Olaus Magnus
Archbishop of Uppsala

Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus
"A Description of the Northern People"
Book III, Chs. 3-4

Excepts Translated by Peter Fisher and Humphrey Higgens
Edited by Peter G. Foote, 1996.

Fricca (Frigga) Thor Woden (Odin)
      Chapter Three

On the Three Greater Gods of the Goths
During the period when the ancient Goths were pagans, as my most dear brother and predecessor, Johannes Magnus, archbishop of Uppsala, distinctly states at the beginning of his History, they had three gods who were honored with deepest reverence. Of these the first was the mighty Thor, who was worshipped sitting in the middle of a cushioned couch, flanked on each side by two other deities, Odin and Frigga. Thor they say, rules the air, thundering and lightening, controlling the winds, clouds and fair weather, having under his care all the fruits and crops of the earth, and removing plagues. The second, Odin, meaning 'the strong one', holds sway over wars, affording men help against their foes. He was set on the right hand of Thor himself, and his reputation was of such splendour that all peoples cherished him exactly as if he were a light granted to the world, and there was no place on earth, as Saxo testifies, which did not submit to the might of his godhead. Frigga, the third, regulated peace and pleasure. Her image also shamelessly flaunted its sex and for this reason was worshipped among the Goths as Venus was among the Romans; she keeps Friday, Venus' day, sacred to herself even in our own times. She was painted with a sword and bow; these weapons meant that in those lands either sex was always perfectly ready to take up arms. Thor, however, was depicted with a sceptre and crown with twelve stars, since people thought there was nothing of equal worth that could be compared to his grandeur. He held jurisdiction over one day in the week, and indeed over the first month of the whole year, which we now call January. Odin is certainly sculptured in arms, as Mars was among the Romans by a similar superstition of the heathens, and he took for himself a day which has been dedicated to his memory throughout Europe because he yielded to none in the art of war, men believe this is why the Goths maintained (as Dio the Greek, Ablabius, and Jordanes testify) that Mars, whom antiquity regarded as the god of war, was the first-born among them, as the poet also states:

Father Gradivus [Mars], guide of Getic arms.

The Goths always sought to appease him with the harshest rites, that is to say with the death of their prisoners, supposed that the presider over war was more fitly appeased with human blood. In return they learnt from him him the whole business of waging war to such perfection that, in conquering the most powerful empires of Europe and Asia, they gained for themselves the highest accolade of valour.

The figures in the vignette cannot be confidently identified.
Methothin Freyr (?)
Chapter Four

On Three Lesser Gods
  Besides these three gods several others were also worshipped, who, as Saxo says, after winning possession of simple folk's minds by their skill in some marvellous trick of jugglery, laid claim to the rank of deity. For not only the Goths but all the northern provinces too were encompassed by them in nooses of idle credulity, excited with zeal to pay them worship, and, worst of all, defiled with their derisive contamination. The effect of their deception became so prevalent that the other nations, revering a divine power in these impostors and thinking them to be gods, or confederates of gods, offered solemn prayers to such inventors of sorceries and devoted to sacrilegious error the regard which properly belongs to sacred beings.

Among them was one Methotin, eminent in the magic art, who secured for himself an exceedingly high reputation for a grandeur that was purely imaginary. By report of his skilful trickery he led astray the minds of ordinary people and induced them to submit idolatrous offerings to him. Since this man was the chief priest of the gods, he so distinguished and regulated sacrificial rites that a particular form of worship and libation was celebrated for each of those on high, for he asserted that offences done to  the gods could not be atoned through oblations shared by all or with mingled ceremonies. His crimes were at length discovered and he was killed at a public assembly, but after his death he destroyed a great number of people with the pestilent infection from his corpse, until he was dragged out of his grave-mound and impaled upon a stake, as his vain-glorious illusions deserved. Freyr, too, a deputy of the gods, had his seat not far from Uppsala, where he changed the ancient custom of sacrificing, followed by so many peoples for so many centuries, for a dismal and abominable expiation; initiating the slaughter of human victims, he rendered foul offerings to those above. After he had finally been translated to the company of the gods, black victims were slain on his behalf because he  was held to be the god of blood, and banquets of the gods and nocturnal games were dedicated to him whenever the annual feast days came round, as once they were at Rome to Dis and Proserpina.

Vagnhofthi and Hading were worshipped with no less honour, because they were believed to be prompt in bringing special aid during bitterly fought wars. It was thought that, because during his life Rostiof the Finn had been foremost in the carefully-thought-out study of divination, he was removed after death to the society of the gods. To these may be added Rostar, whose incredible savagery so desired to be appeased with offerings of human blood that his worshippers would dedicate to him the souls of those whom they were about to destroy. Finally there were thought to be several other sons of the mighty Thor or of Odin, who were granted divine honours by the people and deemed worthy of public sacrifices.