This blog will focus on historical accuracy and reconstructionism but also on the contemporary religion and sometimes wander into other heathenry, like Anglo - Saxon faith, Odinism, Theodism and so on.
There will however never be any bigotry, homophobia, anti Semitism or stupid ideas of a "pure" Germanic race.
“Rune stone (U 518) in Västra Ledinge. The inscription says: “Torgärd and Sven, they had this stone raised in memory of Ormer and Ormulv and Fröger. He met his end in the sound of Sila (Selaön island), and the others abroad in Greece. May God help their spirits and souls”.
Runsten (U 518) i Västra Ledinge. Ristningen säger: “Torgärd och Sven de läto resa denna sten efter Ormer och Ormulv och Fröger. Han slutade sitt liv norrut i silu (Selaön) och de andra ute i Grekland. Gud hjälpe deras ande och själ”.
Parish (socken): Skederid Province (landskap): Uppland Municipality (kommun): Norrtälje County (län): Stockholm
Photograph by: Erik Brate Date: 1916 Format: Glass plate negative”
Hávamál (“Sayings of the high one”) is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.
The verses are attributed to Odin, much like the biblical Book of Wisdom is attributed to Solomon. The implicit attribution to Odin facilitated the accretion of various mythological material also dealing with Odin.
For the most part composed in the metreLjóðaháttr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Hávamál is both practical and metaphysical in content. Following the gnomic “Hávamálproper” follows the Rúnatal, an account of how Odin won the runes, and the Ljóðatal, a list of magic chants or spells.
The Hávamál is edited in 165 stanzas by Bellows (1936). Other editions give 164 stanzas, combining Bellow’s stanzas 11 and 12, as the manuscript abbreviates the last two lines of stanzas 11. Some editors also combine Bellow’s stanzas 163 and 164. In the following, Bellow’s numeration is used.
The poems in Hávamál is traditionally taken to consist of at least five independent parts,
the Gestaþáttr, or Hávamál proper, (stanzas 1-80), a collection of proverbs and gnomic wisdom
a dissertation on the faithlessness of women (stanzas 81-95), prefacing an account of the love-story of Odin and the daughter of Billingr (stanzas 96-102) and the story of how Odin got the mead of poetry from the maidenGunnlöð (stanzas 103-110)
the Loddfáfnismál (stanzas 111-138), a collection of gnomic verses similar to the Gestaþáttr, addressed to a certain Loddfáfnir
the Rúnatal (stanzas 139-146), an account of how Odin won the runes, introductory to the Ljóðatal
the Ljóðatal (stanzas 147-165), a collection of charms
Stanzas 6 and 27 are expanded beyond the standard four lines by an additional two lines of “commentary”. Bellow’s edition inverses the manuscript order of stanzas 39 and 40. Bellow’s stanza 138 (Ljóðalok) is taken from the very end of the poem in the manuscript, placed before the Rúnatal by most editors following Müllenhoff. Stanzas 65, 73-74, 79, 111, 133-134, 163 are defective.
Stanzas 81-84 are in Malahattr, 85-88 in Fornyrthislag. The entire section of 81-102 appears to be an ad hoc interpolation. Stanza 145 is also an interpolation in Malahattr.
The first section Gestaþáttr, the “guest’s section”. Stanzas 1 through 79 comprise a set of maxims for how to handle oneself when a guest and traveling, focusing particularly on manners and other behavioral relationships between hosts and guests and the sacred lore of reciprocity and hospitality to the Norse pagans.
The first stanza exemplifies the practical behavioral advice it offers:
All the entrances, before you walk forward,
you should look at,
you should spy out;
for you can’t know for certain where enemies are sitting,
ahead in the hall
Number 77 is possibly the most known section of Gestaþáttr:
Billingr’s girl watches on while Odin encounters the bitch tied to her bedpost (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.
Stanzas 84 to 110 deal with the general topic of romantic love and the character of women.
It is introduced by a discussion of the faithlessness of women and advice for the seducing of them in stanzas 84-95, followed by two mythological accounts of Odin’s interaction with women also known as “Odin’s Examples” or “Odin’s Love Quests”. The first is an account of Odin’s thwarted attempt of possessing the daughter of Billing (stanzas 96-102), followed by the story of the mead of poetry which Odin won by seducing its guardian, the maiden Gunnlöð (stanzas 103-110).
Rúnatal or Óðins Rune Song, Rúnatáls-þáttr-Óðins (stanzas 138-146) is a section of the Hávamál where Odin reveals the origins of the runes. In stanzas 138 and 139, Odin describes his sacrifice of himself to himself:
Veit ec at ec hecc vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr oc gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.
The “windy tree” from which the victim hangs is often identified with the world tree Yggdrasil by commentators. The entire scene, the sacrifice of a god to himself, the execution method by hanging the victim on a tree, and the wound inflicted on the victim by a spear, is often compared to the crucifixion of Christ as narrated in the gospels. The parallelism of Odin and Christ during the period of open co-existence of Christianity and Norse paganism in Scandinavia (the 9th to 12th centuries, corresponding with the assumed horizon of the poem’s composition) is also evident from other sources. To what extent this parallelism is an incidental similarity of the mode of human sacrifice offered to Odin and the crucifixion, and to what extent Christianity exerted direct influence on the mythology associated with Odin, is a complex question on which scholarly opinions vary.
The last section, the Ljóðatal enumerates eighteen charms (songs, ljóð), prefaced with
Ljóð eg þau kann / er kann-at þjóðans kona / og mannskis mögur
“The songs I know / that king’s wives know not / Nor men that are sons of men” (stanza 147).
The charms themselves are not given, just their application or effect described. They are explicitly counted from “the first” in stanza 147, and “a second” to “an eighteenth” in stanzas 148 to 165, given in roman numerals in the manuscript.
There is no explicit mention of runes or runic magic in the Ljóðatal excepting in the twelfth charm (stanza 158), which takes up the motif of Odin hanging on the tree and its association with runes,
svo eg ríst / og í rúnum fá’g
“So do I write / and color the runes”
Nevertheless, because of the Rúnatal preceding the list, the Ljóðatal has been associated with the runes, specifically with the sixteen letters of the Younger Futhark.
Müllenhoff takes the original Ljóðatal to have ended with stanza 161, with the final three charms (16th to 18th) taken as late and obscure additions.
Various proponents of Germanic Neopagan groups place an emphasis on Hávamál as a source of a Norse pagan ethical code of conduct. The “Nine Noble Virtues”, first compiled byOdinic Rite founder John “Stubba” Yeowell in the 1970s are “loosely based” on the Hávamál. The Northvegr Foundation cites the Hávamál among other Old Norse and Old English sources to illustrate “the ethical ideal of the Northern spiritual faith of Heithni.”