Norse Mythology/Runes

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Heith
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:35 pm

Well, I forgot what it was that I was supposed to write.

Instead, I'll do as mentioned above and sink my teeth into Freyja-Frigg-Gullveig (and, Heidr).

We brushed on the topic a little bit with Jiva previously, but I'd like to discuss this further. Do you think that these are separate, or one? Here by "one" I mean different faces of one character, or however we like to call her?

Freyja, as I understand, is very old and goes by numerous names. ("Freyja" actually means "lady", so it's not a name-name, rather a title, that was also given to esteemed women). I don't have my books at hand so I can't double-check my spelling with old names, feel free to correct where I go wrong. I write this super clearly and often state what is well known to at least frater Jiva, as perhaps not all who read this are familiar with the names or concepts. So, apologies for stating the obvious.

As I understand, the Vanic cults were much older than that of the Aesir worship in ancient Scandinavia. Personally I tend to see some connection with finns and Freyja (whether sami or finns I am yet to decide- most probably sami), mainly due to the art of seidr (witchcraft type of magic) which is known by the Vanir, and taught by them to the Aesir. Characteristics to seidr magic seem to be shapeshifting and trance work, so this corresponds with shamanic trances (finn. "loveen lankeaminen"). Loki seems to know seidr as well, but as Jiva pointed out earlier, shapeshifting isn't really something that the Aesir do (except for Odin, who learns this from Freyja) and Loki isn't one of the Aesir anyway. I discussed this topic briefly with a runemaster not too long ago, and he was of the opinion that seidr was probably something that vikings learned from finns. Seidr most certainly was demonized if not questionable from the beginning, and as I understand mainly women's skill, and it was considered shameful for men to practice (to do so was to be ergi). A possible sexual practice included, though I'm still to find a satisfactory explanation of seidr- which obviously I will never get.

As to how much the northland mistress Louhi has been demonized in Kalevala is unclear to me, but here perhaps a parallel to Gullveig, who then morphs into Heidr and, if we want to see this connection, to Freyja.

The first war in the world, she well remembers,
When Gullveig was spitted on spear-points
And in Hár's (Odin's) hall, burned her.
Thrice burned, thrice reborn,
Well asserted, she lives yet.

Völuspá 21

This burning process I tend to link metaphorically to the separating of precious metal from impurities, that is done by fire. But perhaps I tend to think this when I read these lines, as I've often watched my father work with metal. But obviously, interpreting sagas is not this simple. Just thought to mention.

An exception of the Aesir not knowing the art of seidr might be Frigg, as she, as Freyja, possesses a falcon-feather cape. I do not remember that any story mentions Frigg ever using it, and it's of course possible that Snorri confuses this with Freyja's cape, that is borrowed by Loki. Or that it was expected that the audience was familiar with some other story. But certainly Frigg is a seeress. There is something norn-like in her, and apparently she spins the material that the norns weave- but here again, this story might have a heavy outside influence.

Rudolf Simek suggests that Freyja was originally most probably a consort and wife to her brother Freyr (a view I tend to share), and only later as she lives with the Aesir is she mentioned to be the wife of Odr (probably another name of Odin's). There is no stories of these two except a mention in the Eddas that Odr wanders the world and Freyja weeps tears of gold in search for him. A possibly romantic later addition, but worth the mention anyway. Freyja's character doesn't really fit into the faithful wife/mother type, but Frigg's most certainly does. And as we know, Odin is constantly searching the world for new knowledge.

It does seem to me that in many of these stories the characters kind of overlap. We already discussed the connections between Heimdallr, Odin and Loki. I have been pondering a similar connection between Freyja and Frigg, but lacking a third one. I did consider Skadi but she didn't quite fit the picture. Nor did Hel, even if I tend to think that there is something sinister or dark in Freyja, that is present in Hel as well. But this might be my kind of romantic view so feel free to bash if you disagree. However, Gullveig would actually fit the picture. Or Heidr, as I tend to think these the same.

