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The Origins of Norse Elves

Santa Claus, Keebler cookies, and overloaded shelves. If a person speaks of elves, the brain frequently goes to those who work for Santa or Keebler, or those that hide from small kids in the middle of night. All these are their roles in popular culture now, but it’s likely unsurprising to see that their roots stem from sources less merry and jolly. Instead, one of the first depictions of the elven race would be the ancient medieval sagas and poems of wars, gods, and even death.

Elves in Pagan and Christian Times

Germanic in character, the mythology of the elven race stems in the pre-Christian Norse religion and language. In Old Norse, elves are known as álfar, although this term can be broken up into subcategories. It’s long been considered that elves are creatures of light and goodness, but that is a misinterpretation of earlier texts. Elves in biblical literature are usually described as beautiful, slender, tall creatures with pale hair and skin, and unknowable magical abilities. The elves were very fluid creatures which didn’t adhere to regular gender or sexual roles. Further, occasionally these beings were considered gods or demi-gods, but they were above the human race.

The elves were broken down into classes of light and the dark elves, probably first by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. It’s likely that this division of the elven race arose when Christianity became dominant. In the pagan religion, elves were capable of both positive and negative moralities, just like the Faer folk of ancient Ireland, England, and Scotland. Yet beings with dual natures did not translate well to the early medieval Christian faith. The closest comparison these writers could create was one with demons and angels –i.e., the followers of a good God versus the followers of a dark devil. Therefore, the álfar were similarly split into good and bad, or the ljósálfar and dökkálfar, respectively.

The Elves’ Homes

The good elves lived either above ground or in Álfheimr, one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology specifically for the elven race, while the dark elves lived like dwarves in the ground.  Snorri goes so far as to reference a separate realm for the dark elves called Svartálfaheimr, thus explaining the use of svartálfar to describe the “black-elves” in his Prose Edda.

However, the use of svartálfar has been speculated by linguistic researchers as either synonymous with the dökkálfar or the dwarves; in the Gylfaginning (dictated in Snorri’s Edda), the dwarf Andvari (who later creates the ring which causes strife between Brunhild the Valkyrie and her lover’s wife, Gudrun) is described as being from Svartálfar. Thus it is not without merit to postulate that the dark elves themselves are merely dwarves–longstanding enemies of the elves–improperly renamed due to Christian misunderstandings.

Literary Works Interpreting the Role of Elves in Norse Mythology

One should be wary of the most valued texts referencing the Old Norse religion and elves. The aforementioned Snorri Sturluson is most often mentioned, as he was among the first authors who took the oral histories (i.e. sagas) of the pre-Christian Scandinavians and wrote them into a coherent codex. However, because of the second, third, and fourth-hand nature of the retellings of legends discussing elves and other aspects of Norse beliefs, and the fact that Snorri was trying to understand a pagan world through Christian eyes, much of the accuracy of his work is debatable. Nonetheless, Snorri’s work continues to be respected, because the Icelanders were converted to Christianity later than other cultures, and it is believed that the original pagan beliefs prevailed longer, allowing for a shorter time gap between the oral and written traditions.

According to Ph.D. candidate Alaric Hall from the University of Glasgow (2004), the business of elves is one of the few instances in which Snorri’s work is not as reliable as it is in other pre-Christian aspects. Instead, the poetry of the skalds (royal bards) is far more accurate regarding elves, as it is dated to the 9th century, just before the conversion of Iceland. In this poetry, the álfar (also sometimes written as álfr) are often mentioned in poems of mourning for fallen warriors. The earliest known skald, called Bragi inn gamli Boddason, provides álfr as an epithet for one of the strongest and bravest fallen warriors. (This is the equivalent of a warrior being called “god-like” or “shining” in Greek mythology.) It is therefore plausible that such an appellation indicates that elves were not merely an ethereal race wholly separate from humans, but valued as possessing skills and abilities humans could, and should, aspire to achieve.

A third valued work discussing Old Norse faith and elves is the Poetic Edda, a collection of tales written by an unknown author, likely written before Snorri’s text in the 13th century. The estimated dating of such an ambiguously authored poem is estimated due to subject matter, the names of poets and the style and meter of the poetry. As such, the Poetic Edda‘s estimated date could indicate that it was one of the many sources used by Snorri for his work–possibly in conjunction with the aforementioned poetry.

