Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Introduction to Norse Mythology

Dear Mythology Students,

Norse Mythology are the stories of the Scandanavian people. The Norse were extremely skilled at sea faring; consequently, they were exposed to different cultures. The Norse came upon the Romans, who in turn, hired them as mercenaries. The Roman culture was extremely advanced; consequently, the Norseman adopted some of their belief system into their own culture. This is why when we start to read the myths you will note some strong similarities to Greek Mythology. Remember that the Romans stole their religion from the Greeks. Another important point that you need to know involves the conversion of the Romans to Christianity. The Norseman continued to be influenced by the Roman culture, and therefore they also adopted Christian influences into their mythology, as well.

Everyone of you should have a new textbook, and a "packet" of handouts that will be used during the next two weeks. Your homework assignments for Friday include the following:

1. Please read pages xx-xxiii in the "Introduction" section of your book under the "Cosmology"

2. Complete your flashcards for the following characters: Niflheim, Muspelheim, Gunnungagap, Audamula, Ymir, Buri, Bor, Bestla, Vili, Ve, Odin, Bifrost, Dwarfs, Yggdrasil, Jotenheim, Asgard, Niflheim, Norns, Valhalla, Jormungand, Nidhogg, Ratatosk, Well of Mimir, Well of Urd, Spring of Hvelgemir. Your flashcard subjects are located on the bright green handout in your packet.

3. Be prepared for a quiz on Friday covering the information that was shared on Wednesday. If you did miss class, please visit with a friend from class.

Norse Mythology is difficult to fully explain in this forum, but I will do my best.......In the beginning, no formed matter that exists. This enormous chasm of unorganized matter is called GUNNUNGAGAP! To the north of Gunnungagap is an immense area of frozen ice. This area is called NIFLHEIM.

To the south of Gunnungagap is an immense region of heat called MUSPELHEIM. Nothing exists but these two regions.
Suddenly these two regions begin to move closer together. The heat from Muspelheim causes the ice from Niflheim to melt and droplets of water land in Gunnungagap. Some how and I don't know exactly how this happens, and neither did the Nordic people, so you just have to accept it, two important beings are created at the same enormous man called Ymir, who is also called a "frost giant" and a cow whose name is Adumla. I know, it's a little unusual.

Ymir begins to suck on the teats of Audumla, so she is nourishing this evil frost giant, and then he begins to "give birth" to other frost giants. As he is sucking on the teats of the cow, Ymir begins to sweat and his sweat morphs into other giants. In the mean time, Audumla begins to lick some of the ice from Niflheim that did not melt when Muspelheim moved close to it. Every place her saliva touches a human form is created. You can see this depicted in the image above. The individual that is created from the saliva is known as BURI. He is entirely positive. He, in turn, gives birth to two individuals; their names are BOR and BESTLA. Bor is a male and Bestla is a famale. These two have three children whose names are Odin, Vili, and Ve. Odin becomes the king of the Norse Gods because he is recognized as the "first born."
Odin, Vili, and Ve recognize that Ymir is "birthing" evil frost giants, so they feel compelled to destory him. Upon his murder they take his body and use it to create the world of humans, giants, and dwarfs known as Midgard.

Yggdrasil is the tree of life in Norse Mythology. There are nine worlds in Norse Myths, but I am requiring that you only know FOUR. These include: Asgard, Midgard, Niflheim and Jotenheim.
Make sure you are familiar with the following aspects associated with Yggdrasil:
1. Well of Urd (Past, Present and Future)
2. Norns (guard the Well of Urd)
3. Vahalla (Norse Heaven/ Hall for fallen warriors and those who died in child birth)
4. Bifrost (The rainbow "bridge")
5. Well of Mimir (Knowledge/ guarded by Mimir)
6. Jotenheim (Land of the Giants)
7. Jormungand (Midgard World Serpent)
8. Well of Hvelgemir (Well in the Underworld)
9. Nidhogg (Chews on the roots of Yggdrasil in the underworld)
10. Ratatosk (Messenger squirrel who delivers insults between the "Eagle" and Nidhogg)
Make sure you are familiar with the following aspects in association with the "Creation Myth:"
1. Gunnungagap
2. Muspelheim
3. Niflheim
4. Ymir
5. Audumla or Audamula
6. Buri
7. Bor
8. Bestla
9. Odin, Vili and Ve
10. Creation of Midgard (Middle Earth)
I look forward to seeing you on Friday.

Your FINAL exam!

Dear Mythology Kids, It's nice to "see" you again. Let me offer some "study guidance" for your final exam. Please ...