Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Nordic religion

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 17, 2014

Búri (or Buri) was the first god in Norse mythology. He is the father of Borr and grandfather of Odin, Vili and Ve. He was formed by the cow Auðumbla licking the salty ice of Ginnungagap. The only extant source of this myth is Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. Old Norse Vili means “will”. Old Norse Vé refers to a type of Germanic shrine; a vé.

The length of the u in the name is not explicitly marked in the manuscripts but it is traditionally assumed to be long because of its metrical position in Þórvaldr’s stanza. However, the metrical structure of fornyrðislag is hardly strict enough for definite conclusions to be reached from a single occurrence – especially when the imperfect oral and manuscript traditions are taken into account. It is thus entirely possible that the original form was Buri.

The meaning of either Búri or Buri is not known. The first could be related to búr meaning “storage room” and the second could be related to burr meaning “son”. “Buri” may mean “producer”. In any case the form Buri is often used in an ASCII context or as an anglicization of Búri. In the mainland Scandinavian languages Bure is used as a familiar form.

Borr or Burr (Old Norse: ‘son’; sometimes anglicized Bor, Bör or Bur) was the son of Búri, the husband of Bestla, and the father of Odin and his brothers in Norse mythology.

In Norse mythology, Bestla is the daughter or, depending on source, granddaughter of the jötunn Bölþorn, the mother of the gods Odin, Vili and Vé by way of Borr, and the sister of an unnamed being who assisted Odin.

On the basis of the Hávamál stanza handled above (wherein Odin learns nine magic songs from the unnamed brother of Bestla), some scholars have theorized that Bestla’s brother may in fact be the wise being Mímir, whose severed head the god Odin gains wisdom from.

Vili and Vé, together with Óðinn, are the three brothers who slew Ymir — ending the primeval rule of the race of giants — and are the first of the Æsir. They are comparable to the three brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, of Greek mythology, who defeat the Titans.

Of the three, Óðin is the eldest, Vili the middle, and Ve the youngest. To the first human couple, Ask and Embla, Óðinn gave soul and life; Vili gave wit (intelligence) and sense of touch; and Vé gave countenance (appearance, facial expression), speech, hearing, and sight.

In Proto-Norse, the three brothers’ names were alliterating, *Wódin, Wili, Wé (Proto-Germanic *Wōdinaz, Wiljon, Wǣhaz), so that they can be taken as forming a triad of *wódz, wiljon, wǣhaz, approximately “inspiration (transcendent, mantic or prophetic knowledge), cognition (will, desire, internal thought that leads to action) and numen (spiritual power residing in the external world, in sacred objects)”.

Compare to this the alliteration in a verse found in the Exeter Book, Wôden worhte weos “Woden wrought the sanctuaries” – where compared to the “triad” above, just the middle will etymon has been replaced by the work etymon. The name of such sanctuaries to Woden Wôdenes weohas (Saxon Wôdanes wih, Norse Óðins vé) survives in toponymy as Odinsvi, Wodeneswegs.

While Vili and Vé are of little prominence in Norse mythology as attested, their brother Óðinn has a more celebrated role as the chief of the Norse pantheon. Óðinn remains at the head of a triad of the mightiest gods: Óðinn, Thórr, and Freyr. Óðinn is also styled Thriði “the third”, in which case he appears by the side of Hárr and Jafnhárr (the “high” and the “even-high” or co-equal), as the “Third High”. At other times, he is Tveggi “the second”. In relation to the Óðinn-Vili-Vé triad, Grimm compares Old High German willa, which not only expressed voluntas, but also votum, impetus, spiritus, and the personification of Will, to Wela in Old English sources.

Keyser interprets the triad as “Spirit, Will and Holiness”, postulating a kind of Germanic Trinity in Vili and Vé to be “blended together again in the all-embracing World-spirit – in Odin. […] he alone is Al-father, from whom all the other superior, world-directing beings, the Æsir, are descended.”

According to Loki, in Lokasenna, Vili and Vé had an affair with Óðinn’s wife, Frigg. This is taken by Grimm as reflecting the fundamental identity of the three brothers, so that Frigg might be considered the wife of either. According to this story Óðinn was abroad for a long time, and in his absence his brothers acted for him.

It is worthy of note that Saxo Grammaticus also makes Óðinn (Latin: Othinus) travel to foreign lands and Mitoðinn (Latin: Mithothyn) fill his place, and therefore Mitoðinn’s position throws light on that of Vili and Vé. But Saxo represents Óðinn as once more an exile, and puts Ullr (Latin: Ollerus) in his place.

Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn, “The Furious One”) is a major god in Germanic mythology, especially in Norse mythology. In many Norse sources he is the Allfather of the gods and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Old English “Wōden”, the Old Saxon “Wôdan” and the Old High German “Wôtan”, the name is descended from Proto-Germanic “Wōdanaz” or “*Wōđanaz”.

“Odin” is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation”, besides “mind” or “poetry”. His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex.

Odin is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Norse pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom, Shamanism, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is the thunder god Thor.

Fjörgynn (father of the goddess Frigg)

Frigg (wife of Odin/mother of Baldr) and Fjorgyn/Jörð ( mother of the god Thor, son of Odin)

In Norse mythology, Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg (sometimes anglicized as Frigga), wife of Odin. Frigg is a major goddess in Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the “foremost among the goddesses” and the queen of Asgard.

Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows. Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe. The English term Friday derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frige.

Frigg is the mother of Baldr. Her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóðr, Heimdallr, Týr, Bragi, Víðarr, Váli, Skjöldur, and Höðr. Frigg’s companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg’s attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.

Both the masculine name Fjörgynn and the feminine name Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”), described as the mother of the god Thor, son of Odin, appear in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. A number of theories surround the names, and they have been the subject of scholarly discourse.

In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 26, Frigg is said to be Fjörgyns mær (“Fjörgynn’s maiden”). The problem is that in Old Norse mær means both “daughter” and “wife,” so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg’s father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturluson interprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn’s daughter (Skáldskaparmál 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri.

The original meaning of fjörgynn was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for Jörð, the earth. The other piece of evidence lies with the goddess Fjorgyn, who is the mother of Thor, and whose name can be translated into Earth. Since Fjorgyn is not only the name of a goddess, but the feminine byname for Earth, it is relatively safe to assume that “mær”, in this case, means “daughter”.

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn may have represented a divine pair of which little information has survived, along with figures such as the theorized Ullr and Ullin, Njörðr and Nerthus, and the attested Freyr and Freyja.

Rudolf Simek states that Fjörgyn may simply be another name for Jörð (Icelandic “earth” and from Old Norse jǫrð, pronounced, sometimes Anglicized as Jord or Jorth; also called Jarð, as in Old East Norse), a female jötunn whose name also means “earth,” since she does not appear listed in the Prose Edda as a unique goddess, but that the fact that she does not appear elsewhere in Skaldic poetry “as would be expected of a purely literary alternative to Jörð” may be notable.

Theories have been proposed that Fjörgyn may represent an extension of an earlier Proto-Indo-European thunder or rain god or goddess due to Indo-European linguistic connections between Norse Fjörgyn, the Hindu rain god Parjanya, the Lithuanian god Perkūnas, and the Slavic god Perun.

Jörð is the mother of Thor and the personification of the Earth. Fjörgyn and Hlóðyn are considered to be other names for Jörð. Jörð is reckoned a goddess, like other jötnar who coupled with the gods. Jörð’s name appears in skaldic poetry both as a poetic term for the land and in kennings for Thor.

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