Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/412

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39^ Custom a?id Belief in Icelandic Sagas.

Another suggestive point is the custom of keeping sacro-sanct animals, which may be compared to the cattle sacred to Artemis in Phocis, and the swine consecrated to Aphrodite at Hierapolis. Hrafnkel, and by inference Faxa-Brand, each kept a horse sacred to Frey, and Thorkell the Tall devoted an ox to him. In Floamanna we have a calf which had been dedicated to Thor, and it seems probable that the " home-boar " and the old ox killed by divine visitation in the same saga were also the property of the god, as Thorgils makes the same prohibition against their being used for food as later in the case of the calf. Possibly Thor's special claim against Thorgils himself was justified by the latter's name.

A goddess mentioned who is not one of the Asgard divinities is the sea-goddess Ran, referred to in an episode in Eyrbyggja (after the year looo). Thorodd and his companions were drowned at sea; the ship was fished up, but the bodies could not be found. Men were drink- ing the Yule-ale, but they turned it into a wake. On the first evening of the wake Thorodd and all his com- panions came in. Everyone welcomed them, and thought their coming good, because " it was held true that men were welcomed by Rdn if sea-dead men visited their wake ; for little had been lost of heathendom, though men were christened and called Christian." They spoke to none, but came every evening and sat by the fire. Everyone thought the haunting would cease when the wake was finished, but it did not. This is a testimony to the tenacity of the old beliefs, to the vitality of those vague and primitive forms which existed in the minds of the common people and were never embodied in any system ; just as there were nature-divinities in Greece who were never admitted into the Olympic circle. The late Dr. Abbott notices the vague and fluctuating nature of the Homeric sea-gods, "creatures which cannot easily be brought within the limits of human life," and which