Websites I got my info from: http://www.goddessgift.com/pandora’s_box/mistletoe.htm
“Mistletoe’s association with peace and good will is so strong that once, if enemies met under a tree that by chance had mistletoe, they were required to lay down their arms and declare a truce until the following day. The strongest connection between mistletoe and the Yule season comes from Norse mythology. Frigga (also known as Freya) was the goddess of beauty, love, and marriage. Wife of the powerful Norse god Odin, Frigga was a sky goddess, responsible for weaving the clouds, and therefore responsible for rain and for thunderstorms.”
“Her sacred animal was the goose, and in her Germanic incarnation as the goddess Holda or Bertha, she was the original Mother Goose (causing it to snow when she shook out her bedding). Sitting at her spinning wheel weaving the fates, she was also a goddess of divination and credited with the creation of runes…more precisely she was a ‘seer’, one who knew the future but could never change it or reveal it to others.Frigga was the mother of Baldur (Balder), the best-loved of all the Norse gods. And she foresaw his death. Knowing that there was nothing she could do to avert his fate, the hapless goddess extracted a promise from all things that they would play no part in his death. Unfortunately, thinking the mistletoe was too insignificant to bother with, she neglected to secure its pledge.”
“And when the malevolent prankster Loki discovered her oversight, he crafted a dart made of the poisonous plant. Devious and evil, he brought it to Baldur’s brother who was blind, suggesting a game of darts and agreeing to guide his hand. And this he did, directing the dart directly at Baldur’s heart. The mistletoe’s white berries were formed from Frigga’s tears of mourning. Some versions of the story of Baldur’s death end happily. Baldur is restored to life, and the goddess Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the baleful plant, making it a symbol of peace and love and promising a kiss to all who pass under it.”
I’ve always wondered why the gods that are left after the “end of the world” were the ones chosen to survive.
Lif and Leifthrasir are the two humans left – Life and yearning for Life. Those cannot truly die so they continue on to repopulate the earth. That makes sense.
Mjollnir, Thor’s hammer, also remains. It is thunder and lightning so it should survive to bring those to the new world.
The daughter of the sun also survives and lights the new world. That’s fairly obviously important.
Baldr is the god of beauty, fertility, light and peace. These are all qualities that should be desired in a new and better world.
Vidar is the god of silence, strength and justice. These are also desirable qualities for a new world.
Vali is associated with justice and death. Death is a necessary part of life, therefore it shouldn’t cease to exist.
Modi and Magni are the sons of Thor and save Mjollnir. They are “Anger” and “Strength.” The two of them together embody the late Thor’s qualities. This is important because Thor was a very central figure in the religion and mythology.
Hodr is the blind god of poetry. Poetry was widely valued in Norse culture surprisingly. The runes and writing were often considered magical or could bring luck – whether good or bad.
Pretty straight forward right? Most people who’ve ever taken a science class know about the law of conservation of matter: Matter is neither produced nor destroyed. I found it very interesting that this is an idea in the Norse Edda – after all, it well predates most science period, much less the law of conservation of matter. But matter doesn’t just die out or come into being like it does in much of mythology. There’s an overarching idea of eternity that is reassuring and rather appealing.
I’ve noticed that apples play a significant part in mythology. Particularly in Christianity and Norse myth. They represent knowledge and death and sex and immortality and eternal youth. Why apples and not some other fruit? Wouldn’t oranges or bananas work just as well? or olives? Are apples just widespread? Honestly I have no idea. But it does color my perception of apples quite a lot. Often when I eat an apple I’ve taken from the food hall for a midday snack I wonder if it tastes as good as the one Adam and Eve partook in or the ones the Norse gods ate to remain young. I like to think they help revive and rejuvenate me – almost as if I wasn’t getting any older.
I’ve always found the concept of Yggdrasil fascinating. It just seems so organized and neat. No other mythologies or religions define where heaven and hell are as well. Yggdrasil just makes sense. The roots feed on 3 wells of water – that of death, wisdom and life – pretty much the 3 governing ideas on earth. Hel is located under Midgard (our real world) and Asgard (heaven) above. It feels natural that Hel would be below – sort of as a soil to nourish the tree – we see this as the dead plants and animals in a forest eventually become soil for new plants. The heavens are among the leaves, and is connected to us by a rainbow – a magical sight to most people. The animals tormenting Yggdrasil are also in logical places and have logical jobs. It just makes sense.
Baldr’s death is very strange to me. For the life of me I can’t figure out why they would kill off the most beloved of their gods. And with mistletoe? Just strikes me as very weird. The image above is of Baldr’s funeral. I thought it was very neat. I wonder who’s bending over him – Odinn maybe? Or Hodr? And the four women in the background could be Frigga, Freyja, Sif and Jord perhaps? Got any ideas?
This website gives a brief description of each – I thought it was very helpful. 🙂
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I thought this picture was really cool. You can see Odinn battling Fenrir and Thor against Jormungand and all of the other battles as well – so neat!
There are names for literally everything in the Edda. EVERYTHING. It took me awhile to get used to it before I realized that I name most everything too. Maybe it’s just Norwegian genes, but my computer, calculator, phone, iPod, desk chair, alarm clock, guitar, tiger lily plant, amp, favorite guitar pick, tuner, printer, art set, microwave, TV, PS2, refrigerator, stool, suitcase, camera and even my hair… Yes, I know, a bit strange. I probably got it from my mom – who consistently sings songs she makes up about our pets, the computer, cooking, or just really anything. I seem to have inherited this tendency. Perhaps a bit strange, but honestly, most of the inanimate objects I’ve named I’m around much more often and are much more useful than most of the people I know… Sorry. But it is kind of true…
The text states that the goddesses are no less important than the gods. There’s also a lot of evidence of the Earth Mother – Thor was born of earth and Odinn is married to it. This places Odinn (the “all-father”) as a suitor to the goddess. Freyr is a fertility god and has a boar – a symbol of the goddess. Snakes are also very prominent – the Midgard serpent and also the one dangling over Loki and dripping poison onto him for punishment. There’s also a world tree – Yggdrasil – which is a connection with the earth. Freyja is a goddess of fertility and beauty who rides in a chariot pulled by cats – she can symbolize the young girl or waxing moon. Frigg is the goddess of spinning and motherhood and is the wife of Odinn – she’s the mother form of the goddess. Hel is half corpse and rules over the underworld – she has power over life and death and is the crone form of the goddess. The Valkyries also fill this role, as does Freyja to some extent because of their involvement with dead warriors. Mani is a god of the moon who is male, while the sun, Sol, is a goddess. Both are circular. The Midgard Serpent, Jormungand, is very obviously a goddess symbol – circular, a snake, associated with the ocean. A cow is also what shapes the first god – a goddess of creation. Her milk feeds all of creation. The food and drink in Valhalla is also representative of the goddess – there’s an endless boar eaten and mead that flows from the udders of a goat.