What Norse doesn’t mean

July 10, 2016 at 2:14 am Leave a comment

One tendency I’ve noticed in ADF, and broader American-centric Paganism is a misuse, based on misunderstanding, or sometimes laziness of the term “Norse”. Especially with the older material on the ADF website, the rituals labeled “Norse” have phrases in German, with deity names in anglicized Icelandic. Also featuring the goddess Nerthus as Earth Mother, who was worshiped by continental Germanic peoples not “the Norse”.

Actual definition of Norse– of or relating to people who spoke Old Norse in Scandinavia, and traveled and/or settled in other areas of the world, their culture, traditions, literature etc.

Norse is not the same as

Norwegian– From Old Norse developed two branches, East Norse- Danish and Swedish and West Norse- Icelandic, Norwegian and Faroese.

Vikings– Norse people who farmed part-time, and went trading and raiding in the summer during the Viking Era. Most Norse people were not Vikings, but because of the popular image (we can especially thank Wagner’s operas)

Nordic countries vs. Scandinavia–  Just read this

Any Germanic culture or a Pan-Germanic mishmash– When we look at historical and literary sources for Germanic cultures, that spans everywhere from the Anglo-Saxons, the continental Germanic peoples (who often aren’t easily distinguished from the Celtic peoples- the Romans divided them with the Danube river) to Iceland and Scandinavian countries.

Other terms to sort out-

Teutonic– this is sometimes used, especially in older sources to refer to Germanic peoples inclusively or Germans specifically. Originally referred to the Teutons, a Germanic tribe mentioned by Greek and Roman writers. (More here)

German vs. Germanic– the Germanic language family, of or relating to people who speak Germanic languages and their cultures. German– citizen of modern Germany, or earlier historic chunks of land that later became Germany, sometimes used to refer to  German-speaking populations around Europe and other parts of planet Earth.

Northern Tradition– I see this used to refer vaguely to Germanic polytheistic/animistic traditions, usually with a Nordic slant, and sometimes with Saami stuff added in for good measure. (Which seems rather rude, considering the erm, prickly relationship between Saami folks and non-Saami Finns, Swedes and Norwegians.)

 

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