Moon Day

Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the Vox Chaotica Council! Happy Monday to you, and how!

Did you know Monday was originally named for the Moon? Because the men and women of Antiquity were actually rather unimaginative–I choose to believe this is exactly how the days were named:

Flavius Aurelius Cæsar: Well, Sun-day just ended, what comes after the Sun, slave?

Simon Simon Cæsar: Good sire, it was foretold by great Jupiters' terrible brother Pluto that the Luminous and Most Beautiful Luna–Goddess of the Moon, eternally chases Sol, God of the Sun. It is in this way, supplicant to the Gods, that we must follow our Sun-day with a Moon-day. May ever the Gods favour thee and thine, most resplendent Aurelias Cæsar!

Flavius Aurelius Cæsar: Listen, friend. We Romans are a people of technology, and the Gods are dead. Nichee said so in his book The Princeton. But this fancy aqueduct over here? No freaking Gods built that crap. I casually sat and was fed grapes while I watched some fifty of my thousand personal slaves die of hard labour building that! Then I sent the rest to the Coliseum because they were having a naval battle and by Neptune's shaggy left beardsicle, do I LOVE a good naval battle.

Simon Simon Cæsar: BLASPHEMY! Thou shalt pay most dearly for your transgressions against the Gods! (He picks up a nearby tentpole and strikes it into the heart of Aurelius Cæsar) Come hither and listen, ye foul slaves! Our Master, the Tainted and Corrupt Flavius Aurelius Cæsar, was a purveyor of terrible falsehoods and truly evil man, black of soul. All third sons of third sons are required by ancient rite to bear this man to the center of town and immolate his and thineselves in a cleansing wreath of fire; thou must also pray to the almighty Jupiter and his court to show great mercy upon your souls. (Simon Cæsar takes a dramatic pause) May it also be decreed that today, and every seventh day after this shall be named Moon-day.

And that's how it happened. Two things prove this to be true: Simon Simon Cæsar's methodic use of old english, and the fact that everyone in Roman history had the surname Cæsar. Truth, my friends. Truth.

Okay so I may have fudged a few details here and there, but the days of the week is actually a thing. The days we use are very closely related to the early Germanic weekdays, which are cool because they are named for the Proto-Germanic or Norse gods, which brings me to what I actually want to talk about today.

The Norse Pantheon. Lots of people know Thor (and more recently Woden, Loki, Frigg, Sif and Heimdallr) because of the comics and the Marvel movies–even being a Norse mythology enthusiast, I liked the films–but you might not recognise a couple of the names above because those more traditional spellings. Let's start off teaching you what's what.

First, and most important, is to know that the Norse mythological system is unfortunately tainted by Christian monks trying to assimilate the pagan beliefs into the Christian monotheistic view. Because the before these Christian monks the stories were all passed on verbally by the Skalds, there are no pure recordings of the myths as told by the original practicers of Norse paganism. [If you want to know more about this, the best I've seen it written is in the Introduction to Snorri Sturlusson's Edda.]

Second, the Norse concept of Ragnarök–the end of the world. Unlike other mythologies, the Vikings were chill with the idea that everything has its day, then it dies and everyone forgets them. Ragnarök was prophesied early in Odin's days and clearly states that every god will die, all the evils of the world will come to destroy everything, and the resulting battle between the forces of good and evil will bathe the world in fire and complete annihilation. Odin gets eaten by Fenrir the wolf; Thor will die having killed and taken nine steps from Jormungandr, the world-serpent; Heimdallr will blow the Gjallarhorn (think Borimir's horn at the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie) to alert the Gods that the giants are finally invading, spot Loki, then the two gods will battle to the death as the world burns and sinks into the ocean. Not a very happy prospect, I grant, but who else at that point was aware enough to understand that the world changes and someday even the gods would die and be forgotten?

And it gets better. The prophesy continues, saying that from the ashes, a new, better world will rise up and Baldr, the golden son of Odin, who is pure and good, will reshape the world and everything will be better. How can you not love that? It's like a Hollywood happy ending from 1066!

Anyway, you're going to hear me talk a lot more about the Norse and their myths because I think they are awesome and extremely poorly represented. Everyone thinks of the Vikings as mindless brutes who sailed around killing and pillaging everything they found, but that's only a fragment of the overall culture, which was actually pretty advanced for its day–see this about how the Viking blacksmiths were decades ahead of anyone else in Western Europe. And they were centuries ahead of the curve for women's rights.

tl;dr Vikings are the best! I love them and you should too. Ragnarök was way ahead of its time, as were Viking Women's Rights activists.