Anglo-Saxon paganism, sometimes termed Anglo-Saxon heathenism, Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion, or Anglo-Saxon traditional religion, refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Anglo-Saxons between the 5th and 8th centuries AD, during the initial period of Early Medieval England. A variant of the Germanic paganism found across much of north-western Europe, it encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, with much regional variation.

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dbo:abstract
  • Angelsächsische Religion bezeichnet die vorchristliche polytheistische Religion des germanischen Sammelvolks der Angelsachsen in Britannien. In der Religionswissenschaft wird sie als Bestandteil der germanischen Religion insgesamt sowie insbesondere als Teil der kontinentalen südgermanischen Religion eingeordnet. (de)
  • Anglo-Saxon paganism, sometimes termed Anglo-Saxon heathenism, Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion, or Anglo-Saxon traditional religion, refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Anglo-Saxons between the 5th and 8th centuries AD, during the initial period of Early Medieval England. A variant of the Germanic paganism found across much of north-western Europe, it encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, with much regional variation. Developing from the earlier Iron Age religion of continental northern Europe, it was introduced to Britain following the Anglo-Saxon migration in the mid 5th century, and remained the dominant belief system in England until the Christianisation of its kingdoms between the 7th and 8th centuries, with some aspects gradually blending into folklore. The pejorative terms paganism and heathenism were first applied to this religion by Christian Anglo-Saxons, and it does not appear that these pagans had a name for their religion themselves; there has therefore been debate among contemporary scholars as to the appropriateness of continuing to describe these belief systems using this Christian terminology. Contemporary knowledge of Anglo-Saxon paganism derives largely from three sources: textual evidence produced by Christian Anglo-Saxons like Bede and Aldhelm, place-name evidence, and archaeological evidence of cultic practices. Further suggestions regarding the nature of Anglo-Saxon paganism have been developed through comparisons with the better-attested pre-Christian belief systems of neighbouring peoples such as the Norse. Anglo-Saxon paganism was a polytheistic belief system, focused around a belief in deities known as the ése (singular ós). The most prominent of these deities was probably Woden; other prominent gods included Thunor and Tiw. There was also a belief in a variety of other supernatural entities which inhabited the landscape, including elves, nicor, and dragons. Cultic practice largely revolved around demonstrations of devotion, including sacrifice of inanimate objects and animals, to these deities, particularly at certain religious festivals during the year. There is some evidence for the existence of timber temples, although other cultic spaces might have been open-air, and would have included cultic trees and megaliths. Little is known about pagan conceptions of an afterlife, although such beliefs likely influenced funerary practices, in which the dead were either inhumed or cremated, typically with a selection of grave goods. The belief system also likely included ideas about magic and witchcraft, and elements that could be classified as a form of shamanism. The deities of this religion provided the basis for the names of the days of the week in the English language. What is known about the religion and its accompanying mythology have since influenced both literature and Modern Paganism. (en)
  • Le paganisme anglo-saxon est la religion des Anglo-Saxons avant leur christianisation. Cette variante du paganisme germanique rassemble des croyances et des pratiques hétérogènes, en usage dans l'Angleterre du Haut Moyen Âge entre le Ve et le VIIIe siècles. Il s'agit d'une religion polythéiste fondée sur la croyance en plusieurs divinités, les ése (ós au singulier), dont la plus importante semble avoir été Woden. Elle professe également l'existence de créatures surnaturelles vivant dans la nature : elfes, nixes, dragons, etc. Les pratiques religieuses comprennent le sacrifice d'objets et d'animaux aux dieux, en particulier lors de fêtes fixées tout au long de l'année. Des temples en bois semblent avoir existé, mais le culte se pratique peut-être