So, I’m doing what everyone does while sick, sitting on the toilet reading Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe and two things catch my eye and have stuck with me all day. One is a small matter–of parts of Prussia not being Christianized until as late as the 1500s. This seems possible to me, considering the long and contentious history of trying to Christianize the Lithuanians (a brief recap–1009-1386–Lithuania hems and haws about becoming Christian. Sure, it seems like fun, but Lithuania has a cake in the oven and the baby is napping and now’s just not a good time. 1387–Lithuania is declared a Christian nation. Many Lithuanians still busy doing other things. 1413–Oh, all of us were supposed to convert? Sorry, we thought you just wanted those Lithuanians to become Christian. Okay, we’re getting right on it. 1569–No, look, seriously, we’re all Catholic, we swear. 1868–What? We’re just having a little solstice party here and catching up with some old Friends. We’ll be at church on Sunday.), but I’d love to see her sources on that.
The other is that she’s going on about shamans and using the male pronouns to count for both genders, but this time, reading through it, I catch that she’s saying that it’s widely known that men and women could be shamans and she’s talking about how shamans reach the spirit world and one way is said to be on the back of a goose.
I, for one, am all about riding around on the back of a goose. It tickles me how a woman with a pointy hat riding a goose is a good omen for children but a woman with a pointy hat riding a broom is a bad one. Does having a goose insulate you from the temptation to lure children to your candy house and eat them?
Prussia was officially Christianized (i.e. conquered by the Teutonic Knights) during the last half of the 13th century. Actual conversion took place over the course of the next 150 years or so.
NM, hurray! I am, as usual, honored with brilliant readers.
Well, I guess if you got hungry and had a goose, you could eat that.
So maybe it’s just a matter of people assuming that hungry old women with nothing to gnaw on but tough old broomsticks are more likely to eat their children than hungry old women with big fat geese right there.
I’m not sayin’ they’d be right to assume that, ’cause clearly, a goose you could ride would be very handy and it might still make more sense for you to eat some wandering child than your trusty steed, but I could see the argument.
Well, if you’re riding a bunch of sorghum, which is where the witch’s broom starts out, you are clearly a Bad Witch and going to fight against the ;.Good Fennel-Riding Witches in hopes of ruining the harvest. So why wouldn’t you eat a child? Whereas, if you’re riding a goose, you could be any old kind of witch, and not necessarily bad at all. Certainly not necessarily children-eating bad.
Maybe a woman with a long, hard broomstick between her legs conjured up fear of female sexuality?
Y’all, this thread has just reduced me to tears.
“So, I’m doing what everyone does while sick, sitting on the toilet reading Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe”
See, this line perfectly sums up why I’m reading your blog.
To add some content to what would otherwise be mere sycophancy – if you like Sweden and people riding around on the back of a goose, you might want to check out Selma Lagerlöf’s book “The wonderful Adventures of Nils”. Written for youngish school children to learn about Sweden, it is about a teenaged boy who manages to get a “tomte” pissed off at him, and as punishment gets reduced in size until he’s small enough to ride on the back of a goose. Which he does, all over Sweden. Lagerlöf is one of my favourite authors; her way of describing Sweden at the end of the nineteenth century sometimes brings tears to my eyes from the sheer beauty (though I don’t know how good the translations are).