So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Norse Goddess. Monica Sjöö

The Norse Goddess. Monica Sjöö

The author starts this book with the sentence: "I am an Earth Mysteries Goddess artist of many years." Monica Sjöö, in addition to being an artist, was also the author of The Great Cosmic Mother, an influential book on Goddess religions published in 1987. As a writer and artist she was a major voice in feminist spirituality for the past 30 years. Monica Sjöö died in August 2005 after fighting cancer for several years.

In this book she turned her attention and thoughts to the ancient goddesses of her home country Sweden. We get a powerful and personal work on the feminist roots of Norse mythology and their impact on Scandinavian history and the Saami and Vanir peoples of the region. The book is illustrated with 15 black-and-white reproductions of her art. A color reproduction of the author's painting Nordic Mother of the Animals is on the front cover.

The book tells the story of how the author explored and researched the sites and myths of the northern goddesses and the native peoples of Scandinavia who worshipped them. As such it is more personal than scholarly in approach and I reccomend it more to artists and feminists than to theologians and historians. Although the book is predominantly a feminist look at Norse mythology, there is enough information about the Saami people of northern Sweden to make it interesting to readers seeking information about them.
The Norse goddess is examined in her various manifestations as Hel, Freya, Frigga, Nerthus, Ilmatar, the four Ahkkas (Madder-Ahkka, Sarahkka, Juksahkka, and Uksahkka), and the three Norns (Urd, Verdandi, and Skald). The relationship of the goddess with the ancient Saami and Vanir peoples is explored as well as her eventual displacement by the Nordic male gods of the invading Indo-Europeans.


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