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Goddess Ostara – What is Known

As much as is written and as many websites along with Youtube videos you can find regarding the Germanic Goddess Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre), so little is known historically. But does this mean we disregard her as a true Goddess? I say no because as we see with Gods and Goddesses of other Pantheons such as the Norse, Celtic and Slavic, it does not lessen their importance. So being that Spring has begun I felt the need to offer this post to my readers to get a deeper insight and see other opinions regarding Goddess Ostara.

Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre) is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter. Her festival is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Ēostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn. However it is also thought that Ēastre is the ancient word for “spring”. There are also links to the name Ēostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Ēostre the name “Eastern Star”.

Ēostre is connected with growth, renewal, abundance, new beginnings and fertility. As symbols of rebirth and fertility, eggs and rabbits are sacred to her, as is the full moon.

Ēostre represents the transitional time between childhood innocence and adult passion, and reminds us that life is full of untold possibilities and adventures. SOURCE

Ostara/Spring Equinox Vernal Equinox March 21-22

A point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year. Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But the year is now waxing and at this moment light defeats the dark. The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer.

The gentle whispered promise of Imbolc is fulfilled in the evident and abundant fertility of the Earth at Ostara. It is time for the hopes of Imbolc to become action. The energy is expansive and exuberant. It is the first day of Spring!

Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honoured in the month of April with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth. It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved, and indeed the naming of the hormone Eostrogen, essential to women’s fertility. The Goddess Ostara has the shoulders and head of a hare. SOURCE

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger connection to the sacred world and your own divinity by welcoming these thirteen powerful Celtic and Nordic goddesses into your life.

All About Eostre – The Pagan Goddess of Dawn

Goddess Ostara

OSTARA: Saxon Goddess of the Dawn and Spring

Who is Ostara?

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Horses: Their Spirit, Lore and Mythology

The Horse throughout history is one of the oldest animals found in ancient Indo-European culture, folklore and mythology. The Horse holds such significance in many cultures for not just providing a mode of travel but even as a source of food and milk like Airag, the Mongolian fermented Mare’s milk drink. From the Middle East, Mediterranean, Asia and across Europe, The Horse is wrapped deeply in many cultures and local mythology including the close relationship of the Horse with certain Gods and Goddesses. Of course still to this day many relate and have themselves connected to the Horse spirit animal. Which is why I decided to put this Blog post together for everyone who has any connection or interest in all that I will include regarding the Horse.

Horse symbolism changes depending on whether the Horse is wild or tethered. When the Wild Horse enters your awareness, often there is more than enough energy to motivate you and carry you through anything. As you read through the in-depth collection of Horse information, take some time to meditate on it. Consider what kind of spiritual gifts Horse bestows on you and how you should work with the creature’s Energies.

A Wild Horse brings vitality and freedom in on its galloping hooves. There is no constraining Horse when it runs with the wind, but the creature also enjoys the company of family and friends. It’s always more fun to gallop together in a setting where individuality never gets lost. That’s why Horse symbolism speaks to your social nature and how you connect with those you hold dear.

Carl Jung suggested Horses symbolize personal power, the things you master in your life, and your natural gifts. Horse is a creature representing success and self-actualization. When you know what drives you and puts the awareness of your motivations to work, you can get much further and faster than you ever imagined possible.

When tame, Horse represents those parts of your personality you restrict and confine, like sexual urges. The tame Horse also symbolizes service and trusting relationships. If Horses show up in images where they’re in a stable or tied up, it could be a message that something is holding you back and limiting your autonomy. It may also speak of low energy levels and the need to pay attention when using your physical resources. Continue reading HERE.

Automedon with the Horses of Achilles; Artist
Alexandre Georges Henri Regnault (1843-1871)

Horse Symbolism, Meanings & The Horse Spirit Animal

Horse Spirit Animal Meaning & Symbolism

Horse Spirit Animal

Horses and the Heavens

Some of the oldest myths in the Indo-European tradition concern the existence of supernatural or divine horses. The earliest text in Sanskrit, or indeed any Indo-European language—the family that includes most of the main languages of Europe, South Asia, and parts of western and central Asia—is the Rig Veda, a collection of sacred hymns written sometime in the late second millennium B.C., during the Bronze Age. Among its more than 1,000 hymns are prayers and poems appealing to and honoring the gods. At the time the Rig Veda was set down, the myths it references were already centuries, if not millennia, old, but it was during the Bronze Age that Indo-European-speaking peoples began to travel and trade across great distances, carrying with them beliefs that were then communicated across a vast territory, stretching from Asia to Scandinavia.

