Alternate Versions of Baldr’s Death:
Though Snorri’s account with blind Hoðr being tricked by Loki into hurling the fatal mistletoe at Baldr is the most widely-known version of the death of Baldr, Saxo Grammaticus tells a different story in Book 3 of the Gesta Danorum. Continue reading →
The poem appears in its entirety in Codex Regius, and most of it (1-27) can also be found in AM 748 I 4to (a fragmentary manuscript from ca. 1300 best known for having the only extant text of Baldrs draumar). It is in the second manuscript that the poem is called Skirnismal; in Codex Regius, it is called For Skirnis (Skirnir’s Journey).
(Compiled primarily from Arlea Anshutz’s Skadhi Page at http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/goddesses/skadhi/index.html
Skadi, daughter of giant Thiassi, took helmet and mail-coat and all weapons of war and went to Asgard to avenge her father. But the Æsir offered her atonement and compensation, the first item of which was to choose herself a husband out of the Æsir and choose by the feet and see nothing else of them. Then she saw one person’s feet that were exceptionally beautiful and said: Continue reading →
The word valkyrie (or valkyrja) has a relatively simple meaning: chooser of the slain, from valr, “battlefield slain/corpses” and kjosa, “to choose or select.” The Old English wælkyrce can also mean “raven,” and in East Frisia walruderske means “nightmare or witch” (Nasstrom 112). Because of the etymology of the word, scholars like Simek and Nasstrom believe the valkyries were probably originally very dark figures (Simek calls them “demons of the dead” 349) who represented the horrors and cruelty of warfare; they may have been seen as ravens or birds of prey not unlike the Irish Morrigan and Badb. Hrafnsmal (attributed to Thorbjorn Hornklofi ca. 900, likely the oldest surviving skaldic poem mentioning valkyries) features a dialog between a valkyrie and a raven in which the raven describes in graphic terms the battle it witnessed; though there is a contrast created in the poem between the appearance of the fair, white-necked valkyrie and the black, gore-covered raven, the poet also establishes a strong connection in nature and shared interest between the two figures. The dark, horrible nature of valkyries may be seen later in poems such as Darraðarljoð, in which valkyries weave a tapestry using weapons and human body parts, and Voluspa and Hrafnagaldr Oðins, in which the valkyries seem to appear in advance of, and perhaps yearn for, the great slaughter at the Ragnarok. Continue reading →
The earliest form of Hyndluljoð is found in the Flateyjarbok (“Flat-island book”), a medieval Icelandic manuscript written near the end of the 14th century. The Flateyjarbok was given to Bishop Brynjolfur Sveinsson by Jon Finnsson of Flatey in the middle of the 17th century; the bishop gave it to the king of Denmark, and the book became part of the Royal Library of Copenhagen until it was returned to Iceland in 1971 along with Codex Regius. In addition to Hyndluljoð, the book contains many other sagas and tales, including some not found elsewhere, such as the Groenlendinga Saga (Saga of the Greenlanders) and Sorla Thattr, best known as the source for the ever-popular story of Freyja’s acquisition of the Brisingamen. Continue reading →
Bede (The Reckoning of Time 15, Wallis trans.): “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” Continue reading →
Réðk til Hofs at hœfa;/ hurð vas aptr, en ek spurðumk/ (inn settak nef nenninn)/ niðrlútr fyrir útan;/ orð gatk fæst af fyrðum,/ (flǫgð baðk) en þau sǫgðu,/ hnekðumk heiðnir rekkar,/ heilagt (við þau deila).
Gakkat inn, kvað ekkja,/ armi drengr, en lengra;/ hræðumk ek við Óðins/ (erum heiðin vér) reiði;/ rýgr kvazk inni eiga/ óþekk sús mér hnekði/ alfa blót sem ulfi/ ótvín í bœ sínum.
To Hof I struck the path./ The door was shut. Outside/ I had to ask. I bent down,/ Poked my nose in to see./ Not much I learned from that household./ They said, “Today is holy.”/ Heathen bullies threw me out./ To Hell with them, say I!
“No farther can you enter,/ You wretch!” said the woman./ “Here we are heathens/ And I fear the wrath of Odin.”/ She shoved me out like a wolf,/ That arrogant termagant,/ Said she was holding sacrifice/ To elves there in her house. (Page translation, http://vikingraiders.yolasite.com/resources/Austrfaravisur.pdf) Continue reading →
One of the handouts available at the talk I gave during this year’s Pagan Pride Day in Albuquerque:
Glossary for The Basics of Asatru (and other forms of Heathenry and Paganism inspired by pre-Conversion Germanic religion)
Æsir: One of the families of gods. Some of the better-known include Odin, Frigg, and Thor.
Alfar: Elves. Often called alfar to avoid people confusing them with fantasy, Lord of the Rings style elves. Believed by some Heathens to be deceased male ancestors.
Asatru: Literally, “faith in the Æsir,” though it isn’t strictly limited just to worship of the Æsir; all wights allied with the Æsir and humanity may be worshipped. It is the reconstruction and revival of the pre-Conversion religion(s) of the Germanic peoples.