Hárbarðsljóð: the Oedipus myth of the North? CONFERENCE: MEMORIES, EXPERIENCES, PERSPECTIVES The 40th Anniversary of Scandinavian Studies in Gdansk


Myth – as conceptualized by Mircea Eliade – „is thought to express the absolute truth, because it narrates a sacred history; that is, a transhuman revelation which took place at the dawn of the Great Time, in the holy time of the beginnings (in Illo Tempore)” (Eliade, 1967).

The said „truth” of the mythological narrative resides in its psychological function. When people were recounting mythological stories – which in itself belong to the realm of the divine – at the same time they were associating them with the occurrences in the reality that surrounded them, and the „sole existence of the gods was associated with the existence of a storm, the sea, rivers and powerful human emotions”(Armstrong, 2004). In this sense a mythical event happened once but it is also happening again and again. It is a model story in which a psychological process is represented by the existence of the gods; a psychological process re-enacted continuously inside of every one of us – as well as between people – in social processes, in which we all participate.

Across the years the Norse myths have been analyzed by experts from various fields – such as archaeology, history or philology to name just a few – yet psychologists rarely have paid them any attention, which becomes even more surprising if we consider the amount of effort they’ve been putting into investigations of Greek mythology. I believe that it is time to finally make up for this omission and see what contribution we – as psychologists – have to offer.

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