Mythic Timey-Wimey

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Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

The timeline of Norse lore can be confusing to some. Many people ask general questions such as "When was the world created? When is Ragnarok?" to try and determine where we fall currently in the present. Related to that:As a Lokean, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is a variation of: "How can Loki can interact with humans if he is bound under a snake until the end of the world?", "How can Loki be freed from his entrapment?". As consisely answered by Gumpy Lokean Elder, "Lokis already free.Hes also never been trapped.Hes also trapped right now". Both of these sets of questions can be answered by explaining the concept of mythic time , which many heathens believe in.

Mythic Time
Many different religions of the world experience time in various ways: as a linear progression, as a never-ending set of cycles, as a process of degeneration, and so forth (Lindow). We are more often used to seeing time proposed as a linear system. In some views, such as what some heathens hold, time is more cyclic.In this concept, linear progression repeats itself endlessly; each end is followed by a new beginning.

Mythic time is a concept sometimes humorously referred to as that "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.Mythic time refers to the ideathat myths exist in a special, generalized time. This is different from the uniquely modern and predominantlyJudeo-Christian way we in the west usually conceptualize time and story (Long)

Time in the Lore
"Determining the time system of Scandinavian mythology presents special challenges because many of the sources were recorded by Christians, whose notion of time was linear and whose notion of history called for an essentially clear chronology" (Lindow). AsSnorri Sturluson's version of the Edda is often pointed to for new readers, it is important to note that aside from being Christian, Snorriwas also a historian, the author or compiler of a history of the Norwegian kings.

"A comparison of several Eddic poems undertakes a temporal review of major mythic events, and gives us an outline of mythic chronology [...] These poems are Voluspa, Vafprudnismal, and sections of Fafnismal and Hyndluljod [...] Voluspa offers the fullest and more explicit synthesis of major events from a diachronic perspective, which is why this poem commended itself to Snorri as the foundation for Gylfaginning" (Ross).Vafprudnismal then confirms and collaborates some of the sequencing of events proposed in Voluspa, though it offers variants to them. The timeline proposed in those main eddic poems divides time into several distanct periods, whose transitions are marked by significant events.

Mythic Past, Present, and Future
The events that occur in written lore can be divided as those which occur in the past, present, and future. This is further backed by the idea of the Norns: Urd ("Became" or "Happened"), Verdandi ("Becoming" or "Happening"), and Skuld, ("Is-to-be" or "Will-happen") (Lindow).

The Past :the mythic past refers to the things that had to happen to set up the world of the mythic present, which serves as the backdrop for the majority of the stories in a given mythology (Long).In the distant past, we have the creation of the cosmos from the void ofGinnunga gap.This was the time when Ymir was present, and Bur (the first of the Gods) shortly after. The movement from the distant past to the near past encompasses a move from a stasis between the two major groups of gods to a state of enmity (Lindow) or to be put more simply, was transitional when the Gods killed Ymir and created the world from his flesh. This also served as the time that dwarves and humans were supposedly entering exsistence, and when Loki was brought into the Aesir. TheGods need to be born, grow up, and assume their roles in the pantheon. The conflict between the Jotnar and the Gods begins to grow and take seed.

The Present : The present is the time when most of the actual myths occur and take place. While some myths do not need to be put into a chronological order in the mythic present, there are others which do follow after specific events. An example given would be how in Skaldskaparmal the gods wish to appease Skadi for the killing of her father Thjazi. She chooses her husband based on their feet and tries to choose Baldr, but ends up with Njord. This must mean at the time of that event, Baldr had not yet been slain. In another myth,Skirnir (Freyr's messenger) offers the giantess Gerd "the ring which was burned with the young son of Odin" (Lindow). This must mean that Freyr's marriage to Gerd occurs after Baldr's death. These give the mythic present some chronological structure.

