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Gods and Myths of Northern Europe: A Review

Discussion in 'Literature' started by The Hammer, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. The Hammer

    The Hammer White Wolf - kvite ulfh
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    Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson, is a premiere source for information regarding the Mythological world of the ancient Germanic and Norse tribes of peoples. Relying not only on linguistic analysis and interpretation of the Myths and Sagas, but also on modern archaeological evidence, such as the Gosforth Cross, to support claims. By doing so, she gives us a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the authors who created them long ago, showing us a people who are hardy and tough as the winters they endure, with an often fatalistic outlook on life, but to face that certain fated death with irony and wit. We are also treated to an in depth analysis of not only the Popular deities of the North, such as Odin, Thor and Freyr, but also obscure figures such as Bragi, Idunn and Loki to round it out.

    Through her scholarly work, we are able to see, albeit fuzzily, the Germanic myths and Gods, and how those concepts shaped Heathen thought and way of life. From the fierce and warlike Wodan and Tiw, to the fertile Freya and Freyr, and how the at odds but eventual cooperative efforts of the Aesir and Vanir play out. We are treated to not only the Deities and their main conceptions but oftentimes their dynamic 'other' sides as well, including Odin as both Shaman and a psychopomp of the dead, or Freya as the bearer of one half of those slain in battle. Even going so far as to show the importance of the bounty of the ocean and waves through stories of the powerful Jotun of the Seas, Aegir, his wife Ran and 9 daughters who very well may represent wave shapes and/or be the 9 mothers of Heimdall. She concludes poetically with an explanation of Yggdrassil, Axis Mundi of the germanic mythos, the Creation of the Norse World, and it's destruction via Ragnarok. In conclusion she states that the Heathen north eventually succumbed to the incoming Christians as they became apathetic towards their Old Gods, and desired something new. I wonder if this is mere speculation or if there is more to this claim.

    While I disagree with the final conclusion of the author about conversion due to apathy, being more of a mind to see it as a henotheist might, as in "what's one more God to worship?", before the eventual politically backed Church clamped down on outside worship. I find this book to be a repository of mythological knowledge, well sourced and penned. With highlighter in hand, I have annotated numerous passages and quotes, for future reference and ritual usage. This book was also very informative in the way it broke down the oftentimes at odds multiple personas of the Germanic deities, helping to show the differing aspects as a unified whole. It also tackled the oft touchy subject of what aspects of the myths are Christianized interpretations and which are not, with ease. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any student of mythology or Neopagan with an interest in the stories of the North.
     
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  2. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    BRB going to book depository
     
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