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The lessons of the 3 gods that created man 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:43 pm
Posts: 9
Hello Everyone,

Voluspa 18 lists the three gods that created man and explains the gifts of each:

Breath (soul) gave Odin
Sense gave Hoenir
“Heat” gave Lothur and fresh complexions.

Has anyone here examined what these gifts are, how they affect us, and the lessons we can learn from them? I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.

The Prose Edda (to my mind a far less reliable source than the Poetic Edda) tells us that the three goods that created man are the “Sons of Bor”; which, if correct, would make Odin, Hoenir & Lothur brothers (other names for Vili and Ve).

Snorri describes the gifts from these three brothers in the Prose Edda as:

“The first gave them spirit and life; the second wit and feeling; the third form, speech, hearing & sight”.

With regards to Lothur’s gifts, “form” and “fresh complexions” would tie come togeher in the human appearance. But how does “heat” relate to “speech, hearing & sight”? Also, if sight and hearing are the gifts of Lothur, then the “sense” given by Hoenir would seem to be something other than the 5 physical senses.

Odin and Hoenir appear in plenty of other sources, but Lothur remains a bit enigmatic. Whilst being far from certain, there have been attempts to link Lothur with Loki (i.e. both from a triad with Odin and Hoenir). Seeing as Lothur is Odin’s brother (according to Snorri) that would mean Loki is also Odin’s brother and one of the creators of mankind.

In Lokasenna 9 we are told that Loki is Odin’s blood brother (i.e. “we mixed our blood”), but nothing there firmly states sibling bond. However, in stanza 29 Frigg does suggest a “hidden” and deep relationship between them that should be kept from men:

“Of the deeds ye two of old have done, ye should make no speak among men; Whatever ye have done in days gone by, old tales should never be told”

In the Prose Edda one of the kennings for Loki is “Brother of Helblidi”. Helblidi being one of Odin’s many names. Snorri also lists as a kenning for Loki as being “Kinsman and Uncle”. If Loki is a giant living with the Aesir then he would not be a “kinsman”. The use of that term suggests a blood relationship and the use of the term “Uncle” is very significant and it would again suggest he has a sibling relationship with the All Father (Odin). Whist far from definitive, there is certainly information in the Eddas that could be used to link Lothur with Loki (both the brother of Odin) and hence Loki would be one of the creators of mankind.

Perhaps this is what Frigg thought should be kept from man? Perhaps this is also why the references are there but it is not explicitly said? Lokasenna took place following the death of Balder so perhaps Frigg wished for Loki's past "positive" contributions to the Aesir and man to be forgotten and for him to be judged solely on his actions leading to the death of Balder? It certianly possible to read what she said that way.

If this is right, could the following be the significance of the gifts:

Soul, breath and life come from Odin.
Thought comes from Hoenir
Passions and physical sensations come from Lothur / Loki.

Hoenir give us sense, wit and feeling. These are obviously not senses or feeling in physical terms i.e. (sight and hearing) as Lothur gave us those. The inclusion of wit suggests that we are referring to elements of thought. Mimir would seem to the source of “primal memory”. And when Hoenir and he went to the Vanir as hostages, it is said that Hoenir could not give any rulings without Mimir’s presence. If thought is Hoenir’s gift / nature, is this indicating that thought without a knowledge upon which to ponder is pointless? A lesson mirrored by Odin’s ravens? As we know these ravens are called “Hugin” (thought) and “Munin” (memory) and we are told that Odin fears the non-return of “memory” the most. If Hoenir is the god of pure “thought” it may explain why he is silent all the time. It also may explain the kennings for him of “the long footed” (fast?) and “the swift god”? After all, we know from Thor’s and Loki’s visit to Utgard-Loki’s castle that nothing is faster than thought.

Loki’s main characteristic for me is that he acts on his immediate wants without ever considering the impact of his actions. Sometimes this has benefits and other times severe negatives. If Loki was the giver of passions and physical sensations then he gave us things like anger, fear and lust. Whereas some religions hold these things to be inherently “evil”, we can see from Loki’s example that they can have benefits as well as negatives i.e. his deceitful nature ensuring the return of Thor’s hammer from Thrym etc. The desire for the return of the hammer was almost certainly due to a fear for the safety of himself and his abode in Asgard, as opposed to a noble act, but the “passion” of fear did result in right action. Just as his fear of Thor lead to the gifts from the dwarfs following the cutting of Sif’s hair (yet another act of passion).

