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Prime-Signing

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson

For a religion supposedly given to stern edicts and one unyielding truth, and for whom any sign of moral relativity is supposedly anathema, Christianity has at times shown itself to be extraordinarily flexible when it is to its benefit to be so. For example, feared and hated as our Heathen ancestors and their religion was, when money or power was at stake, a little thing like “heathendom” could be ignored.

How?

By the simple expedient of the prima signatio, or “prime-signing” (entering Old Norse as prímasignan) – which was “first marking with a cross” – in other words, a Heathen Norseman would allow a priest mark him with a cross. This meant the priest laying his hands on the Norseman’s head and breathing on him to drive out evil spirits, which must have been an unpleasant thing given the hygienic standards of the day. The priest would then make the sign of the cross on his forehead and put a corn of salt on his tongue to symbolize purification in Christ.

Presto! Such a Heathen Norseman was now acceptable to Christians.

Read the original article at: A Heathens Day

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