I want to welcome you to my website of the Úlfsvættr Craftsman. This is the culmination after years of study and working to fine tune my craft in order to produce the highest of quality. Items that easily could become heirlooms passed on to younger generations. But more than that is this Blog where I have so much I want to share with you from my vast experiences and wide variety of knowledge crammed packed into my mind. I hope you enjoy what you see and in some way whether you visit to browse my shop, look through the gallery or just read through this Blog which will be added to four times a month. In time or perhaps by the time you are reading this I will also have a newsletter available as well. Thank you again for taking the time to read this welcome message and remember to always “Keep the Primal Side Alive.”
A Valkyrie is a female helping spirit of the god Odin. The modern image of the Valkyries as elegant, noble maidens bearing dead heroes to Valhalla is largely accurate for what it is, but a highly selective portrayal that exaggerates their pleasant qualities. To some extent, this tendency toward sanitization is present even in the later Old Norse sources, which focus on their love affairs with human men and their assisting Odin in transporting his favorites among those slain in battle to Valhalla, where they will fight by his side during Ragnarok.
As much as we know of the Valkyries from ancient text there is still much about them that are a mystery and an alluring one at that. So I felt the need to make this Blog post regarding them and provide you the reader the best resources I know of.
Sometimes the blood-covered Valkyrie-prophetesses are seen themselves as weavers, as in the poem Darraðarljóð where the valkyries appear to prophesy the outcome of the next day’s battle (describing the fall of Brian Boru to Viking forces at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014):
Blood rains from the cloudy web
On the broad loom of slaughter.
The web of man grey as armor
Is now being woven; the Valkyries
Will cross it with a crimson weft.
The warp is made of human entrails;
Human heads are used as heddle-weights;
The heddle rods are blood-wet spears;
The shafts are iron-bound and arrows are the shuttles.
With swords we will weave this web of battle.
The Valkyries go weaving with drawn swords,
Hild and Hjorthrimul, Sanngrid and Svipul.
Spears will shatter shields will splinter,
Swords will gnaw like wolves through armor.
Let us now wind the web of war
Which the young king once waged.
Let us advance and wade through the ranks,
Where friends of ours are exchanging blows.
Let us now wind the web of war
And then follow the king to battle
Gunn and Gondul can see there
The blood-spattered shields that guarded the king.
Let us now wind the web of war
Where the warrior banners are forging forward
Let his life not be taken;
Only the Valkyries can choose the slain.
Lands will be ruled by new peoples
Who once inhabited outlying headlands.
We pronounce a great king destined to die;
Now an earl is felled by spears.
The men of Ireland will suffer a grief
That will never grow old in the minds of men.
The web is now woven and the battlefield reddened;
The news of disaster will spread through lands.
It is horrible now to look around
As a blood-red cloud darkens the sky.
The heavens are stained with the blood of men,
As the Valyries sing their song.
We sang well victory songs
For the young king; hail to our singing!
Let him who listens to our Valkyrie song
Learn it well and tell it to others.
Let us ride our horses hard on bare backs,
With swords unsheathed away from here!
And then they tore the woven cloth from the loom and ripped it to pieces, each keeping the shred she held in her hands… The women mounted their horses and rode away, six to the south and six to the north.
Two subjects in my list of things I am fascinated with is the Viking Age and Iceland. So when you have both featured as a book I must tell you its an amazing thing to read. Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock goes into such amazing details of what life, society and more was like in Iceland during the Viking Age and the author has the credentials for writing on this topic as well. He is a Professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian Studies at the University of California(UCLA) and Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology as well as directs the Mosfell Archaeological Project in Iceland.
Being a man of the sea myself I have always been fascinated with all myths and folklore of the sea and its shores. Whether is be Sea Nymphs, Mermaids, Water Horses, Ghost Ships and more. Today I want to talk about the mystical and alluring Selkies. These mysterious beings of the sea are wrapped up in the folklore specifically on the Orkney Islands of Scotland and the Faroe Islands. I put together for this my favorite resources that go quite in-depth of the Selkies. I hope you enjoy this topic as much as I do.
Amorous, affectionate and affable, Selkies are the hidden gems of sea mythology. Gentle souls who prefer dancing in the moonlight over luring sailors to their death, Selkies are often overlooked by mythological enthusiasts for the more enthralling forms of mermaids or sirens. Yet Selkies play a prominent role in the mythology of Scandinavia, Scotland and Ireland. Their myths are romantic tragedies, a common theme for land/sea romances, however it is the Selkies who suffer rather than their human lovers and spouses. While the tales of Selkies always begin with a warm and peaceful “once upon a time”, there are no true happy ending for the tales of Selkies—someone always gets his/her heart broken.
