HOW YEW DOIN
This thread is for asking and learning about ancient norse culture and religion, primarily from a neutral religious standpoint and for learning about historical heathen religion. While I also know a lot about contemporary norse pagan communities and practices, and will happily talk about these, this is primarily for mature, academic questions about these beliefs. Hecklers and babbys first atheism chucklefucks will be ignored and reported without exception - other folks in the field and practicing heathens are very welcome to contribute!
Old Norse faith is the signifier for a distinct kind of faith that developed when the north germanic peoples (also known as Scandinavians!) coalesced as their own distinct culture, probably as early as the proto-norse period, in the first centuries CE. We will use the term ‘heathen’ for reasons of proprietry, while many call it norse paganism this is a holdover from christianity, and ‘heathenry’ is more usually used in academia to describe both old norse faith and the reconstructed norse faith practiced today.
(Brynhilde offering Siegfried a prayer towards the day, a modern representation of a much older pagan motif of the woman priest initiating the hero in deeper mysteries)
All transmitted through oral culture rather than organized religious bodies, we know a lot less than what we’d like - but what do we know? Well, for one thing, it was polytheistic (duh), entailing the worship of many different gods and goddesses. Established tradition divides these into the Aesir (of which the best known are Thor and Odin), and the Vanir - worshipped through a heavy focus on ritualistic sacrifice, and participated in on many levels, from small sacrifices made by a single family to keep things running smoothly, to massive gatherings in especially sacred locations that were considered essential to the further working of civic society and the future of the world itself. There are good arguments to be made that most worshippers devoted themselves to one god above the others, something modern reconstructionist pagans do as well.
Central terms here are vé (also “vi” and “vig”), meaning ‘sacred’. If something ends on vé in old norse, we’re usually talking about a temple or other sacred place. Place names in Scandinavia often reveal this word somewhere. Odense, the third largest city in Denmark, is from ‘Odin’s Ve’, and Ishøj, where I used to work, is “The Young Ve (a kenning for Frej)’s Mound”. It is related to vígja, which means ‘to bless’. Another is ‘blót’, both a verb meaning ‘to sacrifice’ and a noun indicating the sacred ritual wherein sacrifice is given to the gods.
The principle and most famous pantheon in the heathen belief system, the aesir (singular form: Óss) include the Allfather Odin, Thor the Thunder God, as well as Friggr, Baldr, Týr for certain. I say for certain, because sources tend to sometimes disagree on whether a given diety is member of the aesir, Vanir or something else entirely. Also, since the Vanir were subsumed into the Aesir after the Aesir-Vanir war of the gods, they are often also called aesir.
The Aesir are more well known, but are most likely to have entered veneration the latest - while Odin definitely was known and worshipped in some places earlier, his chief status and aspect as King of Gods (and, more importantly, God of Kings) first popped up after the Migration period, where power settled into local chieftainrics who needed to establish a hierarchy backed by a divine mandate.
Apart from having some heavy hitters among their number, what can we say about the aesir? Well, one persistent theory equates them with civilization and towns. Their spiritual portfolios are often dominating chaos and evil, waging formal war and upholding law and custom - this can be weighed out by considering the Vanir (more on them below) a representation of nature, and so the chaotic and undomesticated forces of creation. Again, we don’t know enough to be sure about what ancient Scandinavians thought here, but it’s a sound speculative theory, considering the Vanirs association with elves, disír and jotunn. But we get ahead of ourselves!
(the Danish Snoldelev runestone, possibly depicting the power of Thor)
A group of gods associated with nature, fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir number, among others, Frej and Freja, Njord and Kvasir. Heimdal and Ullr may be Vanir as well, but this is not clearly documented.
Worshipped earlier than the Aesir, the Vanir had to see their way of life threatened by the Aesir (possibly because of actual worshippers entering and displacing believers in the Vanir physically in the distant past), and the two pantheons went to war, eventually ending in a truce that saw the Aesir win, and take hostages from the Vanir, as well as intermarrying with them to cement an alliance with them from then on.
The Vanir, as said, are earlier than the Aesir, and are clearly a product of worshipping the earth and prior fertility deities. Frej and Freja are clearly connected to the soil and grain, and we know that prior to the vanir, people instead worshipped a dried and cured horse penis, so yeah.. That’s how we scandinavians roll
There’s a great deal of overlap between these entities and the denizens of the other worlds in heathenry - Frej, a vanir, is also known to be the lord of light, a kenning for king of alfr (light-elves), and Freja is known in kennings as Vanadís (“Dísir of the Vanir” - a disír being a type of spirit associated with the dead.
A world of spirit(s): Land Elves, Giants, Zombies, and so on
Heathenry involved a holistic spiritual worldview, and had the original practitioners not been converted or killed we would probably see a thriving animism as can be seen in other indigenous peoples like native Sibirian, Saami or First Nation groups. What we can say with certainty is the worship, or at least propitiation, of váttir, 'land wights’. Also known as pixies, brownies or knockers elsewhere, they’re a kind of spirit intimately tied to the farmstead and/or home. Like the gods, the land wight was offered sacrifice, to keep the spirit happy and ready to offer assistance - if a land wight was displeased, it might break tools, strike animals or humans sick or, at worst, leave and take it’s helpful powers with it. Leaving out milk and cookies for Santa is a direct continuation of this practice from Scandinavian immigrants to America!
(shoemaker wights doing a mischief, as portrayed in a collection of Grimm Brothers tales)
Heathens had many different ideas on what the afterlife entailed, and at least one was returning as the angry dead if you were treated badly in life. Another way to get a zombie is breaking into a burial mound and/or stealing grave goods.
In general, observing custom and giving proper sacrifice is thought to be enough to keep things going well, but if not, you needed a magic-worker to mediate. This, while some of the most exciting about norse history, is also some of the least well understood. From the sagas and certain chronicles, we know that the magic of the gods was also used by humans, usually known either as vølva or seidr-workers. While the former were always women, the latter could be men, though it should be noted that magic was usually considered ‘unmanly’ and a great deal of stigma was attached to those who practiced it in the middle ages.
The 'Jotunn' (sometimes erroneously called 'giants' in translation) are also part of this cosmology. Large stones and hills that look like human figures were thought to be Jotunn, and if large rocks were found near christian churches folks assumed jotnar had thrown them there, as they dislike the new faith.
The sagas give a bunch of examples of how heroes and gods use the runes and seidr, but as mentioned these are not real good historical sources. There’s a gently caress-ton of new age folks claiming they have ‘researched’ ‘rune-magic’ or ‘seidr’, but it’s all a grift. I would look up either Einar Selvik or Jackson Crawford on the matter, as they are the most exciting sources for the internal and external approach to the matter respectively.
”Ásatru” and Modern Heathenry
People today worship the norse gods, and it’s a movement that is growing rapidly. I am part of it, though I’d appreciate questions being directly mainly at the either traditional heathenry or the neo-heathenry movement in general, as the last guy who made a thread got bogged down in dumb anti-religion screeds. This is the view from without, not “I am heathen, AMA” - respectful questions will be answered, everything else ignored.
1. Modern heathens do NOT “practice the religion of the vikings”. The rituals are made up of whole cloth going on very vague clues from archeological and historical documents. The religion was originally orally transmitted, and all we know are from the sagas. The sagas are, for a variety of reasons, NOT historically accurate sources. Our last priests died over 1000 years ago, and the sagas and chronicles that do talk about the old ways are recounted through layers of embellishments, christian authors and plain misinformation.
(Logo of the Icelandic heathen association, founded 1972)
2. Yes, it’s an actual religion, and tens of thousands worldwide get named, married and buried in it’s congregation. If worshipping Thor makes less sense to an observer than worshipping Jesus, it’s probably a cultural bias. That it’s reconstructed because it’s worship was banned means that it’s a reconstructionist religion, and there’s no real dogma. Some folks believe in the norse gods as Jungian archetypes to better themselves with, others swear trolls are real and their friends. One can find one’s own depth. This also tends to make it weird, and that brings us to..
