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All that’s left of the Continental Saxons’ pagan religion is fragments.

The Church, aided by Charlemagne, did everything it could to destroy what it saw as devil worship, and the eighth century Continental Saxons had no written language as we know it. So, when portraying people who practiced that religion in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, I turned to clues – Charlemagne’s capitulary to the Saxons telling them what not to do or else, Jacob Grimm’s scholarship on Teutonic beliefs, folktales with deities and supernatural creatures, and poetry from the Anglo-Saxons.

One of those poems, “Nine Herbs Charm,” reveals how religion and medicine were intertwined. Whether is a Christian poem with pagan elements or vice versa, it provides a glimpse of Saxon culture before Christianity.

See my post at English Historical Fiction Authors for more on a poem that melds religion and medicine.


Mugwort, one of the nine herbs in the poem (by Christian Fischer, used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, via Wikimedia Commons)