Initiation by White Snake and the Acquisition of Supernatural Knowledge

Forfattere

  • Tommy Kuusela

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7146/rt.v74i.132097

Nøgleord:

Snake, serpent, cunning folk, folklore, initiation, rites of passage, wisdom

Resumé

ABSTRACT: This paper explores narratives about eating the flesh of a dragon or whiteserpent. It is argued that these narratives can be interpreted as examples of initiation. The snake’s association with wisdom is a common motif in Scandinavian folklore,stretching back at least to the Middle Ages. The author argues that folklore accounts of eating a white snake correspond symbolically to initiation. Different texts explain and legitimise how certain persons gain abilities such as wisdom, second sight, and the ability to understand the language of birds or other animals. This motif shows continuity over time and space and does not have to have taken place as an actual ritual for theinterpretation to be valid, particularly as, in the 19th century, such stories legitimised such people’s position in society as ‘cunning folk’.

RESUME: Denne artikel udforsker fortællinger om at spise kødet af en drage eller hvid slange. Den foreslår, at de kan tolkes som eksempler på initiering. Slangens tilknytning til visdom er et almindeligt motiv i skandinavisk folklore, der strækker sig tilbage til middelalderen, hvis ikke længere. Forfatteren hævder, at folkloreberetninger om at spise en hvid slange symbolsk svarer til initiering. Forskellige tekster forklarer og legitimerer, hvordan visse personer opnår evner som visdom, synskhed og evnen til at forstå fugles eller andre dyrs sprog. Dette motiv udviser kontinuitet gennem tid og rum og fortolkningens gyldighed afhænger ikke af, at de handlinger reelt har fundet sted som et egentligt ritual, især eftersom sådanne historier i det 19. århundrede legitimerede disse menneskers position i samfundet som ‘kloge folk’.

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Publiceret

2022-03-25

Citation/Eksport

Kuusela, T. . (2022). Initiation by White Snake and the Acquisition of Supernatural Knowledge. Religionsvidenskabeligt Tidsskrift, 74, 153–169. https://doi.org/10.7146/rt.v74i.132097