The jötunn who stole Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir. He is solely attested in the eddic poem Þrymskviða.
One morning, upon waking, Thor discovers that his hammer is missing. He tells Loki and together they go to Freyja’s dwelling to borrow her feather-dress so that he might go looking for his hammer, and Freyja consents. Loki dons the feather-dress and flies until he reaches Jötunheimr. He sees Þrymr sitting on a mound and asks him if he has hidden Hlórriði‘s hammer. The giant confirms that he has hidden it eight miles deep in the earth and says that it will remain there unless Freyja is given to him as his wife.
Loki returns to Ásgarðr and tells Thor that Þrymr has his hammer but that he will not get it back unless they bring Freyja. They go to Freyja and instruct her to put on her bridal dress and come with them to Jötunheimr. Freyja is furious and refuses to go, so the gods hold council how they might get the hammer back. Heimdallr proposes that Thor disguises himself as the goddess, wearing a woman’s dress, a veil, and the Brísinga necklace. Thor reluctantly agrees. Continue reading HERE.
Þrymskviða The Lay of Thrym
The Thrymskwitha is one of the very best of the Eddie poems. It is the dramatic story of how Thor, aided by Loki, got back his famous hammer. Thrym had stolen it, and he would not give it up until they would bring him Freyja to wife; but she very indignantly refused to get married under any such terms. It is finally arranged, though much against his will, that Thor himself must dress up to impersonate Freyja, and go up to get married to the giant Thrym. The latter half of the poem contains the carrying out of this plan. But Thor is the great thunder-god. He is the largest and strongest of them all, and a ravenous eater and drinker. The story is elsewhere told of him that once, in a drinking contest, he lowered the sea several inches. It is he alone that was not allowed to walk over the bridge of the rainbow for fear he might break it down. What could be more incongruous and ludicrous, then, than to have this great clumsy god dress up as Freyja, the fairest of the goddesses, and to go off in her name to marry the ice-giant Thrym! The Norse poet has made good use of his opportunities, and we have in this poem a masterpiece of its kind.Continue reading HERE.
Thrymr Moon of Saturn
Thrymr was discovered in 2000 by Brett J. Gladman, John J. Kavelaars, Jean-Marc Petit, Hans Scholl, Matthew J. Holman, Brian G. Marsden, Phillip D. Nicholson, and Joseph A. Burns using the 3.6-m Canada-France-Hawaii reflector on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, with adaptive optics. They discovered seven other Saturnian moons at the same time: Tarvos, Ijiraq, Suttungr, Skathi, Siarnaq, Erriapus, and Mundilfari.
Thrymr has a mean radius of 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers), assuming an albedo (a measure of how reflective the surface is) of 0.06. It orbits Saturn at an inclination of about 174 degrees and an eccentricity of about 0.5. At a mean distance of 12.7 million miles (20.4 million kilometers) from Saturn, the moon takes about 1,094 Earth days to complete one orbit.
Thrymr is a member of the Norse group of moons. These “irregular” moons have retrograde orbits around Saturn – traveling around in the opposite direction from the planet’s rotation. Thrymr and the other Norse moons also have eccentric orbits, meaning they are more elongated than circular.
Like Saturn’s other irregular moons, Thrymr is thought to be an object that was captured by Saturn’s gravity, rather than having accreted from the dusty disk that surrounded the newly formed planet as the regular moons are thought to have done.
How Thrymr Got Its Name
Originally called S/2000 S7, Thrymr was named for a giant in Norse mythology who stole Thor’s hammer and offered to return it only if the gods gave him the very beautiful goddess Freyia to be his wife. The gods agree, but instead send Thor, disguised as Freyia. Thor as Freyia orders the hammer to be placed on “her” knee, whereupon Thor uses the hammer to kill Thrymr, along with the giant’s sister, who had asked for “Freyia’s” rings.SOURCE
This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor’s Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor’s Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble’s center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the nebula is located about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. The sharp image, made using broadband and narrowband filters, captures striking details of the nebula’s filamentary structures. It shows off a blue-green color from strong emission due to oxygen atoms in the glowing gas.SOURCE
I create the clatter That comes with the lightning.
I am the bane of thurses, Trolls, tyrants, and chaos.
I destroy disorder And halt the dark forces.
I ride to bring the rain, Making red clouds above.
I was, am, and will be Always in the Nine Worlds.
Thor’s Helmet gets its glow from the massive unstable star WR7, a so-called “Wolf-Rayet” star which ejects much of its gaseous outer layers into space at speeds of up to 2,000 km/s. The ejected material from the star runs into the slower-moving gas floating between the stars. The collision excites the surrounding gas and causes it to emit light.
Wolf-Rayet stars are massive, fast-burning, and short-lived stars on their way to exploding as a supernovae. This phase of the star’s life only lasts briefly, which means Wolf-Rayet stars are quite rare. Only 150 have been discovered in the Milky Way.
