eddic poetry

anonymous asked:

hi! I'm a follower of the asatro and I identify as genderqueer. I wondered if you know anything about a third gender/transgender/intersex in old norse/asatro/norse paganism or the like? I'm desperately trying to find something I can relate to and thought I'd ask you. thanks!

Velkomin(n), vinur minn,
(Welcome, my friend,)

There are several examples in Norse mythology in which gender boundaries are disregarded; the gods were often quite fluid about their genders, both literally and ‘socially’ (assuming the gods had their own social norms to live by). It all depended on the situation, really. Loki is arguably the most famous for this. In fact, Odin’s steed, Sleipnir, was Loki’s child — but he wasn’t the father, he was the mother. To summarize that story briefly (before directly quoting the relevant part), there was a builder from Giantland who came, and Loki made a deal with him that the gods did not like. To make things right, he had to make the builder forfeit the payment for succeeding in his task. And so it goes:

“And the same evening, when the builder drove out for stone with his stallion Svadilfæri, there ran out of a certain wood a mare up to the stallion and neighed at it (such a flirt). And when the stallion realized what kind of horse it was, it went frantic and tore apart the tackle and ran towards the mare, and she went away to the wood and the builder after them, trying to catch the stallion, and these horses ran around all night and the building work was held up for that night. […] But Loki had had such dealings with Svadilfæri (Snorri is being polite — they had sex) that somewhat later he (Loki) gave birth to a foal. It was grey and had eight legs, and this is the best horse among gods and men.”(1)

Yet, it is not just Loki who disregards gender boundaries. Odin himself disregards them, but more so in the sense of socially constructed gender expectations (at least from my knowledge and experience). There is a form of magic known as seiðr, but it was regarded as a feminine practice. So much so that any man practicing it was charged with ergi (another similar term is argr), which was usually considered a very serious insult (for a man). More on that another time, perhaps (this post has already gotten very long, so a separate ask about the attitudes of ‘actual’ society may be more wise than cramming it all here). Even in the realm of the gods, though, this term still weighed against men who took part in feminine activities. Odin, regarded as a male figure, was no exception to this. This is mentioned in Ynglinga saga, from Heimskringla:

“Óðinn knew, and practised himself, the art which is accompanied by greatest power, called seiðr, and from it he could predict the fates of men and things that had not yet happened, and also cause men death or disaster or disease, and also take wit or strength from some and give it to others. But this magic, when it is practised, is accompanied by such great perversion that it was not considered without shame for a man to perform it, and the skill was taught to the goddesses.”(2)


I actually stumbled upon an article about Valkyries and Shield-maidens as a third gender while looking for resources to answer your question with. Here are a few excerpts from it, though please do bear with me, for I am going to include quite a bit of direct quotes (I think that you, and others, will find them to be very fascinating). Besides, I cannot be sure how many of you have access to these academic articles, let alone have the resources to locate them, so I want to make sure I can give you all a good taste of the work:

“Most scholarship on valkyries and shield-maidens categorizes them as women, as kinds of warrior women who are connected to other, rare warrior women, such as the maiden king (meykongr) and to other women who, in exceptional circumstances, take up arms to fight (Andersson 1980; Damico 1984; Jesch [1991] 2010; Larrington 1992b; Præstergaard Andersen 2002; Quinn 2006, 2007). These discussions of valkyries and shield-maidens tend to insert them into a binary of masculine and feminine, wherein they sit somewhat uneasily in the feminine category. Yet, as other scholarship on Old Norse gender and sex has shown, the situation for all persons, not just valkyries, is much more complicated. The boundaries between masculine and feminine are not always rigid, at least insofar as women can take on masculine characteristics and receive approval, even if that approval was limited. Valkyries and shield-maidens, like the strong women of the sagas, are met with admiration, though not as paragons of femininity. As this article argues, these figures are best understood as a third gender—a hybrid of masculine and feminine characteristics that were dominant during the time period explored.”(3)

