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"I mean, have you tried not being a slayer?"
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March 31 2007

Great muppety Odin, what's a thricewise? It's a Norse mythology reference. Mimir, a Jotun, was referred to as a thricewise. He guarded the well of wisdom and Odin gave him his right eye for the privilege of drinking from the well. Hmm, which eye did Xander lose?

Yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short, apologies. I only got my copy of S8.1 yesterday so I missed out on all the issue #1 discussion fun. Not that I ever doubted it, but there is a method to the madness. Giant Dawn and the "great muppety Odin" line make a lot more sense now. Well, not the muppety part, but, hey it brings the funny. I miss churros, too!

I found this link interesting as well, but only skimmed it for the Mimir references:
More Odin info

Great find, punkinpus.
Awesome, thanks for the info. I was curious, too, and I always dig getting a little more folklore/mythology knowledge.
Giant, Odin, Thricewise, it all makes a bit more sense.
Interesting... But this does make it sound like there's one being, nicknamed Thricewise, making it hard to date a thricewise.

I would love it if Season 8 delved more into norse mythology, though. Those vikings gave good myth. With the HQ in Scotland, the Scoobies are pretty close to the source too.

I'll be less surprised now if that subtitle turns out to be 'Ragnarok'.
Thank you so much punkinpus, it had never occurred to me to look it up (doh). Now I'm wondering if slayers are similar to Valkyries and if we'll be taking a trip to Valhalla to recover some of our dead heroes (hope springs eternal).
Hmmmm. Very interesing. I wonder where the muppets come in, though.
Damn, Telltale, you and I are "end-of-the-world" twinsies. I so meant to put Ragnarök on the "one word subtitle" thread, and then again here, but you'd done it already.

As a descendent of Vikings, I'm a big fan of Norse mythology and of Ragnarök - this mythology is ripe for mining...
Well that could put a different spin on things. Nice find. :)
...How did this even happen? I swear I looked it up and the first five or six pages of links were all people using it in the sense of something happening three times.

Thanks a lot, I've been wondering how or why Joss decided to coin that name of all things, when normally new Whedonverse terms tend to be of the "M glottal stop" variety, or something along the lines of Raxicoricofallapatorius and with few actual linguistic ties to real languages. (Except when it might have plot relevance like the kinderstod)
Every once in a blue moon, a post just as this finds it way in the black. I'm still laughing on the floor. Thank you,punkinpus! We needed a good chuckle:)
Are we sure Mimir was referred to as "a thricewise," and not "the thrice wise," as in "Mimir the thrice wise" because he was so, well, wise? (Googling "Mimir thrice" brings up references to him as "Mimir the thrice-wise Jotun" which means thrice-wise is an adjective....)

I'm not sure if this makes it more or less likely that Joss was making a Mimir reference.
This mythology has never made much sense to me. The story I'm more familiar with is that Odin lost his eye to a raven while hanging himself to attain wisdom, and it was taken from him by the raven and he didn't have control of it after that. Is this an adjunct or a variant of that? I'm not expressing an opinion. None of it really ever made sense to me, so I don't think I have much to offer.
Septimus, you forgot the mouse (mice) element. Don't ask, I only work here (hare). Damnit, now I'm starting to do it, calling it a day. Exit stage.....
With the HQ in Scotland, the Scoobies are pretty close to the source too.

True, but we also have our own Celtic mythology for them to delve into (and no, I don't mean 'Nessie' ;).

Strange, at the time I stuck it into the OED and no hits (as one word or two). Interestingly when you google 'thrice wise' as two words you get this fairly near the top talking about Hermes and how he crops up in several belief systems (i.e. not only Hebrew tradition) from Old Testament times as Thoth among others but again that's adjectival whereas the comic definitely said 'a thricewise' like a species or maybe job description (as in 'a magus').

According to Wikipedia (so have your pinch of salt ready) Odin was referred to by Tacitus (and possibly Caesar) as 'Mercury' (the Roman version of Hermes) because they're both 'psychopomps' which (outside of Jung) means they guide souls to the afterlife. And so is Thoth.

Just adjectively 'thrice wise' also crops up in Buddhist tradition (i'm trying not to say 'myths' so I don't offend anyone. I think i've grown ;).