The interstellar gas in and around this nebula is chemically enriched by the entrails of the Wolf-Rayet star. The rich blue-green color of the nebula comes from ionized oxygen ejected by the star. The reddish-pink color comes from excited hydrogen gas from the star and in the interstellar medium.Continue reading HERE.
Thor in the Cosmos
Mjöllnir: Thor’s Short-Handled Hammer
Recently we have shown that by comparing the classical constellations with eddic myths many figures of the myths can be identified. By investigating the Völundarkvida it was possible to find the sword of Völund in Nidud’s possession. The sword is the brightest star of the northern starry sky, Arcturus. Nidud is depicted as the herdsman Böotes. Surely it’s possible to equate Surtur holding Frey’s sword with Böotes and Arcturus as well. We also find the maiden Bödhild as the constellation Virgo bearing the golden ear of grain that can be seen in the northern myth either as a twig called mistiltein or as a golden ring. Continue reading HERE.
Thor’s Iron Glove: Járnglófar/Járngreipr
The head of Cetus is near to the Pleiades and to the constellation Taurus and explains perfectly why Thor needs it to hold the hammer Mjölnir.
In addition this asterism can explain some obscure details in other stories. In Skáldskaparmál Thor uses in his fight with Geirröd not his hammer to smash the giant but the glove Járngreipr to throw back a piece of hot iron. I assume the story describes the rising of the head of Cetus and the setting of Böotes (Geirröd) and the bright star Arcturus (the hot piece of iron). The tongs Geirrödr is using could be the claws of Scorpio, the iron pillar he is hiding behind is the Milky Way in the Sagittarius/Scorpio region.SOURCE
A Marriage Made in Heaven: Thor as the Bride of Thrym
Thrymskvida, the story of how Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir was stolen by the giant (thurs) Thrym and how he rescued it by disguising himself as a bride pretending to be Freyja and finally smashing Thrym with his hammer, is one of the most famous Eddic poems. It seems to be one of the oldest poems handed down to us. Nevertheless it puzzled scholars due to its content. Most see it as a genuine pre-christian poem, whereas others suspect it to be a christian parody as they find it hard to believe that one of the highest Germanic gods would have allowed himself to be dressed as a bride. See the Thrymskvida Study Guide for details.
In the case of Thrymskvida, it may be fruitful to assume an astral background of the Eddic story. As I already discussed in the essayMjöllnir – Thor’s short handled hammer it seems to be possible to connect the hammer Mjöllnir with the asterism of the Pleiades, a part of the constellation Taurus. Indeed this asterism has the shape of a hammer with a short handle. Therefore in an astronomical context the poem would describe how the asterism of the Pleiades disappears at the western horizon and how it reappears in the east.Continue reading HERE.
Death is something I have been closely connected with since a young age and in to my military career it became even more a part of my life. I have been fascinated by the idea of the afterlife and what is possibly to be after we leave this realm. As I do not believe the pirated ideologies of the Abrahamic faiths which, to be quite honest, were taken from far older Pagan beliefs and then twisted for their own agendas. On my spiritual path many many long years ago I began looking towards the Norse Goddess Hel and since then she has been a close part of my life providing me with a sense of comfort with death. I never have looked or reacted to death as what I suppose the “norm” could be classified as. But that topic regarding me could be for a future blog post regarding death. Today I want to give honor to Hel by sharing with my readers this in-depth post regarding all there is known about her along with some various outlooks and opinions.
I Am Hel (A Song of Solace) by Michaela Macha
I am Hel the Dark One, and I will get you all.
Every man and woman must come into my hall,
the young ones and the old ones, and I will not let you go,
even if all the worlds should weep for you.
I am Hel the Beautiful, be greeted and come in.
Enjoy my hospitality together with your kin.
Your ancestors are sitting next to Balder in the light,
I bid you welcome – I am Hel the Bright.
We greet you, our lady and mistress of eternity,
you will unite us with the ones who went before;
with our friends and families we keep forever company,
Hel is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Goddess aspects in history. She has been greatly perverted through the years by patriarchal domination and ultimately used by the early Christian church as a scare tactic to frighten the masses into “righteous” acts. To get the real story, we have to go back to the early Nordic people and look this death Goddess in the face.
According to Norse tradition, Hel is one of three children born to Loki, the trickster, and Angrboda, the giantess. Her body and face were described as half in light and half in darkness. She was half dead and half alive. Her face was at once beautiful to look upon and horrific in form. Her siblings were Fenrir, the wolf who would destroy Asgard during Ragnarok, and Jormungand, the Midhgard serpent who lies at the bottom of the ocean wrapped around the world with his tail in his mouth (it is he that holds the world together).