Archaeological evidence collected in Europe provides the strongest parallels for early Indo-European myths first set down on the Indian subcontinent, says Kristian Kristiansen of the University of Gothenberg. One of the most important of these shared Bronze Age myths is that of the sun cult, wherein the sun’s daily journey is symbolized by a horse drawing a chariot across the heavens. This is also widely interpreted as the journey from death to the afterlife. Continue reading HERE.

Ultimate List of Mythical Horse Names

Mythical Horses

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Alexander The Great

Military history and ancient cultures/civilizations are favorite subjects of mine especially certain key figures that left such an impact that it is still felt to this day. One of those historical figures is Alexander The Great, Megas Alexandros (July 20, 356 BCE – June 10, 323 BCE), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336-323 BCE). The feats he accomplished in really such a short amount of time at such a young age is almost something you would expect from some big blockbuster movie but actually happened over 2,000 years ago. From conquering the Persian Empire to literally building a land-bridge in order to sack a city. He was a larger than life leader and I wanted to share a ton of resources for you to have an opportunity to enjoy.

Alexander III the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He was inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon.  Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia. He was son of Philip II, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of neighboring Epirus.

Alexander spent his childhood watching his father transforming Macedonia into a great military power, winning victory after victory on the battlefields throughout the Balkans.   At age 12 he showed his equestrian skill to his father and all who were watching when he tamed Bucephalus, an unruly stallion horse, unable to be ridden and devouring the flesh of all who had tried. Plutarch writes:

“Philip and his friends looked on at first in silence and anxiety for the result, till seeing him turn at the end of his career, and come back rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed, they all burst out into acclamation’s of applause; and his father shedding tears, it is said, for joy, kissed him as he came down from his horse, and in his transport said, ‘O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee’ ” (Alex. 6.8.). Continue reading HERE.

The Cold Case of Alexander the Great: Have Toxicologists Finally Explained His Untimely Death?

Alexander The Great

Alexander III The Great

Alexander The Great (world history)

The Rise of Macedon and the Conquests of Alexander the Great

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The Sámi People: Everything You Should Know

Years ago when I discovered I have Finnish blood it led me to learn much about the Kalevala which actually led me to begin studying the Saami (Sámi) people, their culture and of course their Gods and Goddesses which do vary depending on the region. The variety is due to the fact that these amazing people live in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Someday I wish to visit a Saami town and spend time with one of their Spiritual ones.

For those of you interested in learning about the Saami and their Gods and Goddesses, here are some great resources.

Sami, also spelled Saami, or Same, Sami, Sabme, any member of a people speaking the Sami language and inhabiting ….. and adjacent areas of northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, as well as the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They belong to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family. Almost all Sami are now bilingual, and many no longer even speak their native language. In the late 20th century there were from 30,000 to 40,000 Sami in Norway and about 20,000 in Sweden, 6,000 in Finland, and 2,000 in Russia.

The Sami are the descendants of nomadic peoples who had inhabited northern Scandinavia for thousands of years. When the Finns entered Finland, beginning about ad 100, Sami settlements were probably dispersed over the whole of that country; today they are confined to its northern extremity. In Sweden and Norway they have similarly been pushed north. The origin of the Sami is obscure; some scholars include them among the Paleo-Siberian peoples; others maintain that they were alpine and came from central Europe. Continue reading HERE.

The Sami vs. Outsiders

By Káre (Kimmi Woodard)

Early History:

According to historians, the proto-Sami were said to have inhabited most of Scandinavia and Northwest Russia. We first hear of them in the year 98 AD from the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania. At that time, they were called “Fenni.” Tacitus described them as a primitive hunting tribe who roamed the forests near Germany. In the second century A.D, Ptolemy of Alexandria spoke of a tribe in Scandinavia called the “Phinnoi.” And then in 555 AD the Greek historian Procopius in describing a war between the Romans and the Goths referred to a people called the “Skridfinns” who inhabited Scandinavia. And then once again in 750 AD Paulus Diaconus mentions a people called the “Skridfinns” who kept animals resembling deer. This name then spread throughout Scandinavia, to the Finns, the Russians and later to the Germans, Hungarians, Estonians and other groups. Today, the Sami prefer the name Sami, and their land is called Sapmi.

