Posts Tagged ‘Norse gods’

Drink to the Deceiver of the Gods

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Iceland is undisputedly the most Viking place on the planet. In some cases, the coefficient of Viking discrepancy between Iceland and a comparative test sample is dramatic and severe (Ethiopia, China, most of the U.S. – particularly Florida) while in much rarer cases the coefficient begins to approach zero (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and perhaps most notably, the Faroes).

Proof of Iceland’s status as the Vikingest of them all abounds: its language resembles Old Norse, the events of the local sagas are tied to specific places in its landscapes and still remembered today, and Reykjavik is slated to receive the world’s first Ásatrú temple in a millennium later this year (see the rendering below and visit Magnús Jensson’s website for more about the architecture).

And last, but not least, Iceland produces special hard liquor in honor of the gods. Certainly, Iceland is not the only place to boast such an honor, but the Icelanders naturally take it to a higher level with their true, authentic Viking Schnaps, like the one devoted to Loki shown at the the top of the page. And in Iceland it’s not enough to just name some hard liquor after Loki, Freyja, or Thor, but the drinks praising their glory must also contain special all-natural ingredients such as dulse, golden root, and angelica root (yeah, might have to look some of those up…) and be produced by a health-oriented herbal supplement company called Íslensk Fjallagrös. Sadly, Íslensk Fjallagrös’ website is a bit underwhelming and does not include any information about their Viking Schnaps products, but you can still learn about cool things like their Icelandic lava booze or their moss-infused alcoholic concoction.

So, should you be lucky enough to acquire some mossy Icelandic liquor, then raise a glass and skål to the deceiver of the gods!

Dream Hard On

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

For anyone who’s ever wondered about the demeanor of Odin’s wiener, Swedish warrior-poet turned slacker-beach-bum Björn Svensson finally sheds some light on the topic. And it turns out that ole One-Eye’s own one-eyed warrior is a feisty little dream-weaver. Horns up to Jersey Devil Press for not ruthlessly rejecting this majestic piece of thoughtfully-constructed and immaculately-researched investigative journalism:

Dream Hard On

Also, if the topics of Odin’s wiener, nightmares, heavy drinking, and heavy metal interest you, check out the precursor too:

Fear and Loathing in Western Sweden

Finally, what post about the nine worlds’ most worldly one-eyed warrior would be complete without a reminder of his immense power?

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Anker Eli Petersen

Saturday, February 27th, 2016


The last posting to this crappy little website discussed the importance of 1930s era travel artwork, which in a round-about way reminded me of the unsung hero of great Norse postage art, Anker Eli Petersen. This guy hails from the Faroes, which along with Iceland is pretty much the most genuinely Norse place remaining on the planet, only fewer people hail from the Faroes, let alone even visit. Anker Eli Petersen is a living artist who has been commissioned to adorn the official stamps of the Faroes with Thor, Odin, Loki, Frejya and various scenes from Norse mythology, which is pretty badass. Personally, I’d much rather have a letter show up in my mailbox affixed with a stamp illustrating the death of Odin on it rather than some stupid little graphic of an apple or fireworks or some lame shit like that.

Since the Faroes have a population of less than 50,000 people, the actual proliferation of Petersen’s work is certainly more limited in comparison to the others who have been previously featured in this “Heroes of Norse Proliferation” posting category, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less worthy of glory and a mighty skål. He used to have his own website, which sadly seems to have been born under a bad norn because it no longer rides its electronic steed through this world. In lieu of that, here are a couple of online galleries that illustrate many of his works:

http://www.germanicmythology.com/works/FAROESTAMPART.html

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Anker_Eli_Petersen

I like to view his work while drinking and listening to his fellow countrymen:

Djurgårdsbron: Where Silent Gods Stand Guard

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Djurgårdsbron is a bridge in central Stockholm where Freyja, Thor, Frigg, and Heimdall stand guard…silently. Just Like in the song, only minus all the decapitations and shape-shifting into wolf-form. And for some reason Odin is missing from the entourage. But otherwise, just like in the song. And if you cross the bridge, you don’t arrive in Asgard, but rather Djurgården (essentially Swedish for “Animal Farm”…menacing, indeed), one of Stockholm’s many islands and home to, among other attractions, the official Pippi Longstocking museum (also very menacing).

The statues were created by Rolf Adlersparre while the bridge was designed by architect Erik Josephson and built by Carl Fraenell in 1897 for the world expo that took place on Djurgårdsbron the same year. The old-timey photographs look pretty hardcore, but not nearly as hardcore as medieval wolf-men wielding swords and slaying all foresworn enemies in an endless orgy of slaughter and mayhem:

Of Stonework and Meadcraft

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t combine alcohol with certain activities involving the use of heavy machinery and/or sharp tools because if you do then you might not use your best judgement and accidentally do something clumsy like cut off your arm or leg. And then if something like that does happen then you only have yourself to blame which means that the option of starting a classic Norse blood feud goes out the window, and if there’s no chance of burning down your mortal enemies’ house then where’s the fun?

