Norse Mythology

Our knowledge of the Norse gods has been gleaned from ancient stories, usually called myths. These myths take place in the remote past and often describe the struggle between good and evil. Although the main characters have a human form, they have superhuman qualities. The events are both down- to-earth and supernatural.

Down through the ages, mythology has influenced peoples ideological and religious awareness. Many of the myths are rich in detail, making mythology more than just a collection of entertaining stories. Our most important source of knowledge about Norse mythology is Snorre Sturlasson’s Edda, which was written around 1220.

The myth from which the subject of the stamp has been taken is about two gods, Balder and Lola. Balder is the son of Odin and Snorre portrays him as successful in every way. He is handsome and he is so fair that he seems to shine. He is also wise and eloquent He lives at Breidablikk, which is in heaven.

Loki is a demonical and malicious trickster. Snorrc describes him as the father of duplicity and a disgrace to the gods and mankind. He is good-looking, hut evil-minded. Although he is married to Sigyn, he has a relationship with the giantess Angerhoda. They have three children, all monstrous creatures: the Fenrir wolf, the Midgard serpent (Jormungand) and Hel, goddess of the underworld.

Loki is jealous of Balder’s success and wants him dead. However, he is too much of a coward to kill him himself. He tricks Hod, Balder’s blind brother, into shooting a dart of mistletoe and helps him to aim. The twig goes through Balder and he falls dead.

The Aesir take Balder’s corpse and carry it down to the sea, where they build a funeral pyre on his ship, Ringhorne. When Balder’s wife Nanna sees this, it breaks her heart. She and Balder’s horse are also laid on the pyre. Thor, god of thunder, consecrates the pyre with his hammer.

On the left of the stamp, as a separate element, we can also see Njord. He is god of the winds, sea and fire. Seamen and fishermen pray to him for good weather and good fishing.

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