Monday, 26 June 2017
During the Middle Ages, sex was regarded as a form of political agreement among noble families, and everyone else it was a spiritual agreement with the Church, viewed as the place closest to God. So couples were expected to be married and have sex only to fulfil making heirs and families. With nobles and peasantry alike, young people were given a similar diet of spiritual teachings that informed them early on that marriage is a part of life. It was decided among families, especially the parents, on who their children should soon one day be married to.
Arranged marriages were done to set aside differences among feuding families, seal agreements, expand ownership of houses and land. Someone could be told the name of their future spouse but have never even met them yet. It could be years before they see their bethrothed. And on the wedding itself, it usually was the first time the couple met.
They would all have been given teachings from the Christian clergy that drummed into their heads the subject of sin. Sex was regarded as a form of evil sin and so the church made strict rules over a married couples private lives. A married couple were told that they should not have sex on certain days of the week,certain times of the month or certain times of the year. The church told couples not to enjoy sex, or to use different sexual positions.
However, the church was lenient on brothels!
People were raised to fear the wrath of the Christian god, and somehow felt that the clergy were able to communicate with this god, and be told about their breaking of rules in the bedroom. For that reason people feared the clergy who were the voices of God and messengers, or priests that conversed always with this supernatural divinity hidden behind the stained glass windows of the churches.
People of both nobility and peasantry were growing up too worried to do much about this. The general public of the Middle Ages were very much conformist out of mortal terror of this god, so much so that they complied with the rules.With regards to sex, did people ever become too passionate in bed to forget about the rules? Or did they feel too scared to enjoy each other?
We can gather that life was pretty mundane during the Middle Ages.
Yet it has an appeal. It's full of chivalry, romance, poetry, knights, merriment, and even naughtiness. Sexual intercourse itself was reserved strictly for married couples to produce children. But there were many times when people went about in a state of undress and touched one another. There is artistic proof of this, paintings of the Middle Ages for example as shown of men and women naked like modern hippies:
Public nudity and baths Middle Ages
Medieval nude party
Naughty weddings, or should I say weird weddings? After the main saying of vows, the feast, music and cheers, there were dreaded wedding nights that both couples often felt nervous about. Firstly, the bedding ritual (it was custom within all classes of people). The couple would be escorted to their chamber, get stripped of their clothes by guests and then were made to get inside their bed. Then the guests would leave the couple to themselves.
There was an even more nerve wracking custom than this during the Middle Ages. That was for the newlyweds to consummate their marriage in front of witnesses. Those witnesses often included the clergy and officials to ensure that the couple had completed their wedding. Among noble families usually, older relatives such as parents of the bride and groom were regarded as official witnesses to a marriage consummation. This was seen to get proof of a future heir being conceived.
Not only was sex difficult in the Middle Ages but not even private! We have the notion of knights in shining armour sweeping a fair maiden to his castle. Of minstrels being the pop stars of the day, making women swoon and love them. Of lords and princes and sirs on horseback, fighting with swords and arrows. Born from this era are favourite tales we know of including Robin Hood and his merry men, King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Merlin, Guinevere, Maid Marion, Merry olde England, as well as a host of fairytales and nursery rhymes.
With the age of war, torture, famine and plague, the fear of God, fear of the devil, fear of church and kings, and even fear of ones parents. We get mythical Middle Ages and romantic chivalry and beautiful maidens and knights so bold. How can we ever imagine what life was like unless we read books or look at paintings from the era? People of the Middle Ages had all these sets of rules to follow so they had to make do. And they did what they could, despite what the rules told them because we're here as a result aren't we.
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Monday, 19 June 2017
In the book series "A Song of Ice and Fire" (written by George R. R. Martin), there are characters who stand out and parallel with gods and heroes of Norse legends. I shall list some of those.
1. Three Eyed Crow = Odin.
2. Robert Baratheon = Thor.
3. Jaime Lannister = Tiw.
4. Eddard/Ned Stark = Fenrir.
5. Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish = Loki the trickster.
