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Ancient Germanic Mythology and LOST

As we all know and agree, religion and mythology figure prominently in the story of LOST. From the Egyptians right up to the Judeo-Christian religion, numerous references to Gods, statues, prophets, and stories of each mythology abound. Quite accidently, while reading “The Roots of Modern English” by L.M. Myers, a book on the origins of the English language (of all things!), I came across a story of an ancient Germanic conflict, and it seemed to parallel many of the themes found in LOST. The folklore goes that in 5th and 6th century England and Germany the main occupation of the population was hunting, fishing, and farming. They relaxed by eating, drinking, and listening to songs. However most of their more serious energy was devoted to fighting–sometimes for gain and sometimes for emotional reasons. But always in the background was a firm, even religious, belief that fighting was the proper business of man, and that the only respectable way to die was in battle. Their principal gods were Woden and Frigga, comparable to Zeus and Hera (Greek) and Jupiter and Juno (Roman). The common aspects of all three sets of gods is quite pronounced, namely that these gods are neither all-good nor all-powerful, but worthy of worship. Standing behind these gods are the three Fates (like the witches in MacBeth): old women beyond passion or personal interest, laying out the lines of the future with which even the gods cannot tamper.

As far as the afterlife goes, there is nothing comparable to the Christian idea of heaven. In the Germanic accounts, especially, not even the gods can look forward to an eternity of peace or happiness. They are temporarily ahead of their equally powerful enemies, the Giants, but the final battle (Ragnarok or Gotterdammerung) is still to come. For this battle Woden will need all the human heroes that he can get. Accordingly he keeps a corps of beautiful, hefty young female recruiting officers. These are the Valkyrie–meaning “choosers of the slain.” It is their duty to watch over battles, and whenever they see a worthy champion at the very peak of his valor and performance, they arrange for an enemy weapon to kill him. Then they take his spirit to Valhalla–the Hall of the Slain–where he goes into training for Ragnarok. Each day he fights gloriously with his peers. Each night, his wounds healed, he feasts with his companions. And in the end the great fight against the Giants will come, and it will really be the end, for neither side can win. They will destroy each other and the very earth on which they have lived, and nothing will remain but utter chaos.

Now how does this play out in our story? Well, Woden can be compared to Jacob, and the leader of the Giants our Man in Black, his archenemy. . Many on this site have stated that Jacob is neither purely good nor purely evil, just like the Germanic god, Woden.
They’ve been battling for centuries, preparing for their final standoff. Each and every story in Lost has to do with a battle of some sort, from the Jack/Locke, Jack/Sawyer, Michael/Jin conflicts, to the Losties/Others conflicts, to the Freighters/Others/Losties, Widmore vs. Ben, Ben vs. Locke,–we could go on and on. They have been tested, and perhaps some of the dead have been chosen and will return to fight again (Boone, Eko, Michael?). And now in Season 6, the final battle, the Gotterdammerung, is imminent. Whether one side will triumph, or both sides destroyed remains to be seen.

As for the Valkyrie, those beautiful female recruiting officers, are they perhaps the prototypes of all of the strong women in our story? Kate, Juliette, Charlotte, Ana Lucia, Libby, Shannon? The two guards in the Looking Glass Station (Bonnie and Greta)? All of these women are strong-willed and fierce, no shrinking violets here.

Then on to the Fates, ah the Fates! The older women who know the future is preordained and cannot be changed. Perhaps one of them is Eloise Hawking–always trying to keep the universe course-corrected. Could another be Rose? An older woman convinced from the beginning that her husband was alive, that was his fate. And by Season 5 she was finished with all the fighting, she knows how it is fated to end, and wants no part of it. The third is possibly Danielle Rousseau–she knows the Island’s secrets and remains a mystery.

As I stated in the first paragraph, I came upon this mythology quite by accident, and would like to know if anyone else has anything to add! I welcome your comments!

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imisscharlie

Hi everyone! We are a mother/daughter team who love LOST! Our comments are sometimes only one of us and sometimes a joint effort, so forgive us for any inconsistencies!

13 thoughts on “Ancient Germanic Mythology and LOST

  1. I really like ancient European mythologies and I can see how the bigger mythic ideas in Lost can fit. I just don’t think that they will bring another spiritual set into the mix this late in the game – we already have Egyptian and Buddhist ideas along with some Christian references. I like it, but as I can’t recall a similar story in the other Lost religions I don’t know that it will play out quite like that, but it does have some nice corellations.

  2. Actually, I wasn’t thinking that they would bring in any more specific gods or myths. I just was quite taken with the similarities between the mythologies of various cultures, and with the themes and allusions in Lost, especially the concept of war and fighting.

  3. t is interesting the way cultures from all over the world have such similarities through their myths, often with little contact between them. The greater truths of our world?

  4. I agree Tas. The similarities of our stories, folklore and religions all point to our common humanity. I think that this commonality of the human spirit is essentially what Lost is all about–mankind’s search for meaning and spiritual connection in an unforgiving and harsh world.

  5. There are alot of similarities between old religions. I read somewhere on the internet a comparison of them and the author traced it back to the Sumerians, who had the earliest civilization. The story of Enki and Enlil reminds me alot of Jacob and MIB.

  6. I think the writers have taken a serious leaf out of George Lucas’ book when it comes to how to approach the sort of lengthy text that Lost is. Joseph Campbell layed out these recurrent mythical structures of the worlds myths, and they are great for screenwriters to follow as all the archetypes are there.

    The call to action, the reluctant hero, etc. They’re all there as they have been for hundreds / thousands of years.

    Actually I’ve just grabbed my copy of “The Power of Myth” from my bookshelf behind me and started opening to random pages. 6-for-6 times, what Campbell is discussing is INCREDIBLY relevant to Lost. Like as in, he could be discussing the show. I’d guarantee either Damon or Carlton (and a few other Lost writers) have read this book.

  7. Good to be back.

    I really liked the idea but alot of religions, myths, & civilizations could somewhat easily fit into the show’s plot but you did make direct references that intrigue me like The “Older Ladies” that was a good one especially Ms. Hawking.

  8. hi imisscharlie, a very interesting theory and a good read. in answer to your question, i don’t there is any more to add because i think you’ve said it all. basically, it’s just a ‘thumbs up’ from me.

  9. Thank you, all, for your kind words.
    I’d like to get a copy of “The Power of Myth” it sounds like a worthy read before the new season starts!

  10. Imisscharlie, yesterday I rewatched part 1 of the pilot episode because I read that many answers to Lost can be found in that episode. Lo and behold, what catches my eye within the first minutes of the episode – Charlie writes “FATE” onto the knuckle bands he.is wearing. Now if that doesn’t fit right into your theory I don’t know what does? (Isn’t it VERY coincidental that your username is Imisscharlie, you write about fate and that Charlie wrote “FATE” on his knuckle bands at the beginning of the series?) Btw, I have a feeling that the ancient Fates will come to fruition during season 6 and your theory on who they may be as well as the helper beauties sounds quite plausible. Since I’m talking about Charlie I might as well ask what you and anyone else thinks may be behind him singing his hit song’s title many times to Kate, “We are everybody” to help her figure out where she “might have seen him before”? I also posted this as a theory today, but I figure it was appropriate to mention here as well.

  11. Hey, AmILost, so good to hear from you!
    I’m glad you appreciated my (first) theory!
    Anyway, to answer your question about Charlie singing his song to Kate, I just thought he does it to spark her memory, seeing as he feels the band was fairly famous in the “real world.” However, maybe they had some connection prior to the crash, like so many others. (Also, Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan were an item early on in the series, which could explain a lot of the chemistry between them back then!)

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