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Author Topic: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses  (Read 2915 times)

BunnyMaz

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A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« on: August 05, 2011, 07:02:02 pm »
I've been rather curious about the Norse pantheon for a while, now.  I feel particularly keen on Odin, and I've been doing some online research into the entire pantheon to try and get a better feel for things.

Aaaaand I seem to be coming up very confused!

Today, I've been trying to find out more about the Norse representations of the Sun and Moon.  Some sources I have found describe Mani and Sol as the God and Goddess of the Moon and Sun respectively, whilst others specify that they are just the children of a mortal man, set to drive the chariots pulling the Sun and Moon, not gods in their own right.  Some sources attribute Freyja as a "suspected" Goddess of the Sun, noting her association with gold, whilst others make no mention of this.  I found some sources purporting to describe the Norse god of the moon, which then simply described Ran.  Still more sources simply state that the sun, moon and stars were all formed from sparks and embers from Muspelheim.  

Is anyone able to point me in the direction of a reliable source of information on this?  Is this a matter of controversy/uncertainty, or have I just been running into a lot of internet bollocks?

Lokabrenna

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 08:07:59 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10841

Is anyone able to point me in the direction of a reliable source of information on this?  Is this a matter of controversy/uncertainty, or have I just been running into a lot of internet bollocks?

 
I'd say one of each. :)

Okay, seriously now, I started a topic related to this on the old board: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=15729.0 (The first page is particularly relevant to this discussion.)

My personal opinion is that Mani and Sunna are gods (or humans who were deified) but there are people who disagree and say that Mani and Sunna just pull the heavenly bodies around. I can see someone making a case for Freyja (and Freyr) having solar associations. The thing about Ran made me scratch my head though. I think of her more as a personification of "the deep", the dark, sinister side of the sea.

There's a devotional anthology to the sun and moon by a *certain* controversial author who shall remain nameless: http://www.amazon.com/Day-Star-Whirling-Wheel-Tradition/dp/0982579802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312589173&sr=8-1 You can also find the book on Lulu. Somebody else can probably point you in the direction of more scholarly sources, if that's what you're looking for.

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2011, 08:17:18 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;10850

My personal opinion is that Mani and Sunna are gods (or humans who were deified) but there are people who disagree and say that Mani and Sunna just pull the heavenly bodies around.

 
So they represent the gravitational pull and rotation of the Earth, respectively?


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BunnyMaz

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 08:24:39 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;10850
I'd say one of each. :)

Okay, seriously now, I started a topic related to this on the old board: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=15729.0 (The first page is particularly relevant to this discussion.)

My personal opinion is that Mani and Sunna are gods (or humans who were deified) but there are people who disagree and say that Mani and Sunna just pull the heavenly bodies around. I can see someone making a case for Freyja (and Freyr) having solar associations. The thing about Ran made me scratch my head though. I think of her more as a personification of "the deep", the dark, sinister side of the sea.

There's a devotional anthology to the sun and moon by a *certain* controversial author who shall remain nameless: http://www.amazon.com/Day-Star-Whirling-Wheel-Tradition/dp/0982579802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312589173&sr=8-1 You can also find the book on Lulu. Somebody else can probably point you in the direction of more scholarly sources, if that's what you're looking for.

Thank you so much!  Hmmm... I have heard a little about the controversy surrounding that certain someone.  I'm guessing any reading I do of her work will need to be done with a heaping bowl of salt at the ready?

The Ran thing confused me, I must admit.  I don't know if perhaps the sources pulled that one out of their rears on the basis of OCEAN=TIDES=MOONLULZ, or something.

The big thing that gets me is that, if one takes the stance that Mani and Sunna are not deities, then while we might make a case for Freyr/Freyja as the Sun, there doesn't seem to be anyone else attributable to the moon?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 08:26:12 pm by BunnyMaz »

Mata

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2011, 08:42:22 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10841
I've been rather curious about the Norse pantheon for a while, now.  I feel particularly keen on Odin, and I've been doing some online research into the entire pantheon to try and get a better feel for things.

