Imagining the Supernatural North

“Turning to face north, face the north, we enter our own unconscious. Always, in retrospect, the journey north has the quality of dream.” Margaret Atwood, “True North”

In this interdisciplinary collection, sixteen scholars from twelve countries explore the notion of the North as a realm of the supernatural. This region has long been associated with sorcerous inhabitants, mythical tribes, metaphysical forces of good and evil, and a range of supernatural qualities. It was both the sacred abode of the gods and a feared source of menacing invaders and otherworldly beings. Whether from the perspective of traditional Jewish lore or of contemporary black metal music, few motifs in European cultural history show such longevity and broad appeal.

Contributors: Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, Angela Byrne, Danielle Marie Cudmore, Stefan Donecker, Brenda S. Gardenour Walter, Silvije Habulinec, Erica Hill, Jay Johnston, Maria Kasyanova, Jan Leichsenring, Shane McCorristine, Jennifer E. Michaels, Ya’acov Sarig, Rudolf Simek, Athanasios Votsis, Brian Walter

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Contents 6
Introduction 10
I Ancient Roots 26
1 In Jewish Lore, Not Only Evil Descends From the North | Sarig 28
2 The Realm of the North in Ancient Greek Proverbs | Kasyanova 50
3 The Ancient Greek Myth of Hyperborea | Votsis 64
II From the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period 78
4 Monstra septentrionalia | Simek 80
5 From Eiríkr the Red to Trolls in the Wilderness | Barraclough 102
6 Winter’s Flesh | Gardenour Walter 120
7 The Supernatural Image of Iceland in Johannes Kepler’s Somnium (1634) | Donecker 134
III The Nineteenth Century 154
8 Imagining the Celtic North | Byrne 156
9 Mesmerism and Victorian Arctic Exploration | McCorristine 174
10 Myths of Iceland and Mount Hekla and their Deconstruction | Michaels 190
11 Moon Men and Inland Dwellers | Habulinec 210
IV Contemporary Perspectives 228
12 A Distant Northern Land | Walter 230
13 The Idea of North | Cudmore 242
14 The Elf in Self | Johnston 260
15 A Blaze in the Northern Sky | Leichsenring 276
16 Men, Women, and Shamans | Hill 300
Contributors 318
Index 324