A RE-EDITED SUMMARY
Hearing the word pagan or heathen, many people tend to imagine terrible savages from a dark period of time thousands of years ago 'before civilization'. Barbarians that celebrated 'dark macabre rituals', where the pagans offered 'human sacrifices to dark evil pagan gods'... A time of horror and fear. We also imagine dumb humans with low intelligence and no emotions. We learned that the Vikings were brutal men that plundered monasteries. We learned that witches are 'evil women', women that 'serve the devil to do bad things to people'...We learn this from books, from stories and this false image is fed to us through the TV with ridiculous, entertaining movies, made by ignorant people who do not have any idea about they are talking about.
Indeed what the ignorant person has learned about pagans is but lies and twisted stories created by the Christians. Twisted stories that made people fear, despite and ridicule the ancient ones that do not deserve this. They were people that deserve our admiration and affection. They are our ancestors, our culture, our background, our identity. Our foremothers and forefathers that learned to understand the natural environment, it's plants and animals and it's mysteries and that passed their wisdom on to us. Sadly, for most it slumbers deep down in the subconscious, never to be discovered.
Many North-Europeans are unaware that they are still practicing ancient traditions, they don't even know that the Germanic pagans formed their culture. And most people in the whole world are completely ignorant about the Church's cruelty towards their pagan ancestors. Much has been written and said about the terrible Viking raids. But there is silence about the Church's cruelty, that for over 1000 years got away with crimes against humanity, destroying many cultures on the way.
Christianity was welcomed in northern Europe by power-seeking kings. The alien religion from the middle-east that teaches complete submission to one male tyrant idol was suiting such a king well to get power over the people's minds, making them easier to control. To them "God far above mankind" meant also "King far above the people". A great distance between himself and the people. Until then, a leader of a district lived in close contact with his people. The kings desired to have the entire country under their feet, as the only king.
Kings, like the Norwegian king Olav, the "holy one", joined force with the Roman Church to christianize the people of his country. Churchmen were sent out to the villages accompanied by the king's soldiers, men that owned neither property nor honour to whom the king promised gold and other treasures, even the properties of the heathens that refused to submit to the Church. They invaded the villages, destroying all the religious symbols of the people, burning their Hovs, the temples of worship. They plundered them before burning them, robbing treasures from the people. Holding aloof a cross with a dying man on it, the people were now forced to kneel before it. Many refused of course, since they were too proud and did not see any sense at all in bowing down to a strange god that wanted to make them slaves. Many that refused were driven from their farms, which immediately were taken over by the eager soldiers. Others were tortured and killed. It was especially common to stick out the eyes of the ones that refused. The farmers were defending themselves and their culture and there were violent wars, but more and more gave up in the end since the power of the Christians became much stronger and many were fooled into it. The people had no choice but to let themselves baptize. Basically this is the reason why our society is Christian today, not because " the love of Jesus opened our pagan ancestors' hearts, but because they had their eyes stacked out if they didn't surrender...
The Church demonized all the natural traditions of the people, their gods and goddesses, their sacred symbols and sacred animals, referring to them as 'demons from hell'. The new patriarchal faith was especially negative for the women. The feminine had a strong influence in the pagan religions. In a society, controlled by the patriarchal Church, there was no place for wise women and the feminine aspects. The practice of magic means self-development, self-help and the understanding of natural forces. Since people were not allowed to act or help themselves or even think for themselves, magical practice was especially prohibited and punished by death.
The Church's army also destroyed the little wooden steam-bath houses of the people. Bathing together was now forbidden. Showing the body, giving the body attention, keeping it clean and healthy (like we also do today) was a 'sin'. It was especially a 'sin' for men and women to bathe together, as men and women were no longer allowed to have a natural sexual relationship. Churches were raised on the same sacred places were the Hovs once stood. Since it was holy ground for the heathens, the Christians believed they would come back to the place for worship and eventually enter the church.
After a district was officially christianized, a priest was left behind in all villages to watch the people, so that they would not practice the old traditions, bathe together or contact a wise woman for advice. Singing the old tunes of passion and dancing pagan dances was also forbidden. The people had to come to holy mess on the day they used to have their leisure day, a day of sport activities, bathing and fun. Any physical activities other than work were no longer allowed. The major festivals of the pagans and any customs that were very important to the people, thus hard to erase, were turned into Christian festivals and customs.
The people were bound to the Church with absurd stories of hell and the devil, who represents natural instincts, the animal in the human-being. They also often had to pay for their 'place in heaven' and give gold to dishonest priests and monks. We learned about Viking raids, were the Vikings plundered monasteries and churches in already christianized Ireland, England and France, robbing the treasures, killing the 'poor monks and priests'… But nobody wonders how the monks and spiritual leaders, that denied all earthly pleasures actually got to such richness in the first place. They were paid by the desperate peasants to save their souls. They also received large sums of money from 'sinful aristocrats' to overlook their crimes. The monks did not write this bit down in the history books…
The Church had us believe many of their cruel deeds to be 'good'. The crusaders, for example, were not exactly the 'honourable knights that went on a holy mission for god', as they are often presented to us. Again, the Church hired all sorts of men that were promised great rewards to slaughter entire non-Christian villages.