And in the versions i've heard/read of Odin's story he swapped his eye for a drink (Norsemen eh, what a crowd ;) from the well of wisdom which was under Yggdrasil, the tree of life. Yggdrasil was thought to stand at the nexus between 'Heaven', Earth and 'Hell' so maybe a thricewise is someone with knowledge of all three ? Or Googling suggests that Odin swapped his eye (some say left, putting the Xand-man back in the game ;) not just for wisdom but wisdom of past, present and future so again maybe that explains 'thricewise' (and also means maybe the thricewise made Dawn a giant because it'll come in handy in the future).

That said, it's fun to dig around but I suspect Joss just concatenated 'thrice wise' cos it sounded good and vaguely occult (as in, wee Dawnie - like her sister - just can't stay away from 'bad boys'), could well be wrong of course (certainly hope so), guess we'll find out if it becomes significant.
I hope this is a genuine link, as I'd like to see some Norse mythology incorporated into the Buffyverse, but I'm wondering why no-one found it until April the first.
It does seem that this Mimir guy is himself a giant, as are Jotuns (a kind of deity) in general. (From the second, longer linked thing, which also links these characters to those Wagnerian-type gods- so maybe "Buffy Season 8: Gotterdammerung" isn't so far off?)

[ edited by toast on 2007-04-01 12:52 ]
... so maybe "Buffy Season 8: Gotterdammerung" isn't so far off?

Heh, that'd be pretty funny. Proof if it were needed of the old adage that "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" (or maybe more appropriately, the one about "throwing enough shit" ;).

About the link, well that could be an April fools (though it seems an elaborate one, especially since it was posted on March 31st) but Mimir is definitely part of the Norse tradition, some stories say he was a giant, some say a god, some just say a sage (though the wisest of them, hence 'thrice wise'). Unless the trickster snuck into my house and altered my copy of "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" last night, i'd say it's legit ;) - though whether it's relevant is another matter altogether.
Saje. That all I say.
Everything I know about Norse mythology I learned from Neil Gaiman (and, now, this thread!). I think we should ask him.
The date of the linked website post is March 15th, so why nobody else found this before is a bit surprising to me as well. My guess is that most of us assumed it was a made up word. When I googled it late on the 30st, the first hit was the one I linked above.

And if it's an April Fools joke, then it's a really old one! Most of the hits from Google pre-date the comic book in question.

I googled thricewise and thrice wise and thrice-wise and got a few different hits that might be relevant.

As Saje mentions, there are thricewise mentions for Hermes Trismegistus but here's a more specific mention at this link( Scroll down to the paragraph titled "Hermes Trismegistus in Islamic tradition"):

The Eternal Hermes

Also, I've been assuming thricewise meant wise in three ways, but of course, it could also refer to three ways of being or different incarnations or faces. Ultimately, it's Joss' sandbox and he can make Kenny anything he pleases. It's just fun to connect some of the dots. Clearly, there's a lot more to unfold in S8.

Ragnarok, eh? Sounds pretty fitting for our intrepid Buffy and Scoobies. Bring it on!

[ edited by punkinpuss on 2007-04-01 17:35 ]

[ edited by herb on 2007-04-01 20:10 ]
Heh, QuoterGal, no such direct viking link for me--all I know of Asgard, I learned from comics. Of course, between Thor in the Marvel Universe, the European Thorgal series and Neil Gaiman's various works, I pretty much feel like an expert. ;-)

But if we're going to Asgard, maybe Buffy will turn from 'Vampire Slayer' into, 'Buffy: Godslayer.'

(If you ask me, Loki has it coming from that time he went after the X-Men. Although the Asgardian Saga did end up being one of the best X-Men stories out there.)
punkinpuss, I don't think your link worked or I certainly can't see it anyway, any chance you can try again (or just include the URL as text) ? Cheers ;).
Punkinpuss, I had a look at your link syntax and made an adjustment for ya.
I rewatched Angel Season 4 recently and looked up "Svear" priestesses, (last seen slaughtered by wicked Cordy) and it turns out that the Svear were a tribe of proto-Swedes, which I believe had very close links with the Norse mythos. I always thought that the ancient priestess that Buffy met in End of Days seemed vaguely Scandinavian as well.
Herb, thanks for that! I'm never quite sure of the link formatting.
Thanks herb, this must be what going mad feels like though because that looks a lot like the the Wikipedia article I linked to earlier, only with different formatting ;).

(might try and track down 'The Eternal Hermes' though, it'd be interesting to see how solid his foundations are - as where Tacitus mentions 'Mercury' but we somehow 'know' he means Odin, my point kind of being, err, how ?)

