Category Archives: Mythology

it could be argued… that any myth is a neutral structure that allows paradoxical meanings to be held in a charged tension. Indeed, we might argue that this is one of the defining characteristics of a myth, in cotnrast with other sorts of narriatves (such as novels): a myth is a narrative that is tramsparent to a variety of constructions of meaning.
(Wendy Doniger, The London Review of Books, 30: 7 (10 April 2008): 27-29)

Seshat: Mistress of the Books

The Egyptian goddess Seshat is one of the lesser-known Egyptian deities, and yet she was an enduring one. Her name means “Female Scribe” and the art of the scribe was her area: the burgeoning state of Egypt needed to keep records, formalize contracts and agreements, and make blueprints for buildings. This made her a useful deity, but also limited her cult, as we shall see.

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Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology – a review

Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman, W.W. Norton, 2017.

Earlier this year I reviewed Carolyne Larrington’s The Norse Myths, a lavishly illustrated introduction to the Norse myths for a popular audience. While Larrington’s book is more scholarly and objective, Gaiman’s book is laid out as a series of stories; retellings rather than analysis.

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Heimdall: guardian god or wanderer?

Heimdall is the guardian of the gods, and of their home, Asgard. Why is it then, that the Eddic poem Rígsþula describes him wandering the earth and interacting with humans as if he had nothing else to concern him?

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Gullveig: the goddess who wouldn’t die

Considering that she may have started a cosmic war, we know very little about the Norse goddess Gullveig. Her story comes from the Eddic poem Völuspá, which tells how the Aesir riddled her with spears and then burned her three times but couldn’t kill her.

Since the next event in the poem is the war between the Aesir and Vanir, the two groups of Norse deities, it’s always been assumed that somehow this attack on Gullveig started it.

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Taranis: Celtic Thunder

It seems strange, if you look at Irish or Welsh mythology, that there doesn’t seem to be any thunder-god like Thor. However, among the Celtic peoples of continental Europe, we find the god Taranis, whose name means “thunder” and who sometimes wields a thunderbolt.1

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Smith-gods: Goibniu, Gofannon and Cobannos

Humans have been working with metal for a long time: from the Copper Age (approx. 3500 – 1700 BCE) when the soft, malleable metal was the first to be smelted and used. So it’s not surprising that many cultures have smith-gods, and that in the Celtic world the smith-god and his name occur in Gaul, Wales, England and Ireland, making him one of the few pan-Celtic deities.1

And a very literal one – Goibniu, Gofannon and Cobannos all mean “Smith”.

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