Nobody can deny the gruesome crimes of the "holy inquisition". Even children and animals were put on trial and tortured by this insane sadists.
Also in recent centuries, the Church was supporting the invading of other continents, sending missionaries to civilize the natives, robbing them their traditions and identity.
The "good Christian" of today denies that these Christians of the past were 'true Christians'. But I think they indeed were true Christians because they practiced what stands in their holy bible. Intolerance towards other cultures with other beliefs, the extermination of entire pagan societies. It stands in the bible that woman is man's first enemy, that she gave him awareness and natural desires and that she thus must be suppressed. It stands in the bible that homosexuals must be punished. It stands in the bible that all must be converted. The middle-eastern patriarchal religions claim to sit on 'the only truth' and there is no space for other realities other than their childish own. Senseless "holy wars" between Catholics and Protestants, between Christians, Jews and Moslems have caused unnecessary suffering in the whole world. The heathens had no religious wars. It was also up to the individual if he or she was religious or not.
How come that often the most intolerant, prejudice, bitter and dissatisfied people that surround us are bible-bashing Christians? Aren't they supposed to love and forgive everyone and be happy and satisfied? Their 'love all' is just another word for be 'indifferent to all'. Love is a special emotion that should be reserved for the most precious things in a person's life.
It is often in Christian homes where alcohol-abuse, child-abuse, drug-abuse, excessive punishment and domestic violence are practiced. The Christian home is a breeding ground for obsession with pornography and punishment. Self-proclaimed "evil devil-worshippers" also often come from such homes. After having been frightened as children with "the devil" and "hell" and how they are guilty of sin, it is no wonder that they fall for the devil. If they never had heard of the devil in the first place, they of course could not have become "devil-worshippers". Yet, the Christians never realize that they created the problem. Instead they blame all and everyone else.
The middle-eastern patriarchal religion has been dominating us now for many centuries. Many people would not consider that there might have been anything else. There only is god, Jesus and the devil. Thus books about ancient cultures, are written by 'experts' that do not actually understand the old traditions and thus write with a Christian thinking, black or white, often evilising the customs they do not understand. The feminine is always ignored. Having grown up with the patriarchal power that destroyed all sources that lead to goddess worship and that ignored women that made history, the experts would not consider looking for it. Even the New Age movement often focuses on the spirit, the light and the divine male god, forgetting the body, ignoring the night and the feminine forces. I have also seen modern Odinists, that focused only on the gods…and 'forgot' the goddesses. The patriarchal Judeo-Christian men who have written our history, have left women out of the history books and even today people believe that women have been submissive and suppressed since the dawn of time and did not achieve anything. Even today you can find books that ignore women that made history.
The men of the patriarchal religion claimed women to be "the source of all evil", responsible for the fall of man...clearly admitting how powerful they know women to be. Eve is the original sinner, she tempted Adam to eat fruit from the tree of Knowledge after she was tempted by the snake. The snake has been a symbol of fertility in many ancient societies. This symbolizes that Eve initiated sexual intercourse. The snake has also been a symbol of female intuition, the third eye, showing that woman is the one showing man awareness of hidden knowledge. But this very natural and powerful act of hers is called a "sin". Woman is to "blame" for man's sins. Her 'punishment' is to give "birth in pain". The Christian men defiled the once so sacred and positive act of giving birth to new life. It might be interesting to notice that all the forbidden symbols in the garden Eden story are ancient pagan fertility symbols, the tree of life, which is called Yggdrasil in the north, the snake as mentioned above, the fruit and the naked bodies.
Women and the feminine are still often looked upon as inferior, a threat, and I don't think this will chance much as long as we are dominated by a patriarchal authority that preaches that 'god made man in his image and woman from his rib to keep him company'... There are still many men that are having problems with women and their sexual insecurity not seldom leads to sexist behaviour, harassment, or in extreme cases abuse, rape and worst of all abuse of defenseless children.
The kind of men that have a natural relationship to themselves and their own sexuality, also have a natural relationship to women. Men that can communicate with women in a natural manner, usually have a good relationship to women and have no problems with them. They do not see them as a threat to their authority and enjoy the company of strong, independent women. Their relationship is build on trust, love and security.
Understanding the pagan mysteries, we can understand man and woman, our differences and build a unity again. Women must bring more feminine values into authority to balance out the male. Women must speak up and decide on issues that concern them, issues like children, natural child-birth, environmental issues, education and medical issues for example. And most of all they must get respect as a woman. Women must show their natural creativity again and dare to express themselves artistically and not just be a passive girl-friend or wife of an important guy.
The monotheistic religions teach that man is above mother nature and that 'god has given the earth and animals to man'. This idea is greatly responsible why people treat the earth and animals with such disrespect. Animals have suffered much from the patriarchal power, they have been demonized, mistreated and exploited. People do not understand that all plants and animals are necessary for the ecological balance, thus for their survival and unless they begin to see nature as something sacred again, they are ignorant towards environmental issues.
The ancient pagan religions are not just weird forgotten rites from the past, irrelevant to our modern lives. They have been suppressed too long and their revival is truly essential. By understanding the pagan mysteries we can understand life and ourselves. By celebrating fertility and the circle of life, we can realize again the importance of nature, which we are a part of.