During the funeral of the Norse God Baldur, The Gods had great difficulty in dragging the funeral ship “Hringhorni” into the sea. Knowing this level of strength could only be accomplished by a Jötunn (Giant) it was then the Giantess Hyrrokkin was summoned to Asgard to accomplish this task. It is said that when she arrived and began dragging the massive ship to the sea she did with such ferocity it cause the rollers under the ship’s keel to create sparks of fire. This enraged Thor so much he reached for his Mjölnir to strike her down but due to her getting the ship launched into the sea, the Gods asked he give mercy.
Snorri’s Edda, Gylfaginning 49: “The Æsir took the body of Baldr and brought it to the sea. Hringhorni is the name of Baldr’s ship: it was greatest of all ships; the gods wanted to launch it and make Baldr’s pyre thereon, but the ship would not stir. Then word was sent to Jötunheim and in response, came a giantess named Hyrrokkin (Fire-smoked). She rode up on a wolf with a serpent for a bridle, and leapt off the steed. Odin called four berserks to subdue it; but they were not able to tame the steed until they had felled it. Hyrrokkin went to the prow of the ship and thrust it out on the first push, with such force that fire burst from the rollers and all lands trembled. Thor grew angry and clutched his hammer, and straightaway would have broken her head, had the gods not prayed for peace for her.”SOURCE
There are a lot of lesser known Goddesses and Þurs, Giants and Giantesses which I consider Gods and Goddesses as well, in the tales of Norse Mythology. One of my favorites is the tale of Jarnsaxa, lover of Thor and mother of Thor’s son, Magni the Norse God of strength. Now many would argue that she is not a Goddess and only a Jötun from the realm of Jötunheimr. However I have always said that all of the Þurs are indeed Gods and Goddesses because of the complex and close relations they have with the tribes of the Vanir and Æsir but we can leave that for a future blog post. So now let us dive into Jarnsaxa and her lesser known great importance within the Norse pantheon.
Jarnsaxa or Iarnsaxa was mother of Magni and Modi (Refer to Note 1), by the Aesir Thor. Not much is known about Jarnsaxa, except that she was Sif’s rival for Thor’s love. All references to Jarnsaxa have to do with either Thor being her lover or Magni being her son. Her parents are unknown. Her name means “iron sax”. Her name appeared in Sturluson’s list of giantesses, and in a couple of Eddaic kennings.
Every difficulty increases Jarnsaxa’s wind in Olaf’s father, so that praise is due. Here, Jarnsaxa’s wind means “courage”. He reddened with gore the chops of the dark-looking steed of Jarnsaxa…. In this kenning, the dark-looking steed of Jarnsaxa indicates her steed was a wolf.SOURCE
NOTE 1: Some believe that Modi is actually the some of Sigyn but it is also said that his mother is unknown.
We know a little bit about her and what she does. Her name is a portmanteau of the Swedish words for iron, axe, and scissors (jarn, yxa, and saxa, respectively). In the Poetic Edda (considered one of the oldest texts of Norse culture), we learn that she is one of The Nine Mothers (Refer to Note 2) of Heimdall. These Wave-Maidens were responsible for turning the mill which runs the wind and the waves. After Heimdall leaves his mothers to seek his fortune, Jarnsaxa disappears from the Eddas for a while.
She reappears as Thor’s lover. Like before, as a Wave-Maiden, she is a giantess. We learn that she is a Jotun, the same race as Loki. She is also the mother of Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi [Refer to Note 1](respectively named for physical strength, and the desire to fight and kill). It is prophesied that Modi and Magni will eventually inherit Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, when it is thrown at the end of Ragnarok (the Old Norse apocalypse). We also know from other places in the Eddas that Thor’s official wife is Sif, the goddess of fertility.Read full blog post HERE.
NOTE 2: There are actually two theories on who the “Nine Mothers” of Heimdall are and the other is that his nine mothers are actually the Nine Daughters of the sea Goddess Rán. I will expand on this in a future blog post.
Ratatoskr maybe be only mentioned a few times in text but this mischievous Squirrel of the Yggdrasil is actually quite an important critter of Norse Mythology and is a personal favorite of mine. This is why I felt the need to create this post about this special Squirrel. Ratatoskr is a squirrel who runs up and down the world tree Yggdrasil to carry messages between Veðrfölnir, perched atop Yggdrasil, and the wyrm Níðhöggr, who dwells beneath one of the three roots of the tree.
Ratatosk is mentioned in the Poetic Edda, in stanza 32 of Grimnismal, presented with some context so you can see that the squirrel is described as just one piece of an essential part of the Yggrdasil.
31. Three roots there are | that three ways run ‘Neath the ash-tree Yggdrasil; ‘Neath the first lives Hel, | ‘neath the second the frost-giants, ‘Neath the last are the lands of men.
