Looking for a way to educate your children about the Norse Gods?
Or do you just want simple reading material?
Who doesn’t like books with pictures?
One of the largest excavations ever made in Uppsala
YOU TUBE VIDEO COMMENTARY
(All information below is written by original YouTube Poster, not me. I simply cleaned up some of the grammar and spelling)
The Pillars of old Uppsala 800 BC – 600 AD:
In October 2013, Swedish archaeologists revealed that they had found a 900 meter long wooden pillar column near the royal burial ground. In February 2014, they found the oldest samples from the wooden pillars – the oldest ones were 2800 years old!
So the wooden pillars were erected and in use during a time period of at least 1400 years.
Experts believe the pillars would have been at least around 7-8 m high and needed around 1,5 ton of rock to support them. Also a smaller wooden column of over 500 meters long has been found south of this column but hasn’t yet been totally excavated.
The colonnades were found near a famous burial site where the three Iron Age kings Aun, Egil and Adils are believed to be buried.
In Ynglinga saga, Odin is considered the 2nd Mythological king of Sweden, succeeding Gylfi and was succeeded by Njörðr.
These ancient colonnades were found in the center of Old Uppsala during work on a new railway line. It’s the largest excavation ever made in Uppsala.
Well this explains why ancestryDNA told me that a mostly Irish lass like myself has a small percentage of Scandinavian blood. Maybe it was those viking raiders.
The tradition of magic among the native Icelandic population goes back to ancient times. Magic was an important part of life, and mastering it was vital to interacting with nature and controlling one’s destiny.
Jochum M. Eggertson (better known as “Skuggi” meaning shadow) collected these spells into a book called the Galdraskræða. The first edition of this book was published in the year 1940. It was only published in a limited edition of 150 copies. The book contains nearly 200 spells and an ensemble of runic letters. Since there were only a few limited editions of this book sold onto the market, the book was very difficult to find for several years.
The book has been republished recently with easier to read designs drawn in red (in order to represent blood).
Purchase The Book (Note, it is written in Icelandic)
Love it or hate it, The History Channel’s Vikings is back for season number 2. Some folks have criticized the show for its inaccuracies of portraying a “Biker Bar” image of the 8th century Viking World.
HOW TV THINKS VIKINGS DRESSED:
SOMETHING CLOSER TO HOW THE VIKINGS ACTUALLY DRESSED
Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons and glittering bits of mirrors are not what we typically think of when imagining a Viking in his “digs.” Yet grave excavations reveal that Ancient Scandinavian men may have dressed much more colorfully than originally thought. Swedish Archaeologist Annika Larsson believes that the men could be vain and that the women liked to dress provocatively, with their cleavage exposed and the skirts consisting of a single piece of fabric that was open in the front. But this style of clothing disappeared once the Vikings made contact with the Christians.
Another glaring inaccuracy is the idea that the Vikings did not know where England was. Trading routes along the North Sea date back even before the Roman invasion of Gaul in the first century B.C. This idea is especially absurd considering that The Vikings were expert sea navigators for their time period.
The final inaccuracy I will touch on is the way that the role of Earl was portrayed. He is shown as a sort of local dictator who can make decisions about life and death for his entire tribe. The reality is that The Vikings were a fairly autonomous people who lived rather Democratic lives. Decisions were made through a vote at The Thing. The Earl, also known as the Chieftain, would take a role in helping to make tribal decisions about allocating justice in a legal dispute, choosing areas to explore, tribes to battle and deciding how much food to share in a time of famine. However, as far as we know, the Chieftain did not have the authority to condemn a man to death. The most harsh punishment was being exiled. Exile meant that a man no longer had the protection of his tribe, which means no legal protection if someone else wanted to kill him.
I’m sure there are all kinds of other minute details I could get into, but I’d rather discuss what is GOOD about the show.
