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Beowulf, the Goddess and a can of wyrms

By Geraldine Charles

I had expected to find one or two places I could point to in Beowulf and say look, I’ve found some traces of an ancient Goddess here, and maybe here. In fact, and perhaps I ought not to be surprised, a little research and a year’s worth of living with the poem has taught me a great deal, and Goddess is found everywhere in relation to Grendel’s Mother (as she is never named in the text, I shall henceforward mostly call her GM). She’s hiding behind language, as I’ll show: exactly the same word was used for GM and our hero but given dramatically different meanings. There are many similarities to hunting goddesses, such as Artemis, while dragons and serpents hide in nooks and crannies in the poem, waiting to take us by surprise but also acting as pointers, as signs to an older, deeper layer of meaning. We will also briefly visit Crete and the ancient labyrinth to be shown some likenesses between Pasiphaë and GM, and ponder the lupine nature both of Grendel and his mother, as well as considering swords in lakes, not to mention bog bodies.

We’ll take in a couple of movies in passing, not just the latest offering of Beowulf but also Alien, comparing monsters. We also have a handful of Northern deities and the various offspring of the Earth Goddess and Loki to consider, including Hel, a wolf called Fenrir and the world-serpent, plus what the son-in-law of Agricola thought about Goddess in a wagon and her effect on the locals. With a nod to Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey, we’ll also examine boggarts, Black Annis and English dog hauntings, before returning to the Goddess Hel to conclude our journey – for now.

Read the original article at: Goddess Pages

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