• Neil Allen

Fr Roten Blog #28: Iceland

Valhall in a Tree Stump A. Oelger

The Icelandic Eddas tell that in Valhall, the paradise of the Germanic tribes, there are 540 doors. At the end of the world, 800 of the finest warriors will march through each of the doors to wage war against the enemies of the gods. This set marks a stark contrast to the heroes of Valhall. Although reminiscent of the fairytales of Norse literature, the poor and brittle tree stump with its mushroom-shaped top could hardly qualify as symbol of Valhall. And the plain and artless figures emerging from the fallen tree are but a far cry from the might splendor of Wotan’s armies. Yet, there is a magic quality ennobling and extolling the set. It derives from the wonderful paradox that exists between the utter simplicity and fragile earthliness of this nativity set and the message and meaning it conveys. God does not need 800x540 warriors to win the end game. Crossing the threshold that separates heaven and earth, he opened the 540 doors of Valhall to all those of good will.

Reprinted with permission: University of Dayton- Marian Library Collection. All rights reserved.

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