Yes, The Vikings is not the world’s most accurate portrayal of the way that the Vikings may have lived, but this show wasn’t just released for History Professors and Heathens. This was a show that was designed to appeal to the general public. In doing so, people who may have known nothing about Vikings may now be intrigued enough to read a book or search the internet for Viking Lore. Sometimes, getting people interested in history is more important than creating something that is 100% accurate.
The Vikings is also a show that captures the emotional themes of the Sagas, if nothing else.
So enjoy Season 2, since it is on the internet for free after all.
One last exciting thing I’ll mention is that Wardruna, the Norse Folk Group containing former members of Gorgoroth, has written more music for the score of the second season. Here is a song that was included in the score of the first season:
Blood is red,
Bruises are blue,
Axes smash faces
And these vikings are gonna kill you!
And….that’s the extent of my Valentines day poetry. Enjoy the film above!
(Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I’ve been seriously sick.
When I kick this cold’s butt, I will pillage your wordpress feed with even more exciting metal vids and articles!
The Viking Society for Northern Research is making all of their publications available online.
This includes everything they have published from their inception in 1893 to the present day.
Much of this information includes The Eddas, guides to old Icelandic language, lectures on Norse culture and more. Check it out for yourself and enjoy.
A majority of my information in this post will come from Uppsala Online
The words “Heathen” and “Asatru” today refer to the modern revival of the old Pagan Norse/Germanic religion. The main difference between these two words is that Asatru refers to a specific set of beliefs in this group – while Heathen is a broader term referring to all Neo-Pagans who follow a Germanic/Norse pantheon of Gods and customs.
Asatru specifically is a modern Icelandic compound of the words Áss (which refers to the Aesir Gods) and trú (which literally means faith). So, question to the crowd, what does this mean? True booty? No. Asatru translates into a faith in the Aesir Gods. (Vanatru has the same roots and refers to the worship of the Vanir). If you are curious about the difference between these two groups, feel free to do research. But today I want to talk specifically about three different perspectives in the modern Asatru and Heathen community: Universalist, Folkish, and Tribalist. Universalism and Folkism are the main two perspectives, but Tribalism has been suggested as a sort of middle ground between the two.
Universalists believe that anyone of any background can become a Heathen. It’s pretty simple. This allows for greater freedom of choice and for more people to come to the Old Norse Religion. For example, if there was a practitioner whose direct bloodline was Japanese, they could still practice Asatru as long as they lived by the nine virtues, understood the lore, learned the runes, took responsibility for themselves and their actions and used common sense.
The main argument I’ve seen against Universalism is that it is too open ended. Folkish and Tribalist Asatru believe that much more criteria should be required before someone can call themselves an Asatru.
In defense of the Universalists, most Universalist viewpoints I’ve read still believe that followers of Asatru should follow certain guidelines and rules – that it isn’t some free for all in which you can do whatever you want.
The Folkish perspective is that Asatru is an ethnic religion that should be mainly practiced by those with a Northern European heritage. They believe that ethnic religions connect the practitioner to their landscape’s ancestors, bloodline and traditions. Folkish Asatruar have made the argument that they are not white supremacists, but that they believe that every Folk should worship its own ancestors. Many Folkish Asatruar cite that Shintoism for the Japanese as an example of a valid ethnic religion – and that they want to do something similar with Asatru and the Northern European people.
One of the arguments made against ethnic based Asatru (Folkism) is that there were many Non-Norse folks in the Eddas and other legends who took part in Norse rituals. Norse slaves came from Celtic, Slavic and even Middle Eastern lands. These slaves were expected to abide by the customs and rituals of the Norse people when they lived in Norse lands. While the lives of slaves were pretty grim and there is certainly no way to sugar-coat such a practice, it is true that the slaves were sometimes emancipated by their masters and allowed to live among Norse society. Conversely, when the Norsemen settled in new lands, they adopted some of the customs in the new territories that they settled in. These points are all explained on Uppsala Online:
“Norsemen, when travelling afar, often took part in the religious rituals of the lands they traveled to, such as is found in the example of prime-signing, where travelling heathens took part in Christian ritual without renouncing their native gods. If the ancient heathens thought every bloodline had its own gods that should be stuck to exclusively, then why did they engage in this practice? Similarly Radbod the Frisian, an Asatru hero, was going to take baptism to honor his friends’ gods (until a Christian priest said something stupid).”