3. Yes, it’s crawling with nazis. Before the modern reconstruction fellowships chugged along in the 90s, the only vocal heathen groups in the US and Europe were inbred biker gangs who couldn’t read a saga to save their life, and ideological nazis who crafted a religion known as ‘odinism’ which is basically toxic christian male worship without having to have a jew god, spiced up with völkisch claptraps written by actual nazis in the 1910s. I’d say, on a whole, worldwide, there are more nazis than not, but it really depends on how you define heathenry. If one must have a basic knowledge of textual sources and a religious practice aside from drinking beer and burning crosses, there are probably a lot less.
Subjects I know about and related good stories
The completely batshit conversion of Iceland
What does a modern asatru/heathen ritual look like, and why?
How human needs turned Odin from a rando local deity into both God of Kings and the King of Gods.
I also have a basic knowledge about runic alphabets,
Tias fucked around with this message at 07:27 on Oct 1, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 13, 2020 12:48|
|# ¿ May 16, 2021 15:14|
First off, thank you for all your interest! I appreciate the questions.
I guess my question, or first question would be, why heathenry? Like you said, the religion is reconstructionist and not the same as the religion that the ancient Scandanavians practiced. It's not an old tradition passed down, its modern. So, when it was set up, why did the original practitioners decide they were going to do it? When they did decide to do it, were they concerned that it might get conflated with the old Norse religion? Or did they want it to be conflated with the old Norse religion?
Well, for a variety of reasons, really. I think it really rode kind of a new wave energy where modern people on an individualist (or collectivist!) kick were getting sick of organized religion and the conflict and control it can bring. Heathenry in particular has an appeal to critics of christianity, I think, because there's a (more or less untrue) sense that our countries got converted to christ at the tip of a spear-point. In Denmark, many of the original core came out of an esotericist milieu (think hermetics and satanists), who realized the deity they were attracted to all along was Odin. As said, some also don't give a poo poo about the actual theology and join because their particuar lack of historical knowledge makes them think it's an anti-christian and anti-immigrant movement.
A lot of reconstructionists definitely believe they are following an unbroken faith from the iron age scandinavians and up until know. It's the same gods, after all! Ancestor worship is an important part of heathenry, and so many heathens consider it a serious obligation to continue the old ways, as they understand them. From Wikipedia, which I think gives a good overview (emphasis mine):
Some Heathens seek out common elements found throughout Germanic Europe during the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages, using those as the basis for their contemporary beliefs and practices. Conversely, others draw inspiration from the beliefs and practices of a specific geographical area and chronological period within Germanic Europe, such as Anglo-Saxon England or Viking Age Iceland. Some adherents are deeply knowledgeable as to the specifics of Northern European society in the Iron Age and Early Medieval periods, however for most practitioners their main source of information about the pre-Christian past is fictional literature and popular accounts of Norse mythology. Many express a romanticized view of this past, sometimes perpetuating misconceptions about it; the sociologist of religion Jennifer Snook noting that many practitioners "hearken back to a more epic, anachronistic, and pure age of ancestors and heroes".
I hope that answers your questions, otherwise please restate them!
Do one's ancestors play a role in the propitiation/worship/veneration/verb of spirits? If so, do modern heathens encounter ancestors who are annoyed that they're not (or not still) Christian?
Today? Not necessarily, but it definitely happens. Many who practice seidr and sooth-saying or shamanist work, know or come to realize they have had family members who had the same gift of mediumship. In iron age heathenry, definitely, yes. It was a holistic view where you had to both make sure you treated your ancestors right, and your house vætte right, because either would probably start throwing around bad luck if you didn't respect the order of things. However, there was probably still a distinction (as there is today) between regular heathens who made sacrifice and attended great blots to keep their lives blessed and well-oiled, and the specific mediums who cross into the spirit world and talk directly to ancestors and spirits.
The answer to the second question is that 'modern heathenry' is so colossal and heterogenous a movement that there is no one answer. Many groups are open to wiccans/hermetics/vodoun who worship one or two norse deities but don't subscribe to any traditional heathen practices, particularly in the USA - but I also know a norwegian traditional pagan who also propitiates Kali. You can get the whole gamut from groups who are only for white men who worship Odin to the queer folx who embody Lakshmi and Loki by riding Shambhala at the same time. To each their own, and I must emphasize clearly that there is not one, unified Ásatru with religious leadership and strictly codified practices.
I can only speak for myself when I think it's a bit confusing to me why someone would worship both Odin and Isis, unless maybe if you're Danish-Egyptian and really intent on dual-classing, but it definitely happens.
I'm in a bit of a jam with school and work, but I'll get to Iceland soon!
The title alludes to cross-dressing, but there's nothing about it in the OP. Since I'm a tran, I'm curious: What references, if any, are there to cross-dressing in the lore of Heathenry?
Odin the Allfathers thing is to wander the nine worlds in disguise, most of the god-sagas has him doing exactly that, and several accounts has him cross-dressing to do so. Loki engages in flyting with Odin at one point, claiming he dressed as a women and practiced magic (this is deserving of a longer post about 'unmanliness' in norse sagas, magic use is specifically considered an 'unmanly' (and thus very bad) thing to do for a man, which is why seidr and other sorcery is left to women and outlaws. In another account from Saxo Grammaticus, we know Odin dressed as a maid of the princess Rindr in order to get close enough to bed her.
More famously, Thor disguises himself as a woman in order to retrieve the hammer Mjølner, as part of a larger caper where the hammer-thief Udgårdsloke demands to be married to the vanir goddess Freja before returning it. I won't say cross-dressing is -central- to the lore, but in general the heathen sagas and mythology is pretty queer, and it's not a coincidence that a lot of trans and LBQ people are attracted to the reconstructionist faith today.
How do Heathens view the sagas? Are they just used as sources of information about rituals, or do they have their own place in the faith. What about the Eddas?
Again, it varies quite a lot - but all sagas are used as inspiration to some degree in nearly all groups. The eddas in particular, since that's where we get some of the most important information about the gods and cosmology (particularly the Vøluspa).
My favorite is also the saga of Grettir the Strong! He's quite the goon. Fun fact, the 'hallowing of peace' in my heathen group, a ritual where we charge everyone to keep the peace during a ritual or gathering, is lifted more or less directly from Grettir. I tease them a little about it, since the (later-era, christian) author is clearly chewing the scenery with an exaggerated, overly formal magic oath, but it's all good.
We'll also often read a story from the sagas during blót ceremonies. Tjasse donning the falcon-skin and being set afire, leading the marriage of Skadí and Njord, is a perennial favorite.
OP, I'm curious what heathenism is doing to combat the co-opting of Norse symbols by racists. Do you find it difficult to attract new members/be open about your religion because of that?
Eh, might as well dive in: We're doing everything we can, but we can't directly influence either the racists or the public, as there are few formal and state-sanctioned heathen groups - in Denmark, we have the singular misfortunate that our oldest and largest, state-sanctioned, heathen organization is now run by racists - and they have had luck convincing their (numerous, non-racist) members that people who call them racists are just communist agitators - even when presented with clear evidence.
I've never had any problems with folks thinking I'm racist because of my heathen faith( well, outside terminally online places like C-Spam). Our problem resides largely with the fact that my blót guild is explicitly anti-racist, and as much as every 10th member we attract is strongly racist anyway and have to be thrown out.
Would raising a runestone be something that you do in a community now, or is it considered more of an "old time" heathenry thing?
Yes, on occasion! It happens in our heathen graveplace on the island of Fyn if the deceased is loaded, but all heathens in Denmark also raised a large stone in Jelling back in 2006, next to the famous Jelling Stones. Here's a picture of stone and plaque:
"The group Forn Sidr ("old ways") set this stone
the men and women
who once again
bound a thread
to the powers
of the old ways")
Small question about runes, if anyone knows the history of them. How far back is there evidence for use of the futhark?
