The six ancient Norse myths that still resonate today

3 The myth of the end

Ragnarök (doom of the gods) is the Norse end of the world, which is clearly echoed in the Christian Armageddon. In Norse mythology Ragnarök culminating in the final battle between the gods and the demons and giants, which ends in the death of the gods. The world ends in fire and ice.

This is “Winter is Coming” by George RR Martin. The saying in Game of Thrones is the motto of House Stark – located in the north of Westeros and often hit hardest by the cold winters – but also a general warning that bad things are about to happen. And Ragnarök too a popular theme of Norse death metal or viking metal that draws on Norse mythology.

In Ragnarök, the older generation of gods is destroyed. “There is an inevitability to it,” Larrington writes in his book. “Even the warriors of Valhalla cannot defeat the cosmic forces. After this mythical end, the world will rise again. But the question remains, will it be longer than before?” In his retelling of the myth Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, writer AS Byatt decides that the world will not return, while in writer Neil Gaiman’s book Scandinavian mythology, has echoes of Animal Farm. A new generation of gods repeats the same moves and history repeats itself. Ragnarök is both in the future – and in the past.

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4 The myth of the wanderer in search of wisdom

Odin, father of Thor and creator of the Norse world, also god of war, poetry, runes, magic and the dead. But he does not know everything, and he wanders both the human and divine worlds, seeking wisdom. This has a price. When he reaches Urd’s well, he is told that to drink the water of wisdom he must sacrifice an eye.

Odin the Wanderer inspired JRR Tolkien’s Gandalf. It also lent its name to Wednesday, from the Old English “wōdnesdæg”, originally “Woden” (Odin). In the Marvel Universe, he is always depicted as missing his right eye – a wise figure with a blind spot.

“Odin shapes the way we think about continuing to learn, but at the same time he’s seen as a patriarchal force that eventually has to step aside, a dichotomy we often see in contemporary politics,” says Larrington. “At the end of the Norse world, a new generation of gods will come with new, untested ideas. But there is a feeling that they will prevail.”

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5 The myth of masculinity

In the Scandinavian world, there is a paradox of masculinity. On the one hand, there is the blond-haired, athletic Viking hero who adventures, trades, writes poetry and carves runes, and on the other hand, there is the violent, plundering Berserker, who destroys everything in his wake.

Some reimaginings even gave the Vikings almost cuddly qualities, as in the 20th century children’s books Noggin the Nog, or parodied them, as in the Terry Jones film Eric the Viking. However, the prevailing myth is probably that of a heroic, adventurous band of brothers, sure of their place in the world.

But it’s a myth open to confusing reinterpretations. “In [mid]”In the 19th century, the figure of the adventurous Viking was used to support the doctrines of Aryan supremacy,” Larrington says. does not mean that the myth is irrelevant, Larrington argues. The figure of the Viking warrior has always represented struggle and the need for balance: between heroic rage, personal honor, bravery—and an openness to love. And this conflict The idea of ​​traditional male values ​​and men living in a woman’s world resonates as much as ever.

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