The mythology of selkies is similar to that of the Japanese swan maidens, though historically it appears that the tales of the swan maidens predate the western tradition. Selkies can be either men or women, but are seals while in the water. What differentiates them from mermaids (aside from the choice of animal) is that they undergo a full body transformation upon coming to shore: they do not merely transform seal tails into human legs, but rather completely shapeshift from the sea animals into a human. This is accomplished by shedding their seal-skin when they come to land. Selkies are predominately mythological creatures from Irish, Scottish (particularly in Orkney and the Shetland Islands) and Faroese folklore, however there is a similar tradition in Iceland as well.
Their name descends from the Scottish selich, and there does not appear to be a Gaelic term for these creatures. This is likely indicative of their prominence in early modern Scottish culture. It is believed that the Selkies arose in legends when early Scottish settlers and shipwrecked Spaniards married dark-haired, fur-wearing Finnish and Saami native women… Continue reading here.
Since the dawn of time and where ever humans and bears have cohabited there have been folklore and spoken myths regarding the Bear from being spiritual creatures to Gods to being a spirit animal for the fierce warrior from the Amerindians to the Northern regions of Europe and all around the world really. I find Bears to be a joy to watch in the wild and just see how they live from the mother Bear raising her cubs to watching them catch salmon in a river. There is so much rich history and stories of Bears in so many different cultures that I decided to offer in this post the best I have found for you to learn more from and hopefully enjoy.
Bear folklore is widespread, especially in the far northern hemisphere. It is not surprising that this awesome beast was one of the first animals to be revered by our ancestors. From as far back as the Palaeolithic (around 50,000 years ago) there is evidence of a bear cult in which the bear was seen as lord of the animals, a god, and even the ancestor of humans. Various species of bear played a central role in many shamanic practices of the north, and brown bears were part of our native forests as recently as the 10th century, when hunting and habitat loss drove them to extinction.
The Celts venerated the bear goddess, Artio – like a mother bear she was a fiercely protective influence. The bear god Artaois is closely linked to the warrior-king, Arthur; with his legendary strength and fighting prowess, Arthur’s name and emblem both represent this animal. Celtic families would often have their own animal totem, a tradition that is still evident in the family name McMahon, which means ‘son(s) of the bear’.
Viking warriors were famous for working themselves into an insane battle frenzy (it has been suggested that the psychotropic fly agaric mushroom was sometimes used). They invoked the bear spirit, at times even donning a bear skin, to imbue them with superhuman strength and fury. These were the Berserkers, their name being derived from a Norse word meaning ‘bear shirt’.
In Greek legend, Zeus fell in love with the huntress Callisto, and she bore him a son named Arcas. In a fit of jealous rage, Zeus’s wife turned Callisto into a bear. Time passed, and one day Arcas was out hunting. How was he to know that the bear he was stalking was his own mother?! On seeing that Callisto’s life was in danger, Zeus whisked her up into the night sky out of harm’s way. She can still be seen in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. (In another version, Arcas is also sent skywards, and becomes the adjacent Ursa Minor, the Little Bear.) The Big Dipper, or Plough, is one of the more familiar groups of stars within this constellation. Interestingly, the Druidic name for this group was Arthur’s Plough, and the constellation was also seen as a bear in Native American and Hebrew tradition.
In Native American folklore there are many tales about bears. It is highly respected as the ‘keeper of dreams’, and ‘the keeper of medicine’, and is one of the most powerful totems. (Bears hibernate, giving them associations with the world of dreams.)
Human fascination with this animal has not always worked in the bear’s favor. The bear appears in the names of many English pubs, and this is thought to be a hangover from the days bear-baiting – medieval ‘entertainment’ which involved tying a bear to a post and setting dogs on it. The Caledonian bear was said to be so fierce that it was favored by the Romans who used them in their amphitheaters, for similar purposes. In 1902, U.S. President Theodore (‘Teddy’) Roosevelt was on a hunting trip along the Mississippi, but showed mercy to an old bear he could have easily taken as a trophy. The story of this act spread quickly, and the Teddy Bear was born.
Bears still make an appearance in recent literature. Beorn in Tolkien’s The Hobbit was a man who could take the shape of a bear, echoing ancient shamanic practices. And who could forget wise old Baloo, the teacher of the wolf cubs from Kipling’sJungle Book, Paddington Bear (think marmalade sandwiches and hard stares), or Winnie the Pooh? More recently, Benjamin Hoff’s Tao of Pooh used this unassuming bear to illustrate the Taoist principles of modesty, simplicity, and intuitive, practical wisdom. In Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights, the young heroine, Lyra, befriends a fierce and loyal polar bear king named Iorek Byrnison, helping him to regain his throne. Read more here.
Being someone who has both Scandinavian and Finnish blood, when I came across this webpage I completely went into geek research mode and found the entire page filled with so much great information I felt the need to share it with you. The Fenno-Scandinavia history is so rich, in-depth and involved and can be traced archeologically back to the 9,000s BCE. Below is the first part of the webpage and if that sparks your interest then I highly recommend clicking on the link and be ready to be amazed by all that is within it.