Hel is cast into the netherworld and becomes the ruler of that underworld to which souls who have not died in battle will depart. As thanks for making Her ruler of the netherworld, Hel makes a gift to Odin. She gives him two ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). Ravens are messengers between this realm and the next, opening pathways to death’s realm.
Her realm is named for her, Hel or Helheim. Because She accepts all to Helheim, she also becomes the judge to determine the fate of each soul in the afterlife. The evil dead are banished to a realm of icy cold death (a fate that the Nordic people found much worse in telling than a lake of fire) and torture. This particular aspect of Hel’s realm was the basis for the Judeo-Christian “hell” to which sinners are banished and tortured for eternity. Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept, Helheim also served as the shelter and gathering place of souls to be reincarnated. Hel watches over those who died peacefully of old age or illness. She cares for children and women who die in childbirth. She guides those souls who do not choose the path of war and violence through the circle of death to rebirth.
Because of Hel’s special role in the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children of all ages who die, She has become, according to some sources, the special guardian of children. Mother Goose is believed to be based on Frau Holle or Frau Holda who is a kindly and wise, if slightly horrific crone who rewards the industrious and punishes the lazy. The goose aspect is from a legend tradition that says that snow is a result of Frau Holda shaking out her bed linens.
One of the stories involving Hel is the decent of Balder into Helheim. Loki arranged for Balder to die by tricking him into a rigged contest. Because the contest was hosted in Asgard, Balder could not return to that place in death. His relocation sent him to the only other realm for the dead, Hel’s domain. His arrival to Helheim was welcomed with banquet and festival, proof that not all of Hel’s realm was torturous.
Hel governs the world beyond that of the living. In magic, she makes thin the veil between worlds. Seidhr or Nordic shamans call upon Her protection and wear the helkappe, a magic mask, to render them invisible (like Hades helm of invisibility) and enable them to pass through the gateway into the realm of death and spirit. In divination, Her special symbol is Hagalaz, hail: The embodiment of the icy realm She rules. Hel stands at the crossroads in judgment of souls who pass into Her realm. In that, She is linked to Osiris and Isis as well as Hecate.
Hel has fallen from her privileged position as guardian and ruler through years of being represented as an evil, ugly entity waiting to devour and torture lost souls. Ignorance as used Her as a means of scaring children and adults into a supposedly righteous path (instead of allowing free will to guide their actions to do what is right). May we learn and dispel the slander of years by seeing Her for the protector, judge, and guide that She originally represented.
Correspondences of Hel
Colors: white and black Moon phase: dark/new Animals: owls, ravens Herbs/Flowers: Jasmine, evergreens, any white flower Stones: moonstone, quartz crystal, onyx, hematite, obsidian Aspects: change, compassion, death, reincarnation, just rule Wheel of the Year: Samhain and Yule Rune: Hagalaz – hailSOURCE
Hel is attested to in the Prose and Poetic Eddas, in Hemskringla and Egils Saga. She is mentioned in the Gesta Denorum, and her name appears on bracteates (metal disc jewelry) from the Viking period, in Skaldic poetry, and on the Setre Comb, a 6th century artifact. She is well-known by her anglicised name Hela.
Like Greek Hades, her name is the same as the place she rules, and the name itself means “to hide”, “to cover” or “hidden place” (Hades’ name means “the hidden one”). Like Hades, both she and her realm were co-opted, corrupted and perverted by Christian colonists. Hel is both a mythical and literal place, the latter referring to grave burials. The mythic location is said to be furthest north of Miðgarðr and at the same time beneath it, the Underworld. It is separated, like Hades, from the land of the living by rivers that are challenging to cross.
In the Eddas, her brothers are Fenrir and Jörmungandr, the children of Loki and Angrboða. She is tasked by Óðin to give lodging to all who die of sickness and old age – what is called a “straw death.” She is depicted as half beautiful and alive, and half blue, the colour of cold, dead flesh. Modern artistic portrayals go further, and depict her as part corpse, an image popular in both modern paganism and pop culture.
In Norse Paganism (as in all religions) there are numerous unsettled theories regarding life after death. Modern paganism makes it clear that Hel is as it was in the pre-Christian Germanic world: not a place of universal torment or unending suffering for the sinful dead. It is far more rich and complex, and far less sinister. Nowhere in the lore does it say that Hel is a universal place of suffering, rather it has been misinterpreted as such, just like Hades in Greek myth often is.
This original concept of Hel shines through the cracks in Snorri, as honoured guests Baldr and Nanna, along with their entourage are hosted with a lavish welcoming party, and there is no indication that they are anything but comfortable and free to move about. Hel is even warm towards them – a gracious hostess, as is Norse tradition. Continue reading HERE.
