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.
Did Amon Amarth just make a movie or a music video? Amon Amarth’s highly awaited “Father of the Wolf” video was just released on January 17th 2014 (yesterday!) Fans who wondered why the video took so long to release now only have to look at the theater quality production behind the video to see why. The song itself is part of Amon Amarth’s newest album “Deceiver of the Gods,” so of course the theme is going to be heavily centered around Loki.
Personally, I actually feel like the introduction to the video was a bit too long. I think it would have been better of they incorporated the cinematics mostly with the music, with perhaps a 1 or 2 minute introduction. I think too much talk in the beginning kind of takes away from the music – or maybe I’m just being an extra splintery stick in the mud.
But with that aside, enjoy the video. It will leave you with a strange desire to play Skyrim and take over the world.
Also, Amon Amarth is headlining at a series of kick ass shows in the U.S. Don’t miss em!
AMON AMARTH + ENSLAVED + SKELETONWITCH
Friday, January 17 – Las Vegas, NV @ House Of Blues
Saturday, January 18 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red
Monday, January 20 – San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
Tuesday, January 21 – Dallas, TX @ House Of Blues
Wednesday, January 22 – Houston, TX @ House Of Blues
Friday, January 24 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage
Saturday, January 25 – Tampa, FL @ The Ritz
Sunday, January 26 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
Monday, January 27 – Orlando, FL @ House Of Blues (*no Skeletonwitch)
Wednesday, January 29 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
Thursday, January 30 – Norfolk, VA @ The NorVA
Friday, January 31 – Silver Springs, MD @ The Fillmore
Saturday, February 1 – Boston, MA @ House Of Blues
Monday, February 3 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
Tuesday, February 4 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Wednesday, February 5 – Huntington, NY @ Paramount
Thursday, February 6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Small’s
Friday, February 7 – Chicago, IL @ House Of Blues
Saturday, February 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
Sunday, February 9 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
Tuesday, February 11 – Denver, CO @ Summit Theatre
Wednesday, February 12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Murray Theater
Friday, February 14 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency
Saturday, February 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
Sunday, February 16 – San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues (* No Enslaved)
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?
The Gjallorhorn is the horn sounded at the onset of Ragnarok
As far as Falkenbach songs go, this one is repetitive even by their standards. But it does have a cool atmosphere and ambiance to it. It’s the kind of song that would be neat to play while you do viking poses in the mirror with your favorite sword, go on a road trip through Norway…or summon an apocalypse?
This song is called Gjallar, which refers to the “Gjallarhorn.” Even during the song you hear the blare of a mighty horn in the background.
Gjallar itself is old norse for “yelling.” The Gjallarhorn itself is a “loud yelling horn.” Its mythological significance is that it is the loud horn that will be blown at the onset of Ragnarok. The horn has an association with the God Heimdallr and the wise being Mimir.
Prose Edda Reference, Prophesy of a Volva (A woman with the ability to see the future):
“Fast move the sons of Mim and fateIs heard in the note of the Gjallarhorn;Loud blows Heimdall, the horn is aloft, In fear quake all who on Hel-roads are.”
Now I’m just wondering how I get my hands on such a horn.
In Norse Mythology, “Gleipnir” refers to the bindings on the mighty wolf Fenrir. The Gods attempted to bind him twice before with huge chains of metal, but he broke free both times. Therefore, they commissioned dwarves to create a chain that would be impossible to break. This chain had to achieve the impossible, therefore, the dwarves fashioned it out of six impossible things:
The sound of a cat’s footfall
The beard of a woman
The roots of a mountain
The sinews of a bear
The breath of a fish
The Spittle of a bird
If you ask me, the beard of a woman isn’t hard to find. But I’ll keep my dirty thoughts elsewhere…hehehe
Anyways! The chain of Gleipnir is as thin as a silken ribbon, but stronger than an iron chain. It was forged by the dwarves in their underground realm called Svartálfaheim.
The Gleipnir is said to bind Fenrir until the days of Ragnarok. Then, he will break free and devour Odin.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve already wrote about Wardruna before in a past article. However, I was so awestruck by the power of this video, that I had to share it with you all. As mentioned in my previous article, Wardruna is a group founded by the ex-members of the legendary black metal band Gorgoroth. Wardruna contains much of the same Dark Ambience of Gorgoroth. Wardruna also delves deep into Norse Mythology and uses traditional instruments, natural objects and mystical chants. The video Løyndomsriss evokes much of these ancient feelings.
Interesting Facts: The Wardruna song “Fehu” was the soundtrack for an episode of the History Channel’s “Vikings” series.
The Hammer of Thor (also known as Mjölnir) has been added to the list of approved Air Force Symbols for memorials, headstones and graves.
The last Pagan Symbol to gain approval was the Wiccan Pentagram (which got approved six years ago).
In the same way that the hammer brings Heathens and Asatruars closer to their Gods, let this latest development bring Pagan Folk closer to the freedom they need to live by their principles without constraint.
This video captures both the beauty of the Norwegian Landscape and Spirit. Eliwagar is a band that honors the forefathers and folk tales of Norway. However, Eliwagar is different from many Norse Folk bands in that they are discussing a tradition in Norway that existed BEFORE the Germanic influenced Thor and Odin came to Norse lands.
This is the original Norse Religion of Ullr “Father Sky” and Njarthar “Mother Earth.” Much like the rivers that flow from the beginning of the world, the music of Eliwagar seeks to flow from the ancient and original source of Norse Tradition.
According to ancient Norse Lore, in the beginning there was only fire and ice. When the two met together, they created the first 11 rivers, known as Eliwagar: The rivers that existed at the beginning of the world.
