The Position of the Individual Gods and Goddesses in Various Types of Sources – With Special Reference to the Female Divinities
By Else Mundal
Old Norse and Finnish Religions and Cultic Place-Names. Based on papers read at the Symposium on Encounters between Religions in Old Nordic Times and on Cultic Place-Names held at Åbo, Finland, on the 19th-21st of August 1987.
Introduction: The picture we have of Old Norse religion is formed on the basis of different sources and source types. If our picture is to be as correct as possible, it is necessary to judge every single source type in the light of the different factors we may assume contributed to forming the sources, and in the light of the cultural relations of which the source forms an integral part. Finally it is necessary to regard the sources as a whole, and judge them in light of each other.
Old Norse religion is in itself an interdisciplinary subject. If we are to survey the whole subject, it will presuppose special knowledge of a great many fields. Scholars working in comparative religion naturally possess a breadth of perspective, but I assume that they occasionally lack special knowledge in fields such as toponomy, philology, runology and so forth. The rest of us possess special knowledge in one field – at best in a few – but have rather superficial knowledge in other which must also be regarded as sources of Old Norse religion, and we perhaps lack the training in comparative religion which enables us to make the most of our material as a source for the history of religion. In the last generations there has been a move towards a situation where the scholars are becoming more and more specialized. If research in interdisciplinary subjects like Old Norse religion is to receive fresh impetus, scholars from different fields will have to join and work together. In our different fields in the puzzle which we hope will provide an increasingly clear picture of Old Norse pre-Christian religion.