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Updated: 42 min 14 sec ago

The Ing Rune - An exclusive animated video

6 hours 43 min ago
Continuing with our 3d animated videos describing the runes - here we have the latest in runes... The Ing rune. Below is the next video Odin's Eye has created in the series. The interpretations are by Horik Svensson from his book, "The Runes". They are for runecasting and peering into them in shamanic ways. The Ing Rune --- There are more to come. When all done, they'll be combined to create one single film on the Runes. --- How do you interpret the runes? How do you use them? Odin's Eye is going to explore this and more. --- The other runes so far: + The Thorn Rune + The Peorth Rune + The Hagall Rune + The Wynn Rune + The Jera Rune + The Rad Rune + The Ansur Rune + The Ur Rune - video + The Runes... so far - videos > --- Thanks for watching. Hail the gods! Hail the ancestors! Hail the folk! - Heathen Howl ---

11,000-year-old European Shamanic Headdress Reconstructed Sheds Light on Rituals

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 21:15

New research published online in the journal PLoS ONE is the first scientific analysis of the oldest known evidence of a shamanic costume in Europe.

Depiction of an Evenki shaman wearing antler headdress (Witsen, 1785). Image credit: Aimée Little et al.

Archaeologists unearthed a total of 24 red deer headdresses at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr in North Yorkshire, UK, representing around 90% of all such known artifacts across early prehistoric Europe.

The artifacts are formed from the upper part of a skull of a male red deer (Cervus elaphus) with the antlers attached – the lower jaw and cranial bones having been removed and the frontal bone perforated.

The majority of the headdresses were discovered during archaeological investigations at the site in the 1940s though archaeologists unearthed a further three during excavations in 2013. The most complete of these is likely to have come from a male adult red deer though the animal was 50% larger than its modern counterparts.

To create replicas of the 11,000-year-old headdresses, a team of researchers led by University of York archaeologist Dr. Aimée Little used traditional tools and techniques (flint blades, hammerstones and burning).

The scientists also analyzed a number of cut marks radiating out of perforations on both sides of the red deer crania.

They concluded that hunter-gatherers were likely to have removed the head and superficially cleaned it before starting work on producing the headdress.

The first stage of the process may have involved removal of a large amount of antler possibly to reduce the weight of the headdress and make it easier to work. Some of the removed antler may have formed ‘blanks’ for the production of barbed projectile tips used for hunting and fishing.

But it is also possible that, in some cases, antler blank removal happened much later after the headdress had been used; in which case the process may have been a form of decommissioning of the headdress and/or the recycling of antler.

“Given the amount of worked antler present at Star Carr, including over 200 barbed projectile tips, this is a plausible theory,” Dr. Little said.

“This research shows how experimental archaeology can give important insights into rare ancient artifacts,” she added. “Knowing fire was used invokes a real sense of atmosphere surrounding the making of these ritual shamanic headdresses.”

Virtual reconstruction of a red deer headdress from the site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK. Image credit: Aimée Little et al.

“These headdresses are incredibly rare finds in the archaeological record,” said Prof. Nicky Milner of the University of York, co-director of the excavations at Star Carr.

“This is the only site in Britain where they are found, and there are only a few other headdresses known from Germany.”

“This work into how they might have been made has given us an important glimpse into what life was like 11,000 years ago.”

--- Further reading and sources ---

The Viking witch's magic wand: 9th century grave relic 'was disabled by terrified villagers who feared its sorceress owner would rise from the dead'

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:55

A Viking metal rod which left experts baffled for more than a century has finally been identified as a 'magic wand' used by a witch to cast spells.

The staff, which was found in a ninth-century grave, is curved at the end - causing it to be misidentified as a fishing hook or a spit for roasting food.

However, archaeologists have now concluded that it was in fact a magical item belonging to a sorceress who was 'on the margins of society'.

Magical: This curved rod is believed to have been a staff belonging to a Viking sorceress in the 9th century

They suggest that the reason it was bent before being buried with its owner was to remove its magical properties - possibly to prevent the witch coming back from the dead.

