From Iceland — Gods of Iceland: PRAISE THE SUN

Gods of Iceland: PRAISE THE SUN

Published January 6, 2022

Gods of Iceland: PRAISE THE SUN
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Creative Commons

Sól, goddess of the sun

Strengths: Literally brings us the sun
Weaknesses: Wolves
Modern analogue: Beyoncé

In many languages that have gendered nouns, the sun is often gendered male; this is the case in Latinate languages, for example. However, in many Germanic languages that still retain gendered nouns (English apparently having moved beyond this concept), the sun is female, and Icelandic is no exception. In fact, to Norse pagans the sun wasn’t just a feminine noun; she was a goddess in her own right, Sól.

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Sól had an auspicious beginning. Fathered by Mundilfari (whose name has the perplexing meaning “the one moving according to particular times”), along with her brother Máni (which literally means “moon”), it wasn’t her original intention to become a goddess. She was just so beautiful that Mundilfari named her after the sun.

This didn’t sit well with certain other gods, who decided to punish Mundilfari by making Sól carry the literal sun in a chariot across the sky. Which, when you think about, doesn’t seem like much of a punishment. She took to the job as if she were made for it. In a way, you could say she was destiny’s child.

But if you’ve ever wondered why time flies so quickly, it’s because Sól is relentlessly pursued by a wolf named Sköll. Like Beyoncé, yes, Sól had a dedicated hater. On occasion, he even catches up with her, which is why we have solar eclipses.

During Ragnarök, Sköll eventually catches Sól and swallows her whole. However, a daughter of Sól, who is reportedly just as beautiful, takes up the crown and continues the sun’s journey again.

The entire myth just shows that you can’t keep a good woman down for long. And if you think you can, well, you must not know about her.

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