Hel by Patricia Monaghan I hear you invoked every day by those ignorant of your power: Mighty Hel, Oh Hel. Thus doe she endure, the forgotten goddess, never far from us, never quite erased, Oh Hel, dark mother, we always come back to you, always, Always.
Within the Myrkþursablót tradition, there are certain sigils and bindrunes that act as keys to the old wisdom. These runes would serve as good tools for meditation and seiðr for those who yearn for the power they hold… Yet again, given the nature of rune magick, these are but a few that have come to me in trance and practice, and are shared here to serve as a guide to those wishing to begin their workings within this tradition. The runes being an unorthodox and (for the most part) unstructured form of magick, it is best for the adept to eventually use those that come to them in moments of gifted inspiration to best develop a relationship with the essences being worked with.
The Hel Rune Spell represents the death giantess, Hel. Hagalaz is Hel’s rune, as she is the ruler of Helheimr. Hagalaz is pure strife, as well as the cold hail raining on bare skin. Þurs symbolizes her hrímþurs blood, Iss her connection to Gullveig as her daughter and her Nifl-essence, and a myrkstave Algiz as her place within the death trinity.
Since the dawn of human civilization, humans have looked to the stars in relationship to the Gods and Goddesses of their spiritual beliefs. We can see this through archeological, written and anthropological evidence and even see it currently throughout the world. Last month I published a post regarding the Astronomy of the Germanic and Scandinavian skies. Today I want to focus on one specific Loki and his place in the cosmos regarding a Moon of Jupiter and a very well know star. The oceans of this world are my most passionate fascination but the realm of the Universe is a subject I also like learning about and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Lokabrenna – Star of Loki (Sirius)
Sirius is so bright that it can even be observed with the naked eye, provided that the sky is clear, the observer is at a high altitude, or the Sun is at the horizon in the eastern sky, especially as Sirius appears during the late summer months in the Northern Hemisphere.
The appearance of Sirius in the sky was seen as of immense importance in ancient times; several other cultures worshiped and offered sacrifices as the rise of Sirius signaled good fortune. (Coins retrieved from 3rd century BCE were embossed with pictures of dogs or stars emitting rays, which may signify the importance of Sirius.)
Another common name for Sirius is the ‘Dog Star’ – which coincides with arrival of the oppressive heat – hence the reason why late summer (July 3rd-August 11th) is commonly referred to as the ‘dog days.’
Being the brightest star in the sky, Lokabrenna may have also been used as a navigational tool by sailors, such as the Vikings. Interestingly enough, Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan -who wrote the Risala around 921 A.D., regarding his impressions of the Varangians (Vikings) on the Volga trade route – dedicated the largest portion of his account to describing (and opining upon) the daily practices and beliefs of these traders. Thus, Fadlan may have been the first to include reference to Sirius’ importance to the Vikings as a navigational guide in the eastern skies, among other things.SOURCE
Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, α Canis Majoris (Alpha Canis Majoris), or Canicula, is the brightest star in the night sky. It lies at a distance of 8.60 light years (2.64 parsecs) from Earth, in the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. Sirius is not the brightest star because it is more luminous than other visible stars, but because it is located so close to the solar system. It is the fifth closest star system to Earth and contains two of the eight nearest stars to Earth.
Sirius is slowly moving closer to Earth and will gradually increase in brightness over the next 60,000 years, before it starts to recede. It will, however, remain the brightest star seen from Earth for the next 210,000 years.
Sirius has an apparent magnitude of -1.46, which makes it almost twice as bright as Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky, located in Carina constellation.Continue reading HERE.
A Volcano called Loki
A huge area of Io’s volcanic plains is shown in this Voyager 1 image mosaic. Numerous volcanic calderas and lava flows are visible here. Loki Patera, an active lava lake, is the large shield-shaped black feature. Heat emitted from Loki can be seen through telescopes all the way from Earth. These telescopic observations tell us that Loki has been active continuously (or at least every time astronomers have looked) since the Voyager 1 flyby in March 1979. The composition of Io’s volcanic plains and lava flows has not been determined, but they could consist dominantly of sulfur with surface frosts of sulfur dioxide or of silicates (such as basalts) encrusted with sulfur and sulfur dioxide condensates. The bright whitish patches probably consist of freshly deposited SO2 frost. The black spots, including Loki, are probably hot sulfur lava, which may remain molten by intrusions of molten silicate magma, coming up from deeper within Io. The ultimate source of heat that keeps Io active is tidal frictional heating due to the continual flexure of Io by the gravity of Jupiter and Europa, another of Jupiter’s satellites. SOURCE
The largest volcano in the solar system, located on Jupiter’s moon Io, is called Loki, named after Loki of Norse Mythology. There are several other volcanoes on the moon of Io, and all of them are named after mythical figures, most of whom are associated with fire.