The 90cm-long rod has been part of the British Museum's collection since 1894, when it was discovered in Norway's Romsdal province.

It had been buried next to a woman's body alongside other valuable items including an unusual plaque made of whalebone, implying that the person in the grave had a high status in Viking society.

Its unusual shape, with a knobbly 'handle' and a hooked end, originally led historians to believe that it was a practical object used for catching fish.

Outcast: A reconstruction of how Viking witches could have looked as they wielded their fearsome staffs Power: Runes, seen carved on a standing stone, are thought to have had magical association

They later decided that it was in fact a skewer for roasting meat - but after comparing the rod with other similar objects, experts have now reached a different conclusion.

British Museum curator Sue Branning says that it was probably a magical staff used to perform 'seithr', a form of Viking sorcery predominantly practiced by women.

'Our rod fits with a number of these rods that turn up in the ninth and 10th century in female burials,' she told The Times. 'They normally take the form of these long iron rods with knobs attached to them.'

The curve in the end of the staff is likely to have signified that it was being put out of use, a common practice in the medieval period for grave goods which were routinely broken when they were buried.

Bending or breaking the buried possessions of the dead could have served to neutralise their magical properties - preventing their former owners from casting spells from beyond the grave.

'There must have been some kind of ritual,' Ms Branning said. 'This object was ritually "killed", an act that would have removed the power of this object.'

Although Viking society, like most medieval societies, was dominated by men, some women were believed to have special powers which made them influential figures.

Ms Branning said: 'These women were very well respected, but they were quite feared as well. They may have been on the margins of society.'

Because the Vikings were not converted to Christianity until around 1000 AD, there is strong evidence for the importance of magic in their society at a time when the rest of Europe had largely abandoned the practice.

Fierce: But women could be prominent figures in Viking society despite the common image of it as being dominated by warriors; medieval enthusiasts are pictured celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh this week Display: The staff will be placed in a new gallery in the British Museum alongside other early medieval treasures such as this belt buckle from Sutton Hoo

Runes, the pre-Christian writing system used in Scandinavia and elsewhere, have long been thought to have had magical associations and were apparently used to tell the future.

The witch's staff will go on display in the British Museum's new early medieval gallery, which is set to open on March 27.

The room will also contain highlights of the museum's collections including the Anglo-Saxon treasures found at Sutton Hoo.

 

SPELLS, SORCERERS AND RITUALS IN MEDIEVAL VIKING SOCIETY

Magical rituals are thought to have been central to many early medieval societies, but in most regions the advent of Christianity displaced them and obliterated all trace.

However, Scandinavia was not converted to Christianity until the late 10th and early 11th centuries, meaning that we have much more historical and architectural evidence about their pagan beliefs.

The magic apparently carried out by the owner of the British Museum staff is known as 'seithr', and was usually carried out by women sorceresses.

It was used for both peaceful and aggressive purposes - some practitioners claimed to use their skills to predict the future, but others cast spells to curse their enemies.

The runic alphabet, used to write Scandinavian languages before the coming of Christianity, is also thought to have had magical associations.

Roman author Tacitus described how Germanic priests would write symbols on pieces of bark before casting them as lots to tell the future, while the great god Odin was said to have had special skills in rune-reading and divination.

After Christianity came to the Norse world, traditional magic began to die out - but only after the old and new faiths went through a period of conflict.

The 10th-century King Hakon of Norway was brought up a Christian, but after ascending to the throne he found himself pressured to take part in pagan rituals which involved eating horse liver at a pubic feast.
 

--- Further reading and sources ---

Norse code: Preserving Viking Age folk art traditions

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 18:57

... the Nordic seafarers that lived between the 8th and 11th centuries had distinct cultural practices like any other ethnic group in history, especially in the folk arts.

Even though the Viking Age ended nearly a thousand years ago, people all over the world are investing to educate the public and keep Viking cultural traditions alive — like Moorhead's own Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC).

