Varg Vikernes
"Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism" 2015

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Sacred Groves

Forests have always been an important part of the European religion and culture. All the trees were once upon a time seen as physical manifestations of the deities; in each and every tree a god or a goddess resided, and no tree was cut down unless there was a good reason to do so. The Ancient European man who planned to chop down a tree in the forest would first perform, offer service or sacrifice to the deity, in its temple (i.e. usually a sacred grove, centered around the oldest tree [known to them] connected to the particular deity) or to the tree that was to be chopped down. He explained to the deity why he had to cut the tree down, and what purpose its wood would serve. This little gesture reminded the Ancient European man of the sanctity of the forest and of each and every tree too.

The forest is the home of other manifestations of the deities too; all the wild animals found in Europe were also seen as physical manifestations of the deities. We often know these animals from the mythology as mere attributes of the deities; Freyja's cats or Þôrr's goats, Ôðinn's wolves and Freyr's boar for example. In reality the cat was Freyja, the goat Þôrr, the wolf Ôðinn and the boar Freyr. The deities resided in trees and in animals - and of course in man too!

We live in a different age now, in lands where the trees have been cut down to make room for pasture, fields, roads and cities. Animals are scarce too. There is not much left to remind man of the sanctity of either forests or land, of the flora or the fauna. So why would anybody be surprised by the fact that the deities are not much present in man today either? The modern man is a hollow and shallow creature, with little consideration for the sacred. The pasture that used to be covered by forests is populated by cattle mostly...

I encourage you to take the time to visit a nearby forest. On a warm and sunny day you will notice that the heat outside is unbearable as you walk across the fields leading up to the forest, and the moment you step into the forest you will understand just how important the forest is. In the forest there is always shadow and the temperature is perfectly comfortable, no matter how hot it is outside. The Sun lights up the forest, but blinds nothing in it. The Sun warms up the forest, but burns nothing in it. The wild forest is the most comfortable, natural and safe place you can dream of, it is rich with everything you need, and its sanctity should be clear to anyone who enters. It is the home of our forebears, and where we should live too.

Alas! But we must leave the forest, we can only visit the few forests that are left in Europe every now and then. We live most of the time on the scorched plains outside, blinded and burnt by the Sunlight that would have enlightened and warmed us had we lived in our natural environment. Make haste: plant trees all over Europe, and revive her dying spirit! Make the gods and goddesses return, in nature and in man! Let the roots of strong trees tear up the asphalt and concrete in our streets; let plants enter the cracks of our buildings and demolish them; let thorny branches stretch out into the pasture and fields as the forerunners of tall trees. Let Mother Nature take back what belongs to her - and rejoice! Be grateful for her effort; it is to your benefit. Facilitate the return of reason; plant trees!

Varg Vikernes


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