Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Imagining the Supernatural North

Snegurochka (Snow Maiden, 1899). By Victor Vasnetsov. Image Source: Wiki.

Picking up on the Winter Solstice post from yesterday afternoon, the theme of the 'supernatural north' seems fitting as the Solstice actually occurs today. Imagining the Supernatural North is the name of a conference being held next year in Iceland.  The announcement caught my eye on H-Net:
"Imagining the Supernatural North" intends contribute to the ongoing discussion on "perceptions of Northernness" in the humanities and social sciences. In the course of the oft-quoted "spatial turn", the increased awareness of spatiality and its implications, scholars have devoted considerable attention to the cultural meaning of northernness. Which stereotypes, symbolisms and ideological connotations have been ascribed to the North in different historical periods, by different actors and in different discourse genres? How have the North and its inhabitants been imagined, constructed and described?

As a contribution to this debate, the panel will explore the notion of the North as a realm of the supernatural. From antiquity to the present, the North has been associated with sorcerous inhabitants, mythical tribes, metaphysical forces of good and evil and all kinds of supernatural qualities and occurrences. Such an approach, however, needs to bear in mind that the border between the natural and the supernatural has been viewed differently in different discursive traditions, and that a sharp delineation is often impossible.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- The myth of the Hyperboreans in Ancient Greece
- The motif of "evil descending from the North" in the Old Testament
- Gl├Žsisvellir and the mythical realms of the North in medieval Scandinavian cosmology
- Mount Hekla and other alleged gateways to hell
- "Northern witchcraft" in early modern demonology and juridical practice
- "Ex oriente lux" versus "Ex septentrione lux" - rivalling interpretations of the East and the North as origins of human culture
- The "pure Aryan North" in (Neo-)Nazi mysticism
- The spirituality of the North in modern esotericism and neo-paganism
- Northern shamanism as a topic of scholarship, indigenous self-perception and popular discourses
- Mysteries of the North in literature (e.g. H. C. Andersen's "Snow Queen", C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series etc.)
- Gendering the supernatural north (contrasting images of female witches and male sorcerers, sexual stereotypes of the "icy seductress", "frigid beauty")
- Supernatural interpretations of natural phenomena (polar night and midnight sun, Northern lights etc.)

There is additional information at the Website of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (here). Considering he just rewrote the whole history for the DC comics character, Ice, maybe Judd Winick should attend.


  1. I remember George Carlin ranting about the Northern European genes, the blue eyes. I remember "The Roof of the World."

    And of course, the Northern Lights.

  2. I wasn't familiar with several of the topics that will be discussed at this Icelandic meeting, for example Mount Hekla and the terms "Ex oriente lux" versus "Ex septentrione lux" nor of the ugly uses to which they've been put.