Many myths (the ones about heroes and demigods, specifically) seem to have a grain of truth to them. One can imagine the legends of Hercules, Sigurd, Huang Di, and others like them as simple humans who did something relatively interesting that ended up with so many embellishments that they became demigods. It’s sort of like the big fish story you hear old fishermen tell. That fish gets bigger with every retelling.

I’m sure Sigurd just killed a rogue crocodile or something. What was it doing in Scandinavia? Don’t ask me, it was probably a maverick.

Personally, I don’t know that it matters that there is any truth to the myths we know and love or the religions we choose to follow. It’s easy to see the value in mythology and religions as ways to relate the world and explore our own psychology in ways that are comfortable and a little bit outside ourselves. The problem is that with modern myths/religions, people tend to take them too literally and push their particular values on others. In a globally connected world of people that are very very different from one another, that is pretty dangerous.

As far as Sigurd goes, its one of my favourite stories in Norse Mythology. It has all of the elements of what makes Norse myths so marvelous and exciting. You’ve got this impossible feat, the slaying of a dragon with only moderate help from supernatural sources, and cold blooded murder. Sigurd is also a crafty sort of hero, digging a hole for himself to lie in while he waits for the dragon to pass over him so that he might stab it in the belly. Odin, in the form of an old man, warns him that if he doesn’t dig multiple holes, he will drown in the dragon’s blood. He succeeds in killing it and cooks the heart for the smith who crafted his sword, but in so doing he burns his finger and gets a bit of dragon blood in the wound. From then on, Sigurd can understand the speech of birds. The birds inform him that the blacksmith, Regin, is planning to kill him whereupon he finds the traitor and kills him first.

How awesome is that?!

Anyway, there are, of course, different versions of the tale. There’s also a lot more complexity to the one I’ve related above. You could do a lot worse than reading into some Norse myths.