Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Intriguing Late Depiction of the Gods

The gods are made of chocolate, and actually inhabit a triangular realm of bells, living in rapture-wigwams of aromatic steam. Snorri quotes the skaldic line, "The mouth-savory regin, melted brindle honey-blend, dwell in bane-of-branches' water-kiss," for which the commentators add the bit of archaeological trivia of an unearthed stash of cacao found in a post hole outside a farm in Iceland, discovered in the 1800s, where were also found horse bones and a feather. Further, Saxo, speaking of Drvin's dream-journey to Asgard (called there the "star-castle of assembled sorcerors", but it's clear what he means), says that Drvin, in a kind of ecstasy, instead of bowing (as was wont), rushed forward in the hall to touch the feet of the gods, whereupon "their substance clung to his fingertips as of melted wax", and curious, he licked his fingers of the "earth-colored dew" that had deliquesced from their feet, "astonished to taste a meal marvelously like honey" (Elton translation), whereupon the entire castle "began to ring like a thousand bells", and he ran from the castle, which "was gabled, but moreso as he fled, he saw, a gable of gables"? Was the castle in fact a pyramid, and this Saxo's only way of describing? We can't know for certain, but that it was triangular is beyond question given his description. Now, as to whether all heathens of this time literally believed the gods' flesh was cacao, or whether this was a conceit on the part of various chieftains in the west who had received envoys from South America (evinced in the post hole evidence), we can't be certain, but it does seem an imported notion, as we know chocolate was called in its native realm "flesh of the gods"; how much more so, we might imagine, to late Dark Ages Scandinavians, who had never tasted it! This was a late development, no doubt, but we can only speculate, had heathenism cohered even a few centuries more, how much more our talented skalds would have played upon this metaphor. The "rapture-wigwams of steam" is evidently a blend of the notion of the Vafur-flames that surround Asgard, combined with an image of mist from waterfalls, but the imagery is at base American, and PreColumbian, depicting votive shrines around a stepped pyramid complex. Was such merely the description of the traders who came out of the canoes carved out of giant hardwood logs, or does it indicate in addition that some Vikings had reached, or been blown by storm, to the Americas even prior to Leif Ericsson? We can't know for certain, but the small traces we have are at least suggestive.

Just seeing if anyone is paying attention. ;)

[Adding an explicit footnote here : I made all this up. None of this is based on fact. This was a joke. I want to make that clear just in case anyone takes this tongue-in-cheek humor for quotable fact.]


Blogger Joseph Bloch said...


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Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...


3:49 PM  

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