Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/162

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The Norsemen were Vikings who raided up the Rhine, the Seine, the Loire; who pushed down to the Garonne, to Spain, and through the Straits into the Mediterranean and reached Constantinople, where some of them took service under the Greek Emperors. Insensibly their ideas of cosmogony got influenced by the Christians with whom they were brought in continual contact; and they adopted the notion of a heaven of the gods above the clouds. But this was not their original belief. They held that the world was round and flat, and that about it flowed a mighty river. Beyond this was Gloesisvellir, the Shining Plains, to which the dead were shipped. These ideas got localised. The Celts had their convictions that the Land of the Spirits was beyond the setting sun, and St Brendan and his party sailed in a carack in quest of it, but failed to discover it. In Germany the localisation of the Land of Souls was across one of the broad rivers. In the confusion of ideas some held that a heavenly ship among or above the clouds transported the souls to their final home. But this theory was not lasting. Still, it existed.

At first the Aryan idea was metempsychosis. Then as the souls could not find bodies to animate, they went wandering in quest of