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The archipelagic kingdoms of Man and the Isles that flourished from the last quarter of the eleventh century down to the middle of the thirteenth century represent two forgotten kingdoms of the medieval British Isles. They were ruled by powerful individuals, with unquestionably regnal status, who interacted in a variety of ways with rulers of surrounding lands and who left their footprint on a wide range of written documents and upon the very landscapes and seascapes of the islands they ruled. Yet British history has tended to overlook these Late Norse maritime empires, which thrived for two centuries on the Atlantic frontiers of Britain. This book represents the first ever overview of both Manx and Hebridean dynasties that dominated Man and the Isles from the late eleventh to the mid-thirteenth centuries. Coverage is broad and is not restricted to politics and warfare. An introductory chapter examines the maritime context of the kingdoms in light of recent work in the field of maritime history, while subsequent chronological and narrative chapters trace the history of the kingdoms from their origins through their maturity to their demise in the thirteenth century. Separate chapters examine the economy and society, church and religion, power and architecture.
From its first beginnings in a world of primordial ice floes, the story of the Viking gods is one of continual struggle against etins and monsters, but it is a tale of humour and triumph as well as of grit and tragedy. The Norse myths are justly famous for a host of vivid characters including the wise and enigmatic Odin, the bluff strongman Thor, and the incorrigible trickster Loki. In the first major retelling for a generation, storyteller and historian Thor Ewing rediscovers the brisk vitality with which these ancient myths were told in the earliest sources. With 45 stunning b&w illustrations inspired by Viking art.
'A terrific, detailed introduction of these wonderful stories and the pantheon of characters in them . . . their writing is vivid and lively . . . a great addition to any library.' Rosi Hollinbeck, San Francisco Book Review 'With recent volumes, such as Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology and J.R.R. Tolkien's posthumously published The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun, appealing more to readers strictly interested in creative takes on classic Norse tales, this title attracts new readers by offering solid retellings and contextual information that serve as a valuable introduction to this rich tradition.' Library Journal While the main focus of the book is on telling the stories, some scene-setting is provided at the beginning and each chapter also contains a section of commentary to explain what is going on and its significance. The Norse myths have gained widespread attention in the English-speaking world, partly through a Scandinavian diaspora, especially in the USA) and partly through a great interest in the myths and legends which lie behind Viking activity. Tolkien's 'Middle Earth', too, as seen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films is heavily indebted to Germanic/Norse mythology. The Whittock's book fills a gap in the market between academic publications and the interest-generating (but confusing) products of Hollywood and comic-culture. This is an accessible book, which both provides a retelling of these dramatic stories and also sets them in context so that their place within the Viking world can be understood. The book explores Norse myths (stories, usually religious, which explain origins, why things are as they are, the nature of the spiritual) and legends (stories which attempt to explain historical events and which may involve historical characters but which are told in a non-historical way and which often include supernatural events).
Why did the Vikings sail to England? Were they indiscriminate raiders, motivated solely by bloodlust and plunder? One narrative, the stereotypical one, might have it so. But locked away in the buried history of the British Isles are other, far richer and more nuanced, stories; and these hidden tales paint a picture very different from the ferocious pillagers of popular repute. Eleanor Parker here unlocks secrets that point to more complex motivations within the marauding army that in the late ninth century voyaged to the shores of eastern England in its sleek, dragon-prowed longships. Exploring legends from forgotten medieval texts, and across the varied Anglo-Saxon regions, she depicts Vikings who came not just to raid but also to settle personal feuds, intervene in English politics and find a place to call home. Native tales reveal the links to famous Vikings like Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons; Cnut; and Havelok the Dane. Each myth shows how the legacy of the newcomers can still be traced in landscape, place-names and local history. This book uncovers the remarkable degree to which England is Viking to its core.
