Posted on Leave a comment

The Kalevala – The Epic Finnish Saga

The Kalevala is truly a gem of Finnish culture, folklore and literature which is one I have been fascinated with for years. It is also perhaps the most famous and republished piece of literature to come out of Finland. The Kalevala is a collection of tales from the creation of the world, stories of Finnish gods and goddesses as well as other figures of the folklore of Finland. I wanted to contribute by sharing this utterly amazing Finnish literature with my readers and explore deeper into its importance and tales. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The first edition of the Kalevala came out in 1835. Elias Lönnrot compiled it from folk poetry recorded into notebooks during his collection trips among poetry singers in 1828–1834. At the time of publication of the Kalevala, Finland was an autonomous grand duchy, and before that, until 1809, Finland was part of the Swedish Kingdom. Especially for Finnish intellectuals, the Kalevala became a symbol of the Finnish past, the Finnish language and Finnish culture, a foundation on which they started to build the fragile Finnish identity. It also aroused much interest abroad, and brought a small, unknown people to the awareness of other Europeans.

The effect of the Kalevala on Finnish culture, arts and sciences has been significant. It has left its mark on the fine arts, literature, theater, dance and music. It lives on in popular culture, films, comics, games and commercials. During different periods, the Kalevala has been significant in different ways, and has given birth to different, strong interpretations. SOURCE (Finnish)

This is my personal copy I have in my library which is beautifully done with fantastic illustrations. Highly recommended.

Not so long ago, in the tiny, isolated villages of Finland, where prolonged summer days gave way to endless winter nights, people would pass the time by singing the many adventures of their favorite heroes: the mighty, magical men and women of ancient days.

They sang of old Vainamoinen, greatest of sages and magicians, who helped create the world but never could find a woman to wed him.

They sang of his friend and ally Ilmarinen, first among craftsmen, the blacksmith who forged the dome of the heavens.

They sang of Louhi, the ancient lady of Northland, whose crafty wit and magical powers made her a worthy opponent for Vainamoinen himself.

And they sang of Aila, Louhi’s lovely daughter, who captured the hopes of the two old friends and drew them as rivals to the shores of Northland.

And while these songs could still be heard, there came along a doctor, a scholar, who gathered and wove them together in a book he called the Kalevala. And so he created for Finns a national epic, and for the rest of the world, a work of wonder.

The songs endure, the heroes live. . . .

– from The Songs of Power: A Northern Tale of magic. Retold by Aaron Shepherd from the Kalevala

Further Resources

Full text of “The Kalevala : the epic poem of Finland”

The Kalevala – The Beginning of Beer in the Finnish Epic Saga

Tolkien and the Kalevala

Kalevala is Finland’s national epic. Compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 1800s, it consists of epic poems of creation, magic, lust, vengeance and death. A story of the sons of Kaleva, the forefather of Finns, it takes the reader to a mythical ancient land filled with monsters and magic, and even to the realm of the dead. Be sure to check more from Antti Palosaari.
Veera Voima is a Finnish folk singer who specializes in rune singing. Her project “Myths of Making” is based on the birth myths of Kalevala. This is a short version of her song “Raudan Synty” (The Origin of Iron).
The Kalevala: the Epic Poem of Finland (Crawford Translation) by Elias LÖNNROT (1802 – 1884), translated by John Martin CRAWFORD (1845 – 1916) Genre(s): Poetry, Sagas Part 2 and Part 3
Posted on Leave a comment

Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore

It has been a while since I posted a book recommendation so here we go with this true literature gem. Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology and Magic by Claude Lecouteux is a book filled with such great details and images it is one I refer to often as a great resource. Not only does this encyclopedia give brief yet detailed descriptions of every know God and Goddess of the Norse and Germanic pantheons but also of places, creatures and other things from the Böxenwolf, the Werewolves of Northern Germany, to the Goddess Sinthgunt, Goddess of the Cosmos and time, plus so much more. This brilliant book is one I highly recommend for the personal library of anyone who has interest in this subject.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Saga of Gunnlaug Worm-Tongue

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue is the story of a promising young man named Gunnlaug who achieves fame for his bravery and poetry in the courts of kings and earls throughout the Norse world.

The story tells of poems praising kings and earls in verses received as gifts, in a culture where gift giving was a well established and important means of settling disputes, showing respect, and gaining favor and honor. However, a prophetic dream foretells the love rivalry and betrayal between Gunnlaugr Ormstunga, Hrafn Önundarson, and Helga the Fair, ending in tragedy.

The Gunnlaug saga belongs to the category of Icelandic sagas, which there are about 40, written in the 13th and 14th centuries, but disclose events that happened a long time before. Some of them even tell about a Viking settlement in the late 9th century, but also of places in the second half of the 10th century and all the way to the first part of the 11th. In Gunnlaug’s history , events occur near the 1000s, which are related to Christianity. The story is written in the latter part of the 13th century. Nothing is known about the author, but that he is a learned man who has known for many characters; perhaps he was in a priesthood.

Gunnlaug’s story is not preserved in original, but other Icelandic sagas, but two handwritten manuscripts exist, another from the 14th and the other from the 15th century. A younger paper handwriting has been run from these skins.

“A tale from Iceland, 800 years ago.

In a dream of quarrels and death

The birth of fair Helga is told

Cross the north seas ventured for fame

At the call of kings, hearth bereft

Wounded pride, spawn’d of a sensed slight

When tongues fail, sharper blades prevail

Falcon soothes the cloak wrapt wound

Fair one pines and fades from the light.” – Summary by Fritz

The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Rafn the Skald

The Story of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue pdf

Gunnlaug Saga (Icelandic)

The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue

Posted on Leave a comment

Viking Age Iceland

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.

The Vikings in Iceland

A Viking Age Valley in Iceland

Posted on 1 Comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness

Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness is a book that certainly gives an outside perspective during the late Viking Age and post Viking Age I feel is excellent to read about. This book was even the inspiration for Michael Crichton’s 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead and the film The 13th Warrior.

Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab explorers journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Ibn Fadlan’s chronicles of his travels are one of the most important documents from the period, and this illuminating new translation offers insight into the world of the Arab geographers and the medieval lands of the far north. Based on an expedition to the upper Volga River in 922 AD, Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness provides a rare and valuable glimpse of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion, and sexual practices, including the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation.

Posted on Leave a comment

Galdrakver, Book of Magic

This little two volume book set is really a little gem for anyone’s library regarding Norse Magick and Galdrastafurs. I use it on occasion as a reference and for my own practice of Galdur and Seiðr. The great thing about these two books is that Volume 1 is a copy of the original manuscript (Lbs. 143,8vo) and Volume two is the translation in both Icelandic, English, German and Danish. It comes in a nice slip cover box as well. I highly recommend this one for your library.

You can get a copy at https://shop.galdrasyning.is/products/galdrakver-book-of-magic-lbs-143-8vo