“In eddic poetry, shield-maidens are similarly denizens of battle. Whereas valkyries seem divine or, at the very least, semi-divine, the shield-maidens are human and have human parents and human lineages. However, they also have supernatural abilities, such as being able to ride over the sea and through the air. These beings take a special interest in human men—the heroes of the narrative—for whom, like the valkyries, they intercede in battle, but only to protect their heroes and aid them. Shield-maidens engage in sexual relationships with their heroes and most marry them; after that, they cease to be shield-maidens and become only feminine. The description here derives from the scant information available in the sources; there are not many examples of shield-maidens in the literature. One example is Sváva, who, like the other shield-maidens of the heroic poems of the Edda, is armored and carries weapons. Her helmet dominates the description of her as she rides among an accompanying troop of shield-maidens: “a white maiden under a helmet” (Helgakviða Hjǫrvarðssonar [hereafter HHv], stanza 28, in Neckel 1983). Another example is Sigrún, a major character in two Helgi poems. Also described as helmeted, she and her band carry spears and wear blood-spattered byrnies, which are a sort of mail coat (Helgakviða Hundingsbana [hereafter HH] 1, stanza 15, in Neckel 1983). Valkyries and shield-maidens are similar in that both wear armor and carry weapons, act in battle to determine the fate of men, and are unmarried women. Shield- maidens are different in that they marry human men, which results in a change of status.”(4)

Valkyries and Shield-maidens as feminine:

“Aside from this linguistic categorization as female, valkyries and shield- maidens have a number of other attributes that are part of medieval Icelandic culture’s hegemonic constructions of femininity. Perhaps one of the most ‘traditional’ feminine activities of the valkyrie is her work in Valhǫll, serving men drinks. At the same time that Snorri describes the valkyries’ functions in battle, he writes that they “serve drink and look after the tableware and drinking vessels” (30). An example of this work is found in Snorra Edda, in which the goddess Freyja is the only one who dares to bring a drink to the giant Hrungnir, whom no other is brave enough to serve (Edda: Skáldskaparmál, in Faulkes 1998, 20). Human women similarly serve drinks to the men in the hall. As the keeper of food-stores and the manager of the household, women of the highest rank in Iceland were closely associated with food and its distribution. By serving men, they enacted that association and their subordinate position to the men they served. By depicting valkyries in this feminine role, the texts are able to have their cake and eat it too—the warrior woman is domesticated in Odin’s ‘beer-hall.’”(5)

Valkyries and Shield-maidens as masculine:

“At the same time, valkyries and shield-maidens embody masculinity: they wear men’s clothing and act in ways understood by medieval Icelandic culture to be masculine. It is significant that they clothe themselves as men not simply by wearing “the pants,” but by putting on the garb and carrying the tools that mark the most admired sort of man—the warrior. The helmets and other armor together are common elements in their appearance and important aspects of the valkyrie’s masculinity. Sigrún and her troop’s blood-spattered byrnies (noted above) are quite striking. The byrnie (or brynie) also figures importantly in the story of Brynhild, who was the most famous of all of these warrior women. The word itself is one part of her compound name: Brynie-hild (brynie-battle).

This armor-wearing valkyrie is not simply named for armor, but her armor becomes part of her. […] In sum, the removal of the byrnie is the removal of one of the valkyrie’s most important masculine attributes. In the version in Vǫlsunga saga, the removal of the mail coat marks the end of her time in the third gender. As that story progresses, and a different version of the same narrative in Snorra Edda, Brynhild soon ceases to be a valkyrie and enters the feminine gender.”(6)

And a bit of her conclusion:

“The myths and legendary sagas of medieval Iceland that are retold and recorded offer up both the possibility of the third gender, in the form of the unmarried valkyrie, and the stories of the effects of marriage on members of that gender. In the stories of Brynhild, Sváva, and Sigrún, one gets a sense of the life of any married woman of the time, though, more accurately, their stories most closely represent the life of a woman with few family members or other relationships. These myths and sagas have also provided a reservoir of depictions that have fed later cultural products up to the present day. With the exception of Wagner’s Brünnhilde—the unmarried warrior woman—the valkyries of the third gender are most influential. Though often altered through the modern retellings of Norse myth, the contemporary valkyrie is still recognizable as such.”(7)

Was this how contemporary society (Norse society) understood the valkyries and shield-maidens? Perhaps not. We must take care to not impose our hopes and experiences onto the past. Yet, it seems likely that they at least understood such concepts — at least that of homosexuality and the difficulty for humans to remain in their socially constructed gender-box for behavior. Such people have always existed; it is not some modern invention nor a fashionable modern trend. The Norse did have terms that denoted a failure to comply with their gender’s expectations, after all, such as ergi and argr.