They call her Heith when she visits their homes,
A far seeing völva (seeress), wise in talismans (magic).
Caster of spells, cunning in magic.
To wicked women always welcome.

Völuspá 22

(Although this translation is perhaps not very accurate, as they tend to wary quite a lot. Other translations suggest that she "bewitches minds" or falls into trances. And "wicked women" most probably, should be "wise women". The poem names her as "Wise-speaking".)

If we can agree that the Old Norse name "Gullveig" has something to do with gold, this links neatly to Freyja's aspects- as she frequently is connected with treasures and gold. Heidr (ON "honour" or "shining"), on the other hand, seems to be more of a title for a seeress than a actual name, with the exception of perhaps Völuspá where I do think it to be a actual character. But, here again, shining things, and Freyja's well known for her radiance.

Thoughts, gentlemen? (And ladies, should they join the conversation! :) )

edit: typos
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Nefastos » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:43 am

Heith wrote:Freyja, as I understand, is very old and goes by numerous names. ("Freyja" actually means "lady", so it's not a name-name, rather a title, that was also given to esteemed women).


That seems to be the case in many of the ancient cultures: the god & goddess holding the greatest authority in the celestial court were named simply as the Lord and the Lady, although they still had special attributes. Another interesting thing seems to be that that pair of the Lord and the Lady does not change according to culture, but is about Him who is originally the Sky-god (Jupiter) and Her who is originally the goddess of fertile Earth (Venus: the divinity of friday or the Freya-dag).

That makes me think we might be on a right track in the Star of Azazel where the White aspect of Jupiter-Venus holds the last responsibility, although the whole Satanic schema is traditionally more like a Black-Red -thing.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:40 am

Well, on Scandinavian tradition the Lord and Lady would be the siblings Freyr and Freyja. Freyr does control sunshine and fine weather, so in this there is a sky-connection, but in this there lies a possibility that Odin and the rest of the Aesir, overtook the obvious "responsibilities" or sky elements as time went by, especially Thor as a thunder god. Freyja most certainly is a earth goddess.

Stories of Odin are, not surprisingly, more common than those of Freyr even if Odin was not very popular back in the day. As he was a god of ecstasy and poets, the skalds probably felt happy to compose about him and obviously as a character, he is very interesting. Of Freyja nearly everything was destroyed so actually don't know almost anything about this, as she was a bit too hexy for the Christians. I've a rather good book about Freyja, (by Näsström) that inspects the qualities she has. I do think it a common mistake to take the vanir siblings to be merely deities of prosperity and peace, as Freyja does have a death-connection (ON Valfreyja "lady of the slain") and whenever she rides to battle, she receives half of the slain, and Odin gets the other half. So probably there is something valkyrian about her.

Nevertheless, Freyr most certainly is one of the most important norse gods. In a rare story of Freyr he courts (forces by threatening her with rune staves) the giantess Gerd, whom he spies whilst sitting on Hliðskjálf, (Odin's seat on which only Odin and Frigg are allowed to sit) and instantly falls in love madly with the radiant giantess. She's a rather icy lady, and this tale has interpreted this story as spring trying to overcome winter, so crops would grow. So, sky and earth. Note here, that not all giants are chaotic or evil.

Both Freyja and Freyr are of the Vanir, and give peace and plenty to the people. Freyr is a fertility god most certainly, and apparently the "original" horse god, before Odin stepped on these boots. The source for this I no longer recall, but I should like to check this horse thing again nevertheless, as horse is the most important animal in ye olde germanic magical traditions and my knowledge of horse-related magic is appallingly limited, though the subject interests me greatly- obviously because it's most grim at times (such as with Nithing poles) and such things fascinate me. There's a connection with the elven folk and Vanir as well, as Freyr holds power in Alfheimr, which he received as a tooth-gift.