Aaaaand I seem to be coming up very confused!

Today, I've been trying to find out more about the Norse representations of the Sun and Moon.  Some sources I have found describe Mani and Sol as the God and Goddess of the Moon and Sun respectively, whilst others specify that they are just the children of a mortal man, set to drive the chariots pulling the Sun and Moon, not gods in their own right.  Some sources attribute Freyja as a "suspected" Goddess of the Sun, noting her association with gold, whilst others make no mention of this.  I found some sources purporting to describe the Norse god of the moon, which then simply described Ran.  Still more sources simply state that the sun, moon and stars were all formed from sparks and embers from Muspelheim.  

Is anyone able to point me in the direction of a reliable source of information on this?  Is this a matter of controversy/uncertainty, or have I just been running into a lot of internet bollocks?

 
I don't think Ran has any lunar associations. But I am no expert. I am unsure about Freyja having any sun attributes. Although Freyr does seem to have a lot to do with light in general, since in one of the Edda's (sorry can't remember which one) he's stated as being given Alfheim as a tooth gift, and Alfheim is considered where the light-elves live. So it's not a stretch to see him as having power over sunlight, even if he's not the sun or pulls it through the sky like Helios or Ra.

I might be wrong though.
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A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2011, 09:46:32 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10855
Thank you so much!  Hmmm... I have heard a little about the controversy surrounding that certain someone.  I'm guessing any reading I do of her work will need to be done with a heaping bowl of salt at the ready?


This postof mine on the archive board (as well as many other posts in that thread) should give you a better idea what sort of salt.

Quote
The big thing that gets me is that, if one takes the stance that Mani and Sunna are not deities, then while we might make a case for Freyr/Freyja as the Sun, there doesn't seem to be anyone else attributable to the moon?

 
Which gets to the really huge gaping hole in "universalist" eclectic archetypal plug-n-play:  not every ancient culture considered the sun and moon to be things with which to associate anthropomorphic deities.  (Likewise all sorts of other aspects of associations with/perceptions of deities - even the collective nouns we use, like "gods" and "deities" and "pantheon", are terms of convenience that work best at a superficial level.)

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Hyacinth Belle

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2011, 10:04:03 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10841
Is anyone able to point me in the direction of a reliable source of information on this?  Is this a matter of controversy/uncertainty, or have I just been running into a lot of internet bollocks?

IMO, Freyja is NOT "the sun goddess." Sunna all the way!

FWIW, I too feel drawn to both Odin and Sunna. :) Now that I think about it, I think they balance each other out pretty well. lol.

Here is what Lindow's Norse Mythology has to say about Sol. (pg. 278 - 9) Might throw some light on what Sunflower was just talking about with "sun = god/dess" assumption. Hopefully y'all don't mind me posting it.

Quote
The sun, personified.

Although the sun is mentioned frequently in older poetry, it is seldom personified. Even a kenning like "hall of the sun" for sky may not suggest personification, given the rules of kenning formation. In poetry, only Vafthrudnismal is certain in its personification of the sun. In stanza 22 Odin asks the wise giant Vafthrudnir whence the moon and sun came to travel over people. The giant responds in stanza 23:

"Mundilfoeri he is called, the father of Mani
And also of Sol the same;
Into heaven shall they turn each day,
So that people can reckon years."

Snorri concocts a somewhat different story in Gylfaginning: Mundilfoeri is a man who had two children who were so beautiful that he named them Mani and Sol (i.e., Moon and Sun), and he married Sol to a man called Glen. The gods punished this act of pride by placing the children in heaven to serve the actual heavenly bodies, their creation.

"Sol drives those horses that pull the carriage of that sun that the gods had created to light the worlds, out of that spark that flew from Muspellsheim. Those horses are called Arvak and Alsvin; and under the span of the horses the gods put two wind bellows to cool them, and in some learning that is called Isarnkol."

