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Hag Stones: History, Meaning and use in Magick

Hag stones are something I have been fascinated with for a very long time and enjoy collecting them from all over this country and around the world. Hag stones have been a part of magical practices and folklore for thousands of years and still to this day. They have a variety of other names such as Fairy Stones, Odin Stones, Holey Stones, Witch Stones, Adder Stones, Snake Eggs, Hex Stones, Holeys, and Eye Stones. From viewing into the spirit realm to warding off evil spirits at sea, Hag stones have many uses which will be explained in this blog. Hag stones are most commonly found on beaches along the coast but also can be found on lake shores and even in river beds. So with that all said let us get into the fascinating world of these amazing stones.

Origin of the Term Hag Stone

The name “hag stone” originates in part from ancient beliefs that most maladies, which were curable by using this stone, were caused originally by spectral hags. Other areas call them adder stones because they are believed to protect the wearer from the effects of snake bite. Germanic legend says that adder stones are formed when serpents gather together and use their venom to create the holes in the center of the stones. Hag stones are said to have many uses. They have been used by witches worldwide for centuries in both rituals and spell work. They also have been used, ironically, as a toll to counteract a witch’s magick. Legend has it that they can be used to ward off the dead, curses, sickness and nightmares.

They are used to see invisible creatures of the land of the Fae and open up a window to other realms. They are used as protection against spells, warding, and healing. The spell for fertility magic had a hag stone tied to the bedpost to help facilitate pregnancy. There are stories of very large hag stones; large enough for someone to walk through. These are used by couples trying to achieve pregnancy by walking through it together or holding hands.

Livestock owners would use the stones to protect their animals from bewitchment or being ridden to the Sabbath by witches. A stone would be suspended by a cord in the center of each stable to protect the horses and other live stock. Else a cow would give sour milk and hens refused to lay and eggs. Fisherman and sailors would often find them on beaches during their travels. They would tie them to their boats to keep off evil spirits and witches from affecting their ships and their catch. It was believed that evil spirits and witches would curse ships to have small catches, but a hag stone would prevent this from happening. A few stories speak of them being able to control the winds on the high seas; or more formerly, they could control the weather. Continue reading HERE.

A few uses of Hag Stones

  • Hang it above your front door or over a window to keep evil spirits out. 
  • If you’re a sailor, tie one with rope to your ship to prevent witches clinging to your vessel, and to swing in the wind to help break up storm clouds. 
  • Wear it around your neck on a string to ensure good health and to heal any minor ills. 
  • Nail one above the door of your barn to stop witches souring your herd’s milk or taking your horses for a gallop in the night. 
  • Attach a hag stone to your bedpost to keep bad dreams away. 
  • Tie one to your keys so they will never be lost again. 
  • Use them to help you conceive a baby. (We’re not quite clear on exactly how this is done. Perhaps just have one about your person…)
  • Enter Fairyland through it (apparently the hole is a portal). Again, we’re unsure about how to do this, but it can’t hurt to just have a peer at Fairyland through the hole. 

*Only ever take one at a time though, and only for yourself. The stones are said to find you; you don’t find the stones. And they only work for the person they found. SOURCE

Some of the hag Stones in my personal collection from the Oregon coast, Florida coast and Lake Michigan.

How to Use Hag Stones for Magick

Despite their general state being to banish faeries, if you wish to attract some, you can pour morning dew through a Hag Stone hole and anoint yourself with it. 

Other rituals that can be practiced with these objects, include a fertility ritual, a ritual for increased mental balance and safety while seafaring. 

For the fertility ritual, you must find a Hag Stone that is big enough to walk or crawl through, while most Hag Stones are pebble sized there are a few that are more of a boulder. You must then link hands with your partner then go through together. If all goes well you will be blessed with a baby.

For the ritual of mental healing and balance, tie a Hag Stone to your bedpost or headboard. The next time you take a nap you will be graced with calmness, enhanced mood and other benefits that resemble meditation.

For the final ritual you must nail a Hag Stone to the side of your sea-craft, make sure to secure it very tightly in order to make sure it does not fall into the watery depths of the ocean. After you have done this folklore states that storms and rough tides will be dissuaded from coming your way as will all manner of malevolent sea spirits.

While at sea, Hag Stones could also be utilized for breaking up storms, this also applies on land. In order to do this simply tie a string or rope through the Hag Stone and swirl it around your head, this will dispel the gathering storms. SOURCE

In this video, I talk about the meaning, magick, and folklore of these wonderful stones and how to use them.

Further Resources

This History of Hagstones║Use them in your Witchcraft

Hag Stones and Lucky Charms

Hag Stones and Fairy Stones

Hag Stone Meaning and Magic – Everything You Need To Know

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Romulus & Remus and the She-Wolf of Rome

The history of the ancient Roman Empire has been a fascination of mine for decades and I have always enjoyed anything and all things from that amazing time period from its fruition to the fall of the Roman empire and into the time of the Byzantine Empire. The humble beginnings of Rome far before it became an empire has a really interesting story regarding two orphaned brothers and a She-Wolf simply known as La Lupa and the First lady of Rome. From this it has been always recognized that Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BCE. So today’s blog post will be covering all about Romulus, Remus and the famous She-Wolf of Rome.

La Lupa the She-Wolf

According to tradition, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by the twins Romulus and Remus. Sons of the god Mars and a mortal woman named Rhea Silvia, a direct descendant of Aeneas, the twins were abandoned by their uncle in the Tibur river. A she-wolf discovered them on the banks of the river and suckled them until they were taken in by a passing sheperd, Faustulus. Faustulus raised the boys together with his own twelve children until they decided to found a city of their own. They chose the spot by the Tibur where they had been rescued by the wolf, which was near the base of the Palatine hill in Rome. The representation of the wolf suckling the twins became a popular subject in Roman Republican and Imperial art. SOURCE

Cristina Mazzoni, She-wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010

“Lupus est homo homini.” Plautus Asinaria 495

This famous quotation, through its various translations, perfectly encapsulates the themes explored in Cristina Mazzoni’s new book. Man is a wolf to other men—as Plautus undoubtedly meant it——but a wolf can also be interpreted as a human being in particular circumstances. In both Italian and Latin the word lupa can describe a she-wolf or a prostitute, either a ferocious animal or a female human of voracious sexual appetites. This paradox has informed interpretations of the legend of Romulus and Remus since antiquity, where the she-wolf figures as animal, mother, and whore simultaneously, and the complexity and ambiguity of this formative being have given her long life as a symbol representing a myriad of concepts, individuals, and entities. Mazzoni sets herself the ambitious task of exploring the she-wolf in all her forms and interpretations, from the famous Lupa Capitolina to her appearance in modern art, archaeology, poetry, and literature. Continue reading HERE.

Symbolism of the She-Wolf

The she-wolf of Rome represents the following concepts:

  • The she-wolf represents Roman power, which made her a popular image throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. The connection between the Roman state and the she-wolf was such that there were at least two dedications to the she-wolf performed by priests.
  • Wolves, especially she-wolves, are a sacred animal of the Roman god Mars. It is believed that they acted as divine messengers, thus seeing a wolf was a good omen.
  • The she-wolf is associated with the Roman Empire’s wolf festival Lupercalia, which is a fertility festival that starts at the estimated spot where the she-wolf nursed the twin boys.
  • The she-wolf also comes across as a mother-figure, representing nourishment, protection and fertility. By extension, she becomes a mother-figure to the city of Rome, as she lies at the very heart of its establishment. SOURCE
Mosaic depicting the She-wolf with Romulus and Remus, inspired by the legend of the founding of Rome. From Aldborough (UK), about 300-400 CE (Leeds City Museum).

Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus were the direct descendants of Aeneas, whose fate-driven adventures to discover Italy are described by Virgil in The Aeneid. Romulus and Remus were related to Aeneas through their mother’s father, Numitor. Numitor was a king of Alba Longa, an ancient city of Latium in central Italy, and father to Rhea Silvia. Before Romulus’ and Remus’ conception, Numitor’s reign was usurped by Numitor’s younger brother, Amulius. Amulius inherited control over Alba Longa’s treasury with which he was able to dethrone Numitor and become king. Amulius, wishing to avoid any conflict of power, killed Numitor’s male heirs and forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin. Vestal Virgins were priestesses of Vesta, patron goddess of the hearth; they were charged with keeping a sacred fire that was never to be extinguished and to take vows of chastity.

There is much debate and variation as to whom was the father of Romulus and Remus. Some myths claim that Mars appeared and lay with Rhea Silvia; other myths attest that the demi-god hero Hercules was her partner. However, the author Livy claims that Rhea Silvia was in fact raped by an unknown man, but blamed her pregnancy on divine conception. In either case, Rhea Silvia was discovered to be pregnant and gave birth to her sons. It was custom that any Vestal Virgin betraying her vows of celibacy was condemned to death; the most common death sentence was to be buried alive. However, King Amulius, fearing the wrath of the paternal god (Mars or Hercules) did not wish to directly stain his hands with the mother’s and children’s blood. So, King Amulius imprisoned Rhea Silvia and ordered the twins’ death by means of live burial, exposure, or being thrown into the Tiber River. He reasoned that if the twins were to die not by the sword but by the elements, he and his city would be saved from punishment by the gods. He ordered a servant to carry out the death sentence, but in every scenario of this myth, the servant takes pity on the twins and spares their lives. The servant, then, places the twins into a basket onto the River Tiber, and the river carries the boys to safety. Continue reading HERE.

The 21st April 753 BC is traditionally the date of the founding of Rome by twin brothers Romulus and Remus. (Romulus would later murder Remus.) Legend has it that they were abandoned as babies by their parents and put into a basket and then placed into the River Tiber. The basket was discovered by a female wolf who nursed the babies for a short time before they were found by a shepherd. It was the shepherd who brought up the twins.
According to legend, Romulus was born to a Vestal Virgin and left for dead as an infant near the Tiber River. His life nearly ended as quickly as it began, but fate had other plans. A humble shepherd rescued the child and helped raise him into manhood. As Romulus grew older, he fearlessly engaged in a series of perilous adventures that ultimately culminated in Rome’s founding, and he became its fabled first king.

Establishing a new city had its price, and Romulus was forced to defend the nascent community. As he tirelessly safeguarded Rome, Romulus proved that he was a competent leader and talented general. Yet, he also harbored a dark side, which reared its head in many ways and tainted his legacy, but despite all of his misdeeds, redemption and subsequent triumphs were usually within his grasp. Indeed, he is an example of how greatness is sometimes born of disgrace.

Regardless of his foreboding flaws, Rome allegedly existed because of him and became massively successful. As the centuries passed, the Romans never forgot their celebrated founder.
The founding of Rome is a legendary tale about the twins and demigods, Romulus and Remus. In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia and either the god Mars or the demigod Hercules. Also, in order to synthesize the myth of Aeneas, a Trojan prince who had fought in the Trojan War before setting off to Italy to establish the Roman bloodline, Romulus and Remus were believed to be direct descendants of Aeneas.
During Rome’s 2767th birthday celebrations, Larry Lamb heads to the city to investigate the Romanian Empire. In this first episode, Larry learns how Rome was founded by exploring the story of Romulus and Remus, using the works of ancient Roman historian Livy as a guide. He also goes on to discover how Rome would later become a city.

Further Resources

The legend of Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus: Roman mythology

Capitoline She-wolf

The She-Wolf: Mother to Other Species

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Salem Witch Trials: Introduction 1692-1693

Salem Witch Trials: Introduction 1692-1693 by Odin’s Daughter

**Opinions of research may vary. Dates are agreed but times and causes are conflicting according to where information is obtained.**

Salem, Massachusetts is well known for many reasons; one being the home to the Witch Hunts. During the reign of King William and Queen Mary, a war with France began in 1689, noted as King William’s War. This war had a very high toll on the colonies, mostly Salem Village in Massachusetts. Between low resources, family controversies, wealth, greed and those dependent on agriculture; the first ordained Minister of Salem, Reverend Samuel Parris was greatly disliked among the community. He had a very greedy nature. With all of this going on, the village soon gave into the belief this was all due to the Devil.

With winter months coming, people were falling ill. In fact, Reverend Parris’ daughter and niece fell ill in early 1692 and were having convulsions. Tituba, a servant in the Parris household, was especially close with Betty Parris. She had never been accused of witchcraft or dark arts before. This time though, she had been, due to healing a sick child. Tituba fell to not only be the first victim but also the first to witness the Salem Witch hunt.

Map of Salem Village in 1692 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

As the months went on more and more had been accused by the two girls, Elizabeth Parris (Betty aged 9) and Abigail Williams (aged 11/Niece). In the year of 1692, Chief Justice William Stoughton had presided over the initial trials and had in one day, June 10th, hung 18 people. All being accused of some form of witchcraft and all from different stations in life. Thirteen women and five men met their end at the gallows. One man crushed to death as well by slab of stone. As well as 5 others who died in jail, bringing the number to a total of 25 deaths. Eventually near 200 people had been accused in the end and a listed 25 had died. Many, once released from prison, had died of hysteria(s), or other ailments they had attained while in prison.

Witchcraft at Salem Village by unattributed William A. Crafts 1876 SOURCE

Then like clockwork, Betty and Abigail, started accusing those who had helped them put so many away and to their deaths. One being the governor’s own wife. At this point, Governor William Phipps decided it was time to put an end to the ridiculous claims. He, in October 1692, disbanded the courts who held the trials, replaced them, and then proceeded to rule that spectral evidence was not true evidence. From late 1692 through mid-1693, those still in jail and awaiting execution were pardoned. For many years that followed, those who were affected by the Salem witch trials, were given apologies and restitution.

Based on twenty-seven years of original archival research, including the discovery of previously unknown documents, this day-by-day narrative of the hysteria that swept through Salem Village in 1692 and 1693 reveals new connections behind the events, and shows how rapidly a community can descend into bloodthirsty madness. Roach opens her work with chapters on the history of the Puritan colonies of New England, and explains how these people regarded the metaphysical and the supernatural. The account of the days from January 1692 to March 1693 keeps in order the large cast of characters, places events in their correct contexts, and occasionally contradicts earlier assumptions about the gruesome events. The last chapter discusses the remarkable impact of the events, pointing out how the 300th anniversary of the trials made headlines in Japan and Australia.
In 1692, the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts found themselves in a panic over witchcraft. But after several months, the paranoia and violence ended almost as quickly as it began. All trials were halted, publications about the terror were officially banned, and the location of the execution site vanished from any records. Today, a group of historians uncovers new information about the infamous witch hunt in an effort to answer its most enduring mysteries.
In 1692, America witnessed the most horrific acts of injustice when 19 innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death for the practice of witchcraft in Season 1, Episode 7.

