Norse Mythology/Runes

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Heith
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:50 pm

Very interesting. I was a bit obsessed with Ancient Egypt at one point, so the similarities of concepts that you point out is very intriguing. Sadly that was some ten years ago since I read up anything on the subject of Egypt, so I should probably read some things to remember better. A fun synchronism here though- lately I have noticed a large number of Egyptian things popping up as I've worked with collage materials. A few days back I also found a picture of a broken statue of Isis that I fell in love with. So this doesn't really surprise me :)

Also this Theosophic sevenfold comparison sounds fascinating but I can already say that with this I can't be of any help. Perhaps fra Nefastos would be able to? Still, I would like to read what you come up with.

I will try and remember to look into "Norns in Old Norse Mythology", I think there might be some parts on the fylgjur as well, where they also point out the Old Norse source, and then provide a English translation.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:51 am

Actually I'm hoping you'll be able to help me with a few question where some sort of opinion has to be adopted and sufficiently justified.

Q1: What was the Norse relationship between body and soul/spirit? Were they seen as separate or one and the same?
I think this is a very difficult question. On a couple of occasions Odin reanimates dead people to learn knowledge from them. As far as I know, every incident involves reanimating the entire body from a grave, which suggests an inseparability. Odin also suggests sitting on grave mounds or under hanged men as a method of gaining knowledge, with the former hinted at from other sources such as mentions in the sagas. Whenever people take the form of animals in sagas it seems as if the prone human body simply appears asleep and inert. Additionally, any injury sustained while as an animal affects the human body too. However, cremation was also an accepted way to dispose of a body with the ash getting buried afterwards. Perhaps this hints at some sort of separability, or maybe it was just a way to put the person's body/soul beyond the reach of those still alive and vice versa.

Q2: How did the various Norse concepts fit into (or around) the human body?
Odin also preserves the head of Mimir for his wisdom while I think some heads in Norse graves are either separated from the body or are buried on their own. However I seem to remember some Anglo-Saxon charm that was directed to the heart as the seat of the mind, but I can't remember were I read it at the moment.

Any insight or link to any relevant sources would help. Basically, I think both can be evidenced from mythological and archaeological sources. A definitive answer is almost certainly impossible, we just need some definitions that we are happy with which can therefore allow a comparison.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:51 pm

Ok, this is too interesting for me to simply leave for later. I don't know how much I can be of help on this, but I will try.
Jiva wrote:
Q1: What was the Norse relationship between body and soul/spirit? Were they seen as separate or one and the same?
Agreed. A very tough one.

I do think that in some ways these could be seen as separate- if one takes the example of a fylgja being able to adopt another one in the family as "theirs". Problematic with this is, is the Fylgja a being that is a part of you, or something that comes entirely from the outside? I tend to think the former. I have some pages of the subject of fylgjur that I would like to scan to you, but every time I come here to do that, the computer with the scanner is occupied. I did, however, email these questions to both Freyja Aswynn and Vincent Ongkowidjojo, as they might know more.

There is, like you say, suggestions that the soul (or some part like this) remains in the body after death, and therefore, the dead can be re-animated, such as the case probably is in Völuspá, where Odin raises the seeress- whom I believe is dead, in the mound, or either, in Hel or a similar place.

However, I do think that there are also occasions where there's creatures more like "zombies", who do not have a mind as such. But I have not read about this really, just a few mentions here and there. The hungry ghosts, or some such.

Perhaps there is a time limit as to how long the body and soul / spirit remain intact? Or perhaps some parts stay with the body that can answer to certain type of questions but are not really functional as people anymore.

It's difficult to compare burial customs as apparently these varied greatly from one town to the next. I recall from a lecture that one woman's jaw was replaced with that of a pig's, and she was dressed in finery. I don't recall if she had a staff or not. So it's definitely very puzzling to try and make sense of this kind of things. It might be a possibility, that people who were into Vanic worship were buried, and the Aesir folk were burned. Here I speculate in a most gross fashion, and I have no evidence to support this theory whatsoever. Apologies. However, people found with staves are sometimes buried with a rock on their chest or some such, I wonder, was it a acute fear that people with magical abilities might be more prone to rise from the dead?

My personal experience from what could be described as berserking, was that the human consciousness gets completely run over by the animal mind, or instinct. Granted, this has happened only once majorly, but I definitely was unaware of being a human throughout the short but intense experience. The body also seizes to feel like that of a human (one believes it is shaped like that of an animal), and the strength and speed of the animal in question is there. I do not know if this would be a fylgja possession, but I think it probable.

