Monday, October 05, 2015

The Vikings - Odin,Thor, Tyr.....

                            Three Nordic Gods 

Uppsala temple, Carl Larsson, wiki
 The religion of the Nordic Vikings was like the religion of the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans -  polyteistic. They believed in many gods, and there were many gods at hand -  a god for everything a human might need.

Odin, Icelandic, wiki

Odin is the main god, a magnificent demonic and  terrifying, sadistic figure. He was obsessed of a quest for wisdom, and he sacrificed one eye for this knowledge. He is merciless, capricious, heartless, he is the god of war and warriors, he owns the spear Gungner, the selfrenewing goldring Drøpner, the eight-legged fast horse Sleipner, and he is guarded by his two wolves and achieves news from everywhere by his two ravens Hugin and Munin -  he consults with Mimer's severed head,  he finds the runes and knows their power, he hunts by night with his escorte over mountain, forest and field, he reveals himself on the battlefield and for the men dedicated to death as a one-eyed gestalt, swept in his cloak and witha wide-brimmed hat.


Odin and Sleipner wiki
Odin is also the god of the bards, he is the leader of the mysterious assignation, the rage of the soul. He knows about witchcraft and seid, nothing is alien to him, he is the god of magnates, aristocrats, and a dangerous god. Sometimes he is called Alfader, which is true, since he is in the lead of the Asa-gods, but he is  not a kind old man like an Alfader should be, he is not loving and protective, mild or understanding, he is not a typical Alfader-figure. His clients among humans are kings, earls, chiefs, magicians, poets and those who are killed in the battlefield. They are led by the valkyries to Valhalla and end up like a part of the incalculable warrior troop, the Einheries, the forever fighting and resurgent warriors, who'll have to assist Odin when Ragnarok arrives. 

In order to reach all his goals, all his purpose, all his collecting knowledge and wisdom, Odin does not hesitate, he avoids no fraud, cunning or broken promises, he is tough on everyone and not less tough on himself, he is both chynical and cold, he is wild and ecstatic. He is the deepest and most grandios god among all gods, and there is a long distance from him to Thor, the next Asagod.

Thor and chariot, drawing 1895 wiki
Thor is mostly depicted as a red-bearded, powerful fellow with his hammer Mjølner - he is associated with thunder, lightning, storms and strenght and with his chariot pulled by two goats.Thor is a democrat, Odin an aristocrat,  Odin takes care of the upper class, while Thor is a popular guy. A thing is missing around Odin by those who describe him, namely the humour, of which Thor has got enough. There are lots of myths and anecdotes about Thor. He was the strong and faithfull protector of the Viking-farmer, and  he is the brawler among the giants, who are always goals of his  wielding hammer.

Thors Hammer, wiki
Thor fishing, runestone, Hørdum kirke, Jutland.GB
The thunder was rolling when Thor swept above the clouds with his goat chariot. He was humorous and ready for fight when he stepped forward with his hammer in his hand, but there was one thing he missed. He was neither cunning or sly. The giants, who knew about witchcraft, often brought him into trouble. The Nordic Vikings composed many colourful and entertaining adventures about the deeds of this favorite god: He fetches the mighty beer kettle by the giants, he fetches his stolen hammer, he goes fishing for the Midgard serpent by himself,  he experiences the strangest events when visiting the king of the giants, Udgardsloke, where he is escorted by the sly Loke.

runes on a lanse, wiki
Viking farmers Faroe islands , wiki
Thor could be extremely tempered but he soon was reconciled. The Viking-farmer understood him and liked him. Thor brought entertainment into the evenings by the fireplace, but he was more than that, he was  also very important to the farmer, except for Norway, since he was the protector of the harvest and the wellfare of the farming. He was an agricultural god and played a central role in daily life and was often considered to be more necessary than Odin himself, this seemed to appear in a report from Adam of Bremen, who told that Thor's figure, and  not Odin's, took the middle place in Uppsala Temple, where three main gods were placed for worship, Odin, Thor and Frej  Thor could also be summoned at the weddings to give the bride fertility, and when the runestones had to get protection from a god, it was Thor and not Odin who had to "vi the runes" (to inaugurate). It is also characteristic that when the heathen Nordic people found a sign to put up against the Christian cross  they chose Thor's hammer, not Odin's spear. Thor was a more common god than Odin, he was summoned by all kinds of people besides the farmer, by smith, fisher, captain of the sea. He was much more close to life and confidential to Everyman than the incomprehensible and distant and dangerous Odin.

Tyr as Asagod is a  much more pale character than Odin and Thor, he is brave and frank, he loses one hand when the the Fenris wolf has to be tied, and he fights during Ragnarok
Tyr and the Fenris wolf. wiki
with the Hellhound Garm itself. The Nordic people tells not much more about him.

work of Tacitus, wiki

Those three Asagods are not new in the religious belief of the Germanic people,  they are all mentioned with Roman names in the famous book about the Germans by Tacitus, written about year 100 A.C.. Odin is Mercury, Thor is Hercules, Tyr is Mars. It is said about Mercury that he is the supreme Germanic god, and humans are sacrificed only to him. Odin has in common with the Roman Mercury and the Greek Hermes that he is the leader of the dead and appears with a cloak, a broadrimmed hat and a spear (staff) - or else there is not much alike between the two gods, and it is probable that the capacity of savagery and demonic capriciosity, which characterizes Odin - but is missing in Mercury -  is due to the East Germans neighbouring to the wild Asian nomads, who overturned Europe in the Migration period. Together with the Gothic culture stream from the areas of the Black Sea towards the North.this Mongol-like Odin-figure might have reached Sweden and from here the rest of Scandinavia.

Baby Hercules, strangling a snake, wiki
To translate Thor into Hercules suits well, but it does not explain the thunder and the lightning hammer. Thor must be an ancient acgriculture god and thunder god. Also Tyr is only partly covered by his Roman partner Mars, whose Nordic name Tyr, Tir, Ti is related to the Roman Jupiter,  the Greek Zeus, the Indian Dyaus. It is not known how old these threesome gods of the Germans are. Maybe not that very old. Cæsar says that the Germanic people worshipped the powers of nature: fire, sun, moon. The Germanic people named three weekdays after three gods:  tirsdag: Tyr, onsdag: Odin, torsdag, Thor. 

photo wikipedia
photo: Hørdum kirke, runestone; GB

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