While Universalism and Folkism are the two main spectrums of the Asatruar community, Tribalism has been suggested as a middle-ground, or a third opinion by websites such as Uppsala Online. There is a confusion of terms here because Tribalists still call themselves “Folkish” Heathens, but they typically are accepting of non-white Heathens among their ranks. They describe themselves as Folkish because they believe that there must be a deep adoption of Norse Culture in order for one to call themselves a Heathen or Asatru. They believe that anything otherwise is just a surface level adoption of Asatru. To become a Tribalist Asatru you either must have Norse/Germanic descent or you must be adopted and oathed into the community. This is similar to Judaism where one is either automatically born into the tradition via bloodline, or converted into the community.
I think what is important to remember is the character of the Norsemen themselves. They were a people who deeply valued honor, courage, individuality, exploration and growth. Those of us today who feel called to practice the spirituality of these Norse Ancestors will never get to live in the 9th century and will not directly experience the world of the Viking Age Era…unless you build a time machine that is. For those who feel called to the Asatru and Heathen ways, they will be forced to do so in the context of the modern world. Therefore I say it is impossible to practice Heathenry EXACTLY as the Ancient Norse once did.
However, I personally believe that those who feel called to these old ways, will prove themselves via the mettle of their honor – and not by the shade of their eyes or skin. I agree that Asatru shouldn’t be a simple surface level religion, that it should involve a deeper commitment than simply knowing that Thor is the God of thunder or by simply wearing a cool Mjölnir (hammer of Thor) around your neck. Yet if you gauge admission by appearance – is that not very superficial in practice?
We must remember that Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi, were mothered by the giantess Jarnsaxa, and yet they are not only considered divine despite their “impure blood”, they are considered so divine and mighty that they will take up Thor’s hammer after Ragnarok, and become the defenders of men and gods alike (Uppsala Online).
My personal vote of that which I deem awesome.
The blogs below are the ones I found the must useful in 2013 as resources for learning about topics related to heathenry/asatru. I raise my glass to you and hope for an equally awesome 2014.
A Norse blog hosted by a Religion and Mythology professor. Last year, this blog was best known for kicking off one of the first major attempts to do a worldwide Heathen Census. In addition to having insightful information on the history and culture of the Old Norse people, this blog also supplies many interactive tools for the public such as art contests and the aforementioned census.
This is one of the blogs I see cited the most when I look around different Heathen Forums on the internet. In addition to having much interesting articles about Norse history and culture, there is also a lot of commentary on here about trends among modern Heathens and internet groups.
This blog offers a wealth of information about key tenants of Asatru today, as well as community outreach.
A simple, but informative blog on Norse History and Lore.
Much applause for the Norse Myth Blog! Last year they completed a survey of Heathens around the world. The results are that the most Heathens live in the United States and that Iceland has the highest density of heathens (not surprising for a place where many of the people believe in elves).
However, I must caution, when looking at survey results you must remember that it is a study of the people in the survey pool – not everyone in the world. There is a slight bias in this survey, given that it was administered by a blog based in America written in English. Of course there is Google Translate and fun stuff like that, but if the blog were based in Norway or Iceland, the results may have been slightly different.
But I digress. These survey results are still very significant because there are few major attempts to represent the actual number of Heathens world-wide. Most surveys on religion lump Heathens into broad categories like “New Age,” “Pagan and Wiccan” or “Other.” It would be very interesting to see more detailed survey results in the future. What are the average jobs, hobbies and marital status of Heathens?
Thank you for this survey Norse Mythology Blog!
I got this lovely information from a redditor named “dw___pirate.”
