Showing posts with label Norse mythology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Norse mythology. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Timeless Myths

Timeless Myths – Four Mythologies in Europe

Timeless Myths are focused around four mythologies in Europe namely Arthurian legends, Classical Mythology, Celtic Mythology and Norse Mythology. In the Middle Age and the Renaissance, Roman and Greek myths were renewed in arts and literatures and its popularity is even seen today.

Arthurian Legends

Arthurian Legends
The Arthurian Legends comprises of tales and knightly romances and have been divided into three sections namely Camelot which is referred to the characters that are found in the Arthurian legends, the Age of Chivalry which are collection of tales and romance found in the Arthurian legends and the Songs of Deeds which are another collection of Frankish legend of Charlemagne, where the French called their epic poems as chanson de geste.

Classical Mythology

The Classical Mythology comprises of epics and tales of the ancient Roman and Greek myths and literature with great unmatched variety and originality. Greek mythology is intermingled with Greek classical literature and the works consists of old myths during the European history which has withstood the test of time.

It has survived through the works of several classical writers from the time of Greek colonisation – 5th century BC and the decline of the Roman Empire – 3rd century AD. However Roman myth and legend were not recorded till the 1st BC to the decline of Roman Empire.

Two great authors of Rome, Ovid and Vergil wrote on this subject and together with other Roman writers made classical myth very popular that the medieval Europe as well as modern society had the tendency to utilise the popular Roman names for the Greek gods and heroes rather than their Greek names.

Classical myths has four section namely the Pantheon related to information of Greek deities with tales of Creation along with other myths, the Heroic Age containing information of Greek heroes and heroines and their adventures. Royal Houses contain stories of famous families of the most powerful cities in Greece as well as legends of the foundation and monarchy of Rome

Celtic Mythology 

Celtic Mythology
The Celtic myth was not recorded till the 11th century AD after the Vikings had left Ireland and their oral traditions; sources seemed to be quiet old and ancient. Several of the myths are from Ireland and Wales and Celtic myths comprises of those from Brittany, Cornwalland Scotland. Credits go to Welsh myths and to the Irish for the legends of King Arthur and while Tristan and Isolde medieval romance originated in Brittany, it became popular in Continental Europe as well as the British Isles. The Celtic literature did not appear till the Middle Age and the Celtic people and their religions were known during the ancient Rome.

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology
The Norse Mythology differs from the other mythology. Here the characters and world even in Asgard are solemn and grave which may be due to the fact that though the gods are immortal, they have the tendency to be destroyed in the final battle between the good and evil.

Norse and Teutonic mythology are divided into three parts: The Asgard which contains information of Norse and Teutonic deities inclusive of Aesir and Vanir giants as well as monsters. Valhalla is information on Norse and German characters especially the heroes and heroines, rulers and the dwarfs while Norse Sagas contains Norse and Germanic tales of the Creations and Ragnorok together with Volsunga Saga and the Nibelungenlied.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Freyja, Fairest of the Asynjur

Freyja 1
According to Norse mythology, Old Norse, the `Lady’, Freyja was a goddess related to love, beauty, fertility, gold, war and death. She was the most beautiful of all the Nordic goddesses and the northern Venus. Freyja was highly appreciated by everyone in the nine worlds for her beauty and charm. She was also the owner of the Brisingamen necklace, the boar Hildisvini, a cloak of falcon feathers and rode a chariot driven by two cats. Her husband was Odor the god of sunshine and her daughters were Hnoss and Gersemi. Her husband had left her to roam in distant land and it is said that she followed him, weeping and her teardrops changed to gold in the rocks and amber in the sea. She was the member of the Vanir, along with her brother Freyr- Old Norse the `Lord’, her father Njoror and her unnamed mother and stemming from Old Norse, her modern forms of name were Freya, Freja, Freyoa and Freia. She was unexpectedly demanded as a wife as payment by the Giant who had built the walls around Asgard and trades were also offered for her hand in marriage.

