Early Anglo-Saxon Religion
by Hlafdige Arastorm
aka Virginia Fair Richards-Taylor
The Worldview of the Heathen Anglo-Saxons was Tribal. Family and Tribe before In the 6th Century they had been living with the British who were Celtic Christians, Due to the lack of written literature, our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion must be inferred from what we know of related cultures who came before and after them, on the continent, and what little the Christians wrote about them. We use archeology for more hints.
The Anglo-Saxons worshiped Tiw, Frey, Thunor and Woden. They also took into account other beings including Ghosts, Dwarves, Elves, heroes, and other ancestors, especially their female ancestors. The Idisii. We know even less about Goddesses than we know about the Gods, except that two months are named for Eostre and Hretha.
Place names would indicate that they mostly worshipped outside, and that there may have had a central tree or post. At the time of the conversion there are references to temples, although not many. Funeral customs indicate a belief in the afterlife.
At the beginning of the 7th century the Roman Christian church sent missionaries to the King of Kent, who was open to it because of the expansion of Childebert the Frankish King. The Roman and Celtic Christians didn’t get along, but made peace at the Council of Whitby in 664. The Anglo-Saxons accepted Christianity across most of England by the end of the 7th century, enthusiastically donating land and people to the church. At the same time, many practices identified by the Church as pagan continued until the 10th century at least, helped along by the influx of heathens to the Danelaw in the 9th century.
In essence, before Augustine, the Anglo-Saxons were heathen, after Alfred, they were pretty much Christian, and there was a transitional period where individuals combined both.
Feel free to e-mail me with any questions: Tchipakkan@tds.net
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