Loki generates more lava and heat than all volcanoes on Earth combined, is 202km in diameter, and under the crust, is part of a molten core as large as half of the Earth’s moon.
Loki can be found on Jupiter’s moon Io. Named for the Norse God of Mischief (or comic book villain if you prefer), this volcano is considered to be the hottest and most powerful in the Solar System. Loki is officially called Loki Patera which means “Loki Basin”. Loki is not a tall volcano, it has no cone. It is the opposite, a large depression in Io’s surface that is filled with lava. Loki alone puts out more heat than all of Earth’s volcanoes combined!
Volcanism was discovered on Io by Voyager back in the 1970s. Up until this point people thought Earth was the only place with such active geology. Initially it was surprising to discover this much activity on such a tiny world. Scientists thought that since larger bodies (such as the other rocky planets, and larger moons) appeared to have thoroughly cooled and stopped exhibiting signs of active volcanism, tiny bodies such as Io wouldn’t exhibit it either. Voyager snapped photos of Io’s surface, showing large volcanic scars as well as plumes of ash reaching into the skies. Io had even more volcanic activity than Earth! SOURCE
For many years I have been fascinated with some similarities and commonalities between the ancient Norse God of Fire Logi and the Norse God, one of my,main deities, Loki who has been associated with fire as well as cunning, wit, counsel and balance; the mischief aspect is over exaggerated at times.
For years on Facebook I covered a lot about Loki in-depth on posts both controversial and scholastically.
I have been looking deeper into Loki’s family tree and while reading about his first known mistress, Glut, I of course was interested in how Logi was connected. Due to the story of how Logi married Glut after Loki left her to be with Angrboda. But there are a number of things I will not get into yet that have me a bit curious on a few things regarding both Gods. I must add that the theory of Loki and Glut having a relationship is one that has been discussed by others besides me and is only an interpretation based on the little information that exists.
I cannot help but wonder if there is a chance if one of the following is possible. Especially after discussing it for quite a while with several close friends who were helping me look into the connections between the two. It is a highly debatable subject that we found out has a lot of twists and turns down a Norse Pantheon rabbit hole.
So here are some thoughts I share with several friends and I always find it interesting what others may think. The theories I have researched are the following:
1. Logi and Loki possibly brothers? (Due to parents not likely but not ruled out)
2. Logi and Loki possibly half brothers? (From what was discussed this could be possible)
3. Possibly an “Adoption” of one or the other due to unknown circumstances. This is something that is not uncommon among the Gods.
4. A yet unknown possibility like a transformation in the telling of the Gods from very ancient times. Meaning since Loki is a shapeshifter and had lust for two women, Glut and Angrboda at the time, was Logi in actuality Loki? If that is true this would mean Loki has more children than what has been considered. Those of Glut, two daughters, Einmyria (Ashes) and Eisa (Embers).
5. Or, this is just very deep theoretical back and forth brainstorming by a group of good friends who are Pathwalkers of Norse Paganism and none of this is true? Either way it makes for fun discussion and last night was quite the intellectually fun fest.
I must add that Logi, the Norse fire spirit god is said to be the brother of Kari, the Norse god of the Northern winds and Ægir, the Norse god of the seas.
So with that said I am just going to provide some resources I have collected through my research and let you see for yourself how you feel about such possibilities.
Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been looking at the night sky viewing the stars, constellations, planet alignments, the moon and more. The vastness of space has been intertwined into folklore, myths and stories of Gods and Goddesses all over the world. It is a subject I have been fascinated with for many years with my interest specifically focusing on star navigation at sea and the ancient Astronomy found in Germanic and Scandinavian history. So today I wanted to share with you some amazing resources on this very topic regarding the ancient and some modern interpretations of Germanic and Scandinavian astronomy.
Our understanding of ancient astronomy in Northern Europe has been limited because no record exists of the native constellations among the Germanic tribes in ancient times. They certainly did not know of the constellations of the south have become our standard ones today. However, it would be unusual to suppose they never had any, only that the knowledge of them has not come down to us.
Fortunately, the surviving mythology of Scandinavia has left us enough clues to allow us to piece together this forgotten knowledge of the past. At the time these myths were recorded in 13th century Iceland the people no longer believed in the old religion. However, even back during the Viking Age, before the year 1000 AD, when the religion was still strong, many of the beliefs held then seem already to have been understood only in abstract terms, while the naturalistic explanations they embodied went back even further.
It is now clear that the mythology of Scandinavia as we know it arose from a fusion of traditional local gods with several other more widespread traditions. While the myths attained their present form within the Iron Age, some elements and aspects of it go back even into the Stone Age, when humans were first trying to make sense of their universe. SOURCE
A group of German scientists has deciphered the meaning of one of the most spectacular archeological discoveries in recent years: The mystery-shrouded sky disc of Nebra was used as an advanced astronomical clock.
