Happy Saturn’s Day
The center piece of course of Norse mythology is the characters that play on its stage and that is the Gods and Goddesses of the pantheon. The interesting thing about the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology is that they are very real. Some critics of such pantheons say that these gods are all too human, but then again so is the jealous and vengeful god of the Bible. The point of such stories is not to be historically accurate or factual but to be morality plays that people think on. Religion dwells in the realm of ethics and one has to wonder if the stories are the smart clergyman’s way of illustration of the values people are trying to pass on.
The Norse God’s family tree is complicated. Like most myths the central characters are not the first generation. Rather they are often the third and fourth generation. There is also the complication of the fact that the Norse Pantheon also has two separate races of gods the Aesir and the Vanir. Plus the Gods often mate with the giants producing offspring. So most people can relate to such gods as the whole family question seems to be pretty relative. The whole Vanir /Aesir question seems to be the result at least as far as I understand it of two mythologies of different parts of the Scandinavian / Germanic world merging. The result is a little confusion but it makes for an interesting story in and of itself when Freya, who is Vanir, is sent as an exchange to Asgard which is the home of the Aesir.
The stories of the Norse Gods are quite extensive but they have a couple challenging issues. 1) The goddesses do play prominently very often and so their personalities as far as characters in the story or even a full idea of what their sphere and powers are is sometimes missing. 2) There are gaps in the stories like there are supposed to be more of them but they were not written down. My guess is that there are tons of stories that were told but only a few were preserved.
From my perspective as a writer this is a blessing in some ways because I can fill in the gaps when I use Norse mythology and no one can really bitch about it. I can for instance take what little is known about the goddess Hel for example and then fill in the gaps with my own imagination which is what I did in this post: The Grey Wayfarer (Fantasy Serial) – Chapter 5 – Evil Intent (Hel). I can also do this with other blank spots in the story and characters. So Norse mythology becomes a rich backdrop that my imagination as a writer can fill in the blank spots. It is primarily why The Grey Wayfarer will center on female goddesses because I can fill in the gaps and there are a lot of gaps.
In popular culture of course the Norse Pantheon is prevalent from the comics all the way to books and movies and has been so for a long time. The influences of this pantheon are seen in other characters indirectly as well. JRR Tolkien’s Gandalf the Grey is certainly inspired in part by Odin. There are simply tons of this kind of thing in fantasy literature and that is kind of my reason for delving into it. To find my own inspiration for my own characters and writing.
There is also the fact that a religion built around a warrior culture is fascinating. It is amazing to me how many of this pantheon are gods and goddesses of battle or war. I would say very few of them could not be invoked before a battle by a Viking, and that makes conflict a central aspect of the pantheon. War and battle are common but also politics and diplomacy. Adventure in these stories is often high and powerful.
In the future the Gods and Goddess’ section of Crossing Bifrost will center on a singular god or goddess. There basically will be dossier of them and then some thoughts about them from my perspective. My goal is to draw inspiration with Crossing Bifrost and this section will be no different. I will probably start with Odin of course and then work radially out from him. It seems if there is one thing that binds the whole thing together is the All-Father.
As always I claim no expertise here. I am still learning and reading but I want to keep a record of my thoughts as I do. The goal of Crossing Bifrost is to record my journey in understanding this rich mythology, not necessarily to educate. If while I am doing that you are inspired and learn something then that is a bonus for me.
I hope you continue to enjoy this.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.