Now, there is far more than that to explore in mythology, but I do believe that I have shared enough examples to show you that there are most definitely things that you can relate to. I would also like to recommend a few other knowledgable people who could help guide you even further on your quest (for I am far from an expert on these matters). You may already know of them, but here are my suggestions (of which there are plenty of others, by the way): @edderkopper​ (as well as @lokeanwelcomingcommittee​), @answersfromvanaheim​, @hyacinth-halcyon, and even @theasatrucommunity or the many who are listed with @valkyriesquad. Again, there are many others who can lend a hand and share information with you. They will likely stumble upon this post (or so I can hope), so be on the look out for any helpful reblogs and replies.

Regardless, there is much more that I could still ramble on about, but this post is already long enough (perhaps too long for some to bother reading). I had a lot that I wanted to say about ergi/argr, and the attitudes of gender-bending in Old Norse society (law codes, family sagas, etc. — non-mythological sources), but that would be best for a separate ask (because it would also be a fairly long post — could you imagine the length of this post with both of those discussions?! My oh my). If you would like to hear more about that (or if anyone else reading this would like to), please send me an ask about it, and I will happily respond. It may take me a bit to get around to answering it (I still have 11 other questions to answer), but I never refuse a guest to my hall, especially when they seek knowledge!

I hope my words have helped, friend.

Með vinsemd og virðingu,
(With friendliness and respect,)
Fjörn


ENDNOTES:
1. Snorri Sturluson, Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes (repr., 1987; London: Everyman, 1995), 36. [Online Edition (Free)]
2. Snorri Sturluson, Ynglinga saga, from Heimskringla, Volume I: the Beginnings to Óláfr Tryggvason (Second Edition), translated by Alison Finaly and Anthony Faulkes (London: Viking Society for Northern Research — University College London, 2016), 11.
3. Kathleen M. Self, “The Valkyrie’s Gender: Old Norse Shield-Maidens and Valkyries as a Third Gender,” Feminist Formations, Volume 26, Issue 1, Spring 2014, 144.
4. Ibid., 148.
5. Ibid., 150.
6. Ibid., 152.
7. Ibid., 167.


NOTE: Here is a read you may be interested in. It is about homosexuality in the Viking Age, but it still has some relatable elements. The source seems credible enough, so I do recommend it if you are interested: Gunnora Hallakarva:
The Vikings and Homosexuality.


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lampwicklives  asked:

Heyo. I've been trying to get into more heathenry/norse paganism kinda stuff (what can I say, I love folk metal), but the one thing that's kind of been a damper on the concept for me is the concept of Hel - specifically, how (as I understand it) dying of sickness or old age is a form of cowardice and punishable by eternal torment. Being chronically ill myself, that doesn't really sit right with me. Do you have any thoughts/corrections/resources on this topic in particular?

Thanks for the question. Basically the image of Viking afterlife concepts that has entered popular culture is extremely shallow and not a good representation of what we know believe actually existed. This is a big topic so it’s easy to get lost but I’m gonna try to keep it simple without leaving too much out but feel free to follow up if it seems like I’ve missed something. It’s long so the rest is behind the break.

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tingaralatingadun  asked:

Hey, I'm from Brazil and I just found this blog and loved it. I'm looking for a nordic tattoo (another one) with a saying like “Wyrd bið ful aræd”. I'd like to ask you some ideas of "dictations" from the norse mythology in the norse language since I'm not very good with the icelandic. I don't know if already has posts about it on this blog, if yes, sorry. Thank you <3

Velkomin, tingaralatingadun,
(Welcome, tingaralatingadun,)

I have not made any posts liken this before, so you need not worry about that! I am glad to lend my hand, although I may not be the best suited for this task. Nonetheless, I can try my best to provide you something to your liking.

I can think of a few Old Norse poems that have lines similar to “Wyrd big jul aræd,” although that is from an eleventh-century Old English poem called The Wanderer. It does mean, according to the translation I looked at, “Wyrd is fully fixed!” That is, fate is unstoppable. On that note, I can find some lines about fate, since I imagine that is where your interests lie in particular.

There is one thing I do want to point out before continuing. We ought to take care when pulling small lines out of poems and their stanzas. A line itself can mean something unintended when taken out of its contextual home. I have provided the whole stanzas, from there you can decide on lines, although it would be even better to know the poems as well.

I have bolded the portions relative to ‘fate’:


From Völuspá:

20.

