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Iceland to Build First Temple to Norse Gods Since Viking Age

High priest of the Asatru Association, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, leads a procession of fellow members of the Asatru Association, a contemporary Icelandic pagan society, at the Pingvellir National Park near Reykjavik in this June 21, 2012 file photo.Reuters, file

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REYKJAVIK - Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island's first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.

"I don't believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet," said Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, high priest of 'Asatruarfelagid', an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.

Membership in Asatruarfelagid has tripled in Iceland in the last decade to 2,400 members last year, out of a total population of 330,000, data from Statistics Iceland showed.

The temple will be circular and will be dug 13 feet down into a hill overlooking the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, with a dome on top to let in the sunlight. It will host weddings and funerals.

Iceland's neo-pagans still celebrate the ancient sacrificial ritual of 'Blot' with music, reading, eating and drinking, but nowadays leave out the slaughter of animals.

- Reuters

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