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Éljúðnir: Great Hall of the Goddess Hel

Though little is known of Hela’s feasting hall known as Éljúðnir, there are those of us who feel the deep connection to the Þursar (Rökkr) who feel it is not a place of sorrow or darkness but like the other afterlife halls of Valhalla or those of Freyja, Rán and others.

Because Hela and her realm of Helheim was given such a terrible name after the conversion to christianity, she was associated for far too long to darkness, suffering and a place for the damned. This however is not the case at all regarding Hela and her great hall.

I share an opinion with many others that her hall of Éljúðnir is simply another option that one is chosen to go to depending on their deeds in this life. Being chosen to feast and live a joyous afterlife in Hela’s hall does not mean you are weak, disabled or a sick coward in this life. It means you are a person who I feel had the life experiences of a deep connection with both sides of life and death. One I am intimately experienced with.

We do not choose which Great Hall we will dine in once we cross over but I feel most of these places of afterlife celebration including Hela’s are benevolent. This of course is not to say that there are places for the wicked to reside in solemn punishment.

The truth is that we cannot be absolutely certain until our time comes but I will say that I have no fear or concerns about Éljúðnir if that is the Great Hall where you can rest and feel at peace.

Learn more below:

Goddess Hel

Hel (The Underworld)

The Nine Worlds: Helheim

Death and the Afterlife

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Runes and Weland the Smith

These two little books by Ben Waggoner are two little gems I highly recommend for your library.

A Pocket Guide to Runes is a great little resource and guide regarding the Elder Futhark Runes regarding each one’s meaning and use.

Weland the Smith tells about Weland also known as Volundr, Wieland and Wayland. His name lives on as the name of the most masterful craftsman ever known. Captured and crippled, forced to make treasures for a cruel king, he plots not only how to regain his freedom, but how to take a terrible vengeance. His legend was told for centuries in England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Here you will find the major sources for Weland’s legend, translated from Old Norse and Old English.

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Ravens: The Folklore, Myths and Spiritual

Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience. What is so lurid about these black-feathered creatures and why does the sight of them send a wave of shivers down one’s spine? Studying the folklore of different cultures may unravel the motives underlying the superstitious beliefs and religious faiths.

In most North European mythologies birds such as ravens, vultures and others feeding on carrion—the flesh of the dead—commonly pass as symbols of war, death, and misfortune. Celtic and Irish goddesses were believed to appear in the form of a crow or a raven, gathering over the battlefields, where they would feed on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Also, seeing a raven or a crow before going into a battle gave a sense of foreboding and meant that the army would be defeated. When the giant Bran, king of Britain in Welsh mythology, was mortally wounded while warring against the Irish, he commanded his followers to behead him and carry his head to the Tower of London for his burial and as a sign of protection of Britain. A popular superstition arose declaring that if the ravens ever fled the Tower of London, the monarchy would fall. As long as they nested there, Britain would never be successfully invaded. In medieval times, these pagan legends resulted in demonetization of crows and ravens, which were consequently depicted as familiars of witches.

However, the raven as a symbol, also have a positive interpretation. The omniscient god Odin, one of the chief gods in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Mind) perching on his shoulders. Each daybreak they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody, even the dead. By sunrise, they would come back to whisper their master what they had seen and learned. Since they embodied Odin’s mind and thoughts, they symbolized his ability to see into the future. The book also makes a mention of an early Norse poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins (Odin’s Raven Chant), in which Odin sends the ravens to the Underworld to investigate the disappearance of the lost goddess Idunn. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

In North American folklore ravens are the creators of the world. Details of the creation tale differ, but essentially “the Raven”—a creature with the human body and raven’s beak—is believed to have made the world. He gave light to people, taught them to take care of themselves, make clothes, canoes and houses. He also brought vegetation, animals, and other benefits for the human kind. Much like the biblical story of Noah, he is said to have taken animals two by two on a big raft in order to save them from a massive flood. After all, he had done for the humans, he wished to marry a woman in turn, but her family refused to let her go. As a revenge, the myth says, the Raven created mosquitoes from crushed leaves to pester the humans forever.

Learn more about the raven in folklore, myths and spiritual meaning below.

Raven symbolism and meaning

Raven in Mythology

Ravens in Celtic Mythology

Ravens in Celtic and Norse Mythology

Native American Raven Mythology

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The Prose Edda

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

Check out the great resources below

The Prose Edda Book

The Prose and Poetic Eddas, Völuspá

The Prose Edda on Sacred Texts

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Shapeshifters of the North

Shapeshifting in Old Norse Religion as well as other native religions throughout Northern Europe and into Siberia is known but perhaps not spoken of enough about its importance with the practices of Shamans, Witches and with the use of Seiðr. We do see shapeshifting in the stories of the Norse Gods and Goddesses mainly with Odin, Loki and Freyja but not as much with humans like Fafnir the Dragon from the Saga of the Volsungs who used to be a man. Like what we can see with other ancient cultures and even to present times, Shamans will dress in animal hides and become Therianthropic during rituals which is a symbolism of shapeshifting itself. An example that is quite well known during the Viking Age are the fierce wild warriors known as the Berserkrs and Úlfhéðnar which were special warriors that dressed in the hides of Bears or Wolves and they themselves became animalistic.

