Date of Award
Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion
Material religion, Music and religion, Neopaganism
A major draw of Nordic Neopaganism is the great degree of personal freedom practitioners have in the construction and performance of their spiritual identity. Nordic Neopaganism has no central hierarchy or unifying dogmatic system to dictate such endeavors. Instead, practitioners draw from the tradition’s body of “lore” -- the historical accounts, archaeological records, pre-Christian myths, folklore, and folk traditions from the Nordic cultural area -- to inform their religiosity. The works of visual artists, musicians, and scholar-practitioners inspired by elements of this body of lore serve to further constitute it. This lore provides the basis and inspiration for religious identity and ritual activity, and it reinforces the idea that divinity is imminent in the natural world.
As such, areas adjacent to or within nature can be considered sacred and are used as spaces for ritual performance. Additionally, historic sites dated to the Iron and Viking Ages in Europe such as burial mounds, standing stones, and sites of former temples such as Uppsala, Sweden, serve as gathering places for religious ceremony and discourse for European practitioners. This dissertation asserts that Midgardsblot, a Norwegian heavy metal festival, functions as a sacred space for adherents of this growing tradition. Utilizing religious materialism as a theoretical base, data collected via participant observation at the festival, and a survey disseminated on the festival’s official community Facebook page, this dissertation argues that Midgardsblot is a coalescence point of Nordic Neopagan material culture: constituent elements of the established body of lore such as music, the landscape, and Nordic folk cultural symbolism. Furthermore, respected figures and contributors to the body of lore such as scholar practitioners and certain performers are present, providing lectures on Nordic history, folk tradition, ritual practice, and the role of Nordic Neopaganism in social and climate justice. This coalescence of Nordic Neopagan material culture, the act of traveling to the festival, the academic discourse and ritual performances, and the sense of community experienced by those in attendance solidify Midgardsblot as a sacred space for practitioners to constitute and refine Nordic Neopagan identity and community.
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Padraic M. Fitzgerald
Received from ProQuest
Fitzgerald, Padraic M., "Til Valhall: The Formation of Nordic Neopagan Identity, Religiosity, and Community at a Norwegian Heavy Metal Festival" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2251.