When Loki is “kept in check” he does some good things for the Gods; but when left to run amuck, disaster follows. If Loki is one of the creators of mankind, then we have his gifts and we in turn must keep our passions in check. Not in terms of a wholesale denial of them (as in Christianity) but in ensuring they are put to good use and never control us. Like fire (an element with which Loki is frequently associated), it can warm our homes and it also burn them down. Our passions are good servants, but terrible masters.

As humans, our “lust” can lead to physical closeness with our spouses and partners … or it can lead to perversions and addiction. As humans, our “fear” can save our lives by heightening our senses and preparing us to fight or flee … or it can paralyse us in to inactivity in the face of a required but daunting right action. As humans, our “anger” can be a “moral outrage” which can also give us the power to right or prevent a wrong … or it can be a force that destroys relationships and kills us through stress. Is this all the gift of Loki? The “Loki within” as it were?

If so, then we need to develop a “Thor within” too. An internal travelling companion of strength and compassion for others that ensures our “passions” are always to our benefit and the benefit of others; as opposed to becoming an uncontrolled destructive force.

To conclude this rough hypothesis:

Odin gave us life and, as is Odin’s nature, a desire to seek knowledge. We don't inherently have knowledge as does Mimir, but we all have the desire to seek it; whether we are prepared to make sacrifices like Odin did in order learn as much as we possibly can is another matter. A baby starts to learn the instant it is born, so a desire for knowledge is seemingly inherent in us all.

Lothur / Loki gave us our passions and emotions (Heat? Fire?) and physical sensations; which need to be used wisely and cannot be allowed to run amuck.

Hoenir give us thought and hence the ability to think and put our passions, wisdom and knowledge to considered use (if "passion" does not overrule us). However, thought without knowledge or wisdom is of little use. Hence we should follow the example of Odin and make personal sacrifices to bring Odin's gift to fruition and to also make good use of Hoenir's gift.

These are the inherent qualities of man. Other qualities are not automatically part of us and need to be sought (i.e. the strength and compassion of Thor).

Longer post than intended! The above is mealy an initial hypothesis and does not reflect a “considered position” on my part. I would be very interested to know what other members think about the three gods who created mankind and what lessons their gifts may have for us?

Seeker.


Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:12 am
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Thank you for the illumination, seeker! Interesting points!


Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:42 pm
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Thank you both for the feedback and input - it is appreciated. I have not previously came across the term "there's too much Loki in them". But I do like it and it makes sense to me.

Seeker


Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:54 pm
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Seeker wrote:

Voluspa 18 lists the three gods that created man and explains the gifts of each:

Breath (soul) gave Odin
Sense gave Hoenir
“Heat” gave Lothur and fresh complexions.

(...)

Snorri describes the gifts from these three brothers in the Prose Edda as:

“The first gave them spirit and life; the second wit and feeling; the third form, speech, hearing & sight”.

Odin and Hoenir appear in plenty of other sources, but Lothur remains a bit enigmatic. Whilst being far from certain, there have been attempts to link Lothur with Loki (i.e. both from a triad with Odin and Hoenir). Seeing as Lothur is Odin’s brother (according to Snorri) that would mean Loki is also Odin’s brother and one of the creators of mankind.

(...) Whist far from definitive, there is certainly information in the Eddas that could be used to link Lothur with Loki (both the brother of Odin) and hence Loki would be one of the creators of mankind.

If this is right, could the following be the significance of the gifts:

Soul, breath and life come from Odin.
Thought comes from Hoenir
Passions and physical sensations come from Lothur / Loki.


(...)
When Loki is “kept in check” he does some good things for the Gods; but when left to run amuck, disaster follows. If Loki is one of the creators of mankind, then we have his gifts and we in turn must keep our passions in check. Not in terms of a wholesale denial of them (as in Christianity) but in ensuring they are put to good use and never control us. Like fire (an element with which Loki is frequently associated), it can warm our homes and it also burn them down. Our passions are good servants, but terrible masters.

(...)
To conclude this rough hypothesis:
(...)

Lothur / Loki gave us our passions and emotions (Heat? Fire?) and physical sensations; which need to be used wisely and cannot be allowed to run amuck.

(...)

Seeker.


Seeker,

nice points, indeed!

The author Brian Branston in his book "Gods of the North" takes a diferent (but sound one, in my opinion) route in his attempt to identify Lothur. To him, the best match would be Heimdall. As you know, Heimdall appears as the father of humankind and castes in "List of Rig".