Another thing would be a working where one sends part of themselves out and during this time their mind goes out, and the body lies sleeping or dead-like. This differs from the example mentioned above, as then one certainly is very alert- up and running so to say. I should think that the human consciousness takes a step and hides in the shadows when berserking, and during a sending (as I think perhaps has to do with the sámi tradition, finn. "loveen lankeaminen") where the shaman or witch lies in a death- like state, the mind can move on another levels. This is a more common way of working, I believe, and one that shamanic techniques train towards. As to what sort of results one can make depends a lot of the skill level of the shaman and the depth of their trance state. I'm rather poor in this- but then again I have not attempted to affect to other people.

I do think that wounds inflicted on this state would be wounds on the spirit or soul rather than on the actual physical self. This would affect the body. We can fall sick, for example, if attacked via magical means.

When berserker moves on the physical realm, the other working focuses on working on different planes.

A runic correspondence for such workings, Ehwaz. Corresponds with Hamr, or so I understand. Might work for both physical and astral.

Jiva wrote:Q2: How did the various Norse concepts fit into (or around) the human body?
A icelandic rune poem goes as such;

Reið er sitjandi sæla
ok snúðig ferð
ok jórs erfiði.
iter. ræsir.

[Riding] is a blissful sitting;
and a swift journey;
and the work of the steed.
Journey. Worthy Man

trans. Chisholm

However, the first line can apparently be translated as 'the seat of the soul', which might relate to prophecy workings, horses relating to hamr, or fylgja. This Anglo Saxon charm I am unfamiliar with.

It might be helpful to look into both into sámi and finno-ugric traditions. There's quite a lot of information of horses and horse-related magic- such as nightmares. This would be another example of a seidr- working (?) where the sorcerer sends his form out to do nasty deeds.

A further thing in sending would be the Nithing pole (ON níðstang).

Image

Would the sorcerer send a part of themselves as a shape of a horse, or is this the spirit (lacking a better word) of the dead horse doing the deed instead? If the former is in question, does the horse hide work as a mask of sorts, or is it there for purely psychological terrorism?

I don't know exactly what sort of things interest you- are you strictly into Fylgjur now? Perhaps some studying of seidr material would be useful on the side?

I'm sorry I'm not more helpful at the moment!
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:19 pm

It occurs to me, you might want to ask these things from fra obnoxion? Although he does not specialize in the Norse mythology, his knowledge of shamanic things is vast, and many things overlap. One could find correspondences that way as well.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:37 am

Heith wrote:It occurs to me, you might want to ask these things from fra obnoxion? Although he does not specialize in the Norse mythology, his knowledge of shamanic things is vast, and many things overlap. One could find correspondences that way as well.
Thanks for the tip, I might message him once I've read more of the sagas and my ideas are better formulated. At the moment I'm just dumping initial ideas as writing stuff down helps my thought process. Plus, I think my rambling might be of interest to people, and in return I also get helpful advice and information :P. I defintely need to investigate the Nithing poles; Wikipedia says one is used in the Vatnsdæla Saga which is alread on my reading list.
Heith wrote:I don't know exactly what sort of things interest you- are you strictly into Fylgjur now?
Nah, I'm still looking at the whole range (fylgjur, hamingjur, hugr and munr). So far I'm finding that the fylgjur are just the most mentioned and written about, at least in the easily available sagas that are translated into English. I think they are also probably the best thing to investigate to answer the first of those questions I posed.

Something that occurs to me is that the fylgjur are an outward projection of something comparable to the etheric body. I also think that the fylgjur come from within but perhaps as a secondary development, particularly if their (and the hamingjur's) etymology is connected to “afterbirth” (and how this is interpreted).

Those who closely relate with their fylgja seem to surrender themselves completely by entering a deep sleep and making sure no-one states their name. Apparently, in the Vatnsdæla Saga, this practice is performed by some Finnish wizards which could suggest some cultural exchange, although I haven't read it yet. However, in the Norse scheme of things I don't think fylgjur are essential for a person. For example, in Hallfred's saga, Hallfred separates himself from his fylgja who then basically offers herself to anyone who will take her. Hallfred is one of the most Nietzschean characters I've ever encountered though, firstly willed towards emotional desire then a kind of classical rationality towards religion.

Perhaps the two extreme examples with dealing with fylgjur suggests a general concept that the individual is free to deal with how they will. It has me thinking that although those who intend to project their fylgja are often sleeping i.e. in an immobile body, this doesn't necessarily mean that the body is merely a shell that needs a fylgja to operate. Perhaps they are simply exerting a greater degree of effort by going into a trance or meditating, as opposed to characters with the antipathy of Halfred. However, this leaves the apparent contradiction of people who witness their dead fylgja as an omen of bodily death. Although, again, perhaps this only relates to people who have a strong connection with their fylgja.

Therefore, maybe a distinction between those who experience a hamingja instead of a fylgja is that instead of projecting their animal/female representation outwards as separate to the physical body, they internalise it and adopt certain characteristics of said animal as typified by the berserker.