I always thought that the ancient priestess that Buffy met in End of Days seemed vaguely Scandinavian as well.

Hmm, maybe. Given the scythe seemed to be outwith Western traditions I got the impression it (and therefore she, or at least her 'order') pre-dated them. Not sure where from though.

(also, if we have to stick her in any box it makes sense to me to find one that's a bit less 'full of men' i.e. maybe even earlier than Norse traditions. I wanna say 'Scythian' cos, y'know, 'scythe'. Not sure that's how they do history though ;)
*slaps forehead* Of course! That's probably where the saying "I'd give my right eye for that..." came from!
I love this thread. Bring on the Norse mythology, I say! From Ray Harryhausen's use of it in his films, to Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis in the Vikings, to Anya's origins and connections in Buffy, to the 1999 Antonio Banderas film, The 13th Warrior, I love this stuff and it isn't used nearly enough in modern-day entertainment.
Holy dueling Wikipedia entries! OK, here's a stretch, but Loki's (the Norse trickster god) daughter was the half-giantess Hel, who ruled Niflheim, the icy underworld and home of the frost giants.
Wasn't Dawn complaining that she was a bit nippy? :)

Saje, the Svear tribe did pre-date most of the recorded Norse mythology that we know, but likely their traditions made some impact. Many goddesses seemed quite important, so perhaps some matriarchal elements influenced the later, masculine war-like culture? Nothing but the purest speculation, I swear. I might have to crack an actual history book to back that up. What I won't do for a good fanwank. :)

QuoterGal, many here have mentioned Neil Gaiman. With your interest in Norse mythology, may I humbly recommend his fine book American Gods for you? It weaves the legends we have been discussing with myths of just about every other origin you can name and sets them all in a contemporary context. It's a rip-roaring read!
Ah, getcha. I guess by 'Western Traditions' i'm also including Judaeo-Christian traditions so I meant more ~ 1000 BCE and earlier (maybe these Svear folk were around that far back too, their origins seem pretty mysterious). I'm a bit hazy on when the 'three old men' were actually meant to have introduced the demon essence into the first Slayer but I always figured 3000 years ago at least, sort of Sumerian/Egyptian or even earlier - and the 'scythe folk' would be around at that time (or just after) I reckon. But yeah, heavy on the speculation ;).

(and second the 'American Gods' recommendation, great read which chucks Norse mythology in with some commentary on the nature of celebrity and sets it against a contemporary American background. The lad Gaiman's got game, man ! Eh ? See what I did there ? *crickets* ... I'll get ma coat ;)
As far as I have read, the Scandinavian regions were populated by the Stone Age. No telling how far their religion as we read it dates back, although I just perused an interesting article on Scandinavian female mystical tradition called seid, which only traces back to the Viking Age (793-1066 AD). A busy amber trade during the Bronze Age apparently resulted in Norse art of the period having influences from as far away as Greece, Phoenicia, and Egypt. However, as far as modern contemporary writers go, these things often end up in a mythological blender of sorts.
I wanna say 'Scythian' cos, y'know, 'scythe'. Not sure that's how they do history though ;)

Actually that is how people make names for things in history sometimes. The great Minoan civilization was named that way only 100 years ago because of King Minos.

I am so happy I can add something to this great thread. I know little about Norse mythology and will happily learn to get all of Joss's references.

Oh, and aren't the wolf, ram and hart related somehow to Norse mythology?
I think it's extremely cool that when I searched the term through Google, many (most?) of the hits were pages where other people are pondering the exact same question as me. It seems the internet is racking its collective brains here and elsewhere for some kind of clue to what a thricewise is. Because it makes a better story, I hope Joss made up the term. ;) But I do like mythology and reading people's conjectures. Lots of wise people and gods have had three faces or forms or persons, so I think there's a lot out there to draw from.
Sorry Saje, it's my bad -- I was mythtaken! I didn't look far down enough on your link to see the relevant paragraph (with the book and page citing no less) and the different formatting led me to think it was an altogether different article.

Man, it feels like old times, with all this great new Buffy stuff to talk about!
Here's some interesting stuff I found googling around:

From Angel: The vocal code for Wesley's vault is "Elysium." Elysium is a part of the Greek underworld which fallen warriors rest in. This is similar to the Norse concept of Valhalla.

