Elinor Benjamin, Storyteller

Dragon
Home
Biography
Work in schools
Stories I tell
Rune Words
Journeys
Reiko's Story
Contact

A program of
Oral Stories from
traditional
Norse lore




Elinor aboard the Snorri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On board the Norse ship replica "Snorri",
at Cow Head, Newfoundland, Jul 3, 2000
during the 1000 year anniversary of the Norse landing

My interest in things Norse goes back a long way. I lived for 3 months in Denmark in 1976, and studied a little Danish. I also lived only 5 hours drive from the World Heritage Site at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

This program is designed for older children and adults. Stories include myths and folktales adapted from a variety of sources.

Most stories in the program last from 20 - 30 minutes. A program usually consists of two or three stories such as the ones below. Because of the length and complexity of these stories, as well as some of the themes, these stories are not suitable for pre-school or primary grade children.

MYTHS

The Magic Mead Evil dwarves kill Kvasir the wise poet, and from his blood, brew mead which has the power to bestow the gift of poetic inspiration on all who drink it. Odin goes in search of the mead to bring it to the gods, so they will have the power to decide who will be inspired.

Idun and the apples of eternal youth  Idun, the goddess who tends the apples of eternal youth, is lured out of Asgard by Loki, the trickster god, and carried away by Thiazi, one of the giants.  Without her apples, the gods face rapid aging, and Odin, chief of the Gods orders Loki to bring the goddess back to them or face death.

Skadi finds a husband After Loki kills Thiazi, her father,  Skadi, the Giant Maid, comes to Asgard to seek revenge, but accepts instead, her choice of one of the gods as her husband.  Gods, she discovers, do not always make the best husbands.

How the Gods got their six greatest treasures

Loki plays a vicious trick on Thor's wife, Sif, and brings the wrath of Thor down upon himself. He flees to the land of the dwarves in search of gifts to placate Thor and the other gods.

FOLKTALES
East of the Sun and West of the Moon

One of the most famous of all Norwegian folktales, this story shares its motif with the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. A poor woodcutter strikes a bargain with an  enchanted bear to exchange his daughter for riches. At night the enchanted bear regains his true form as a handsome prince and sleeps in the same bed with the girl but she never sees him. The girl's mother convinces her to try to see his face by lighting a candle but when she does, he is lost to her, and she must undertake a quest to the castle east of the sun and west of the moon to win him back from an evil enchantress.

The Magic Quern A poor man gains power over a magic quern which will grind out anything you ask it to. The problems occur when the quern is acquired by greedy people who do not know how to make it stop. Can be found in many anthologies especially editions of East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Asbjornson and Moe.
Prince Lindworm In this strange and wondrous tale from Sweden, a hideous lindworm, or serpent, is born, as one of twins, to a queen, who, in an effort to overcome her childless situation, has followed the advice of an old crone. The second twin boy is perfect in every way. When he grows up and sets off to find a bride, the lindworm insists that a bride be found for him before his younger brother can marry. Since he eats each new bride they bring him, this creates a slight  PR problem for the kingdom

Farmer Weatherbeard Jack's mother wants him to become a Master above all Masters. His father apprentices him to a mysterious stranger, Farmer Weatherbeard, who whisks him away in a sleigh that flies. His distraught mother sends the father in search of the boy. Jack's father seeks advice from three hags, and with the aid of a magic eagle, they escape  from Farmer Weatherbeard, who then pursues Jack. Jack, we learn,  has learned a very useful trade, indeed.

The Giant who had no Heart in his Body Boots, the youngest of seven princes, sets out to find and rescue his six brothers and their brides from enchantment by killing the Giant whose heart is not in his body. Is there a bride for Boots? Listen up.


SOURCES
Asbjörnsen, Peter Christen, and Jörgen I. Moe
Popular Tales from the Norse, translated and with an introductory essay by Sir George Webbe Dasent. London: The Bodley Head, 1969. [SBN 370-01117 1] There are many editions of Asbjörnsen and Moe's collection. Some editions bear the title East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which is the title of one of the tales. Available on-line at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/ptn/index.htm
Colum, Padraic
The Children of Odin; a Book of Northern Myths. New York: Macmillan, c1920, c1948
available on-line at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/ice/coo/index.htm
The Norse Myths; a retelling, introduced and retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland
London: Andre Deutsch Ltd, c 1980. [0 233 97271 4]
Scandinavian legends and folk-tales retold by Gwyn Jones. 
Oxford: Oxford University Press, c 1956. (Oxford Myths & Legends Series) [0 19 274150 0]
Sturluson, Snorri
Edda, translated from the Icelandic and introduced by Anthony Faulkes.  London: Dent. c 1987. (Everyman's Classics) [0 460 01499 4] Written in the 13th century by an Icelandic scholar, the Edda is the earliest, and one of the few, written sources of the Norse Myths. On-line at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/index.htm
Tales of the Norse Gods , retold by Barbara Leonie Picard.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, c 1953. (Oxford Myths & Legends Series) [0 19 274167 5]