Paganism in Roman Germany (ca. AD 69 - 260 +)

Paganism in Roman Germany (ca. AD 69 - 260 +)

According to The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Roman Germany (eds. Simon James & Stefan Krmnicek), paganism in the German provinces of the Roman Empire developed as follows:

Phase One: Conquest

Local gods were revered alongside imported deities. The Roman settlers of this period were largely mitary personnel who held a preference for gods of warfare, such as Mars. Religious devotion to their gods and imperial princes was adopted by the locals, who continued to worship the tribal deities and culture heroes of the Germans and the Gauls. The Matronae, for example, were local ancestral goddesses of fertility and household prosperity who were honoured and celebrated by German clans.

Phase Two: Consolidation of Roman Rule

Intensified urbanisation and militarisation saw the introduction of Mithras veneration. This was in turn countered by a rise of pre-Roman cults in rural areas, including the expansion of Matronae cults. Jupiter, Minerva, Juno, Mercury, and Hercules were also prevelant. Pillars dedicated to Roman gods were built in sanctuaries of Iron Age Celtic gods.

Personal note: Jupiter was often depicted as overcoming a giant during this period. I interpret this as the civilising power of Rome overcoming the land spirits of Barbaricum.

Phase Three: Intensive Romanization

Consecration stones become as popular as grave stones. Mithras, Jupiter, and the Matronae remain popular (varying by area and demographic).

Phase Four: Resolution and Transformation

The mystery cult of Mithras and the veneration of the Matronae remain popular. Christianity begins to take root, but is unpopular until the fourth century.

This is an archaeological reconstruction. Little survives of pre-Roman German paganism and material culture.

In regards to magical practice, lead curse tablets, phallic amulets, foundation sacrifices, wax / wool dolls, and belief in the evil eye were also widespread in Roman Germany.

Note: Baths were dedicated to Diana (Abnoba) and Apollo Grannus (a Celtic water god adopted into the Roman pantheon) in the Black Forest. A temple of Isis was erected in Mainz. Epona was worshiped in Rhineland-Palatinate (and beyond), as was the Celtic bear goddess Artio.

Jupiter absorbed the German sky-gods Taranis, Dinar, and Ziu. Bonus Eventus, Dionysus, Neptune, and Victory were also revered. Reliefs of hammer gods, equated to Jupiter and Vulcan, may have represented the Celtic Sucellus, the Teutonic Donar, or the Norse Thor. Jupiter, the Matronae, and the Asiatic Great Mother Cybelle shared sanctuaries.

Celtic Rosmerta was deemed the consort of Mercury, while the Celtic victory goddess Ancamna was depicted alongside Lenus-Mars. Mars-Thingsus emerged as a deity of legal assembly (probably) and Mercury-Cimbrianus evolved from a tribal god of the Germanic Cimbri.

The bizarre cult of Jupiter Sabazius (Sabaoth) made its way to the German provinces via Greek-speaking Roman soldiers, as did Jupiter Dolichenus (Baal) via Syrian soldiers serving in the Roman army. Roman soldiers brought bronze statues of the Egyptian bull god Apis to Bavaria.

Paganism in Roman-era Germany was a melting pot of European, Asian, and Egyptian deity veneration.


  • Romans on the Rhine (Paul MacKendrick)
  • Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World (Phillip Shaw)

Well, it’s too bad they didn’t start with pre-invasion because according to archeologists/sociologists what little evidence there is suggests their beliefs were similar to the Vikings (but with different names fir the deities like Woden/Wotan substituted for Odin).

Add: which does make sense since Norwegian, Danish and Swedish (just like English) are related languages (probably stemming from 1 proto language and proto culture that changed as if dispersed across geographical regions).

You’ve gathered interesting information though, so I hope there’ll be more coming.


The Merseberg Incantations give us some insights. Traces of memory carried over into medieval epics and later folktales. We have little else left.


Well between time and the efforts of the church to erase paganism it’s not surprising. Also, don’t forget the more recent efforts to expunge its remnants post WW2 due to you know what villainous historic grouo’s purported association with paganism. At least in Germany and the surrounding areas it’s not that in surprising mainland Europe areas that it’s hard to find any trace of pre-Roman culture and artifacts

Add: omitted name if said group on purpose due to the no politics rule and it’s very mention being a hot button issue.

