There are a LOT of things about the Lore of Nott that are interesting and possibly even eye-opening. But to me, one of the MOST important things to note is that the Norse have an actual BLACK GODDESS. Given the amount of racism present in the modern Heathen movement, I feel like this is something we should be screaming from every possible platform at those who would drag our traditions through their white supremisist white-washing.
Let me say it again, for those in the back.
THOR’S GRANDMOTHER WAS BLACK!
Why is that never mentioned? Especially by the racists over in the AFA?
THOR’S GRANDMOTHER WAS BLACK!
THOR’S GRANDMOTHER WAS BLACK!
It’s right there in the Lore.
Read on to learn more so you can refute idiocy when you find it!
Nott in the Lore
Nott is mentioned several times in what modern Heathens refer to as the Lore, or the body of stories that were preserved in manuscripts. The main manuscripts are the Eddas, of which there are two versions.
The Poetic Edda exists in several forms, but the one most commonly cited is known as the Codex Regius. The Codex Regius consists of thirty-one poems and is arguably the most important literary source of Germanic heroic legends. The Codex was written down in the thirteenth century, but was not rediscovered until 1643 when it came into the possession of the Bishop of Skalholt. Often referred to as the Elder Edda, it contains the pagan poems that Snorri used to develop his text, the Prose Edda.
The Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the thirteenth century approximately two hundred years after the conversion of Iceland to Christianity, was written to preserve what Snorri considered a critical piece of Icelandic culture: skaldic poetry. Filled with kennings, or descriptive statements alluding to something else, skaldic poetry was a dying art form. The Prose Edda is Snorri’s attempt to preserve the stories of his people, but to also attempt to fit them into his ‘modern’ (read Christian) world view. Because of this, some scholars question the usefulness of Snorri’s work for pagan practice. That said, if one is familiar with the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda can give you clues to deeper meanings in the kennings of both texts. Additionally, there are some stories that Snorri includes in his work that we have no other references for. Some people believe he made things up to suit his foremost goal of preserving the writing style, but many of us, myself included, believe that he is referring to stories otherwise lost to time.
Nott appears in both the Poetic and the Prose Edda.
In stanza 24 of the poem Vafþrúðnismál, the god Odin (disguised as “Gagnráðr”) asks the jötunn Vafþrúðnir from where the day comes, and the night and its tides.
In stanza 25, Vafþrúðnir responds:
Delling hight he who the day’s father is,
but Night was of Nörvi born;
the new and waning moons the beneficent powers created,
to count the years for men
In stanza 14 of the Vafþrúðnismál, Odin states that the horse Hrímfaxi “draws every night to the beneficent gods” and that he lets foam from his bit fall every morning, from which dew comes to the valleys.
In stanza 30 of the poem Alvíssmál, the god Thor asks the dwarf Alvíss to tell him what night is called in each of the nine worlds, whom “Nórr” birthed. Alvíss responds that night is referred as “night” by mankind, “darkness” by the gods, “the masker” by the mighty Powers, “unlight” by the jötunn, “joy-of-sleep” by the elves, while dwarves call her “dream-Njörun” (meaning “dream-goddess”).
In Sigrdrífumál, after the valkyrie Sigrdrífa is woken from her sleep curse by the hero Sigurd, Sigurd asks her name, and she gives him a “memory-drink” of a drinking horn full of mead, and then Sigrdrifa says a heathen prayer. The first verse of this prayer features a reference to the “sons of Dagr” and the “daughter of Nótt”:
Hail to the Day! Hail to the sons of Day!
To Night and her daughter hail!
With placid eyes behold us here,
and here sitting give us victory.
Hail to the Æsir! Hail to the Asyniur!
Hail to the bounteous earth!
Words and wisdom give to us noble twain,
and healing hands while we live!
In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Nótt is again personified. In chapter 10, the enthroned figure of High states that Nótt is the daughter of a jötunn from Jötunheimr by the name of “Norfi or Narfi”. Nótt is described as “black and swarthy”, and has had three marriages.
Her first marriage was with Naglfari, and the two produced a son by the name of Auðr.
Nótt’s second marriage was to Annar, resulting in their daughter Jörð, the personified earth and Mother of Thor.
Finally, Nótt marries the god Dellingr, and the couple have Dagr, who takes after his “father’s people” in brightness and fairness. Odin took Nótt and her son Dagr, placed them into the sky with a chariot and a horse each, and they ride around the earth every 24 hours. Nótt rides before Dagr, and foam from her horse Hrímfaxi’s bit sprinkles the earth and leaves the morning dew on the grass.
In the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, means of referring to Jörð are provided, including “daughter of Nótt.” Chapter 58 states that “Hrimfaxi or Fiorsvartnir draw the night”, and in chapter 64, “Nótt” is stated as one of various words for time and a version of the Alvíssmál passage is cited.
A Goddess Black and Swarthy
So, how did we go from an actual black goddess, described as such in more than one place in the Lore, to the Neo-Nazi crap that stains us at every turn?
Maybe more importantly, what can we do going forward?
Well, for starters, we can step up and argue back when white supremacists make their less-than-closeted assertions about ‘ancestral pathways’ or other claims that come out of a pre-civil rights movement playbook (Nazi’s anyone?)
We can work to make our communities safe for people of color called to our path.
We can work to make sure that all voices are heard and welcome around our fires.
But make no mistake, it is going to be a LOT of work.
Still. THOR’S GRANDMOTHER WAS BLACK!!!