Monday, July 12, 2010

Goddess of the Week

Idun, the Norse Goddess of springtime, renewal, and eternal youth, makes Her third appearance here as Goddess of the Week; though She is Goddess of spring, She keeps showing up in summertime, Her first appearance being June 29 of 2009, and Her second on August 24th of the same year. She is said to grow the apples that keep the Deities young, which She keeps safe, giving them out when needed.

Idun is the daughter of Ivald, one of the Dökkálfar ('dark elves') or Svartálfar ('black elves'); they were generally considered to be the same as, or generally confused with, the dwarves, though if you're a Tolkien fan that may seem incomprehensible; in Norse myth the Dökkálfar/Svartálfar/dwarves were said to have been born from the maggots that fed on the corpse of the primeval giant Ymir, out of Whom the world was created. They are called 'black' or 'dark' both because they did not like the light, and because they were thought spiritually unenlightened; in myth, daylight turned them to stone, so during the day they dwelled underground.

Idun is mentioned in stanzas six and seven of the Hrafnagaldr Óðins, or The Incantation of Odin's Ravens, a late Icelandic poem:

In the dales dwells
the prescient Dís,
from Yggdrasil’s
ash sunk down,
of alfen race,
Idun by name,
the youngest of Ivaldi’s
elder children.

She ill brooked
her descent,
under the hoar tree’s
trunk confined.
She wuld not happy be
with Nörvi’s daughter,
accustomed to a pleasanter
abode at home.

I could find no mention of Idun's mother, but She must not have shared Her father's (and brothers') intolerance of the sunlight, for not only is she said to have lived in the dales or valleys, but 'Nörvi's daughter' refers to Nott, the Goddess of Night.

She is called above a Dís, usually translated as 'lady' or 'Goddess'; the Dísir as a class are a bit difficult to pin down, but are female Deities or spirits Who may have roots in the dead, or in Goddesses of the earth; Freyja was called Vanadís, or 'Dís of the Vanir' in Her role as fertility Goddess.

The Hrafnagaldr Óðins tends to baffle scholars, who can't even agree on an approximate date; it may describe Ragnarok and the ending of the world. The stanzas about Idun above seem to refer to an unwilling descent into the earth at that time, one She had foreseen; as She is the Goddess of springtime and youth, this may refer both to the ending of the Deities' lives, and the coming of the Fimbulvetr, the three-year-long winter that will usher in Ragnarok.

Despite Her family's unenlightened origins, Idun was considered a major Goddess; She married the God Bragi, son of Odin and the giantess Gunnlod, and had a place at the feast table in Ásgarðr. She was well-loved by most of the other Gods (though Loki lit into Her once without cause), though one wonders how much that had to do with the fact that She held the apples that guaranteed Their eternal youth.

I wonder. Her name means 'the Ever-Young' or 'She Who Rejuvenates'; how much of Her is based in an Earth-Goddess (for want of a more precise term)? She is a daughter of the earth-dwelling Dökkálfar, She tends to and harvests the apples of youth Herself, and there is a story of Her descent into the earth at the root of Yggdrasil. The Earth of springtime might certainly be called She Who Rejuvenates; and spring itself, though young each year, is ever-ancient in its cycle.

So what does that mean for this week? Though it is summer (or winter in the south), look to a current cycle; something is in a springtime phase, now, one of renewal and rebirth. But a gentle kind, less a painful sloughing of skin like a snake, and more the refreshment of a good night's sleep. Look also to the echoes of past cycles in this one. For example, I was quite surprised to find, in comparing journal entries over a year or two, that the same very specific mood (down to a liking of moody black and white photos!) would come up at the same week from one year to another. Now is a good time to see the similarities across the years; see what you can find. It will help make sense of what is happening now.

What does She say?

Be renewed. I am the Goddess of stem cells, that heal, renew, repair. I am rejuvenation; I am hoarded health. You may call on it now, that which you have kept saved. You are stronger than you think. Tap into it now, if you need it.

All is well. The new grows from the old; the new destroys the old as it grows. Health destroys disease as it grows. All is well.

There is always the new. Never fear.

What do you think?


An Introduction to Viking Mythology, by John Grant;

bit of Wikipedia, again, though it was significantly less helpful this time;

and the Benjamin Thorpe translation of the Hrafnagaldr Óðins accessed at Northvegr

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I'm glad to see Idun this week -- I could use some of Her rejuvenating power! Throw me an apple, PLEASE!