minstrel: Cultural Transmigration (was The Coming of Spring)

J. Michael Shew jshewkc at pei.edu
Thu Jan 16 12:21:49 PST 1997

On Thu, 16 Jan 1997 TrueRhymer at aol.com wrote:

> The warp-spasm is not quite the same thing as your Bear Shirt crowd.  For one
> thing, the 9 feet of smoking black blood spurting from the head, etc.
>  Possibly related, but I see the "monster hero" in American indian,
> Australian aborigine tales more often. 

	Descriptions would of course vary.  Yet the use of the "madness"
seemed almost the same.  The descriptives of the Berserk were quite
different from period to period in the Norse culture.
	The idea that the Amerind concept, or the Aboriginal concept could
be related is less likely.  Still there is an inheirant love of the
monster in all cultures.  (Our modern one sides with King Kong and
Frankenstien's science project.)

 Freja/Bridget?  Hmmnn.  That one I'll
> look into.

	Do it.  It is facinating how as the Norse culture spent more time
with their Irish friends in Limerick and Dublin just how much Freja's
almost sidelight role as the head of the Valkyries becomes the Priestess
of the gods, and Odin's equal in all but name.  The ealier tales almost
mention her in a passing way, yet the later ones have her hall opposite
the hall of Odin, and half the slain collected comming to her!

  As to the meter and rhyme, the ancient Bards supposedly knew 200
> forms, and considering some just natural lend themselves to public
> speaking....

	Maybe.  But the similarities I am refering to are poetic by
structure.  Take a good hard look at Patrick's Deer's cry in the original
tounge.  It shows a lot of "germanic" rhythm that my old proffessor used
to call "accidental".  I don't believe in creative accidents myself...

> Now I see definite crossover in minor folklore, Trolls, Selkies, Swanmay's,
> Dwarves, etc. (especially on the northern islands, coast line etc.)  Also the
> Cauldron of inspiration... much like the one that Odin went to, that
> contained all knowledge, suspended by an Ash tree.  

	HMMMMM....two different stories turned into one?  Odin hung from
an ash to gain the runes, (The Hamaval), and he stole the Cauldron which
brewed the Mead of Poetry, (Bolverka).  Unless my education is sorely
mistaken, those are the two concepts you use?
	As to trolls, selkies, etc.  Those are the most impressive
evidences of cultural exchange.  Just check out the Isle of Skye and their
very Norse mythos.

> This directly cross correlates to the various Cauldrons of Celtic myth, and
> also Celtic Ritual sacrifice, etc.  I wonder if we are looking at just
> different variations on Indo-European Shamanic types, or actual
> transmigration of mytho's.

	The Cauldron is also a recurring theme in human mythology.  You
could even relate it to the Amerind concept of the White Buffalo.  Her
hide is used to boil the soup.  The soup makes them wise....
	I try to stay away from definite comparisons of objects or
individuals when comparing a mythological creation of one culture to
another.  There are certain objects and concepts that are almost
universal, but could lead to confusion if you used them as a rule to hang
a theory on.  
	The best example of that is the Pyramid theory in cultures:
Egyptians used Pyamids.  There are Pramidal structures in South America.
Egyptians had ships. (albeit not designed for long distance travel over
open ocean.)  Therefore the Egyptians settled South America.
	It leaves out the simple fact that all children who play with
blocks can tell you; to build something tall, you have to make it smaller
going up.  I.E. the Pyramid!
	But the creatures of myth often do indicate cultural cross-over.
Look at the Oriental Dragon versus the Norse.  Early Norse tales don't fix
a form!  They are almost nature run amok, with no legs, six legs, spitting
vile fluids, having any number of eyes.
	The oriental creature had the requisite limbs and served a more
noble cause.  No Connection, even though the names are similar
(Drakka/Dragon/Draconus/ (what was that chinese word again?)  I hate
getting senile!)
> Do you see much shapechanging in Norse mytho's, aside for barsarkers (and
> residual werewolf tales).  The Celts seemed to do it all the time.

	Try the gods.  Odin is a wolf, a man, a giant, an eagle, etc.
Loki is a Horse, a raven, a man, etc.  The Valkyries became swans.  Some
mystical human figures in the tales have abilities:  Ottar could be an
otter, Fafnir became a dragon, etc.
	Shapechanging might be common to many cultures but the
Irish/Scots/Norse similarities are too many to be accidental.

  To me,
> it's just odd that we don't have any folksongs that were taken from the
> Norse, or Myths with names that are similiar, etc.  Things that make
> Storytellers go Hmmmmn..._/;{]}True(Hmmn..)Thomas White Hart
	That could be because of the language.  My Gaelic is weak.  What
would be the name of a tale that would translate to The Slaying of
(Fafnir/a Dragon) in Gaelic?  In old Norse, it is Fafnirsmal, or
Fafnirsbanna if it included his killer.  (it did, so the English
translators lumped it with a lot of other fragments to make Sigurd's
	The tales suffer not only from a difference in tounges, but also
from the ham-handed translators.
	Does that make sense?
	Mikal Hrafspa

    Mikal the Ram; an annoying Bard of no redeeming qualities
__________________________(jshewkc at pei.edu)________________________________
        That he is bright, let no man boast
        But take good heed of his tounge
        The silent sage , will seldom need grief
        They are honored here in the hall
        A friend more faithful, you will never find
        Than a shrewd head on your shoulders
                        The Hamaval  (translation mine)

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