The Hjemkomst Center-based nonprofit recently debuted the Viking Connection program, a renewed effort to preserve and share Viking Age arts, crafts and folk traditions throughout the Upper Midwest.

"The broad goal of Viking Connection is to get people exposed to the various crafts of the Viking Age so they will hopefully continue those traditions," says Viking Connection Director Tim Jorgensen.

Three large components of the program include visiting master courses, an apprenticeship program and an online database for Viking Age artists.

The program runs for three years and is funded with a $300,000 grant the HCSCC received in 2016 for demonstrating its commitment to preserving cultural heritage and traditional folk arts in the region.

"We do this work because the Viking-era folk arts, the Old Norse roots of much of today's regional European folk arts, with its influence ranging from Russia to Ireland to Iraq, need support to be preserved, celebrated, and taught to our future generations," says HCSCC Executive Director Maureen Kelly Jonason.

Jorgensen is overseeing the development of the program website, vikingconnection.org, that will serve as a central hub to connect and provide resources to Viking Age folk artists all over the world — primarily Scandinavia and the United States.

Some art forms Viking Connection will support are Viking Age woodcarving, bead and textile work, culinary arts, leatherwork, fine metalwork and blacksmithing, to name a few.

"Folk art is the umbrella term for the program, but that includes performance art, too, including spoken word and movement," Jorgensen says.

Authenticity is a key factor in the Viking Connection program, especially in the master courses.

If the HCSCC cannot find examples in archeological records for how to create Viking Age artifacts or someone who knows correct techniques, Jorgensen says they do not teach it.

"It's easy to go to the store and buy a chunk of wood and carve it, but to get into the process of picking the tree, what time of year to cut it down, how to dry it — all of these stages are important," he emphasizes. "If you lose the important steps of the process, then carrying on the tradition is going to be weak."

Swedish culinary archaeologist Daniel Serra is the first master course artist in the program.

Serra shares his research of Viking Age cooking and nutrition at the next Parlor Talk series Wednesday, July 5, at the Hjemkomst Center.

Those interested in trying Serra's confections and learning about the Viking Connection program sooner can do so this weekend at the 40th annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival at the HCSCC.

The two-for-one festival is only an introduction of what is to come, says HCSCC Communications Coordinator Davin Wait.

"This is the best place and time for people to learn about Viking Age arts," Wait says.

More information about Viking Connection, the Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival or the HCSCC is available at hcscconline.org.

Read the rest --- Further reading and sources ---

Shamanic Saami of the North: Strange Lapps and Their Magical Drumming Maps

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 03:10

When the wise men of Europe’s Far North want to see beyond the merely visible, they bang their noid drums (1) until the rhythm and concomitant incantations prise open the creaky doors of perception.

The skin that forms the membrane of their drums is decorated with cryptic symbols that constitute a symbolic landscape. On this mental map is placed a piece of bone, which dances across the membrane as the shaman bangs the drum’s frame. It is his job to translate the bone’s erratic hopscotchery across this magical universe into meaningful comments on events past, present and future.

These rituals are reminiscent of other pagan divinations that distill meaning from randomness - be it by the reading of tea leaves, tarot cards or bird entrails. They also resemble the path from extasy to clarity popular in the continuum of shamanic cultures circling the Arctic, of which the Saami (2) form an integral part.

 

The Saami are the indigenous people of Northern Europe, a living remnant of the continent’s nomadic prehistory. Now numbering, by most accounts, less than 200,000, they are spread across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia in an area known as Sápmi.(3)

Historically, shamen played a central part in Saami life. They were reputed to mediate between Heaven and Earth, possess magical powers over wind and other elements, and be able to shapeshift and visit Jábmeájmoo, the Land of the Dead. When Christianity arrived in the High North - late, in the 17th century - shamen bore the brunt of the combined church-state assault on Saami independence. Noid drums were singled out as instruments of the Devil, and most of them were destroyed.