Further Resources:

Salem Witch Trials of 1692

Salem Witch Trials

Salem witch trials American history

Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Tituba, the Star Witness of the Salem Witch Trials

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Baba Yaga: The Famous Witch of Slavic Folklore

The Baba Yaga is the most famous Witch of Slavic folklore and in my opinion gets misinterpreted by many who know so little about who she is and what she symbolizes. The Baba Yaga is actually quite complex and even though most consider her a malevolent and evil Witch of the woods there are others like myself who believe there is a more benevolent side of her and this can be accounted in far older Pagan practices from the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe. Most of what we find describing her as this hideous old child eating hag only dates back to the 18th century but her origins are actually far older. In fact there are some sources that believe there are multiple Baba Yaga’s found throughout Eastern Europe but even beyond that there are folklore tales of other Baba Yaga like Witches in other parts of Europe and even the Middle East. I personally am fascinated with Slavic folklore seeing how I have ancestry from that region and have done some spiritual work with the Baba Yaga so I felt this was an important subject to bring to my readers.

Introduction

Baba Yaga is a powerful and terrifying witch depicted in Slavic folklore. She lives in a small hut, located deep in the forest. Her property is surrounded by a massive fence, decorated with human bones as if they were ornamental wind chimes. Often, her hut is described as being set upon chicken legs, an unsettling image any way it is illustrated. Her primary mode of transportation is a mortar and pestle set. She sits within the bowl of the mortar and uses the pestle like an oar to move through the sky. This shows attention to the practice of alchemy or herbal work, which is an integral part of witchcraft. It is said she appears as a long, skeletal figure with an enormous hooked nose which reaches the ceiling of her hut when she rests. Her legacy is as erratic as she is, as she is often said to be the guardian of her dark and wild land, a matriarch, and a wise teacher, but also a fickle and treacherous eater of men. The earliest recognizable mention of her is found in a Russian text written by Mikhail V. Lomonosov in which he presents a series of tales from Slavic tradition. Most surviving stories involving Baba Yaga don’t revolve around her, but around heroes or villains who come in contact with her. SOURCE

Etymology of Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga has been associated with ancient mythological characters (she’s like the Boogeyman in Russian mythology). In the Slavic languages, the word “baba” means “old woman” or “grandma” although this word was sometimes used as a term that would describe female demons or specific ailments like measles (also called “baba Sharka”).

In addition, the word “baba” was also used for some astronomical phenomena or concepts of time and seasons, such as “baba Gale” which described the moon, or “baba Marta” which was the other name of the month March. The origins of the word “yaga” are quite unclear although some experts suggest that the word means “evil” or “horror”.

The variation of the full name “Baba Yaga” can be found in the languages of the Eastern Slavs. As a reference to the Russian folklore, the word “baba” in Old Russian means “midwife”, “fortune teller” or “sorceress”. The modern Russian, on the other hand, defines the word “babushka” as “grandmother” or simply “old woman”.

In Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, “baba” means “grandma”, however, in many modern Slavic languages, the word “baba” is a pejorative synonym of the word “woman” (suggesting a foolish woman). The great number of associations related to the origin of the character of Baba Yaga created many theories that, nonetheless, support the main assumption that “baba” means “old woman” or “grandmother”. Moreover, “baba” was maybe added to distinguish the Baba Yaga from her possible male counterpart in the myth. As it was mentioned before, the second element of the name “Yaga” has a rather problematic etymology. Scholars have never made an adamant consensus over its meaning. “Yaga” appears in various Slavic languages. SOURCE credit Meet the Slavs

Origins of Baba Yaga

Many folklorists study Baba Yaga and argue over where she came from. This character appeared many centuries ago and tracking her true roots is a challenge. I’ve read many different versions, one that stood out to me is the ancient traditions of Finno-Ugric people.


It’s is believed that those people had a tradition that goes back to the paganism era when there were many ethnic religions. There was a group that believed in a ritual that was supposed to help them stay connected with their passed relatives. The ritual involved creating a doll (or baba – which means a women) out of sticks and dressing it in a fur coat called yaga. They would build her a “house” mostly out of wood. Since this house was only a symbolism and didn’t carry any functional purpose – it didn’t have any windows or doors. They also liked to raise it above the ground on sticks so that the animals would not get inside of it. SOURCE

It is said that Baba Yaga resides within a house that sits atop giant Chicken legs deep in thew forest and can move around to different locations.

My hands are tree roots,

My breath is the wind

I hide in your shadow till dusk comes again

Always seen, rarely heard and

Never quite understood

I’m the last person you come to when no one else listens

Seek me out by the light of the pink moon-

Whisper to me what you tell no one

I’m only remembered as

An ugly obscurity who keeps your secrets

An enigmatic monsoon-

Neither winter nor spring,

Death nor the moon.

Baba Yaga by L SOURCE

Is the Baba Yaga a Benevolent Witch?

There are some lesser known stories of the Baba Yaga actually being more benevolent depending on how you approach her and other stories where she is more of a neutral Witch and reacts depending on the situation to in a way maintain some sort of magical balance.

One of the most interesting details of Baba Yaga is that she is described as being neither malevolent nor “good.” Many folktales throughout the centuries differentiate between witches as being either good or evil, but stories of Baba Yaga illuminate that the true nature of a witch is more ambiguous, or even unpredictable. This Slavic crone is often helpful, willing to impart her wisdom unto those who seek it, but she is also a formidable enemy, should one incur her ire. Many times, she has been credited with the success or the downfall of heroes in Slavic lore. SOURCE

Discover ancient and modern Slavic magical practices through stories told by the legendary Baba Yaga herself. Learn about the magic of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as the magic of weather, animals, seasons, stones, food, beeswax, and more. Each chapter includes a piece of the fairy tale of Vasylyna, comments from Baba Yaga, and hands-on tips and techniques from author Madame Pamita.

Similar Baba Yaga’s

Babaroga (not to be mistaken with Baba Yaga!) is creature known among Southern Slavs. She is represented as very ugly, hunchbacked old woman with horn on head, who live in dark caves. According to folktales, Babaroga likes to steal naughty children and to bring them to her lair.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia, the Bogeyman is called Babarogababa meaning old woman and rogovi meaning horns, literally meaning old woman with horns. The details vary from one household to another. In one version, babaroga takes children, puts them in a sack, and then, when it comes to its cave, eats them. In another version, it takes children and pulls them up through tiny holes in the ceiling. 

Iraq’s ancient folklore has the saalua, a half-witch half-demon ghoul that “is used by parents to scare naughty children”. She is briefly mentioned in a tale of the 1001 Nights, and is known in some other Persian Gulf countries as well.

Black Annis was a hag with a blue face and iron claws who lived in a cave in the Dane Hills of Leicestershire. She ventured forth at night in search of children to devour. Grindylow, Jenny Greenteeth and Nelly Longarms were grotesque hags who lived in ponds and rivers and dragged children beneath the water if they got too close. SOURCE

Baba Yaga is an ambiguous and fascinating figure. She appears in traditional Russian folktales as a monstrous and hungry cannibal, or as a canny inquisitor of the adolescent hero or heroine of the tale. In new translations and with an introduction by Sibelan Forrester, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales is a selection of tales that draws from the famous collection of Aleksandr Afanas’ev, but also includes some tales from the lesser-known nineteenth-century collection of Ivan Khudiakov. This new collection includes beloved classics such as “Vasilisa the Beautiful” and “The Frog Princess,” as well as a version of the tale that is the basis for the ballet “The Firebird.”
Today we go back and re-examine the tale of Baba Yaga, the Slavic wild witch of the woods.

