Once again I am astounded at what I don’t know. This realisation resurfaced as I’ve been reading some Norse Myths, skilfully retold by Neil Gaiman (2017).
My knowledge of the mythology of this region has been woefully inadequate. Before this new retelling came out, everything I knew (or thought I knew) basically began and ended with the marvellous Marvel universe where Thor is a gorgeous Australian, Chris Hemsworth, and his brother Loki is deliciously evil. But it turns out they are not brothers even in name.
Friday is named for the Norse goddess Freya. We learnt that at school. But how on earth did I not know that she is pulled on her chariot by two cats? The internet was developed to spread cat images to all corners of the universe, so how on earth did I miss this?
I would like to say, this sounds like the purrfect mode of transport, but I’d just be embarrassing myself.
The myths move along at a cracking pace. Included in the collection is an explanation of the poetic impulse, ‘The Mead of the Poets.’ Drinking of this mead inspires great verse. Odin (after masses of murder and mayhem) steals the mead back by swallowing the lot. Then he is able to spit most of it out when safely home. Some inevitably went through his system. And alas, I have at moments in my life, blown odes out of Odin’s watery farts.
There is much, much more to remember. Mainly for Trivia Nights. But as I go to sleep tonight, as my eyelashes settle on my cheeks, I will no doubt remember how Odin built a wall to protect the beautiful lands out of the eyelashes of Ymir.
The image is of Freya on her perfect chariot. It dates from 1874, and is taken from Alexander Murray’s Manual of Mythology: Greek and Roman, Norse, and Old German, Hindoo and Egyptian Mythology. London, Asher and Co. This illustration is from plate XXXVII.