Also, Branston claims Heimdall is an aspect of Fire, too... but "benefical fire" as opposed to the "destructive fire", in this case, Loki (that' why they fight each other). To make his case, Branston quotes many similitudes between Heimdall and Agni, the Indian god of fire (sorry, I don't have the book here to show you the quotes) as he is portraided in the Rig Vedas.

I highlighted some points in your original post and ask you to read them again but this time with Branston thesis in view... and see how it fits (or don't!).

Hope it brings more fuel to the argument... :wink:


Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:58 pm
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Perhaps Frigg refers to events of the past that he sees as a mistake once the nature of Loki is more fully revealed.

That said: A blood bond is hard broken, and Odin honours this as far as realistically possible.

Seeker:
I believe you are right in relation to the analogy to fire. It is the self-discipline of the warrior that controls the impudence of the flame not to spread without check.


Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:26 pm
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In the modern German tradition the notion of Wodan, Willo and Wîh has more-or-less been borrowed from Scandinavian sources. More ancient German sources, however, offer a rather different view.

Based on the writings of Cornelius Tacitus we find that the first human being was Mannus, the son of the “earth-born god” Tuisto. There is some debate as to the identity of Tuisto and there is also some debate as to the meaning of the phrase “earth-born god”. Mannus is recognized as the progenitor of the three races of Germans: Ingvæones, Herminones and Istævones.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:59 pm
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He Who Stands Defiant wrote:
Irmin,

Mannus is Irmins daddy, yet Mannus is said to be Hiemdall (Heimo) yet the three sons of Mannus ( Ing, Irmin, and Istaev) Some identify these sons as Freyr (aka Yngvi) and Thor and Odin (aka Jormun).

So in your lore Hiemdalls the daddy not Odin.

Defiant


That’s not quite correct. Check out Irmin and the Irminsûl at http://www.irminenschaft.net/IrminandIrminsul.htm


Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:38 am
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Seeker wrote:
Hello Everyone,

Voluspa 18 lists the three gods that created man and explains the gifts of each:

Breath (soul) gave Odin
Sense gave Hoenir
“Heat” gave Lothur and fresh complexions.

Has anyone here examined what these gifts are, how they affect us, and the lessons we can learn from them? I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.

The Prose Edda (to my mind a far less reliable source than the Poetic Edda) tells us that the three goods that created man are the “Sons of Bor”; which, if correct, would make Odin, Hoenir & Lothur brothers (other names for Vili and Ve).

Snorri describes the gifts from these three brothers in the Prose Edda as:

“The first gave them spirit and life; the second wit and feeling; the third form, speech, hearing & sight”.

With regards to Lothur’s gifts, “form” and “fresh complexions” would tie come togeher in the human appearance. But how does “heat” relate to “speech, hearing & sight”? Also, if sight and hearing are the gifts of Lothur, then the “sense” given by Hoenir would seem to be something other than the 5 physical senses.

Odin and Hoenir appear in plenty of other sources, but Lothur remains a bit enigmatic. Whilst being far from certain, there have been attempts to link Lothur with Loki (i.e. both from a triad with Odin and Hoenir). Seeing as Lothur is Odin’s brother (according to Snorri) that would mean Loki is also Odin’s brother and one of the creators of mankind.

In Lokasenna 9 we are told that Loki is Odin’s blood brother (i.e. “we mixed our blood”), but nothing there firmly states sibling bond. However, in stanza 29 Frigg does suggest a “hidden” and deep relationship between them that should be kept from men:

“Of the deeds ye two of old have done, ye should make no speak among men; Whatever ye have done in days gone by, old tales should never be told”

In the Prose Edda one of the kennings for Loki is “Brother of Helblidi”. Helblidi being one of Odin’s many names. Snorri also lists as a kenning for Loki as being “Kinsman and Uncle”. If Loki is a giant living with the Aesir then he would not be a “kinsman”. The use of that term suggests a blood relationship and the use of the term “Uncle” is very significant and it would again suggest he has a sibling relationship with the All Father (Odin). Whist far from definitive, there is certainly information in the Eddas that could be used to link Lothur with Loki (both the brother of Odin) and hence Loki would be one of the creators of mankind.

Perhaps this is what Frigg thought should be kept from man? Perhaps this is also why the references are there but it is not explicitly said? Lokasenna took place following the death of Balder so perhaps Frigg wished for Loki's past "positive" contributions to the Aesir and man to be forgotten and for him to be judged solely on his actions leading to the death of Balder? It certianly possible to read what she said that way.

