Last night was a night of magic. Thunder and magic striking at the same time. Rain coming down in torrents, while lightning brightening the gray every few seconds. This went on for hours. Old Norse thunder gods like Mjolnir-wielding Thor, seeming to visit us in our boredom. It’s deep, earthy magic. Who stands after such a storm? not mortals. Storms will self-create, and cease to exist, and continue to do so, long after we are dust.
Here are a couple Deity-related facts:
Susanoo’o, the Shinto God of the sea and storms, was created from his father’s boogers. His sister was made from eye goop, so I’m not sure which one had the better end of the deal.
In Norse mythology, before the final battle, Loki and Hel will set sail on the ship Naglfar, made entirely of the fingernails and toenails of the dead.
And an even better story from our friends the ancient Norse:
One day, the thunder god Thor got a whetstone stuck in his forehead. I’m not sure how; I’m just citing the Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda here. A wise woman named Groa helped Thor loosen it with her magic. In gratitude he went to get her husband, Aurvandill. Thor carried him in a basket on his back, all the way from Jormundgandr. Everyone knows that place is very cold, and like most cold places, Aurvandill’s toe became frozen. Seeing it sticking out of the basket, Thor snapped it off and threw it into the sky. The toe became a star, possibly even the Morning star, and ever after it called, by the old Norse anyhow, “Auvrandill’s Toe.”
Groa was so overjoyed by Thor’s actions that she forgot to finish pulling the whetstone from Thor’s head. And that is why the ancient Norse never cast a whetstone in anger onto the ground. It makes the whetstone in Thor’s head reverberate, and he gets grouchy. He’ll fling lightning around.
I’m not making these up.
I suppose we need myths for our own time. Maybe that’s why we gravitate toward tricksters like Deadpool, and All-Good folks like Superman. And the even the occasionally-morally ambiguous anger of Batman.
The writer JRR Tolkien was obsessed with a mythic re-introduction of reality to the British Isles. It was one of the reasons he wrote the Lord of the Rings–he was imagining what Myth would look like if it took on a new flavor.
Godwin’s Law states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” That is the ultimate evil of our last 80 years. Hitler. The Nazis. We have evil narrowed down, but where is our barometer of good?
A few posts ago, I talked about how we need heroes. I think we need new stories too. I don’t believe that the old ones are better (or worse) than ones we can imagine now, but there seems to be an emptiness in our story archive. What drives us in this postmodern age? Gods and monsters don’t move us forward. Grand, sweeping acts of heroism? Nobody points at those anymore. We tend toward ridicule, to make ourselves look better than others. You’ve all seen the posts on facebook: “In the crowded marketplace, this woman took her pants off. You won’t believe what happened next.” It affirms our sense, somehow, of being in a clan. Flash mobs singing surprise rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That’s our myth today. Celebrities are famous for being famous. Not because of any talent they might have.
Who is the the ultimate marker of good deeds of our day? Mother Theresa? Batman? Freedom fighters? United Mine Workers?
A tapestry comes to mind. It is made of threads, both light and dark. Red colors and blues, yellows, greens and browns. Each color is added to create the richness of the fabric, to see the picture. Without accent of color, we see nothing. I recall a velvet rug we had hanging in our house above the piano – elk in the snow. What if everything were the same color? No sun, no shadow. No shadow, no nothing. Not even a Velvet Elkis. I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure this photo was the tapestry on our wall, by the way.
Deep thoughts for a day after the storm. Thor hung up his hammer, stopped throwing toes in the air, and nobody’s coming to get me in a rowboat made from hair clippings. Not that I know of, anyhow.
Myths are awesome. But if I mention a sculpture I made from diarrhea that one time at work… Not so mythic is it?
No, I guess it’s not. I guess I’m no Snorri Sturluson. And this ain’t no Poetic Edda.