A couple who run a restaurant and travel service at the farm Heimabaer in Arnardalur valley by Ísafjardardjúp in the West Fjords invite visitors to participate in heathen ceremonies based on the Norse Ásatrú religion this summer.
A pagan ceremony. Photo by Jennifer Zoltek.
“We want to present this noteworthy cultural heritage of ours to as many people as possible,” tourism entrepreneur Anna Sigrídur Ólafsdóttir told Morgunbladid, stressing that they respect everyone’s religious beliefs.
She and her husband Úlfur Thór Úlfarsson repaired the outbuildings of Heimabaer and turned them into a restaurant and reception hall so that they could have their own wedding reception there in 2007.
They were married on the beach and it was the first mixed wedding ceremony in Iceland, performed by a Christian priest and a heathen chieftain.
Ólafsdóttir is a member of Ásatrúarfélagid, which honors the Norse pagan religion, and Úlfarsson is a member of the National Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland.
When Ólafsdóttir studied tourism at Hólar University she started wondering whether it was possible to have travelers to Iceland participate in heathen rituals. She has now developed tours where Ásatrú is part of the traveling experience.
People are taken to the beach in Arnardalur where a bonfire is lit and the religion introduced to attendees, then a ceremony takes place in which attendees participate.
“There aren’t many sources on how religious rituals were performed in ancient times. We therefore model them on the blót held by Ásatrúarfélagid,” Ólafsdóttir explained. Blót, which literally means “sacrifice”, is the word used for Norse pagan ceremonies.
In the blót tours, the couple is joined by guides from the association, including the West Fjords chieftain Eyvindur P. Eiríksson.
“It is not missioneering, which is frowned upon in Ásatrú. It is first and foremost an experience for travelers, not highly dramatic but fun and educational,” Ólafsdóttir described.
The blót ceremonies always ended with a huge feast and so the tours in Arnardalur end with a banquet in the cowshed where Westfjordian ingredients are emphasized.
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