The purpose of the 3,600 year-old sky disc of Nebra, which caused a world-wide sensation when it was brought to the attention of the German public in 2002, is no longer a matter of speculation.
A group of German scholars who studied this archaeological gem has discovered evidence which suggests that the disc was used as a complex astronomical clock for the harmonization of solar and lunar calendars.
Unlike the solar calendar, which indicates the position of the earth as it revolves around the sun, the lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon. A lunar year is eleven days shorter than the solar year because 12 synodic months, or 12 returns of the moon to the new phase, take only 354 days.
The sky disc of Nebra was used to determine if and when a thirteenth month — the so-called intercalary month — should be added to a lunar year to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the seasons.Continue reading HERE.
The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans all lived far enough north of the equator that they could not rely on a fairly constant Sun-path over the year, as people in the tropics did, but they were not so far from the equator that the differing lengths of day and night made it difficult for them to use their “temporal hours”, even though their lengths changed somewhat over the course of the year.
Very far north (or south) of the equator, however, the difference between the length of daylight time in the summer is very much greater than in the winter. In parts of Scandinavia above the Arctic Circle (at a latitude of 66.5° North) the Sun does not set at all for part of the summer–it is daylight all the time. On the other hand, for part of the winter the Sun does not rise in these same areas. Obviously there is no point in dividing the daytime or nighttime into twelve sections if they are not taking place! Even if the Sun sets for only three of our modern hours in the summer, if one is dividing the daytime and nighttime into Babylonian/Egyptian-style “temporal hours”, the nighttime hours will be so short compared to the daytime hours that there is hardly any point in making the divisions.
However, even very far north (or south), no matter where the Sun rises or sets, the middle of its path is above about the same part of the horizon. That means you can always tell when the middle of the day is if you know above which point on the horizon the highest point of the Sun’s path is. Also, no matter how high the Sun is above the horizon, it always passes over the same points on the horizon after the same interval of time. Using these facts, the people living in Scandinavia developed a system of time-keeping quite different than the Babylonian/Egyptian system.
As said earlier, our modern system of time-keeping divides each sun-cycle into twenty-four hours, each of which is 60 minutes long. The Scandinavians divided each sun-cycle (sólarhringr, “sun-ring” in their language) into eight sections. They did this by dividing the horizon into eight sections (north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest). Each of these sections was called an eighth (átt or eykt). 3 A place on the horizon which lay dead center in any of these eight directions (due north, due northeast, etc.) was called a daymark (dagmark). 4 The identified the time by noting when the Sun stood over one of these daymark-points on the horizon.Continue reading HERE.
While the Germanic peoples obviously knew the night skies and had names for the objects they saw therein, as Grimm goes on to comment, few of the old names have been preserved.
Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda says in Gylfaginning:
Þá tóku þeir síur ok gneista þá, er lausir fóru ok kastat hafði ór Múspellsheimi, ok settu á mitt Ginnungap á himin bæði ofan ok neðan til at lýsa himin ok jörð. Þeir gáfu staðar öllum eldingum, sumum á himni, sumar fóru lausar undir himni, ok settu þó þeim stað ok skipuðu göngu þeim. Svá er sagt í fornum vísindum, at þaðan af váru dægr greind ok áratal.
[Then they (the gods) took the sparks and burning embers that were flying about after they had been blown out of Muspellheimr, and placed them in the midst of the firmament (Ginnungagap) both above and below to give light heaven and earth. They gave their stations to all the fires, some fixed in the sky, some moved in a wandering course beneath the sky, but they appointed them places and ordained their courses.]
Vôluspá in the Poetic Edda expresses the same idea:
Sól það né vissi hvar hún sali átti, stjörnur það né vissu hvar þær staði áttu, máni það né vissi hvað hann megins átti.
[The sun knew not where she had her hall, the stars knew not where they had a stead, the moon knew not what power he possessed.]
Elsewhere in the Poetic Edda, the poem Alvíssmál gives a complex series of astronomical synonyms attributed to the various races of the Norse cosmos, but doesn’t name stars or constellations:
Þórr kvað: “Segðu mér þat Alvíss, – öll of rök fira vörumk, dvergr, at vitir, hvé sá himinn heitir erakendi, heimi hverjum í?”
Alvíss kvað: “Himinn heitir með mönnum, en hlýrnir með goðum, kalla vindófni vanir, uppheim jötnar, alfar fagraræfr, dvergar drjúpansal.”
Þórr kvað: “Segðu mér þat Avlíss, – öll of rök fira vörumk, dvergr, at vitir, hversu máni heitir, sá er menn séa, heimi hverjum í?”
Alvíss kvað: “Máni heitir með mönnum, en mylinn með goðum, kalla hverfanda hvél helju í, skyndi jötnar, en skin dvergar, kalla alfar ártala.”