32. Ratatosk is the squirrel | who there shall run On the ash-tree Yggdrasil; From above the words | of the eagle he bears, And tells them to Nithhogg beneath.
33. Four harts there are, | that the highest twigs Nibble with necks bent back; Dain and Dvalin, | . . . . . . Duneyr and Dyrathror.
“What more mighty wonders are to be told of the Ash?” Hárr replied: “Much is to be told of it. An eagle sits in the limbs of the Ash, and he has understanding of many a thing; and between his eyes sits the hawk that is called Vedrfölnir. The squirrel called Ratatöskr runs up and down the length of the Ash, bearing envious words between the eagle and Nídhöggr; and four harts run in the limbs of the Ash and bite the leaves. They are called thus: Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, Durathrór.
We often hear about the animal spirits that live in the great world tree of the Norse Mythology, Yggdrasil, the Eagle at the top, the Dragon at the bottom and in the middle the Squirrel named Ratatoskr/Ratatosk, which is said that he carries messages and occasional insults between the Eagle and the Dragon and to many other inhabitants of the area and also to the rest of the Nine Worlds.
Ratatoskr knows all about Yggdrasil and its surroundings, and also knows about all the hidden places in the Nine worlds, all the passages from one realm to another. This animal is a powerful symbol in the Norse Shamanic practices of old, it is the symbol that links each sacred being in the Norse mythology by peaceful means, avoiding trouble, avoiding unnecessary danger, he is also the symbol that links each realm, just as the Squirrel moves from one tree to another, silent, watchful, without drawing attention, discreet, always with eyes open, so too the Shamans of the Norse/Germanic peoples must do that when traveling between the Nine worlds, but also a lesson to take by all the others who must travel in this mortal realm, searching for food, a place to live, hunting, or whatever one must do into places he or she doesn’t know and where extra careful is necessary, always attentive, alert, for possible dangerous threats. Continue reading HERE.
I always find the animals among the Gods as a favorite of mine to study such as Ratatoskr, Hraesvelgr, Hildisvini, Huginn and Muninn, etc.Unfortunately in some cases very little is known beyond a few mentions in text. Today I wanted to share about one I really like which is Eikþyrnir, the stag of Valhalla.
Eikþyrnir or Eikthyrnir (Old Norse “oak-thorny”) is a stag which stands upon Valhalla.
Eikþyrnir heitir hiörtr, (Eikthyrnir the hart is called,)
er stendr á höllo Heriaföðrs (that stands o’er Odin’s hall,)
ok bítr af Læraðs limom; (and bits from Lærad’s branches;)
The stag Eikþyrnir stands on the roof of Valhall and eats from the branches of the World-Tree, here called Læraðr. Valhall appears to be depicted as a hall similar to the one described in Völsunga saga, ch. 2. Thus the stag, standing on its roof, can eat from the tree.
“Svo er sagt að Völsungur konungur lét gera höll eina ágæta og með þeim hætti að ein eik mikil stóð í höllinni og limar trésins með fögrum blómum stóðu út um ræfur hallarinnar en leggurinn stóð niður í höllina og kölluðu þeir það barnstokk.”
“It is said that King Volsung had an excellent palace built in this fashion: a huge tree stood with its trunk in the hall and its branches, with fair blossoms, stretched out through the roof. They called the tree Barnstock.” (Jesse Byock translation.)
1 Eik means oak but the Icelanders often used the word as a general term for tree.
2 Barnstokkr literally means child-trunk (Bairnstock), although it is not clear that this was its original meaning. In the passage the tree is called eik (oak). A few passages farther on it is called apaldr (apple tree), another general term for tree. Apaldr, however, may have a further symbolic meaning, possibly associated with the apple tree of the goddess Idunn. Barnstokkr may also be identified with the world tree Yggdrasil.
Eikþyrnir, the name of the stag, is most commonly translated as ‘Oak-Thorn’, and taken as a reference to its antlers.SOURCE
Recently I have seen a huge increase in people’s interest in uncovering their ancestral heritage and to learn further about their ancient roots. This is a subject I am quite passionate about and have been studying as a hobby for over 20 years. By no means am I an expert but I have a great deal of knowledge and experience I have acquired that I feel is important to share with my readers.
Getting started with the process of uncovering your ancestral heritage via your DNA can be quite intimidating but it does not have to be if the right tools and tutorials are given to you. This is a complicated subject that I could spend hours explainingregarding Genealogy, Mitochondrial DNA, and even the fascinating forensic science of Isotopic mapping but for this blog post I feel it should be a How-to beginner’s guide.