Further Resources

Baba Yaga, Folk Tales From the Russian, by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal, [1903], at sacred-texts.com

Baba Yaga: Russian Folktales’ Classic Witch

Hedgespoken – Baba Yaga

On today’s episode, Charles and Crofty cross the thrice-nine lands to delve into the lore of one of Slavic mythology’s most enigmatic figures, and discover that her roots run far deeper than the wicked witch of popular culture.
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Women in the Viking Age

Quite a lot of information can be found regarding women during the Viking Age but unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation or misinterpreted information that muddies the water per say of what exactly Women did indeed do regarding a lot of aspects during that time period in Scandinavia and beyond. So I wanted to bring to my readers the best of the best sources to show due respect to what roles women had during the Viking Age which is very important to me.

Introduction

The majority of women in the Viking period were housewives, who managed the housekeeping on the farm with a firm hand. It is also possible that there were female entrepreneurs, who worked in textile production in the towns. 

Just like today, women in the Viking period sought a suitable partner. The sagas are filled with stories of women competing over who has the best man. However, love did not always last. So it was good that Scandinavia was a pioneering region when it came to equal opportunities. The Viking woman could choose a husband and later decide not to marry him after all, if she so wished. However, there were limits to the extent of these equal opportunities. For example, only men could appear in court in the Viking Age.

There is believed to have been a hidden moral in the sagas in relation to a woman’s choice of husband. The family probably wanted to participate in the decision-making. When an attempt was made to woo a woman, the father did not need to ask his daughter’s opinion about the interested male.  In cases in which the girl opposed the family’s wishes, the sagas describe how this often ended badly.

The woman’s reputation and place in society was connected to that of her husband. The sagas often describe how various women compete over who has the best husband. Young girls obviously knew what to look for in a prospective husband.

The Icelandic sagas give examples of how a strong woman could overshadow her husband. It was a dangerous balancing act. Sometimes a wife’s drive and energy could make her husband respect her, whilst in other cases the man lost his reputation due to a powerful wife. The woman’s reputation, on the other hand, remained intact. Women could achieve a great reputation and wealth. We can see this at the most magnificent burial of them all: the Oseberg burial in Norway.

The literature tells us that all rich married Viking women carried keys amongst their personal items. The key symbolized the woman’s status as housewife. Or was this actually the case?

This view can at least partially be attributed to the keys that have been found in rich Viking women’s graves, as well as the legal texts, which state that the medieval housewife had the right to the keys of the house. However, archaeologists find increasing numbers of keys, but these are not necessarily from graves. This indicates that the distribution and use of keys was relatively extensive. SOURCE

One of four sleighs found in the elaborate ship burial at Oseberg, Norway, where in 834 CE two women were buried in an extremely rich setting with many grave goods such as this sleigh, an intricately carved wooden cart and various textiles including fine silks that would have been imported. This burial is classed as royal or at least as an upper-class Viking Age burial; at least one of the women must have been of very high status. The two women’s exact relation to each other is unknown. The ship itself and this sleigh are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. / Photo by Helen Simonsson, Flickr, Creative Commons

The Elite

If some women were indeed involved in trade, this might conceivably have placed them in the upper rungs of society or least given them means and status. The Viking Age’s rich and powerful – a group which obviously was not exclusively male – peep through the gap of time and reach the modern world in a number of ways, such as the large runestones that were erected across Scandinavia, and burials ranging from just ‘rich’ to ones so over the top it leaves us no doubt as to the buried person’s importance.

Runestones – unsurprisingly, big stones covered in runes and ornamentation usually erected to commemorate the dead – were normally commissioned by wealthy families, the runes speaking of their endeavors in life. Not only can one imagine women being important within these families, some stones were actually commissioned by women themselves (either jointly or alone), leaving an “impression of high social standing of a very few women” (Jesch, 49-50). Runestones also illustrate how important the inheritance of a woman was to facilitate the transfer of wealth from one family to another. Furthermore, some richly furnished female graves (and even boat graves) found in rural settings hint at women possibly climbing to high social positions there. In this same setting, we have already seen that women might have ended up running the farm in their husbands’ absence.

Some 40 graves from Scandinavia and beyond have lent some credence to the idea, stemming from the texts and sagas related to the Viking Age, of the existence of female ‘sorceresses’. Seiðr is a type of shamanistic magic mainly connected to women in the sources, who could be vǫlva (singular: vǫlur): powerful sorceresses with the power to see into the future and mainly associated with a staff of sorcery. Similar objects have been discovered in Viking Age burials and have clear symbolic overtones, perhaps even – according to one interpretation – functioning as metaphorical staffs used to ‘spin out’ the user’s soul. These graves are often rich in terms of clothes and grave goods and include such things as amulets and charms, exotic jewellery, facial piercings, toe rings, and, in a handful of graves, even psychoactive drugs such as cannabis and henbane. How we might imagine these women’s roles in society remains mysterious. 

We also know of some royal female burials. Judith Jesch, mentioning the Oseberg boat burial (c. 834 CE) in which two women were buried in a lavishly decorated and furnished ship accompanied by lots of high-quality grave goods, explains how,

A few obviously royal burials that we have, such as Oseberg, cannot be mistaken for anything other than the monuments of persons with enormous status, wealth and power. Although they share characteristics with other Viking Age burials, they are really in a class of their own. (27)

Who exactly these women had been in life – queen and handmaiden, two aristocratic women related to each other, or otherwise – remains a puzzle but that at least one of them was of high status is beyond doubt.

Another woman of plentiful means was the late-9th-century CE Aud the ‘deep-minded’. She is said to have been born to a Norwegian chieftain residing in the Hebrides and married a Viking who lived in Dublin. After the death of both her husband and son, she took over control of the family fortunes and arranged for a ship to take her and her granddaughters first to Orkney and the Faroes, to finally settle in Iceland. Here, she distributed land among her retinue, became an early Christian, as well as being remembered as one of Iceland’s four most important settlers. SOURCE

This is the first book-length study in English to investigate what women did in the Viking age, both at home in Scandinavia and in the Viking colonies from Greenland to Russia. Evidence for their lives is fragmentary, but Judith Jesch assembles the clues provided by archaeology, runic inscriptions, place names and personal names, foreign historical records and Old Norse literature and mythology. These sources illuminate different aspects of women’s lives in the Viking age, on the farms and in the trading centres of Scandinavia, abroad on Viking expeditions, and as settlers in places such as Iceland and the British Isles. Women in the Viking Age explores an unfamiliar aspect of medieval history and offers a new perspective on Viking society, very different from the traditional picture of a violent and male-dominated world.

Did Viking Age Warrior Women Exist?

Stories of Viking warrior women are found in a number of historical documents, but several come from factually unreliable heroic sagas, fornaldarsogurA good example is Hervor’s and Heidrek’s Saga. After the hero, Angantyr, falls in battle his daughter Hervor takes her father’s sword and uses it to avenge his death by killing his enemies. There are similar stories of Brynhilde and Freydis, in Sigurd’s Saga and the Saga of the Greenlanders. But in each case the story is more about myth-making than fact. As well, these are tales of individual women who are highly skilled with swords and fight in battles, but give no evidence for a ‘community’ of women warriors, which the shieldmaidens are supposed to have been.

There are, however, more reliable historical resources. In the 1070s, for example, Adam of Bremen (chronicling the Hamburg-Bremen archdiocese) wrote that a northern region of Sweden near lake Malaren was inhabited by war-like women. But he doesn’t say how many women, nor does he clarify what “war-like” means. Were these women just zealously patriotic, bad-tempered, aggressive, or maybe even too independent for his Medieval Christian tastes? It’s hard to say.

