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The Eddas as Music: A Unique Experience

On occasion I like to share great websites that in my opinion do not get enough credit for what they provide. One such website which I have enjoyed for years is Eddan: The Invincible Sword of the Elf Smith by Mats Wendt. Trust me the title does not go nearly into the greatness that is what you will see below. Mats Wendt (born in 1965) is a Swedish classical composer and artist who has shown his talent in an amazing way and I am going to post part of the introduction that is on the website.

Introduction

Eddan is based on a merge of all the Edda poems.

The work spans the complete pre-christian scandinavian mythology from the beginning to the end of the world (Ragnarök) and beyond.

And most important it answers the question why the world must perish.

The red line thru the piece is the invincible sword, forged by the master smith Völund in part 65.

The sword was forged as revenge upon the whole creation when Völund lost the competition instigated by Loki in part 28.

The competition stood between the elves (Ivaldis son’s) and the dwarfs (Mimir’s son’s) in which the most beneficial treasures for Asgard were made. The gods were tricked by evil to be the judges in this fatal competition.

Völund proved whom was the better smith with this marvelous sword. The sword was crafted with all his knowledge, carved with forbidden runes of absolute victory. The sword fights by itself, shines of its inner power and is indestructible.

A weapon was brought into the world that nothing could stop.

The nature of the sword was that it granted unconditional victory to Völund and his relatives, but eternal ruin to everybody else.

Slowly the plot unfolds and the sword draws the world relentlessly towards Ragnarök.

After the marriage between Svipdag an Freyja in part 104 the blue skies seem to return and in part 106, Frigg is filled with hope that Svipdag can resurrect Baldur and the fate of the world will be reversed.

But this fails and the faint hope of avoiding the apocalypse is lost.

In part 117, the sons of Mimir, the original nature smith’s, resigns after their fathers death. Now convinced that nothing can purify the world except the coming Ragnarök, they all went to sleep.

The seven sleepers will slumber throughout all ages of the world until the final battle.

Now I invite you to have a look at the website and listen to the amazing music provided on https://www.eddan.net/

Here are some of my favorite resources regarding the Eddas.

Völuspá.org Poetic Edda and Prose Edda

The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlson: Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur [1916]

This is an amazing resource I highly recommend. Germanic Mythology

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Valkyries: Great, Powerful and Mysterious

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.

Valkyries, Wish-Maidens, and Swan-Maid

Bronze Brooch from Lousgaard, Bornholm, Denmark

The Powerful Valkyries as Icons of Female Force and Fear

Brunhilde

Grímnismál: The Speech of the Masked One

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The Prose Edda

The Prose Edda is absolutely one of the most important books regarding Norse Paganism and the Gods and Goddesses of the Norse. Whenever someone new to the Norse faith comes to me and asks for reading material this is one I always recommend as I feel it is essential to have in your library of Norse religion studies. Some do seem to get overly and in my opinion ignorantly negative regarding The Prose Edda simply because of its author Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) who was born in western Iceland and it can be seen that yes there is some perhaps christian influence in the Edda however he really did have a deep fascination with the old tales, folklore and stories of the Gods. So I feel it is important to read this book with an open mind but at the same time we should never consider it like a bible of the Norse religion because there are so many other books that expand upon where the Prose Edda began. So with that said I do encourage everyone to have this in their library not just as a foundation of Norse Paganism but it is an iconic book that has lasted the test of time.

Check out the great resources below

The Prose Edda Book

The Prose and Poetic Eddas, Völuspá

The Prose Edda on Sacred Texts

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The Völsunga Saga

Certainly one of the if not the most important and famous of all the Norse Sagas is indeed the Völsunga Saga (Volsunga Saga or Volsungasaga). This is a saga that I feel everyone who is spiritually invested or are devoted to the beliefs of Norse Paganism should have included in their library. The tales in it are extremely fascinating, well written and truly paint visual image of such Gods as Odin and Loki as well as the deeds of man such as Sigurd the dragon Slayer. This saga is comprised of 44 stories and each just as good as the next.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin’s Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman empire. Get your copy here

My personal copy of the Völsunga Saga

Further resources

http://www.voluspa.org/volsungsaga.htm

https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/volsungsaga.html