Viking Age Trade:

In the Viking Age there was a tremendous amount of trade (called the Finn Trade) along the coast of the Gulf of Finland and Bothnia. This area brought seasonal visits from Finns, Russians, and Scandinavian merchants, which eventually attracted the attention of the emerging nation states. It was during this early period that the Finns colonized the southwest corner of Finland. And in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, there was also emigration into Sweden. As the Swedes, Finns and Norwegians pushed northward, Sapmi steadily decreased in size. In this early period we learn that the Sami merchants first traded with the Vikings, and later they traded with the travelers from northern Europe. According to the article “Important Years in Same History,” because of this early cultural contact, the Sami people advanced from a Stone Age society to a society that eventually developed its own monetary system; their currency was named tjoervie. The cultural contact not only benefited the Sami but other groups as well. The contact was often mutually beneficial. For example, it was quite common during this early period for different cultures to borrow words from one another. The Sami language, for instance, has hundreds of loanwords of Scandinavian or Germanic origin, as well as many from Finnish. Similarly, the Scandinavians and Finns have many words from each other. Continue reading HERE.

Saami Deities: List and Descriptions

The Sami People

The Sami in Sweden

Cultures of Norway: The Sami people

The Story of the Sami People & Culture

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Arminius (Hermann the German)

One of my favorite historical figures during the Roman empire age is Arminius (Hermann the German). Who lived a life that was filled with so much that I felt the need to feature him on my Blog with the best resources I believe exist.

Arminius (b. circa 18 BC, d. circa 21 AD, assumed to be the Latinized form of Hermann) was the chief of the Germanic Cherusci tribe during the later stages of Augustus’ reign. Prior to the great revolt which pushed Rome permanently out of the Germanic interior, and after the conquests of Drusus and Tiberius, Arminius served as a Roman auxiliary (c. 1 to 6 AD), apparently with much success. Some have painted a picture of a young Germanic warrior with the ultimate goal of freeing the tribes by learning Roman military ways, but his service and that of his fellow Cherusci warriors, actually exemplifies the completeness in which the Romans had spread their influence throughout Germania (as well as identifying the early stages of the barbarization of the Roman Legions). Though at this stage, Germania Magna was not an official province, and was still unsettled per Roman victory conditions, the slow process of Romanization had begun in earnest. Arminius, it seems, even earned Roman citizenship as well as equestrian status, perhaps in part, as a peace settlement.

During the revolt in Pannonia, which forced Tiberius’ withdrawal from Germania, and his replacement by Publius Quinctilius Varus, conditions seem to have deteriorated considerably. Varus, it seems, (one must consider the conflicting reports by Dio Cassius, Tacitus, Florus and Paterculus regarding the political climate and the battle itself) was probably given the task of completing the subjugation of Germania and implementing Roman provincial standards by Augustus. Regular taxation, undoubtedly a condition that the Germanics were unaccustomed to, as well as other ‘excesses’ seem to have turned the tribes against their Roman occupiers.

Arminius returned to the Cherusci as early as 7 AD, and likely began preparing for a massive revolt soon after his arrival. Inter-tribal warfare and lack of unity was something that would plague the Germanics for centuries, but in this one instance, the tribes were uniquely brought together in their zeal to throw off the Roman yolk. Everything was not completely in unison, however. Arminius’ rival, Segestes, actually his own father-in-law, reportedly betrayed the plans of revolt to Varus, but these reports were unheeded. Perhaps writing off the idea as political infighting for personal gain, or trusting Arminius due to his service as a Roman auxilia, and equestrian, Varus ignored the warnings, with predictable results. In 9 AD, the situation had come to a head and reports of a growing uprising in northern Germania (perhaps the Chauci) began to reach Varus. Encouraged by promises of allied assistance from tribal leaders like Arminius, Varus set out northward for the Chauci.

