« السابقةمتابعة »
undermined by four worm heads. Then a dragon appeared and opened his mouth to swallow him up, whilst an elephant reached his trunk towards him. At the same time he seized with eager mouth some honey which dropt from the tree.” Simrock says that the eating of the honey is like people being occupied with frivolity whilst the world-battle goes on, but may not the story possibly have a little to do with Odin and Yggdrassil and Odhærir.
We heard before that Odin was connected with Air. We see him here on his High Throne looking over all worlds, wandering over the earth, piercing even to the deep, giving his eye to Mimer for wisdom--consequently having only one eye, one Sun in Heaven—some suppose that the pledged eye means the setting of the Sun nightly. Mimer, who guards the well, means the remembrance of the origin of things which was water—the strange waves that flowed into Ginnungagap. An odd story is told of Mimer, who was originally a giant though received by the Æsir, viz., that he was sent as a hostage to the Vanir, who cut off his head and sent it back to Odin. The head remained so wise that the father of
the gods used to consult it on all important occasions; as the lay says
Heimdall, guardian of the Bridge (whose exact name was “trembling rest") was perhaps the most important of the Vanir. He is represented in one old lay as travelling about the world by himself, which is a sure sign that he was originally a very great god indeed. Upon this journey he became the father of the three races of men, the Thralls, the Karls and the Jarls. The way in which these three races are compared with one another is very curious.
The Thralls are described with “shrivelled skin, knotty knuckles, thick fingers, hideous faces, curved backs and protruding heels, they are made to erect fences, manure fields, tend swine, keep goats and dig turf." The Karls' children are said to be clothed in linen, to be ruddy headed and have twinkling eyes, and they grow up to “tame oxen, make ploughs, build houses, make carts and farm;" but the favoured, useless Jarls, “Light of hair, bright cheeks, eyes piercing as a serpent's,” grow up to "shake the shield,
Heimdall keeps the bridge alike from thunder god and frost giants, but at Ragnarök, the swarthy god Surtur, who lives on the borders of Muspellheim, will ride over it and shatter it to pieces. Heimdall's horn is mentioned, this is supposed to mean the crescent moon, and Mimer's drinking horn also means the moon. Later, when the stories of the gods had dwindled down into weird, unholy legends, and Odin had sunk into the wild Huntsman, the crescent moor. was his horn. One of Heimdall's names was Irmin, and this means Shining.” The milky way is called Irmin strasse or Irmin's way, and the wild hunt was supposed to go over the milky
is also called Waldemar's way in Denmark, and Waldemar is a common name of hunters.
Loki and his children in these myths are evidently
the destructive principle, either physically, or morally, or both. Jörmungand and Fenrir are much alike. Jörmungand means “the universal Wolf,” and of Fenrir it is said “he goes about revengeful, with open jaws devouring all things.” Hela had originally another side to her character, but here as Loki's daughter she has only the nature of his other children.
The myth about Loki finding the half-burnt heart of a woman is said to be a very young one; and so perhaps it is not worth considering the meaning of.
The god about whom, next to Odin, most stories are told, is Thor. In some parts of the north he was a more prominent object of worship even than Odin, Norway and Iceland being especially devoted to his service.
Let us now hear how Thor went to Jötunheim.
HOW THOR WENT TO JÖTUNHEIM.
FROM ASGARD TO UTGARD.
ONCE on a time, Asa Thor and Loki set out
a journey from Asgard to Jötunheim. They travelled in Thor's chariot, drawn by two milk
a somewhat cumbrous iron chariot, and the wheels made a rumbling noise as it moved, which sometimes startled the ladies of Asgard, and made them tremble; but Thor liked it, thought the noise sweeter than any music, and was never so happy as when he was journeying in it from one place to another.