Uh, that's a hard one. I'm not really good with the history, but I'd hazard from between 200 to 1600 for the elder futhark. Strictly speaking, folks still uses forms of the younger futhark today, and variations of that came into being around 900.
Is there much separation of gender roles in the priest/ritual roles in heathenry, either formally or in your experience? ie some roles or rituals require a male/male-identified-or-presenting ritualist, some require female, etc.
Again, there are most definitely groups who think this, but there's no real argument to do so with basis in reconstructionist heathenry. In the blots there are four people who represent gods and goddesses, but you don't have to be male to represent a god or female to represent a goddess, it's more about intent and desire to connect with that deity.
As I wrote about a little earlier, seidr-workers and vølvas (a dedicated augurer, probably a shaman) were always either women in original heathenry, or else they practiced in secret, on pain of scorn, ostracism and outlawry. Some groups of a more esoteric bent definitely consider the sexes more useful for different roles, like how women should tell the future and lift curses.
Tias fucked around with this message at 10:32 on Mar 19, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 14, 2020 11:17|
Sure, but he's also super non-plussed whenever people express any kind of normal emotional reaction towards him. It's kind of endearing in the end!
|# ¿ Feb 14, 2020 18:00|
Thanks Bhurak and Tias.
I will hopefully have more time in the future, but in short:
A central concept from the sagas and eddas are argr (adjective, meaning "craven", "cowardly" or "useless") and ergi (noun, meaning "unmanliness"). We learn, especially from Ynglingasaga and Heimskringla, that Odin is a user of 'seidr', which has an unmistakable unwholesome air - in fact, the sagas talk so ill of those who 'carry seidr' that it used to be translated into 'black magic', though the analysis has since become more nuanced. Anyway, it is the province of women, and Odin is only given a pass because he is so good at it that he force-chokes anyone who criticizes it. He is the greatest sorcerer in the world, lord of the undead and able to turn away all weapons of any enemy, and you really can't be on the bad side of someone like that.
Women are allowed to practice it without repercussions, because you really need a magic midwife if your child won't come and earls and kings need their auguries told, but if a man does it he is specifically 'ergi', and of no account, even less worth than a women or slave in fact. We know from the aforementioned sagas that becoming one who carries seidr involves sexual passivity, possibly in a ritual context - and so, it's fine for priestesses and goddesses, but not for a man, as being homosexual is ergi, and so strongly frowned upon. The carving of magical rune combinations, and singing of galdrs, magic songs, are also forms of magic, but appears to have been not ergi and so acceptable for men to practice.
This is one of the reasons LGBT folks (myself included) are attracted to both seidr and the norse gods - if this was the iron ages, we might have been put to death, but at least the gods would favour our learning magic to protect ourselves with. Today, the picture is a lot different. Thankfully much of the heathen world has moved into the modern world and don't give a poo poo what you identify as or who you have sex with, but of course all the folkish and nazi currents strongly support the anti-modernist narrative that only toxic masculinity (and leaving the magic to women, or rejecting it entirely) is the acceptable interpretation.
Interesting thread, thanks for starting it.
One of the most popular gods in my guild, that is very little known outside the faith is Ejr or Eir. She is the goddess of healing, which checks out since many of our members are either psychically or physically ill, and most are up in age. She is known to have 'healing hands', and is a fount of knowledge of the herbs and medicines needed to live a long and healthy life.
An interesting thing to notice here is that she MIGHT actually be Freja, but one popular stump of saga describes her as a Disír or Valkyrie, "sitting at the knee of Shines-With-Jewelry (Freja)", a retainer or household goddess in Frejas house. To answer your other question, a lot of Gods are definitely numerous gods and deities who have been rolled into one in more modern times. Tyr and Odin are almost certainly in this category.
Another popular deity that isn't much mentioned in the sagas or popular culture is Forsete, the good of common sense, justice and education, whom we often implore to help both ourselves and others.
As far as gender in past worship the short answer is we don't know a lot. There are hints in accounts of gender bending priests but yeah. When the church stamps, they stamp hard. My Catholic priest friend when we were younger often joked "When was the last time you heard if an albagensian(sp?)?". In the circles I run in it doesn't matter. I think if I sat down and counted there are actually more prominent female than male godspeople. Oh, that's a thing too. There is currently a push to make a gender neutral name for clergy. Currently it's Gothi/Gythja or Godsman/Godswoman. Likely the Norse words will be dropped.
That's cool! We kept gode and gydje, but in our last general assembly neutralized all trustee titles (from ealdorman to ealderperson, from writer lad to writer and from cash master to cash trustee!
I will maintain that the examples you give of possession are examples of "Unverified Personal Gnosis" and so examples of people using their modern magical practice to get answers from spirits and gods about how they should practice - which is perfectly fine and also done by many reconstructionists (myself included), it's just not strictly speaking reconstructionist heathenry.
Tias fucked around with this message at 13:36 on Aug 28, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2020 14:14|
^^^Seconding Saga Thing, it's amazing entertainment ^^^^^^
Could be considered verified? Done in a group setting by many people with consistent results? Tias and tldr short explanation at the end.
1. What constitutes verification? If a bunch of satanists verifies contact with Jehova, would the holy catholic church care? Not being snarky, it's just a personal rite with personal results.
2. Both Thorsson and Gundarsson are either grifters or so full of poo poo they can't even see themselves.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2020 07:59|
And Thorsson made up his own 'norse wizardry' claptrap that has nothing to do with archeological evidence or sagas, which you can learn by taking expensive mail order courses
Forsete or Forseti means 'the presiding one' (and is actually the word for 'president' in Icelandic today!), and he was probably a god of the Frisians to begin with. His sacred place was at Heligoland, and he might well be worshipped by Scandinavians as well for that reason. There is some trading routes and linguistic arguments that suggest he could be Poseidon brought to the north by Greeks before the migration period, but we don't really know. Snorri's Edda (unreliable for other reasons) has him being the son of Baldr and Nanna.
While he is seen as a god of justice and reconciliation, this as well may have been made up by Snorri. There is one legend about his incarnation related to laws, though. Charlemagne summoned the 12 lawspeakers of his realm and asked them to recite the sum of the laws they were upholding. When they couldn't after several days, he let them choose between death, slavery, or being set adrift in a rudderless boat. They chose the last and prayed for help, after which a thirteenth man appeared, with a golden axe on his shoulder. He steered the boat to land with the axe, then threw it ashore; a spring appeared where it landed. He taught them laws and then disappeared, and that was totes Forseti.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2020 09:38|
Oh hey, I've lived on Hermodsgade in Copenhagen!
Sure, but we ought to distinguish between the theories. Tacitus (IIRC) just claims off the bat that the germanic gods correspond to the hellenic/roman ones, and for a long while no one challenged him on it. The argument that Forseti is Poseidon is more based on some linguistic arguments that it has the same roots, and we knew a Poseidon worshipper popped by heligoland to sell amber in approx 325 AD.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2020 10:45|
What was it that made you look at "Norse heathenry" and say "yes, these guys have it right and this is what I believe in". Not trolling, I'm genuinely curious.
I happened in a rather roundabout way, really. Originally I studied core shamanism by Harner, which is a method to perform healing or augury more than an actual relation, and considered myself an agnostic. Having had some mystical experiences doing that, I then trained under a student of Peruvian shaman Alberto Villoldo. Then I was invited to do some things with my current blót association, and they were the first and only religious group I ever met (save for the indiginous Americans I've trained with) who not only did not reject shamanistic practices out of hand, but in fact welcomed them.
I'm still a lot more drawn to the Vanir and the spirits/vættir than the Aesir, but I guess I've come to regard them as part of the family, so to speak. Being raised Danish with all the stories of the magicians, thunderers and fabled warriors we used to worship probably also played a role.
I'm trying to find good books to reference and use for research and ritual design without the new age smell, what would you recommend Tias or anyone else in this thread?
