Mythology is every man's business; whether it be of the private kind called psychology or the collective kind which manifests itself in stories of the gods. A myth is like a dream; it is a direct expression of the unconscious mind, and the events of a myth, its characters and symbols are to the human race as the events, characters and symbols of his dream are to the individual. Like a dream the myth may ignore the conventional logic of space and time relationships, of events following one after another in a causal sequence. Nevertheless, a dream has a meaning which can be made plain; and so has a myth. It is not easy to interpret the myths of our own race, for our near ancestors-those of a thousand odd years ago-were persuaded to forget them or to relegate their broken remnants to the nursery. The Gods of the North were once upon a time the gods of our forefathers. The fossilized remains of these deities survive in place-names for instance, as Wansdyke, Wednesbury, Wensley, Tuesley and Thundersley; in the names of the days of the week, as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; in folklore and fairy tale with their stories of Wayland Smith, witches on broomsticks and the Wild Rider. Such remains are, on their own, largely useless as an aid to reconstructing the mythology of our forefathers; if we want to do that we can call in archaeology and philology but mainly we must rely on a literature which grew, first orally and then in manuscript, in Iceland. How we should have such close links with the men of lceland asks for an explanation.

 

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Gods of the North - Brian Branston

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