30 DoA #16: Values

16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins? Whew, well, if you’re going by the Nine Noble Virtues (a modern contrivance, but more than occasionally a useful one), Wayland hit just about every. Single. One. Because the graphic is pretty, we’ll be using this version of the list:


1. Courage. I don’t think anyone would ever argue that Wayland did not demonstrate courage during his ordeal at the hands of Nidud (I don’t think I’ve spelled this guy’s name the same way twice throughout this series, but hopefully y’all know he’s the evil king by this point!). From being captured, to being lamed, to trusting that his swan wife would eventually return to him, the Smith’s got courage in spades.

2. Truth. Ok, this is the one that he probably falls a bit short on, being something of a trickster–tricking the boys to their deaths, tricking Bodvild in drinking the rufied wine, tricking the king into believing that Egil shot him down with an arrow. However, when the time comes, he does reveal the truth to the king, in all its terribleness.

3. Honor. Wayland preserves his own honor by exacting revenge for his captivity; oddly enough, it could be argued that he defends that of Bodvild as well, when he makes her father promise not to harm any offspring of his.

4. Fidelity. Waiting for his swan-bride. ‘Nuff said.

5. Discipline. Crafting 700+ rings? ‘Nuff said.

6. Hospitality. In this instance, Wayland is an example of how not to treat one’s guests, i.e., by laming, inflicting forced labor, and theft, just to name a few.

7. Self-Reliance. For the record, I hardly believe that this was an ancient Heathen value, and more a reflection of Americans’ obsession with rugged individualism. That being said, Wayland is quite ingenious when it comes to getting what he wants. It should be noted, however, that no Smith is an island, and even he relied on his brother Egil to shoot down the birds from which he created his marvelous wings of escape.

8. Industriousness. See 700+ rings ‘n’ things, previously mentioned.

9. Perseverance. Wayland never gives up, even when tortured and forced to work for the king. Holding fast under these circumstances is probably one of the best examples of perseverance in the extant lore.


4 thoughts on “30 DoA #16: Values

  1. Great analysis- I haven’t read these stories myself, they sound intriguing. I don’t think any character perfectly reflects all the virtues in any myth- in fact sometimes I think part of the purpose of these myths is to demonstrate how situational different virtues can be. As to Self-Reliance- some Heathen (Stephen McNallen?) must’ve read Thoreau and latched on to his ideas. Thoreau’s mother did his laundry while he was living at Walden Pond. I learned that in my UU history class. Self-reliance is good up to a point, but I think Interdependence would healthier and more realistic- and in keeping with ancient cultures. Also would make Heathenry and other recon religions more friendly to people with disabilities, elderly folks, etc.


    1. I “love” how the example of Thoreau is always dragged out as a paragon of self-reliance–you’re absolutely right about his mum doing his laundry! In my experience, humans are not solitary creatures. Even the most introverted of us need contact with others and some sort of family or community support.

      Accessibility issues have become more and more important to me as I deepen my own experience of this path, not because of my own problems, but because I keep meeting wonderful people who need just a little bit more consideration to participate. The attitude of “if you’re not fit, then get out” is just one more example of the rampant and erroneous social darwinism that infects American culture. /soapbox


  2. Interesting how Wayland seems to exemplify each of these except truth. I guess this has something do with the Nine Virtues being derived from myths he is a part of?


    1. Yep, at least that’s what makes the most sense. Many of the NNN are taken from the Havamal and other Eddic poems, but it is kinda fun to see that so many end up in this one particular story (actually, I think the inclusion of “truth” in this list is hilarious considering how many of the sagas and myths involve trickery and deceit on the parts of the heroes). Also, as I mentioned above, there are a number of different interpretations of the NNN, just like there were many different lists of chivalric virtues in the Middle Ages, so someone else’s choices might not fit as nicely.


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