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It’s more that the materials they used and the rituals they performed do not survive in the archaeological record. Wood rots, entities were rarely depicted and were worshiped in sacred groves not stone temples, and the ancient Germans weren’t writing things down.

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True but the bombings didn’t help and being did the efforts to destroy the reminder traces of stone runes. But all in all you’re right about the issues and difficulties of knowing anything about that time and culture :slight_smile:

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Sadly accurate :frowning:

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At least we can conjecture some of it from the nordic remnants (most of which not surprisingly were found on islands without any currant resistant populations).

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The Sigtrygg Runestones do suggest they had a very similar culture (not to mention that they also used tubes both linguistically and magickally (the lucky part being they were stolen and stuck safely in a museum where they weren’t vandalized or destroyed and so we still have them as some evidence suggestions their beliefs and culture and even language were similar to those in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

You might want to look up the Sigtrygg Runestones although I didn’t find much in a quick search I’m sure there’s more info about them. I found the name because I googled German runestone because I had forgot its name but knew there were some German runestones.

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Actually, I’m reading that this notion (put forth by Tacticus) is only partially true. There have been some archaeological finds of German temples and deity statues.

Ref: Romans on the Rhine (Paul MacKendrick)


I’m quite interested in this topic at the moment and intend to unlock its deeper mysteries, if there are any to be found.

Since they left behind no written records of anything, not much is known beyond the names of the 7 initiation grades, the famous tauroctony scene (Mithras slaying a bull, while a raven, scorpion, dog, and snake drink its blood – representing the end of the Age of Taurus), the fact that the cult seemed to be favoured by soldiers, merchants, and some minor nobility(?), and that some people likened Mithras to Dionysus/Bacchus… Although I’ve also heard him compared to Helios/Apollo and to Phanes.


@Veil The book I’m reading mentions Phaeton-Mithras, but I don’t know much about Mithras at all tbh.

Are you looking to work with Mithras?


Myth Can I pm you?


I can give you a place to start perhaps.

So the cult of Mithra were big time cannabis smokers who used the plant in underground caverns to make spirit contact with Mithras. They used a form of astrology that is based on the Chaldean system (The zodiac which folks attribute to the Egyptians was actually something they adopted from the chaldeans). They were becoming so popular, they were on the verge of basically supplanting Christianity, but some Emperors converted to Christianity and basically stole everything they could from the writings of Mithras into their religion in order to absorb its followers. They copied so much, you could say that Jesus is basically a clone of Mithras.

Mithra himself is spoken about within Zoroastrianism as a middle man/mediator between Yahweh and Satan who taught humans how to make offerings and introduced the use of a sacred drink used by Zoroastrians called Haoma, which contained cannabis, and was used by them to soul travel. My advice to you and @Veil if you want to learn more about Mithras is to look towards Zoroastrianism, because that is partly where the foundation for the cult of Mithras comes from. It’s essentially the European version of this Persian monotheistic religion as it traveled out of Asia…spread first to Rome by Cilian pirates (Cilicia being a region of Turkey).

The video below (20 minutes long) is a good primer into everything I’ve stated. It goes into a lot, including the mithraic symbolism behind the bull being stabbed by the dagger of Mithras, meant to represent Mithras coming back at the end of time to save the world through its blood (which represented haoma) to the people so that they may be enlightened :slight_smile:


@Secrana Natürlich! Any time.

@Verdo thank you for information and the video :slight_smile:

I’ve gotten my hands on a few books as well (@Veil gave me Mithras fever :joy:) . I’m looking forward to learning more.

Haoma reminds me of the hasheshins. Interesting.


Exactly! It all comes from the same geographical region. The hashashin assassins consuming hashish to soul travel to paradise was likely adopted from the Zoroastrian tradition of consuming this cannabis-infused Haoma drink to do essentially the same thing.


Very cool. This is a very intriguing subject. Thank you for sharing your knowledge @Verdo !

Edit: @Verdo are you incorporating cannabis into your own practice?


I am yeah. So far I’m still working out how best to use it via trial and error, but I’m making progress!


As a taurus I felt that :upside_down_face:


I don’t know much about Mithras either. I thought he was a fertility god for the Minoans and that had something to do with the bull jumping stuff on their arts.