Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Norse Mythology re-re-visited

As I´m digging into the mythology behind my viking heritage, I have come to realize that my knowlegde and memory is somewhat lacking. The result is that some of my earlier posts on the subject contain errors. That´s why I´ve decided to re-re-visit Norse Mythology in a new post. Of course, I could´ve chosen to just edit these earlier posts, but instead I feel it would be better to leave these posts as is (except for inserting the fact that they are a bit off) to show the development in my studies.

Another important thing is that when you read the stories I intend to include in my upcoming Asgard Saga, please keep in mind that they are fiction. The base line is coming from some of the original sources, but the stories have been modernized in the sense that the character desription is deeper than in the original stories.

The reason is that storytelling has changed through time. In the early Viking Age, character description was flat and brief, showing only the most nescessary elements of a person. Today we tend to describe feelings and landscapes more detailed. For the stories to be entertaining as well as informative, I try to keep a balance between action and being true to the original storyline. Hopefully you will find that I´ve been succesful in doing so.

Back to the re-re-visitation!

Norse Mythology is rather complex and even more so than I first realized. Some of the errors I´ve made in my previous posts are derived from this notion. I could choose to correct my mistakes point by point, but the complexity of the whole thing made me realize that re-posting and re-explaining would probably be the better option, so here we go:

The gods´ family tree

To define which supernatural entities in Norse Mythology are to be considered gods is not an easy task. Truth be told, we can only guess how the Vikings saw it. Probably they didn´t feel the urge to make such definitions, as this kind of approach is more bound to the monotheologic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In the late 1800´s and in the beginning of the 1900´s most scholars chose to approach Norse Mythology by directly comparing it to Greek and Roman mythology. That approach makes Freyr the Norse equivalent to the Greek god of virility, Priapos and Odin the aquivalent to Zeus.

While I´m not a scholar and therefore do not have the authority to enter this discussion, I would much rather refrain from defining who is to be thought of as a god and who is merely a supernatural entity such as elves or unicorns. In the following I will there fore use the word gods when talking about Vanes, Ases and Yetten. I still don´t know what to do with some of their off spring, though...

In the world of the gods there are three family trees woven into eachother in various combinations. These are:

  • Vanes
  • Ases
  • Yetten

The Vanes and the Ases have been at war with eachother, but peace has been established between them.

Probably as part of the truce, some Vanes now live in Asgard and possibly some Ases live in Vanaheim. However, Vanaheim is still a bit of a mystery to me. There might be sources telling more about Vanaheim, but for now I imagine Vanaheim is not placed in either Asgard, Midgard or Utgard. If you know, please feel free to make a comment correcting me beneath the post.

The peace and trusting interaction between Ases and Vanes leave the Yetten as mortal enemies of both families and although the myths usually side with the Ases (and Vanes, who mostly play a minor part in the myths) against the Yetten, it cannot be interpreted in terms of good or evil. The Yetten aren´t percieved as evil. They are percieved as enemies of the Ases (and Vanes)

So, after this (short, hopefully) introduction to family matters of the Norse Mythology, I´m looking forward to hear your comments.

Was this informative?
Do you find Norse Mythology interesting?
Did you find any flaws in my post?

Comment and correct beneath

Oh, almost forgot: my next post, hopefully published tomorrow, will be about the massive influence of Norse Mythology to YOUR everyday life - every single week you are connected to Norse Mythology, believe it or not. Chances are, you will be in for quite the surprise...