In late summer of 9 AD, Varus marched in loose formation with the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth legions, and did so through what they thought was friendly territory. According to Cassius Dio, ” They had with them many wagons and many beasts of burden as in time of peace; moreover, not a few women and children and a large retinue of servants were following them. one reason for their advancing in scattered groups.” As the Romans approached a particular hilly and forested area (and likely fortified in advance) known as the Kalkriese, Arminius and fellow allied chieftains ‘begged to be excused from further attendance, in order, as they claimed, to assemble their allied forces, after which they would quietly come to his aid.’ Unbeknownst to Varus, regional tribes had already put the ambush in motion by killing or capturing legionary detachments that had been working on various projects throughout the region.

Over a period of 4 storm filled and rain drenched days, the Germanics launched a series of blistering attacks on the disorganized and unprepared Roman columns. All three legions and accompanying cavalry were so scattered and beaten in the surprise attacks that communication and cooperation between the two were non-existent. The cavalry attempted a breakout and escape but was cut down before they could. The infantry continued to fight, with little success in hopes of reaching safety. By the 4th day, the cause was lost and Varus committed suicide rather than submit to capture (and the shame). All three legionary standards (eagles) were captured by the Germans and the survivors, of which there were very few, scattered in various directions to safety. Conflicting ancient source material tells differing tales, but some officers joined Varus in suicide while others surrendered. The battle itself was little more than an overwhelming massacre. Read the entire article HERE.

The Hermannsdenkmal (German for “Hermann’s Monument”) Located in
Teutoburger Wald, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Varus Battle

Hermann the Cheruscan

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest

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Bears: The Myth, Symbolism and Folklore

Since the dawn of time and where ever humans and bears have cohabited there have been folklore and spoken myths regarding the Bear from being spiritual creatures to Gods to being a spirit animal for the fierce warrior from the Amerindians to the Northern regions of Europe and all around the world really. I find Bears to be a joy to watch in the wild and just see how they live from the mother Bear raising her cubs to watching them catch salmon in a river. There is so much rich history and stories of Bears in so many different cultures that I decided to offer in this post the best I have found for you to learn more from and hopefully enjoy.

Bear folklore is widespread, especially in the far northern hemisphere. It is not surprising that this awesome beast was one of the first animals to be revered by our ancestors. From as far back as the Palaeolithic (around 50,000 years ago) there is evidence of a bear cult in which the bear was seen as lord of the animals, a god, and even the ancestor of humans. Various species of bear played a central role in many shamanic practices of the north, and brown bears were part of our native forests as recently as the 10th century, when hunting and habitat loss drove them to extinction.

The Celts venerated the bear goddess, Artio – like a mother bear she was a fiercely protective influence. The bear god Artaois is closely linked to the warrior-king, Arthur; with his legendary strength and fighting prowess, Arthur’s name and emblem both represent this animal. Celtic families would often have their own animal totem, a tradition that is still evident in the family name McMahon, which means ‘son(s) of the bear’.

Viking warriors were famous for working themselves into an insane battle frenzy (it has been suggested that the psychotropic fly agaric mushroom was sometimes used). They invoked the bear spirit, at times even donning a bear skin, to imbue them with superhuman strength and fury. These were the Berserkers, their name being derived from a Norse word meaning ‘bear shirt’.

In Greek legend, Zeus fell in love with the huntress Callisto, and she bore him a son named Arcas. In a fit of jealous rage, Zeus’s wife turned Callisto into a bear. Time passed, and one day Arcas was out hunting. How was he to know that the bear he was stalking was his own mother?! On seeing that Callisto’s life was in danger, Zeus whisked her up into the night sky out of harm’s way. She can still be seen in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. (In another version, Arcas is also sent skywards, and becomes the adjacent Ursa Minor, the Little Bear.) The Big Dipper, or Plough, is one of the more familiar groups of stars within this constellation. Interestingly, the Druidic name for this group was Arthur’s Plough, and the constellation was also seen as a bear in Native American and Hebrew tradition.

In Native American folklore there are many tales about bears. It is highly respected as the ‘keeper of dreams’, and ‘the keeper of medicine’, and is one of the most powerful totems. (Bears hibernate, giving them associations with the world of dreams.)

