Will our customs and stories live on for centuries or be lost in time? That's what we think today, and our ancestors may have asked the same question.
It is interesting to note that many beliefs from the past, even from civilizations that no longer exist, have stood the test of time and continue to influence us in our daily lives.
For example, the Nordic myths, a time when oral tradition prevailed over written tradition, a time of gods and legends. We are still reminded of this way of life and these beliefs today, and we use their folklore to entertain ourselves. As reported in the BBC Carolyne Larrington, a professor at Oxford University, has published a new book entitled “The Norse myths that shape the way we think,” which explains how Norse myths are still present in our culture.
Let's start with the famous world tree, Yggdrasill, which reminded us that the world was not infinite and connected the nine worlds. Even today, it is used as a metaphor for the link between all living beings. Moreover, while other religions blame plagues and floods on the wrath of a god, Norse mythology also takes into account the impact of humans, who damage the world-tree as they thrive, which resonates greatly with today's landscape.
Without dragons, history is no good
As Tolkien said, “a story is not worth telling if there are no dragons”. And if there is one thing that abounds in Norse myths, it is dragons. Powerful creatures, able to fly and to fire, that sow chaos wherever they go. The famous Níðhöggr was the dragon of Niflheim in Norse mythology, an enemy of the gods. Nowadays, a fantasy story usually includes dragons, good or bad, but dragons nonetheless.
The theme of the end of the world as punishment for our sins is widespread.
The myth of the end of time is something very clear to the Norse with the Ragnarok, the end of the gods. It is clearly a reflection of the Christian Armageddon. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok ends with the final battle between the gods, demons and giants, the outcome of which is known: the gods die. Thus, the world will be consumed by fire and ice. This concept of the end of the world has been used in series like “Game of Thrones”, series, books and songs.
On the other hand, the idea of fate is a central pillar of Norse mythology and has endured to this day. The belief is that each person has a destiny written by the gods. This concept has been used to understand the world and the actions of people. Many people even use fate as a way to resign themselves to the things that happen to them, good or bad.
Masculinity and stereotypes
Just as women have their own stereotypes of beauty, which pursue them in all aspects of life, men have carried the myth of masculinity for centuries. In the Nordic world, the figure of the Viking warrior represented a struggle and a need for balance between heroism, personal honor, courage and openness to love. Nothing that we still find today in many literary and audiovisual productions.
Finally, and in relation to masculinity, we cannot fail to mention the myth of the superhero. The mighty Thor, protector and model god, is almost a mantra that is repeated hundreds of times throughout history. Dozens of superheroes base their characters on this Nordic figure, defending the weak and being a trustworthy hero. And we love that.