Despite the difficulty of recapturing the initial meaning of the álfar, whether light or dark, good or evil, or any combination of the two, the Nordic origins for elves has managed to survive in various forms because of the later efforts to preserve the Old North religion.

JRR Tolkien, renowned writer of The Lord of the Rings and advanced Anglo-Saxon and Germanic scholar, brought much of the accuracy of the ancient traditions into popular culture, seemingly endeavoring to do so without the biased Christian eye of historians like Snorri. While Tolkien’s work is obviously fictional, it is a valuable example of an attempt to bring the ancient into the present. Jacob Grimm, one of the two brothers who collected Germanic fairy tales, is another pertinent individual relating to the survival of elven traditions.

Thanks in large part to the dedication of the skaldic poets and post-conversion writers, authors such as Tolkien are able to reconstruct facets of the Old Norse beliefs, combating the ever-persistent elven toy-makers, cookie bakers, and (somewhat creepily) grinning Christmas puppets.

Publisher: Ancient Origins

Original link: http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/diverse-nature-elves-norse-myth-beings-light-or-darkness-008327

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Fact or fiction

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed

From Britain’s most beloved outlaw to the founder of all Turkic peoples, find out more about three historical figures whose existence remains up for debate.

1 – King Arthur. Knight Of Camelot

We’ve all heard stories about King Arthur of Camelot, who according to medieval legend led British forces (including his trusted Knights of the Round Table) in battle against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. But was King Arthur actually a real person, or simply a hero of Celtic mythology? Though debate has gone on for centuries, historians have been unable to confirm that Arthur really existed. He doesn’t appear in the only surviving contemporary source about the Saxon invasion, in which the Celtic monk Gildas wrote of a real-life battle at Mons Badonicus (Badon Hills) around 500 A.D. Several hundred years later, Arthur appears for the first time in the writings of a Welsh historian named Nennius, who gave a list of 12 battles the warrior king supposedly fought. All drawn from Welsh poetry, the battles took place in so many different times and places that it would have been impossible for one man to have participated in all of them.

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed

The Death of King Arthur. James Archer (artist) (1823 – 1904)

Welsh origin

Later Welsh writers drew on Nennius’ work, and Arthur’s fame spread beyond Wales and the Celtic world, particularly after the Norman conquest of 1066 connected England to northern France. In the popular 12th-century book “History of the Kings of Britain,” Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the first life story of Arthur, describing his magic sword Caliburn (later known as Excalibur), his trusted knight Lancelot, Queen Guinevere and the wizard Merlin. An irresistible blend of myth and fact, the book was supposedly based on a lost Celtic manuscript that only Geoffrey was able to examine.

Evidence from the ground

The second key source of information about Arthur is archaeology. Archaeological evidence for contact between Wales, Cornwall and the Saxon World takes many forms – from metalwork manufactured in an Anglo-Saxon style discovered in south-east Wales, to the distribution of early medieval pottery imported from the Continent and the shores of the Mediterranean.

Excavations at Dinas Powys, a princely hillfort near Cardiff occupied between the 5th and 7th-centuries, has informed us about the nature of a high status site in south Wales at this time. This site is contemporary with others like South Cadbury in Somerset and Tintagel in Cornwall (both with their own Arthurian traditions).

Arthur’s court at Caerleon

A large number of sites in Wales have Arthurian associations, though few have proven medieval origin. In the 12th century, Caerleon was thought by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be the location of Arthur’s court, while the hillfort of Dinas Emrys in north Wales is associated with Ambrosius, Vortigern and Merlin.

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed
bronze statue of King Arthur, Cornwall, UK

Arthur’s Stone

Some half dozen Welsh Stone Age megaliths are called ‘Arthur’s Stone’, and his name has also been given to an Iron Age hillfort on the Clwydian Range, Moel Arthur, near Denbigh. According to one tradition, King Arthur and his knights lie sleeping in a cave below Craig y Ddinas, Pontneddfechan, in south Wales.

2 – Ilya Muromets. Mighty Giant Of Russia

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed

Painting by V. Vasnetsov (1914) depicts Ilya Muromets (Image Source)

In numerous folk tales he is described as strong and fearless, he waves his mace to crush trees or else simply uproots them with his bare hands – all this to help his fellow villagers build a road through the forest. He can defeat terrifying monsters: Zmey Gorynych (the three-headed flying serpent) and Solovey Razboinik (Nightingale the Robber). He boldly challenges Idolishe Poganoe (Tainted Beastgod), a knight corrupted by evil forces who threatens the integrity of Kiev Rus (the medieval name for Russia).

