Children's Norse Folk Tales & Myths
In this award-winning series, Children's Norse Folk Tales and Myths introduce the world of Norse mythology. Organized into two parts, each book introduces the main characters, including Odin, the leader of the Norse gods. Part two introduces the characters of Thor, Frigg, and the frost giants, and tells the stories behind the myths.
Stories of self-sacrifice
Stories of self-sacrifice have long been associated with Norse mythology, but many people may not know their origins. Children's Norse mythology also includes tales of a god who sacrificed himself in order to save mankind. Odin, the Allfather, was once a god of war and death. In his quest for power, he sacrificed his own eye in order to see the world. Eventually, he would come to fear the threat of these dreadful monsters. He fought them off, but knew that they would bring destruction to the sacred city of Asgard.
Among Norse myths, Puss in Boots is one of the most famous, with its elegant mood and comic violence. The story is as French as "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," but the versions differ in expression and tone. Some modern retells consider the folk language of older versions to be archaic.
Other Norse myths and tales about self-sacrifice include the creation of the world. In one example, the God Odin learned to prophesy. He used a gold ring called Draupnir. This ring is very important to the gods. As the god Odin sat on the throne Hlidskjalf in Valhalla, he wanted to know everything he could about life. Eventually, he sacrificed his eye to Mimir's well. This led to Odin becoming known as the god of the hanged.
Amongst many children's Norse myths, stories of self-sacrifice also feature other themes of self-sacrifice. The Kikuyu, a people of eastern Africa, cite the story of Wanjiru, wherein a magician performed a magical ceremony and told people to bring goats to the maiden Wanjiru. The maiden began to sink into the ground, but the people around her gave her the goats. The maiden's family let her sink, and rain soon followed.
The wolf Fenrir, who was troubled by Odin's actions, returned to the world, causing the destruction of many traditional customs. In response, Odin called a meeting of the AEsir (gods) and devised a plan to protect the world from the wolf, which was a powerful monster. However, the AEsir was not able to kill Fenrir due to the rules of the sacred city.
As a child, reading Norse myths about these characters may help you develop your own understanding of the importance of sacrifice. The gods of Norse mythology once influenced the religious beliefs of the people of Iceland and Scandinavia. These ancient cultures believed that the world was inhabited by gods and spirits, and that their sacrifice was necessary for the survival of their race.
The tales of Freya are often depicted with her sex appeal and desirability. In one story from Sturluson's Prose Edda, Freya is used as a pawn in a threatening bargain. The hill giant offered to build an impregnable fortress to protect the gods, and in return demanded the sun and moon and Freya's hand in marriage. Ultimately, the gods agreed to this deal.
Several children's Norse myths depict women who are brave and courageous. The Laxdaela saga, for example, features a strong woman who enjoys violence. She's twice married, widowed, and has an unlucky husband. Kjartan, a charismatic young man, is her new love. However, his father thinks she's unlucky, so he sends her on a trading expedition to Norway, a place where she will marry the dwarves.
Children's Norse mythology also includes the most famous fairy tales in the world. Perhaps the most famous Nordic children's storybook author, Hans Christian Andersen, describes the magical land of the Nordic continent in vivid detail, and the adventures of courageous young girls. The stories of self-sacrifice in children's Norse myths and fairy tales are as diverse as the culture they were derived from.
In children's Norse folk tales, stories of self-sacrifice are common themes. Some stories feature female heroes who sacrifice themselves to save others. One such story features an ancient belief in the self-sacrifice of Odin. In a western version, the sacrifice takes the form of an infant or bastard. In southeastern Europe, it's a woman, who was the wife of a master builder.
Tales of self-sacrifice
One of the many themes of children's Norse folk tales is self-sacrifice. Stories of the Frog Prince have made it popular to read with children. Other tales involve a noble sister who rescues her brothers, who have been turned into swans by their wicked stepmother. In both stories, the noble sister nearly loses her life.
The Vikings regarded Christ's sacrifice as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice. The war god Tyr also exemplified the importance of self-sacrifice. When Odin sacrificed his hand, he thereby secured the world and his people. While his sacrifice was self-centered, his self-sacrifice served the greater good, as he gave his companions security and comfort.
The Norse gods, Odin and Sif, are beyond the nature of man. These characters embody bravery, endurance, the spirit of adventure, and fortitude. They struggle against doom, and ultimately, they must face the 'twilight of the gods', when the wolf will break free and the great snake will lash out in wrath.
In the first Norse myth, Inanna, the Valkyrie, was told by her sister that her head would fall off the dragon. In fact, her sister was so angry, she handed over the horn of sleep to the gods. The gods cursed her to sleep in flames for giving the wrong side victory. Her sister then woke up to find her naked. A few days later, she was hung on a hook.
In the old Norse myth, there was a race of outcast nomads who wandered from forest to forest and fell to fell, living in the wild. In this world, there were monsters and Frost Giants. When a new order of the universe was established, the old-natural powers were dispossessed, and they were relegated to the underworld.