Välkommen! Denna blogg är administerad av en hedning som heter William (eller Vilhjálmr). Jag fokuserar på ämnen om fornnordiska mytologi och tro, båda modern och historisk. Det finns också mycket information om runor. Om vill du läsa mer om mig eller läsa mina viktiga artiklar, var snäll och följa de länkar nedanför. Skål!

Again, in English:

Welcome! This blog is run by a practicing reconstructionist Heathen named William. I focus on education about topics in Norse mythology and religion, both historical and modern, and there is a lot on the subject of runes. For more information on me, or to read my major runic study posts, please follow the links below.

Note: I focus on academic scholarship in my study of Norse religion, gods, etc. For the most part, my posts will not usually take UPG into account. I also focus on Scandinavian culture, particularly Swedish, in my practice, so please keep these things in mind when reading. Ha det bra!

 

armin-blood-covered:

My friend lent me a book the other day, but since I don’t know much about…well..any of this, I have a question for everyone:

What’s your opinion on Lee M. Hollander’s translation of the Poetic Edda?

That’s the translation that I own. I like it, but at the same time in his effort to preserve the poetic rhythm of the stories he ends up using some archaic terms that can be confusing for people, and which also sometimes break the rhythm anyway since they are still translated. In any case, I think that it’s a good translation as far as translations go. I’ve heard several Icelandic speakers say that most English (and probably other language) translations have a lot of errors, and you want to read every footnote in there, but working off of that basis it’s good. ;)

Vetrnætr

What is Vetrnætr?

Vetrnætr (Winter Nights) is one of the primary holidays found in the Norse branch of Heathenism, and observes the end of the summer half of the year and the beginning of the winter half. This festival is attested in several of the sagas, and is one of the three seasonal festivals listed in Ynglingasaga, along with a midwinter festival (likely Jólablót/Yule) and a victory sacrifice at the onset of summer (Sigrblót).[i] It has been carried forward into modern Heathenism from the older sources by many different groups and organizations including Ásatrúarfélagið[ii] and Forn Sed Norway, while Forn Sed Sweden observes Alvablot (Elven Sacrifice), which may be a connected tradition dating from pre-Christian Sweden.[iii]

One aspect that is not very clear about historical Winter Nights observations is exactly how they were carried out. Rather, there appears to have a fair degree of variation from region to region, and perhaps even more individually. The sources that we have, while not giving a complete picture, do at least give us some things upon which we can base our reconstructions, so that the modern forms share a similar spirit with their older inspirations.

When is it celebrated?

Since the Old Icelandic/Old Norse calendar was kept on a lunar basis rather than solar, the dates of things such as seasonal changes had more variation than they do by our modern reckoning. As Winter Nights was held at the onset of winter, we can use this information to better pinpoint the timing. The beginning of winter on the Old Icelandic calendar was said to occur in the month of Gor (Innards), which began on the Saturday after the 26th week of summer. Since summer ends on a Wednesday, this leaves a gap of two days in-between, and this gap would most likely be the time of Winter Nights, making it a three-night long festival. On modern calendars, this lands between the 19th and the 26th of October.

Andreas Nordberg claims as well that all major sacrifice days were observed 28 days after a solstice or equinox event, which would place Winter Nights 28 days after the Autumnal Equinox in modern reckoning.[iv] This lines up as well with the timing based off of the old calendar. Most modern Winter Nights celebrations, though, will usually be held on a Saturday during that time frame, due to work schedules and other factors.

Who celebrates it?

Winter Nights is attested in Norse sagas, and therefore is primarily a celebration within the Norse branch of Heathenism. As stated above, pretty much all Scandinavian organizations celebrate it or a connected festival. In North American Heathenism it is also often observed, although there has been some confusion with the development of the Winter Finding holiday, which occurs on the Autumnal Equinox. This is the same as Haustblót (Autumn Sacrifice), but the name has caused a somewhat common tendency to mistake Winter Finding and Winter Nights as being the same holiday.

How is it celebrated?