Þaðan koma meyjar
margs vitandi
þrjár, ór þeim sal
er und þolli stendr;
Urð hétu eina,
aðra Verðandi,
skáru á skíði,
Skuld ina þriðju;
þær lög lögðu,
þær líf kuru
alda börnum,
örlög seggja.

Thence wise maidens
three take them–
under spreading boughs
their bower stands–
Urth one is hight;
the other, Verthandi,
Skuld the third:
they scores did cut,
they laws did make,
they lives did choose:
for the children of men
they marked their fates.

(Lee M. Hollander trans.)

58.

Geyr nú Garmt 
mjök fyr Gnipahelli,
festr mun slitna 
en freki renna;
fjölð veit ek fræða 
fram sé ek lengra
um ragnarök 
römm sigtíva.

Garm bays loudly
before Gnipa cave,
breaks his fetters
and freely runs;
The fates I fathom,
yet farther I see:
of the mighty gods
the engulfing doom.

(Lee M. Hollander trans.)

From Lokasenna:

29.

Freyja kvað:
“Ærr ertu, Loki, er þú yðra telr
ljóta leiðstafi;
örlög Frigg, hygg ek, at öll viti,
þótt hon sjalfgi segi.

Freya said:
“Thou art raving, Loki, to reckon up
all the ill thou hast done:
I ween that Frigg the fates knoweth,
though she say it not herself.

(Lee M. Hollander trans.)

From Helgakvida Hundingsbana I:

3.

Sneru þær af afli örlögþáttu,
þá er borgir braut í Bráluni;
þær of greiddu gullin símu
ok und mánasal miðjan festu.

His fate-thread span they to o’erspread the world
(for Borghild’s bairn) in Brálund castle;
they gather together the golden threads,
and in moon-hall’s middle they made them fast.

(Lee M. Hollander trans.)


Now, those are only a few examples from Eddic poems that I am aware of. Surely there are more, but those should get you started at least. If you want others, let me now and I will happily search for you. 

If you want lines that are shorter and more ‘catchy’, there are actually references to fate in Old Icelandic sagas, such as Brennu-Njáls saga. I did not include these because they do not necessarily pertain to norse mythology, but some may be of interest to you. For example:

Ketill mælti: “Allt mun það sínu fram fara um aldr manna sem ætlað er fyrir áðr en gott gengr þér til vörunnar þinnar.” (Chp. 149 - from Snerpa)

Ketil spoke: “Man’s life must go along as it is meant to, but your intention in warning is good.” (Robert Cook trans.)

Also, for the Old Norse, since I cannot yet transcribe the manuscripts very well (I can, but it takes me longer than it should), I used Völuspá.org. I am, as a result, unsure as to the accuracy of their Old Norse. If you do decide on any of these, however, I will happily review it for you. Or, perhaps someone better skilled can.

Anyway, I do hope that was helpful. If there is anything else that you would like, please let me know so that I can lend a hand.

Æsir leiða þig.
(Gods guide you.)

anonymous asked:

Hi! This might be a bit of a generic question, but could you give a quick crash-course in non-Marvel Loki? Personality, fun facts, etc.? I feel like every time I try to do any research on him, it's not entirely accurate because of confusion with pop culture and whatnot... Thanks in advance!

No, not at all: I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me about this before. I tend to wheedle on about Loki and go a little overboard, but I’ll try to cut myself short and stick to basics here. All of this will come from the Eddas, the two foremost books of Norse mythology, and any other sources will be mentioned as possibilities. Let’s start with genealogy, important actions, etc.

