The Place of the Spirits: Interactions with the Spirit World through the Land in Norse and Celtic Pagan Religions


  • Daniel Bray University of Sydney


For the pre-Christian Norse and Celtic peoples, the realm of the spirits was not only contiguous with, but also integral to, the more familiar material world. Apart from a very few large temple sites, most places for contact with the spiritual were to be found in the local landscape - in groves, rivers, valleys, waterfalls, wells, rocks, trees, ring forts and burial mounds. For the Norse especially, a great variety of beings could be worshipped and/or encountered in these places, from gods and goddesses to elves, dwarves, fairies, giants, land-spirits, guardian-spirits, ancestors and the restless dead. Mythology, literature and folklore provide a glimpse of these realms, as they were perceived by the pagan Norse and Celts, from antiquity until well after their conversion to Christianity.

Author Biography

Daniel Bray, University of Sydney

University of Sydney