Nordic Influences – III

William Tell – The Nordic sagas constitute the exploits of various heroes and kings. In one such exploit is the mention of the great archer Orvandel. He was surrounded and captured during the great winter wars. His captor, Halfdan commanded Orvandel to perform the finest example of his archery of which he had boasted. The failure would cause penalty of his life, but freedom if he achieved success. He was to hit it with the first arrow from his bow, a small apple placed upon his son’s head, at a great distance.

The feat was performed in front of Halfdan and his personal advisor. Orvandel took three arrows from his quiver. He aimed one arrow at the apple upon his son’s head and shot it, cleaving the apple in two. Halfdan kept his word and let him free. Before he left, Halfdan asked Orvandel why he took three arrows. To this, Halfdan’s personal advisor replied that if Orvandel had failed and killed his son, the other two arrows were meant for his captors who nearly caused his son’s death.

The tale of William Tell seems to be a fine example of copy paste!

Gandalf – Finally Wikipedia confirmed what I suspected from the start. I was into Nordic mythology a long time before I saw LOTR (never read it though). The description of Gandalf the Grey is exactly like Odin’s disguise on earth, with the exception of Gandalf having both his eyes intact. Check this wiki link.

Hel(l) – Well, you’ve heard it, lesser times than me, but someone has damned you to it at least once. Turns out, Christianity borrowed this from the pagan Nords. Hel was the child of Loki, the trickster God. Her half body was of a beautiful woman, and the other half was rotting corpse. She was banished by the Gods along with her siblings, Fenrir and Jormungandr (Also mentioned in the previous post). But before she was cast out, the Allfather Odin gave her authority over the nine worlds. She was to “administer board and lodging to those sent to her, and that is those who die of sickness or old age.” She was given her own realm where here powers were supreme, surpassing even Odin. There have been instances where even Odin failed to bring back from the dead someone he wanted, because Hel didn’t want it.

Her realm, also known as Hel, had a hall called Éljúðnir, the entrance threshold “Stumbling-block,” curtains “Gleaming-bale,” a dish called “Hunger,” a knife called “Famine,” the servant Ganglati (“lazy walker”), the serving-maid Ganglöt (also “lazy walker”) and the bed “Sick-bed.” During Ragnarok, Hel will lead all her dead in a ship made of fingernails, Naglfar, against the Gods.

No wonder. After such a description, it certainly is hell.


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