  • Loki is a Jotunn, or Giant. Giants are not necessarily big. Loki is whatever size the Æsir like to be, when we meet him (but the gods are anthropomorphic, so it’s all relative).
  • We don’t know that Loki is a Frost-Giant (Hrímþurs) as Marvel likes to call them. (And, the specificity of Jotnar, in terms of their race/species- fire, hill, sound, sea, ice, etc- is not always specific if looked at within the poetry, because eddic poetry requires alliteration, so if you need a ‘b’, you might call a Frost-Giant a Hill-Giant (bergrísi) because you need a b, see)
  • Loki’s mother is named Laufey, not his father. His father is Fárbauti. Loki’s mother is also called Nál, and Loki has two brothers, Helblindi and Byleist. Nothing much to be said about them, but maybe remember Byleist because a) Byleist’s name is used in kennings (poetic allusions to) for Loki, and b) his name probably means ‘bee-lightning’, which I think is funny as hell.
  • The moniker Loki Laufeyjarson is the real deal, though (I’m finishing up a translation of Loki and Svaðilfari, and it’s in that section of prose). Loki is part of a legacy of “fatherless children” with matronymics; this may have been done to signify his difference from the Æsir, who use patronymics, like everyone else.
  • Loki has six (known) children and has claimed a sixth by Tyr’s unknown wife (in Lokasenna). Loki’s famous “monstrous” children are by the giantess Angurboða; Fenrir or Fenris– the name being Fenrisulfr, which literally means “wolf of Fenrir” so just pick a name you like– a massive wolf; Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, an equally massive snake that lives in the sea; and Hel– from whom Marvel gets their Hela– a goddess of the dead, who keeps the dead in Niflhel. She is supposed to be half black or blue, which most take to mean that she’s half person, half zombie. Some believe the black part is an allusion to blood coagulating when you lie dead, so that her back would be black, but I digress. Loki has two sons by his wife, Sigyn; Nari and Vali. Little is known about either son, though one becomes a wolf and the other dies really, really badly. As mentioned above, Loki claims to have sired a son with Tyr’s wife, and Odin says Loki was beneath the earth for many years “bearing babies” (both in Lokasenna). Whether this is an allusion to one or both of Loki’s sons by Sigyn, or whether it means there are other spawn-of-Loki out there, we can’t know. Aaand I forgot the horse; Sleipnir, the eight-legged stallion of Odin, is a son of Loki (as a mare) and the stallion Svaðilfari. I always talk about Sleipnir, but otherwise forget to mention him as one of Loki’s babies. Sorry, Sleipnir. My bad.
  • Loki is Odin’s blood brother, and of no relation to Thor. I still don’t know why Marvel went with the tormented brothers thing: they could’ve gone the gloomy Hamlet route instead! So Loki is direct kin of neither Odin nor Thor, but blood-brothership was supposed to be a very sacred bond, not to be fucked with (Loki whines about it in Lokasenna).
  • So Frigg didn’t raise Loki. We don’t even know if Loki had a childhood. According to Snorri (who wrote the Prose Edda) the first we see of Loki is when he appears to Odin and his companion Hœnir and is like “can I come with you guys”?
  • Loki is not the god of mischief, and may not even be a trickster. The Norse gods all have many attributes, it isn’t at all like the Greek pantheon where everyone has one specific thing. There are Goddesses described this way by Snorri, but it is only because he has no idea what else to say about them. Loki does utilize mischief and tricks, but: Loki is not a god. We have no written evidence that he was ever worshipped. And certain aspects of his actions do not fit the trickster, or folk hero, archetype at all. So he’s not the trickster god, or the god of mischief, or the god of evil– he isn’t a god at all (mean girls voice: he doesn’t even go here!) Of all the Marvel incarnations of Loki and their attributes, I think Loki as the Skald, the god of stories, was nearer to the mark, but still too pigeonholed to reflect the mythos at more than face-value.
  • Loki is a known shapeshifter and a likely user of strong magic. I don’t believe we ever see an instance of Loki changing into another person [edit: I LIED HE DOES APPEAR AS A WOMAN TO FRIGG in Gylfaginning, I’m sorry, I can’t believe I forgot; also he’s theorized to appear as a Jotun woman later on, but we don’t have proof of that] mostly he seems to enjoy animal shapes, though (fish, horse, falcon, fly, etc.). We assume that he uses seiðr, a magic loosely associated with shamanism; there are several moments (in Svipdagsmál, Fjölsvinnsmál) where seemingly seiðr-y practices are attributed to Loki (the carving of runes, the eating of a woman’s heart, and the bearing babies thing mentioned above). Seiðr was seen as a rather… I don’t know if emasculating is the right word, but… low-down, ill-reputed type of magic, practiced mainly by Freyja and Odin. So the Loki of myth doesn’t turn himself into multiple green copies, laughing at Thor, but he does appear to do some kind of rune magic and he is fond of changing his form.