I doubt there's any good reference that doesn't come with 'new smell' in some way or form Neil Price's the Viking Way allegedly has some good stuff from archeology, I just ask the folks from my blót association how they have done it, which is a method that's grown out organically among Scandinavian reconstructionists. I'd be happy to compare notes, if you need it!
E: Last I checked the Troth had a handbook, looked into that?
Tias fucked around with this message at 09:47 on Feb 19, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2020 09:04|
The many afterlives and how to get there
In advance I shall apologize if I forget any, the point is there are a great deal of conceptions of death and afterlife in norse paganism and heathenry. This is, primarily, due to heathenry being a diverse collection of beliefs that are very different according to geographic area and time period, but also because polytheism straight up offers choice.
A safe house where folks who survive Ragnarok will spend time, and may also be there during Ragnarok itself to survive it. May be related to Gimle.
Made up by the same author (Sturlasson) as Andlangr, a ‘hall of souls’ where one may survive Ragnarok. Interestingly enough, older sources also mention Brimir, but as an aspect of Ymir, the world-giant of whose cosmos the universe is made.
Friggs hall. It is unclear whether any but devoted Frigg worshippers (if these even existed) go there, but see Sökkvabekkr.
Folkvangr and Valhalla
As Alhazreds' beautiful ditty( taken from Grímnismál) illustrates, Odin and Freja each pick half of the slain in battle. Valhalla is clearly the more reported on and popular, at least among male kings and warriors. We know it contains golden roof-spars, a magical pig whose bacon grows out as soon as you cut it off, and a goat whose utter spews top-rate mead! This is tied in with norse eschatology: The final battle, Ragnarokk, must be prepared for, and so the warriors of Valhalla fight huge battles every day, the participants die in combat, and are resurrected afterwards to go feast and war all over again.
To go to Valhalla, you must die in battle, and in some accounts it is also important to die well against worthy opponents - though we also know men who were nearing death from disease or age would hurl themselves into suicide by combat in the hopes they would count as having died well.
Folkvangr may be related to ‘folk’ as meaning ‘army’, and one account has Freja presiding over the eternal battle of Hjaðningavíg (brought about by family drama and a magical sword, pretty usual saga stuff). There’s not much to go on, but we should not discount at this point that Freja has connection with both death and war for these reasons. We know she is connected to the Valkyries as well.
Here we also find Sessrúmnir, Frejas hall, that is ‘large and beautiful’, and some historians think it is connected to ship burials, which is very exciting stuff but can’t be conclusively proven.
There is also good reason to suspect other people go to Freja - As I will probably say several times over in this post, many folks believed they could go directly to their god of choice if faithful towards them in life. So, in Egilssaga, the world-weary Þorgerðr declares that ‘I have had no evening meal, nor will I do so until I join Freyja. I know no better course of action than my father's. I do not want to live after my father and brother are dead.' - and in Hervors saga, a queen hangs herself in front of an altar to the Dís (a group of spirits connected to Freja), and is assumed to go to Frejas hall because of her noble despair.
A place of dubious provenance as an afterlife, we learn in Snorri's edda and the Vóluspa that this is the most beautiful place in Asgard, more beautiful “than the sun itself”. Older sources only indicate this is a place where the survivors of Ragnarok will hole up for a while, Snorri seems to have elaborated forcefully on that, making it into the equivalent of a the christian heaven.
Ah, Hel. Much talked about, not well understood. Hel is both the name of a giantess goddess, who presides over the death-realm of the same name. She’s the daughter of Loki, and clearly an awe-inspiring psychopomp. It must be understood, and I cannot stress this enough, that many conceptions of Hel is taken from Snorri Sturlasson’s edda, and he was a christian trying to make sense of the older myths - from him, and only from him, do we have the idea that Hel’s realm is dark and horrible, that inhabitants starve more the more they eat, and that all is lament and desolation. This idea influenced medieval christians a lot, and even today the word ‘Helvíti’ (lit. “Hel’s Punishment”) and derivatives mean Hell in scandinavian languages. Still, Valhalla seems to have been preferred, as we also have heathens trying to trick Hel not to go to her realm.
Going on more heathen sources, Hel just seems to be ‘that place you go when you die’, and several sources state that it is stocked with magical drinks, green and golden hues and good company. The entrance to Hel is separated from midgård (where you and I live) by a rapid river over which Gjallarbrú (“Roaring/Shouting Bridge”) is built. The more alive you are, the more the bridge roars, which means the living can’t quite sneak in.
Helgafjell (lit ‘Holy Mountain’) was an idea of afterlives found in a couple of sources, namely, that a nearby mountain would be the place you went when you died. Allegedly some psychically sensitive folks could see into them while alive, and saw warm, hearty scenes with good drink and food. If you died in good standing with your family, this might be a place to end up.
Lit. “corpse shore”, this is located in or near Hel, where the terrible serpent Nidhogg gnaws on the entrails of certain deceased, those who are guilty of adultery, (illicit) murder and oath-breaking, the worst crimes imaginable to people at the time.
Connected to Hel, this means “The darker/darkest Hel”, and so is kind of super-Hel. Only mentioned in Snorris Edda and VafÞrúðnismál, we learn that this is “lowest and scariest” part of Hel. It is found by going “north and downwards”, which may be both a geographic or esoteric guide - I will talk about the 9 worlds of norse cosmology at some point, but here it suffices to say it could be a way to journey magically there.
Ran and Ægir
This woman and her husband are the personifications of the sea, and their nine daughters are the waves. If you die at sea you can opt to live with them.
“Sökkvabekk is the fourth, where cool waves flow,
And amid their murmur it stands;
There daily do Othin and Saga drink
In gladness from cups of gold.”
The “sunken benches” (alt. “treasure-bank”) is connected to the goddess Saga, and to Frigg. It may be the same or close to Fensalir. Unlike Fensalir, we have the impression that Sökkvabekkr is located below ground and water, possibly in a bog. Older (maybe even pre-aesir) rites have heathens sacrificing animals and humans in bogs to the goddess who dwells there, and the possible connection is hard to overlook. Being sacrificed is a sure way to enter her hall, I’d say.
Unnamed anglo-saxon glade type place
I’ve straight up forgotten what this one was called, but it persists in anglo-saxon sources. This is a glade bathed in light where you’d see your family again, so some cross-pollination with christianity and/or heathenry probably happened there.
Location unsure, possibly within Asgard - one of the places "virtous men" go after death, at least according to Snorri. The older, enigmatic poem Hrafnagaldur Odins also mentions it, though:
by Forniot's kin.
and the Æsir
at Ygg's convivial meeting."
Another invention of Snorris, lying above Asgard and Andlang, and also referred to as a safe house from Ragnarok.
Tias fucked around with this message at 09:57 on Mar 11, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2020 09:53|
Female warriors are somewhat controversial. There is tendency for swords found in graves with women in them to be considered ceremonial.
This area has moved quite a lot since. At least the Oseberg woman is considered to have been a professional warrior now.
Extremely interesting post about various Death Realms. Is there any truth to the stories I read somewhere that the worst places of Hel are set aside for people dying of communicated diseases? As in the worst way to die is to die as a plague spreader? Also, where do women go? My guess is most women didn't get the chance to die in combat? No special hall of Freya for say women dying in childbirth or something?
I haven't heard anything about the communicated diseases, and since I haven't read about it in sagas, I'm going to go with "unconfirmed and unlikely".
A historian whose name eludes me says that Freja takes women who die well, citing the aforementioned princess who committed suicide as an example. The general consensus is that women go whereever men go, the focus is largely on the manner of death and not so much social stratification (though there is good reason to think war was primarily men's business, and so it is mostly those taken by Odin and Freja).
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2020 12:09|
En Danish, it's Vølv in singular and Vølve in plural - but old Danish, like old norse, was a shitshow. On the subject, the saga detailing nearly everything we know of Norse creation myth and eschatology, Vóluspa ("The Seeress' Prophecy") involves Odin raising a powerful Vølv from the dead and conning her into relating the secrets of the universe!