This is the point at which the most variation in Winter Nights celebrations occurs. There is no one way in which historical Winter Nights traditions were observed and this goes all the way to even which deities were honored. Four beings or groups of beings who are named in different sagas as having been honored at this time are Freyr, Óðinn, the álfar and the dísir. The honoring of the dísir appears to be the most common based on textual evidence, and is present in at least Víga-Glúms saga and Egils saga Skallagrímssonar. The reference in Egil’s saga also gives a hint into one of the offerings used, as he and Ölvir are first denied ale when they travel to the home of Barð because it is being used for the Dísablót.[v]

The reference to the honoring of Freyr comes from Gísla saga Súrssonar when Þorgrímr says that they will be performing a sacrifice to Freyr during the autumnal blót. Since Freyr is also known as the lord of the álfar this could lend support to the connection between them and Winter Nights, but that is in no way certain from this reference, and would be purely conjecture. However, there is a clear reference in support of their being honored at this time, and that comes from Sweden. In the skaldic poem Austrfararvísur, Sigvatr Þórðarson journeys to Sweden in the service of King Olaf II in Norway at the onset of winter. When he comes to a place known as Hof he seeks a place to stay. However, he is turned away at several different houses, each time by a man named Ölvir. He is told that the people there are heathen and are performing a sacrifice to the álfar, and that they also fear Óðinn’s wrath should they allow the ceremony to be interrupted by outsiders. This also gives a possible reference to ale being used as an offering; because the man who turns away Sigvatr at every house is called Ölvir, it has been interpreted as possibly being a title rather than an actual name, meaning “Ale Being.”[vi]

The account given in Austrfararvísur does not explicitly state that Óðinn was honored at that time, but it certainly carries a heavy implication of it. It is also not specifically presented as a Winter Nights observation, but because it happened at the onset of winter in line with other celebrations, and because Ynglingasaga presents the Winter Nights feast as having been a widespread practice, it can be fairly well interpreted that the Álfablót was a Winter Nights observation in at least that part of Sweden.

Regarding actual practices, as stated above it appears that ale was at least a somewhat common offering during Winter Nights observations. Additionally, we know that this time of the year was prevalent for slaughtering livestock before the weather turned. Because in that time meat would generally not be preserved as long as it can now, it would have to be eaten much more quickly. Because of this, it is also very likely that meat from livestock was a common offering. Overall, a portion of the fruits of one’s harvest were likely to be the primary choice for offerings. In modern times this is often a similar case; and for those who farm, brew or raise livestock a sacrifice of that kind may well still be their choice. For those who do not, these types of offerings are still good even if purchased elsewhere.

Why celebrate Vetrnætr?

For modern Heathens, specifically those who follow the Norse branch, this is one of the primary festivals present in the lore, and therefore is an important one. Though our calendar now is different from the old one, this still marks a turning point at which the sunlight and warmth of summer is gone and we head into winter. It is also a time to give a portion of what we have gained over the summer as both thanks and as a petition for a favorable winter. As can be seen from the source literature, traditions and customs for this festival had a great degree of variation by region and community, and likewise in modern times different individuals and groups observe it in modern times, but the spirit of a feast heading into winter is still the same. As for the dísir and the álfar, though it appears that they were historically worshiped as anonymous spirits connected to the family rather than specific ancestors, they are still very much a part of one’s environment and deserve respect. Indeed, these spirits could greatly aid people if kept happy, and to welcome them as a member of the family is certainly a positive action. Take this time to stave off the cold of the oncoming winter with some warmth and feasting.



[i] Snorri Sturlusson. Heimskringla. (New York: Dover Publications, 1990).

[ii] Blót. Ásatrúarfélagið. http://asatru.is/blot.

[iii] Årets Högtider. Samfundet Forn Sed Sverige. http://www.samfundetfornsed.se/om-forn-sed/%C3%A5rets-h%C3%B6gtider-1283052.

[iv] Nordberg, Andreas. Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning: Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden. (Uppsala, 2006). Available from: http://www.kgaa.nu/upload/books/103.pdf

[v] Thorsson, Örnólfur et al. The Sagas of Icelanders. (New York: Viking Penguin, 2000).

[vi] Snorri Sturlusson.

Nordic Roots and Branches | 90.7 KSER

den-frusna-eken:

If you want to listen to some contemporary and traditional Nordic music, this radio station is based in Snohomish County, WA and has a segment called Nordic Roots and Branches which starts at 7PM PST every Tuesday and plays music from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. They offer live streaming in several formats and you can also listen to past shows.

Currently streaming at the time of this posting.

Reblogging because it is streaming again. It has a little over an hour left.

o-hs:

Brought out my runes today and read on them for the first time before trying a few contact questions.
My aunt gave me her runes and the joy rune is broken. I remember happily accepting them but feeling very nervous, especially when finding the broken rune.
My first questions I posed were whether I should fix the broken rune, and if it had been ok for my aunt to give me her runes (unlike tarot cards you can give your personal runes to other people so long as the runes agree to it.)
I received no’s for both questions.
When I asked why I should not have been given the runes, I pulled the rune of protection.
Therefore I think I will do a little more study of them before I attempt to use them again…

If you are wanting to study them more before using them again, I highly suggest getting better sources to learn from. I don’t mean to sound condescending or anything, but Ralph Blum is simply not a good source of information on runes. I have a list on my blog of good sources, and Sunnyway.com is a decent free online source (not so much for galdr) as well as arild-hauge.com. Of course the rune poems are the best sources to look at if you want to consult a primary source. As far as meanings go those are what most of our information comes from. Sunnyway has included them as well.