At any rate, up along the fringes of Lake Michigan Ted “Stenhugger” Strandt works with sharp tools and alcohol in the sense that he both carves badass sculptures from stone and brews his own mead. Yes, it was misleading of me to imply that drunken chainsaw operation was the activity of choice, but I have never claimed to possess a high standard of journalistic integrity and that is besides the point anyway. The point is that artfully chiseled stonework honoring Norse mythology and the craft brewing of mead are both activities that I support. The image above shows one of his latest works made of marble and entitled Eitri presenting Mjolnir, which should need no explanation for anyone who has somehow managed to find this website. Below you can see some of his mighty meadcraft. So here’s a big skål to Stenhugger for fighting the good fight!

Lastly, for those of you that might be feeling a bit confused by the name, Stenhugger is not in the business of hugging stones. Hugg actually means something quite different in the Scandinavian languages.

Gefion Plows Hard

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

The goddess Gefion doesn’t fuck around when it comes to farming: when she plows she plows so hard that Sweden loses over 2000 square miles of its land area. This strip of land then ends up being dumped in the water next to the country’s southern tip, forming the Danish island of Zealand where the modern city of Copenhagen and the ancient seats of Norse kings, Roskilde and Lejre, can be found. Also, Hamlet’s castle is on this island, but that’s a tangent. The main point is that the residents of Copenhagen recognized the mythological importance of the ground upon which they bicycled and thus commissioned Anders Bundgaard to sculpt the masterpiece shown in these photos in Gefion’s honor. The work was actually donated by Carlsberg, the brewery, so it even has a legitimate and highly relevant relationship with beer as well which makes it even cooler.

For those of you who can stomach pseudo-phonetic imitation Mark Wahlberg rantings, Gefion was the hot chick who King Gylfi of Sweden banged at the very beginning of the Prose Edda for Bostonians. Of course I just followed Snorri’s lead in the telling of events with his statement that King Gylfi “offered a travelling woman, in return for the pleasure of her company, a piece of ploughland in his kingdom as large as four oxen could plough in a day and a night” (quoting Jesse Byock’s translation). In old-time Norse lingo the pleasure of female company does not usually refer to polite, non-physical conversation befitting British tea time. However, she’s also associated with virgins and the stories about her are contradictory in this sense.

Regardless of all that, Anders Bundgaard totally nailed her when it comes to the statue.

Great Norse Birthday Suits!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Ask and Embla stand proudly above the main square of Sölvesborg, Sweden, bearing their mighty fine birthday suits for all to see. Not only is this inspirational because a) these were the first two humans in Norse mythology, and we just don’t get enough Norse mythology these days, but also because b) Embla is freaking hot. Or will be. Actually, I can’t really tell if she’s supposed to be fully grown from the photo or if she’s in some state of late adolescence. Same with Ask. But it could very well be that they’re still just a couple of kids with raging hormones. If I’m not mistaken people started procreating super early way back when there were only 2 people on the whole planet. Let’s change subjects now before this gets any weirder.

So, the statue was created by Stig Blomberg, who also did the badass piece of Thor scowling at his goats like a fucking madman over at Kungliga tekniska högskolan in Stockholm. I used to have an image of that one posted on this site as well, but then someone infiltrated and raped and pillaged my petty domain (because derailing mediocre blogs that get no traffic is a cool thing to do) and I lost that entry and didn’t bother to repost it. Skåls to that.

At any rate, the image at top belongs to a dude named Claes who takes photographs in southern Sweden and then uploads them at http://claesbilder.wordpress.com/ while the one below showing Ask and Embla’s Sölvesborgian context is, typically, from wikipedia.

Odin’s Stuck on the Wall at Oslo City Hall

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Ole One-Eyed’s looking mighty impressive from his nook among the bricks of Oslo’s City Hall. Despite the label that Thought and Memory are leading him off into the land of the “twilight forest” he appears to be fastened well in place and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Sucks for him, but at least the rest of us can marvel at his colorfully-rendered, wooden glory. And, apparently, his is just one in a series of panels by Dagfin Werenskiold depicting scenes of Norse mythology at Oslo City Hall.

There’s something pretty badass about prominently displaying a scene of Ragnarok’s fire and carnage on the facade of the same building where the Nobel Peace Prize is annually awarded. Those Norwegians must like to think outside the box.