Events that are considered to be in the "early" present include: the creation of the mead of poetry, the building of the wall around Asgard, Odin's oath of blood- brotherhood with Loki, and Loki's children (Hel, Jormungandr, Fenrir) being dealt with in various ways by the Aesir. Nearly all of Thor's myths take place in undifferentiated mythic present. Events considered to be in the "late" present include: the death of Baldr, and the subseqent binding of Loki.

The Future : The mythic future is often thought to be divided into two main "stages". The first would be Ragnarok - considered to occur in the "near future". During this,Surt will lead the forces of chaos against the gods, who will fall. The Sun and Moon will be swallowed whole. Chaos will ensue. Most, if not all, of the major Gods seem to meet their end and second-generation deities (such as Vidar, Vali, Magni, Modi, etc) inhabit the new world following Ragnarok. The second stage begins after that in the new world, under the ruling of the new Gods. The myth describes the new world as a fertile paradise.

The Cycling of Time
Though the events previously were laid out and explained in a more chronological order, as they are presented in the myth, the actual matter is more complicated. "Voluspa, st. 4, states that the creating gods lifted up the earth, and the poem is silent on the killing of Ymir. These facts could imply that when the earth arose from the sea after Ragnarok later in the poem, there was a cyclical notion at work. In other words, the cosmos might be formed and reformed on multiple occasions by rising from the sea" (Lindow).

Evidence of the presence of a cyclic element in the lore is "not as clearly articulated as the linear concept" (Ross) but is still present in few instances. Voluspa, for instance, presents descriptions of time in both a linear and cyclic order. Various myths also present direct contradictions of relative chronology.Eleazar Melitinskij and Kirsten Hastrup are two authors whomsought to distinguish the vertical and horizontal axes: the first manifesting itself in the world tree linking heaven and the under- world, and the second, in the disk of the earth on which Asgard, Midgard, and the worlds of the giants are located. Meletinskij argued that cosmogony and eschatology were distinguished by the axes and that this distinction had a chronological aspect. Hastrop described the difference as one of reversibility: Events on the vertical axis were irreversible, for they were fated; those on the horizontal axis were reversible in that the balance between gods and giants was so close (Lindow). Current debate still rages on about this, as another authorSchjedt takes on the notion of the eschatological or irreversible nature of the vertical axis and argues that it has cyclical aspects.

The simple: Time can cycle in upon itself, or things can be placed out of order, or things can be simultaneously true and untrue (Grumpy Lokean Elder). To me, I view mythic time in the same visualization I use to imagine wyrd: A spiderweb, with interconnecting nodes and variations. Some events are more chronological, where one node directly connects to another. Others cycle back, connecting to previous nodes or stretching forward to future nodes. So going back to the example of Loki: In mythic time, Loki is bound right now, but has also escaped his binding and ordeal, but has also not been bound yet, but also is never going to be bound. Several different states and variations exsist all at once under the concept of mythic time. Welcome towibbly wobbly timey wimey myth time.

Sources

  • http://www.germanicmythology.com/scholarship/LINDOW%20THE%20NATURE%20OF%20MYTHIC%20TIME.pdf
  • http://stevenmlong.com/what-is-mythic-time/
  • http://grumpylokeanelder.tumblr.com/post/56785374015/question-would-it-be-possible-and-a-smart-move-to
  • http://www.germanicmythology.com/original/cosmologyMCRTIME.html
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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2

Apologies in advance for the odd way the site formats copy and pasted text. It mushed some of my text together.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3

*cracks knuckles and neck*

Can I just say how glad I am that this is being talked about? Because I am. I only ever see people talk as if Ragnarok is literally a singular set of events that have yet to happen and oh boy, let me tell you a thing.

Now, I was an occultist before I was a Heathen (though I still am and it still impacts my views on things) and I always ascribed to the idea that nonphysical, spiritual existence (hooray subtle planes!) was a form of energy that was not as dense as physical reality, so there weren't as many limitations on time and space as we observe.