Sol's brother Mani controls the motion of the moon and its waxings and wanings. That Sol is female and Mani male probably has to do with the grammatical gender of the nouns: Sol is feminine and Mani masculine. Mani may have had some connection with the race of giants, but no such connection is suggest for Sol. Sol's husband Glen is unknown outside this passage.

When Voluspa, stanza 57, says of Ragnarok that "[t]he sun turns black, the earth sinks into the sea," there is no indication that either is personified. In Gylfaginning, however, Snorri continues his account of the personified sun. Gangleri begins the exchange:

"'The sun moves fast, and almost as if she were frightened; she would not hasten her journey more, if she feared her death.' Then Har answers: 'It is not surprising that show goes quickly. The one who seeks here is right nearby, and she has no other way out than to run away.' Then Gangleri said: 'Who is it who makes this trouble?' Har says: 'It is two wolves, and the one who chases her is Skill; she is afraid of him, and he will take her, and the one who runs in front of her is called Hati Hrodvitnisson, and he will take the moon.'"

I rendered the last word of this passage "moon," although it can mean either sun or moon. (Try reading the passage to see what sense you make of it if Hati too takes the sun." I have also rendered the animate pronoun "she" and "her," even though Snorri's use of the definite article at the beginning of the passage may suggest that he has dropped the personification or is speaking of the sun the gods created; I used the animate pronoun because I have trouble imagining a spark experiencing fear. Snorri is following Grimnismal, stanza 39 here, but that passage is silent on whether Hati will attack either heavenly body.

Snorri ends the catalog of the asynjur that comes later in Gylfaginning with a note to the effect that Sol and Bil, "whose natures were explained above," are numbered among them.

The sun was of course a focus of older nature mythological and solar mythological interpretations of Scandinavian and other mythologies, but as the relatively short length of this article shows, it would not be easy to make a case a central role of the sun in Scandinavian mythology as we have it.
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BunnyMaz

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 10:05:46 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;10874
This postof mine on the archive board (as well as many other posts in that thread) should give you a better idea what sort of salt.

Ah.  I see.  Well, I know nowhere near enough to comment on what is and isn't right WRT Heathenry and Asatru, but yeah.  

I'm not going to comment on the content of another forum publicly.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 10:09:02 pm by BunnyMaz »

Lokabrenna

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 10:09:06 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10855
Thank you so much!  Hmmm... I have heard a little about the controversy surrounding that certain someone.  I'm guessing any reading I do of her work will need to be done with a heaping bowl of salt at the ready?


I would advise that, yes.

Quote
The Ran thing confused me, I must admit.  I don't know if perhaps the sources pulled that one out of their rears on the basis of OCEAN=TIDES=MOONLULZ, or something.


Well, and that begs the question: Why Ran and not Aegir? Oh, wait, it's because she's a goddess, and goddesses are always associated with the moon (except when they aren't).

In all honestly, I've heard Freyja referred to as an earth, sun, and moon goddess. I can understand the sun and the earth. She is referred to as "bright and shining" and brisingamen means something like "fire jewel" or "flaming, bright necklace". Granted, it's a bit of a stretch to say that fire = sun, but it's not completely out there.

Quote
The big thing that gets me is that, if one takes the stance that Mani and Sunna are not deities, then while we might make a case for Freyr/Freyja as the Sun, there doesn't seem to be anyone else attributable to the moon?

 
Not that I know of, perhaps Njord, but that would really be stretching it.

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 10:16:13 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10878
I'm not going to comment on the content of another forum publicly.

 
Just so you know, that's our old board; we just moved to vBulletin recently. :)
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BunnyMaz

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 10:23:40 pm »
Quote from: Juni;10880
Just so you know, that's our old board; we just moved to vBulletin recently. :)

 
Ah no, I meant the board linked from that board that seemed to be the focus of the discussion... sort of :D

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Re: A question about Norse Gods and Goddesses
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2011, 04:12:42 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;10883
Ah no, I meant the board linked from that board that seemed to be the focus of the discussion... sort of :D

In this case, that's actually okay too. I run Asatru Lore :)

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