Also, apparently Vanir cults had the boat as a important symbol. Boat burials is obviously a subject familiar to most people here (if not, check out prof. Neil Price's fantastic lecture series on youtube about burial customs in ancient scandinavia that I linked some time ago- you will not sleep afterwards, hehee) and in the old days death and birth were not so far away from another. (I just got sent a very interesting article of a sacrificial (?) pond in Finland).

But now I quit typing for today, because frater Jiva's away, and I do think he has a thing or two to say about this topic as well...!
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:29 pm

Actually, this was too interesting for me to ignore, especially after more replies, so I'm posting before I go on my little mini-holiday :).

Personally, I think Gullveig is the nexus of understanding Norse mythology, both from a strictly mythological perspective, but also from an occult and philosophical one as well. As I stated in my first post in this thread, my views on this subject are largely derived from Viktor Rydberg and Vexior, although I obviously don't arrive at the same anti-cosmic conclusions of the latter.

Basically Gullveig appears at the most important points in Norse mythology, although usually in different incarnations. Aside from her initial incarnation with her first name, the most prominent of these are Heidr and Aurboda. As these three she is burned three times. Loki eats the heart from her ashes each time to gave birth to Jörmungandr, Fenrir and Hel. Therefore I also view the Gullveig myth from an alchemical perspective: Gullveig's heart as the gold (“gull”) hidden in the ashes of Saturn, with the repeated rebirths as continued distillations before the final distillation of Ragnarök. With this in mind, another appearance of Gullveig is the anonymous völva (seer) Odin consults in the episode of Baldr's dream whom he refers to as the “thrice burned”.

Regarding whether Gullveig is Freyja: I personally think it is very likely as the Vanir have a double aspect of fertility and death. Something I find interesting regarding the three incarnations of Gullveig mentioned above is that they are all a dark mirror of Freyja/Frigg between which there is a degree of tension and contradiction, but a similarity nonetheless. There is even a kind of symmetry in the example of the völva after Baldr's dream: Freyja teaches Odin seidr, while Gullveig teaches Odin the forthcoming events of Ragnarök.

Clumsily putting all of this into a Schellingian or Kabbalistic perspective, the Vanir (Freyja etc.) could be interpreted as the ground of existence, the Aesir as the principle of separation or duality, the Vanir (Gullveig etc.) as the principle of unification, Ragnarök as the clash/mediation of these two principles, while the rebirth of the world is the final result. To return to an alchemistic interpretation, I also think that this is similar to the Axiom of Maria. Referring to the mythology, it is as if the differentiated aspects of the Vanir are encouraging the Aesir to reach a certain point of development.


Moving on to Odin co-opting some of Freyr's characteristics... It's funny that you mentioned the story of Freyr using runes carved into wood to seduce Gerd as Odin has an almost identical (but even darker) story, where he ends up raping Rind after driving her mad with runes carved into wood. Ultimately gods come into and out of favour as time progresses; Odin himself replaced Tyr (whose name literally means “god”, etymologically related to Deus, Zeus, Dyaus etc.) as the highest god of the Aesir. Actually, this is one of the things I find most interesting about Icelandic Norse culture, where Odin was largely neglected and the negative legalism that I associate with Tyr dominated.

Accusing a man of seidr was a serious thing to do – during the time of the Icelandic sagas, it was perfectly legal for men to kill each other over such accusations – but men who openly practised seidr seem to have been accepted to a degree. For example, a male practitioner of seidr is freely invited to an important wedding in Njal's Saga. I tend to think of the situation as similar to how people insult straight people or things in general in current times by calling them/it gay, but ultimately have no problem with other people being openly gay (although this might just exist in the world of dumb English insults :lol:).

