Archive for the ‘Norse’ Tag

Mythology of the Stars   22 comments

Interstellar Mythology…Star Myths

The stars, remote but also familiar, have been a source of fascination us throughout history and are an integral part of many myths and legends. Early references to the Greek constellations mythological significance are found in the works of Homer, dating back to around the 7th century B.C

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“Children of the sun and moon” is the way The Paiute of North America refer to the stars. They consider the sun loves to eat his children, based on the stars disappearing at sunrise. They say the moon, is the mother of the stars, who dances happily across the sky with them. To the Yakut of Siberia, see the stars as crystal windows giving the gods opportunity to look upon earth. The Turko-Tatar, tent-dwellers of Central Asia view the sky as a large tent covering earth, and the stars tiny holes in it.

Myths of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way, the faint band of light visible in the sky on clear dark nights, runs along the line of the galactic equator, marking the centre of the galaxy to which our solar system belongs. It consists of a combination of the light of a vast array of stars, and in areas clouds of obscuring interstellar gas and dust. 

      milkyway Our_Location_Milky_Way milky_wayA

One Peruvian tradition, believes the Vilcanota River is a reflection of the Milky Way and water constantly circulates back and forth between the river and the heavens. In the minds of The Navajo the Milky Way was created by “Coyote” a con artist who using a blanket threw and scattered in a huge arc, in the sky, an array of sparkling stone chips to form a pathway between heaven and earth.

           Vilcanota_Rivernavajo xibalba

The Maya considered the Milky Way to be the road to Xibalba, the underworld. Native Americans believed the Milky Way was the path the souls of the dead walked. According to the Southern African Zulu and Ndebeles the stars are the ancestor’s eyes, watching over them.

Constellations and Individual Stars in Myths.

 By the 5th century B.C., most of the constellations were connected to myths, “At this stage, the fusion between astronomy and mythology is so complete that no further distinction is made between them” (the Catasterismi of Eratosthenes)

In Chinese mythology gods such as the god of literature and the god of long life, were connected with the stars.

                                                god of literature god of longlife

In Greek mythology Pleiades were the seven daughters of the Titan, Atlas and the ocean nymph Pleione. Zeus placed them in the sky to protect them from Orion the hunter. But Orion became a constellation and continued to chase the Pleiades across the heavens. The Inuit of northern Greenland considered Orion a series of steps in a great bank of snow linking earth and heaven.

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Mythology, influenced the naming of many objects in the night sky, including planets. Their Roman mythological name reflected their characteristics

In Norse mythology Venus was originally the toe of the hero Aurvandil. Thor carried Aurvandil out of Giantland across the river Elivagar. En-route, one of Aurvandil’s toes froze, so breaking it off Thor threw it into the sky. To the Greeks, Venus was Hesperus, grandfather of the goddesses called Hesperides. She who guarded the golden apples of eternal life on western sea

            Surface_of_VenusThor planet-venus

Even the names of the Galilean moons of Jupiter (the four largest). Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto were all desired–and taken by force–by Jupiter. Ironically the mythological women the king of the gods so fervently pursued now revolve around him.

          jupiter-moons-1Jupiter_and_moonsGalilean_moons

**(Credit for this blog post topic and also previous one: “Androgoth Prince of Goths”)

Thank you for the subject suggestions Androgoth Smile

 

Giants and Nymphs in Mythology   42 comments

 

Mythological Giants and Nymphs

 

Giants

Giant1Giants can represent powerful natural forces that frighten and threaten humans. In the mythology of the Native AmericanAni_Giant Lakota people, Waziya is a northern giant who blows the winter wind. In some traditions, a giant appears as a symbol of chaos, threatening to disrupt the orderly natural world or social community. 

The word giant comes from the Greek Gigantes (meaning earthborn), a race of huge creatures who were the offspring of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the heavens. These giants were half man, half monster, with serpents’ tails instead of legs. Also related were three Cyclopes each with one eye in the middle of the forehead. The three Hundred-Armed giants each had 50 heads and 100 arms and were the jailors of Tartarus, the underworld’s place of punishment.

Giants hurled huge rocks and mountaintops and brandished burning oak trees, in a great battle between themselves and the mighty Hercules, son of Zeus, who won the battle by picking off the giants one by one with his arrows.giant2

Norse mythology says originally there was a chasm, bound on either side by fire and ice. When fire and ice met, they combined to form a giant, named Ymir. Odin  killed Ymir whose blood killed all the frost giants he had created. From his body, Odin created the world and Ygdrasil the World Tree grew.

