The paper focuses on dreams that characters in Icelandic sagas such as Vatnsdæla saga, Laxdæla saga and Eyrbyggja saga experience. The questions that I try to answer are: what is the nature of these dreams, what kind of messages do they transmit, and how do they affect the dreamer? Which are the concrete actions in real life after encountering otherness in dreams? These questions are the starting point in order to establish if the binary construction self/other represents a relationship between subjects occupying opposite positions or if the others in this case can be understood as the negation of self, in Hegelian dialectic.
In Viking Age Scandinavia the presence of the dead – both physically and psychologically – must have been a fact of daily life for most people, with grave fields delimiting villages and avowed ancestral ties helping shape individual and group identities. Yet despite this nearness, deceased persons often appear in the Eddas and sagas as highly dangerous or even monstrous. Were the dead then seen as the ultimate ‘other’ or perceived as ideal ‘insiders’ in Old Norse culture? Or were they both? This paper seeks to explore these questions by examining what the archaeological records suggests about how the Viking dead were – or were not – integrated into their society.
Drawing primarily upon Eddic materials, this paper uses two scholarly frameworks to discuss the enigmatic connections between swans and death in Old Norse literature and iconography: Neil Price’s account of shamanistic elements in pre-Christian Old Norse beliefs, and Margaret Clunies-Ross’s characterisation of air as mobile and water as fatalistic within Old Norse cosmology. The resultant analysis suggests that swans were viewed as hyperliminal beings, situated between cosmological and conceptual realms of Familiar and Other; including living/dead and human/nonhuman. This not only sheds light upon swans’ associations with death and fate, but also encourages further investigation into the roles of avian beings within Old Norse beliefs.