Out of the three Russian folk heroes, the so-called bogatyrs (Ilya Muromets, Dobrynia Nikitich and Alyosha Popvich), Ilya is the most famous one, as well as the group’s leader. More stories are associated with his name and, unlike his mythical counterparts, the stories about him have a distinct chronological structure.

The chronicles suggest the famous Russian hero spent 33 years of his life lying on a stove. The original old Russian stove has a sleeping loft on the top which mainly was used as a resting place. The mysterious illness which kept paralysed Ilya’s body for long years was miraculously cured by three religious wanderers.

Declared a saint

After long years of service to Vladimir the Great, the ruler of Kiev Rus, Ilya Muromets decided to leave his military career and dedicated the rest of his life to God and became a monk. Some historical records suggest he spent last years of his life in Kiev-Pecherski Monastery, where he was buried and declared a saint after his death.

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed

Russian saint Ilia Muromets. Russian icon. End of 19th century. Unknown artist (Image Source)

In 1988, the remains that allegedly belong to famous Russian hero were analysed by team of local experts. Their investigation showed that the remains belonged to a man of above average height for that time (177 cm), who suffered from an incurable spine defect and deformities at the extremities. Traces of battle wounds were also discovered, showing that Ilya was probably killed during the siege of Kiev in 1204. How he was cured and how he was able to participate in battles remains a mystery, yet it was obvious from the remains that the life of the factual saint bore many similarities to that of the mythical bogatyr.

3 – Oghuz Khan. Father of Turkic Peoples

There is no definitive source for a history covering this period therefore reports of Oghuz as ancestor of the Turks were handed down by word of mouth. The ‘Oghuz Qaghan Legend’ emerged in Turkestan shortly before the time of Rashid al-Din (1247-1318, historian and physician in Ilkhanate-ruled Iran); it is much more poetic than Rashid al-Din’s dry description, however only a fragment remains.

3 Legendary Heroes Who May Or May Not Have Existed

Statue of Oghuz Khan in Turmenistan, Ashgabat (Image Source)

Oghuz Khan myth

Oghuz was born in Central Asia as the son of Qara (Black) Khan, leader of the Turks. He stopped drinking his mother’s milk after the first time and asked for meat. During the name giving ceremony where the elders are gathered to find the most suitable name for the newborn, he started speaking and said he was choosing his name as Oghuz. After that, he grew up miraculously and only in forty days he became a young adult. At the time of his birth, the lands of the Turks were preyed upon by a dragon named Kıyant. Oghuz armed himself and went to kill the dragon. He set a trap and killed the great dragon with his bronze lance and cut off his head with his iron sword.

He becomes a hero after killing the dragon. He forms a special warrior band from the forty sons of forty Turk beys (clan chiefs) thus gathering the clans together under his rule.

Rashid al-Din locates the origin of the Oghuz in west Turkestan. His description begins with the later Gasnavids (Persianate Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin)  than reaches back of the myths surrounding the birth and early journeys made by Oghuz in the magic north. In the Legend Oghuz is a grandson of Japhet, one of the sons of Noah. Im the pre-Islamic times he is described as monotheist even in early childhood, and rejects the contemporary paganism. With this conflict his life as a warrior begins until finally he becomes conqueror of the world. According to the legend Oghuz wages war in several countries including India, East Turkestan, China, the Volga area and the ‘Land of Darkness’. Other areas probably corresponds to the recorded conquest of the Oghuz in the 11th century. Thus the Oghuz legend merges with great conquest of the Sedshuk period, including, among others, Georgia (1049), Azerbaijan (1054), Baghdad (1055), Jerusalem (1071) etc.

Like Adam Oghuz died at an age of more than a thousand years.

Oghuz Khan is sometimes considered the mythological founder of all Turkic peoples, and ancestor of the Oghuz subbranch. Oguz had 6 sons and these 6 sons had 4 sons . Totally, 24 grandson which we considered the father of 24 Oghuz tribe including Kayı (Ottomans). Oghuz-Turks conquered Palestine in 1070 AD, Iran was ruled by Seljuks, an Oghuz tribe, Iraq, and Anatolian Peninsula were conquered by Oghuz Turks speaking Oguz-Turkish language (Ottomans).

