Our old ancestors were a hardy, conservative race, and tenaciously held by the treasured relics of their former beliefs and customs long after they had been shattered by the onset of Christianity. They retained their primitive Odinic belief as late as A.D.800, and we therefore possess it in a very complete state, far more so than any other European system of mythology. We English have to this day inherited this conservative trait of their character, and are still continually in every-day life coming across new and unexpected remnants of our earliest beliefs. Paragraphs in the newspapers, containing reports of police trials, etc., very frequently bring forward new and as yet undiscovered superstitions, which clearly hark back to the once popular and all-extensive faith of the North.Who would think, for instance, that in the time-old Maydayfestivals, we should discover traces of the oldest celebrations of thetriumph of the Summer Odin over the Winter Odin, or that through the baby rhymes and nursery sayings of to-day, we should be able totrace the common creed of a nation of thousands of years ago? Tohim unused to this kind of research, such things will appear impossible; but we think our book will considerably extend the sceptic’s line of vision, if indeed it does not convert him to an ardent student in the field he has before made light of.
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