Then we have the splendid references to ‘communities’ of shieldmaidens found in the works of 12th century Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, whose writing is sure to make every modern woman livid. Keep in mind, Saxo was likely the secretary of the Archbishop of Lund, and had specific Christian notions about appropriate female behavior. He wrote:

“There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldiers’ skills. …They courted military celebrity so earnestly that you would have guessed they had unsexed themselves. Those especially who had forceful personalities or were tall and elegant embarked on this way of life. As if they were forgetful of their true selves they put toughness before allure, aimed at conflicts instead of kisses, tasted blood, not lips, sought the clash of arms rather than the arm’s embrace, fitted to weapons hands which should have been weaving, desired not the couch but the kill…” (Fisher 1979, p. 212). SOURCE

Read more about this subject at Viking Warrior-Women Existed?

Viking Age Women in Archaeological Material

The archaeological material contains more male than female burials. Female graves may, however, be just as large and as richly equipped as the male graves, but the burial gifts are different. Female graves are equipped for female purposes. Instead of tools, weapons and hunting dogs, the women get household tools, textile equipment, jewelry and small dogs on their journey to the next life.

And – the richest Viking burial we know of is for a woman: The Oseberg Queen

The sagas have little information about the first part of the Viking Age. It is first and foremost the burials that can give us information about gender roles in the Early Viking Age. The deceased is in many cases buried with burial gifts that indicate what the individual did while he or she was alive. Nevertheless, we must face the fact that archeology can also give us a picture that does not match reality.

Let us see if archeology can give us a hint about the development in women’s status:

In the Late Roman and Migration Period, some centuries before the Viking Age, the tendency is that we several places in Scandinavia have more and richer female burials than male burials.

Male burials. The quality of the burials gifts seems to be reduced the older the buried man is.

Female burials. The richest burials belong to women between 50 – 60 years old. Thus; the status of women seems to increase with their age.

In the Iron Age, including the Viking Age, young girls were given away in marriage to create alliances between families. The most prominent gift a chieftain could give way was his own daughter. But – when we then see that the richest burials belong to grown up women, this strongly indicate that these women had a different foundation for their high status and power than just being a ”gift”.

First part of the Viking Age: (9th Century) the distribution between male and female burials seems to be fifty-fifty.

Middle Viking Age (10th Century): Only every 4th grave can be certainly classified as a female burial.

To conclude,
There are indications that women in the Viking Age had to achieve a higher status than men to get the kind of burial that shows up in the archaeological record. This may indicate that there was a decline in the status of women during the Viking Age.

Others believe that this may be due to changes in fashion, it may be that the oval broches that you normally use to determine women’s graves, gradually went out of fashion during the 900’s. Some have also suggested that the burnt burials at this time may have been more common for men than for women. SOURCE

A look at the Norse idea of the women warrior or shieldmaiden (skjaldmær) in the sagas, and the recent discovery that a Viking-Age burial containing weapons also contained the bones of a woman.

Further Resources

The Vikings changed Europe forever, yet half of them have almost completely disappeared from collective memory: the viking women. Quite unjustly so, as they played an important role in the world of the Vikings and performed extraordinary deeds. Viking women commanded ships and settled colonies. The two-part documentary gives completely new insights into a fascinating culture, about which it seemed everything was already known. Based on characters of the Nordic sagas, the mini-series displays the life stories of two Viking women: those of Sigrun and Jova.

‘Women at the Thing’, Nordic women in the Viking age. Coleman, N. & Løkka, N. L. (eds.). Scandinavian academic press 2014, p. 85-100

Women and Magic in the Sagas: Seiðr and Spá

Viking Age Women

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The Nine Herbs Charm

The Nine Herbs Charm poem is quite a fascinating piece that conjures words into Galdur (spoken magic spells) a mention of Oden or Woden and is still to this day in my opinion an important piece regarding herbal remedies utilized by practitioners of Galdur and Seiðr. So today’s blog post I want to share with you all the details, background and everything important to know regarding this charm.

“These nine have power against nine poisons. A worm came crawling, it killed nothing. For Woden took nine glory-twigs, he smote the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.”

— Excerpt from The Nine Herbs Charm

This tenth or eleventh century work is a collection of remedies, prayers, blessings and charms for humans and livestock (Pettit, 2001). Its 63 somewhat curious lines of verse and seven of prose have fascinated scholars of history, religion, literature and linguistics, as well as herbalists delving into the treasures of the past for knowledge and wisdom which might inform their current practice. The charm itself is difficult to translate and interpret (Banham, 2009), not helped by the corrupt nature of the manuscript text, where some words appear to be missing and certain lines may have been transposed (Cameron, 1993). It is complex and mystifying, perhaps deliberately tantalising, so that only the cunning may unpick it; the Anglo-Saxons after all delighted in riddles (Porter, 1995). SOURCE

NIGON WYRTA GALDOR

POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE NINE HERBS CHARM

The Nigon Wyrta Galdor (NWG) or, popularly, the Nine Herbs Charm, is an Old English healing spell—a galdor—intended to remedy a wound of some kind. The charm is recorded in a single manuscript, Harley MS 585 (ff 160r—163r), commonly known today as the Lacnunga (Old English ‘remedies’), which the British Museum dates to the 9th or early 10th century. The topics, themes, and entities the charm touches upon, such as animism, emphasis on the numbers nine and other multipliers of three, and the invocation of the Germanic deity Odin (Old English Wōden) stem from the pre-Christianization beliefs of the Old English.

Remember, Mugwort,
what you brought to pass,
what you readied,
at Regenmeld.

You’re called Una, that most ancient plant.
You defeat three, you defeat thirty,
you defeat venom, you defeat air-illness;
you defeat the horror who stalks the land.

And you, Waybread, plant-mother!
You’re open to the east, yet mighty within:
Carts creaked over you, women rode over you,
over you brides bellowed, over you bulls snorted!

You withstood it all—and you pushed back:
You withstood venom, you withstood air-illness,
you withstood the horror who travels over land.

Now, this plant is called Stune, she who grows on stone:
She defeats venom, she grinds away pain.

She’s called Stithe, she who withstands venom;
she chases away malice, casts out pain.

This is the plant that fought against the wyrm.
She is mighty against venom, she is mighty against air-illness;
she is mighty against the horror who travels over land.

You, Venom-loathe, go now!
The less from the great,
the great from the less,
until for both he receives a remedy.

Remember, Chamomile,
what you brought to pass,
what you accomplished,
at Alorford,
that no one should lose their life to disease,
since for him Chamomile was prepared.

Finally, this plant is known as Wergulu,
who a seal sent over sea-ridges,
to aid against venom.

These nine plants defeat nine venoms!

A wyrm came slithering, and yet he killed no one,
for wise Wōden took nine glory-twigs
and smote the serpent,
who flew into nine parts!
There, apple overcame venom:
There, the wyrm would never find shelter.

Fille and Fennel, a most mighty pair!
The wise lord shaped these plants,
while he, holy, hung in the heavens,
he sent them from the seven worlds, seven ages of man,
for wretched and wealthy alike.

She stands against pain, she stands against venom,
she is potent against three and against thirty,

against a foe’s hand, against great guile,
against malice and bewitchment
from animal and spirit.

