Paganism: Part VI - Hygiene In The Pagan Era

One thing that is puzzling with "The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring", the Jackson film, is that all of the characters - with the exception of Legolas and the other elves - were filthy throughout the film. This reminded me of the fact that this is actually how modern man views our forefathers. I am not saying that anybody believes "LotR" is actual history, but obviously films like this are made with our own medieval and prehistoric forefathers as models; and we tend to see them as thoroughly filthy creatures.

We have probably all heard about how the Europeans in the Middle Ages used to wash only once a year - in the Yuletide - and how the French royals used perfume to drown their own foul smell in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century, instead of simply washing. They were so filthy and disgusting that modern man shivers in disgust when they hear about them.

Historians can also tell that in the Viking Age the Scandinavian Pagan men were very popular with women of Christian Europe. The reason was not only because they were fairer and healthier, but also because they actually washed - and they even washed regularly (at least once a week). The fact is that the horribly poor hygiene we know of from the medieval times didn't come to Europe until Christianity came to Europe. The Christians claimed washing and good hygiene was a "sin" and banned it! That's the reason Europe became a pigsty in the Middle Ages, and not because people were so very unhygienic and ignorant in the past!

We see the custom of washing carefully once a week very clearly from the names of the weekdays in Scandinavia.

NorseNorwegianEnglish Translation
SunnadagrSøndagThe Sun's Day
MánadagrMandagThe Moon's Day
TýsdagrTirsdag/TysdagTýr's Day
ÓðinsdagrOnsdagÓðinn's Day
ÞórsdagrTorsdagÞórr's Day
FrjádagrFredagLove [Freyja/Freyr]'s Day
LaugardagrLørdag/LaurdagWashing Day

The week began on the Sunday, so therefore they always ended the week by washing (and cleaning the house), in order not to bring anything impure into the new week (just like they never brought anything impure into the realms of the gods or the holy places). The washing day was dedicated to Heimdallr - known as "the white god" - who ruled by the principle "you harvest what you sow". Every weekend they washed, and every last Saturday of the year they did this especially carefully. To be hygienic is in other words actually an important part of the ancient religion (and that is actually why the Christians banned it and called it a "sin")!

Now, these are the Scandinavian names of the weekdays, but at least in English and Latin, and partly in German, the names of the days of the week are the same as the Scandinavian ones (only with English, Latin and German deity-names). I don't know the names of the weekdays in other European languages, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were based on the same Pagan philosophy.

My claim is that this custom of washing at least once a week must have been (in Antiquity) a Pan-European custom, and not just a custom in Scandinavia. We already know the Romans had elaborate plumbing and baths, and naturally this supports my claim that all of Pagan Europe was hygienic. I can also add that most of the Pagan mysteries begins with or includes a bath or (in case of the initiation mysteries) a washing of the candidate.

The horribly poor sanitary culture that came to Europe with Christianity is however not the only filth this Asian regurgitation brought to us. The mental hygiene and race hygiene practiced by the ancient Europeans also was disrupted by the introduction of Christianity. In that context, had an ancient European seen modern Europe and how people behave and live today he or she would have (rightfully) reacted with the same horror as we do when we hear about the hygiene in medieval Europe!

Science and common sense finally defeated the Christian view on hygiene in the XIXth century and I am convinced the rest of this Hebrew Black Death will be overcome too, with time. Some of us have already developed immunity, and will because of that never be soiled by this plague no matter what. With science as an unwilling ally, reason will prevail.

Although doomed to live in Hel/Hades during the winter season, Baldr/Persephone always returns to us in the summer season. Dagr ("day") is born by Nátt ("night"); before we can enjoy the wonderful light of a new day we always have to endure the darkness of the night for some time. The fact that this night has in parts of Europe already lasted for up to 1.800 years doesn't change this.

Varg "Fenrir" Vikernes


Qua medicamenta non sanant, ignis sanat
(What medicine does not heal, the fire cures)

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