Interview conducted by Joseph S. Hopkins over the course of December 2015 and January 2016 via e-mail.
The subject of our third Six Questions entry is Frøydis. Frøydis has a background in fashion modeling—represented by model agency Pholk in Norway—and was notably a finalist in Norway’s Next Top Model in 2008 (before exiting the competition due to illness).
In addition to modeling, Frøydis is active an Viking Age reenactment, environmentalist, live action roleplaying (LARP), and cosplay circles, and she maintains a blog documenting her activities, Lin og Lauk (Nynorsk ‘flax and onion’, referring to a magic formula appearing on a runic inscription from Fløksand, Norway and in the Old Norse Völsa þáttr).
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Østfold, Norway, in a region heavy with Bronze- and Iron Age sites. After a few detours to Oslo and Berlin, I eventually moved to the countryside close to where I grew up. Half my family is German, and I count Germany as a second home.
2. Can you remember when you first encountered Norse mythology or, more generally, Germanic mythology? And what was the context?
Ever since I was very young I have been interested history, mythology and archaeology, but I don't really remember how it started. I think a gateway for me was to research the etymology of my own first name [from Old Norse Freyr + dís meaning 'dís/lady of the god Freyr'], and this made me curious of what diser, æser, vaner [from Old Norse dísir, æsir, and vanir modernized via Nynorsk] and the rest really were.
I read a lot and couldn't understand why not everybody was equally interested. I remember checking out the prose Edda from my school's library and to my surprise learning I was the first one to do so.
Growing up in Norway, it is pretty much impossible not to learn about Norse mythology at some level. We are taught quite a bit in school, and it's my impression that most Norwegians have at least a basic knowledge of the mythology.
3. How would you describe your religious beliefs (or lack thereof)?
I suppose it depends on how you define religion, but I am fairly agnostic when it comes to all things divine.
4. How would you describe your political beliefs (or lack thereof)?
I am an active member of the Norwegian Green party, but I have no ambitions of becoming a politician.
I think the old paradigm of left-center-right is outdated, and that we in today's globalized, complicated, environmentally devastated world need new ways of thinking about global problems and how everything is connected. My political values are centered around the environment, social equality and progressivism, the welfare state (that is, having one!) and all that jazz.
5. How does Norse mythology and/or general element Germanic mythology influence your creative output?
The influence is more indirect, but I'll try to explain! It gives me inspiration to go out into the world and explore it (both figuratively and literally), and a will to tread my own path in life.
It gives me a sense of connection and continuity, a closeness to the land with its inhabitants, to keep old and dying traditions alive in a modern context.
It inspires me aesthetically, in what I wear and what I surround myself with. It pushes me to sew and (to want to) try to learn different handicrafts.
6. Do you have a formal academic background in Germanic studies? If not, where do you do your research on the topic?
I don't, but I have taken some courses in runology and old Norse at the University of Oslo. Best syllabus I ever spent my money on!
There is so much questionable (I'm being nice here) things out there, so you need a basic understanding of the actual sources if you are to stand a chance at seeing through the fakery. I therefor read mostly academic books, where at least all the speculation is clearly stated as such! I often go by recommendations from people I trust, check bibliographies for further tips, and also read reviews before buying anything. A library is always a good starting point.
Of course, there are many good amateurs and websites too. I have a few Facebook groups I go to if I have a question. Chances are, someone will point me in the right direction.
Joseph S. Hopkins would like to thank Frøydis for her participation.