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Old July 6th, 2018, 09:16 PM   #1

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Norse Myth: Dwarves and Dwarfism

While Germanic religion was the most popular in Scandinavia how did people view those who suffered from dwarfism? How did it change when Christianity became the dominant religion?
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Old July 7th, 2018, 04:12 AM   #2
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I've pulled out some references from Well Spring of the Goths:

"Vanir are fertility- and vegetation-gods but there are also a number of lower, but related, deities like elfven, dwarfs and giants (resar). Also other lower deities/nature spirits are vättar, huldror, rån and troll. "

"In the story of the Scaldic Mead tradition tells that asir and vanir, when they made peace after the civil war, spit into the same bowl. Of this there was a fermentation and hence Kvasir was created. He had the wisdom of both god families. (Skáldskaparmál)(Dumezil) He was killed by the dwarfs Fjalar and Galar and his blood was poured into three barrels. Out of this came as well the simple kvassöl (kvassbeer) as the more sophisticated brew in Odrörer, the scaldic mead."

"Giants and dwarfs live in mountains and caves but not all giants. Some of them live like well being landowners. Many interpret the word jätte (giant) as referring just to a well being landowner (farmer) from a pre-IE culture having been superposed by the IE folks."

"Dwarfs and resar may both be regarded as earth deities and the resar also as chaos-forces. Certain giantesses are also regarded as earth- and moon-goddesses."

"In divinities above are included also beings like dises, elfvens, dwarfs, giants, elementary spirits like gnomes etc."
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Old July 10th, 2018, 09:57 PM   #3
Joined: Apr 2017
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Originally Posted by RidiculousName View Post
While Germanic religion was the most popular in Scandinavia how did people view those who suffered from dwarfism? How did it change when Christianity became the dominant religion?
You can not solve this with religion.

The problem is, what you might take for Germanic religion, because you said Scandinavia, that are no religious texts. These are sagas, tales, stories that are highly progressed and artistic expended of a time after the Germanic pantheons vanished for centuries.

What happened was that on the continent they replaced the pagan pantheon with Christian terms, names etc. in Scandinavia that did not happen so fast, because they are on the edge of the continent and by that the interaction zones.
Nevertheless did have the interaction with southern Europeans and of cause Christianity an impact on them.

So if you read the Edda, do not get the idea that people were standing around stones and prayed to how Thor dressed up as a bride to get his hammer back from the giants.
That is a comedy tale for entertainment. That Thor already has a hammer is an outcome of Christianity.

Second are (and you can see this on Authun's post) dwarfs and the like spirits. The believe in supernatural things has nothing to do with religion.
The only reason why it is not popular anymore in Christianity or its culture zone is because both major churches targeted such believes to extinct them in the 19th century.
That we had that rise of occultism that finally ended in the most popular symbol: The swastika. Is a counter-reaction of eliminating such believes.
That is why that is on the same rise in the later 19th century like the fantasy-genre. Our spirits, our ghosts our Elfs became fictional characters, while on the edge (again Scandinavia or East-Europe) it prevailed to a specific amount longer.

Your connection is very modern, because no matter how you imagine spirits – the fundamental thing is always that they are not human.
That maybe some witch-doctor somehow – somewhere connected human traits to the spirit world – taken for granted, but it was never the party-line.

So the only way how you can look at this – is the outcome of Christianity by the church onto the societies.

The church introduced monogamy into the Germanic areas. Why did they do this? To counter incest.

The Germanic societies are polygamic. Why? Because children are wealth. They have a value of prosperity.
Now you do not have to be very smart to understand that one woman can only give birth to a specific amount of children.
It is more or less in average 10, if you live in the deepest jungle.
Ten children are great – but if you would have two women – you would make 20 children.
That is why even girls in the iron-age or even today agree to such. It has an advantage for all, because all of them are now related.
The downside is that now the man or husband is the link between all these women and children.
Without him they are no family. This leads then to that patriarchal societies always focus on the male part of a family (via laws, ideologies etc.).