Now! May the nine plants do battle against nine glory-fleers,
against nine venoms and against nine air-diseases,
against the red venom, against the running venom,
against the white venom, against the blue venom,
against the yellow venom, against the green venom,
against the black venom, against the bluevenom,
against the brown venom, against the purple venom,
against wyrm-blister, against water-blister,
against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister, against venom-blister.


If any venom comes flying from the east,
or any comes from the north,
or any from the west over folk!

Christ stood over illness of every kind.
Yet I alone know water running
where the nine serpents guard.

Now, may all plants arise,
seas ebb, all salt water,
when I blow this venom from you.

Ingredients: Mugwort, Waybread open to the east, Lamb’s Cress, Venom-Loathe, Chamomile, Nettle, Sour-Apple-of-the-Wood, Fille, and Fennel. Old soap.

Prepare and apply the salve: Work these plants to dust, and mix them with apple mush. Make a paste of water and ashes. Take Fennel and mix the plant into the boiling paste. Bathe the wound with an egg mixture both before the patient applies the salve and after.

Sing the above galdor over each of the nine plants. Sing the galdor three times before the patient self-applies the salve, and sing the galdor three times on the apple. Sing the galdor into the patient’s mouth, sing the galdor into each of the patient’s ears, and—before the patient applies the salve—sing the galdor into the patient’s wound.

What are the Nine Herbs?

The Nine Herbs Source: https://spitalfieldslife.com/2018/05/15/the-nine-herbs-charm/

A vast rabbit hole about medicinal healing, magickal properties, and numerology related to this charm and all its translations and interpretations exists, but we’ll get right to the point. Here are the nine herbs, their Old English names, their Latin binomial names, a few interesting points involving their history in herbalism, and lastly, the symbolism behind their corresponding number in the charm.

  1. Mugwort (mucgwyrt, Artemisia vulgaris): Mugwort is one of the oldest and most powerful herbs (one of our faves!). A potent herb for intuition, visions, and dreams, it is also antibacterial, a digestive bitter, and a relaxant. You will see it all over the side of the road in summertime. One is the number of unity and a symbol of the sun: a perfect starting point for this midsummer custom. 
  2. Plantain (wegbrade, Plantago major): Plantain was called “waybread” in ancient herbal texts for its propensity to grow where the earth was most densely packed: trails and roadways. It’s excellent for bites and stings and known for its superb drawing power. Two is the number of balance and duality and represents the waxing and waning of the moon.
  3. Lamb’s Cress (lombes cærse, Cardamine hirsuta): Also known as Shepherd’s Purse, or stune in Old English, and related to the verb stunan (‘to combat’), it is another strong antibacterial herb and also a diuretic. Three, as noted above, is poignant in pagan beliefs. It is sacred to the goddess and represents her three phases: maiden, mother, and crone. And you’ve likely heard the phrase “third time’s a charm”… Well, now you know where it came from!
  4. Nettle (stiðe, Urtica dioica): As referenced in our spring column, Nettle is one of our favorite herbs. It is abundant in our region and great for relieving pain and inflammation. Its energetics are cool and dry, which makes it a great restorative spring tonic, but its fiery sting is surely reminiscent of the summertime. Four is a very meaningful number in many mythologies and represents the seasons, the elements, the cardinal directions, the moon phases, and the tarot suits.
  5. Betony (attorlothe, Stachys officinalis): The Romans listed 47 different medicinal uses for Betony and believed that even wild beasts used it as medicine and would seek it out when wounded. In pagan beliefs, five is most prominently represented by the pentacle, a talisman that is directly used in magickal evocations and symbolizes interconnected life and eternity. It is also the number of humankind (five senses, five digits, five appendages, etc.).
  6. Chamomile (mægðe, Anthemis nobilis): Externally, Chamomile can help heal wounds, and internally, when made into a tea, is wonderfully calming. It’s often taken to soothe upset stomachs and menstrual cramps, and helps with insomnia. Its flowers also resemble the sun! Six is three times two, thus having similar attributes to the number three, but intensified.
  7. Crab Apple (wergulu, Pyrus malus): It is believed all apples evolved from the Crab Apple, the original wild apple. With ties to Christian beliefs involving the serpent in the garden of Eden, the Charm also mentions it just before the slaying of the adder. Seven is considered a spiritual number and corresponds to the psychic centers, called chakras. Also, more commonly, the seven days of the week (as well as the length of one moon phase). 

The eighth and ninth herbs of the charm, Thyme (fille, Thymus vulgaris) and Fennel (finule, Foeniculum vulgare) are mentioned together. Both are considered digestive herbs, and magickally, both are associated with protection, strength, courage, and the will to live. In some translations, Thyme is replaced with Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)but in either case, they both have a direct correlation to the god Woden and his power. Appropriately, eight is a number of power. It represents the sun and the eight sabbats (seasonal pagan holidays), and of course, the number nine completes the cycle. SOURCE

The god Wōden (the Old English form of the name Odin) makes a rare appearance in a small healing charm recorded in the 900s.

Further Resources

The Nine Herbs Charm
In Modern English

WODEN’S NINE HERBS CHARM from Lacnunga LXXIX-LXXXII

The Nine Herbs Charm

The Nine Herbs JSTOR

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Phantom Quartz: Otherworldly and Rare

Phantom Quartz: Otherworldly and Rare by guest Blogger W1tchsbrew

Be sure to check out W1tchsbrew’s Etsy shop Wood ov Wyrd

Otherworldly and rare, Phantom quartz is a variety of quartz consisting of visible layers of overlapping crystal growths. The outline of the inner crystals can be seen due to some variation in composition or mineral inclusion making the boundary between growths visible. The interior crystal layers are known as phantoms.

About 2000 years ago, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote that Quartz crystals were formed in icy environments particularly in caverns and dark clefts in the mountains. This became the widely accepted belief in the 18th century when modern geology was just burgeoning in Europe. Around that time, Phantom Quartz crystals were called ‘ghost crystals’ and ‘shadow crystals.’

Phantom Quartz in Spirituality

Shamans consider Phantom Quartz to be the light stone. It symbolizes the light residing in every person. Toltec philosophy claims that every living being is a light being, which means all organisms come from the same source and are interconnected.

But our light can get dimmed and often not seen by the naked eye. This causes us to feel disconnected from others and the world. Phantom Quartz counters this effect. Its light helps restore our bond with every living creature.

Phantom Quartz can also be found in other colors such as this green specimen.

Metaphysical Properties of Phantom Quartz

It is believed that the crystal can heighten intuition and create a connection with one’s spirit guide. Phantom Quartz is used to access the angelic realm. It is beneficial in unblocking and activating the third eye and crown chakras. As a result, greater consciousness and spiritual growth is achieved.

The crystal also has the ability to balance the root and sacral chakras, the areas that can get blocked by a person’s traumas. Blocked lower chakras can lead to fear and low self-esteem. Phantom Quartz clears out and balances these energy points to replace unproductive energies with love, creativity, sexuality, and stability.

Phantom Quartz is effective at cleansing auras and dispelling negative energies. It helps with personal inner growth and overcome stagnation. It aids and enhances healing abilities and facilitates the elimination of toxins from the body. Phantom Quartz connects to the earth and higher realms.

ORIGIN

Phantom Quartz is only found in Minas Gerais, an inland state in southern Brazil known for its wealth of minerals and mining activities.

Phantom quartz crystals have been referred to as ghost crystalsspectre crystals and shadow crystals. The name quartz comes from the Saxon word querklufterz which meant cross vein ore.

A comprehensive and beautifully illustrated guide to crystals.

