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Masks of Odin

Masks of Odin

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Published by Jessie Lajoie
A text that describes the different merits of old Asatru cultural norms and eddas in terms of modern scientific advancements.
A text that describes the different merits of old Asatru cultural norms and eddas in terms of modern scientific advancements.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jessie Lajoie on Aug 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Theosophical University Press Online Edition
The Masks of Odin:
Wisdom of the Ancient Norse
By Elsa-Brita Titchenell
ForewordPreface AcknowledgmentsPronunciation GuideBibliographyGlossaryPART I: COMMENTARY 1Myths—A Time Capsule2The Tree of Life—Yggdrasil3Gods and Giants4Cosmic Creation5Terrestrial Creation6Nature’s Kingdoms7Rig, Loki, and the Mind8Human Death and Rebirth9Initiation
10Voluspa(The Sibyl’s Prophecy)11Gylfaginning(The Apotheosis of Gylfe)12Havamal(The High One’s Words)13Vaftrudnismal(The Lay of Illusion)14Thor and Loki in Jotunheim(Gianthome)15Hymiskvadet(Hymer’s Lay)16Grimnismal(Grimner’s Lay)17Trymskvadet(The Theft of Thor’s Hammer)18Kvadet om Rig(The Lay of Rig)19Loki Steals the Brisinga-Gem20Grottasongr(The Song of the Mill)21Volundskvadet(The Lay of Volund)22Lokasenna(Loki’s Flyting)23Allvismal(The Lay of Allwise)24Grogaldern and Fjolsvinn’s Ordskifte(The Spells of Groa and Verywise’sExchange)25Skirnismal(The Lay of Skirner)
26Vagtamskvadet(The Lay of Waywont)27Odens Korpgalder(The Lay of Odin’s Corpse or The Lay of Odin’s Ravens)28A Summing Up
 A good many people hearing of the Edda or of the Norse myths think mainly of Balder, the sun-god, who was slain by a twig of mistletoe; or they may conjure upmighty Thor, hurler of thunderbolts and lightning, whose footsteps make the earthquake. Or perhaps they remember Loki, trickster, mischief-maker without malice,who seems constantly to stir up trouble, yet as often by imaginative wit andintelligence resolves the difficulties he has caused.The Masks of Odin is a provocative study of “the wisdom of the ancient Norse.” While it portrays the various aspects and forms that Odin assumes in order to gainknowledge of the nine worlds inhabited by gods and giants, humans, elves, anddwarfs, Elsa-Brita Titchenell has a larger purpose in view. As a serious student of both Edda and Theosophy her loom is cosmic in reach, its warp representing thetheosophia perennis or enduring god-wisdom and its woof the Edda, whose many-colored threads she weaves into colorful and often inspiring patterns of interpretation.The world’s oldest traditions hold that long ago all peoples, however widelyseparated, were the common inheritors of a body of sacred truths initially impartedto the earliest humanities by divine beings from higher regions; and, further, thatmyth-makers of every land were in greater or less degree transmitters of thisarchaic wisdom/science. Against this backdrop the author undertakes to interpretsome of the more important sagas of the Norse Edda, retranslating them from theSwedish text and comparing it with the original Icelandic. Her aim is not tohammer out just another version of the Edda when already several in English areavailable both in prose and verse, but rather “to penetrate to the core of inspiredmeaning” hidden within the world’s mythic lore. To attempt this would have beenout of the question, she believes, but for two radical changes in the generalthought life: first, the disclosure about a century ago of a significant portion of theuniversal theosophic philosophy by H. P. Blavatsky and its emancipating effect onthe human spirit, and second, the new developments in Western science.In Part I Elsa Titchenell outlines the broad features of the principal charactersinvolved in the drama of cosmic and terrestrial creation as recorded in the Edda,including the gifts to early mankind of spirit, mind, and vitality by three Aesir(gods) so that we humans in time might become “godmakers.” Relating theosophicteachings and current findings of astrophysics and physics to traditional mythicsymbols she depicts the ancient mythographers as philosophers and scientists of stature. To the Norse bards or skalds, the interplay between gods and giantsrepresented the continuous interaction of spirit and matter on a series of “shelves” or planes as “rivers of lives” moved, each after its own manner, through mansionafter mansion of planetary and solar spheres within Allfather-Odin’s domain.
In Part II, the author’s Notes preceding the translated lays provide the reader withan invaluable guide through the often bewildering maze of metaphor and symbolicallusion. The opening saga is the well-known Voluspa or Sibyl’s Prophecy, that tellsof the formation of worlds, of Odin’s search for wisdom in the spheres of matter,and of the “toppling of the world tree” when the gods withdraw and earth is nomore—until the Vala (Sibyl) sees another earth rising from the sea as old ills areresolved and the Aesir return. In the High One’s Song, we read of Odin’sconsummate experience when for nine whole nights he “hung in the windtorntree,” the Tree of Life, so that he might “raise the runes” and drink the mead of omniscience.There is much to delight and instruct in the retelling of lay after lay, each with itsown story and truth to impart. Admittedly only a portion of the available material istreated, and this is drawn chiefly from the Poetic or Elder Edda of Saemund theWise. Cognizant, moreover, of the challenge posed by the mystery-language of symbolism in use by the poet-philosophers of old, the author is hopeful that otherswill find in this “fragment of runic wisdom” the stimulus to pursue further and morecomplete studies of the ancient Norse records.Whether writing as Eddist or theosophist, amateur scientist, mythographer, ortranslator, Elsa-Brita Titchenell by lucid and perceptive scholarship has earned forThe Masks of Odin an honored place among Edda literature.
It was in the early 1950s when the writer picked up a book at random in theTheosophical University Library in Altadena—a beautifully bound volume of theEdda in Swedish. Though familiar since childhood with at least some portions of theNorse “god-stories” this was the first time I had read the poetic lays of the ElderEdda. Browsing through the verses and delighting in their picturesque “kennings,” Iwas enjoying the quaint turns of phrase when suddenly, as by a lightning bolt, Iwas struck by a dazzling flash of meaning, a hint of basic truth. Skeptical at first, Ibegan to read with greater attention and soon became convinced that the Eddaranks among the world’s sacred traditions as a genuine scripture, a goldmine of natural history and spiritual treasure. This is connoted also by its Swedish name:gudasaga—a divine story or god-spell—the archaic form of the word “gospel.” Many years later, after much scrutiny and comparison with other myths, enoughevidence of the Edda’s scriptural content had accumulated to warrant collating atleast a few fragments that seem to have secreted in them a discernible esotericmeaning. Among the great wealth of material in the Norse myths it has beennecessary to be selective, partly because there are several versions of many of thetales, partly because the purpose of this book is to bring out and suggestinterpretations of those myths which are of particular relevance in our time.Most of the lays and stories herein are translated from the Codex Regius—the “royal codex”—which was written down by Saemund the Wise a thousand years

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