Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/406

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

390 Custo7n and Belief in Icelandic Sagas.

apparently an ocean-goddess ; Idun, a doublet, probably tribal, of Freyja ; Hod ; and half-a-dozen others not distinctly characterised, who may be tribal deities, or heroes elevated into the hierarchy. Of the whole list only two, Thor and Frey, are ever mentioned in the sagas as receiving actual worship. The references are as follows, arranged chronologically so far as is possible: Thor.

1. {Thorskfir^inga, 890) : Thorolf Mostrarskegg was a

great sacrificer and believed in Thor. When he reached Iceland, he sacrificed that Thor might send his pillars to land, and gave his son for it. This is explained in Eyrbyggja as meaning dedi- cation, not sacrifice : " Thorolf gave his son to Thor, and called him Thorstein."

2. Landnama records of the same settler : " He took

down his temple {i.e. in Norway) and took with him most of the wood, and the earth under the altar that Thor had sat on. He threw overboard the pillars that had stood in the temple. Thor was carved on one." He named the promontory where the pillars landed Thorsness, and made it sanc- tuary. He built a great temple there, and he and his descendants made strict laws to preserve the sanctity of the place. The carrying of the temple-pillars is a common incident in records of the settlement ; the taking of the holy earth, like the "two mules' burden of earth" which Naaman took back to Syria, is recorded nowhere else. It may be a recognition of the local character of the god, though " the altar that Thor had sat on " looks like a survival of the throne-altar carried with them by settlers,

3. Helgi the Thin, another settler, had become Christian

in the Hebrides ; "he believed in Christ but vowed to Thor in great matters" {Svarfdczla, 890).