Find a known crystal instantly or identify an unknown crystal in this easy-to-follow directory that includes photographic identification, detailed descriptions, and information on the individual properties of each crystal–including the spiritual, mental and psychological, emotional and physical effects, plus its use in healing. It’s an indispensable reference for crystal lovers everywhere, featuring over 150 crystals.
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Finland in the Viking Age

Finland is a country filled with rich history, amazing people, fascinating folklore, great culture and a beautiful landscape. It is a country I have been fascinated with for many years for a myriad of reasons. Today I wanted to explore a period of time in Finnish history that is not discussed enough in my opinion and that is what was going on in Finland during the Viking age. The Viking age in Scandinavia and throughout Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean had a huge impact. So The question is this, how was Finland effected during this period of history? Well that is exactly what this blog post is about.

Finland: the Viking Ages

  By Kristian Ola (Wilpuri)

Viking Age Finland is a topic which is rarely discussed when talking about Finnish history. In schools, pupils learn next to nothing about pre-Medieval Finnish society. Also, historians have been rather reluctant to deal with the topic in-depth in recent years, and so very few works have emerged. It is almost as if it were taboo.

Because of its remote location, Finland has always been a little bit behind in technological advances. The Bronze-age had just made its arrival, when in they already started to become out-dated in the cradles of civilization. However, during the iron-age, there were strong contacts with the Finnic tribes on both sides of the Gulf of Finland, as well as to the east and to the west. During the Viking age, the tribes of Finland were more or less at par in technological development with their neighbors to the west, east and the south. Differences between western Finnic tribes and eastern Finnic tribes of Finland become evident by the Merovingian period. Finland is commonly divided between Western Finnish Cultural Sphere and Eastern Finnish Cultural Sphere. The Pre-historic period of Finland stretched all the way to Swedish conquest in the 12th century, and in eastern Finland it stretched all the way to the late 13th century.

The entire area that is thought to have been possessed or controlled by the Finns during the late iron-age was most likely not a united province politically until the medieval times under Swedish rule. There appear to have been some key areas, which formed which are thought to have acted as political entities. The most important of these areas are the Turku-region, and the area known as Vakka-Suomi, which has also been referred to as “Kaland” in some historical sources. It is impossible to tell exactly how these areas were governed, but some educated guesses would suggest a very “democratic” style of decision making. The strong men of different villages would decide together on a common course of action, as no single leader was strong enough to dominate the entire province, very much like the Vikings are thought to have operated. One cannot talk of a nobility or aristocracy as such, but there are evident class-distinctions. These become evident when looking at the items found in the graves. As swords were expensive and hard to come by (as they had to be imported from over-seas), they act as a good marker of a wealthy and usually important person within the community. As mentioned earlier, the Finns of the Turku-region and Vakka-Suomi had a very good geographical location to engage in trade with the west, especially with Birka, as this had become a dominant (if not the dominant) trade-centre of the Baltic by the Viking age. Continue reading HERE.

There is evidence of both peaceful trade and not-so-peaceful conflict between Finns and the neighboring Vikings during this time, and Finland is thought to have been a regular stop for Vikings on their way east, with significant evidence of trade with the Viking trade center of Birka (situated near modern-day Stockholm) found in archeological sites in Finland and Sweden.

Finnish ports along the Baltic sea were thought to have been key factors behind the Norsemen’s expansions eastwards, and it is believed that individual Finns did take part of Viking raids and expeditions.

Furthermore the island of Åland was considered an important Viking port at the time, and it was considered to be Finnish back then too. The Norse also acquired important knowledge about the Russian lands from the Finns, which is thought to have been crucial information enabling their future eastern endeavors. SOURCE

The Ålandic mystery

Åland has been ”a contact zone between Finnic and Scandinavian linguistic and cultural groups for at least two thousand years” (p. 7). Recurrent themes in VAÅ include some ”mysteries”. Åland is conspicuously absent from Old Norse sources, mentioned only once, in Fundinn Noregr (The discovery of Norway); but there it appears in an accurate itinerary, indicating familiarity, as Schalin with Frog point out (pp. 277–278). The lack of place names in Åland older than the late Viking Age and the dearth of artifacts from the late 10th through the 11th century have been taken as evidence of a possible discontinuity in settlement near the end of the Viking Age. Another mystery is the clay paw amulet, a grave practice mainly restricted to Åland, from which it spread to Timerëvo in central Russia. Frog focuses on this rite in relation to bear ceremonialism generally (arguing convincingly that the paws are more likely to represent bear than beaver), situating Åland between Finnic and Scandinavian mythological traditions.

Many contributions adopt indirect approaches to problems for which the evidence is minimal. Ahola, Frog and Schalin explain the methodological problems involved in trying to ascertain the language(s) spoken in Åland during the Viking Age. Aalto explores the meaning of the Norse ethnonym Finnr, which in addition to Sámi and (occasionally) the residents of present-day Finnish territory may have included Ålanders, even if they were Scandinavian speakers. Place names indicate that continuous Swedish-speaking settlement in Southwest Finland dates to around 1100 AD, according to Mikko Heikkilä. Schalin with Frog argues for Germanic etymologies for most of the older place names in Åland. Jomala, a Finnic name for ’god’, is likely an old name for the largest island, and may reflect a Viking Age borrowing of the word into Scandinavian as an appellative for Finnic sacred places (pp. 286–289).

Ahola discusses traditions in Kalevala-meter poetry associated with Saari ’Island’, which has sometimes been identified with Åland. Rather than indicating that these epic stories are based on historical events in Åland, as Kaarle Krohn thought, Ahola suggests that mainland Finns may have come to view Åland as a mystical place because of the valence of islands in epic tradition. SOURCE

Most overviews dealing with eastern Vikings have cast the Eastern Baltic peoples in a predominantly passive role during the large-scale Viking movement into the region. This book demonstrates how communication networks over the Baltic Sea and further east were established and how they took different forms in the northern and the southern halves of the Eastern Baltic. Archaeological as well as written sources indicate the impact these networks had on the development of local societies. In particular, areas along the northern Baltic Sea, both on the eastern and the western coasts, were characterized by a shared cultural sphere for warriors. Changes in archaeological evidence along relevant trade routes through these areas suggest that the inhabitants of present-day Finland and the Baltic States were more engaged in Viking eastern movement than is generally believed.
From Ancient Finnish Kings who ruled the whole of Northern Europe to savages living in dirt holes to the bane of Viking raiders, there are countless stories of Viking Age Finland and its inhabitants going around. How was this cold and remote country a thousand years ago? This animated documentary takes a look at some of the facts and theories of what Viking Age Finland was like.
Vikings spread terror across the Baltic Sea and beyond. But why they left Finland alone has been a mystery until now. There are several runestones describing grave military disasters experienced by Viking raiders in modern day Finland. What went so wrong for them? The answer is bloodcurdling.

Further Resources

The Viking Age in Finland III: Identity and Identification and the Viking Age in Finland (with Special Emphasis on the Åland Islands)

History of Finland: THE ERA OF SWEDISH RULE, 1150-1809

Fibula, fabula, fact : the Viking Age in Finland

Were there ever Vikings in Finland or Finnish Vikings?

Finland in the Viking Age

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Books of the Sagas

When asked by people who are first diving into the spirituality of what is commonly known as Norse Paganism I always recommend the Hávamál, the Eddas and of course the Sagas. These I feel really can build a foundation for anyone interested in starting a spiritual path regarding this subject. But of course there are thousands of books regarding the tales of the folklore and the Gods and Goddesses of Scandinavia, many of which are in my personal library which will eventually be added on blogs posts here. But for now I want to focus on five books in my library so let us get to it.

