I’m short of words to describe my gratitude towards all of those people who’ve tirelessly worked to keep our Viking heritage alive.
It is no easy feat considering that what Snorri immortalised in writing were oral traditions. Much have been lost of what once was, but we are lucky and genuinely enriched thanks to individuals like himself.
“The Prose Edda“ is the ultimate guide to Norse mythology and should therefore be mandatory reading for anyone of Scandinavian descent.
I borrowed this classic from my brother who has great taste in books.
When holding it in my hands I feel like I’m looking at a most valuable treasure; I feel humbled, small, grateful, awed, honoured, that this piece of irreplaceable history has found its way to me: an ethnic-Norwegian in 2018.
It’s a flame kept alive against all odds, an echo from a past long gone, but an echo nonetheless that will refuse to die if people of the North keep it close and don’t forget.
It is evidence of the hardships of our ancestors and their battle for survival in a merciless environment.
It is a text that reveal to us who we are and what we come from.
I have to admit that I could not find the much-advertised gender-egalitarianism; it is said that the male and female Gods are to be equally respected, but the male Gods each get an individual description, whereas the female Gods are all lumped into the same category and are clearly representatives of the feminine with their own distinct roles.
When Loki decides to be mean to a Goddess, he misbehaves by shaving off all of her hair, much to the rage of Thor. The transgression is paid for when Loki get the Dwarfs to create magical hair made out of pure gold to the offended party.
Much warfare and toxic-masculinity behaviour is described. The greatest companion to a male God is his battle weapon, for knowledge he might sacrifice an eye or in the name of bravery a hand, a female God on the other hand has to wander the earth in search of her husband, as if thought losing ones man is the greatest loss and sacrifice to a female deity.
The gods are shapeshifters in Norse mythology. They can become anything, and Odin, the superior chieftain, sees everything like a living embodiment of the CIA, NSA, GCHQ, MI6, MI5 & Google, all assembled into one single, autonomous, being.
The one-eyed God, who sees all.
Much will be recognised from Tolkien when reading through the work such as the names of Dwarfs, a character named Frodi, a cursed ring that brings misfortune upon anyone in possession of it & elves.
The most glorious fate is to die in battle gaining access to Valhalla, a feast hall for warriors who drink ale and fight each other every single day in preparation for the apocalypse, where the Gods will fight and die before the celestial system is born anew and the cycle repeats.
A less glorious fate awaits those who die a natural death of age and disease, going down into the underworld to a stark, formless existence reminiscent of the Greek underworld.
Heimdal (the white god) guards the Bifrost bridge connecting Middle Earth to the realm of the Gods. The rainbow bridge will break with the start of the apocalypse.
Optical illusions are a staple of the gods who dabble in mysticism and magic.
Slaves are mentioned, sacrifice is mentioned in passing without going into any detail, and a whole bunch of intricate old-Norse names are listed in order to immortalise family trees, reminiscent of The Old Testament.
Those who are wise sit, while those who ask questions and inquire stand. Sitting down is a mark of authority. Another interesting detail to note.
“The Prose Edda“ offers irreplaceable insight into the past of Scandinavia, a sacred knowledge besieged by time and other competing world views.
In order to protect it and pass it on the smartest move would be to memorize it all, so that an oral tradition can keep the words alive when technology fails and we are back to square one.