The Masks Of Odin * Elsa-Brita Titchenell (Theosophical University Press 1986 * isbn 0911500731)

However this book is 20 years old, the Dutch translation just saw the light of day. It seems that also the Dutch section of the Theosophical Society realised that people also want to learn about their own past. This book can be regarded as the Theosophical answer to the Antroposophical book Tussen Wodan en Widar (‘between Wodan and Widar’ reviewed elsewhere). Titchenell uses the first half of the book to give Theosophical explanations of Norse concepts. These ideas are often far-fetched and very suggestive. Often she doesn’t name her sources which makes it hard to look things back. The first half of the book is by far not as interesting as the Antroposophical book that has a similar idea.
The second half of the book consists of translations of texts, mostly from the Elder Edda (that the writer still ascribes to Saemund). However she claims that she used an Icelandic original and an old Swedish tranlation, the titles of many texts differ and there are a few other discripancies. “-vida” often becomes “-kvädet”, such as in “Hymiskvädet” for “Hymiskmál”. In the case of “Baldrs Draumer” the title is totally different and somehow became “Vägtamskvädet” and “Rigsthula”, “Kvidet om Rig”. Then we have one text that I only know from this book. “Odens Korpsgalder” is a part of the Edda according to Titchenell, but mostly left out because it is too hard to explain. Further I noticed that the “Svipdagsmál” is in only one of the three Elder Edda translations that I have, strange! What is also strange that the writer writes the names differently. What is usually an “i” in the last accent, becomes an “e”, so “Hymir” becomes “Hymer”, “Ymir”, “Ymer”, etc.

Titchenell has a few weird ideas. “Lorride” is Thor’s electrical counterpart; “Trudgälmer” is the first sound and “Cosmic Thor”; Thor’s sons are “energy” (Modi) and “power” (Magni).
Other odd things. Vidar (one of Odin’s sons) will avenge his father during Ragnarök with Mjölnir! A few verses before the writer rightly translates that Thor’s hammer will be possessed by the two sons that I just named. “Hjkidskáf” is Odin’s (and Frigg’s) throne and the name is usually translated as ‘high throne’, Titchenell makes ‘shelf of compassion’ of it (in the English text in a note, in the translation in the text!). More interesting are the six constellations that the writer filters out of the “Hymskvädet” in with Thor fishes up the Midgardsomr.

All this make the book the book twofold. Sometimes the ideas are a bit too outrageous, but to have another translation of the texts gives a good way to compare them and the writers explanations are sometimes very interesting. I would say that this book is an alright read if you have some background in the subject. You will get a few unorthodox ideas which will force you to think about certain ideas that you might have had. If you are new to the Norse mythology, I suggest that you better first read a few other books about it. Just have a look in my book reviews section.

The English and German (PDF) versions can be found online by the way.

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