This drum is a recent build, made by Californian artist Jeffrey Vallance under the direction of a Swedish craftsman of shamanic descent. The eradication of Saami religion may have been quasi total, yet some of the old magic still lingers. As Mr Vallance says, “[craftsman Mikael] Pirak warned me to be careful of opening certain ‘doors’, as there are some very dark powers lurking out there.” Mind how you drum, then!

The cryptic symbols on Mr Vallance’s drum reflect the Saami shamanic universe, filtered through his own life’s story: his noid map is a mix of ancient Northern European lore and Californian surfer culture.

At the centre of the drum membrane is a cross-tree, with at its diamond-shaped centre Mandash-pyrre, the mythical reindeer that with its shiny golden antlers also was a sun symbol. The centrality of reindeer is no coincidence, as Saami survival was intertwined with, and indeed dependent on, the life and migrations of these herds.

On the northern branch, symbols show (bottom to top) a stick figure with a bow chasing a reindeer (symbolising the hunt), and a cross between antlers (referring to the North Star, and Saint Hubert who was blinded and converted by such a cross while stag-hunting in the Ardennes).

On the eastern branch, we have the three-horned wind god, the southern branch is dominated by three wise men, and the western one by a shield-wielding figure symbolising Luck, and a tree-hugging one signifying the Earthly Realm.

The northwestern quarter of the map in its entirety symbolises the Earthly Realm. Its horizon is dotted, north to west, with symbols for a Christian cemetery (the cross), the Passion (the True Cross, the Holy Lance, the Sacred Sponge and the Actual Ladder), and spring (the God of First Greening, holding two sprouting plants). A wild reindeer, and a sort of scale balancing and elk and a berry-eating goat represent the Saami’s fixation with the animals that provide much of their livelihood.

Away from the northwestern horizon, the three crowns stand for the Swedish monarchy (the same symbol can be seen on Swedish air force jets) and the long boat represents the Vikings, with whom the Saami share some history. Also portrayed are the prophetic ravens Huginn and Muninn. Filling out the northwestern quadrant are a cross-shaped hex sign, and a reindeer (battling a sacred bear shown in the northeastern quadrant).

That northeastern quarter is the Heavenly Realm, and its horizon contains a Holy Place with sacrificial reindeer antlers (next to the top of the map), and a bit to the south two churches and a bunch of crosses that symbolise the Christian Path. Showing how intertwined both cultures have become, the cross just below is again a hex sign. And the horse with the cross jutting out of its back is either the (Christian) Horseman of the Apocalypse, or an even more prototypical Pale Horse of Death. A snow scooter, a Tongan bat and a helicopter flying reindeer meat to market complete this quadrant.

The southeastern quadrant represents the Underworld, and is decorated with a Wildman,(4) a Defecating Man, an antenna symbolising modern media, a Viking helmet symbolising a more ancient way of communication, and a female shaman with her feline familiar. A man skiing, a reindeer pulling a shaman to the underworld,(5) plus a hen and salmon complete the southeastern quadrant.

The southwestern quadrant shows on its horizon a drumming shaman, a storage room built on stilts (presumably typical of Sapmi), a tent (not unlike Native American wigwams), a dog (devilish or not), and a bunch of trees.(6) Inside the quadrant are a surfer, a sea monster (à la Loch Ness, although the Saami have similar traditions),(7) a shaman’s snake and a shaman in trance next to a noid drum.

Finally, the south of the map is dominated by a corral of reindeer while at the north of it sits a cathedral, or God the Father Himself.

In the rather likely event that you lack a noid drum, just looking at this magical landscape nevertheless allows some speculation on the strange, psychedelic trips undertaken by the shamen of the High North.

Many thanks to Mr Vallance for sending in this map and providing it with some context. Visit this intriguing artist’s Wikipedia page for more information. See also his own webpage here.

 

(1) the word noid (also spelled noaidi and noajdde) means ‘shaman’ in the local language.