Take into account that time is merely a unit of measurement to observe reality as it is happening, and then take into account all of the history people have of observing things and forming their own ideas of it. All of these observations and ideas and thoughts are all said to exist in the subtle planes and are referred to in concepts similar to the Akashic Records, where everything is said to be recorded in the subtle planes. This opens us up to the idea that in the subtle planes, where time and space are specifically pourous, morphing to will, and not linear, everything that ever was, is, and will be are all happening at the same time. Think back again to diviners who can psychically learn of the past, the present, and the future. Think about how this is happening and the idea that the subtle planes simultaneously practically are time and are not bound by time begins to make sense. For what is time, if not observation? What is spiritual reality, if again not observation?

As a Norse Pagan, I sometimes get asked and see others getting asked why we follow Gods who are fated to die. Yes, Jormungandr in the lore is angry, destructive, venemous, and kills Thor while being killed by Thor - but there's a lot that I learn from Jormungandr in his role of the mythic present as well as his role in the mythic future.

For one, I learn about liminality, the transition stage, as he is seen in both Midgardr and Jotunheimr after being cast out of Asgardr. I learn about connecting with people and with reality because that's what he is. I learn that fear is not the enemy, but is a tool that can be used to see outside of what we are comfortable with. I learn that I don't have to take people's idiocy because he does not take any from Thor when he fishes for the serpent purely because he can while ignoring the warnings of the local who is giving him hospitality (because seriously are you going to come up in my house and cause me grief without getting some yourself? Nah). I learn what it means to be myself in the entirety of the capacity that I can be. He is that connection and all of that and so much more in my eyes; while he does not need to mean any of that to literally anyone else, it is still important to me as an individual.

In my view, Jormungandr has not yet been born. He is an infant. He is a child. He is thriving as he is growing. He is battling with Thor. He is dead. All of this, all happening at the same time for me. What aspect of his I connect to depends on what he finds relevant for me and that is what it means to connect to a deity with the concept of mythic time.

Wibbly Wobbly,
Evynne.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By:
Post # 4

Very interesting read! This article certainly makes me think. I especially enjoyed the "Mythic Past, Present, Future" portion. I like seeing how you order those scenes by the surrounding circumstances by making examples Between Freyrs Marriage and Skadi's choosing of her husband. With more scenes from the lore (as well as some upcg mixed in) put into it, it'd be able to generate a lot of theories about the chronological timeline of Norse mythology itself.

How is Loki able to communicate with people if he's bound?

Throughout discussions and groups I've taken part in, the most response I've heard is pathwalking. If we can do it, what's holding the gods back from doing it too? Plus, throughout the lore and UPG of all sorts, Loki is sometimes known as teacher of magic such as pathwalking, seidhr, and other types.

Sorry for the short response as I am still trying to process this as well as it being 1:00 A.M

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By:
Post # 5

This is really good! Thank you for making this. See for me coming from a Greek perspective I see things from a linear perception. Greek goes into Sabine which is conquered by Rome. So trying to understand Norse was really frustrating for me for a long time because I could not grasp when what was happening. Watching Flash and time travel shows helped me to to get the whole this happened, but then it didn't happen, but it already did happen sort of thing.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 6

Everyone's input has been great. :)

Evy, I like how you explained this in terms of the subtle plane. I also really liked, and agreed, with how you described how Jormungandr appears to you due to mythic time. This is how I tend to view my work with Loki. He comes in whatever aspect he needs to in order to teach a lesson: sometimes he is the young, care-free traveler, friend of Thor, with a light heart. Sometimes he is the caring, sentimental father watching over his kids. Sometimes he is the world-breaker, the Loki who has been bound and hatred flows over him. He has been bound, yet is unbound, will be bound, yet won't be bound.