New item available: Norse/Viking Hygiene Kit (1 currently available pre-made)

This will be listed on my Etsy shop when I open it back up in a week or so, but for now is available by invoice only. Price is $30 for the set + $5 shipping (Domestic; shipping outside U.S. will depend on international rates). Custom orders are welcome after the first set is sold.

This set is based off of grave finds showing the types of utensils commonly used for hygiene purposes in Scandinavia during and outside of the Viking Age. Sets as well as individual pieces have been found, and I offer a 3-piece set including tweezers, a pick for cleaning nails and an ear spoon (spoon not recommended for actual use). The pieces are put onto a twisted steel ring to be easily suspended from a brooch or otherwise worn on the person, and they also fit easily into a pouch.

All are handmade using mild steel and are in working quality/condition. Do not allow to sit wet for extended periods as mild steel will rust. If rusting occurs, clean the utensils with a wire brush or steel wool.

hedendom:

May I present a beautiful selection of photographic images created by heathenfairytale, who also runs the Norse Mythology and Viking blog norsememories.

For more great pictures please check out her instagram

Til års og fred!

How to Practice Galdr Magic

sneakylittletrickster:

den-frusna-eken:

ravenousnightwind:

Galdr doesn’t have to have words to be powerful. Sometimes when you sing and make up your own musical sound, it can affect things if you put intention behind it. Galdr; when spoken usually revolves around the runes, chanting them over and over with intention. It’s the vibration of the voice along…

I do agree that runes are not completely necessary for galdr; and often it appears that galdr was indeed done without any definite mention of them. However, galdr by its definition is a sung or chanted form of magic with what seems to be a heavy emphasis on words and rhythm. The galdralag meter in Old Norse poetry (shown in Háttatal in the Prose Edda) is likely an example of how those songs and incantations were commonly formed, and the sagas usually present galdr as being sung/chanted by the user in a verbal form.

Of course there are other forms of magic from Old Norse culture which can incorporate galdr or even non-verbal melodic aspects, but galdr itself, based on what evidence we have, seems to be heavy on poetic composition and in general the creative use of words. The chanting of a single word (usually a rune name in this context) likewise seems to be more based on ceremonial magic or other systems rather than what has survived of actual pre-Christian Scandinavian techniques.

(bolding mine)

A few weeks ago Loki wanted to listen to the Galdr of Release from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and then he spelled to me Galdr meant poem in old Norse.  I was a bit confused when I looked it up because Google said it meant “spell or incantation” (although I couldn’t find a definitive source for this info) but I’m thinking this is what he probably meant.

edit: also this could have been a case of Exact Words in which a “galdr” WAS a poem but the word didn’t/doesn’t TRANSLATE into “poem” in English.  If that makes sense.

It’s basically one of those situations where it has a certain subtlety to its definition. The source I have at hand is Geir T. Zoëga’s A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, which defines galdr as “magic song, charm” as well as “witchcraft, sorcery” (p. 158). So it is a song, but it’s a specialized type of song. At the same time, though, it relies heavily on poetic structure so while it may not be defined as a poem, it certainly carries that implied poetic element.

That’s often the trouble with doing translations, in that it can be hard to tell exactly how or in what ways a word was used when there are multiple terms for the same basic thing. ;)

I want to make something clear

thegurlwhoplayedwithfire:

Although I say I follow Asatru, this in no way means I stick to the Aesir gods and goddesses alone, I look to the Vanir as well.

I believe in the immediate presence of all deities both Aesir and Vanir respectively. I don’t like to nit pick.

While Ásatrú can refer to a focus on the Æsir, the singular term “áss” from which it is partially derived also refers to one of the gods in general, which is what I think was the purpose of the word to begin with.

Quick PSA that "Hailsa" is not actually a greeting.

den-frusna-eken:

"Hailsa" (later spelled "heilsa") is an infinitive Old Norse verb meaning "to hail/greet," so to say this to someone in that form is the same as saying "To hail!"

If you want a correctly conjugated greeting, “kom heill” is listed in A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic,…

Thank you for that. :) I was actually going to edit that post with a lot of the same info after talking to a friend of mine yesterday, but it’s good to see it explained again as Old Norse linguistics is not really my specialty beyond what I have learned through some sources and contacts.