Modern Finland (Suomi to the Finns themselves) emerged into European history not only as Finland (in modern southern Finland) but also as Kvenland, a vast, ill-defined reach of Scandinavian and Fennoscandian territory which at the end of the Viking Age still encompassed not only most of modern Finland, but also the northern two-thirds of modern Sweden and Norway and part of north-western Russia.
Peopled in the north by the Sámi, they were bolstered by the arrival of Finno-Ugric speakers from the east who settled much of the region. These new arrivals were known as Kvens or Finns, and they gave their own Uralic-based language to the Sámi who were often described themselves as being Finno-Ugrics (although it seems likely that the Kvens predated the Finns and spoken an earlier language that was gradually lost due to Finno-Ugric dominance). The new arrivals brought with them cattle breeding and tillage skills, but these were later surpassed by the farming skills of Indo-European migrants who first began to arrive around five hundred to a thousand years later (see feature link).
The Finno-Ugric peoples of which these early Finns were a part were settled across a huge swathe of territory which reached eastwards into the Urals, and south of the Gulf of Finland to include the Estonians of the Early Baltics who originally occupied territory as far south as modern Lithuania. They also bear a distant relationship to the early Hungarians, but they never managed to form a unified state, preferring a relatively non-combative way of life in smaller tribal groups.
For the rest of this great webpage click here.
© Eiríkr Haf Úlfrsson
Unbreakable I have lived through soul-shattering storms.
I have walked through fields of Fire and Blood,
the scars I carry still.
I have been thrown into the depths of the Ice,
And survived only to carry the Frosted-Spirits with me.
I have been thrown into the path of violence alone, left to fight my way out and survived to see another day.
I have been the Leader of others,
tasked to be trusted for their lives.
Only to see some never return home.
I have been the bringer of Death, Sorrow and Pain, a task that destroys the Mind and Spirit of many,
yet I am still here.
Though the faces and terrors of what I have done, Who I was still come calling in the Darkest of Nights,
I find a way to carry on.
Though I Live everyday with the Monster within, I trust in myself to keep it at bay.
I am not ashamed of who I am.
Regrets I have plenty but the Past will always remain as is.
Years in solitude gives a Man of my experiences time to think, To reflect on our past Deeds.
It makes one wonder a great many things.
The choices I made for myself and for those who trusted my leadership Perhaps one of my complications is meant to walk The Spiritual Path alone.
At least, until otherwise deemed fit to be among those Who can truly accept me for who I am, and once was.
I make no apologies for who I am now,
Nor will I avert who I truly am and the Gods and Goddesses Who resonate and speak to me in ways I am only beginning to understand.
I feel they have kept me alive and guided me my entire life.
For what purpose I know not and though they are the Gods and Goddesses Most fear and even hate, they have shown me love.
So be that as it is, I will remain steadfast in who I am, and never apologize for what I believe.
If this means remaining as I am today,
Then it is as it is meant to be.
My Code of Honor is as unbreakable As my Mind, Body and Soul have proven to be.
Norse Magic by D.J. Conway in my opinion is a great little book for not only beginners in practicing Norse magick but even for those who have been for years as a book of reference and review. It is one I keep in my library I refer to others quite often.
Norse Magic is an informative guide for both beginners and intermediates in the field of Norse magic. Even for those who simply have an interest in Norse culture, folklore as well as history and a book I highly recommend.
Much regarding the Vikings in North America are still a mystery slowly being uncovered by Archeological evidence but what is know is quite fascinating like the excavation of the ruins at L’Anse Aux Meadows or where exactly “Vinland” was on the Atlantic coast. The fact that the Vikings did indeed travel to North America is undisputed but why did their settlements have such short lives unlike those of the Vikings in places such as Ireland, Russia and even into the Mediterranean? Perhaps eventually with more Archeological excavations more clues will be uncovered but until then have a look at the excellent articles and videos below which really dive deeply into the Vikings of Canada.
A lot of people may not be aware of how fascinating the tales are and even the importance of the Otter within Northern European folklore and mythology from the British Isle, throughout Scandinavia and into Finland. In the Pacific Northwest region of America Otters are also featured in Native American folklore as well. Another place that holds a place for the Otter in folklore and mythology is Japan which are very intriguing tales to read. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I had many close encounters with both river and sea Otters and I can tell you they do give a flare of mischief which always resonated with me. I actually have a funny story about a Wildling bevy of Sea Otters while I was stationed at USCG Station Cape Disappointment in Washington. But perhaps that’s good to share another time.