Human fascination with this animal has not always worked in the bear’s favor. The bear appears in the names of many English pubs, and this is thought to be a hangover from the days bear-baiting – medieval ‘entertainment’ which involved tying a bear to a post and setting dogs on it. The Caledonian bear was said to be so fierce that it was favored by the Romans who used them in their amphitheaters, for similar purposes. In 1902, U.S. President Theodore (‘Teddy’) Roosevelt was on a hunting trip along the Mississippi, but showed mercy to an old bear he could have easily taken as a trophy. The story of this act spread quickly, and the Teddy Bear was born.

Bears still make an appearance in recent literature. Beorn in Tolkien’s The Hobbit was a man who could take the shape of a bear, echoing ancient shamanic practices. And who could forget wise old Baloo, the teacher of the wolf cubs from Kipling’sJungle Book, Paddington Bear (think marmalade sandwiches and hard stares), or Winnie the Pooh? More recently, Benjamin Hoff’s Tao of Pooh used this unassuming bear to illustrate the Taoist principles of modesty, simplicity, and intuitive, practical wisdom. In Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights, the young heroine, Lyra, befriends a fierce and loyal polar bear king named Iorek Byrnison, helping him to regain his throne. Read more here.

Bear Spirit Guide

Bear Folklore, Through Myths, Legends and Folktales

Native American Bear Mythology

Following the Bear in Mythology

All about Bears

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The Vast History of Fenno-Scandinavia

Being someone who has both Scandinavian and Finnish blood, when I came across this webpage I completely went into geek research mode and found the entire page filled with so much great information I felt the need to share it with you. The Fenno-Scandinavia history is so rich, in-depth and involved and can be traced archeologically back to the 9,000s BCE. Below is the first part of the webpage and if that sparks your interest then I highly recommend clicking on the link and be ready to be amazed by all that is within it.

Modern Finland (Suomi to the Finns themselves) emerged into European history not only as Finland (in modern southern Finland) but also as Kvenland, a vast, ill-defined reach of Scandinavian and Fennoscandian territory which at the end of the Viking Age still encompassed not only most of modern Finland, but also the northern two-thirds of modern Sweden and Norway and part of north-western Russia.

Peopled in the north by the Sámi, they were bolstered by the arrival of Finno-Ugric speakers from the east who settled much of the region. These new arrivals were known as Kvens or Finns, and they gave their own Uralic-based language to the Sámi who were often described themselves as being Finno-Ugrics (although it seems likely that the Kvens predated the Finns and spoken an earlier language that was gradually lost due to Finno-Ugric dominance). The new arrivals brought with them cattle breeding and tillage skills, but these were later surpassed by the farming skills of Indo-European migrants who first began to arrive around five hundred to a thousand years later (see feature link).

The Finno-Ugric peoples of which these early Finns were a part were settled across a huge swathe of territory which reached eastwards into the Urals, and south of the Gulf of Finland to include the Estonians of the Early Baltics who originally occupied territory as far south as modern Lithuania. They also bear a distant relationship to the early Hungarians, but they never managed to form a unified state, preferring a relatively non-combative way of life in smaller tribal groups.

For the rest of this great webpage click here.

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Otters – Folklore, Symbolism, Tales

A lot of people may not be aware of how fascinating the tales are and even the importance of the Otter within Northern European folklore and mythology from the British Isle, throughout Scandinavia and into Finland. In the Pacific Northwest region of America Otters are also featured in Native American folklore as well. Another place that holds a place for the Otter in folklore and mythology is Japan which are very intriguing tales to read. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I had many close encounters with both river and sea Otters and I can tell you they do give a flare of mischief which always resonated with me. I actually have a funny story about a Wildling bevy of Sea Otters while I was stationed at USCG Station Cape Disappointment in Washington. But perhaps that’s good to share another time.

Otters of Myth and Folklore

Sleek, lithe and playful, at home on land and in the water, the otter is a well-loved member of the Caledonian Forest fauna. A Scottish name for the otter is the ‘dratsie’, and in Scottish tradition there are tales of ‘Otter Kings’ who were accompanied by seven black otters. When captured, these beasts would grant any wish in exchange for their freedom. But their skins were also prized for their ability to render a warrior invincible, and were thought to provide protection against drowning. Luckily, the Otter Kings were hard to kill, their only vulnerable point being a small point below their chin.