And like you pointed out, Lopt, the Gods are not bound by our understanding of them. If we have the ability to use magic, why not the Gods? Especially Loki, whom was said to be quite skilled in magical arts - to the point of shapeshifting and the like. I, too, have heard it suggested that even if an aspect or part of Loki was bound - that doesn't mean as a whole he is incapable of projecting aspects of himself elsewhere or appearing to others. To think that written word renders the Gods incapable of doing something seems silly to me.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By:
Post # 7

I dont have much Norse-specific input, but i definitely resonate with what was said.

I see time as linear from our first person perspective, everyday life is very linear.

I see time as cyclical and repeating, too, especially when it comes to seasons and things like the rise and fall of nations.

Now for the norse input, to clarify i'm not much of a norse pagan at all, i just have huge affinity for Odin.

in my interactions with Odin, who is the only deity i work with directly, i feel any of his aspects, past present or future are occuring simultaneously. like multiple realities happening at once.

And as said earlier, i believe these beings exist beyond time and space so the laws don't apply anyways.

Is there any order (linear progression) to it? or is it just smaller stories sewn together into one larger story.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 8

I'm going to try to put this into words.

For myself, I view many of the myths as both events and metaphor. Time in this regard, I view as a whirlpool. But not one that drains; if anything it extends outward.

What you identify as the Past is the edge of the whirlpool. This moves slower than the center, and it's events take much longer to circle back upon themselves. This would be where we have the clash of Niflheim and Muspelheim (the big bang) and the slaying of Ymir (the formation of matter). Niflheim and Muspelheim are constantly at odds, pulling from one another after clashing, and will eventually result in the collapse of our universe. Ymir's body is decaying, and matter breaks down. Stars burn out and explode, planets die, etc. Yet all of this takes an enormous amount of time, and these myths will not repeat until the Future . Our future, however, is the center of the pool, and spins upon itself with possibility until it slows into our age.

The Present is the middle of the pool, and circles upon itself in our time. Myths such as Loki cutting Sif's hair (the harvest of wheat) and Hodr slaying Baldr (winter and the seasonal cycle) repeat upon themselves every year. Other myths, such as the Lokkasenna, are meant as humor, I believe; I don't think that they happened even for the Gods.

Which brings us to the Ragnarok . I agree with what Einar of Wardruna taught at a workshop once; the Ragnarok is not a future event to happen. Loki will not pull a 180* and betray the Aesir, leading his daughter's army of the dead against the Einherjar. Rather, the Ragnarok describes what happens every year. Wisdom is devoured by rage. Strength is outdone by itself. The moon is devoured every month, and the sun progressively through the year as the night grows longer. Every year, the Gods die, and every new year, they return again - just as the Earth herself dies and is reborn.

In this way, the Ragnarok is the most important lesson of all, and frames it all; everything - even the Gods - dies. Nothing last forever, and our works are not permanent. Our wisdom is not iron clad, our strength fades, and the dead rise for nothing but calamity.

I am out of words, so I'll leave it there.

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 9

I've never heard Ragnarok presented in such a way! I really am intriqued by the phrasing of that, and it personally makes a lot of sense to me. I have always had a hard time expressing personal thoughts about Ragnarok when asked because I do not tend to bother myself with the myths related to creation or destruction of the world - I live in the here and now, our present. But I've truthfully never thought of Ragnarok to be quite a literal event. Thank you for bringing that up the way you did. Any idea where I can find a clip or something of whenEinar was talking about this issue as well?

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Re: Mythic Timey-Wimey
By: / Novice
Post # 10

I've always viewed time in a sort of paradoxical sense, in a way that it was phrased in the original post.

Everything is happening, not happening, about to happen, or never going to happen.

For me all possible reality is playing out in a series of planes. There are planes with no gods and planes with all of them. This has a major impact for me, not in a mythos sense, but in a working/casting sense. You are in reality A where you are going to recieve ending A. You would like to bring about ending B. You have to build up energy and move through the planes to experience reality B with ending B. The bigger the change the 'further' the desired plane is.

If that makes sense.

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