So in order to give those interested a starting point in beginning this amazing journey I am providing a list of websites and articles I feel are fantastic for not just beginners but for anyone who wishes to expand upon their own search.
Please do take note of the GEDmatch links as these are essential above all to get such specific details of your ancestral heritage it may just blow your mind.
Websites to get a DNA ancestry test to begin the journey of discovery
“GEDmatch is a free DNA comparison and analysis website for people who have tested their autosomal DNA using a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, such as 23andMe, or have a custom file from other sources. Testers download their DNA data file from the testing company, and then upload it to GEDmatch. GEDmatch processes the file, adds it to a genealogical database, and provides applications for matching and further analysis. Because GEDmatch aggregates files from all testing companies, your potential for matches is greater.”
GEDmatch can be a bit overwhelming for those first looking at the website so I want to provide to you easy guides to follow.
The stories of Dragons have fascinated me my entire life from folklore around the world to how they are depicted in books and movies. Dragons are depicted in every kind of style and color you can imagine from fiery titans in size with impenetrable scales to small more feathery gentle creatures. They can be seen as cave dwellers hiding hoards of treasure such as J.R.R. Tolkein’sSmaug to the legendary Fafnir of Norse mythology.
Dragons can be found in the folklore of pretty much every ancient civilization on every continent and is heavily a part of many important tales involving Gods and Goddesses from Scandinavia, to China and in between. They are even to this day wrapped up in a lot of modern culture as we see in movies, books and even festivals. The subject of Dragons is quite massive and could take pages and pages on my blog to cover in full extent. Instead what I have chosen to do is provide my readers with one massive post that includes some of the best resources available.
Dragons can be placed in two groups- East and West dragons, and they were regarded as either good or very fearsome and evil creatures.
In ancient China, a dragon was a highly significant creature that became a symbol of the Emperor and his throne was sometimes called the Dragon Throne. Ancient Chinese believed dragons were in control the weather and water. These creatures were said to be able to manipulate oceans, floods, tornadoes and storms.
There are nine distinctive Chinese dragons and some of them are serpent-like creatures with large bodies and long heads. The dragon in China is believed to be a benign creature that is said to bring wisdom, power and luck. They are famous for their goodness and to ward off evil, protect the innocent and bring safety to all.
Tradition and celebration of New Year in China can be traced to a dragon named Nian (or “year”).
Nian was a legendary wild beast that attacked people at the end of the old year. Villagers would use loud noises and bright lights to scare the creature away, a practice that slowly morphed into the Chinese New Year festivities. Today the dragon has its own year on the Chinese calendar.
On the British Isles and in Scandinavia, dragons were often depicted as wingless creatures. In this part of the world, the dragon was depicted as a more malevolent creature that was very difficult to kill. The West dragon was wingless and lived in dark places or wells where he was guarding hoard treasures. Approaching the dragon was almost impossible because of its poisonous fire breath.
Dragons in British and Scandinavian mythology often appear in stories when a prince tries to save a young maiden from being abducted by the fearsome animal. If he can slay the dragon, he can become the new King and win the girl as his bride.Continue reading HERE.
Dragonships were large longships that had carved heads of dragons and other magical beings mounted on their stem. They were ships for chieftains and kings. The ship’s dragonhead was a visual message about the owner’s status.
His dragon with her sails of blue, All bright and brilliant to the view, High hoisted on the yard arms wide, Carries great Canute o’er the tide. Brave is the royal progress — fast The proud ship’s keel obeys the mast, Dashes through foam, and gains the land, Raising a surge on Limfjord’s strand.
Much like with Norse Paganism (Asatru), Slavic Paganism often in modern times gets a negative reputation by some mainstream sources and organizations as a result of a minority demographic that utilizes such spiritual beliefs for their own malicious intentions. However the more ancient native beliefs throughout the Slavic countries which can be in general described as Slavic Paganism has a rich history of traditions, ritual holidays and their Gods and Goddesses. Being that I myself have Slavic blood running through my veins I have been fascinated and studied this subject for years and even in my own crafts pay homage to Slavic Paganism and their Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. In fact eventually on this Blog I plan to feature each Slavic God and Goddess in their own post.
The use of this methodology in contemporary paganism is not new. It has proven its worth through the compelling reconstructions of the paganisms of other ethno-cultural groups, such as the Gauls, Anglo-Saxons, Greco-Egyptians and Norse, among others.