également en plein air, autour d'arbres ou de mégalithes. La conception de la vie après la mort est mal attestée, mais les rites funéraires en subissent vraisemblablement l'influence : les morts sont enterrés ou incinérés avec une série d'objets. La magie et la sorcellerie font également partie de ce système de croyances, avec des pratiques que l'on pourrait considérer comme relevant du chamanisme. Trois types de sources permettent d'étudier le paganisme anglo-saxon : les textes écrits par des Anglo-Saxons chrétiens comme Bède ou Aldhelm, la toponymie et l'archéologie. Il est également possible de procéder à des comparaisons avec les croyances pré-chrétiennes d'autres cultures proches et mieux attestées, notamment la religion nordique ancienne. Les dieux du panthéon anglo-saxon sont à l'origine des noms des jours de la semaine en anglais. Le peu que l'on sait de cette religion est source d'inspiration pour la littérature, mais aussi pour plusieurs mouvements néopaïens. Le terme de « paganisme », introduit par les écrivains chrétiens pour décrire une religion dont les croyants n'avaient apparemment pas de mot pour la décrire, est considéré comme problématique par certains historiens, qui préfèrent parler de « religion pré-chrétienne » ou « religion traditionnelle ». (fr)
  • Paganismo anglo-saxão se refere às crenças e práticas religiosas seguidas pelos anglo-saxões entre os séculos V e VIII d.C., durante o período inicial da Idade Média na Inglaterra. Uma variante do mais amplo paganismo germânico encontrado por todo o norte da Europa, ele é, por sua vez, composto por uma heterogênea variada de crenças diferentes. Um desenvolvimento da religião anterior do norte do continente na Idade do Ferro, ela foi introduzida na Inglaterra seguindo a invasão anglo-saxônica da Inglaterra, no meio do século V, e permaneceu a religião dominante na região até a cristianização dos diversos reinos entre os séculos VII e VIII, após a missão gregoriana, com algumas características se fundindo no folclore inglês. (pt)
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dbp:quote
  • "The idol temples of that race [the English] should by no means be destroyed, but only the idols in them. Take holy water and sprinkle it in these shrines, build altars and place relics in them. For if the shrines are well built, it is essential that they should be changed from the worship of devils to the service of the true God. When the people see that their shrines are not destroyed they will be able to banish error from their hearts and be more ready to come to the places they are familiar with, but now recognizing and worshipping the true God."
  • "The world of the Anglo-Saxon gods will forever remain a mystery to us, existing just beyond the reach of written history. This pagan world sits in an enigmatic realm that is in many respects prehistoric, an alien headspace far removed from our own intellectual universe. Situated within a polytheistic cosmos, clouded from us by centuries of Christian theology and Enlightenment rationalism, we can discern the existence of a handful of potential deities, who though long deceased have perhaps left their mark in place-names, royal genealogies, and the accounts of proselytizing monks. Such sources have led scholars to put together a pantheon for early medieval England, populated by such murky figures as Woden, Þunor, Tiw, and Frig."
  • "The pagan hierarchical structure disintegrated rapidly in the seventh century in the face of Christianity's systematic organization. But folk practices were all-pervasive in everyday life. The animistic character of Germanic belief prior to Christianization, with its emphasis on nature, holistic cures, and worship at wells, trees, and stones, meant that it was hard to counteract on an institutional level of organized religion... The synthesis of Christian and Germanic ideas gradually transformed these practices, undoubtedly at the local level... In this way Christianity ultimately penetrated the homes and daily lives of the various Germanic peoples in the centuries after the arrival of the first missionaries."
  • "Previous understanding of the topic, well rooted in the ideas of its time, regarded the English as adherents of two consecutive religions: paganism governed the settlers of the 4th-6th century, but was superseded in the 7th-10th century by Christianity. Of the two, Christianity, a religion of the book, documented itself thoroughly, while in failing to do so paganism laid itself open to centuries of abuse, conjecture or mindless admiration."
