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Själsföreställningar: Förr och dessförinnan
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Nordic Conceptions of the Soul : Aforetime and Previously (English)
Abstract [en]

This essay deals with the concept of 'soul' in beliefs among north germanic pagans. As it comes forth in written sources, this concept can easely be seen as an odd contradiction, since the concept of 'soul' after the demise of a person seems to split. There seems to exist both an idea of different realms for the dead, and a thought that the dead would 'live' on in their graves. Some researchers, i.e. Price (2002) and Kaliff (1997), think that the soul of the dead human according to Nordic pagan belief split apart in a way, that there was an idea of the human soul being made up of several aspects, each with its own goal an purpose. Five such aspects have been identified - a protective free-soul, a personification of the inviduals luck (and possibly part of his/her destiny), a physical body or an aspect of the soul abilitating shape shifting, a persons thoughts and goals and very essence, and finally the dead body 'living' on in the burial mound. An alternative interpretation (i.e. Ellis 1968) is that the different explanations of the future of the dead are results of different traditions, connected to geographically and/or chronologically fixed ideas, but that certain remnants of earlier traditions could remain even when a new view of the afterlife has taken over. I have chosen to discuss these different viewpoints by comparing them with each other and with later swedish folklore, that is documented and seemingly originating during christian times. By peeling off views and beliefs of known christian origin, suprisingly well preserved representations of presumably older (pagan) views of the 'soul' and and its aspects have been identified. Furthermore, representations of soul aspects not yet described in connection with nordic paganism, and still not traceable to christian views, have been found. The result of the essay is that the theory of several soul aspects in pre-christian or pagan nordic beliefs seems to hold up best. Even if there, without a doubt, to some degree existed local variations and even though no tradition remains unchanged over time, it still would seem that the influence of these factors cannot in full explain the observed variation in views on soul aspects in pre-christian viking age Norse religion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Norse religion, viking age, soul aspects, folklore, fylgjur, hugr, hamr, hamingjur, draugar
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-52563OAI: diva2:929480
Subject / course
Religious Studies
Available from: 2016-08-23 Created: 2016-05-18 Last updated: 2016-08-23Bibliographically approved

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