So far so good. But now here comes nature which gives a damn about how you run your human society.
So by nature always the same amount of girls and boys are born.
This results automatically into the situation – that you have to many boys. The girls are set to 100%.
No matter how they look or what status they are, because they produce the wealth and you will protect that wealth.

Means – if everything fails you might consider marry your daughter to her brother, her cousin or uncle, as it is a better choice than marry her off to a stranger.
To give you a number how much incest you have. By the UN ca. 50% of all Muslims on our planet are the children of parents who are related in first or second grade to each other.

And not all Muslims are living anymore in the desert or the jungle. That gives you an idea how that looks like in black-country (means far away from civilization) India (as Hindus do the same thing) or 1000 years ago in Germanic Europe. And even today – to marry your cousin is legal in Germany.

So the impact of shifting from polygamy to monogamy by the church, by their perception of Christianity, is the real social impact.

Now how did that look like before and after? Girls are set. Your daughter is a valuable asset, because her children/her sons – have a right onto your wealth. And her looks do not matter at all.
Boys on the other hand – have to struggle.
As you can imagine that polygamic societies are highly violent, because you have to many boys who try to raise their status no matter how to gain a mate/wife/girl.

For the Germans this resulted into a mercenary-culture. Means you have boys who gather up and looking for places of conflict to fight.
And as Caesar hit them – they did that for so long and progressed so far in that culture, that these guys could not only mess with the Romans (I skip now why that was possible), but on top of that already had girls heading into the same direction to expand the time before being married off, sponsored by female deities in direct war connections.
That was so popular that they invented their own form of gender-seperation of people wearing armor in displays.
This is against the original concept that girls go to war anyhow, too. So weird (by a natural perception, about what this is all about (producing children)) they already were 50 BC.

In this world – you have an extremely hard time if you are off the average as a boy. So if dwarfism is your trait – you compete here with guys in the killing-business about your status. Not only with strangers – you can have up to 60 siblings (if your dad is a high member) who can compete with each other and 30 of them might be your brothers.

With the shift to monogamy – you have 100% less competition and that mercenary-cultures died – to a specific extend – out in the medieval time.

So basically for girls the competition rises, because their importance is less. Other values become more important than children.
While for boys the competition gets down, because now there is a higher chance that you find a mate.

Are these dramatic changes? No. Even today in our society you have two children as a male or none. After all we are all humans and we click on the same old ancient instincts and it does not matter if a girl got ordered to pick a mate or if she does this on her freedom of choice. This mate will be always picked by a filter system, based on his status.

So to some this up:

Your chances being killed as a boy are less with Christianity, but not much.
Development makes it possible – to secure your survival, that is based on science and not believe, specifically not supernatural believes, because this results into a direct de-humanziation.
Might turn out well for you, if you are lucky – but that can very fast back-fire, because there is a wall between you and the rest of society if you are the Elf-hybrid and that you do not want to be in a society where are not enough girls for the boys, because you are competition.
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Old July 11th, 2018, 12:30 AM   #4
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In Norse mythology dvarves lived in mountains and caves, just like other creatures like trolls. We still have the expression "bergtatt", meaning "taken by the mountain". It's pretty much a synonym to "spellbound".

Dwarves were said to work with mining and were expert smiths, especially in gold. The godess Freya even had sex with dwarves for three days to get the necklace Brisingamen.

They were related to other supernatural beings like "vetter" (plural) and especially elves ("alv" in the singular). Dwarves often had names ending with "alv" or "alf", such as Alfr, Gandalfr or Vindalfr.

According to the Icelandic historian Snorri Sturlason (1179 –1241) the Norse believed four dwarves carried the world on their shoulders, one in each orientation. They were named Vestre, Nordre, Østre and Søndre (Western, Northern, Eastern and Southern).

Last edited by Number24; July 11th, 2018 at 12:35 AM.
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