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.