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Norse vs Irish Myth

Forums ► Norse Paganism ► Norse vs Irish Myth

Norse vs Irish Myth
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 1
Do any of you take into consideration the uncanny resemblance between the two? If you have never noticed them, then please do!

There is a great article by Thor Edwing running around the internet named "The Birth of Lugh - Odin and Loki Among the Celts". I highly recommend the read.

Now we all know the story of Baldr and Loki correct? Loki causes his death by laced arrow properly placed. It is the only thing to be able to kill the beautiful god.

Well, in Irish mythology, taking into account that Loki shares mythology with Lugh. Let's for a moment consider them one in the same.

The story goes that the Fomorians (like the titans or giants) were defeated by the Tuatha De Danann. But there was still a power stuggle going on. The king that led the tribe was Bres the beautiful, half Tuatha De, half Fomorian. But he lost his throne because he was corrupted. Of course, he doesn't take this lightly. So he ran to Balor a tough Fomorian warrior. Now, he's sided with the Fomorians.

Now let's just stop right here. Bres was considered an exceedingly beautiful male god and royalty. He realizes he's in trouble and talks to the next "B", Balor. This guy is tough, has very little weakness. Except for a grandson yet to be born (prophesied to be the one to kill him). Lugh is hidden and grows up. No surprise, he's his grandson. So Bres the beautiful side steps and out pops Balor as leader.

Fast forward. Two sides of a big battle. Balor leading the side of the Fomorians and Lugh leading the side of the Tuatha De Danann. They clash.

What happens? Like David verses Goliath, Lugh kills him with a sling shot to the face. Balor dies to the hand of Lugh by ranged weapon.

Baldr dies to Loki by ranged weapon. Resemblance? or coincidence? Obviously different. But not so different that it couldn't be considered that down the line, someone edited and romanticized the myth.

I do not see them as entirely different pantheons, but mythology that has altered through distance, culture clash and the course of time, from generations upon generations of oral tradition and the differences and natural development of language.

Here is another great example.

The Morrigan herself is displayed in the Valkyries and due to both of their association with "choosing" the slain, the wyrd sisters. They are both bird women as well. Their prophesying ability also causes them to be tied together. Morrigan as the Bean Nighe (Washer of the Ford) and Bean Sidhe in comparison with the sight of a Valkyrie before impending death.

In Norse culture, from what we know of, women were not warriors. For the Irish culture, they were front line! So for the Irish the Morrigan worked through the physical women. But for the Norse, they were behind the veil, unseen forces. This is your culture clash and how the myth wraps around the different ways of life.

Let's try a different subject.

How much did the Norse like their wyrms? These were giant snakes yes? "Dragons" if you will. Well, Ireland is known to have done serious snake worship. What exactly is lost in time. But snakes show up in so much of their art. This is why St. Patrick "drove out the snakes in Ireland". It was significant of him removing the pagan faith there (as best he could). Well...snakes don't exist in Ireland. They just don't! So how would they know about them? They obviously didn't get their knowledge from their land. And old Nessy? If you look into the mythology of Loc Ness, you'll find a striking similarity to Midgardsomr.

Don't even get me started on alfr. They didn't skip Ireland and pop up as British elves. It was a mythology that spread and was shared.

Since Norse mythology is limited to such a small amount of literature, I felt I would share with you this, so that you may find new branches of knowledge to wrap your mind around. Of course, it's best to also learn about the history and the culture of each, because that will reflect in the way they developed their mythology. It can definitely help you to see your deities in a new light.

There is a pretty common saying, "there is no native Irish". The fact of the matter is, the land was invaded so many times, and with such violence that the winners took the land. What is "true" Irish is a mystery. Based off my surname, my 100% "Irish" ancestor was Anglo Saxon. But he was full blooded Irish with a brogue born and raised there before coming to America.

The Norse were also extremely well known for both their war nature and their vast travel and trading. When scholars say these people mixed, then there is much more than mythology which contains similarities. Bound by blood both shed and mixed.

The point of this is to show you how you are not limited by the Eddas and Sagas for your faith when there is a wealth of information in the neighboring cultures.

Hail to the Gods both above and below!

~White Raven
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: / Beginner
Post # 2
I don't mean to be rude, but it has been recently discovered that over half of the buried Vikings found were actually women. So in a sense, they were also the front line, same as those Irish lasses ;)
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
I do not mean to downplay the frequency with which women were warriors in viking culture, as I'm sure it was a frequent occurrence given their culture in general, but it is worth noting that the study in question suggesting that "half" were female was, I believe, of a single battlefield.
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
Post # 4
There are some interesting points you've made but I just have a small correction. ^^

Nessie of Loch Ness has indeed been around for hundreds of years (first documented report was from the 6th century). However, before the Surgeons photograph, she was very rarely described as serpentine. In fact, if you look at loch monsters from all across Scotland, most of them have a corresponding tale about a kelpie (as is the case with Nessie) or another fuath. Research on the subject suggest that the reports of a long neck coincide with public awareness of creatures like plesiosaurs. (Sorry, as a Scot, I get nit-picky about local myths. It's a bad habit but I can't help myself).