A collection of myths for younger readers. These myths are explained in a simple and easy to understand way intended for children, but also good for newbies.
About the deeds of the sons of Volsung. The language of this audio is more formal and may be hard to understand if you are not more well acquainted with the myths, or if you are not focusing.
This saga contains the events that led to Eirik the red being banished to Greenland (which is actually cold and icy, while Iceland is green and less cold). He also discovers a place called “Newfoundland,” which according to geographic details, is the first European discovery of the American mainland some five centuries before Columbus’s journey.
Last week the website Norsemyth.org posted a Heathen Census.
Here are the results so far. You can also see them Here.
Remember, there is a strong survey bias to this survey.
These results tell a story about the people who took the survey, not all Heathens.
It is possible that Norsemyth.org is more popular in the US than other countries.
Also, the results will continue to be updated until the census closes on December 31st.
Why Take a Census? Much of the information we have on the existence of Heathens, how many there are world wide, and where they are located is limited. Most religious surveys commit the fallacy of lumping Heathens in with other Neo-Pagan groups or an “unspecified” category. Many Heathen survey takers even get lumped in with Wicca, which is a completely different practice. Therefore, for the sake of having accurate information that is specific to Heathens, this survey would be very helpful for the Heathen community. Taking this survey will probably only take a small amount of time of your time, but have positive results for your community at large.
Who counts as Heathen? The site issuing the survey decided to go with the term “Heathen” since it is the most general of the Germanic/Norse religions. A term like Odinist or Asatru is much more specific. But who counts as a Heathen? According the survey site:
- Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Ásatrú, Asatro, Firne Sitte, Forn Sed, Forn Siðr, Germanic Heathenry, Germanic Neopaganism, Germanic Paganism, Heathenism, Heathenry, Norse Paganism, Norse Religion, Northern Tradition, Odinism, Old Way, Theodism, Urglaawe, Vanatru
How does this census work?
- “The census has been designed to be (1) anonymous and (2) easy. Simply scroll to the bottom of this post, select your home country from the pull-down menu and click the “submit” button. That’s all there is to it.”
So please, take the survey and spread the news.
9 out of 10 Vikings Approve This Book
(I couldn’t find a good picture of the book on the internet, so I just used my webcam)
Get “Living Asatru” on Amazon
I don’t have enough book reviews on this blog. Let me correct that statement, I don’t have ANY book reviews on this blog. This is a dire situation that needs to be hastily corrected. So here I go!
This is a great short, simple and affordable book on the religion of Asatru. It is a total of only 88 pages, but covers a lot of territory. It gives a basic overview of the Norse Gods, The Lore, The Runes, Customs, The Nine Noble Virtues, Holidays and pretty much anything that you should know if you want to call yourself a follower of Asatru. This is a great little handbook to have at your side if you are either just starting to learn about Asatru or want to review the basics.
It would take me forever to explain the basics of Asatru, so I’m just going to delve into my favorite parts of Shetler’s book. He stresses the fact that this is not an authoritative source on Asatru, but merely an interpretation. It’s not a bunch of commandments carved in stone, it’s a set of guidelines for living. After all, the book is called “LIVING Asatru.” My favorite part of the book is Greg’s discussion on ethics. I won’t go into all the details, you can buy the book if you want that, but I will go over some of the key concepts covered by Shetler – in terms of how to live an ethical life as an Asatruar.
According to Shetler, Örlög is a partly inherited and partially self developed component of the soul which is strongly influenced by fate. “The Örlög was determined independent of man’s laws, and is based entirely on the results of one’s actions (page 27).” Shetler goes on to say that while Örlög sounds like Karma, it is different. “While karma is distinguished by ‘good’ and ‘bad’ karma…Örlög is independent of these things.” Basically, the actions you take will cause results to happen to you – Duh! If you are honorable, you will find yourself surrounded by honorable people and if you are dishonorable, you will be surrounded by dishonorable people. If you eat that tempting, but expired hot-dog you bought at a gas station, you might get sick.