6. The Wall = Bifrost.
7. Rhaegar Targaryen = Baldur
8. Cersei = Frigga.
9. Asha Greyjoy = Ran.
10. Daenerys = Sol/Sunna.
11. Melisandre = Hel.
12. Gregor Clegane = Troll
14. Margaery Tyrell = Freya.
15. Ygritte = Skadi.
16. Jon Snow = Heimdall
17. Sandor Clegane = Garm
18. Varys = Kvasir
19. Tyrion Lannister = Fafnir
20. Catelyn Tully/Stark = Fylgia
21. Arthur Dayne = Sigurd
22. Howland Reed = Vidar
23. Dragon glass = Adder stone
24.Old Valyria = Niflheim
25. Jorah Mormont = Berserker
26. Weirwood tree = Yggdrasil
27. Silent Sisters = Norns
28. House Martell = Jormungandr
29. Bran Stark = Geri/Freki
30. Robb Stark = Hati/Skoll
31. Arya Stark = Valkyrie
32. Sansa Stark = Vanadis
33. Wildfire = Surtalogi
The three-eyed crow appears as a teacher to Bran. He trains him how to warg and time travel with sight. The three eyed crow is an old man who lived beneath the earth, tangled in roots. He's the last Greenseer, or a person who can see into the future. Odin was tied to a tree and had to go through tests and there found great wisdom of the cosmos. Odin is associated with crows and ravens.The weirwood trees are like the Yggdrasil, a massive galactic white ash tree that contains entrances to many worlds. The white walkers and the "Winter is coming" is like prophesy of Ragnarok.
In life, the Three-Eyed Crow was the last of the greenseers (magical people who could see into the future). His name was Brynden Rivers, or "Lord Bloodraven". He was a sorcerer who lost an eye and wore an eye patch. Odin the All-Father lost an eye and wears an eye patch. With him is one of the wolf children (Bran Stark, son of Ned Stark) who sits with him to learn lessons about the spirit realm. Bran is a trainee warg, and is able to see into the past.
Bran is also a young wolf at the Three-Eyed Crows' side. Odin has two wolves Geri and Freki. The three-eyed-raven called to Bran Stark after Ned died. It's as though the three-eyed-raven selected Bran for the wolf-lord position knowing that Robb Stark, who was alive earlier in the story, was going to die. Ned Stark was slain and Jon Snow is now the new "king of the north" (Although technically Bran is the new lord of Winterfell because he's now the eldest son of Ned Stark, and Jon is Ned's nephew).
(Edited: 22/06/2017) I just wanted to add that there is very little info on any named she-wolves in Norse mythology. There's only some scant poetic mentions of mother wolves and women riding on the backs of wolves. So there is no Norse counterparts to Arya and Sansa although there is in other pantheons. Arya is actually like Hati/Skoll but a girl and not a male wolf. She's also very much a valkyrie too and some of the valkyries rode wolves (or became wolves even). In Norse (and also in other Germanic myths), there are different types of Valkyries: Swan maidens. Crow maidens. Shield maidens. Wolf maidens. Arya has a death list of all those she wants to die. She's a chooser of the slain and "reaper" aspect to a Valkyrie.
Sansa Stark is a very different wolf maiden. Her own wolf, Lady, was killed by her father. Without Lady, she lost her wolf self and her true self. She became a victim of abuse and a prisoner at Kings Landing, then forced into marrying Tyrion Lannister. When she was taken out of Kings Landing, she was further victimised by her aunt, then Ramsey Bolton. After what she's been through I don't think Sansa is a gentle flower. She's a wolf. I believe she's also another Valkyrie (but also like Vanadis the wolf side of Freyja even).
Daenerys Targaryen is like the Norse sun goddess that sweeps across the world bringing light. The goddess Sunna rode across the sky in a blazing hot fiery chariot pulled by two bright horses. Daenerys rode a blazing white horse named Silver. Her second horse that she rode was a man, Khal Drogo, lord of horses and warrior and husband. Daenerys is the new (reborn) sun goddess. When her husband (Khal Drogo) died, Daenerys entered the fire, and was reborn. She's the unburnt. The former sun goddess Sol perished, and then her daughter Sunna was born. Now Daenerys rides fire-breathing dragons across the sky!
There are many "Norse strays" in that world of Ice and Fire. Arya Stark is a stray valkyrie. She's got a sword and keeps learning all she can about fighting and killing. Her wolf brothers are not around her to help guide her. There are also the vicious Sand Snakes, shield maidens, desert valkyries. In the "Ice and Fire" books are stray völva (in Norse myth a Volva is a seeress and shamaness usually holding a staff). One of them is the Ghost of High Heart. She's a mysterious woman with a staff and has psychic visions.
I believe here that the gods themselves have been appearing to the author of these books while writing. It's my opinion that Martin could be psychic and maybe channelling from gods and spirits. Whether he knew or sensed this or not, I have no idea. It's possible that maybe he and also other writers get their inspiration through "automatic writing" or friendly "spirit possession" as they create worlds. There is just too much heavy feedback vibes coming from those book characters that they might very well have lived!
(Footnote: I might post more on this subject).
Above is the painting of Bloodraven by James Zapata
If you like this type of thing also read George R.R. Martin is writing myth
and Game of Thrones Norse mythology