The nornir or norns were a group of female supernatural beings closely related to ideas about fate in Old Norse tradition. Karen Bek-Pedersen provides a thorough understanding of the role played by norns and other beings like them in the relevant sources. Although they are well known, even to people who have only a superficial knowledge of Old Norse mythology, this is the first detailed discussion of the norns to be published amongst the literature dealing with Old Norse beliefs. Surprisingly little has been written specifically about the norns. Although often mentioned in scholarship treating Old Norse culture, the norns are all too often dealt with in overly superficial ways. The research presented in this book goes much deeper in order to properly understand the nature and role of the norns in the Old Norse world view. The conclusions reached by the author overturn a number of stereotypical conceptions that have long dominated our understanding of these beings. The book has a natural focus on Old Norse culture and is especially relevant to those interested in or studying Old Norse culture and tradition. However, comparative material from Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Classical traditions is also employed and the book is therefore of interest also to those with a broader interest in European mythologies.
Egill Skallagrimsson was the most original, imaginative and technically brilliant of the Old Norse skalds, poets whose orally composed and performed verses were as much revered in ninth- to thirteenth-century Scandinavia as heroism in battle. Egill's saga details his life-story as well as those of his immediate predecessors, from whom he inherited his massive build, his early baldness (Skalla in his name means 'bald') and his exceptional ugliness. An arch enemy of Erikr Bloodax, he was a notoriously difficult man and, as many of the poems demonstrate, was lethal when crossed. But he also made poems which show he was capable of concern for others, as well as romantic love. Physical, direct, inventive, even transformative, Egill's poetry conjures up a territory far beyond the normal scope of language, something that only the finest poets achieve.
An Indie Next pick for December 2012, "Song of the Vikings" brings to life Snorri Sturluson, wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature. Tales of one-eyed Odin, Thor and his mighty hammer, the trickster Loki, and the beautiful Valkyries have inspired countless writers, poets, and dreamers through the centuries, including Richard Wagner, JRR Tolkien, and Neil Gaiman, and author Nancy Marie Brown brings alive the medieval Icelandic world where it all began. She paints a vivid picture of the Icelandic landscape, with its colossal glaciers and volcanoes, steaming hot springs, and moonscapes of ash, ice, and rock that inspired Snorria (TM)s words, and led him to create unforgettable characters and tales. Drawing on her deep knowledge of Iceland and its history and first-hand reading of the original medieval sources, Brown gives us a richly textured narrative, revealing a spellbinding world that continues to fascinate.
The idea of 'north' suggests much more than wintry cold, ice and snow. To many, it hints at something magical, enchanting and mysterious. This book explores the spiritual aspect of this attraction through a survey of ancient history, Norse mythology and contemporary studies of earth mysteries and sacred sites. From her detailed research, Margaret Jonas traces the birth of Celtic Christianity in the British Isles, Ireland, Scandinavia and Germany, revealing a time when ancient prophecies relating to the sun and divine beings came to fulfilment. A new spiritual wisdom gradually spread across Europe - not only from the south northwards, but also from west eastwards. The author describes how a paradisiacal element from the earliest stages of earth evolution was preserved and nurtured in hidden places associated with the northern mysteries. This fascinating work of accessible scholarship features chapters on Hyperborea, Thule and Apollo; the Druids and Odinic Mysteries; Norway and the Celtic Christian Legacy; the Number Five and the Etheric Body; the Externsteine and the God Vidar, and Finland. The book concludes with hints of a future time when northern magic will be transformed, and '...new clairvoyant faculties will be within the reach of all humanity'.
The legends of the Norse and Germanic regions of Europe--spanning from Germany and Austria across Scandinavia to Iceland and England--include a broad range of mythical characters and places, from Odin and Thor, to berserkers and Valhalla, to the Valkyries and Krampus. In this encyclopedia, Claude Lecouteux explores the origins, connections, and tales behind many gods, goddesses, magical beings, rituals, folk customs, and mythical places of Norse and Germanic tradition. More than a reference to the Aesir and the Vanir pantheons, this encyclopedia draws upon a wealth of well-known and rare sources, such as the Poetic Edda, the Saga of Ynglingar by Snorri Sturluson, and The Deeds of the Danes by Saxo Grammaticus. The author describes the worship of the elements and trees, details many magical rituals, and shares wild folktales from ancient Europe, such as the strange adventure of Peter Schlemihl and the tale of the Cursed Huntsman. He also dispels the false beliefs that have arisen from the Nazi hijacking of Germanic mythology and from its longtime suppression by Christianity. Complete with rare illustrations and information from obscure sources appearing for the first time in English, this detailed reference work represents an excellent resource for scholars and those seeking to reconnect to their pagan pasts and restore the old religion.
