, stepson of Þunor
Bældæg/Bealdor, bairn of Wóden and Fríg
Nóþe, the daring goddess, wife of Bældæg
Fositie, the presiding one, son of Bældæg
Tiw, the one handed
Hengest and Horsa, the twin horse gods
Swane (Frisian: Swana), the swan sister and mother of Hengest and Horsa
Hamma, who wards heaven
Edunne, goddess of orchards
Geofon, goddess of the plough, and possibly Neorþe.
Mimore, keeper of the well of memory

Of the Wæne and Ylfe (Vanir and Alfar), there are:
Ing, god of the wain
Geard, the wife of Ing
Frowe, the lady
Sætern, who is oft called Njordr
Erce, who if oft called Neorþe or Nerthus
Béowa, god of barley
Béole, goddess of bees
Scéafa, god of wheat

And of others who we worship, there are:
The Wyrde, who weave the threads of wyrd
The Módru, the Mothers, of which there may be hundreds
Gársecg, known as Égor, giant of the seas
Mundelferend, the miller who turns the year-wheel
Móna, god of the moon
Sunna, goddess of the sun
Hréþe, the goddess of late winter and early spring wind and hailstorms.
Éastre, dawn goddess of spring
Wade, father of Weland who wades the seas

The section below is a work in progress. To it the likes of Beowulf, Hengest, and Horsa will be added.

Of Godlings, Godsprung (Divine ancestors), and Hæleþ (Heroes)  there are:
Géat (ON: GautR) According to Nennius’ Historia Brittonum, Géat “was the son of a god whom…they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen.” Asser confirms this in The Life of King Alfred by saying “Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god.” Though he is mentioned by several Medieval chroniclers, including Jordannes, little is known about Géat. He was the divine ancestor of the Geats, Goths and Gutes and his name etymologically springs from the Proto-Indo-European root *ǥuđ-, “god.”

Wéland the Smith (ON: Völundr), the SmithMost of the surviving mythic material surrounding Wéland is preserved in the Old Norse poem, the Völundarkviða. A god associated with the magical mysteries of blacksmithing, Wéland is said to be one of the rulers of the elves and to have married a Wælcyrge. Though he is best known from Norse myth, there is ample evidence that that Anglo-Saxons worshiped Wéland. His myth as recounted in the Völundarkviða is also alluded to in the Old English poem, Deor. Likewise, his legendary craftsmanship is lauded in Beowulf. In Oxfordshire, the Anglo-Saxons gave to a particularly prominent Neolithic burial mound the name of “Wayland’s Smithy”, indicating that he may have been worshipped there. Wéland also appears, along with his brother Ægil, on the 7th century “Frank’s Casket.”

Wudga, Widia (ON: Viðga) – Son of Wéland, friend of Hama. Widia was given his father’s sword and horse ( Mimung and Skemming) and became a great Gothic hero during the Migration Age.

Ægil (ON: Egil) & Alruna (ON: Ölrún)Mentioned in the Old Norse Þiðrekssaga and Völundarkviða, Ægil the Archer and his Wælcyrge wife, Alruna are also depicted on the Anglo-Saxon “Frank’s Casket”. Though the details are vague, two important myths have survived concerning the pair. The first involves Ægil and Alrune defending a keep from an attacking host together. It is this myth that is depicted on the “Frank’s Casket.” The other myth involves Ægil being forced to shoot an apple off the head of his son. Thus it is in Ægil’s myth that we find the early origins of the William Tell legend. Regarding Alruna, little else is known but if her name translates to “Ale-rune” as some scholars believe, she may be associated with brewing. It is possible that the 11th century Bavarian patron of pregnancy, Alruna of Charm, is a Christianization of the goddess. Furthermore, her name may be connected with the mandrake plant, which is known as alraune in German.

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