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Archive for February, 2012

Since she is apparently a goddess associated with fertility, I thought it would be appropriate to portray Iðunn walking through the snow, leaving Spring in her wake. Look her up in the Prose Edda (I recommend Anthony Faulkes’ translation).

I’ve been meaning for a while to introduce a few blogs that would be interesting to the Old Norse enthusiast, amateur or professional.  Well, I have no excuse not to get to it now that Karl E. Seigried’s Norse Mythology Blog has been nominated for Best Religion or Spirituality blog for the 12th annual Weblog awards.  Check out his blog, and if you like it, take the link to the contest and vote for him!  OK, OK, I know most of you probably aren’t actual followers of Odin, Thor, and the rest of the gang.  That’s OK though.  You can still vote for him!  Heck, I’m a Christian and I voted for him!  Darn it, if Medieval Christians were OK with writing down the Norse myths so that we could read them now, then I don’t see much of a problem voting for a Norse mythology blog. I haven’t had time to make a new picture for this post, but I do happen to have a quick “anime-esque ” sketch of the goddess Iðunn which I made a bit before Christmas, which will be appropriate enough for an Old Norse mythology blog about an Old Norse mythology blog (and it is also available for purchase in various forms from deviant art! 😉

Karl (who has a truly awesome first name–it means “man” in Old Norse, and all the coolest guys in the world have this name, though they might spell it differently) doesn’t just cover Norse mythology in his blog, but contemporary belief in the Norse gods as well as the continued presence of Norse mythology in our popular culture.  Lots of great interviews on this site.  Also, Karl is an amazing jazz musician.  What more could you ask for!

There are a few other blogs I want to recommend, but I’m short on time this week (check out those listed in the side bar in the meantime).  Lots to do!  Jobs and post docs to apply for!  If you go to college, tell them you want them to hire me!  PLEASE!!!!  Haha, OK, or you can just buy a ton of my authentic viking merchandise so that I can retire to write fantasy novels, paint, and play guitar.  I’m cool either way, thx…

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My poem “The Waves on Lake Vättern” is up at Every Day Poets.  Yes, it is a sappy, depressing poem for the month of February.  This is the sort of poem you get when your girlfriend breaks up with you and then you go and spend the summer in Sweden writing poetry and getting ready to teach Beginning and Intermediate Swedish back in Berkeley.  Well, you also have to stop off at lake Vättern for a couple days and walk along the beach.  Just be glad that the other poems from that time aren’t being published.

The image is from Wikicommons, but I believe this isn't too far from the place where I wrote the poem.

Vättern is a really beautiful lake, btw.  I wrote the poem on a beach on the southern tip way back in summer 2007, I believe.  I stayed in Jönköping, a largish (for Sweden) urban area at the southern tip of the lake (and if I remember correctly, one end of Sweden’s own version of the “Bible Belt”, according to a girl I knew there).  There are probably nicer (=less developed) areas along this huge lake (second largest in Sweden, which is full of lakes), but Jönköping was nice enough.   Two or three years earlier I had visited some American friends involved in a ministry there, and while they were no longer in Sweden, I felt like visiting again the area again (I’d written a lot of poetry on that previous visit as well, though I don’t think much of it is going to end up published–more practice than anything else).  The beach and the harbor area are nice, but if you visit, you should also check out the  John Bauer museum.  You can get a sampling of his illustrations here.  In the same general area there is a safety match museum and the town of Husqvarna, which lent its name to a couple (or more?) companies (all related, I believe).  I never visited those, but hey, if that’s your thing…

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Therapods are such bullies.

Therapods are such bullies.

I found out at the last minute that January 30th is Draw a Dinosaur Day.  Cool, I thought, dinosaurs and Vikings totally go together, right?  I was pretty busy that day, so I thought I’d just finish my sketch the next day and put it up late.  Naturally it took several days longer than expected.  Kept screwing it up b/c I was rushing and had to redo a few things.  At last, however imperfect, I can present to you my nerdy skew-horned triceratops and his theropod “friends” (but they are actually jerks).  I had better ‘fess up re: the “(p)reenactment” part of the joke, which I took from Dresden Codak.  Let’s call it an homage, and hopefully Mr. Diaz won’t be upset at having his idea emulated by some hack of a mythologist…

No horns on Viking helmets???  You got it (and so did an 8 year old I met a while back– I don’t think he believed I actually studied Vikings for a living until I responded correctly to the question “Did Vikings have horns on their helmets?”).  I mentioned I would talk about this in an earlier post, so here you go, however brief.  The horned helmets which popular culture associates with the Vikings never existed.  Well, we do have a tiny number of horned helmets and pictures of them in the archaeological record, but these do not look like those the Vikings supposedly wore, they are not from the same time period, and they were apparently used for ceremonial purposes, not for war.  Think about it.  A conical helmet (like the Vikings actually wore) is designed such that there is a greater chance that a weapon would glance off.  If you have horns on your helmet, you guarantee that the weapon will not glance off, plus you are more likely to break your neck.  Just not a good idea.  Where do we get the idea of horned helmets?  Like so many other things, from the Romantics.  The image of the horned Viking fit the program of the National Romantic period perfectly.  Poets composed poetry about the glories of their barbaric ancestors and then went out with their friends to dress up and drink and pretend that they were also Vikings, and therefore “authentic” (the original hipsters–into Vikings and Norse gods when only Homer and the Classical pantheon were popular).  The idea of a “barbarian” ancestor for the civilized Germanic countries allowed them to celebrate their own antiquity and identity as separate from that of Classical civilization (which was understood as basically equivalent to Western Culture up to this point), and also let the Germanic bourgeoisie and aristocracy apply the Romantic infatuation with the sublime and barbaric to themselves, in so far as they identified themselves as the “heirs” of the Vikings, which, to a certain degree, England and Germany did, as well as the Scandinavian nations.

This image of the Viking, and related images of Valkyries with winged helmets and busty armor, showed up in pretty much every artistic representation of Norse material in the 1800s.  While I am not very familiar with the costumes and sets Richard Wagner used in his original performances of the Ring Cycle (many recent performances of the cycle go for non-traditional costuming, like the version of Die Walküre that I saw), the cycle has a reputation for over-the-top faux-Norse costuming, the most stereotypical image being a massive and buxom soprano valkyrie with equally massive metal bra and wild winged- or horned-helmet.  To say that even Wagner is laughing at our poor triceratops, well, that’s just mean.

I’ve loved dinosaurs since I was 3 or 4 (triceratops was always my favorite).  Thanks for humoring me as I smoosh two of my favorite things together into one horrendous picture.  BTW… any recommendations for the species of the other two dinosaurs?  I guess the big one is probably a T-Rex… but the small one is some hodgepodge of what I remember of smaller dinosaurs from Discovery channel specials.  If you like it, you can get the image on DeviantArt.

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