Faroe Islands, Greenland joint issue honors Danish astronaut
By David Hartwig
An Aug. 11 joint issue by Posta Faroe Islands and Tusass Greenland honors Danish engineer and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen.
On Aug. 26, Mogensen launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and boarded the International Space Station a day later as part of the Huginn mission, named after one of two ravens associated with the deity Odin in Norse mythology.
Each postal administration issued a souvenir sheet with a single stamp featuring a raven and the International Space Station soaring above Earth. The Faroe Islands stamp is denominated 31 kroner, and the Greenland stamp is 32kr.
The selvage on the right side of the souvenir sheet depicts an image of Odin with the raven Huginn. Norse mythology links Huginn with the ability to think and observe. Munin, the other raven associated with Odin, is connected with the ability to remember and experience.
According to the mythology, the two ravens fly during the day and then return to Odin in the evening to report what they experienced. Through these reports, Odin increases his knowledge of the Nordic universe.
The selvage on the left side of the sheet depicts a scene related to the Inuit culture of Greenland, which exists outside of the sphere of Norse mythology. The image shows a shaman communicating with a raven helper spirit.
According to information from the two postal administrations, shamanism is a common feature of Inuit culture and Norse mythology. Odin acts as a shaman by obtaining information through animals.
Inuit culture also contains instances of a shaman using helper spirits to retrieve information. One traditional Greenlandic poem describes a raven performing the same functions as Huginn in observing and reporting, according to Posta Faroe Islands.
The bodies of both ravens shown in the selvage have an ornamental eye to symbolize that they are the “eye of the shaman,” according to the postal administrations, and the raven on the stamp has neutral ornamentation to represent both Norse and Inuit cultures.
Neither Greenland nor the Faroe Islands have astronauts of their own, but Posta Faroe Islands and Tusass Greenland say that the stamp “is a greeting to our astronaut from the two other nations in the Danish Commonwealth.”
Mogensen became the first Dane in space when he traveled to the International Space Station on a 10-day mission in 2015. According to a brochure about the mission, it was Mogensen who chose the name Huginn.
“Just like Huginn told Odin the knowledge he had collected after flying into the world, we try to further the knowledge by telling others on Earth what we have learned through our work on the Space Station,” Mogensen said in the brochure.
The Aug. 11 issue includes a souvenir folder with both sheets and first-day covers from the two postal administrations.
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