Found on the Pillow

May 20, 2011
View from Vordingborg Castle walls, South Zealand, Denmark.


More about Vordingborg Castle, Goose Tower

Zealand, Denmark

In Norse mythology, the island was created by the goddess Gefjun after she tricked Gylfi, the king of Sweden, as told in the story of Gylfaginning. She removed a piece of land and transported it to Denmark, and it became the island of Zealand. The vacant area was filled with water and became Mälaren. However, since modern maps show a similarity between Zealand and the Swedish lake Vänern, it is sometimes identified as the hole left by Gefjun.


Gefjun is a Danish Goddess whose name appears in Old English as Geofon, a word for “ocean.” There are Danish place names for her such as Gentofte and Genvnö. Her name derives from the verb “to give” and is related to words seen amongst the Cult of Mothers practised by Roman mercenaries in Britain and on the continent. They usually had names like Garmangibi “Giving.” In the Prose Edda Snorri relates the following tale of the creation of the island of Zealand:

“It is told of him that he gave a ploughland in his kingdom, the size four oxen could plough in a day and a night, to a beggar-woman as a reward for the way she had entertained him. This woman, however, was of the family of the Æsir; her name was Gefjun. From the north of Giantland she took four oxen and yoked them to a plough, but those were her sons by a giant. The plough went in so hard and deep that it loosened the land and the oxen dragged it westwards into the sea, stopping in a certain sound. There Gefjun set the land for good and gave it a name, calling it Zealand. But the place where the land had been torn up was afterwards a lake. It is now known in Sweden as “The Lake.” [Malar].”


The Goddess Gefjun Fountain, Copenhagen

Image Credit: travbuddy.com

The Gefion family of asteroids is a grouping of S-type asteroids in the intermediate main belt. Until recently, this family was known as the Ceres family or the Minerva family after 1 Ceres (the largest asteroid) or 93 Minerva. However, spectroscopic analyses showed that these largest members were in fact interlopers in their own family, having a different spectral class from the bulk of the members. 2801 Huygens is a small main belt asteroid, which was discovered by Hendrik van Gent in 1935. It belongs to the Gefion family of asteroids. It is named after Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch astronomer, mathematician and physicist.

Christiaan Huygens 1629-1695

Huygens early speculated in detail about life on other planets (although we do not know to what extent ancient writers exercised such speculation, since most of their work has not survived). In his book Cosmotheoros, further entitled The celestial worlds discover’d: or, conjectures concerning the inhabitants, plants and productions of the worlds in the planets (see online edition) he imagined a universe brimming with life, much of it very similar to life on 17th century Earth. The liberal climate in the Netherlands of that time not only allowed but encouraged such speculation. In sharp contrast, the Italian authorities had burned philosopher Giordano Bruno, who also believed in many inhabited worlds, at the stake for his beliefs in 1600.

In 1675, Christian Huygens patented a pocket watch.

Vintage Pocket Watch

Image Credit: lucernetimes

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