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Germanic Religion

Doctrine The Germanic peoples were essentially polytheistic, and many names of deities are recorded; however, four names occur so frequently that they can be assumed to be of greatest importance - these are Woden/Odin, Thor, Frey and Freyja. The gods were divided into two distinctive groups of divinities, the Aesir sky gods (including the chief god Odin, and Thor) and the Vanir earth gods (including Frey and Freya).
These deities were not regarded as immortal, for it was believed that the day of Ragnorak, the doom of the gods, would one day come, causing the gods to die in mortal combat and that the earth and humans would perish with them. After this, the Germanic peoples believed a new heaven and earth would arise as Yggradsil, the world tree, renewed itself.

History Two main groups of Northern peoples dominated the land north of the Mediterranean, the Celtic (see separate entry) and the Germanic. The Norse-German Gods were worshipped all over Northern and Western Europe by the ancestors of the Norse, Dutch, German and English peoples, and were spread by raiding tribes such as the Angles, Saxons and Vikings. Incursions and settlements by the Germanic tribes, however, occurred largely during the first millennium CE as the Roman Empire began to decline in Western Europe. Once the framework of the Roman world was fractured, Europe became cut off from the Mediterranean civilisations and power and influence shifted to the lands north of the Alps.
The advance of the Mongolian Huns into Europe in the 4th century created an east European Empire which eventually destroyed what remained of the west Roman Empire; after the death of their leader, Attila, in 453 and their retreat into the Russian plains, the Germanic peoples took over the old Roman Empire in western and northern Europe, creating a Romano-Germanic culture. It was the Germanic Visigoths who sacked Rome in 410, and they then moved on to Aquitaine (418) and established the kingdom of Toulouse. Other tribes followed, passing into France over the Rhine frontier and then moving south to Spain. The Angles and Saxons were occupying the eastern and southern coastal areas of Britain from c.440, while other tribes moved into the Danube area, Greece and Italy. These peoples were settlers rather than invaders, however, and tended to be absorbed into the then collapsing Roman Empire, remaining in their new homes as the Empire retreated.

Symbols The most widely used symbols were the runes, which the Germanic peoples believed were discovered by Odin. The runic symbols were thought to be embodiments of truth, and were used for divination, magic, and decoration to honour the gods. Thor's sign of the hammer was used in weddings and as a protective amulet, often taken to the grave with a person when they died.

Adherents Not known

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 The religion of the Germanic peoples was found throughout Northern Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and Britain