In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Learns about Odin’s Successful Suicide Attempt and the Dental Hygiene of Thor’s Goats

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The Prose Edda for Bostonians, Part 3

As the headline suggests, this is the one where the king of Sweden learns a thing or two about Odin hanging himself from a tree and Thor riding around with some fierce goats just so that he can kill giants. Norse mythology is the best.

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Poul Anderson

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Poul Anderson is dead, but while he was alive he did awesome things, namely, the authoring of some very good Viking novels. It is somewhat unfortunate that he focused most of his writing efforts on science fiction (although I have heard that his science fiction is good, I have not read any of it myself). Nonetheless, he did complete a healthy number of Norse novels (some of which are shown here…don’t be put off by the horrible 70s sci-fi-esque artwork for The Broken Sword—it is a true Viking story full of epic battles, longships, elves, giants, incest, and Norse gods doing mischievous deeds). Poul’s extremely heavy and accurate reliance on Norse mythology and medieval history in these stories makes The Lord of the Rings look like a light-weight in terms of Norse inspiration by comparison. Most of Poul’s books are out of print these days, and that’s looking unlikely to change now that print itself is on a steady decline, but if you can find one of his fine Norse novels at a used bookstore or online somewhere, you should definitely buy it. And raise a horn to his memory!

The Prose Edda for Bostonians, Part 2: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Learns That Middle-Earth is Just an Eyelash on the Celestial Gallows Pole and That the Real Gandalf was Originally a Filthy Maggot

Friday, December 13th, 2013

And continuing from where we left off last week…

The Prose Edda Part 2: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Learns That Middle-Earth is Just an Eyelash on the Celestial Gallows Pole and That the Real Gandalf was Originally a Filthy Maggot

And while we’re on the topic of Tolkien references, why not enjoy a little Silmarillion music from Blind Guardian?

The Prose Edda for Bostonians: Gylfaginning, Part 1: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Buys Sex, Goes Drinking at Asgard, and Learns about the Time When Odin Instigated the Cosmological Frost Giant Genocide

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Time to get in touch with your inner Bostonian and touch up on your Norse mythology…at the same time…

The Prose Edda for Bostonians: Gylfaginning, Part 1: In Which King Gylfi of Sweden Buys Sex, Goes Drinking at Asgard, and Learns about the Time When Odin Instigated the Cosmological Frost Giant Genocide

This is the first in a 10+ part series that will be running over at McSweeney’s roughly every two weeks or whenever McSweeney’s feels like posting the next update (although part 2 will be running one week from today). I would hope that all ten of you who have somehow managed to stumble across this blog already know that the Prose Edda is Snorri Sturluson’s epic contribution to our knowledge of Norse mythology, and that it should then also come as no surprise to you that the final part of this Southie-inspired rendition will end in raging fires with everyone and everything dying. I’ll skål to that!

Here’s something appropriate to help get you in the mood:

Skálmöld Trip Out with the Wolf

Friday, September 27th, 2013

It’s the last Frey’s day of the month, the nights are becoming longer than the days, the average daily temperatures are dropping, and “winter is coming.” That makes it a perfect time to trip out with Icelandic Viking metal band Skálmöld in their new music video. In it they take us on a journey through their wild Icelandic landscape and show us all sorts of strange on-goings involving that demon-woman Hel, Odin hanging out passively on the top of a cliff, the iron-ribbon Gleipnir wrapping around a young girl, and the wolf shaking the shit out of his fur to get dry. Pretty badass.

Also, the video itself was created by Bowen Staines who originally hails from New Hampshire, so this is a nice New England-Scandinavia collaboration!

Heimdall Blows

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

When Heimdall blows his horn it can only mean one of two things: the world is coming to a terrible, violent end and you might as well give up on whatever it is that you’re doing because you’re about to be set on fire, or you’re in central Stockholm on your way to Djurgården where, instead of flames, there happens to be lots of trees. I suppose the imagery of both scenarios is pretty cool even though the experiences themselves are drastically different.

Anyway, Heimdall hangs out with Odin, Frigg, Freya, and Thor on the Djurgården Bridge. It’s a pretty a nice bridge, designed by Carl Fraenell just before the turn of the 20th century and therefore is full of pomp and splendor. I like how the photo, taken by J.A. Alcaide nonetheless appears ominous.

Fenrir was Bound on Asköy

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Remember how Loki got really wild one night—even by his standards—with a giantess, who then ended up giving birth to a wolf and two other monsters? And how that wolf then grew and grew and grew till the gods finally feared him so much that they made the decision to shackle him down on an island far away? Well, I had not realized, but in the twentieth century, the sculptor Arne Vinje Gunnerud tried his own hand in the binding of Fenrir, on the island of Asköy near Bergen in Norway. And I’d say he succeeded quite well. He probably didn’t even lose an appendage in the process, and that is worthy of a mighty skål indeed.