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The Vast History of Fenno-Scandinavia

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.

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Unbreakable

Unbreakable

© 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.

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Norse Magic: A Great Beginner’s Book

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.

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Vikings in Canada

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.

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Where is Vinland?

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Otters – Folklore, Symbolism, Tales

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?

The Otter Woman

The Otter in Folklore

The Otter Kawauso of Japan

Ainu legend: The otter is why mankind is imperfect today

Otter’s Ransom

Native American Otter Mythology

Finnish Mythology: Hillervo the goddess of otters, her partner was Juoletar. Hillervo lived near rapid waters, streams and fountains

Otter Symbolism & Meaning

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Northern Lights: Gods, Vikings and Lore

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:

The Aurora Borealis and the Vikings

Mythology of the Northern Lights

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights: Norse myths and legends

Northern Lights – The Tale of Rav

ÞJÓÐTRÚ TENGD NORÐURLJÓSUM by Sigurdur Ægisson

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Éljúðnir: Great Hall of the Goddess Hel

Though little is known of Hela’s feasting hall known as Éljúðnir, there are those of us who feel the deep connection to the Þursar (Rökkr) who feel it is not a place of sorrow or darkness but like the other afterlife halls of Valhalla or those of Freyja, Rán and others.

Because Hela and her realm of Helheim was given such a terrible name after the conversion to christianity, she was associated for far too long to darkness, suffering and a place for the damned. This however is not the case at all regarding Hela and her great hall.

I share an opinion with many others that her hall of Éljúðnir is simply another option that one is chosen to go to depending on their deeds in this life. Being chosen to feast and live a joyous afterlife in Hela’s hall does not mean you are weak, disabled or a sick coward in this life. It means you are a person who I feel had the life experiences of a deep connection with both sides of life and death. One I am intimately experienced with.

We do not choose which Great Hall we will dine in once we cross over but I feel most of these places of afterlife celebration including Hela’s are benevolent. This of course is not to say that there are places for the wicked to reside in solemn punishment.

The truth is that we cannot be absolutely certain until our time comes but I will say that I have no fear or concerns about Éljúðnir if that is the Great Hall where you can rest and feel at peace.

Learn more below:

Goddess Hel

Hel (The Underworld)

The Nine Worlds: Helheim

Death and the Afterlife

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Runes and Weland the Smith

These two little books by Ben Waggoner are two little gems I highly recommend for your library.

A Pocket Guide to Runes is a great little resource and guide regarding the Elder Futhark Runes regarding each one’s meaning and use.

Weland the Smith tells about Weland also known as Volundr, Wieland and Wayland. His name lives on as the name of the most masterful craftsman ever known. Captured and crippled, forced to make treasures for a cruel king, he plots not only how to regain his freedom, but how to take a terrible vengeance. His legend was told for centuries in England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Here you will find the major sources for Weland’s legend, translated from Old Norse and Old English.

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The Estonian Vikings

Not so well know is the subject of the Vikings of Estonia during the late Viking age and into the 12th century even though there are historical accounts of them existing. Most like over shadowed by the far more famous Vikings of Scandinavia. Yet the history of these maritime raiders from Estonia landing on shores from the Baltic’s to throughout Scandinavia is in my opinion a piece of Northern European history more should explore and be aware of.

Estland (Eistland or Esthland) is the historical Germanic language name that refers to the country at the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, and is the origin of the modern national name for Estonia. The largest island of Estonia is called Ösel in Swedish and its inhabitants used to be called Oeselians.

The Oeselians were known in the Old Norse Icelandic Sagas and in Heimskringla as Víkingr frá Esthland (English: vikings from Estonia).

The Livonian Chronicle describes the Oeselians as using two kinds of ships, the piratica and the liburna. The former was a warship, the latter mainly a merchant ship. A piratica could carry approximately 30 men and had a high prow shaped like a dragon or a snakehead as well as a quadrangular sail.

A battle between Oeselian and Icelandic Vikings off Saaremaa is described in Njál’s saga as occurring in 972 AD.

On the eve of Northern Crusades, the Oeselians were summarized in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle thus: “The Oeselians, neighbors to the Kurs (Curonians), are surrounded by the sea and never fear strong armies as their strength is in their ships. In summers when they can travel across the sea they oppress the surrounding lands by raiding both Christians and pagans.“

Saxo Grammaticus describes the Estonians and Curonians as participating in the Battle of Bråvalla on the side of the Swedes against the Danes, who were aided by the Livonians and the Wends of Pomerania.

From the 12th century, chroniclers’ descriptions of Estonian, Oeselian and Curonian raids along the coasts of Sweden and Denmark become more frequent.

The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia describes a fleet of sixteen ships and five hundred Oeselians ravaging the area that is now southern Sweden, then belonging to Denmark. In the XIVth book of Gesta Danorum, Saxo Grammaticus describes a battle on Öland in 1170 in which the Danish king Valdemar I mobilized his entire fleet to curb the incursions of Couronian and Estonian pirates.

Perhaps the most renowned raid by Oeselian pirates occurred in 1187, with the attack on the Swedish town of Sigtuna by Finnic raiders from Couronia and Ösel. Among the casualties of this raid was the Swedish archbishop Johannes. The city remained occupied for some time, contributing to the decline as a center of commerce in the 13th century in favor of Uppsala, Visby, Kalmar and Stockholm. [Some have addressed Sigtuna as the then capital of Sweden] Source

Further Resources:

Vikings in Estonia by Eddi Tomband

The Baltic Finns were Vikings too, but the world ignores it

The Migration Period, Pre-Viking Age, and Viking Age in Estonia

Vikings, Estonians and the Way East

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The Castle Ghosts Series

I am a huge fan of history and the paranormal and when both subjects collide it really can create one fascinating topic. Especially when it involves real castles and the ghostly stories attached to them. The Castle Ghosts series, Presented by Robert Hardy dives into some really amazing real life stories of ghostly encounters by visitors and those living in castles throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. But not only are the encounters retold but the history of the origins are presented as well for the viewer. I enjoy this series so much that I want to visit each of these castles featured to see if I myself experience anything paranormal.

So with that said I hope you enjoy the series as much as I do.