Do you have any links? As far as I know there wasn't any weapons In her grave and that she's believed to be queen Åsa, grandmother og Harald Fairhair.
We're probably not talking about the same person, then.
E: Found out what I was referring to!
I was at a lecture by Unn Pedersen, associate professor of archeology and viking age studies at Oslo U. She's been involved in the many excavations in the site of Kaupang ("trade-meadow"), which was an urban trading centre in the viking age. The dudes who originally excavated the place just assumed everyone with weapons were male, but after dogged insistence and involvement from anatomy experts, eventually a whopping 50% of the graves were re-assessed as female.
Many were buried with combat-worn rawhide armours and a selection of practical arms, suggesting they were caravan guards or possibly military to begin with.
Tias fucked around with this message at 13:04 on Feb 23, 2020
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2020 11:41|
I'm going to a braggi this evening and I'll report back.
A what Does it relate to Brage?
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2020 07:41|
And, of course, please tell us more about "The completely batshit conversion of Iceland" :popcorn:
Well, the story of christianizing Iceland is roundabout, and we must remember that it didn't happen all at once or in the same areas immediately and so on. That said, hoo boy..
Some Irish friars had colonized Iceland before the now-Icelandic settlers arrived, testing themselves against the elements. We're not entirely sure what happened to them, but we know they left. Often when this is the case, the christians seem to be scared off on their own account, the Norse here were more tolerant of other religions on account of haven been recently chased out of Norway for their way of life.
Anyway, the pagan Norwegians show up almost immediately after the re-discovery of Iceland (by Swede Garðar Svavarsson) in the 870s. A pagan commonwealth grows up, and is rather undisturbed until missionaries show up in 980, including an Icelander and his father who brought along the Saxon who baptized them, a bishop Fridrek. They try to visit various things and talk Jesus, but are the subject of ridicule and even insulting skaldic verses. This is kind of a big deal, and the trio react by killing several who insult them. After a couple of these clashes they leave, and apparently die off the island.
Enter Olaf Tryggveson, king of Norway. After ascending the throne, he puts all in on converting folks, and sends a dude named Stefnir to bring Iceland into the fold. Unfortunately, Stefnirs plan consists of talking poo poo and destroying pagan shrines (probably the personal altars in the chieftains halls!), and nets him nothing except an outlawry and a new law declaring christians bringers of shame on their kin and so easier to outlaw. Then came Thangbrand, a more experienced missionary fresh off turning heads in Norway and the Færø islands.
Thangbrand converted a couple of chiefs, but also killed a couple of dudes, violence apparently being a sound theological argument in those days. This was considered a failure, and Harald straight-up embargoed Icelandic ships from entering norse ports and kidnapped children of prominent Icelandic chiefs living in Norway, cutting off all trade relations with the island, and refusing to budge unless Iceland converted. Nevertheless, they persisted until next summer, and at this point, three Armenian bishops join the fun, having been invited (for non-religious reasons) by Harald Hardrada during his time as a Varangian guard. More Icelanders are converting, and supporting the kings efforts at conversion, tensions rise and civil war looms on the horizon.
Next summer, the Allthing (highest governing institution that convenes once a year) convenes and decides to lay the matter to rest through negotiation. , Thorgeir Thorkelsson, the gode of Ljósavatn, was acceptable to both sides as mediator, being known as a moderate and reasonable man. Thorgeir accepted responsibility for deciding whether Iceland should become Christian, with the condition that both parties abide by his decision. And this is where poo poo gets weird!
Thorgeir rests "under a blanket" for a day and a night, before coming to a decision. The exact provenance of the event is unclear, and I favour/hope for the explanation that he either entered a sweat lodge or made a seidr journey to asks the gods himself, blinding himself under a pile of furs to facilitate the travel of consciousness. He may just have gotten drunk and worried in bed. We don't really know.
Upon rising from the blanket, Thorgeir says Iceland converts, provided that A) they're still allowed to eat horseflesh, B) they can still perform infanticide by exposure, and C) that you can do pagan worship in private, basically as a don't ask don't tell type of deal. This raised some hackles, as Pope Gregory III had banned the Germanic custom of eating horses back in the 730s, and while killing 'surplus' children by exposing them to the elements was an entrenched cultural practice in Iceland, the christian world frowned on it.
Via the poet Steinunn Refsdóttir, we learn of another great theological spat at this time. Allegedly she has heard from Thangbrand that the thing would-be converts is most often asking him is if Jesus could beat up Thor in a fistfight, and if not, then they're not interested With typical assurance, Thangbrand crafts a verse (probably written by Steinunn) that the challenge was already given, and that Thor hid like a frightened punk. She goes on to explain in verse, that Thor actually wasn't afraid, and when the ship carrying Thangbrand off the island crashes, Thor was behind it since he shouldn't talk poo poo. She is also interesting for being one of the few female poets whose work we still have access to!
Anyway, Thorgeir, who is himself a respected pagan priest, gathers all the statues and pagan icons at the allthing, and, with a heavy heart we must assume, chucks them all into a waterfall. The fall has ever since been known as Goðafoss, lit. "Waterfall of the Gods". While it seems kind of wild that nothing happened after that, it seems like the godes of Iceland honestly preferred converting to civil strife, and the church eventually stamped out pagan worship, and the associated horse eating and child-exposure, once they had total control of the state.
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2020 09:36|
This is probably a dumb question, and I'm probably going to phrase it awfully, so please understand I mean this well :
It's not a dumb question, heathens struggle a lot with them as well! Like, there are a great many heathens who take a great interest in the archeology of religion in Europe, and may even incorporate new knowledge into their faith and rites - but those are on one end of a scale, where you will find folks on another end, who just want to "go viking" and will straight up incorporate myths they learned from Marvel or HBOs Vikings without checking out the provenance. The problem here, of course, is that there is no authoritative source on how to worship (we have no unified church on the extra-national level aside from very small networks of like minds), and strictly speaking, one's heathenry is as correct as the next, as religion doesn't mean conformity to a given dogma.
If I was confronted with the situation in your example, it is very probable that nothing would happen. We know so little already that we don't claim to practice in a manner faithful to pre-christian norse ritual, at least not in my group. Being the aforementioned type of nerd, I would probably consider changing the ritual, but our rituals have been designed in the modern age, and it may not be received well.
There's also the question of modernity itself. In my eyes, heathenry must be practiced in a thoroughly modern fashion. Nearly everything wrong with the faith can be traced back to anti-modernism. It draws in a great deal of folks who are already racist, sexist and homophobic, and they figure since it's "viking religion durrrr" we must 'go back' to an ideal age - never mind that these idiots can't place said ideal age, nor know anything about it in the first place. From regular joes who come for the axes and mead to the straight-up fascist pagans, it's all toxic masculinity and insecurity stemming from the modern world.
To put the matter on the edge: We know pagans sacrificed humans on occasion, but that doesn't mean I think we should do it
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2020 09:49|
I love this.
Medieval europe is full of a lot of deals like this. Have a freebie in the form of the reformation in Iceland that went down a lot, eh, sharper:
1. The danes seize catholic bishops and start reformation.
2. one see remains firmly catholic, and the bishop in charge digs up Gissur, Icelands first protestant reformer, and desecrates the corpse and calls it a heretic.
3. the protestants seize the bishop and all his sons, behading them.
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2020 09:58|
Just realized I didn't reply to these
Yeah I'm immediately thinking of things like Candomble and Voudon and wondering about parallels/differences.
I was sworn to secrecy about a particular persons journey into heathenism and so can't go into detail, but suffice to say that there are a nonzero number of heathens who started out as candomblé devotees who realized they had devoted themselves to an aesir or vanir or an aspect of said god and grew from there.
The recent talk about modern influences in paganism got me thinking, especially the comment about people drawing poo poo from Marvel movies:
Most have a quite relaxed approach to it. You'll take what you can get of positive portrayals, really? And again, and this is important, there is no one or right 'asatru' belief. Many (if not all?) heathens have been informed in their belief by a particular cultural portrayal of norse gods and concepts, even though most don't incorporate the actual comic book lore into their canon. I think I've mentioned it before, but like most Danes my first real love of old norse culture and myth came with Peter Larsen's Valhalla comics. I don't know if they were ever translated, but if so I ever so highly recommend them to anyone, even those not interested in anything but good comics.
Tias fucked around with this message at 09:00 on Mar 3, 2020
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2020 08:56|
At least some of these were translated into Finnish. And yes, they are great. The one where Thor and some others pretend to be mortal heroes, "Odin makes a bet" or something like that.
My all-time favorite moment in that series!
"No thanks, they gave me a better offer - there I get to play the harp!"
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2020 10:01|
Mul dem, Mørdur
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2020 14:07|
The broad generalities is that I know a guy who has practiced Candomblé for ages, and was initiated to a norse God through Candomblé. He does not identify as heathen last I checked, but rather a 'norse animist' (which is where I, as a shamanist practicioner who's more into spirits and Vanir than the Aesir, also lie). He is still into south american religion, but has entered the heathen world in this roundabout fashion.
It is stanza 77. of the Hávamál, in which Odin explains the state of the world. It is an important passage in the norse mindset, and if often quoted and used in ritual.
Directly translated, it means
Die can wealth, die can friends
You yourself shall also die.
One thing I know that shall never die
Judgment over the deeds of the dead.
Essentially, we're moribound, but if we live well our life and good deeds will be spoken of and bring reknown to our lineage. It is the best thing a norse heathen can strive for!
I think I actually tilted the picture a bit to make it more eerie, but I have the original at home and can post it tomorrow.
|# ¿ Mar 4, 2020 09:24|
That's a drat good quote.
Yeah, here's the original: https://www.pinterest.dk/pin/301811612508814761/
I haven't actually bothered to translate the runes, which could definitely end up in a problematic and hilarious result. Perhaps I shall!
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2020 12:33|
Is it OK to ask about Nordic folklore in this thread? Because I'm trying to dig up a very specific Scandinavian monster I heard about.
Definitely, I can't imagine I won't be able to at least point you in the right direction
What a lovely note for me to jump in on, perfect.
There are more than two, but you've made the important distinction: between the older and younger futharc, from which other runic scripts (anglo-saxon, Danish long rune and that Swedish valley script) derive. You would be correct about the poetry, only scattered uses of the elder futharc exists in the form of inscriptions on jewelry, tools and runestones.
I'm interested in how the writing here works, the importance of the writing itself in magics of various sorts, and so on. Today most of what I see when I hear about "bindrunes" are essentially a form of sigilization and likely quite modern, but I could be mistaken in that. After all, sigilization itself is nothing new, what with seals of spirits being made from kamea at least as early as the the early renaissance, though of course that's also relatively modern compared to when the futhark alphabets would've been in use as I understand it?
I'm not sure what you mean by 'how writing works'. Each of the letters correspond to a noise in proto-norse and old norse (probably derived itself from an italic alphabec, maybe etruscan), so you're basically writing a sentence the way you might say it.
They track like an alphabet, and so one can imagine things being written with them just as they might be written with English letters, yeah? And there are unique letters that persist in Norse today as I understand it (the troublesome "th" for example).
Yes, and in fact you can use anglo-saxon runes to write old English with! Only Icelandic maintains the 'th' letter in their script, or perhaps the faroese do to, but the scandinavian languages have largely moved to latin alphabets, with a couple of weird additions (like æ ø å in my native Danish).
So, from a reconstructivist perspective, how do we see them used in magic? What constitutes a "bindrune" when removed from the context of modern pagans taking any ol' pantheon they like and jamming it into the Golden Dawn's stuff? Much of modern paganism is reskinned Gardnerian Wicca which is itself just reskinned Rosicrucian stuff which is reskinned Co-Masonry and on and on down the line of derivation, and then in true Masonic form, taking that and going "welp, this obviously dates to [a super ancient event]."
From a reconstructionist perspective... In every conceivable kind of way. Mostly it's people reading stuff by grifters and hacks (or wiccans, which depending on your perspective may be the same thing, many heathens despise 'wiccatru' while doing just as modern stuff themselves - when I get to explaining the elements of modern heathen blót you'll see that principle components are copied from wicca). There is no official version of neither heathenry nor seidr/magic use, and so no one can tell anyone else they're doing it wrong.
I read a compelling case on bindrunes by a dude going on anglo-saxon sources, in which bindrunes are putting multiple runes on top of each other, getting a sort of matrix that combine the associations of the runes (themselves a colossal :worms: as we don't have a lot to go on there). The old norse themselves did use bind runes, but they don't look a lot like the ones people use today, which are geomatrically pleasing ligatures of runes on top of each other.
Above we see an old bindrune from the runestone sö 158, depicting a boat with the mast being a ligature of runes. Is it meant to be magic? Who knows.
Here we see the logo for the band Wardruna, which is an intentional attempt to work magic with runes: It is the letters comprising the band name, the band name being something like 'Warden of secret knowledge' in old norse. I've heard Selvik speak on the matter several times, and his methods are essentially thinking about how the old norse might have done it, and doing something new with it. He also works extensively with historical sources, like how we've found staves and baseplates with runes where words and runes were repeated on purpose, which seems to have mystical significance.
Here's a random rear end in a top hat with a 'bindrune' taken from a 'traditional nordic tattoo' facebook group after a couple of seconds of searching. It appears somewhat inspired by the icelandic rune amulets from the medieval spell grimoires found around 1200s, but is just a ligature without any apparent meaning save that of the visible runes, like Othala and Fehu. To each their own, I think stuff like this is an offense to the runes.
Obviously with an oral tradition being extinct and only having the artifacts to work with, can we see obvious magical deployments of runes and such?
Obviously rooted in historical practice? No, definitely not. Rooted in artifacts and mention in sagas? Sure. Rooted in UPG? Constantly.
However, I would be remiss to not mention folkloric rune magic. While the old norse use is more or less unknown (save that in the sagas, but as I've said often enough they're not a reliable primary source), use of runes continued by the ostensibly christianized scandinavians far into the late rennaisance. The icelandic magic-staves are the best known ones, but they are taken from the spell-books christian (or perhaps christo-pagan) magic workers long after the other bind-runes were struck, in the 1800s.
Known as 'galdrastafr' ("shouting staves", galdr specifically being a kind of heathen magic that involves communication or the voice), they are more like sigilistic drawins than proper futharc ligatures.
I have both of these tattooed on me long before they were everywhere (today you can spot them on US brand name clothing and in HBO's vikings ), but more from the fact that they're nice and pretty reminders of history than a strong belief in their magic. Still, as a heathen I hope and believe that it is possible I could derive some of the benefits!
The Œgishjalmr, or 'Helm of Awe/Terror', is mentioned both in the galdrabokr (grimoires found in Iceland), and in the Völsunga sagas, where the Sigurd finds this helmet in the hoard of the dragon Fafnir after killing it. The poetic edda also says the following of it:
"The Helm of Awe
I wore before the sons of men
In defense of my treasure;
Amongst all, I alone was strong,
I thought to myself,
For I found no power a match for my own"
Going on the material in the galdrabokr and the sagas, we can surmise that this bind-rune might strike fear into the hearts of your enemies (it is supposed to be painted on your forehead), and protect yourself from fear.
The Vegvisr (Way-pointer/shower) is a magic compass that will dispel bad weather. The galdrabokr says, in skaldic prose, that wearing it means "never losing one's way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known".
This, to me, is a great development: it divorces the claim from concerns about it claiming to have a kind of historicity that isn't necessarily present, while still leaving room for a person to practice whatever they want (after all, if the gods are living gods then why would their traditions not be living traditions that evolve in relation to the cultural moment? Something the Mormons do well enough, at least, for example). Do we see this happening much within heathenry, or is it still mostly shrouded in mostly bullshit claims based on vague hunches and throwing the Norse skin over the generic neopaganism?