Otters sometimes swim single file as a family group, and it has been suggested that this might account for some of the Loch Ness Monster sightings! In a similar vein, an old Anglo-Saxon name for the otter was the ‘water-snake‘.

The otter features in an ancient shamanic Welsh tale. The sorceress Ceridwen left young Gwion to guard her cauldron, but he tasted the draught by accident and gained knowledge of all things. He transformed into a hare to escape her wrath, but she pursued him as a hound. When he plunged into the river as a salmon, Ceridwen became an otter to continue her pursuit. Gwion was eventually reborn as the great bard, Taliesin.

In Celtic and other folklore the otter is often characterized as a friendly and helpful creature, and is given the name ‘water dog’, alluding to these qualities. In the Irish story The Voyage of Maelduin, otters on the Island of Otter bring the sailors salmon to eat, and the Voyage of Brendan tells of how an otter performed this service for a hermit, even collecting firewood for him! St. Cuthbert is the patron saint of otters, and after standing waist-deep in the North Sea during his nightly prayer vigils, two otters would come and warm his feet with their breath and dry them with their fur.

Bizarrely, there was debate among Celtic clerics as to whether otter flesh was fish or meat, determining whether of not it could be eaten at Lent; and the Carthusian monks of Dijon, who were forbidden to eat meat, ate otter as they classed it as a fish!In Norse mythology, the mischievous god Loki killed the dwarf Otr while the latter was in the form of an otter. The dwarves were furious, and demanded compensation from the gods who gave them the otter skin filled with gold. In ancient Persia the otter (again known as the ‘water dog’), was esteemed above all other animals, and a severe penalty was imposed on anyone who killed one.

This popular mammal also features in more recent literature. Otter in Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows is an affable character, with a particularly adventurous son. The moving tale Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson follows the life of an otter in the rivers of North Devon, and Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water recounts the touching, funny and tragic true story of his friendship with otters, giving a lyrical portrayal of their intelligence and irrepressible playfulness.

Human admiration for this animal is perhaps best expressed in the words of the American naturalist, Ernest Thompson Seton: “…the joyful, keen and fearless otter; mild and loving to his own kind, and gentle with his neighbor of the stream; full of play and gladness in his life, full of courage in his stress; ideal in his home, steadfast in death; the noblest little soul that ever went four-footed through the woods.” Source

For what reason is gold called Otter’s Wergild?

The Otter Woman

The Otter in Folklore

The Otter Kawauso of Japan

Ainu legend: The otter is why mankind is imperfect today

Otter’s Ransom

Native American Otter Mythology

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

Otter Symbolism & Meaning

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The Estonian Vikings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Resources:

Vikings in Estonia by Eddi Tomband

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

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

Vikings, Estonians and the Way East

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The Hungarian Wonder Stag

Nimrud was the great legendary ruler of ancient Mesopotamia. One day, his two sons, Hunor and Magor went hunting. They saw a great white stag which they pursued. The stag continuously eluded them and led them to a beautiful and bountiful land. This vast land was Scythia, where Hunor and Magor eventually settled with their people.

The descendants of Hunor’s people were the Huns, and the descendants of Magor’s people were the Magyars. As they grew in strength and numbers, first the Huns, and then the Magyars went on to conquer new lands.

This story not only symbolizes the close ethnic relationship between the Huns and the Magyars, it is also a clear reference to their Sumerian and Scythian origins. The stag has also been an important symbol in the Sumerian and Scythian cultures.

The mythical story of the Wonder stag illustrates how myths and legends are based on historical facts as the archeological and ethnology-linguistic evidence supports the Sumerian-Scythian-Hun-Magyar relationship which is told by this story in ancient traditional mythological form.

Just as in Sumerian and Scythian mythology, in Hungarian mythology, the stag is also seen as a mystical being with magical powers and whose role was to indicate the will of god and to guide the Hungarians accordingly.

Further great resources to explore.

Hungarian Mythology

Magyar creation mythology

The Legend of the Wonderous Hind