Þórr kvað: “Segðu mér þat Alvíss, – öll of rök fira vörumk, dvergr, at vitir, hvé sú sól heitir, er séa alda synir, heimi hverjum í?”
Alvíss kvað: “Sól heitir með mönnum, en sunna með goðum, kalla dvergar Dvalins leika, eygló jötnar, alfar fagrahvél, alskír ása synir.”
Thórr said: Say to me, Alvíss, for it seems to me there is nothing you do not know: what is heaven called, that all know, in all the worlds there are?
Alvíss said: Heaven it is called by men, the Arch by gods, Wind-Weaver by the Vanir, by giants High-Earth, by elves Fair-Roof by dwarves the Dripping Hall.
Thórr said: Say to me, Alvíss, for it seems to me there is nothing you do not know: what is the moon called, that men see, in all the worlds there are?
Alvíss said: Moon it is called by men, the Ball by gods, the Whirling Wheel in Hel, the Speeder by giants, the Bright One by dwarves, by elves Tally-of-Years.
Thórr said: Say to me, Alvíss, for it seems to me there is nothing you do not know: what is the sun called, that is seen by men, in all the worlds there are?
Alvíss said: Sól it is called by men, Sunna by the gods, by dwarves, Dvalinn’s toy, by giants Everglow, by elves Fair-Wheel, All-Bright by the sons of gods.
The pagan Great Midwinter Sacrifice and the ‘royal’ mounds at Old Uppsala
At the end of the 17 th century, the farmers of Uppland were still using the so-called rule of King Aun, according to which the phases of the moon in the Julian calendar fell one day earlier after 304 years. Such displacements in the eight-year cycle took place in 1692, 1388, 1084, 780, and 476. The semi-legendary king Aun is considered to have reigned about AD 450-500 and t o have been buried at Old Uppsala. The three ‘royal’ burial mounds there have been dated to AD 450-550. These mounds are oriented in such a way that they could have been used to regulate the sacrificial calendar.
The importance of the Disting and the precise definitions as to when it should take place
The original meaning of the Disting was threefold; there should be: a great sacrifice for peace and victory for the king, a general meeting with representatives from all the Swedish provinces, and a major market (Granlund 1958: cols 112-115). At the general meeting, important common political decisions were taken, such as election of a new king or solution of judicial questions that not could be solved at local courts. The participation of the representatives was compulsory, and Christian representatives who refused to come because of the human sacrifice had to pay a great fine.
The dates for the Disting were linked to the phases of the moon according to an ancient rule preserved in medieval texts. Already Tacitus had pointed out that important meetings among the Germanic peoples must take place at the new or full moon (Hutton 1970: 149 [Germania 11]). In his Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, written in 1555 during his exile in Rome, Olaus Magnus, the last Roman Catholic archbishop in Sweden, explained that the Disting was started at the full moon because the light from the moon facilitated travel to Uppsala during the short days at midwinter (Foote 1996: 203 [Magnus 4.6]).
The exact rule for determining the starting date of the Disting was given by Olof Rudbeck (1679: 68), professor in medicine at the university of Uppsala and a scholar with broad scientific interest: The moon that shines in the sky on Twelfth Day (6/1) is the Christmas moon and after this follows the Disting’s moon. This means that the earliest date for the beginning of the Distingwas 21 January (7/1+14 days) and the latest date was 19 February (7/1+29 days). The Disting started on the day of the full moon between 21/1 and 19/2, according to the Julian calendar. The corresponding interval for the beginning of the Disting in our modern calendar is 28 January-26 February. It may seem strange that this originally heathen rule was related to Twelfth Day, or the Epiphany, as in the rule for the start of the Disting in Magnus (Foote 1996: 203 [Magnus 4.6]). The explanation is that the rule for the dates of the Disting was related to the Christian calendar in the 12th century. At that time, there was a shift by seven days between the Julian calendar and our Gregorian calendar that is closely related to the solstices and equinoxes. This fact also explains why the Swedish tradition says that the night of St. Lucia, 13 December, is the longest and darkest night of the year. If seven days are added to this date, we get the date of the winter solstice at that time. This fact indicates that the pre-historic Swedish calendar was closely related to the solstices and equinoxes and supports the results found in my earlier archaeoastronomical investigations of ancient monuments in Sweden (Henriksson 1983, 1989a and b, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1999 and 2002).SOURCE
Observations in Eddic Astronomy How Passages in the Eddas Act as References to Constellations by Dr. Christopher E. Johnsen
The Norse Myths have a distinctive flavor all their own, but they also have many similarities to the Greek, Roman, Persian and Indian mythologies. These myths from other cultures have many well-known correspondences with the stars, whereas the Norse mythical tradition has a paucity of them, or perhaps it would be better to say that they have been intentionally hidden and the keys to deciphering these correspondences have been lost.