  • Loki doesn’t spend much time being “hated” by the gods. Not only is Marvel!Loki, in most of his forms, a whiny little shit, he also spends a good amount of time being hated on by the Aguardians (I hate that word). In theory, mythological!Loki spends much less time as a hated enemy of the Æsir (better word) than he does as their friend. It’s kind of impossible to make a good, logical timeline of all the events of Norse mythology, but the killing of Baldr is the tipping stone for Ragnarök, which makes it late, and only after Lokasenna is Loki bound, so no stories featuring Loki can have occurred after that. Therefore, on this hodge-podge I-pasted-it-together basis, we can concur that the half-mad, enemy-of-the-gods Loki and his binding are, obviously, at the end of the timeline. Then Ragnarok happens, he breaks free, death, murder, burning, yadda yadda yadda. But the majority of the stories we see that feature Loki feature him as a cunning asshole or fun-fellow who is always around to help or hinder the gods. They do, at some point in the mythos, really seem to love the bastard, and leave a lot up to him (ie: the builder and his horse, and that one time Loki tied his balls to a goat to make Skaði laugh. That was a thing that happened. And it kept her from trying to kill them all too, so there you have it.)
  • Most importantly, Loki is neither evil or good. He is a mess. It is hard to know which version of Loki– because it’s pretty clear that there is some duality going on there when Loki is a fun pal one minute and leading a death army the next– is the real, original Loki. Some signs point to “that evil bound one there”, ie: Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote forty-some years before Snorri, illustrating bound giant Ugardilocus, chained up in a cave full of snakes (Ugardilocus being the latinized form of the name Útgarða-Loki, another version of Loki, seen in Snorri, in Gylfaginning) which mirrors the bound Loki at the end of Lokasenna, snake-and-all. But there is no one true Loki amongst all the eddic stories, he is always different. Sometimes we see a Loki who is keen on playing pranks, seemingly for the hell of it, and who gets punished for them (Skaldskarpamál, Loki cuts off Sif’s hair and makes bad bets with dwarves). Sometimes we see a Loki who accidentally gets into trouble and is forced under duress to act against the gods (Skaldskarpamál, Thjazi makes Loki steal Iðunn and her apples; and still in the same section, Loki is caught by Geirrod while in the form of a bird and forced to lure Thor to Geirrod’s courts.) Sometimes we see a Loki who is duly helpful, (Þrymskviða, where Loki helps in the retrieval of Thor’s hammer, and even in Gylfaginning with Útgarða-Loki’s contests), and sometimes we see a Loki who is just shit out of luck and really got a raw deal (in Gylfaginning, the tale of Loki and Svaðilfari, ie: Loki famously seduces a horse. But it is not as black-and-white as some translations would tell you: in the Old Norse the gods simply ask Loki among them if he thinks it’s a good plan to get the wall built, and Loki says “yeah sure”, and then they threaten to beat him to death when things go south, like it’s somehow his fault). Then finally we have tales of an evil Loki (Ragnarok, in Gylfaginning and Völuspá) and of course, the bizarrity of Baldr’s death (in Gylfaginning (and boasted of in Lokasenna) where Loki is apparently so jealous of Baldr being popular that he… uses Baldr’s brother Hoðr to kill him? It’s a mess. We go from accident-prone sassy Jotun brat who gets into sticky situations, to maniacal, wicked enemy who leads an army against the gods and helps bring about the end of all things. What?? One of my favorite theories on why Loki is such a seemingly accidentally duplicitous figure is that he makes the best impetus for stories. Here is the one character who pals around with the gods, but isn’t one of them. Who better to cause trouble! Something needs to be fixed in a myth, there has to be a charter: Sif has hair of gold, why is that? Must be because Loki chopped it off one time. The gods would grow old for a time without their apples. But who would ever take Iðunn away? Loki would! Hoðr killed his beloved brother Baldr, why is that? Hmm. Must be because Loki made him! Loki is the best way to cause problems, but that’s just one theory.

