Folklore and Old Norse Mythology

Frog and Joonas Ahola (eds.)

The Kalevala Society
Folklore Fellows’ Communications 323
Helsinki 2021
696 pages
ISBN 978-952-9534-02-9
Available at the Tiedekirja bookstore, 58€

The present volume responds to the rising boom of interest in folklore and folklore research in the study of Old Norse mythology. The twenty-two authors of this volume reveal the dynamism of this lively dialogue, which is characterized by a diversity of perspectives linking to different fields and national scholarships.

The chapters open with a general overview of how the concepts of “folklore” and “mythology” have been understood and related across the history of Old Norse studies, which is followed by a group of chapters that discuss and present different approaches and types of source materials, with methodological and theoretical concerns. The interest in folklore is bound up with interests in practice and lived religion, which are brought into focus in a series of chapters relating to magic and ritual. Attention then turns to images that link to mythology and different mythic agents in studies that explore a variety of usage in meaning-making in different forms of cultural expression. The next group of studies spotlights motifs, with perspectives on synchronic usage across genres and different media, cross-cultural exchange, and long-term continuities. The volume culminates in discussions of complex stories, variously in oral traditions behind medieval sources and relationships between accounts found in medieval sources and those recorded from more recent traditions.

Individually, the chapters variously offer reflexive and historical research criticism, new research frameworks, illustrative studies, and exploratory investigations. Collectively, they illustrate the rapidly evolving multidisciplinary discussion at the intersections of folklore and Old Norse mythology, where the transformative impacts were recently described as a paradigm shift. They open new paths for scholarly discussion with the potential to inspire future research.



Read On-Line: From Theme to Book and Back Again
Joonas Ahola and Frog



Read On-Line: Opening Perspectives on Folklore and Old Norse Mythology
Frog with Joonas Ahola

I Approaches

Folklore, Folkloristics, and an “Old Norse Mythology Method”?
John Lindow

Pre-Christian Religions of the North as Folklore, with Special Reference to the Notion of “Pantheon”
Jens Peter Schjødt

Conceptualising Continuity in the Christianisation: Towards a Discursive Approach
Sophie Bønding

A “Turn to Interdisciplinary Methods” in the Study of Old Norse Mythology and Religion: With a Case Study on the Distribution of the Cult of Freyr
Olof Sundqvist

Mythic Discourse Analysis

II Magic and Ritual

Seiðr and (Sámi) Shamanism: Definitions, Sources, and Identities
Kendra Willson

Notes on historiolas, Referentiality, and Time in Nordic Magical Traditions
Stephen A. Mitchell

The Dead Mother: An Exceptional Nordic Binding Charm
Bengt af Klintberg

Heimdallr’s Charm
Clive Tolley

III Mythic Images and Agents

Divine Gear? “Odinic” Disguise and Its Narrative Contexts in Medieval Icelandic Literature
Joonas Ahola

Women and Axes in the North: Diversity and Meaning in Viking Age Mortuary Practices
Leszek Gardeła

Wise Men and Half Trolls
Rudolf Simek and Valerie Broustin

The Giants and the Critics: A Brief History of Old Norse “Gigantology”
Tommy Kuusela

IV Motifs and Narratives

Mythological Motifs and Other Narrative Elements of Vǫlsunga saga in Icelandic Folk- and Fairytales
Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir

Gotland Picture Stones and Narration
Laila Kitzler Åhfeldt

Genre Matters? Female Suicide in Mythic, Mytho-Heroic, and Historical Contexts
Kirsi Kanerva

Bolli Þorleiksson’s Celtic Horses
Karen Bek-Pedersen

V Stories

Old Norse Myths, Heroic Legends, and Folklore: Sources for Old Norse Religion on the Move
Else Mundal

Phantoms of the Edda: Observations Regarding Eddic Items of Unknown Provenance in the Prose Edda
Joseph S. Hopkins

Magical Fishing in Historia Norwegie: Incomprehensible without Late Folklore
Eldar Heide

George Marwick’s Account of “The Muckle Tree or Igasill”: Folklore or Literature?
Terry Gunnell (with Tom Muir)

Read On-Line: Indices

Index of Persons

Index of Sources

General Index


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