If this is right, could the following be the significance of the gifts:

Soul, breath and life come from Odin.
Thought comes from Hoenir
Passions and physical sensations come from Lothur / Loki.

Hoenir give us sense, wit and feeling. These are obviously not senses or feeling in physical terms i.e. (sight and hearing) as Lothur gave us those. The inclusion of wit suggests that we are referring to elements of thought. Mimir would seem to the source of “primal memory”. And when Hoenir and he went to the Vanir as hostages, it is said that Hoenir could not give any rulings without Mimir’s presence. If thought is Hoenir’s gift / nature, is this indicating that thought without a knowledge upon which to ponder is pointless? A lesson mirrored by Odin’s ravens? As we know these ravens are called “Hugin” (thought) and “Munin” (memory) and we are told that Odin fears the non-return of “memory” the most. If Hoenir is the god of pure “thought” it may explain why he is silent all the time. It also may explain the kennings for him of “the long footed” (fast?) and “the swift god”? After all, we know from Thor’s and Loki’s visit to Utgard-Loki’s castle that nothing is faster than thought.

Loki’s main characteristic for me is that he acts on his immediate wants without ever considering the impact of his actions. Sometimes this has benefits and other times severe negatives. If Loki was the giver of passions and physical sensations then he gave us things like anger, fear and lust. Whereas some religions hold these things to be inherently “evil”, we can see from Loki’s example that they can have benefits as well as negatives i.e. his deceitful nature ensuring the return of Thor’s hammer from Thrym etc. The desire for the return of the hammer was almost certainly due to a fear for the safety of himself and his abode in Asgard, as opposed to a noble act, but the “passion” of fear did result in right action. Just as his fear of Thor lead to the gifts from the dwarfs following the cutting of Sif’s hair (yet another act of passion).

When Loki is “kept in check” he does some good things for the Gods; but when left to run amuck, disaster follows. If Loki is one of the creators of mankind, then we have his gifts and we in turn must keep our passions in check. Not in terms of a wholesale denial of them (as in Christianity) but in ensuring they are put to good use and never control us. Like fire (an element with which Loki is frequently associated), it can warm our homes and it also burn them down. Our passions are good servants, but terrible masters.

As humans, our “lust” can lead to physical closeness with our spouses and partners … or it can lead to perversions and addiction. As humans, our “fear” can save our lives by heightening our senses and preparing us to fight or flee … or it can paralyse us in to inactivity in the face of a required but daunting right action. As humans, our “anger” can be a “moral outrage” which can also give us the power to right or prevent a wrong … or it can be a force that destroys relationships and kills us through stress. Is this all the gift of Loki? The “Loki within” as it were?

If so, then we need to develop a “Thor within” too. An internal travelling companion of strength and compassion for others that ensures our “passions” are always to our benefit and the benefit of others; as opposed to becoming an uncontrolled destructive force.

To conclude this rough hypothesis:

Odin gave us life and, as is Odin’s nature, a desire to seek knowledge. We don't inherently have knowledge as does Mimir, but we all have the desire to seek it; whether we are prepared to make sacrifices like Odin did in order learn as much as we possibly can is another matter. A baby starts to learn the instant it is born, so a desire for knowledge is seemingly inherent in us all.

Lothur / Loki gave us our passions and emotions (Heat? Fire?) and physical sensations; which need to be used wisely and cannot be allowed to run amuck.

Hoenir give us thought and hence the ability to think and put our passions, wisdom and knowledge to considered use (if "passion" does not overrule us). However, thought without knowledge or wisdom is of little use. Hence we should follow the example of Odin and make personal sacrifices to bring Odin's gift to fruition and to also make good use of Hoenir's gift.

These are the inherent qualities of man. Other qualities are not automatically part of us and need to be sought (i.e. the strength and compassion of Thor).

Longer post than intended! The above is mealy an initial hypothesis and does not reflect a “considered position” on my part. I would be very interested to know what other members think about the three gods who created mankind and what lessons their gifts may have for us?

Seeker.


I have been pondering this for many days as well as the remarks that follow. I find this to be a very interesting line of thought and would welcome comments on this ... Storm


Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:32 am
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Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:36 am
Posts: 144
Just an aside FYI
-A baby starts to learn the instant it is aware within a mother's womb. Once brain development is completed beyond the animal instinct level. They hear and respond to noises and physical movement. Their brain is also affected by emotions of the mother because of the chemicals released during emotional responses.
Keep your pregnant women happy!


Sat May 30, 2015 7:07 pm
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