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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gods of the Vikings

The Gods Of The Vikings   Exploring The Norse Gods, Myths And Legends Through The Days Of The WeekThe Gods Of The Vikings Exploring The Norse Gods, Myths And Legends Through The Days Of The Week by Marion Pearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is rather complete and concise when it comes to the Norse Gods....maybe then some which is why I gave it a five star rating. The book does not tell about all the gods but it gives and in depth over view of most of them. The book also gives a good background on Norse history and customs, something which is important to know if your are researching the Norse gods and/or wish to pursue a spiritual path with those deities. Nothing is fancied up or brushed over with a shiny gloss the author gives you the history and practice like it really is with no sugar coating.

The book has one characteristic in that as she explains certain elements of the Norse she gets into comparison about other religious system which is very enlightening on one hand and yet at times seems to take things off track. When she compares these elements with those of the Celts, Romans and Greeks I say good fine and well they were adjacent cultures and it is appropriate. When she starts comparing to Persian, Indian and other religions that is when I start to yawn. I could see the point if there was an effort to prove that the Norse religion had Indo-European Origin. The book shed light and clarified other things I have read about the Norse before. The author did make one mistake. Baal was a Canaanite God not an Egyptian one.

The Norse or the Viking started out , according to the author in Iceland and moved their way down into Europe. They came from lands that had long and harsh winters. This cause them to seek out other lands. Their conquests were lightning fast and brutal. The conquest often involved rape, pillage and plunder. They were not nice times. The Norse took over huge swaths of England and their gods were worshiped their. They definitely impacted the local culture even if they did not conquer it. Norse namesakes, especially of God names are left all over the place. Most prevalent of these names is noted in the day name of our week.

Monday is Moon Day named after Mani the male moon god of the Norse religion. With a Chariot he drives across the sky. He kidnapped Jack and Jill and had them assist in moving the moon. The Moon god is chased by a hungry wolf. The Romans also named their days after the weekdays.

Tuesday was named after Tyr. He is a one handed god who lost his right hand subduing Fenris the wolf who was bound up. he is a god of war and of justice. Wednesday or Wodens day is named after Odin. He is conflated with Hermes or Mercury both are psychopomps who lead the dead to the underworld. Thursday or Thors he is the thunder god and he delivers lightning with his hammer. He is a war god and protector of boundaries. Friday is dedicated to Frig , Odin's principal wife. Odin had three wives.Saturday is for Loki who is comparable to Saturn. Loki is a bisexual trickster god who causes no end of trouble. Sunday is dedicated to Sol the sun goddess.

The book also covers the Norse conversion to Christianity. Olaf and his magicians was the one was in charge of that conversion. It was not an easy conversion in fact it was rather swift and violent. Prior to Olaf's forced conversion it was noted that practitioner of the old religion were quite able to coexist with Christians. Burial customs are covered as are the system of sacrifices. Animals and sometimes the king and people were sacrificed to the Gods. Usually the sacrifice was performed with a spear. The carcass of the sacrifice was hung from a tree. Sacrifices of animals were eaten especially the liver. The entrails were used for divination. When a warrior died in battle he was claimed by either odin or Freya's Valkyries. Viking had all their stuff loaded in a ship that was then set a fire amidst the sea. Sometimes even the wife was sent along. this is true even of the chieftain. Sometimes a girl volunteered or was chosen. Everyone took turns making love to her and then she was sent off with the chieftain.

This book has also offered the most thorough explanation of ragnarok. I have heard it was a war were al the Gods would die along with the giants and ogres. This book tells us who kills who and who survive. Several of Odin's children survive as do Thor's. The original gods dies and that includes Odin, Freyr and Thor and Tir.
Baldur comes back to life for Hel where all the non warrior dead are buried.

Truly a very thorough book that explains everything in detail quite literally. I now have a totally new and clear understanding of the Norse religion. I say buy it. If you have a kindle it is like $5.99 if you have Amazon prime you can check it out for a month and read it. But seriously for $5.99 just buy it. The investment is well worth it as you will most likely want to refer to it at some future date.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.