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Paganism: Part VII - Why Did Paganism Fail?

We can glorify our Pagan forefathers and their religion, culture and worldview as much as we want to, but all this sounds rather silly the moment somebody asks us the simply question: "If Paganism was such a marvelous religion, then why was it replaced by Christianity?" Christianity prevailed through treachery? Deceit and lies? Violent oppression? Sure, but that is not the main reason Christianity prevailed.

The Pagans of Southern Europe will probably not like to hear what I am about to say, but it is a fact that our European religion had become effete in Southern Europe as early as in the first couple of centuries before our time of reckoning. If we read some of the ancient literature we can see that even the ancient Greeks - including Homer - were puzzled by certain facts in their stories. They were not always familiar with the customs of the people they wrote about, because the ancient Greek society had already become decadent by then. The Pagan religion no longer worked like it was supposed to do in Southern Europe, and the explanation to this is actually population growth!

This point about population growth is very important, because the Pagan religion is a mystery religion, with complex rituals and a vast array of symbols and deities. Only the initiates really knew what was going on and understood the liturgy. The enlightenment achieved through participation in these mysteries was achieved step by step, over time. In a large congregation only a small percentage could be initiated, because only one person at the time could be initiated in each mystery. Further, this had to be done on a certain day of the week, month or year, when the candidate was at a certain age, and the uninitiated individuals of the congregation would then in effect remain outsiders or at best ignorant spectators not knowing what was going on even in the public religious rites. When the congregations grew into a huge crowd, like they did in Southern Europe because of population growth, the result was that eventually most of the people in the South-European communities would be ignorant to the purpose of the whole Pagan religion. Even in the early Iron Age the public rituals would serve only as theatre to most of them, as some sort of incomprehensible entertainment. "Nice music, spectacular show, but what is the purpose?" If the priests unveiled the secrets of the mysteries to the uninitiated, just to let them know what was going on and keep them interested, that would also ruin the whole experience for them, because the enlightenment only comes if the content of each mystery is unknown to the candidate beforehand. They had to keep it a secret, or else the mysteries would serve no purpose.

So unlike in the scarcely populated Northern Europe the Pagan religion only served a purpose to a small part of the populations of Southern Europe. There the ordinary man saw the religion as incomprehensible, the rites were too complex for him or her to understand them, and naturally it gave him or her no spiritual enlightenment. When the Romans a few centuries later created Christianity, a religion tailor-made for the mediocre masses left out by the Pagan cult, it was not very hard to gain supporters to this new religion in Southern Europe. Christianity offered one single symbol, one single deity and one single saviour, and was comprehensible to even the most intellectually inferior individuals. "Kneel in front of the cross, accept Jesus Christ as Your saviour and You are saved!" Why not? At the time the Pagan congregations only let the elite of the society into their cults, and the rest was basically left out, so why would the rest not join a cult - Christianity - where they too could be saved, and where they could even be saved instantly? A lot of people must have thought like that, because the next few hundred years Christianity spread out across Southern Europe. The villages in Southern Europe remained Pagan longer, though, obviously because the Pagan cults in the villages didn't have the problem with too large congregations - and I can add that that is apparently why we call the European religion Paganism in the first place, as paganus means "village dweller" in Latin. Christianity was first and foremost a religion for the uninitiated and ignorant crowds of the larger cities.

Western and Eastern Europe faced the same problem with population growth, and because of that offered little resistance to Christianity, but Northern Europe remained a scarcely populated area. In the Viking Age there were tens of millions of people living in Western, Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, but only about 250.000 people were living in all of Scandinavia. So while the rest of Europe was Christianized Scandinavia remained a Pagan society first and foremost because of the fact that people were still living in tiny communities, where everybody could participate and be included in the Pagan cult. Scandinavia had never become decadent and there was no vacuum to be filled by Christianity.

The result of this was, as we know, that Northern Europe defended itself against the cultural and religious imperialism of the Christians, with all the means they possessed. Superior ship technology and contempt for death was not enough, though, when 250.000 Scandinavians had to face the tens of millions of Christians in Europe. However, they burnt the few monasteries already built in Scandinavia, slew or threw out the few Christians already here, and fought courageously against the rest of Europe for about 250 years (!) before the resistance was broken and the Scandinavians finally agreed to pretend they accepted Christianity.

Paganism didn't fail as a religion. Paganism simply failed to remained the official religion because it is not a religion for the masses. It is a religion for healthy communities made up of a few individuals living in harmony with nature. It is a religion for the strong, the pure, the beautiful and the healthy, and to these people it is still the only religion worth practicing.

When the rest of the world goes down the drain because of consumerism, capitalism, internationalism and the Judeo-Christian religions it doesn't really matter, because the Pagans will remain uncorrupted and strong, living in their own healthy and self-sufficient societies in the countryside. Nobody and nothing can destroy our culture or race if even only a few of us remain true to our religion, and they cannot pollute our minds with their Asian filth either, if we live in communities where everybody are enlightened - by the Pagan mysteries. If we don't let them they cannot take us down with them when they fall into the abyss and their modern Sodom/Gomorrah destroys itself. The Pagans will survive the downfall of civilization because they don't participate and because of that remain pure.

Varg "Lífþrasir" Vikernes
(12.10.2005)



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