Whether seidr is something that came from Finland is something I have no clue about. Finns are almost always associated with magic in the sagas with the result that calling someone a Finn was also an insult :P. Something I've recently learned of that I know Heith will be interested in is Asko Parpola's 'Old Norse SEIÐ(R), Finnish SEITA and Saami Shamanism' in this publication in the 63rd volume (although I'll have to check if it's actually in this one, some info conflicts and says 64th although this seems unlikely). It's academic, so automatically expensive, but it looks interesting. The wikipedia page for seidr actually has an unusually large amount of good academic references.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:14 pm

Jiva wrote:
Personally, I think Gullveig is the nexus of understanding Norse mythology, both from a strictly mythological perspective, but also from an occult and philosophical one as well.
Seconded. This is not a subject I have studied in so much depth that I have looked into, for example, Freyja, but I've not been satisfied with a mere goddess of love - explanation since I started to look into this. Hence I have been pondering about this a little bit. There's tons to learn in Northern mythology. And am I happy I bought that Simek's book! Everyone should have one, it's brilliant!

You mention that you do not arrive to the anti-cosmic conclusion that Vexion adopts, but I wonder, what's your opinion of the connection between Loki and Gullveig (Heidr, Aurboda, Freyja)? If I remember correctly from the preview I was able to read, he suggests that this whole affair is planned between the two, to bring forth Ragnarök. As Loki is neither of the Vanir or the Aesir, would you think him/it as the force that moves between these two? Not a whole lot gets done without Loki having something to do with it, be it beneficial or destructive.

From the late runic practice I began to draw more parallels between Freyja and Loki, and it seems to me that there is some kind of connection there, though I don't claim to understand it in depth yet. This is more like a gut feeling at this point.

I've also heard the interpretation that Gullveig's burning in Völuspá would give birth to the three major norns but this is something I have never quite felt to be a satisfactory explanation. Also a third norn I think is a more modern addition, perhaps influenced by other mythologies.

Excellent that you pointed out that Odin consults a völva whom he refers to as "thrice burned", the story is familiar to me but this detail had escaped my attention. Thank you very much!

Jiva wrote:Regarding whether Gullveig is Freyja: I personally think it is very likely as the Vanir have a double aspect of fertility and death. Something I find interesting regarding the three incarnations of Gullveig mentioned above is that they are all a dark mirror of Freyja/Frigg between which there is a degree of tension and contradiction, but a similarity nonetheless. There is even a kind of symmetry in the example of the völva after Baldr's dream: Freyja teaches Odin seidr, while Gullveig teaches Odin the forthcoming events of Ragnarök.
Agreed on Gullveig = Freyja. I'm pretty happy to discuss this topic, actually, as the previous time I tried to engage people into this conversation the idea was instantly bashed as something like "heresy". Your suggestion of this symmetry between the Aesir and the Vanir I also find very interesting and thought-provoking. I got some kind of diagram in my head about this.


Jiva wrote:Odin himself replaced Tyr (whose name literally means “god”, etymologically related to Deus, Zeus, Dyaus etc.) as the highest god of the Aesir. Actually, this is one of the things I find most interesting about Icelandic Norse culture, where Odin was largely neglected and the negative legalism that I associate with Tyr dominated.
Aye. There's a huge petroglyph around here that apparently is a "old representation of the god Odin". I'm still to see that one, but I thought that most probably, this would rather be Tyr. But I haven't seen it yet so won't say more about that until I take a peek.
Jiva wrote:Accusing a man of seidr was a serious thing to do – during the time of the Icelandic sagas, it was perfectly legal for men to kill each other over such accusations – but men who openly practised seidr seem to have been accepted to a degree.
Aye, it was harsh. To possess rune staves was illegal, and earned a death-sentence. I wonder how easy it would be to get rid of a unwanted neighbor or relative if this was the mindset of today as well. I'd be long since burned, heh.