70-30, I'd say. Many who practice are either willfully or contentedly ignorant of how old or authentic their practice it, leaving that to their organization and their priests. I have nothing against UPG, and some of my own practice is derived from my own communication with gods and spirits. I'm more annoyed with the many and influential 'heathens' who spread anti-modern and even anti-heathen racist teachings because they know no one's gonna ask questions.
Another example of what seems to me like a reskinned practice is the throwing of runes or casting of runes based on their names as a form of divination. The style of casting them is not dissimilar from any other style of casting things, but the way it's read is essentially "Tarot but we're going to look at a character instead of a picture on a card" and, well, seems extremely modern. Again, casting lots is a practice with a lot of history to it but that form of divination is not; historical divination practices tended not to be much about esoteric whatever and instead tended to be very specifically about very practical matters. For that kind of divination, pulling symbols out of a bag are uncommon. You don't want much interpretation when you're asking straightforward questions.
I'm neither a historian nor an archeologist, so you're getting a mildly qualified guess, ok? I don't think divination was done with runes at all. We know of the presence of at least some shamans among the iron age scandinations, so if you wanted a clear answer to something, you could enter the drum trance and go ask the spirits or gods yourself where they live. Perhaps people also god-quested or were ridden by gods in the manner of other cultures using ritual drama and/or possession.
Runic divination seems to be either A) completely new-age derived or B) grifters and authors reskinning the new age stuff and claiming they found the real deal somewhere.
And then there's the "meanings of the runes," in the sense that the runes have names and the names seem to be translatable. E.g. you have "wealth," "iron," "need," "ice," and so on. When you're translating runes, do the meanings in this sense have any linguistic functions? Or are they just names for the symbols that represent the phonemes and you transliterate it like an alphabet, and those happen to be one letter words? For example in Tibetan the letter "ka" is also the word "ka" which is the word "mouth," but to my knowledge the symbol and that word are unrelated except that the word is spelled that way. You might use it for a pun, but "ka" in the kakhaga does not mean "mouth," it's just a letter, and that letter happens to mean "mouth." Same as nobody would say "I" in the alphabet means the pronoun.
The names were in all likelihood used to teach them to others, as all runic names include the pronunciation of the letter itself. I would think (and I'm guessing, again) that the rune names have no intrinsic meaning aside from having the name of a common object, god or concept as a mnemonic enhancer.
Do the runes' names serve some function in historical magic application that we know of? Or is that also a modern thing?
That we know of, no, I don't think so. However, the runic poems connected to the alphabets are wonderfully evocative, and jogs the mind into fanciful conjecture. I like to think they have been, but I have no authoritative source. Even Einar Selvik who is a bona fide weird rune wizard told me that he only had the rune poems, sagas and his UPG to go on.
E: One final instruction on rune magic is found in the hávamál, but only the version in the elder edda! It is very likely that the errant christian monk who transcribed it thought it too poetic or interesting not to include, and we should be grateful that he did, because it is a very concrete suggestion on how to activate the runes:
It's stanza 143, immediately following the stanzas explaining what the runes are, and how the various denizens of the 9 worlds know of them:
"Dost ye know how to write,
dost ye know how to read,
dost ye know how to paint,
dost ye know how to prove,
dost ye know how to ask,
dost ye know how to offer,
dost ye know how to send,
dost ye know how to spend"
Writing them and reading them is straight forward, but painting, asking them, offering them and so on are more ephemeral. Still, they give a potent starting point for one's own experimentation.
Tias fucked around with this message at 13:28 on Nov 18, 2020
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2020 09:51|
Definitely sounds like Nøkken, but could also be another kind of land wight or faerie. Do you know what part of Scandinavia the story originates from?
E: interestingly enough, waterlily is known as 'Nøkke Rose' in some parts of Denmark, but 'nøkke' is also our translation for 'Nymph', the water dwelling greek creatures, which i believe is where the name comes from - but there are water lilies with red flowers to be sure.
Tias fucked around with this message at 07:30 on Mar 11, 2020
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2020 07:23|
Brønd-gubbe would be "well-man" in Norwegian?
There's a folkmetal/blackmetal song of that name from 2006, probably of older provenance? It's about a dude who drinks a lot, drowns in a well and lives with the man who is now there. I don't have time to dig into it at present, but the lyrics are originally a folk tune and probably represents a local myth
Give it a listen, even if you don't speak norwegian it's pretty evocative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w6kCW2FR8Y
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2020 11:10|
Yeah, Scandinavia is, uh, polarised
Case in point, a whole new runic alphabet was discovered in the recent past because it was used by a bunch of Swedes so isolated no one even bothered to talk to them to find out about their language use.
Sooo, Scandinavia is more or less on lockdown because of the COVID-19 virus, which is causing troubles for school and my private life, but if anyone requests one of the subjects in the OP I'd be happy to put it up eventually. Who doesn't want to hear about the time a horse banged Loki?
Tias fucked around with this message at 13:43 on Nov 18, 2020
|# ¿ Mar 14, 2020 13:11|
Yeah, friends list didn't pop up on the original view I had. Brought it up in the group and it did not go well.
Then you basically did your best. There's no reason to alienate potential allies, but going 'uhh you guys are aware that A) that's a nazi symbol and B) this guy uses it while a part of your group and C) is that okay because I don't think it is' is the absolute minimum I would ask of those I do religious work with.
|# ¿ Mar 18, 2020 13:53|
Jǫtnar / Jotunn / Frost Giants - Evil demons or part of the family?
The beings known as jǫtnar are an often mentioned part of norse mythology, and when we hear about them in the modern parlance, they often look like clear-cut 'bad guys' because of their opposition to the aesir and vanir. But, as we shall see below, they're often cozy with the gods, and some of the gods we recognize as aesir and vanir are actual fifty or even a hundred percent jotnar by blood!
At the creation of the world, these beings were shed from the world-being Ymirs body, in some kind of asexual reproduction. They survived his dismemberment by Odin, Vile and Ve by surfing the rivers made by his blood. The jǫtnar live in Jotunheimm, one of the nine worlds. In later scandinavian folklore, a greater ambiguity surrounded them, in no small part because of christians likening them to devils, and they became terrifying entities who often worked against humans.
The name Jotunn comes from the proto-germanic *etunaz and means "devourer". The Old English eóten is a cognate (it means the same thing and comes from the same Proto-Germanic word). Þurs, or Thurse, another name for giant-like creatures, is derived from the Proto-Germanic *þurisaz and means something like “powerful and injurious one” with a secondary connotation of “thorn-like.” The Old English ðyrs and Old High German duris are cognates.
If we look at the inside/outside divide often applied in heathenry, Jǫtnar are 100% 'outside the fence'. They represent untamed nature, the anti-thesis of safety, civilization and formal culture - and this isn't the same as evil, but they do act against the efforts of heathens to codify, understand and protect the land. The devourers constantly try to pull the world back to it's state of primordial chaos, and the gods try to pull up the plane instead. Still, what about the gods?
Well, Odin is half Jotunn, on his mothers side - and Thor, the chaos-destroyer and slayer of Jotunn? 75%. In principle, Jotunn, like Aesir and Vanir, is often a title conferred through kinship, rather than a specific measurement of blood or parentage. When the full-blood Jotunn Skaði marries the powerful vane Njord, she becomes an óss (sing. of aesir). In reality, we don't know the origins of deities like Odin and Thor, central and important deities though they be in the aesir pantheon - and their latest recorded iteration are as the enemies of the jǫtnar and lords of the aesir, so that's what we're going with.
Jotunnheim (also known as "Udgård" or "outside the clearing", signifying their status as devourers) is the home of the Jǫtnar. It is where they menace Asgård from, separated from this realm by the river Ilfing. In here lies Mimir's well, where Odin placed his eye to gain wisdom, and the gods have gone there on many adventures. For an abridged list, check the wiki page:
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2020 15:29|
He is a master dunker
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2020 17:08|
My bad! I only know one with part saami heritage, and she uses - I think it's more common in Scandinavia to call the area Lapland still. I'll change it!
