Thursday, February 5, 2015

You Must Change Your Life with Norse Paganism

News of Iceland's first temple to the Norse pantheon to be built in the last millennium arrived in my inbox the same week that I started trying to wrap my brain around Peter Sloterdijk's work (Spheres and You Must Change Your Life). The neo-pagans of Ásatrúarfélagið explicitly eschew literal belief in the myths of the pantheon. The temple will be the space for numerous life-cycle events, as well as the celebration of seasonal festivals. The temple itself will be circular, dug into a hillside, and topped with a dome. 

Like I said, I've had Sloterdijk on my mind...so I was tickled to read about the creation of a literal sphere as a place of religious worship. Spheres are Sloterdijk's model of the three "ages" of human existence (nested spheres inside one giant sphere; the terraquaeous globe; microspheres and "global foams"). And he contends that religion does not exist; instead, what we think of as religion is the misshapen, stunted distortion of poorly understood "spiritual regimens," in other words, religion is a bad translation of practices or habits that lead to transcendence. And since humans can never inhabit the exterior, only the interior, constructing the interior is what creates transcendence. 

The neo-pagans in Iceland explicitly reject the literality Old Norse beliefs in favor of creating a sphere of community (in the form of ritual, celebration, and ways to understand the world) based on the practices that Old Norse myths reveal. I hope their praxis and their new spherical interior lead them to transcendence, as Sloterdijk contends.

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