(all images via weneeddiversebooks.)
So here’s the punchline.
I write books that use elements and characters from Norse mythology. Things being what they are, there’s a certain level of, well, racism that’s difficult to shift from that, thanks to decades of baggage. The link between the Viking gods and white supremacist movements is, sadly, a strong one.
It’s also a-historic.
The world was divided into three parts: from the south, extending into the west and bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, — all this part was called Africa, the southern quarter of which is hot, so that it is parched with the sun. The second part, from west to north and bordering on the ocean, is called [Europe]; its northern part is so cold that no grass grows upon it, and no man dwells there. From the north and all down over the eastern part, even to the south, is called Asia. In that region of the world is all fairness and pride, and the fruits of the earth’s increase, gold and jewels. There also is the centre of the earth; and even as the land there is lovelier and better in every way than in other places, so also were the sons of men there most favored with all goodly gifts: wisdom, and strength of the body, beauty, and all manner of knowledge.
Near the earth’s centre was made that goodliest of homes and haunts that ever have been, which is called Troy, even that which we call [Turkey]. This abode was much more gloriously made than others, and fashioned with more skill of craftsmanship in manifold wise, both in luxury and in the wealth which was there in abundance. There were twelve kingdoms and one High King, and many sovereignties belonged to each kingdom; in the stronghold were twelve chieftains. These chieftains were in every manly part greatly above other men that have ever been in the world. One king among them was called Múnón or Mennón; and he was wedded to the daughter of the High King Priam, her who was called Tróán; they had a child named Trór, whom we call Thor.
In the northern half of his kingdom [Thor] found the prophetess that is called Síbil, whom we call Sif, and wedded her. The lineage of Sif I cannot tell; she was fairest of all women, and her hair was like gold. Their son was Lóridi, who resembled his father; his son was Einridi, his son Vingethor, his son Vingener, his son Móda, his son Magi, his son Seskef, his son Bedvig, his son Athra (whom we call Annarr), his son Ítermann, his son Heremód, his son Skjaldun (whom we call Skjöld), his son Bjáf (whom we call Bjárr), his son Ját, his son Gudólfr, his son Finn, his son Fríallaf (whom we call Fridleifr); his son was he who is named Vóden, whom we call Odin: he was a man far-famed for wisdom and every accomplishment. His wife was Frígídá, whom we call Frigg.
That’s from the Prologue to the Prose Edda, one of the two main surviving text sources we have that describe the Norse myths.
That’s right. #WeNeedDiverseBooks because it was less controversial for a thirteenth century Icelander to say his people’s traditional gods were the descendants of Turkish migrants, from a place
“lovelier and better in every way than in other places” and with people who were
“most favored with all goodly gifts: wisdom, and strength of the body, beauty, and all manner of knowledge”… It was less controversial in the thirteenth century for a guy to write that than it was for Marvel to cast a Black man to play an alien version of Heimdall in a film nearly eight hundred years later.
That’s fucked up.