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Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 57

The Goddess of Spring

The physical explanation of this myth is obvious. Idun, the emblem of vegetation, is forcibly carried away in autumn, when Bragi is absent and the singing of the birds has ceased. The cold wintry wind, Thiassi, detains her in the frozen, barren north, where she cannot thrive, until Loki, the south wind, brings back the seed or the swallow, which are both precursors of the returning spring. The youth, beauty, and strength conferred by Idun are symbolical of Nature’s resurrection in spring after winter’s sleep, when colour and vigour return to the earth, which had grown wrinkled and grey.

Idun Falls to the Nether World

As the disappearance of Idun (vegetation) was a yearly occurrence, we might expect to find other myths dealing with the striking phenomenon, and there is another favourite of the old scalds which, unfortunately, has come down to us only in a fragmentary and very incomplete form. According to this account, Idun was once sitting upon the branches of the sacred ash Yggdrasil [109]when, growing suddenly faint, she loosed her hold and dropped to the ground beneath, and down to the lowest depths of Nifl-heim. There she lay, pale and motionless, gazing with fixed and horror-struck eyes upon the gruesome sights of Hel’s realm, trembling violently the while, like one overcome by penetrating cold.


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