So those are your main differences between the Loki of Norse myth and the Loki of Marvel comics. If I can think of other things later, I’ll add them, but I suppose the main thing to know is that the Loki of Norse mythology is a very crafty, wily, confusing individual, who even at his worst does not reflect the whiny, blathering actions and ill-conceived notions of Marvel!Loki.

Article: Norse Mythology 101

A very long introduction to norse mythology, with all the appropriate background information. This article is 3 pages long, so I’ve place it under a cut. 

I highly recommend this for people who are new to mythological study in general, and norse mythology in particular. It gives the history of the eddic corpus, answers basic questions about the sources, and attempts to prepare the reader to properly understand most of the scholarly sources regarding mythology. 

I’ve tried to make this article as easy to follow as possible, but my tone tends to be rather academic. I hope you all enjoy it.

Keep reading

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Places in Norse Myth- [2//?] Fensalir

Fensalir is the hall of the goddess Frigg, chief among the Ásynjur. The name means “fen halls” or “swamp halls” in Old Norse. Fensalir is attested in the Poetic Edda, in Völuspá (quoted above) and the Prose Edda, in Gylfaginning, wherein Snorri describes the hall as “splendid.” Whether this was a true facet of Fensalir or whether Snorri knew nothing other than the name and needed an empty embellishment, we cannot know. Several 19th century scholars believe Fensalir’s etymology denotes not a swampy area but rather a wet, sea-side atmosphere, making Frigg a water goddess. Some others believe that Frigg and Sága are the same goddess, and their names and the names of their halls are simply interchangeable forms, for use of alliteration in lines of Eddic poetry.

Blað (Leaf).

This is my first attempt at skaldic verse (despite the name, I am quite inexperienced with the skaldic arts still), but I do hope some of you appreciate and enjoy my verse. It is based off of kviðuháttr (Ballad-metre), which is skaldic verse that mirrors more closely with eddic poetry. The main features of this metre are:

  1. Line pairs have two alliterative staves.
  2. Odd lines have three syllables.
  3. Even lines have four syllables.

I did not do a perfect job, that I can guarantee. I likely messed up a few things and did not correctly follow the metre, but it was rewarding to compose nonetheless. I changed up the word or order a bit in a few places to keep with the alliteration. I hope that I used all the correct cases and verbs, though I cannot be sure that I have. However, poetry is quite flexible, so I should not be overly concerned. Besides, correctness and my lack of confidence aside, it is a good poem and has good meaning, I believe. You may read an explanation of the meaning below:


Meaning

The meaning behind this verse is that many people are straying away from their past. I did not intend this poem to be taken in a way that is exclusive to Germanic heritage only, rather history and historic culture and traditions in general. I used the motif of Yggdrasil, the world tree, and a leaf to make my message. The modern world has placed far less value on the old arts and scholarship. That is what I express in this poem. I will break some of it down: 

  • ljóss vegi/ light’s road:
    • The “light’s road” is the sky (since light travels through the sky, it is like a road).
  • forn ætt mín/ my ancient family:
    • “My ancient family” refers to all of mankind’s past. 
  • flýgr blaðin/ the leaf flees:
    • “The leaf flees” refers to how people have begun looking forward without looking back (flowing in the wind away from the tree of origin). Hopefully I used the verb correctly.
  • frá rœtum…frá Yggdrasill/ from roots…from Yggdrasil:
    • This should be where the poem comes together. The leaves flee from the tree from whence they came. The message behind this is that people forget and disregard their traditions and old ways. It means that people no longer value the culture of the past. I speak here for all cultures and humanity in general, but I use the norse tradition to tell it. Odin and Yggdrasil are important things to me. For one represents wisdom and the other represents home. You cannot find that wisdom without first knowing where you stand (or have stood).

reykenobi17  asked:

Did some Norse mythology get lost over time? Cos sometimes there is a lot of info on certain gods, but others barely have anything about them. Which is a shame because some of them sound really interesting.

Short answer: oh, yeah, there’s no telling how much was lost.

Long answer: Everything we know about Norse mythology is largely relegated to two books (as you may already know since you always ask such nice nifty questions); Snorra Edda or the Prose/Younger Edda written by Snorri Sturluson circa 1220, and the Poetic or Elder Edda (sometimes referred to in older scholarship as Sæmundur’s Edda) written by an anonymous scirbe. We’ve gleaned information about worship practices from the sagas and from early scholars like Adam of Bremen and Ibn Fadlan, and there are mythical portions in many sagas and late rímur poems as well, but the general rule of thumb is: if it contradicts the Eddas, it may not be trustworthy, and if the Eddas give no mention of the subject, take it with a grain of salt. For instance, I’m currently working on a rímur poem called “Lokrur”, which hasn’t been translated into English yet (my time is now lmao), which details the popular Snorra Edda story of Þór and Útarða-Loki, but in poetry. There are several kennings (formal poetic allusions) in there for Loki that aren´t found in Snorri´s þulur, a list of thing-to-call-the-gods for poetic purposes, one of them being ´ Oðinn´s thrall´. We don´t have a myth about Loki as Odin’s slave, so this cannot be verified through the Eddas: it is, however, a kenning found in several other rímur poems, so we can at least infer that it was a known kenning and that, if the poems were written by different scribes (which may not even be the case), that it was a well-understood kenning for Loki.