Regarding other Norse “bodies”... There is a character (Gunnar) in Njáls Saga who is killed and later seen above his burial mound, facing a stream of Moonlight, encouraging people to avenge him. At some point I need to read the original Old Norse to figure out exactly what this entails. Speculating without evidence, perhaps it is the hugr, interpreted in the context of Will. If this hunch is correct it could go some way to explaining the zombie-like creatures as people who died with physical revenge as their foremost concern. Regardless of what it is, I find it significant that it happened to Gunnar as he is often considered a representation of the “perfect” Norse man by many.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:13 pm

Indeed your ramblings do interest me, as you seem to have a excellent memory, and often point out things that I forgot, or didn't even know.

I have some small information on the Nithing poles, I recall a friend scanned something from a book when I was interested of the subject. When studying Norse curse magic, I can't really underline the importance of Galdrabók enough- it does give some neat pointers as to how such craft works. I've also some technical knowledge of curse workings with the Runes, on bind runes, for example.

It seems to me that often on the sagas the sámi and the finns are the same thing. I think the book you recommended discusses this as well, although I'm not very far into reading this yet. Definitely this deep meditative state is something that the sámi are known to do. I have a book that touches on the subject (if memory serves), that I could perhaps ask my friend to bring over when he comes to visit me on the holidays, or else scan it the next I gain access to this. I could scan you pages concerning the trance states of the finns / sámi people, if you think this might be helpful?

Your suggestion on internalizing the fylgja is interesting and something that I should perhaps investigate a little bit on a practical level.

I would like to know, have you ever heard any folklore concerning the Aurora Borealis? Particularly to do with bridges, or links to other worlds? Someone asked me, and I can't remember ever hearing anything of the like.

I can't write a very lengthy reply now, but I will definitely wish to discuss this topic further. Very interesting, good job again, Jiva :)
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:39 am

Anything you scan would be really appreciated, whether on the Finns, Sámi or Norns :D.

A few other things to figure in: Heimdal. Loki and Odin's shape-changing abilities and Thor's total inability. Something else to investigate is to check if there are any images related to fylgjur etc. carved into stones or jewellery anywhere, or also if there are anything preserved as tattoos although I think this is very unlikely.

I don't remember ever reading anything about the Aurora Borealis anywhere in Norse mythology. It's really strange actually, I've not even read any romantic usage e.g. for the setting for a battle, let alone anything spiritual or religious. I guess you could try and stretch the definition of the rainbow bridge of Bifrost to the Aurora Borealis as a Moonbow, but I think that's pushing it.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:55 am

Hmm. I wonder, what is your aim with this research? Are you planning to write a book or paper on the subject?

I also wonder, is this thread the best place to do this work (I easily lose information on long threads)? I would very much like to help you. Should we try and get some sort of database for this information, where we could also put pictures and the like? Or perhaps you already are organized and have something like this, in which case, could you just tell me where to send scans / drawings etc?

I think it can be really challenging to try and find fylgja- related picture material, as it will be really tricky to interpret what is a fylgja on a picture. I could ask fra Strix about this one as well.

The book I should scan that I currently don't have is in Finnish, I just remembered. But I can read this, scan it, and translate the main points to you. Unless you know Finnish :)

Also are you familiar with this book

Image

The Magic songs of the Finns? This is totally offtopic. Just a inquiry.
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Jiva » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:24 am

My aim's the same as before, an essay/article about the Norse bodily concepts and how these can compare to the sevenfold Theosophic concepts. I guess it'll be somewhere between 5,000-8,000 words long as this is the usual length of academic essays I used to write.

I'm not the most organised person in the world. At the moment all I have is lists of stuff I'm going to read and books I've already read with stuff written on post-it notes bookmarking the pages where I think relevant things are mentioned.

Teratokrios recommended the Magic Songs of the Finns to me months ago, I just haven't got round to buying it yet :oops:. Buying any more books is going to have to wait until next year though; I've probably already spent too much. December is always an expensive month for me, especially as I'm having half of the month on holiday without pay as well.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Norse Mythology/Runes

Postby Heith » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:56 pm

Jiva wrote:I've already read with stuff written on post-it notes bookmarking the pages where I think relevant things are mentioned.
Sounds familiar. My archives work in most mysterious ways, no one else is able to make any sense of them whatsoever. Sort of, order in chaos kind of.

Let me know if there's some type of things I should look into in particular. I did read a little bit on shapeshifting concepts, I think some sagas were mentioned there. I can look this up again. I'll be having access to my bookshelf via a friend, so I should be able to look at that book of finnish magical practices at least.

Also, should scan a few pages from the book about Norns, they speak of fylgjur there, though it's only a page or two.

edit: typos

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