Magic arrows of Oghuz

The elderly wise advisor of Oghuz saw a dream one day where he saw one bow made of gold and three arrows. The bow was extending all the way from sunrise to sunset . In the morning, he told the dream to Oghuz Khagan, saying “Oghuz Khagan, may you have a long and happy life, may all the things the Sky God showed in the dream become true.” Upon hearing the dream, Oghuz Khagan calls his six sons and sends three of them them to the east and three of them to the west. His elder sons find a golden bow in the east. His younger sons find three silver arrows in the west. Oghuz Khan breaks the golden bow into three pieces and gives each to his three older sons Gün (Sun), Ay (Moon) and Yıldız (Star). He says: “My older sons, take this bow and shoot your arrows to the sky like this bow.” He gives three silver arrows to his three younger sons Gök (Sky), Dağ (Mountain) and Deniz (Sea) and says: “My younger sons, take these silver arrows. A bow shoots arrows and may you be like arrows.” Then, he passes his lands onto his sons, Bozoks (Gray Arrows – elder sons) and Üçoks (Three Arrows – younger sons) at a final banquet. Then he says:

“My sons, I walked a lot on the Earth;

I saw many battles;

I threw so many arrows and spears;

I rode many horses;

I made my enemies cry;

I made my friends smile;

I paid my debt to Tengri;

Now I am passing my land over to you.”

References:

National Museum Wales

History

Russiapedia

History of Ogus‘  Eddie Austerlitz

Featured image: Bogatyrs (1898) by Viktor Vasnetsov

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Renowned programmer ensures that we are living in a computer simulation and wants to hack it to save us

Many works of science fiction, as well as some forecasts of renowned technologists and futurologists, predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations could do with their super powerful computers would be to run detailed simulations of their ancestors or similar people. Because their computers would be really powerful, they could run many simulations of this type.

Suppose that these simulated people are aware, then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race, but to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. Then it is possible to argue that, if this were the case, it would be rational to think that we are probably among the simulated minds and not among the original biological ones. In short, our life and everything in it is a computer simulation.

Or at least that’s what Nick Bostrum, a philosopher at the University of Oxford, suggested in 2003, when he said that members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power would have the ability to perform simulations of their ancestors. Although the most surprising of all is that there are many investigations that show that it is very likely that we are interacting with simulated minds. But now, George Hotz, the most famous hacker and programmer, is the latest technological celebrity to ensure that our universe is a simulation built by a society more advanced than ours. What’s more, he wants to hack it.

“We are living in a computer simulation”

The American computer and hacker expert George Hotz has ensured during an exhibition at the SXSW 2019 conference, held in Austin, USA, that he is convinced that all of us live in a computer simulation created by beings much more advanced than us. either extraterrestrial or artificial intelligence, which is far beyond the scope of human conception and understanding.

“There is no proof that this is not true ,” Hotz said on March 8 at the exhibition called “Jailbreaking the Simulation . ” “It’s easy to imagine things that are much smarter than you and could build a cage that you would not even recognize.”

computer simulation - Recognized programmer ensures that we are living in a computer simulation and wants to hack it to save us

It seems that the American hacker is one of the believers in the simulation hypothesis, proposed by Nick Bostrom in 2003. Hotz, 29, became famous for being the first hacker to unlock the first generation iPhone. But he went further when he managed to release the Sony PlayStation 3. Since then he has worked for Facebook, Google, and Vicarious, an artificial intelligence company based in the Bay Area of ​​San Francisco, California. In 2015, he founded the Comma.ai company, whose objective is to democratize access to auto driving software.

During the conference, Hotz assured that all the negative elements of the universe could be eliminated if we are able to ‘hack’ the operating system that creates this imperfect simulation.

“Are you a player or non-player character?” Hotz added. “The player characters know they are at stake. Hack the computer that operates the simulation and rewrite the operating system of nature. “

In addition, the computer expert even said he is thinking of founding a religion dedicated to “breaking up” with the simulated universe.