I notice that seidr-related book you mention, it's in german only?
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:34 am

Heith wrote:You mention that you do not arrive to the anti-cosmic conclusion that Vexion adopts, but I wonder, what's your opinion of the connection between Loki and Gullveig (Heidr, Aurboda, Freyja)? If I remember correctly from the preview I was able to read, he suggests that this whole affair is planned between the two, to bring forth Ragnarök. As Loki is neither of the Vanir or the Aesir, would you think him/it as the force that moves between these two? Not a whole lot gets done without Loki having something to do with it, be it beneficial or destructive.

I consider Loki one of the Vanir as part of the principle of unity, albeit one fostered by Odin. I could be wrong here, but I think fostering in the Viking age didn't necessarily mean that someone's natural parents had died. I agree with Vexior that Gullveig and Loki work towards ending the world in the sense that they attempt a reunification of the original ground. However, what eventually results at Ragnarök is markedly different. Vexior brushes off the character of Baldr and a lot of his stories as entirely Christian. Although there are some obvious similarities between Baldr and Jesus, some of which is simply transference, I don't think the character is an entirely Christian invention. From a philosophical point of view, I think Wyrmfang expressed better than I could the main issues with an anti-cosmic philosophy in this thread. This was specifically in reference to the Temple of the Black Light, but Vexior aligns his beliefs quite closely with theirs and is happy to quote from their texts in the Gullveigarbok.
Heith wrote:Agreed on Gullveig = Freyja. I'm pretty happy to discuss this topic, actually, as the previous time I tried to engage people into this conversation the idea was instantly bashed as something like "heresy". Your suggestion of this symmetry between the Aesir and the Vanir I also find very interesting and thought-provoking. I got some kind of diagram in my head about this.

Ah yes, I've noticed calling things “heresy” or “blasphemous” has somehow become quite common amongst people trying to explore, recreate or re-interpret Germanic pagan beliefs; condemning Christian fanaticism on the one hand, while falling victim to the same kind of fanaticism themselves. This even cropped up in the booklet to Wardruna's latest album, which is the only disappointing thing they've done so far.
Heith wrote:Aye. There's a huge petroglyph around here that apparently is a "old representation of the god Odin". I'm still to see that one, but I thought that most probably, this would rather be Tyr. But I haven't seen it yet so won't say more about that until I take a peek.

Perhaps the petroglyph is of Ullr instead? Sweden was the place where Freyja was most worshipped while Ullr temporarily replaced Odin as the ruler of the gods during his temporary exile. As Ullr is typically depicted with skis and a bow and arrow perhaps this is linked to the Sami who I'm told share these characteristics, although like I said, I don't really know anything about this subject. Obviously all of this is just idle speculation on my part :P. I would personally really like to see more of these archaelogical things; I still haven't managed to go to the Gosforth Cross yet :cry:.
Heith wrote:I notice that seidr-related book you mention, it's in german only?

As the title of the article is in English I assume the article's in English as well. I've sent an email off but haven't had a reply yet. In academic journals articles contained are often written in a variety of major European languages.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:51 pm

Welcome back!

About fostering- I don't know a lot about this, but I recall reading from somewhere that the relationship between a boy and uncle was especially important. I don't know if this is at all true, but I do think that the whole concept of being a parent was very different than what it is now- for example, leaving unwanted children at crossroads.

I'm quick to dismiss the myth of Baldr as a mere "northern representation" of Jesus- but I know many disagree with me on this. There is a whole book written of this subject that I saw sometime, but I forgot to order it, or perhaps it was too expensive. Can't remember the name of the book now but I think I've seen it quoted in one of my books or study material. I do think Simek points out some interesting things about this, old archaeologic evidence of the Baldr myth on jewelry or some such.

Apparently there's some evidence that dates the Baldr myth to be quite old. It is obviously possible that it has been influenced by christianity in the time that sagas were written, but the myth itself is nevertheless original. Or so I believe, at this point of my research. But I'm nowhere near as learned as I'd like to be. It would be a huge asset to be able to do this at a university sometime or at least to attend lecutres, as most people I discuss these topics with are exactly as you mention in your post- thinly disguised fanatics that do live a christian mindset but don't even realize it. It's highly limiting to one's research if all deities / heroes / beings / runes have to always fit into a box and there is no versatility in this. Then we get the old problem of good / bad.