In native American mythology giants start fights among humans so that in the confusion they can steal the men’s wives. Others steal children, sometimes to eat them.  Tall Man, a giant of the Seminole people, smells bad, while giants in Lakota stories look like oxen.

 Giants Under the Earth

As the giant Enceladus ran from the battlefield, during a struggle with the Greek gods, the goddess Athena smashed him with the island of Sicily. Thereafter, he lay imprisoned under the island, breathing his fiery breath out through the volcano called Etna.

Nymphs

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Nymphs are mythological nature spirits that appear as beautiful young women. The word nymph is related to the Greek word for bride. Nymphs are often shown as lovers of gods and heroes or as their mothers. Dionysos had his wild-eyed Mainades and Bakkhai, Artemis was accompanied by a band of huntress nymphs, Poseidon’s court was attended by sea nymphs, and the Olympian court by nymph handmaidens.

Nymphs were female spirits of the natural world, minor goddesses of the forests, rivers, springs, meadows, mountains and seas. They were responsible for designing  the wild beauty of nature, from arranginNymphs_3g and overseeing tFlowerNymphsTreeNymphshe growth of plants, flowers and trees, and the nurturing of wild birds and animals, to the formation of rocky caverns, springs, wetlands and brooks,with which Water nymphs were associated.

                                                                                                                                      Forest nymphs were connected with woods and forests and in particular Oak trees. Another kind lived inside trees and shared in the trees suffering including death when the tree died. Mountain and meadow nymphs were also common.

In Swedish mythology sea nymphs like mermaids were powerful, dangerous beings. Sailors for example were warned to be very careful to avoid them. Nymphs can cause metamorphoses and women can also be changed into nymphs 

                                                    SeaNymph  WaterNymphs

Mythological nymphs are depicted as females who mate with men or women at their own volition and are completely outside male control, the term is often used for women who are perceived as behaving similarly…How Naughty!!! Smile

Trees in Mythology and Symbolism   24 comments

  

Trees in Mythology

Probably the most profound way in which trees are regarded is by their association with mythology. Trees bewitch us and offer a sense of mystery. In mythology, trees take on magical powers and become the centre of our fascination. In this context trees give us a sense of the unknown. To actually see and touch such trees is a powerful and profound experience, despite our inability to physically draw on that power. We are unable to grasp the complexity of these feelings, and for this reason we bow to the superiority of the tree over us.

World Tree/Cosmic Tree/Tree of Life

Many mythologies around the world have the concept of the World Tree, a magnificent tree growing at the centre of the universe providing a link between the cosmos, earth and the underworld: its stem pierces through the world of human affairs, its branches reach high up into the sky, supporting the cosmos, with its stars and planets, while its roots stretch deep into the darkness of the Underworld, forming a gateway to the realm of the dead. In European mythology the best known example is the tree Yggdrasil from Norse mythology

                   YggrasilFinnishVersion worldtree_01 yggdrasil 

Trees in Symbolism

Trees are the gladiator’s of Nature, fighting to keep a foothold in the most extreme conditions. This characteristic of strength is symbolised in three parts of the tree – roots, trunk and branches. Its roots lie deep in the ground drawing up nutrients and providing a solid base which symbolises the concept of ‘roots’ and our striving for a sense of belonging in a community daily interaction with our environment. The canopy contains the leaves that draw energy from their surroundings, symbolising our consuming desire to know our cultural heritage. The drive to find an historic link with our present lives is almost instinctive driving us to search for status and a reason for being. The trunk stands above ground providing material strength for the whole tree which could be considered symbolic of our need for inner strength.

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It is believed groups such as Pagans, worshipped the actual trees, and that they still hold valid today some of the values associated with them. Trees are linked with longevity and fertility which may be a contributing factor to the sacred position some trees still hold.

The feeling of awe and wonder felt by the early pagans is echoed by John Evelyn, in his book ‘Sylva — A Discourse of Forest Trees’ in 1664;

“He that in Winter should behold some of our highest hills in Surrey clad in whole woods of these last two trees (Yew and Box), for divers miles in circuit, might without the least violence to his imagination easily fancy himself transported into some new or enchanted country.”

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