My reason for taking on the topic for this year’s challenge is that my sister and I plan to travel to Norway soon. I decided to research Norse mythology to see if there are themes or topics from mythology I should be aware of as we travel through Norway.
Having been raised in a largely Scandinavian community, I heard many stories from Norway, but at the time I had little realization where the stories came from. I assumed that the stories I heard at bedtime, or that our elementary school teachers read to us in the classroom, were the same ones children all over the United States heard.
I encountered words, phrases, and things around me that I didn’t realize were Norwegian. If I attributed any characteristic to them, it was likely that I thought they were old-fashioned.
At a young age I noticed that nearly every person of my grandparents’ age spoke with a distinctive accent. I am embarrassed to admit how old I was before I realized that accent was Norwegian–or maybe Swedish–and that I wouldn’t grew into using it as I aged.
My travels around the world brought me in contact with traditional stories from many cultures–from the Caribbean to Eastern Europe to the Middle East. It’s time I come to a greater understanding of the traditions of my own ethnic and cultural background.
I do not pretend that I can explain everything about Norse mythology. For detailed understanding, see works such as Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, or Daniel McCoy’s website, Norse Mythology for Smart People. My posts will all begin with a quote from McCoy’s website, where he states, “You’re of course free to quote, cite, or link to my work as you please, as long as you don’t plagiarize. No need to ask.” I hope you’ll check his site for more information about the gods, mythical creatures, and tales through the links I will provide.
Many important words in Norse mythology begin with letters that are not in the English alphabet. In addition, there are some English letters that I just couldn’t find good words to represent because there are no indigenous Norwegian words that use C, Q, W, X, and Z. Don’t be surprised, therefore, that I will skip those letters, plus P. To make up for them, I will add multiple entries for some letters as well as entries for Norse letters, Þ and Æ. Each entry will use the Old Norse spelling of the word, though most of the text will use the standardized English spelling beyond the introductory quotation.
My goal is to use the characters and stories from Norse mythology to make observations on lessons for my life. The more I understand of myself, the more I hope to understand others. I hope you’ll join me on this personal adventure.