Otters of Myth and Folklore
Sleek, lithe and playful, at home on land and in the water, the otter is a well-loved member of the Caledonian Forest fauna. A Scottish name for the otter is the ‘dratsie’, and in Scottish tradition there are tales of ‘Otter Kings’ who were accompanied by seven black otters. When captured, these beasts would grant any wish in exchange for their freedom. But their skins were also prized for their ability to render a warrior invincible, and were thought to provide protection against drowning. Luckily, the Otter Kings were hard to kill, their only vulnerable point being a small point below their chin.
Otters sometimes swim single file as a family group, and it has been suggested that this might account for some of the Loch Ness Monster sightings! In a similar vein, an old Anglo-Saxon name for the otter was the ‘water-snake‘.
The otter features in an ancient shamanic Welsh tale. The sorceress Ceridwen left young Gwion to guard her cauldron, but he tasted the draught by accident and gained knowledge of all things. He transformed into a hare to escape her wrath, but she pursued him as a hound. When he plunged into the river as a salmon, Ceridwen became an otter to continue her pursuit. Gwion was eventually reborn as the great bard, Taliesin.
In Celtic and other folklore the otter is often characterized as a friendly and helpful creature, and is given the name ‘water dog’, alluding to these qualities. In the Irish story The Voyage of Maelduin, otters on the Island of Otter bring the sailors salmon to eat, and the Voyage of Brendan tells of how an otter performed this service for a hermit, even collecting firewood for him! St. Cuthbert is the patron saint of otters, and after standing waist-deep in the North Sea during his nightly prayer vigils, two otters would come and warm his feet with their breath and dry them with their fur.
Bizarrely, there was debate among Celtic clerics as to whether otter flesh was fish or meat, determining whether of not it could be eaten at Lent; and the Carthusian monks of Dijon, who were forbidden to eat meat, ate otter as they classed it as a fish!In Norse mythology, the mischievous god Loki killed the dwarf Otr while the latter was in the form of an otter. The dwarves were furious, and demanded compensation from the gods who gave them the otter skin filled with gold. In ancient Persia the otter (again known as the ‘water dog’), was esteemed above all other animals, and a severe penalty was imposed on anyone who killed one.
This popular mammal also features in more recent literature. Otter in Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows is an affable character, with a particularly adventurous son. The moving tale Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson follows the life of an otter in the rivers of North Devon, and Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water recounts the touching, funny and tragic true story of his friendship with otters, giving a lyrical portrayal of their intelligence and irrepressible playfulness.
Human admiration for this animal is perhaps best expressed in the words of the American naturalist, Ernest Thompson Seton: “…the joyful, keen and fearless otter; mild and loving to his own kind, and gentle with his neighbor of the stream; full of play and gladness in his life, full of courage in his stress; ideal in his home, steadfast in death; the noblest little soul that ever went four-footed through the woods.” Source
For what reason is gold called Otter’s Wergild?
Finnish Mythology: Hillervo the goddess of otters, her partner was Juoletar. Hillervo lived near rapid waters, streams and fountains
The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is a phenomenon I have always been fascinated ever since I was a child. having the opportunity to see them twice in my life was truly a magical experience to say the least. What really makes them all the better is the folklore of the people living throughout the lands where they can be seen. From tales of Gods and Goddesses, mystical beings and more including how they even influenced rituals of native cultures. With that said I hope you enjoy the vast amount of resources below that truly capture how magical and influential the Northern Lights are.
The Vikings and the Northern Lights Bridge
by Lyonel Perabo
The Vikings never wrote books, but their descendants produced thousands of manuscripts during the middle-ages. However, within this corpus, only one sure mention of Northern Lights exists: in the Norwegian Konungs Skuggsjá (“The King’s Mirror”), written around 1250. The text’s author describes the Aurora as appearing only around Greenland and doesn’t mention any traditional stories about it. Other sources, this time of mythological nature do, however mention an intriguingly similar phenomenon.
The Bridge of the Gods, Bivröst (“Moving Way” in Old Norse) is mentioned in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, written around 1220 and in the Poetic Edda which is probably much older. In Snorri’s account, Bivröst/Bifraust is described as such:
Gvðín gerþu bru af iorþu til himins, er heitir Bifravst: “The gods made a bridge from earth to the heavens which is called Bifravst”
Later, Bivröst is said to be covered with flames and having three colors. Bivröst also appears in the Poetic Edda which carries numerous myths from Scandinavia’s Pagan past. In Grímnismál (“Grímnir’s sayings”) Odin gives it two names, the burning Ásbrú (“God-Bridge”) and Bilröst (“Unstable Way”). In Fáfnismál (“Fafnir’s sayings”), the dragon Fafnir, mentions Bilröst and its destruction before the Ragnarök battle. Lastly, Bilröst appears in Helgakviða Hundingsbana II (“Helgi Hundingsbane’s Second Poem”) where it is crossed by a dead warrior and is named Rodnar brautir (“reddened ways”).
Continue reading here: