I had some interesting revelations while reading Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by Hilda Davidson earlier today. I’m not sure that they’ve jelled enough to share them, nor do I think anyone will find the revelations all that terribly interesting if you aren’t me, so I don’t know that I’ll go beyond mentioning that Davidson and Frazier (The Golden Bough) both resonate with me on the concept of cosmic conceptualizations of the mythic. Toss in Joseph Campbell, I suppose, and a bit of Jungian archetypal theory and I think you are halfway to understanding where my head is. And while I don’t quite embrace all of those folks equally, I think it’s a fair thing to say that my thinking is a bit of a composite of those folks when it comes to myth and religion. As I refresh some of the tales I am familiar with from the Eddas, and fill in the blanks on a number I am less familiar with, I can see the patterns emerging in the myth that appear to confirm some of my own thoughts. It is likewise interesting to see Davidson draw similarities to the Celts and the Germanic tribes, as well as the Nordic-influenced myth. There are far more similarities and dissimilarities, but that might be attributable to the Christian assimilation pogroms of the 500-1200 CE period, seeing as most of it was recording by monks and scholars with agendas that largely focused on discrediting the old folk religions in the areas their converted kings conquered.
But seeing some additional parallels drawn towards the Irish and Scottish Celtic tribes was nice to see — I’d seen some correlations, but it is comforting to have independent confirmation of those apparent ties.
Ultimately, I’m a bit drawn to some of the Northern tribal cosmology, and the draw has been unsatisfactory in my mind up until now, mostly because I feel that what I’ve read and been exposed to has the sensation of “incompleteness”. Mind you, it still does, but I am seeing some things self-explain that were previously shadowed to me as I add to my knowledge base with some of the recent research. And, as stated before, I am not interested in the ritualistic elements, but the more ecstatic elements — something that seems more and more closer to the reality of the past (to me) than the more formalized elements.
Something about “ritual” and formulaic approaches towards the sacred parts of life has always felt wooden and unnatural, and I’ve spent long enough away from anything smacking of either so as to not be terribly interested in pursuing a formalized education in those spheres. That’s not to say that ritual doesn’t have a place, but I think that it is more tied to the latter traditions than it is to the elder traditions of the folk. And, by “folk”, I mean the common person living during the times these things were practiced, not the term adopted by a number of pagan groups to self-identify their members. I earnestly feel that the common folk were far more interested in survival than they were in what must have seemed a luxury practice, largely relegated to the wealthy and people in power, those who needed to actually formally display their positions on the spiritual as a matter of proving they were adherents to whatever popular practice happened to be taking place (in the later years, anyway, as tribes settled down and started consolidating wealth in centralized locations).
Yeah, yeah… I’m blathering again without a piece of paper to prove I know what I’m talking about. And I quite possibly haven’t a clue — I have no interest in claiming authority on these subjects. This is for my own personal understanding and I’m just “talking it out” about a few things. If it proves to be of interest to you, or helps you on your own path, that’s great. If it seems like hogwash, then it’s probably best to avoid my posts when I go off on these thought processes. I’m not looking for a codified, coptic frame to put my untidy box of thoughts into…
Anyway — I’ve slaughtered many a word here tonight… Suffice it to say, it was a good purchase (so far), although I had reservations after the introductory material when the author decided to list off multiple synopses of the various key myths from the Eddas and a few other sources — which was not at all what I was looking for — but I felt much better about dropping cash once she started digging into the various archetypes, connections and correlations, and then linking those things to traditions and lifestyle practices that are supported by the various literature out there (including those sources which are adversely antagonistic to the old ways, yet ended up mirroring the more questionable but less adversarial texts).
While I don’t expect much response to these kinds of posts, suffice it to say that I am always interested in anything you want to contribute to the conversation. Post below if you have your own thoughts.