The Rest of the Vanir: overlooked goddesses, waves, and women

After my last post, on Freyja and Odin, I had a response on Reddit that intrigued me. The poster was responding to my deliberately provocative description of Freyja as the only Vanir goddess, pointing out that there were other females associated with the Vanir or Vanaheim.

Unfortunately, the comment was lost or deleted, but they did have a point, so I decided to discuss their candidates for Vanir goddesses here.

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Carolyne Larrington’s The Norse Myths – review

The Norse Myths: a Guide to the Gods and Heroes, by Carolyne Larrington, Thames and Hudson, 2017.

As the title suggests, this book is intended as an introduction to Norse myths, aimed at readers with little or no knowledge of the subject. The author, Carolyne Larrington, is an academic who has written several popular books, including a translation of the Poetic Edda. She has also written books on the green man and the women in Arthurian myth, and co-edited The Feminist Companion to Mythology.

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Boand, Anahita and Saraswati

My first post on the Irish goddess Boand sparked a question on the Mythology Stack Exchange about cows as symbols of wisdom. There is a blog called The Wisdom of Cows, but I suspect that a mythological version wouldn’t run long.

However, Boand is the goddess of the river Boyne, and there are many examples of river-goddesses who give inspiration, wisdom and sometimes musical talent to their worshippers. Read More »

The Swan Maiden – review

Review of In Search of the Swan Maiden: a Narrative on Folklore and Gender, by Barbara Fass Leavy.

Although this book is called The Swan Maiden, its subject could be described as: “a story about a fairy captured by a mortal man and forced into a tedious domestic existence and, obversely, about a mortal woman courted by a demon lover who offers her escape from that same mundane world.” (Loc. 347)

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Is Danu a real goddess?

One of the things everyone knows about Irish mythology is that the deities we all know (Brigit, the Dagda, Boand, Ogma, etc.) are all members of the Tuatha de Danann, the people or tribe of the goddess Danu.

However, none of the Irish sources mention this goddess, who was an important enough ancestor that her name identified all of her descendants. (Imagine if the Olympian gods of Greece were known as the Gaians, for example.) Some Celtic scholars have gone so far as to doubt the existence of any such deity. Why?

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