The article was certainly very interesting though! The bullet points especially made for a great side by side comparison. It would be interesting to see how far the comparison could be extended. Might do some more research on this, thank you for the information!
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 5
Not only myths, but all knowledge travels from culture to culture, country to country. Our English alphabet is actually Arabic. Our basic Arithmetic is Indian. Geometry is Egyptian,Greek, Roman. The Celts spread all over the place, as did Vikings, and Romans. Ink and paper came from China; as did gun-powder, fireworks. And by far the most Viking remains excavated in Britain were male!
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
Post # 6
I applaud the article and I can definately see the similarities behind the two, although you could take it one step further and apply this to pantheons in general. Just about every pantheon that I have run across has striking similarities when you strip away names and the nit-picky particulars.
Jesus from the Christianic religion can be compared to Dionysus, the sacrificed king from the Celtic belief, or Osiris in the aspect of the "sacrificial God". You can compare the Celtic dark goddess figure Caillech with Kali from the Hindu belief, which are believed, in some circles, to have stemmed from the same Indo-European group that split and migrated in two seperate directions. You have the horned gods, Pan and Cernnunos (or Herne) which again tie into the Christian faith as the staging block for the modern day Devil which is a combination of the demonization of the horned gods, Lucifer (the fallen angel) and Satan (the tester of faith). Which, in retrospect, Satan, Lucifer, and the Devil is a triumvirate just like The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
Take pretty much any religion and make a triangle of the lead divinity and those beneath them, then compare it to another and the similarities are remarkable. If you throw angels into a triangle with Yahweh, then you will get pretty much the same results. Heck, if you go back far enough, before the Edict of Milan which brought so many different belief systems into Christianity in some sort as the Roman empire was expanding, and before the beginning of "civilization" in the Stone Ages you reach the nomadic cultures. All across the globe, you have evidence that, during this period, the main figure of worship was the "mother goddess". Ishtar, Astarte, Nathor....all goddess figures ranging from 2000-4000 B.C.E. These figures show up as early as the Venus of Lespugue from 25000 B.C.E. to the Venus of Willenorf at an outstanding 30000 B.C.E.

I love the theory of Christopher Penczak on the matter, in which viewing the divine is like viewin a large diamond. You can either see the diamond as a whole or mostly whole, such as the monotheistic religions do, or you can see it for all of its facets, such as the monotheistic beliefs do, but you are, in essence, looking at the same thing. Tie that in with the immortal words from Shakespear about a rose and its name, and it gives good food for thought.
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 7

I think we have to also look at when the stories were written down, especially in Ireland. Remember that the Vikings came to Ireland and conquered much of the country around 400 AD. Many of the Irish myths were not written down until after the Viking incursions. So the Christian monks who were recording these tales were exposed to both Viking and Irish myth cycles. There was bound to be overlap in the stories based on this mingling of tales being recorded by those who were too late to hear the actual oral tradition of Celtic stories.

Interestingly these parallels do not seem so much present in British and Welsh myth cycles; although it is true that we know little about the British myths and even less about the myths of the Continental Celts.

Both the Celts and the Germanic tribes of the North were descended from the Proto-IndoEuropeans and their myth cycles may reflect their common origins.

The idea that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland is an interesting tale in that Judeo-Christian myth has always associated snakes with Satan. There is no evidence that actual snakes ever existed in Ireland. I suspect that the tale of the snakes was one that early Christians brought with them based on Biblical teachings.

It's a very interesting comparison though. And I agree that with care one can find information about one culture/religion by examining those around them.

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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 8
Oh,yes! British myths and legends. Big problem there with England.
Ireland (in the beginning) one Race one language. Welsh, the same. Scotland, the same. But England? So many invaders and settlers, traders! Myths of Cumbria, Northumbria, Kent, Cornwall. Every county different. From Romans, Celts, Saxons, Jutes, Angles,Vikings, Norman French. A bewildering array of myths and legends. And the one and only legend of the whole of England is the legend of St George; and that is not even English!
Anybody researching myths and legends in England are driven slightly mad!
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
Post # 9
Even the English language is so mixed up. English was basically a heavy mix between tons of different languages (more so than practically any in the world) because there were so many different people there. If you even compare the structure of English to just about any other, English is a really weird messes up language.
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Re: Norse vs Irish Myth
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 10
Well, language is not really about myths and legends. But I will add this about England. If you got four people together from different parts of England; one from London,one from Liverpool, one from Newcastle, and one from any village in Yorkshire. None of them would understand a word spoken by the other three! Unless they spoke "Standard" English. I am not meaning regional accents; but dialect! Ask a man from the South of England to point to " a chebble", he could not! Ask a man from Newcastle the same question, and he would immediately point to a table.
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