Your Örlög is your “spiritual momentum.” So what is “right” or “wrong?” Shetler says that “there are no such things (page 27).” What there is instead, is acting in a way that makes you desirable to society. If you think about it, every society has had similar – but different ideas of what is right and wrong. So there isn’t an absolute set of rules of what is “good.” Rather, we all try to act in a way that is most beneficial to our kinsmen. That brings us to our next concept.
(Dawww, look at the happy viking family. Source)
Frith is our obligation to the welfare of others. Frith itself is a kind of “peace.” This isn’t the same as a total lack of violence. Rather, it is a commitment to acting in a way that will prevent your actions from having a negative effect on those you owe frith. So who do we owe frith? Shetler explains that while we owe frith to varying degrees to all the living things around us, our blood-kin are owed the greatest frith of all. Below our blood relations are members of our “tribes.” “In modern society, we each tend to live in a number of tribes all at once – our schools, clubs, employers, sports teams and circles of friends (page 31).” The more we move outwards, in terms of how close the relationship is, the less frith owed. For example, you owe more frith to your mother than the neighborhood delivery guy. Now, you should still be nice to the delivery guy, because he effects your tribe to some degree (getting your package on time and so on), but if you had to make a choice between saving your mother’s life or the delivery man’s life, you would obviously choose your mother. In frith, the greater obligation takes place over lesser obligations.
How All This Applies to Ethics
What I enjoy about Shetler’s book is that he presents a common sense approach to morality. For example, the ten commandments present an “absolute morality” literally carved in stone. “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments…and yet the bible is replete with tales of God’s people killing other people. Shetler argues that real life ethical situations are much more complex than a simple “thou shalt not ______.” Ethics in Asatru, according to Shetler, is connected to frith. What actions are the most beneficial to your kinsmen?
Now with killing, Shetler states that you obviously shouldn’t kill someone for flattening your car tires. In this situation, “the harm you inflict is way out of line with the harm they sought to inflict on you (page 38).” However, if you are in a home defense situation, the considerations are different. The costs of action need to be weighed against the costs of not acting. If someone is simply stealing something, it may be prudent not to take their life. The harm of killing this person may be greater than losing a new laptop. But if they are putting the lives of your spouse and children in direct danger, you might consider taking action.
So, there isn’t necessarily “right” and “wrong” here, but the actions that best reflect your commitment to frith and that have a positive impact upon your Örlög.
Also, by doing what is best for your kinsmen, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should pillage and raid nearby neighborhoods to feed your family. While Shetler recognizes the need that his ancestors had for such activities (poor soil and low resources), modern times are different. We now live in a heavily interconnected world, so our actions in the global community have a greater effect on one another than they did in previous times. Shetler elaborates on this more.
Shetler has many other ethical situations that apply to lying, stealing and cheating, but you’ll have to read the book to see those.
All in all, this was a very helpful and enjoyable book. Many key concepts that I had previously been confused about were made simple. Thanks Greg! If you think you would like this book, you can find it here: “Living Asatru” on Amazon.
Lyrics on original YouTube link
Genre: Viking/Black Metal/Folk Metal
Lyrical Themes: Epic tales, heathenism, Lore, Norse Tales
So What is Hávamál? It is “the sayings of the high one.” It is a single poem in the Poetic Edda. For those of you who don’t know what the Poetic Edda is, it is a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking Age. Hávamál basically gives advice for proper living, good conduct and day to day wisdom. The verses themselves are attributed to the wisdom of Odin.
Some Key Hávamál Quotes:
FROM WISDOM FOR WANDERERS AND COUNSEL TO GUESTS
On courage and cowardice:
“A coward believes he will ever live
if he keep him safe from strife:
but old age leaves him not long in peace
though spears may spare his life.”
On mockery and judgement:
“The miserable man and evil minded
makes of all things mockery,
and knows not that which he best should know,
that he is not free from faults.”