Category Archives: Mythology

Eve’s prisca philosophia

I recently read the book The Origins Of The World’s Mythologies of E.J. Michael Witzel. In this book Witzel gives the world insight in the theories that he has developped over 20 years time which answer his quest for the original mythology. This approach was completely unknown and the job is by far not finished. It raises tantalizing questions though.

The African Eve
Witzel uses different sciences for his theory. Mostly genetics, linguistics, archeology and comparative myth. He calls his own approach “historical comparative myth”. Genetic scientistists have found out that the complete human population of the earth, are descendants of one single mother. This does not mean that at some point there were only two people, but simply that other lines did not make it. This first mother is called “The African Eve”, since she lived in nowadays Africa. There is also a stemfather. In his book Wirth explains how this discovery was made and how the method works. read more

Arguments against Dumézil

I have said on countless occasions that Dumézil and his theories are not very popular among scholars nowadays. I have read arguments against his tripartite system that were sometimes convincing, sometimes not, but no scholar who disgards the hypthesis of Dumézil presents a workable alternative. Currently I am reading the book The War Of The Gods by Jarich Oosten. The book is of 1985 so the criticism is not just of today. The book is subtitled The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology. Some of you might now know what sort of book this is, but only when I started reading it, I learned that this book is written from the (cultural) anthropological viewpoint. Not completely my thing it seems, but the author writes fairly clearly and he takes a couple of pages to say something about Dumézil and his tripartite system which is worthy to think over. I will quote the mentioned book extensively. read more

Dumézil on Heimdallr

My Gods of the ancient Northmen has some extra articles added to the original, French text. One of these texts is about the Rigsthula in which Rig (who is usually equated with Heimdallr) brings forth the three levels of society. Another text is completely dedicated to Heimdallr. Heimdallr is probably the most difficult and mysterious Gods of Northern Europe. Even though the text is of 1959 (after a lecture of 1956) and of course by Dumézil, there are still some new (to me) and thought-provoking ideas in it. Regard my short text as an insufficient summery of the theories posed in the article Comparative remarks on the Scandinavian God Heimdall (1959) and if it caught your interest, try to hunt down the text yourself or the book in which is has been published. read more

Thor’s disgrace

Körmt and Örmt,
and the Kerlaugs twain:
these Thor must wade each day,
when he to council goes
at Yggdrasil’s ash;
for the As-bridge
is all on fire,
the holy waters boil.

Grimnismál 29 Bellows translation

This strophe is often interpreted very literally: Thor cannot pas the Bifrost bridge because is he to heavy, too plump and too ‘fiery’. I wonder if that is all that is to this line. There are some interesting references in other texts that may refer to something that you can call “Thor’s disgrace”. In other words: what did Thor do that he was no longer allowed to cross Bifrost? read more

TyrOdhinn

Some time ago, a friend after reading my article about Odhinn, had a nice suggestion. What if the missing arm is supposed to be missing and what if there is a big significance in the fact that Odin misses his left arm, and Tyr his right hand? I was already aware of the ‘pair’ Tyr/Odin, but hadn’t given this idea a thought. The suggestion soon proved to be just a suggestion. Another image clearly shows breaking-traces on the arm and hip, so it is clear that this particular image of Odin originally has two arms. The start was there, though, because for some time I had the idea to write something about Tyr and Odin. read more

The nine worlds in nordic mythology

I remember yet the giants of yore
Who gave me bread; in the days gone by
Nine worlds I knew, the nine in the Tree
With mighty roots beneath the mold.
(Völuspa 2, translated by Ari Óðinssen)

This is the second verse from the Poetic Edda. “Nine worlds I knew, nine in the Tree”. The nine worlds come back in Northern mythology more often, such as in Alvíssmál 9 in which the dwarf Alvis says: “All the nine worlds I have travelled over” and also Vafthrudnir has travelled to nine worlds (VafÞrúðnismál 43). Because the concept is rather vague, it has been open to speculation what exactly these nine worlds are. Óðinssen writes in a note to the quoted verse: read more

Freya or Brisingamen

A while ago I was reading a collection of articles by Karl Theodor Weigel. The man speaks about folkloristic habbits and symbolism that goes back to the prechristian religion. He gives symbols representing the years, such as I have shown you in my article “Odhinn, God of the year”. Towards the end there is an image of a Christmas-bread from Lauterbach Hessen, Germany (left) “that strongly reminds of the god in the wheel, in the course of the year”. That is the same symbolism as that I gave to Odin with his two arms on the hips. The Christmas bread made me think of the famous statue of Freya with a gigantic necklase, her Brisingamen, around her neck. Freya as Goddess of the year, not such a strange idea, because she is connected to fertility and therefor the cycle of the crops, death and rebirth, the changing seasons and thus the year. So might this be the reason that the Brisingamen has such enormous propertions? Let us see what is said about the Brisingamen. read more

The Balder play

The beginning of this tale is, that Balder dreamed dreams great and dangerous to his life. When he told these dreams to the asas they took counsel together, and it was decided that they should seek peace for Balder against all kinds of harm. So Frigg exacted an oath from fire, water, iron and all kinds of metal, stones, earth, trees, sicknesses, beasts and birds and creeping things, that they should not hurt Balder. When this was done and made known, it became the pastime of Balder and the asas that he should stand up at their meetings while some of them should shoot at him, others should hew at him, while others should throw stones at him; but no matter what they did, no harm came to him, and this seemed to all a great honor.
Gylfaginning 49, Rasmus Anderson translation read more

Fire in Northern mythology

Fire, a concept that is very present in Northern mythology and also a concept that I have broken my head over for some time now. The symbology is multi-layered and however I still haven’t fully worked out the subject, I want to present some thoughts and come to an interpretation of some elements of Northern mythology.

Creation

There are two primal forces in Nordic myths, two forces that are known under the names, “fire” and “ice”. Before there was anything, there was Ginungagap, a “yawning gap”. In the south of it, fire ‘resided’ and in the north, ice. When these two came together, everything started. So, fire is the primal force, one side of the Divine. Some symbology! read more

Thórr, God of initiation

Recently I wrote an article with thoughts on the symbolism of the posture of the famous statue of Odhinn. I am sure you understood that this article is not meant to say that this is what the statue ‘means’, the article contains “thoughts on symbolism”. Other writers will say that this posture of Odin is a ‘cultic posture’. More funny even is that there is a statue of Thórr, found in Schmedt an der Oder (so he will have been called “Donar” or something similar), with the same posture as Odin in the statue that my other article was about. Also, Farwerck also has the image ‘little man of the year’ accompanied by the text, “idol, probably Thor”. But of course, more famous is the Icelandic statue of Thor with him sitting and… and what actually? The first thought is that this statue represents Thor and his hammer Mjöllnir. Modern replicas proof that people think that this is the case, but both in the traditional and in the modern version of the statue it is not clear if the figure holds a hammer under his chin or that he holds his beard; or even, if his beard is the handle of the hammer. read more