Norse Mythology

The book entitled "Norse
Mythology" by Karl
Mortensen, is the book I chose to read for my first

book report for this semester. The book was
translated from the Danish
by A. Clinton Crowell.
Karl Mortensen was a doctor of philosophy whom

attended the University of Copenhagen.
The first part of the book is
the general
introduction. Here, you find the author\'s meaning
of "Norse
mythology" and where he got his
information. He says,


By "Norse mythology" we mean the
information
we have concerning the
religious conceptions and usages
of our
heathen forefathers, their faith and

manner of worshipping the gods, and also
their legends and songs
about the gods
and heroes. The importation of

Christianity drove out the old heathen
faith, but
remnants or memories of it
long endured in the superstitious
ideas
of the common people, and can even be
traced
in our own day.

In the general introduction, the author tells

us why we teach Norse mythology. He tells us that
for us, Norse mythology
has in any case the
advantage of being the religion of our own
forefathers,
and through it we learn to know that
religion. This is necessary if we
wish to
understand the history and poetry of our antiquity
and to comprehend
what good characteristics and
what faults Christianity encountered when
it was
proclaimed in the North. Finally, it is necessary
to know the
most important points of the heathen
faith of our fathers in order to appreciate
and
enjoy many of the words of our best poets.
"Norse Mythology"
is comprised of four main
sections. The first section contains the creation

myth, which is extremely confusing because it talks
about brother\'s
aunt\'s cousin\'s children from
second marriages and what importance they
were in
those golden times. It\'s quite hard to understand,
and I had
to read it over twice to make sure I
understood. The second part of the
first section
discusses the creation of the gods and the stories
of
their lives. And the last part is entitled
Ragnorak, which stands for the
enemies of the gods.
All of this was quite interesting to read.

The second section of the book talks about
common popular belief. It says
that our
forefathers, like other heathen people, found one
of the plainest
proofs of the soul\'s independence
of the body and its ability to take a
hand in the
affairs of living men in the nightmare and dream,
as they
lacked all other means of explaining those
things. They therefore took
it for granted that
they were spirits, usually in the form of animals

or men. Through the smallest crack or crevice the
nightmare slips to the
sleeping one, and torments
and troubles him so sadly that he becomes ill
or
that it causes his death. It is felt as an
oppressing weight upon
the breast or throat; the
mare "treads" or "rides" the sleeping one from
his
legs up to his body and thrusts his tongue into the
victim\'s throat
to hinder him from crying out. The
Northern people have clung this very
day to their
belief in the "mare" as a supernatural female
being, and
many legends about it have arisen. A
"mare" can slip out only by the same
way that it
came in; if one stops up the opening, it is caught.
The
same thing happens if one names its name.
In the Ynglinga Saga
it is told of
King Vanlandi, who had betrayed his

Finnish bride, Drifa, that he in
punishment
for that had been killed by a
\'mare\' with which the magic arts
of the
Finns had tormented him. He became

suddenly sleepy and lay down to rest,
but when he had slept
a little he cried
that a \'mare\' was treading him. The

king\'s men hastened to his assistance,
but when they
turned to his head, the
\'mare\' trod upon his legs so that they

were nearly broken, and if they went to
the legs,
she was directly occupied at
the head; and so the king was actually

tortured to death.

Also found in the second section
are chief gods
and myths of the gods. Here, there are stories told

of Thor, Odin, Frey and Njorth, Heimdall and
Baldur, and Loki. It comments
on the various
thresholds crossed by these great gods, and the
things
that they accomplished.
The third section is rather short, but it is

solely focused on the forms of worship and
religious life. It tells
of the Norse temples, or
Hofs, which means in general "a holy place." The