Slavic reconstructionist paganism includes three main objects of worship: the gods (Russian: Bogi), the spirits (Russian: Dushi), and the ancestors (Russian: Predki). We believe in multiple, distinct gods who are both immanent (appearing in the world) and transcendent (not limited to the material world). We believe that every building, every forest, every river or lake, the landscape itself is populated by countless spirits. We believe that our ancestors watch over and protect us throughout our life.SOURCE
The following list gives some of the more important Slavic deities known from older sources. Almost all of these are easily identifiable as Slavic cognates of other Proto-Indo-European Goddesses and Gods. The names used here are just some of the forms of the names which vary widely because of dialect differences in the Slavic languages as well as differences in the alphabets and the manner of their transcription from the Cyrillic alphabet. The element -bog seen in several of these names means ‘a god’ in various Slavic languages. The earliest references to specific deities are to Vladimir’s pantheon, the Gods and one Goddess worshiped by Prince Vladimir in about 980 CE before his conversion to Christianity. Most of the earliest references are from Christian sources and do not give much information, and even that is suspect. However many of these deities continue to be worshiped in the dual religion of the country people, and so they are well known from folk traditions.
Belbog, with the element bel- meaning ‘bright, white.’ This deity is known from early Christian sources. Bereginya, mentioned in old sources, the bereginyi (plural) receive offerings among the folk, and there are folk stories told about them. Bereginya dolls are still made by Russians. Dazhbog, a ‘Day God’ known from Vladimir’s pantheon and other early sources. In myths, he is the father of the morning and evening stars and of the Zoryi. Khors, known from Vladimir’s pantheon, but little else is known about this God. Koliada, the Goddess associated with the winter solstice and possibly a personification of it. There are many songs and dances known for her. Kupalo/Kupala, a deity associated with the summer solstice. Kupalo, a masculine form, appears in early Christian references, while Kupala, a feminine form, appears in more recent folklore sources. Lado/Lada. Lado, a masculine form, appears in early sources and is identified with Pluto and was the God invited to any occasion of merriment including weddings. Lada, a feminine form, appears in many folklore sources and is the Goddess associated with the May Day festival. There are many songs for her which people still sing. Although the linguistic relationship is uncertain, she appears to be the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Pleto. Leshii, a personification of the forest fires which were a big concern for people who lived and worked in the northern forests. Marzanna, a Grain Goddess known from early references and later folklore Mesyats, a personification of the Moon, Mesyats appears in folk tales, where he or she marries Dazhbog, and they have lots of little baby stars together. Mokosha, a Goddess from Vladimir’s pantheon, she remained important to people and is associated with water. Perun, known from Vladimir’s pantheon, he is the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European God *Perkunos, a Storm God. Poxvizd, Pogwizd are Wind Gods. Priye and Porevit are Slavic versions of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Pria, Goddess of spring flowers. Radigast at Rethra, known originally from Christian sources, the name Radigast is not well understood, but Rethra, the site of a temple appears to be the Slavic form of a standard Proto-Indo-European Goddess or God. The site of the temple described in old records is not certain, but it is probably south of the Tollense Sea (lake), where a wooden idol with two heads was found in 1968. Rugavit, known from a confused description by the Christian Saxo Grammaticus, Rugavit was said to be a God of War. In later Slavic folklore she appears as Baba Rugen and similar names, meaning Rye Mother among the country people. Simargl, mentioned in connection with Vladimir’s pantheon, the Simargl was often pictured in folk art as a supernatural bird with a long or braided tail. Various etymologies have been offered, but it may be borrowed from a Zoroastrian/Persian source. The Simargl was also borrowed into Islam and can be found as far afield as Indonesia where it is known as the Simurgh. Stribog, a Wind God in Vladimir’s pantheon, also mentioned in the Lay of Igor. Svantovit, is mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus but may be borrowed from Zoroastrian as one of the Amesha Spentas. It’s not clear because the name has been interpreted and reinterpreted in various languages, including as St. Vitus in Latin. The archaeological site for a major temple of Svantovit has been found at Arkona on the island of Rugen along the Baltic Sea. A proper dig was done by Schuchhardt starting in 1922. Svarog, a God of the Sun or of the Forge in early sources. Svarozhich, a son of Svarog, another name for a forge or smithy, also known from early sources. Volos/Veles, though not specifically mentioned in Vladimir’s pantheon, it is known that warriors at that time (10th century) swore oaths by Veles and their swords. Veles is more widely known as the protector of cattle though he seems to take the form of a wolf. Yarovit, one of the faces of Svantovit, and a deity of summer. Yaro means ‘summer.’ Zhiva is a Grain Goddess, and the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Devi. Zoryi/Zorya, the Zoryi (plural) were personified forms of the sun at sunrise (dawn) and sunset and their names are cognate with other Indo-European names for the Sun, such as Surya. There is a third sister called Black Zorya who represents Night in folklore, or as some say, the Northern Lights. The three are the daughters of Dazhbog. They sometimes appear as knights on horseback as in the tale of Vasilisa and the Baba Yaga.SOURCE