Of the different creation myths, and the emergence of something like original sin, I think one of the more powerful narratives comes from the Norse tradition. Aside: I’ve never cared for the Edenic narrative and the fruit from the tree of knowledge, at least the way it was told to me as a child. It seems to promulgate the notion that disobedience, the expression of curiosity and the act of straying into the forbidden were the triggers for Original Sin. To me, the quest for knowledge is a desirable thing–a manifestation of intellectual curiosity. Civil disobedience, if in protest of an unjust edict is an appropriate form of expression, and the eating of the fruit of the tree is heroic, even if it does mean that as a result, one perforce leaves a state of clueless innocence and moves into a wearier, knowing state of mind that reveals the world with all its beauties and its flaws.
But the idea of some kind of original sin, or fall from grace, in the context of the Norse narratives, intrigues me. I love the idea of Odin giving up one eye for the ability to see by other means–a different conception of the sacrifice that is required for knowledge, wisdom, the ability to be able to see past the everyday. But the other thread of the myth–which Wagner drew from and adapted in his Ring of the Nibelungen–presents this tradition’s version of a fall from grace, namely the idea that Valhalla was built on the basis of a promise that Odin (Wotan, in the Wagnerian cycle) never intended to keep. He promised to give one of the young goddesses under his charge to the giants as payment for their work in building the hall that was meant to house and embody the glory of the gods. But it soon turns out that he never intended to pay up. Continue reading