This Week in History: Althing

This week in 930 CE, the chieftains of Iceland established the Althing, which remains the country’s parliament. It’s the world’s oldest surviving legislature. Northmen (sometimes called Vikings) had arrived on the island about 60 years before, and now they set about to govern themselves – meeting outdoors at a place called Thingvellir, which means “assembly fields,” near modern-day Reykjavik.

Continue reading “This Week in History: Althing”

Snow White May Have Begun as a Sexy Goddess

Freya_by_Penrose
“Freyja and the Necklace,” by J. Doyle Penrose (1862-1932), c. 1913

In the myths of the Norse and other Germanic peoples, Freya is the beautiful goddess of sex, love, and fertility — and of war and death. She drives a chariot pulled by cats, treasures the pig as her sacred animal, and wears a powerful golden necklace called Brisingamen. According to one story, Brisingamen is the work of a troop of dwarves. While visiting the dwarves’ cave, Freya sees the beautiful necklace and begs to buy it. But the misshapen smiths already have plenty of treasure, so they demand a higher price. In exchange for the necklace, Freya stays in the cave until she’s slept with each dwarf. Continue reading “Snow White May Have Begun as a Sexy Goddess”