Astronomy, stjörnuíþrótt in Old Norse, is the science of observation of the stars – it seems that the ancients were very good at it. It is likely that the people living far North near the Arctic circle had a natural tendency to focus on observation of the stars since so many winter nights were filled with nothing but darkness and the stars above to observe, with little sunlight present around the winter solstice.
Modern astronomy’s roots can be traced to Mesopotamia, and it descends directly from Babylonian astronomers who in turn derived their knowledge from Sumerian astronomers. The earliest Babylonian star catalogues date from about 1200 BC and many star names are in Sumerian suggesting that the Sumerians were one of if not the first people to study the stars that have been observed in the archeological record or that they inherited an astronomical tradition from some unknown earlier culture. The Sumerians developed the earliest known writing system – cuneiform – whose origin is currently dated to circa 3500 BC. Baked clay tablets with cuneiform writing have been found that recorded detailed observations of the stars which led to the sophisticated astronomy of the Sumerian’s successors, the Babylonians. Only fragments of these cuneiform tablets detailing Babylonian astronomy have survived down through the ages. Many believe that “all subsequent varieties of scientific astronomy, in the Hellenistic world, in India, in Islam, and in the West—if not indeed all subsequent endeavour in the exact sciences—depend upon Babylonian astronomy in decisive and fundamental ways.” An argument can be made that this statement also holds true for the Norse astronomers of old and that they were continuing the ancient Sumerian/Babylonian tradition.Continue reading HERE.
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.
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
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
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, fornaldarsogur. A 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 Sagaand 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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.).
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.
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
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.
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.
Today’s blog post I want to briefly discuss and share with you two books from my personal library that dive into the lesser know side and path of Odinn the Allfather of the Norse Gods and Goddesses. A lot look at Odinn as either this fierce warrior God or the cloaked wise old wanderer. Many tales of his light wisdom can be found in the words of the Hávamál and other works. What seems by most to be ignored or perhaps just not recognized is the “dark” or left-hand side of Odinn. This does not mean bad or evil but more of the other side of the path most cringe from. The more chaotic and primal side, which is where I am spiritually primarily. So when I came across these two books below I was absolutely fascinated by them both. They only gave me a deeper understanding of my nontraditional spiritual path specifically with how I have understood there was a side of Odinn I needed to dive deeper into. I have spoken on this for many years and that is the essential of balance in spirituality. If one only basks in the light they will be blind in the dark. To only remain in thee dark one will be blinded by the light. So learning this side of Odin and reading other’s perspectives regarding him is one I always highly recommend.
The Hanged God: Óðinn Grímnirby Shanti Oates
Challenging former atrophied or outdated knowledge regarding Óðinn’s acquisition of the runes and the mead of poetry, this extensive and intense study revisits Hávamál, Vǫluspá, Skáldskaparmál, Grímnismál, Heimskringla and Ynglinga Sagas specifically, to unravel and reconnect crucial factors that collectively reveal a magical formula for rebirth and resurrection. These kennings have preserved the threads of mysteries pertaining to Rúnar entrenched in Taboo. Óðinn’s quest of discovery takes him through three historically attested trials as Rites of Passage that find parallel forms in other animistic traditions. His ordeals of Mound, Tree and Sacral Kingship together with an articulation of the role of Hamingja are hitherto connected.Continue reading HERE.
This Path is different from the standard, main-stream Right-Hand approach to Paganism because it does not recognize the positive evaluation of modern times and the modern reality surrounding us: its negative impact on the state of Norse traditions and its worldview is excessively large. This new Path does not accept the trunk of the teachings belonging to the Right-Hand Path, although without denying their expertise and contribution to the common cause. Thus, the Left-Hand Path attempts to open and question all that which until today has not been open to our tradition, that which is in the shade and is closer and deeper to the Iron Age we live in. This vision is based on known historical heritage and traditions, contemporary thinking and experiences, including some pretty interesting attempts to describe the Left-Hand Path in Oðinnism in the West since the mid-twentieth century.
Gap: At the Left Hand of Odin consists of three Mal (sayings, speeches from the Eddas):
• Sayings of the Gangraðr, on behalf of Oðinn Gangraðr – Advisor in the Path. In these speeches it is revealed the promise and the doctrine of the Abyss in Oðinnism, and we deal with questions of thinking and transgression.
• Sayings of the Vegtamr, on behalf of Oðinn Vegtamr – Accustomed to the Path. In these speeches instructions are given about the ritual practice in line with the spirit and the promise of teaching.
• Sayings of the Kvasir, in honor of the wisest of men. In these speeches one will find the texts that are not included in the main body, but that are one way or another connected with the Path, such as dreams and thoughts.
I purchased my copy published by Fall of Man and I believe is out of print which means you would have to find a second hand copy.