(2) Formerly known as Lapps, this people is now more often referred to as Saami. Although the origin of the term ‘Lapp’ is unclear, it has acquired a negative connotation now avoided by the use of the native ethnonym. Compare Eskimo/Inuit.

(3) Formerly known as Lapland.

(4) An unkempt, unjovial figure prefiguring Santa Claus, but also related to Snömannen, literally the Snowman, whose legend can be seen as a Scandinavian take on the Yeti meme.

(5) Or, if you’re not into the whole individuality thing, a forest.

(6) This mode of interdimensional travel, often accompanied by jingling bells, of course also relates to Santa Claus’s Christmas Eve sleigh ride through the skies.

(7) Storsjömonster, the Great Lake Monster.

... Source

 

--- Further reading and sources ---

Skaði, The Norse ‘Giantess’ with a Godly Vendetta

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 19:51

In Norse mythology, Skaði (also anglicised as Skadi, Skade, or Skathi) is a giantess and goddess. She is most often associated with winter. Apart from that, Skaði is also connected with hunting, skiing and mountains. According to Norse belief, Skaði is the daughter of Thjazi, who was murdered by the Aesir. Additionally, Skaði is believed to be the wife of Njord, a Vanir. The death of Skaði’s father and her marriage to Njord are connected in a well-known Norse myth.

  The Jötnar Race of Giants

Skaði was a jötunn, which is often translated into English as ‘giant’, though the more literal translation of this word is ‘devourer’. The jötnar (the plural form of jötunn) are believed to be a race of creatures who inhabited Jotunheim (meaning ‘the world of the jötnar’), which is one of the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. For the Norse, the jötunn represent the forces of death, decay, destruction, and chaos. Although the jötunn are generally seen as malefic, this does not necessarily mean that they are evil. For instance, these destructive forces are necessary for the cycle of life, death and rebirth. This is seen, for instance, in the Norse creation myth, in which the cosmos was created from the corpse of the slain jötunn, Ymir.

Skadi Hunting in the Mountains (1901) by H. L. M.(Foster) Asgard Stories: Tales from Norse Mythology. (Public Domain)   Skaði’s Vendetta with the Gods

Skaði’s name is said to mean either ‘damage’ or ‘shade’, which may suggest that she is a descendant of the frost giants. In addition, it is possible that she is believed to be the bringer of winter, cold, and death. Skaði’s father was a jötunn by the name of Thjazi, who, in one myth was killed by the Aesir (the principle pantheon in Norse religion, whose members include Odin and Thor). As a result of this, Skaði vowed to avenge her father, put on her battle gear, and prepared to assault the Aesir, who resided in the realm of Asgard.

 

Modern Artists portrait of Skadi (by Ameluria, Deviantart)

The gods, however, were not inclined to do battle with Skaði and, after a time, decided to appease her by offering two things as a sign of reconciliation and compensation for her loss. The first was that she could choose a husband from amongst the gods. The second was that the gods promised to make her laugh. This was due to the fact that the death of her father devastated Skaði, and the gods thought that she would never laugh again.

Skadi's longing for the Mountains (1908) by W. G. Collingwood (Public Domain)

 

An Ungodly Choice

There was a simple condition attached to the first offer given to Skaði. Although she was free to choose her husband from the assembled gods, she was only allowed to see their feet. Skaði had hoped to marry Baldur, the fairest of the Aesir. She assumed that the loveliest pair of feet would belong to him, and thus made her decision based on this. Unfortunately for the jötunn, the fairest pair of feet did not belong to Baldur, but to Njord, a Vanir (another group of Norse gods) associated with the sea. This was a terrible mismatch.

... Read the rest References

Allen, P. J. & Saunders, C., 2014. Skadi. [Online]
Available at: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/norse-mythology.php?deity=SKADI

Coulter, C. R. & Turner, P., 2000. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. New York: Routledge.