“I’m thinking about founding a church, ” Hotz said, referring to the end result of any capitalist enterprise being to maximize profits, sell the company or destroy it, all that is considered failures.“There are many structural problems with companies: there is no real way to win. With companies, you only really lose. I believe that the churches could be much more aligned with these objectives, and the goal of the church would be to realign the efforts of society to get out of the simulation. I do not know how close you think of the singularity, but I think it’s very close. Once we reach the singularity, if we have the same motivations that we have now, mainly the power over people, things are going to be horrible. Gather the right people and start saying: ‘What does it mean to go out?’ No charlatans, it’s not garbage. Everything you say better will be rationally justifiable. “

George Hotz joins the long list of influential people in our society who also think that we live in a simulation. PayPal co-founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly revealed that we are all+9+9* stuck in a virtual Matrix-style simulation . In 2016, the best analysts of the Bank of America Corporation affirmed that there is a 50% probability that our world is a computer simulation and that we are all connected in a virtual reality.

computer simulation hacking it - Recognized programmer ensures that we are living in a computer simulation and wants to hack it to save us

Even researchers from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with scientists from Canada and Italy, suggested that the universe could be a  “vast and complex hologram”  and our perception of life in 3D would only be a mere illusion.

Now, do the most privileged minds of the world suffer delusions of greatness? Or can they be right in their beliefs? Maybe the theory of simulation could explain the most absurd things in our lives, like politicians or wars. As it did with the iPhone or PlayStation 3, we will have to wait to know if “our reality” can be hacked, saving us all from this simulation in which we live.

Do you think we live in a computer simulation? Are we simple gamers of a video game?

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Octopuses Are Believed To Be From Another World

Known as panspermia, life is thought to have been distributed by different methods. This includes space partials, spacecrafts, comets, asteroids and meteoroids. Essentially, a contamination thrived through the form of living microorganisms. Throughout the Universe, life exists in different variations and forms.

A collaboration between 33 different scientists, included a theory that octopuses are in fact from another place not native to Earth, they are alien to our planet. Of these scientists, molecular immunologist Edward Steele and astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe – suggested this new yet wild theory.

Octopuses Are Believed To Be From Another World

This interesting theory, was published in a March issue of Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, a journal that is considered highly controversial. Many scientists have disagreed with this theory, regarding alien octopuses. Everyone it seems has their opinion about it, yet nobody knows for sure just yet.

Traditionally, octopuses are thought to have evolved from the nautiloid, a large and diversified group of marine type cephalopods. The relationship between these odd cephalopods, doesn’t explain their further characteristics like why octopuses are so very different in general from their supposive nautiloid ancestors.

The paper written had this to say, “The genetic divergence of Octopus from its ancestral coleoid sub-class is very great … Its large brain and sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies, instantaneous camouflage via the ability to switch color and shape are just a few of the striking features that appear suddenly on the evolutionary scene.”

There are other species in the water, including the common cuttlefish and the squid, among other yet to be discovered species. All of these species simply cannot be found in any other kind of pre-existing life form according to the authors of the paper.

This same paper stated that, “An already coherent group of functioning genes within (say) cryopreserved and matrix protected fertilized octopus eggs. These eggs might have arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago.” These scientists go on by writing “such an extraterrestrial origin…of course, runs counter to the prevailing dominant paradigm.”

Through the panspermia theory, there are seeds everywhere. The seeds of life, are everywhere within the universe, including both space and life here on Earth as we know it. If any of this is truthful, then these specimens would to have survived long journeys across the Universe. These traveling space octopuses, would have to be both “space-resistant and space-hardy”. These octopus cosmonauts, would have to endure many kinds of viruses and bacteria that would arise.

Octopuses are quite incredible creatures, they are able to contort themselves and are very flexible. Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood. They are widely considered to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. Each tentacle is actually considered an arm. These arms have a mind of their own, able to think independently. Octopuses are quite the escape artists, they can squeeze themselves through some tough situations since they have no bones. To fool their prey, they can camouflage themselves as well. Equally as impressive, they can “see” with their skin.

Their skin is made up from the same light-sensitive proteins present in octopus eyes. This means that an octopus’s skin, can sense and respond to light without information from either the eyes or brain. For traveling around within the ocean, an octopus can “walk” faster by using its arms as feet. This is far more efficient for them comparably. When they swim, their heart stops pumping blood to their organs.

With all of these abilities, they have become one of the oceans biggest wonders. Who knows whether or not they are from another world, but we shouldn’t rule it out either.

(Source: Quartz and Huffington Post)

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