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.
“Awake Groa Awake Mother” Illustration by John Bauer
Skaldskaparmál: The Thor / Hrugnir Fight
Gróa appears in the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, in the context of Thor’s battle with the jötunnHrungnir. After Thor has dispatched Hrungnir with the hammer Mjollnir, Gróa is asked to help magically remove shards of Hrungnir’s whetstone which became embedded in Thor’s head. Unfortunately while Gróa was about her work, Thor distracted her by giving her news of her husband’s whereabouts (he had earlier helped Aurvandil cross the river Élivágar), telling her that her husband was now at home. Gróa’s spell miscarried and the pieces of whetstone remained permanently embedded in Thor’s head.
Svipdagsmál: To The Help Of Her Son Svipdagr
Gróa is also a völva, summoned from beyond the grave, in the Old Norse poem Grógaldr, (a section of Svipdagsmál), by her sonSvipdagr. In death she has lost none of her prophetic powers, and is able to assist him in a successful conclusion of the task which he has been set by his cruel stepmother. It is possible that this second Gróa is the same as the first one.
“Groa’s Incantation” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
Gesta Danorum: Saved From Garm
In Gesta Danorum, Gro is a woman saved from marrying a giant by King Gram. In Viktor Rydberg’s elaborate theories on Norse mythology this Gro, too, is the same.
There is some evidence that in addition to being a writing systemrunes historically served purposes of magic . This is the case from earliest epigraphic evidence of the Roman to Germanic Iron Age, with non-linguistic inscriptions and the alu word. An erilaz appears to have been a person versed in runes, including their magic applications.
In medieval sources, notably the Poetic Edda, the Sigrdrífumál mentions “victory runes” to be carved on a sword, “some on the grasp and some on the inlay, and name Tyr twice.”
According to Snorri Sturluson’s interpretation of the Völuspá, the three most important norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate) and they draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour overYggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.
These norns are described as three powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival fromJötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods. They may be the same as the maidens of Mögþrasir who are described in Vafþrúðnismál .
Beside these three norns, there are many other norns who arrive when a person is born in order to determine his or her future. There were both malevolent and benevolent norns, and the former caused all the malevolent and tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective goddesses. Recent research has discussed the relation between the myths associated with norns and valkyries and the actual travelling Völvas (seiðr-workers), women who visited newborn children in the pre-Christian Norse societies.
Whereas the origin of the name norn is uncertain, it may derive from a word meaning “to twine” and which would refer to their twining the thread of fate.
The name Urðr (Wyrd, Weird) means “fate”. Both Urðr and Verðandi are derived from the Old Norse verb verða, “to become”. While Urðrderives from the past tense (“that which became or happened”), Verðandi derives from the present tense of verða (“that which is happening”).Skuld is derived from the Old Norse verb skole/skulle, “need/ought to be/shall be”; its meaning is “that which should become, or that needs to occur”.
In the Viking Age, seid had connotations of ergi (“unmanliness” or “effeminacy”) for men, as its manipulative aspects ran counter to the male ideal of forthright, open behaviour.Freyja and perhaps some of the other goddesses of Norse mythology were seid practitioners, as was Odin, a fact for which he is taunted by Loki in the Lokasenna.
As described by Snorri Sturluson in his Ynglinga saga (sec. 7), seid includes both divination and manipulative magic. It seems likely that the type of divination practiced by seid was generally distinct, by dint of an altogether more metaphysical nature, from the day-to-day auguries performed by the seers (menn framsýnir, menn forspáir).
In Örvar-Odd’s Saga, however, the cloak is black, yet the seiðkona also carries the distaff (which allegedly has the power of causing forgetfulness in one who is tapped three times on the cheek by it).
The goddess Freyja is identified in Ynglinga saga as an adept of the mysteries of seid, and it is said that it was she who taught it to Odin: Dóttir Njarðar var Freyja. Hon var blótgyðja. Hon kenndi fyrst með Ásum seið, sem Vönum var títt (‘Njörðr’s daughter was Freyja. She presided over the sacrifice. It was she who first acquainted the Æsir with seiðr, which was customary among the Vanir’).
In LokasennaLoki accuses Odin of practicing seid, condemning it as an unmanly art. A justification for this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that following the practice of seid, the practitioner was rendered weak and helpless.
One possible example of seid in Norse mythology is the prophetic vision given to Odin in the Völuspá by the völva, vala, or seeress after whom the poem is named. Her vision is not connected explicitly with seiðr; however, the word occurs in the poem in relation to a character called Heiðr (who is traditionally associated with Freyja but may be identical with the völva).The interrelationship between the völva in this account and the Norns, the fates of Norse lore, are strong and striking.
Another noted mythological practitioner of seiðr was the witch Groa, who attempted to assist Thor, and who is summoned from beyond the grave in the Svipdagsmál.