Freyja 2
She is portrayed as a goddess of love, fertility and beauty in the Eddas, beautiful with blond and blue eyes. She is described as the fairest of all goddesses and people prayed to her for happiness in love. She was often called on for assistance in childbirth and also prayed to for good seasons in their country. Besides this, she was also associated with wealth, battle, war, magic, prophecy and death. It is believed that she received half of the dead lost in battle in her hall Folkyangr while Odin, the chief god of the Aesir, received the other half at Valhalla and the origin of the Seid was given to Freyja. As the leader of the Valkyries, she rode to the battlefield in her chariot going there to claim those who died which she feasted upon in her great banqueting hall and Odin took the other half.

Freyja 3
According to some it was Freyja who had provided the golden apple to Aesir which ensured their eternal youth and power and her abduction by shape shifting storm Giant Fafner along with his brother Fasolt was very disappointing and devastating to the Aesir who began aging soon. Freyja was held captive by Fafner and his brother Fasolt, the Jotung and held as hostage in exchange for the Ring of the Nibelung. With her absence, the gods began to grow old and died fading into legend. Frigg and Freyja are the two main goddesses in Norse religion who are considered as the highest among the Asynjur and Freyja is the most honored goddess along with Frigg. Freyja is presented as a mythological Princess of Sweden according to Heimskringla and her father as the second mythological King of Sweden while her brother Freyr is the third. Freyja’s mother who was Njoror’s sister was often linked to the ancient Germanic goddess Neerthus as a custom of the Vanir, permitted by laws.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baldur – The God of Truth and Light

Baldur 1
Balder, one of the most handsome of gods was born to Frigg and Odin who was considered to be the god of joy, purity, innocence, beauty, reconciliation and a god of truth and light. He was loved by all gods and men alike and was the best among all gods. Being of good character, he was friendly, eloquent and wise and was also very knowledgeable in healing herbs which made him favorite among the people of Midgard.

He lived in a palace called Breidabik along with his wife Nanna the daughter of Nep and their son Forseti, the god of justice. According to some belief, it was said that no lie could pass through the walls of his palace, which was the home of the god of truth. Most of the stories of Baldur are related to his death and he would often dream about his death so much so that Frigg extracted an oath from every force of nature, object and creature, everything in the nine worlds, that they would never harm Baldur her son, with all agreeing that they would not cause any kind of harm to him since he was loved by everyone.

Baldur 2
Thereafter the gods decided to test his vulnerability by throwing pebbles at him which would bounce back without hurting him in honor of its oath taken. Huge weapons were also used which included Thor’s axes which all returned without causing any harm to Baldur and thinking him to be invincible, the gods entertained themselves by targeting him for knife throwing and archery.

Loki who seemed to be jealous of Baldur tried tricking him by changing his appearance as a witch and asked Frigg if there was anything that could harm the god of light. Frigg unaware of the disguise informed that there was one thing, a small tree in the west called the mistletoe. According to her, at the time of extracting the oath, she thought that it was too small to harm her son. Loki immediately headed for the west to get hold of the mistletoe and tricked Baldur’s blind brother, Hod in throwing the mistletoe dart at Baldur. Hod guided by Loki and unaware of his plan aimed the dart at Baldur which pierced through his heart and Baldur fell down dead.

Baldur 3
While all the gods mourned the death of Baldur, Odin sent along his other son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death in order to plead for the return of Baldur who agreed to do so on condition that everything in the world, whether dead or alive should weep for him. All wept except for Loki who refused to do so and Baldur had to remain in the underworld. The gods after dressing him in crimson shade placed him on the funeral pyre aboard his ship, `Ringhorn’, which was the largest in the world. They also laid the body of his wife Nanna who being heartbroken also died after him. His horse and his treasures were also placed on the ship and the pyre was set on fire with the ship sent to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.