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!