Sagas and tales from Medieval Iceland

Thidrandi whom the Goddesses Slew

14th century, Old Norse, Iceland.

They are all female. All reckoned likely by this Christian writer to be goddesses. Goddesses who slew Thidrandi.

'The Medieval Icelandic tale Thidrandi Whom the Goddesses Slew reveals itself to be Christian propaganda at the end,' said Quintin. 'The seer Thorhall seems positively joyful when he is visiting his old friend Hall once again and listens to all the hills opening and all the pagan spirits packing up their bags and leaving. He bursts into laughter. And a little later, we are told, Christianity came to Iceland.'

'Look at the whole story, though,' said Miranda. 'A man who can see into the future comes to stay with an old friend and warns everyone not to go out on a certain night. So this fateful night arrives, a dreadful snowstorm is blowing and hardly anyone has come to a feast that has been arranged. The few guests retire for the night and go to sleep. There is a knock at the door. The son of the house feels that he cannot ignore it, just in case it is a party of guests who have had difficulty travelling and have arrived late. So he goes to the door. But there is no one there. Imagining that the person who was knocking may have gone back to others who are trailing behind, he goes outside and walks over to the home field outside the farm. Here he is attacked by spirits on horseback who cut him to the ground and he dies shortly after dawn in his father's arms. The seer explains that the spirits were ghosts of the ancestors of the land, and even the mounted spirits of living people riding through the night, angry that Christianity is soon to arrive and will be imposed by law, and eager to vent that anger in an act of senseless violence against such a fine upstanding young man as Hall’s son.'

'So how is it significant?' asked Quintin.

'The spirits of the ancestors,' replied Miranda. 'The ghosts and supernatural manifestations that are so angry at the coming of Christianity. They are all female. All reckoned likely by this Christian writer to be goddesses. Goddesses who slew Thidrandi.'

Story recounted from: Jones, Gwyn, 1961, reprinted 2008. Eirik the Red, and other Icelandic Sagas (Oxford World's Classics). Oxford University Press. Thidrandi Whom the Goddesses Slew, pp 158–62.

See for yourself

Saga - Wikipedia

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Þiðranda þáttr ok Þórhalls - Wikipedia

The Story of Thidrandi Hallsson – Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, by H R Ellis-Davidson. Guardian Spirits, p 106.

Matrons and Disir – The Heathen Tribal Mothers.


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