The meaning and existence of Eliwagar is very much connected to the idea of living close to the land and nature. In their songs you can hear the hardanger fiddle, cello, flute and praises sung to Ullr and Njarthar, along with some guitar playing. Check out the links below for more information about Eliwagar and the Old Ways.
Here’s to Spring! Lift your horn and drink plenty!
(I know I know, I’m a day late, but whose to say that procrastinators can’t enjoy the spring time?)
Also, just a reminder of the Paganfest dates, since Heidevolk may be pillaging a venue near you:
3/30 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
4/01 – Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live
4/02 – West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
4/03 – San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
4/04 – Reno, NV @ The Alley
4/05 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
4/06 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
4/07 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
4/09 – Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
4/10 – Regina, SK @ The Exchange
4/11 – Winnipeg, MB @ Zoo Cabaret
4/12 – Saint Paul, MN @ Station 4
4/13 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
4/14 – Columbus, OH @ Al Rosa Villa
4/15 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
4/16 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Note
4/17 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House
4/18 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
4/19 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance Theater
4/20 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium (NE Metalfest)
4/21 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
Wardruna is a popular musical projects among Heathens, Asatru, Odinists and Norse Pagans. The instruments used by this band are handmade and traditionally Scandinavian. The music itself captures an intense and ritualistic atmosphere. Each album is based on 8 of the runes of the Elder Futhark.
The project began in 2003 and since then one album has been released – two more albums are expected in the future, 8 runes on each album. Their first album, released in 2009, was “Gap Var Ginnunga.” Their second album, “Yggdrasil”, will be released March 15th in Norway, March 25th in the rest of Europe and April 2nd in North America. The date and information about the third album has not been announced yet.
I couldn’t find much information about this musician or the song itself. Only a You Tube video followed by a stream of bizarre comments. If any informed viewers have any more knowledge about the song though – or the musician – I would be very interested.
Man may be mortal, but a good song can last through the centuries. It’s good to hear these viking ballads are alive and well, being sung the same online as they were many a century ago on a cold winter night amid Norse folk keeping warm with good mead and company.
EDIT: According to a helpful commenter below, the first song here relates to the great Heathen Invasion of 1066 and the battle at Stanford Bridge.
The Swedish man who fathered the Viking Metal genre would’ve celebrated his 47th birthday last Sunday had he still been alive.
Quorthon played multiple instruments, released 14 albums over 20 years, played Satanic Black metal in the 80’s and pioneered the Viking Metal genre in the 90’s. He was the founder and songwriter of the Black Metal Band Bathory (in the 80’s and 90’s). Later he went on to create his own solo albums. This man is often credited as the founder of the viking metal genre.
Quorthon Interview on MTV
Quorthon speaks about Bathory’s transition from Satanist Lyrics to Viking Based Lyrics
Bathory’s One Music Video
“One Rode to Asa Bay”
What is Viking Metal?
Viking metal is a Metal sub-genre characterized by its slow pace, noisy sound, use of keyboards, dark and violent imagery and lyrical themes about Vikings, Norse Mythology and Norse Paganism. The viking metal genre is also considered a fusion between Black Metal and Nordic Folk.
A New Metal Opposition to Christianity?
The Fall of Satan, The Rise of Odin
When metal music began, it represented a musical rebellion of sorts – a rebellion against authority. Songs such as Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” and Accept’s “Balls to the Wall” are a giant middle finger to the Status Quo.
Part of this rebellion is a religious revolt. From the 60’s to the 80’s much metal was characterized by allusions to Satanism and the Occult as a way of rebelling against Christianity: everything from Led Zeppelin’s vague allusions to Satan, to Black Metal’s much more obvious association. What better way to buck the Old Geezer in Sandals than to write verses venerating his least favorite angel? Unlike the All-Father of Boredom, Satan was down with sex, drugs and rock and roll, and thus made for exciting lyrical content.
Yet the problem is that Satan is still a part of the Christian Mythos. In fact, Satan has been the church’s wing-man for centuries. If you can’t fit the perfect Christian mold, than you are doomed to torment and suffering by the hands of the completely evil and vile Satan for an eternity.
Satan and God have been playing a game of Good Cop and Bad Cop with the Human Psyche for millennia. It’s time to stop playing this game altogether.
The significant thing about the Viking Metal genre is it represents a break from this line of thought.
In the 90’s, as black metal developed, Norse Mythology became another way of countering Christianity. This new rebellion exists outside of the Christian Mythos. It is a return to something more real, natural and enduring.
The Rise of Other Folk Metal Traditions
As Viking and Nordic Folk metal made their ascent into prominence, other folk genres came into their own as well: Celtic Folk Metal, Mongolian Folk, Russian Folk, etc.
Various people around the world began to embrace and celebrate their organic historical roots – roots that transcend Christianity and Time.
Paganism in Other Genres
I’m not saying that Paganism didn’t influence Metal in the 70’s. Led Zeppelin certainly used Celtic symbols in their band’s iconography. Yet I’m saying that Paganism began to transcend Satanism as the main opposition to Christianity via the rise of Folk and Viking metal.
Folk and Viking Metal are still lesser known genres among Metal in general. Death Metal, Thrash and Metal Core are much bigger. Yet Pagan themes have also made their way into prominence in the Death metal Genre.
Famous examples are Nile and Ancient Egypt, Amon Amarth and Vikings, Chthonic and Taiwanese Spirituality.
(You must be careful to note that Amon Amarth is technically classified as Death Metal, not Viking Metal)
Also, when I say Pagan, I’m speaking broadly about Pre-Christian and Indigenous religions – not necessarily Wicca and Western Based Neo-Paganism.
By writing music about the Pre-Christian world, many metal bands are tapping into something powerful – more powerful than they realize. Even if some bands just think of it as a gimmick or a sales pitch, they are subconsciously spreading an awareness of ancient truths and wisdom.