Edda - the holy primordial word
The myths, collected in the Edda, speak about the mysteries of the development of the world. The Edda passes on the one universal truth through various images in accordance with the power of imagination of the listeners.
All who study the spiritual development of Europe ascertain that its starting point was around 2500 BC. Since this period until approximately 1000 BC, the Arya, Aryans or Indo-Germanics (also called IndoEuropeans) settled in Asia Minor, Persia and India. One look at the map shows how huge the geographical expansion really was. Despite the large distances and cultural as well as linguistic differences, there were and are correspondences that are noticeable to this day. In addition to the myths and the traditional gods, amazing similarities can be discovered in this mixing vessel of many nations. The supreme god was Diaus, Deivos. From this Indo-Germanic root the Latin Deus, the Greek Zeus, the Persian Div and the Germanic Tiuz, Tyr, Ziu, Tiv and Tiwaz were derived./p>
Other parallels between the Germanic and Indian mythology are obvious. The original gods bore the Germanic name of Wanes and were called Vedas in the Indian region. They were nature and fertility gods, and later they were supplanted by a new, threefold deity: in Germanic. they were called the Asen Odin, Vili and Ve, in the Indian language Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Also the career of Odin from the god of thunder to ruler of the gods corresponds to that of Indra and of Varuna. There are many correspondences with Odin. Similar to Brahma, his breath is the wind; he is the ‘inventor’ of language and words. He also makes the sun, the moon and the stars rise and give light according to his laws.
The North-Germanic world of the gods was passed on orally at the time, and was recited as verses and songs during festivities and during the Ding (tribal assembly).
The written traditions were not found until after the beginning of Christianisation (by missionaries). Writing was introduced after the introduction of Roman law. It is assumed that the songs and poems of the Icelandic Edda that we now know have remained fairly pure, because the country was far away and it was autonomous. The Ding did not adopt Christianity for all free men either until the time between 1000 and 1100, with the underlying idea that this might benefit their own material wealth. Politically, it was better for a trading nation not to be seen as an unchristian and hostile country. Also one unifying faith was needed to prevent a power struggle and the resulting divisions in society.
As a Viking, it was possible to be ‘pre-baptised’: as to one’s conviction, the old faith continued to be followed, but officially, the garment of Christianity was donned. Therefore, both religions existed side by side in many trading settlements. The matrix of a golden necklace, found in Sweden, shows the Christian cross together with Thor’s hammer.
The Edda, a colllection north-germanic myths
Until this day, the essence of the faith of the North-Germanic nations has been passed on to us under this name. Via Indo-Germanic, the name Edda is related to Veda, Avesta, and approximately means ‘the primordial word’. The word Edda is also explained as ancestress or arch-mother, be cause often the ‘song of the ancestress’, the ancient, holy message, was passed on by word of mouth of old, wise women. This message referred to the beginning of creation, the development of gods and people as well as their fall and resurrection in a new beginning. The origin of these myths is traced back to the period between 2500 and 1000 BC, when people did not yet imagine the world as separated into an earth and a divine domain.
When in the 9th century, during the Christianisation of the Germanics, Charlemagne forced them to adopt the Christian faith, many Norwegians emigrated to Iceland. They took their treasure, the deep-rooted ancient faith in their gods, with them. Through mythical images, they related how close people felt to the gods and how they fully participated in their activities and the expressions of them. The Edda is a testimony to North-Germanic mythology and heroic legends, stemming from the most diverse sources and written down partly in verses and partly in prose.
Bishop Sämundar was the first to recognise the treasure of the songs in verse about gods and heroes, around 1100, he collected and summarised them in the so-called ‘older Edda’. About a hundred years later, the Icelandic scholar, Snorri Sturluson, who was also a bishop and a statesman, edited a second collection. This was the ‘younger Edda’, a collection of myths written in prose, in which the activities of the gods were described. It concerned a textbook for young poets and singers (the Skalden) that became the basis of their poetry and songs. This development implied that the Christian ideas were assimilated in the ancient Germanic-pagan verses.
The Edda, with its impressive images, was for the perceptive seer who had a link with God, always the instrument through which inner experiences and insights were passed on to his contemporaries. In this way, the living memory of the original world of the gods, the origin of the earth, the cosmos and the fate of gods and people was kept awake in their souls. This always concerned transmitting the one, universal truth through the most diverse images, according to the power of the imagination of the listeners.
Remnants of the myths
Even nowadays, we still encounter the ancient myths, although in a weakened form. In Sweden, it is still usual that an old ‘vardräd’ (protective tree) is cultivated near farms to protect the house. That these trees originally symbolised the world tree Ygdrasil, and its divine protection, has been forgotten by many people. The same applies to the feast of St. Lucia at the winter solstice. Then girls carry burning candles on their heads (and are dressed in white), by which they express the longing for the true Light and the consciousness fire. Stone testimonies like the megalithic tombs, dolmen and menhirs in the north and rune stones from later times can abundantly be found in Europe. The most famous ones are Stonehenge and the Egge Stones (East Westphalia) as well as several stones in the form of a ship used as observatories and at places where the Ding was held. On the rune stone of Lund (Sweden), purportedly, Odin was depicted in the mouth of the Fenris wolf, signifying the end of the world
Also the names of some weekdays refer to the ancient gods. The god Thor refers to Thursday in English and Torsdag in Norwegian. We see Odin-Wodan in Wednesday, and in the Swedish and Norwegian Wodansdag-Onsdag, and the English, German and Dutch Friday, Freitag and vrijdag refer to the goddess Freia.