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2020 18:55|
I don't think Thurser are hostile as is, they're just another tribe (or possibly another kenning) for jotun.
Unrelated, I'm currently pursuing studies with the intention of eventually being clergy. Since this is the religion for nerds the quantity of reading is astounding. If folks are interested I can do a brief write up of each book I've read thus far and each one as I finish. Sort of a review/synopsis.
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2020 23:42|
In our teachings over here and in The Troth, the word is pretty much only used in relation to Surt and his crew. It may be wrong. When I worked at a living history museum we'd often be taught things orally that had been stated at some point in the distant past by someone with some authority and never questioned until someone read a book. As I go through my readings, even this early I'm finding the source of various assertions taught in "Heathenry 101" books and courses. It could also be a difference in language. I speak a bastard pidgin language that's a bit further removed from the lore.
No biggie - it's seems like a sensible connection to make, and is just another example of winding branches of heathen lore. Most of what I know is going on stuff I've been told by others as well.
|# ¿ Apr 2, 2020 09:37|
I actually only saw the start (the same day you asked ) because we decided we'd rather watch Guardians of the Galaxy. The first fifteen minutes or so were great, though! I enjoyed the ice workers song.
I know that "casting*" I'd be so interested in just talking to you about this process and learning about it just for my own learning if your cool with it.
I don't cast. As said, we don't really know if this ever happened. I will say a lot of folks use rune sets to divine with, though - and I don't have any beef with it, because once again for prince Knud: We're a reconstructionist religion, and we're all doing something new with something very old. What that is, can be anything really, and there's no thing more right than another - though most of us opt to fight racism, sexism and homophobia, because the faith is or should be for everyone.
Tias fucked around with this message at 18:43 on Apr 4, 2020
|# ¿ Apr 4, 2020 18:38|
Declaration 127 is a great thing, my blótlaug and one other here in Denmark has already signed to it. Unfortunately our main religious organization for heathens are AFA stans and so hates antiracism
|# ¿ Apr 16, 2020 00:11|
I don't immediately hate it?
It mentions that all heathens hold wyrd and orlæg (sp?) is central to their practice. I, a devout practicioner, have never heard of orlæg and am not sure everyone cares about wyrd. This has a logical explanation: Both concepts are mostly documented in anglo-saxon heathenry, the evolved heathenry of saxons living together with or under the yoke of heathen norsemen in the Danelaw. A Danish heathen like myself might or might not agree that all my actions and my fate is determined in advance by the the web of wyrd, but I could also think my life is determined by my actions in accordance with the wishes of gods and spirits (it's the last one). U.S. heathenry is very influenced by anglo-saxon sources, you'll very often come across heathens claiming concepts like "frith" and "troth" are extremely important, while euro heathens wouldn't care about them at all.
The outlay of nine worlds is very true to current edda-based interpretation, but again, no two heathens would agree on whether these worlds exist or in what shape. Some with an animist/shaman background like myself lean towards "they -might- but are probably alternate dimensions/consciousness states", while others will say they somehow orbit Midgard (where we are), and may or may not be detectable.
All of the factors that contribute to one’s orlæg have one thing in common: they are chosen for the person before birth or shortly after. Some factors are even the result of decisions made many generations ago, such as immigration or religious conversion. Regardless, a person cannot change their orlæg, nor can they deny the orlæg given to them.
Many heathens would agree that family curses and the actions of ancestors or the influence of spirits and undead could gently caress up a present life (many, but far from all, are into reincarnation), but by no means all or even the majority. Many are fundamentally positive in their religious psychology and don't think bad things happen to good heathens.
This is very endearing though, and suggests we're not dealing with a nazitru page:
in fact, it is not uncommon for some of these circumstances to change, such as religion or economic status. Additionally, just because a person starts out with a certain circumstance does not make it true, such as in the case of gender, which is chosen for a newborn by a medical professional based on observed factors.
Reciprocity looks good, and the theism page is allright, except for the fact that heathen is not necessarily either theist nor polytheist. There are heathens who consider the gods Jungian archetypes to emulate while being agnostics, and others who only really consider the existance of the god they're devoted to, and all are equally valid.
tl;dr: Heathenry takes many different forms, and while thelongship.net's views on cosmology, practice and gods represent a sizable chunk of heathens worldwide, there are those who believe something else entirely, and all are equally 'heathen' as we have no unified hierarchy and theology.
Tias fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Apr 21, 2020
|# ¿ Apr 21, 2020 07:23|
Who is Marcel Mauss and should we care about him?
|# ¿ Apr 21, 2020 16:50|
religion.dk har lavet et okay overblik, med links til interviews foretaget af kristeligt dagblad - men bemærk at de vist mest har talt med Forn Sidr:
|# ¿ Apr 23, 2020 07:49|
Lol, sorry - asking for sources in Danish I assumed they read it
Takk for linken. Any other nordic books that you'd recommend in that sense? I of course have Snorre Sagas with a new translation that's actually excellent, and some other books both in Norwegian and Enlighs as well. Recently got Den Svarte Vikingen which sounded interesting.
Just get a good translation of the elder Edda in your native tongue and you're good to go, IMHO. I would also recommend looking into stuff by Rune Hjarnø, Maria Kvilhaug, and if you can deal with the hokey cowboy stuff and English, Jackson Crawford. In spite of his jive kind of gimmick, Crawford is one of the most knowledgable saga and norse mythology experts alive today.
Tias fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Apr 23, 2020
|# ¿ Apr 23, 2020 14:16|
Just today some lady from Wisconsin friended me on facebook because she liked what I had to say about Scandinavian drone instruments
Anyway, this type of infatuation is huge with US and to some degree UK pagans. This unfortunately also means they're easily duped by the racist and fascist currents within heathenry because these focus so much on blood relations.
|# ¿ Apr 23, 2020 20:52|
Those are valid, cool and good interpretations, and you don't have to subscribe to any particular sect or interpretation of heathenry for those gods to help you in your life. Hail Tyr, hail Thor!
E: And yeah, Thor is a good example of the aesir having the same flaws and joys as us. While a fighter of chaos, Thor embodies it somewhat as well - as befits a grandson of jótunns and son of the earth!
Tias fucked around with this message at 15:45 on Apr 28, 2020
|# ¿ Apr 28, 2020 15:42|
Tomorrow is Walpurgis Night, which may be known as a christian holiday, but we heathens know that the saint's feast is an attempt to cover older something much more old, powerful and.. naughty.
Originally this was a night where heathen scandinavians raised maypoles, lit huge pyres and found sexual partners, allegedly keeping them until next Walpurgisnacht. An old man from Sweden explains it thusly: "From time to time you heard the distant sound of horns through the noise. They must be heard for the first time on Walpurga's night, and therefore they have been soaked for eight nights. He who grows by the tones of these horns, thrives by them for as long as he lives. Now we hear at our pyres the messengers of spring, proclaim, what no human word can say. It is the innermost of all music, and it leads to the heart of our culture."
Another legend says that ramsons harvested in moonlight with a sickle on this magical night retains enormous power, can cure the sick and bring fortune to the user.
E: and I got two sick rear end sickles for my birthday
Tias fucked around with this message at 08:47 on Apr 30, 2020
|# ¿ Apr 29, 2020 12:04|
|# ¿ May 16, 2021 15:14|
Vel mødt! Hil din hvide Krist og håber alt går godt hos dig og dine elskede
I'm glad everything was answered, otherwise don't hesitate to write a line. I love to tell about our ways, particular in this time where heathenry is on the rise again - it gets into many and weird forms, that's for sure.
Just today a facebooker asked if anyone else worshipped gods from other pantheons, citing her deities apart from the norse ones as "Chaos and Grimoires".
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2020 09:58|