But in the Norse system, as we know, there's no clear Satan or Jesus- figures anyway. Everyone's a bit "good" and "bad". That's why it's so interesting to me, as I constantly have to re-think things, such as with the fylgja etc. concepts :)

The petroglyph I still have not seen as the weather has been quite bad, but perhaps next Sunday is my lucky day to see the great deity and to get myself a iron mouth harp. I doubt that this great god of the petroglyph would be Ullr though, I think he has a hammer. If you like, I can try and post some pictures at some point.

If you read that seidr article, let me know if it's worth getting.


PS. What did Wardruna have in their booklet? :D
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:35 am

Actually, the booklet for Yggdrasil doesn't call anything “blasphemous”; that's a mistake on my part :oops:. It states that historical sources only reveal a limited amount of information that “opens up an enormous room for personal interpretation and allows authors to shamelessly mix runes with tarot, Kabbalah, astrology, yoga and so on”. If Wardruna was a purely academic, historical endeavour I would understand this, but they're not, so I don't. I see nothing wrong with tentatively fitting concepts from Norse mythology into other mythological or philosophical constructs for comparative purposes, as I did in my previous post that fit things into a philosophical Kabbalistic/Schelingian structure. Equally, I can understand fitting Norse concepts into a Kabbalistic tree and so on...
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:41 am

It can be extremely good for realizing things to try and see how these concepts fit other systems- such as the Tree of Life. One should indeed try and think outside the coffin every once in a while. I can't do this so well yet, as I've almost no knowledge of other traditions. I just fell head-first into the northern well.

Obviously there is quite many examples of a fusion gone wrong, but to me the most painful "wrongs" are the (lacking a better word) "obvious" interpretations- the simplistic macho mindset that seems to insist a viking society to be very different from what it actually was. I do think that this is much more harmful than studying tarot alongside runes :P

I can understand and appreciate a certain amount of nostalgia or romanticism when it comes to these things, but people seem to forget that trying to revive something so old, that no one really knows about, always calls for intuition. And personally I do think, all tools are acceptable, so long as they are not harmful.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:45 pm

An update on the fylgjur subject. Basically I think some comparison with the Theosophic sevenfold structure is possible; it'll be difficult but fun and will probably require some collaboration.

In addition to mentions in the Eddas I know of 4 sagas so far where fylgjur (or other beings) are mentioned or appear. However, another problem is that many sagas aren't easily available in English, although I've managed to get my hands on translated versions of the whole corpus of Icelandic sagas (well, not quite yet, but it's in the mail :P). As far as I can tell, all are available online in Icelandic, which is essential as “fylgjur” often gets translated as “spirit” or something similarly generic.

However differentiating between the different concepts is difficult, particularly as they often aren't identified by name. This project has assumed second place in respect to the ongoing Eye aspect project, but it seems to me that many of the more pronounced statements on the subject are based on applications of comparative mythological studies rather than from Norse mythology in isolation. This comparative approach isn't something I've investigated yet, but in this respect something that's been playing on my mind is the similarity of the complicated concepts of fylgjur et al. and their inter-relations with the ancient Egyptian concepts of Ba and Ka.

Anyway, here are the 4 sagas that I've so far identified as containing fylgjur etc.:
Hallfreðar saga
Ljósvetninga saga
Njáls saga
Vatnsdæla Saga

Additionally, for anyone interested, here's a link to a summary by Maria Kvilhaug of Else Mundal's doctoral thesis entitled 'Fylgja Motives in Northern Literature'. I'm going to try and get a digital copy of the actual dissertation as I can read Norwegian to an OK standard and I'll also be able to see what references she used :lol:.

Moderator Edit: Once again, I had to remove a link to a copyrighted work! Sorry! :)
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