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Uppsala: Where have all the gods gone?

Walking inside one of the tallest cathedrals in Scandinavia. Provoked the question. What if? What if we had put all that effort spent on building such magnificent buildings. In honor of A god. Into building ourselves with the same care. In equal amounts abundance and outpouring of love. When did we lose our way? Misplacing the belief in ourselves, as capable of taking care of each other and our world. Giving away our sovereignty to individuals (mostly male) dressed in golden threads with mother of pearl scepters. Thought to be rulers of our fate. It wasn’t long before everyone bowed in obedience and called it faith.

I went in search of the old gods, old faiths, ancient festivals made to celebrate the harvests gifted to us by the Earth. A very interesting and different story from what I was expecting, presented itself. The treasury museum in the center of Uppsala. Tucked away on the highest point of the cathedral. Holds more gold than I have ever seen so far in my life. There are, for certain. Many other vaults or churches around Europe, made of and filled with gold. A precious metal usurped from ancient indigenous kingdoms. But that begs the question. Do the natural resources of the Earth really belong to anyone? The original diggers of this highly valued element. May have paid their respects to our mother Earth. But still. They dug, they plowed and sacrificed other humans. For the sake of controlling and flaunting this shimmering mineral. Are we all just ungrateful usurpers of the earth?

It’ll be different at Gamla Uppsala, I thought to myself. The site where Odin is said to reside. Where all Vikings traveled on a pilgrimage. Pagans. celebrating, giving thanks to the gods every year. Dancing wildly on the blessed ground of Old Uppsala. As a Viking history fan and shieldmaiden admirer. Thinking I’d be stepping on the same ground as Lagertha (the legendary warrior from Norway) gave me joyful goosebumps. It wasn’t long before I arrived at the wide open field. With its very distinctive mounds protruding ever so slightly from the ground. They are not immense. But tall enough to be seen from a greater distance. Excitedly, I walked over to the first one. Stepping back in time. Picturing myself dressed in a long white gown with a flower crown on my head on the way to the temple. Which legends say was made of, you guessed it. Gold.

The captions revealed these mounds were suspected to be graves for three of the most powerful and ancient kings of the semi-legendary House of Ynglings. A dynasty whose name is recorded in one of my favorite epic poems. Beowulf. Still. No gods to be found. I wanted to feel a sense of mysticism walking around the mounds. A usual sense of reality overcame me. Did the Viking pagans come here to celebrate the gods? Or did they come here out of fear, the said human god kings buried here would retaliate against them, if sacrifices were not made? Perhaps both.

Thousands of years ago. We began by worshiping the spirit of the unknown and the earth in the form of a voluptuous woman (i.e. Göbekli Tepe: my next adventure!). Since, back then, God. You know, the one and only some say exists today. Was not even a thought in our minds. Concepts may have shifted to the personification of spirit in the form of gods and goddesses. Regardless, it seems at its core there was a belief that there was something/someone else out there. This is true. I have felt it, seen it, been in it. What is it then? How can it be explained? Why did it change? Why do we need gods and goddesses?

“A god can only exist so long as he is the mirror of the people who worship him”.* A quote from the book I am currently adventuring with : “Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine” (pg. 76).Can it be that it is not the gods we need? But changing how we see ourselves? If you look in the mirror what do you see? A mortal human or divine being?

I went in search of old gods. What I found was the same old trail of blood, war, power, and greed. A road we’ve been on for the past 6,000 years. Alas in this “dreamtime” ** it seems we have forgotten that it is not the gods we should fear. For they are a reflection of us. We can’t repay the gold we stole or the lands we take. We can, however, try to reflect a different way of living on this Earth whilst treating each other better.

*Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing Paperback – April 30, 2019 , by Maria Papaspyrou

**The Dreamtime is a commonly used term for describing important features of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples spiritual beliefs and existence.

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