Waterfall of the Gods: Goðafoss

They may not be the tallest of waterfalls in Iceland (a mere 12m high), nor are they the most spectacular of waterfalls, of which there are many in Iceland, but they are still impressive and even have their place in the history books.

In Iceland, circa AD 1000, there were both pagan believers of Norse Gods and those who had become Christian.  The two groups constantly opposed each other, as you might imagine, which led to unruly behaviour and general disruptions.  At the annual meet up in Althing (Þingvellir), both sides were ready for a punch-up, but nevertheless they put the question of religion and faith to the law-maker of the day – and (most importantly) pledged to abide by whatever decision he reached.

The man in charge of making the decision – between maintaining the pagan faith, or Iceland’s citizens adopting Christianity wholesale – was Thorgeir Thorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði .  The “goði” suffix indicates that he would have a local chieftain from whence he came and is derived from the same Norse root that gives us the English word “god”.  Just so you know.

Thorgeir, himself, was a pagan (as you might have guessed – both his first two names beginning with “Thor”, and all that).  You might assume that the decision he would arrive at would be in keeping with his old-world faith, but after a full day and night he came to the conclusion that there would only be peace in Iceland if one faith and one law were adopted by all.  He opted for Christianity. (Bah!)

His peace-offering to the pagans was that they could still practice their old-world beliefs, but only in the privacy of their own homes.  This (not-so) secret practice is still evident today, in AD 2012, and not just confined to Iceland and ye olde Norse countries, but world-wide and under the covers as we speak. It is now under the guise of reading comics.  Thank you, Marvel.

His personal response to his own decision was to take all his Norse god idols and throw them over the waterfall (hence the name Goðafoss) the moment he had returned from Althing to his local district.

Now, if only you could do the same with Pop Idols… 😉

Goðafoss can be found on Route 1 on the road heading east from Akureyri, just past the turn-off to Husavik on the “85”.

True as Bob (ahem) – it was raining cats and dogs when it was time to climb out of the car to inspect them.

I don’t want to get caught up in modern-day equivalents of religious disputes and wars between those who practice different faiths, but I can’t help but think that there’s a moral to this story (and I don’t mean throwing cheesy wannabe singers over the edge of waterfalls).  If only things were that simple…

29 thoughts on “Waterfall of the Gods: Goðafoss

    1. Thank you Steph! – A little history goes a long way 🙂
      Plus, I’m not sure that the photos would have stood up by themselves. I think the history (along with the weather) gives them a little extra dimension.

    1. Thank you Sheila – I was only using my point and shoot at this point in time as it has a waterproof case…my DSLR had to remain sadly under wraps and in its bag!

  1. Breathtaking photos! I think they could have stood alone as a post, but I love the history lesson, too! One of my favorite topics to ponder is where magic/faith/the unknown and reality converge, and I think your post captures that idea so well! Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. Thank you musinnmoseyin for your kind comments 🙂
      I like finding out a little bit about what I am looking at – it adds to the atmosphere.

  2. Thanks for the story and the beautiful pics. Seems that you were alone there to enjoy the magic of this waterfall. We met there many cruise line-tourists which came with busses from Akureyri. 😉

    1. We did arrive quite late in the day – so possibly missed the tour coaches (thank goodness!!) I am glad that we did miss them, it must be difficult to appreciate the beauty when you have to keep avoiding getting people in your photos and avoiding being in other people’s pics!

      1. Yes, you are right:) You know, I never was in most places, you visited, which makes it really interesting for me. I thought, maybe I should visit Iceland on my way to Finland:)?

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