  • "A worm came creeping, he tore a man in two, then Woden took nine Glory-Twigs, then struck the adder, that it flew apart into nine [bits] ... [Woden] established [the nine herbs] and sent [them] into the seven worlds, for the poor and the rich, a remedy for all, it stands against pain, it fights against poison, it avails against three and against thirty, against foe's hand and against noble scheming, against enchantment of vile creatures."
  • "Bede's evidence and archaeology show that sanctuaries associated with royal estates at the end of the pagan period are likely to have been enclosures containing buildings of organic materials, with images of the gods inside. Earlier, in the countryside, the sanctuaries were probably open air sites, on hills or in forest groves, with some kind of central feature. Ceremonies which took place at these sites included at least one annually which involved a large sacrifice of cattle."
  • "Let us raise a hymn, especially because He who thrust into Tartarus of terrible torture the ghastly three-tongued serpent who vomits torrents of rank and virulent poisons through the ages deigned in like measure to send to earth the offspring begotten of holy parturition... and because where once the crude pillars of the same foul snake and the stag were worshipped with coarse stupidity in profane shrines, in their place dwelling for students, not to mention holy houses of prayer, are constructed skilfully by the talents of the architect."
  • "Although our understanding of Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion from written sources and from place names is partial and far from complete, archaeology is beginning to reveal more."
  • "These few remarks by Bede show us a people who of necessity fitted closely into the pattern of the changing year, who were of the earth and what grows in it, who breathed the farmy exhalations of cattle and sheep, who marked the passage of time according to the life-cycle of their stock and the growth of their plants or by the appropriate period for offerings to the gods".
dbp:source
  • The Nine Herbs Charm.
  • — Archaeologists Martin Carver, Alex Sanmark, and Sarah Semple, 2010.
  • — Aldhelm's letter to Heahfrith, 680s.
  • — Archaeologist Martin Welch, 2011.
  • — Audrey Meaney, 1995.
  • — Historian Brian Branston, 1957.
  • — Historian Ethan Doyle White, 2014
  • — Historian Karen Louise Jolly, 1996.
  • — Pope Gregory's letter to Mellitus.
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  • Angelsächsische Religion bezeichnet die vorchristliche polytheistische Religion des germanischen Sammelvolks der Angelsachsen in Britannien. In der Religionswissenschaft wird sie als Bestandteil der germanischen Religion insgesamt sowie insbesondere als Teil der kontinentalen südgermanischen Religion eingeordnet. (de)
  • Paganismo anglo-saxão se refere às crenças e práticas religiosas seguidas pelos anglo-saxões entre os séculos V e VIII d.C., durante o período inicial da Idade Média na Inglaterra. Uma variante do mais amplo paganismo germânico encontrado por todo o norte da Europa, ele é, por sua vez, composto por uma heterogênea variada de crenças diferentes. Um desenvolvimento da religião anterior do norte do continente na Idade do Ferro, ela foi introduzida na Inglaterra seguindo a invasão anglo-saxônica da Inglaterra, no meio do século V, e permaneceu a religião dominante na região até a cristianização dos diversos reinos entre os séculos VII e VIII, após a missão gregoriana, com algumas características se fundindo no folclore inglês. (pt)
  • Anglo-Saxon paganism, sometimes termed Anglo-Saxon heathenism, Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion, or Anglo-Saxon traditional religion, refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Anglo-Saxons between the 5th and 8th centuries AD, during the initial period of Early Medieval England. A variant of the Germanic paganism found across much of north-western Europe, it encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, with much regional variation. (en)
  • Le paganisme anglo-saxon est la religion des Anglo-Saxons avant leur christianisation. Cette variante du paganisme germanique rassemble des croyances et des pratiques hétérogènes, en usage dans l'Angleterre du Haut Moyen Âge entre le Ve et le VIIIe siècles. (fr)
rdfs:label
  • Anglo-Saxon paganism (en)
  • Angelsächsische Religion (de)
  • Paganisme anglo-saxon (fr)
  • Paganismo anglo-saxão (pt)
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