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

Daniel Bray

Abstract


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.

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