Besides what was written down or passed by word during and after the Viking Age, as well as other Northern regions across Europe and Asia, regarding shapeshifting, there also is some physical evidence of its spiritual importance with such examples as the Khakassia Petroglyph in Siberia. Shapeshifting depicted with Petroglyphs can be found in other parts of Europe, Asia and especially the Amerindians of North America.

Personally I find the subject of shapeshifting quite fascinating and have read much about it as well as watched a number of documentaries that touch on the subject. Below you will find a selection of resources I highly recommend having a look at.

Three Awesome Magical Powers in Norse Mythology

Shapeshifting in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature

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The Völsunga Saga

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

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

My personal copy of the Völsunga Saga

Further resources

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

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

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Völva: The Shamanic Seeress of the North

The Völva in Norse Paganism is in my opinion the most sacred title that can be bestowed upon a Woman who has worked tirelessly with unwavering dedication to practicing and learning the secrets and magick that is Seiðr and Galdur. It is not something just anyone can call themselves. It is a name with a history dating back thousands of years even before the Viking Age. Women as Shamans in ancient Scandinavia and across Europe has been found through Archeological evidence from the Bronze Age. It is a tradition of spiritual beliefs, medicine, divination and more passed down through the generations. Years ago I met a woman born and raised in Iceland. We quickly became good friends and to this day I consider her like a sister of mine. She also happens to be a truly recognized Völva not only in Iceland but across Europe and elsewhere. She learned the secrets and practices of a Völva from her Mother who learned from her Mother and so on going all the back to when Iceland was settled during the late Viking Age. I can honestly say that not only am I proud to be her friend but feel a true gratitude and unbelievable privilege that she has mentored me during the years and she even has gone so far to share with me things regarding this sacred magick I hold closely guarded myself. So with that said I feel the need to share what I feel are some of the best resources to learn more about the Völva.

Remember this as I have been saying this for years. No one can just become a Völva or self proclaim this title. The Völva is chosen, granted the title and only after showing that they themselves are worthy.

In the Sagas, seeresses called völur (plural) have been described. The word völva (singular) means a carrier of the wand. Usually, a völva was an older woman who traveled around helping people with her magical skills.

“There was in the settlement the woman whose name was Thorbjorg. She was a prophetess (spae-queen), and was called Litilvolva (little sybil). […] It was a custom of Thorbjorg, in the winter time, to make a circuit, and people invited her to their houses, especially those who had any curiosity about the season, or desired to know their fate. […]

The women formed a ring round about, and Thorbjorg ascended the scaffold and the seat prepared for her enchantments. Then sang Gudrid the weird-song in so beautiful and excellent a manner, that to no one there did it seem that he had ever before heard the song in voice so beautiful as now.”

Read full article HERE

Weaving the Dead: Völvas and Their Analogues in Europe

Völva, a Shamanic Seeress

A seeress from Fyrkat?

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Gandreiðarstafur (Witch riding Stave)

“To go wherever you want.”

He or She who wishes to ride through the air like a witch shall inscribe this stave on a bleached horse’s skull with two types of blood: from the man himself as well as from a horse, combining it in thirds, two parts being the horse’s blood, from beneath the frog of the hoof of the right foreleg, and the third part from beneath the big toe of the man’s left foot. The stave is to be drawn with a chicken feather, and he who has a witch-ride bridle will then be able to ride through air and water, wherever he feels like going. A witch-ride bridle is created by digging up a newly buried man and cutting a strip of skin from the length of his spine. This will be used for reins. Next, the dead man must be scalped, and the scalp will be used for the bridle. The dead man’s lingual bone is to be used for the bit and his hip bones for cheekpieces. A spell also needs to be recited over it, and then the bridle is finished. All that needs to be done is place the witch-ride bridle over a horse’s head. It will then fly into the air with whomever is riding it, and fly faster than lightning wherever its rider wishes, creating a great whistling sound.”

Icelandic scholar Þorsteinn Konráðsson began collecting Galdrastafurs in 1890, but it was not until 1943 that he collected his volumes of data and wrote about them which included hundreds of Icelandic magic symbols (Staves). His style was unique, using a two-toned black and red to bring out a dramatic effect visually of the Staves. This Galdrastafur appears in several other manuscripts and how long it has existed lies in mystery. It is said that this one was a favorite of Þorsteinn.

Learn more about Galdrastafurs below

https://www.galdrastafir.org/

https://galdrastafir.com/

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Icelandic Runes, A Brief History

Icelandic Runes, A Brief History

by Teresa Dröfn Freysdóttir Njarðvík

This is by far my favorite little book about Runes out of all I have in my library. I learned about this little lesser known treasure a couple of years ago during a conversation I was having with a dear Völva friend of mine and mentor who lives in Iceland. Turns out a friend of hers is the Author of this little gem. The book is exactly as the title describes. It starts with an introduction to the Elder Futhark and then carries on with other variations of the Runes including the unique Icelandic Runes. Then proceeds into their use, history and the use of Runes in more modern times. It is a book I highly recommend for your library.

To order your copy unless you can read Icelandic you will need to translate the webpage as there is only one source in Iceland to order a copy from.

https://www.penninn.is/is/book/icelandic-runes-brief-history

Article regarding the book from Icelandic Times

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Galdrakver, Book of Magic

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

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