The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

A unique body of medieval literature, the Sagas rank with the world’s greatest literary treasures–as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured further west–to Greenland and, ultimately, the coast of North America itself.

The ten Sagas and seven shorter tales in this volume include the celebrated “Vinland Sagas,” which recount Leif Eiriksson’s pioneering voyage to the New World and contain the oldest descriptions of the North American continent. Get your copy HERE.

The Sagas of Fridthjof the Bold
By Ben Waggoner

Popular in the 19th century for its sweeping, adventurous, romantic plot and tender love story, the Saga of Fridthjof the Bold was largely neglected in the 20th century. Now, a new and fresh translation of both versions of this Old Norse saga restores it to glory. Also included is the swashbuckling Saga of Thorstein Vikingsson, the father of the hero Fridthjof; the Tale of King Vikar, telling of Fridthjof’s descendants; and plenty of notes and commentary giving the saga’s historical and cultural background. These tales of adventure, war, magic, and love can still thrill the heart today, as they did centuries ago. Get your copy HERE.

The Hrafnista Sagas
By Ben Waggoner

The Norwegian island of Hrafnista was long remembered in medieval Iceland as the ancestral home of a family of powerful chieftains, who were said to have faced and triumphed over dangers ranging from tyrant kings, to storms and famines, to giants, dragons, and sorcery. Descendants of these Men of Hrafnista settled in Iceland and gave rise to prominent families, who passed on tales of their ancestors for generations until they were written down. For the first time, the Old Norse sagas of the Men of Hrafnista—the Saga of Ketil Salmon, the Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek, the Saga of Arrow-Odd, and the Saga of An Bow-Bender—have been collected in one volume, in English translation. Enter the world of Viking legend and lore with these tales of high adventure. Get your copy HERE.

Sagas of Giants and Heroes
By Ben Waggoner

Huge in stature; living in far-distant wastelands; sometimes comically stupid or crude; but possessing vast wealth and knowledge—such are the giants of Norse myth and legend.

Four Icelandic sagas and six tales, spanning five centuries, are brought together for the first time in all-new English translations. All tell of mighty giants, and of the heroes who dared to face them, fight them, and sometimes befriend them. The giants and trolls of old still live on in these legendary sagas of old times. These tales of epic voyages, wars, and romance will appeal to both scholars of Norse mythology and fans of Viking adventure.

The sagas include the Saga of the Kjalarnes People, the Saga of Halfdan Brana’s Fosterling, the Saga of Sorli the Strong, and the Saga of Illugi Grid’s Fosterling.

The six shorter tales are: the Tale of Halfdan the Black, the Tale of Hauk High-Breeches, the Tale of Jokul Buason, the Tale of Brindle-Cross, an excerpt from the Saga of the Fljotsdal People, and the Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky. Get your copy HERE.

Three Icelandic Sagas Gunnlaugs Saga Ormstungu – Bandamanna Saga – Droplaugarsona Saga Hardcover – January 1, 1950
by Margaret and M. H. Scargill (translators) Schlauch (Author)



This gem may not be so easy to acquire as it is out of print as far as I know. My copy of Three Icelandic Sagas is a first edition published on Januray 1st, 1950 and is my favorite in my Sagas collection. The three Sagas told in this book are the Gunnlaugs Saga, Bandamanna Saga and Droplaugarsona Saga which all took place from the late 10th century to early 11th century in Iceland. The book is so well written and even includes some beautiful art depicting scenes from the Sagas. If you manage to get a copy of this first edition it is one you will thoroughly enjoy.

When we think of the roots of European civilization it’s to Greece and Rome that our thoughts turn. But there is a culture whose effect may be even more profound. Hundreds of years ago in faraway Iceland the Vikings began to write down dozens of stories – called sagas. These sagas are priceless historical documents which bring to life the Viking world.
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Runestones of Scandinavia

Being someone who has studied the different variations of the Runes for years I have also enjoyed learning about the Runestones of Scandinavia. These monolithic stone carvings are believed started as early as the 4th century CE but the vast majority were created and raised between the 10th and 11th century CE in what would be the late Viking Age. These Runestones sometimes tell a story but mostly are a dedication either in Pagan context or Christian but some are a fusion of both. The thing I like most about them is how each is so unique from the next and I have several friends in Scandinavia who share videos and photos of them with Runestones that allows me to virtually tour these amazing pieces of Viking age history. So with that said I would like to dive into what they are about, importance and all there is to know about the Runestones of Scandinavia.

Runestones: Words from the Viking Age

Remnants of Scandinavia’s Viking past are scattered throughout the countryside of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Among the most intriguing are the stones covered in Viking runes that give a glimpse of the culture and society of the era.

According to the Swedish National Heritage Board, there are about 7,000 runic inscriptions in the world, of which roughly half are Viking Age runestones. Runestones were most commonly raised as memorials to deceased relatives and friends, but they were not burial markers. Instead they were often placed close to roads or other communication routes. The first runestones were raised in Sweden and Norway as early as the third or fourth century A.D., but most were raised during the later Viking period in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Runestones are the oldest existing original works of writing in Scandinavia. Originally they were written in a script consisting of 24 characters, known as the Elder Futhark (f-u-th-a-r-k being the sounds represented by the first six characters). Beginning in the early eighth century, this writing system was replaced by a revised alphabet, known as the Younger Futhark, with just 16 characters. Most of the runestones found in Scandinavia use the Younger Futhark. Although the standard version of this alphabet is the one typically used on runestones, there is also a variation of the Younger Futhark called short-twig runes that was used for everyday messages carved on wood. Continue reading HERE.

A girl with a teddy bear at a runestone in Söderby, Botkyrka. The inscription reads, “Sibbe and Tjarve had the stone raised in memory of Torkel, their father.” 1930. Source

The erection of the Jelling runestone by King Harald Bluetooth in the 960’s is usually seen as the beginning of this tradition, although the majority of the runestones were erected in the 11th century.

These runestones could be non-zoomorphic or zoomorphic in nature. Those that were zoomorphic had decoration in Ringerike style or in Urnes style. The inscription usually begins by stating who had the stone erected and in whose memory it was made. These inscriptions include both pagan and Christian dedications. Those with a Christian cross tending to be earlier in the sequence of Christian dedications, as if it were important to show that the person was Christian. Later Christian dedications tend to end with a simple prayer. SOURCE.

As I said in the beginning of this post that I have several friends in Scandinavia who share this passion regarding Runestones and one specific friend I refer to as my go-to friend in Sweden when it comes to this subject as well as Scandinavian Petroglyphs. She is known on Instagram as MooseLady and if you share this interest she is someone I highly recommend following. She is currently a Cultural Heritage History and Archeology student which makes her posts and even discussions in her IG story that more fascinating regarding the subject which really shows how well she presents her own studies of the Runestones. I also highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop which I own a few items from her.

MooseLady in her natural environment. Thank you for letting me use one of your photos.
Follow me on a tour around the most interesting Rune stones in Västerhaninge and Österhaninge where I live. Hear about the people and the lives of the Vikings who lived here 1,000 years ago, and why they raised the stones.
Vikings left runestones all over the world, but I decided to check out Uppland in Sweden, that has the highest concentration of runestones in the world!

Further Resources

Viking Rune Stones

Runestones in Scandinavia

Viking Age Rune Stones

Runestones

What’s New in Scandinavian Rune Stones

Viking Runestones