There is yet one who is numbered among the asas, but whom some call the backbiter of the asas. He is the originator of deceit, and the disgrace of all gods and men. His name is Loke, or Lopt. His father is the giant Farbaute, but his mother's name is Laufey, or Nal. His brothers are Byleist and Helblinde. Loke is fair and beautiful of face, but evil in disposition, and very fickle-minded. He surpasses other men in the craft of cunning, and cheats in all things.
Contemporary Paganism has been a growing segment of American religiosity for over forty years and is composed of a variety of groups, practices, and ideologies. Asatru (Asatru), a movement that seeks to revive the practice of pre-Christian Norse religion, remains one of the least studied of these Pagan movements despite its growing prominence in the Pagan community. Being Viking provides a rigorous ethnographic account of the Asatru religion in America, also known as Heathenry or Heathenism. Arising from five years of original ethnographic fieldwork among American Asatru adherents, the book expands our understanding of this religious movement by providing a comprehensive analysis as part of the American religious context. Asatru is a reconstructionist form of contemporary Paganism, deriving its sacred stories, polytheism, and religious culture from an interaction with the ancient Paganisms of pre-Christian northwestern Europe. Yet, contemporary tributaries shape the movement's reception of the past and its enactment of the ideas and practices discovered there. American Asatru encompasses a diversity of approaches and offers a distinctive counterpoint to some of the characteristic patterns of religious life found in other forms of contemporary Paganism. Being Viking examines the complex interaction of new and old that influences Asatru symbolism, spirituality, and social organization. In addition to describing its rich religious ideology, Being Viking sets the movement within the context of contemporary American culture. Scholars have recognized that new religions offer alternative solutions to the felt tensions of society. Using this paradigm, Asatru is seen as a movement that provides creative religious solutions to the tensions experienced by modern Americans. This study addresses several of those points, including the socially isolating effects of modernity, women's roles, epistemology, and human relationships with nature. Asatru draws on ancient Norse ideas and practices to create new modes of living in the modern world that seek to create meaning and deepen the lived experience of its contemporary adherents. Asatru is in the process of emerging as a viable and complex religion that achieves a degree of cultural continuity by reinvigorating certain American values. In this light, Asatru is a new American religion that incorporates and adapts important cultural values while at the same time challenging some scholarly assumptions about new religions.
English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History traces the influence of Old Norse myth - stories and poems about the familiar gods and goddesses of the pagan North, such as Odin, Thor, Baldr and Freyja - on poetry in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Especial care is taken to determine the precise form in which these poets encountered the mythic material, so that the book traces a parallel history of the gradual dissemination of Old Norse mythic texts. Very many major poets were inspired by Old Norse myth. Some, for instance the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf, or much later, Sir Walter Scott, used Old Norse mythic references to lend dramatic colour and apparent authenticity to their presentation of a distant Northern past. Others, like Thomas Gray, or Matthew Arnold, adapted Old Norse mythological poems and stories in ways which both responded to and helped to form the literary tastes of their own times. Still others, such as William Blake, or David Jones, reworked and incorporated celebrated elements of Norse myth - valkyries weaving the fates of men, or the great World Tree Yggdrasill on which Odin sacrificed himself - as personal symbols in their own poetry. This book also considers less familiar literary figures, showing how a surprisingly large number of poets in English engaged in individual ways with Old Norse myth. English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History demonstrates how attitudes towards the pagan mythology of the north change over time, but reveals that poets have always recognized Old Norse myth as a vital part of the literary, political and historical legacy of the English-speaking world.
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