Jul 7, 2010


Day of the Sun

Day of the Moon
Lundi from Lune

Day of the god of war
Tiu the one handed was Norse god of war
Mardi for Mars Day

Woden’s Day, from Norse Odin
Mercredi for Mercury’s day, Greek Hermes, conductor of the dead, god of secret knowledge

Thor’s day from Norse
Jeudi for Jupiter’s day
Day of the thug

Freya’s day from Norse, goddess of love and beauty
Vendredi from Venus Day

Saturn’s day, the less said about which, the better.

From the above list it is clear that the Norse (northern, Scandinavian) and the southern European nations (like the Greeks and Romans) were in perfect agreement about which days of the week belonged to which gods. The names are the Scandinavian names in English, and the Greek and Roman names in French, but the gods are recognizably the same.

Sometimes the language makes little or no difference. Sunday for the day of the sun, Monday for the day of the moon, and Friday for the goddess of love and beauty are recognizably the same whether we call the goddess Freya or Venus. It is only in the central three, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that some interesting differences begin to emerge.

Sometimes these are just local tribal differences. Tiu the Norse god of war was one handed because he agreed to put his hand in the mouth of Fenrir the wolf when Fenrir agreed to let the gods bind him with the magic chain made of the sound of a cat’s footfall and other things which don’t exist, as a guarantee. The gods had no intention of taking the chain off once they had bound Fenrir, of course, and the price was Tiu’s hand. That the god of war is one handed sheds some interesting light on war.

What is most revealing is the different places occupied by Jupiter (or Thor) and Odin (or Mercury.)

If you happen to live in a warm fertile sort of place, where food and good looking women are easily available, the thug, the large muscular bully boy in the employ of the local war lord, the launcher of thunder bolts, is a fearsome figure. What do you call a six foot black man with a machine gun? You call him “Sir,” without any manner of doubt.

Now go and read Jack London’s story “To light a fire,” where a lonesome traveler in the frozen north tries to get his rapidly freezing fingers to work for long and efficiently enough to get a fire going. If he succeeds, he lives, at least for a bit longer; if he doesn’t, he doesn’t.

See why the possessor of secret knowledge, a figure of fun in warmer climes, might be the most highly valued asset in the frozen north?

In the frozen north it is Thor the thunderer, Jupiter the lord of hosts, who is the figure of fun. In the hall of the ice giants Thor is beaten in a wrestling match by an old woman. That she is later revealed to be old age, which nothing and no one can beat, displays a wisdom of a different kind.

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