At a site called Tea at the Ford, I found a reference to Wolf/Ram/Hart (urkonn above was asking if that was Norse). It doesn't appear to be Norse, but it's still an interesting passage (also, I found many references to Wolfram, but they are Germanic in nature). For this link, scroll down a short ways to the title things threefold.
This thread has been brought to you by The Number Three.

Thanks, greentara, Saje and others for the Gaiman American Gods endorsement. Gaiman recommendations have reached a tipping-point, and I really must. Besides, I've liked the sound of him ever since I read that spiffy TIME Whedon/Gaiman interview.
QuoterGal, very wise decision regarding Gaiman aside from in American Gods, Gaiman also has the Aesir turn up in his comics masterpiece Sandman, most notably in vol.4 'Season of Mists' and vol.9 'The Kindly Ones,' and they return in the equally good Sandman spinoff Lucifer written by Mike Carey.

I now really want Xander to end up sailing on the Naglfar--I just want to see his reaction when he finds out what the ship is made of.
No probs punkinpuss, i've done the same myself ( for instance has a habit of just lifting Wikipedia entries whole and re-formatting - can get confusing ;).

Yeah, makes sense for Wesley to know about the Elysium fields, I don't think we're ever told but I always imagined he studied Classics or similar (probably at a pretty good university given the way he was driven to try to achieve his father's approval). Hell, if i've heard of them he must have ;).

The 'Hart' part of Wolf, Ram and Hart always gave me pause because in Celtic/English mythology the White Hart (or stag) is usually a pretty positive force, symbolic of the Spirit of the Forest and connected to Herne the Hunter and The Green Man though it also acts as a signal of the mystical so that you might see a White Hart in places where our world is close to the other (what Stephen King calls a 'thinny') and, like Hermes/Thoth/Odin, they were sometimes seen as psychopomps.

(wolves and rams though are associated with war and vengeance, much more in the Senior Partners bailiwick ;)

Incidentally, can anyone recommend a decent book (not dictionary or encyclopedia format) on comparative mythology ? My interest is piqued.
I would also like a recommendation. In the meantime, I started wondering about the bibliography for Gaiman's American Gods and found THIS.

You may already have read these, and be seeking more scholarly stuff, but:

I like Joseph Campbell, starting with The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and checking out more of his writing if you like it... and much of my interest in the subject started out with reading Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections, and then moving into his stuff on archetypes, like Four Archetypes; Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster.

Some folks like Claude Levi-Strauss and Mircea Eliade - I've not read much of either of 'em, but they were popular at the Bodhi Tree when I worked there many years ago as a small child.

Oooh, thanks for the Gaiman mythology biblio, Tonya - I'd visited his blog, but hadn't searched his site for any length of time.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-04-02 18:58 ]
Yeah, good catch Tonya J, read his blog most days but i've never really had a look round the rest of his site, seems like a great starting point.

QG, i've read around Campbell but been put off 'Hero' because a few reviews (and one teacher, ages ago) said his stuff was quite dense and heavy going. Might be time to take the plunge.

Googling suggests "Comparative Mythology" by Jaan Puhvel (which starts at an Indo-European foundation and develops the Norse, Germanic etc. traditions from there which I like the idea of) and also an oldie but apparently goodie "Bulfinch's Mythology" by Thomas Bulfinch (appropriately expurgated for Victorian times so it might be entertaining in its own right ;). Also, has the added attraction of being available online.
Oh, I like me some classic Bulfinch - you can read his Mythology: The Age of Fable on-line here. If you're interested in this somewhat earlier stuff, also try The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer and Robert Graves' The White Goddess.

Sorry if I'm hitting the obvious...

"The custom of physically marrying men and women to trees is still practised in India and other parts of the East." - The Golden Bough
I have only one comment. If you start Googling mythology, prepare to have your head explode while eating peanut butter out of the jar, instead of dinner. Or maybe not everyone is as obsessive/compulsive as me:)
And I still have no idea what might be meant by "thricewise" it turns up in so many different context's ... contextes ... contextices???
The concept of a triple anything/anyone is everywhere, from the Norse Odin/Thor/Freya to the Hindu Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva to of course the Christian Holy Trinity.
But as a practicing Wiccan, I have to put forth the theory that the concept of the Triple Goddess came first (Maiden/Mother/Crone) ... or in Neo-Paganism, Maiden/Wise Woman/Elder.

[ edited by Shey on 2007-04-03 11:49 ]

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