But how much was lost? How much don’t we know? We will never know the full extent of how much more stuff, in terms of mythological content, there was , other than what we have today. But we have clues as to certain topics and items that should be in our possession but aren’t. For instance, as you mentioned, many of the gods and goddesses have very little written about them. In most cases– such as the goddesses Snorri lists in his Edda, those who he describes largely as “lovely” or “fair”– the popular theory holds that by the time Snorri (a Christian) was writing about the myths, many tidbits of knowledge had already been lost, and so what Snorri really means by calling all the goddesses pretty is that he doesn’t know a thing about them. Likewise, in his Edda, Snorri quotes snippets of Eddic poetry to give examples of names and stories about different mythological figures, and many of these poems have never been found in completion: Snorri’s little verses are the only parts that have been preserved. And perhaps the most notable absence from the canon is that of the Great Lacuna. The Poetic Edda is preserved mainly in four manuscripts: the Codex Regius (here in Iceland), the Codex Wormianus (in Copenhagen), the Codex Uppsaliensis (Uppsala), and the Codex Trajectinus (Utrecht, Netherlands). Each of these manuscripts provides different insights into the poems of the Edda, and no one manuscript holds a complete set of the poems. The Codex Regius, however, is considered the most complete collection of poems. The Great Lacuna is a gap of eight missing pages between Sigrdrífumál and Brot af Sigurðarkviðu in the Codex Regius. It contains part of the end of the first poem and the beginning of the second. We can only stipulate, through the version of the story in prose in Völsunga Saga, what was contained in those pages, but the gap could´ve contained more information on the runes and their magic use (as that´s what Sigurdrífa is talking about before the poem abruptly ends).  Long story short: we have no clue what we lost there. The Codex Regius is very small, just about the size of your average paperback, and is made up of 45 vellum pages crammed with as much writing as was humanly possible: the margins are virtually nonexistent and the scribe heavily abbreviates words, leaving more space for more writing. So: those eight pages could have had tons of great stuff on them, but we´ll never know. And why were the pages taken out? We´ll never know that either. Maybe an angry monk found it later and decided what was in there was so scandalous it should never be read by Christian eyes. Maybe it ended up in some farmhouse here in Iceland for a while and somebody used those pages as toilet paper. We just don´t know.

But that doesn´t mean we should give up! There´s always research to be done and connections to be made. :)

 Lesson 9b - Literature and the Sagas, Part II: Snorri Sturluson and the Edda.

Komið þið sæl,

Note: [If you have not done so already, check out last week’s lesson, which was Part I of this lesson series. Visit “Viking History” on my blog to view all of the lessons.]

This week we will continue our discussion of Viking Age related literature by entering the realm of the Edda and Eddic poetry. We will start by discussing an important Icelander named Snorri Sturluson, discussing the literature that has preserved much of our mythological material.

Contents:

  1. Snorri Sturluson
  2. What is an “Edda”?
  3. Eddic Poetry
  4. The Poetic Edda

Snorri Sturluson (d. 1241)

Snorri Sturluson was a prominent member of a powerful Icelandic family, the Sturlungs. He was an impressive person, being a lawyer, diplomat, poet, and also a scholar. He married up into wealth and literacy, working his way up. His prose writings are sprinkled with court poems and eddic poems that complement and complete them. His two major works are Heimskringla (a History of the Kings of Norway) and the Prose Edda. Without his knowledge and efforts, we would know much less about norse mythology and legends surrounding many notable figures of the Viking world. Although his texts are coated with popular legend and new ideals, his works retain a valuable historical memory. Despite his and Iceland’s transition to a new, Christian world, he was able to protect his traditions from being lost to time.

This view of Snorri and his accomplishments can be related to all saga authors and their writing. The sagas are all history that is intertwined with legends and drama. That does not make them useless, but rather valuable in a different sense. Many give Snorri a bad reputation, but in the end, his only goal was to emphasize the greatness of his people’s past in the eyes of a new kingdom. This was perhaps the goal for all saga writers.

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