McCoy, D., 2017. Giants. [Online]
Available at: http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/giants/

McCoy, D., 2017. Skadi. [Online]
Available at: http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/giants/skadi/

New World Encyclopedia, 2015. Skadi. [Online]
Available at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Skadi

norse-mythology.net, 2016. Skadi: Destruction. [Online]
Available at: http://norse-mythology.net/skadi-the-winter-goddess-in-norse-mythology/

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017. Skadi. [Online]
Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Skadi

 

--- Further reading and sources ---

The only surviving example of a complete Viking helmet in existence

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 18:42

Almost every young boy has worn a Viking helmet complete with horns and swished his toy sword around as he fought all comers in the back yard.  Sadly, the concept of Vikings wearing helmets adorned with horns is not true and is a figment of the imagination of the Romans.

Up to 1943, no Viking helmet had ever been found, but on the 30th March of that year, a burial mound was found on a farm near the village of Haugsbygd, in the northeast of Hønefoss, Norway.  At this time the country was under Nazi occupation, so everything found in the burial mound was loaded into wheelbarrows and hidden in a barn. Discovered within the mound was a helmet, known as the Gjermundbu helmet after the name of the farm on which it was found. As well as the helmet there were the burnt remains of two men along with a rich haul of funerary items such as chain mail armor, three axes, three spear heads, three swords, one of which was decorated with silver inlays, four bulges for shields, equestrian equipment and games such as dice.

Helmet from chieftain’s grave, 10th century, Norway. Photo Credit

Over the past 70 years the funerary items have been studied, and to this day the helmet found in the mound is unique in the archaeological world.  It has been positively dated to the 10th Century, around 970 AD,  but this very special helmet is the only example of a Viking helmet that has ever been found anywhere in the world.  Researchers believe that one of the men buried in the mound was a minor king and that the helmet belonged to him.

The helmet was found in nine pieces which gave archaeologists an insight into how it was constructed.  The Viking metalworker had created a metal frame upon which he could hang all the pieces.

There was a rim, similar to the rim of a modern hat, and two strips that went from front to back and from ear to ear.  He then riveted four metal plates onto this framework and created a covering for the head.

He added a decorated eye-piece, which protected the face and nose.  It is suggested that the sides and back of the neck were protected by chain mail and that the helmet originally sported a spike on the top of the head and a leather chinstrap.

The shield wall Photo Credit

As with many archaeological discoveries, there are many theories about why Viking helmets are practically nonexistent.  One of the most common is that helmets were reserved for high ranking individuals such as royalty and perhaps their personal guard, so there were very few of them.  Another theory is that helmets were passed from father to son until they were so damaged that they were melted down and turned into something else.  Yet another is that iron helmets were simply too heavy and too expensive and did not suit the Viking style of warfare, and were primarily worn for ceremonial purposes.

Illustrations of that era do show the Vikings, in their long boats, wearing a type of peaked hat.  The popular theory about this is that the hat is not a helmet but rather a leather hat that was worn as protection against the cold.  The Vikings were fearsome warriors, and their reputation and fighting ability was feared across most of the civilized world.

A heavy iron helmet would have got in the way of their fighting style.  In addition, heavy helmets would have taken up a great deal of room in their long boats, space better used to carry supplies and trade goods. Also, the added weight would not have been welcome when having to row.

Characterization of pre-Viking-Age (7th century) Anglo-Saxon equipment and dress Photo Credit

It is fascinating to speculate on why no helmets have been found that positively date back to this era.  The Gjermundbu helmet is on display at the Museum of National Antiquities in Oslo.

We can only stand and stare at the spectacle-like eyepiece and wonder at the man that wore this amazing piece of headgear, who he was, what his life was like and why did he, out of all the Vikings, have such a dramatic helmet?

--- Further reading and sources ---

Happy Summer Solstice / Midsummer Greetings 2017

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 17:00

It's that time of the year. The time for which the life giving sun is at it's highest point on the Northern hermisphere, the summer solstice, or Midsummer. The summer equinox. Hail Baldr!

On this day, I've been looking into and learning about the old and new ways of this time. 

Wikipedia's description of the summer solstice:

The summer solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs when a planet's rotational axis, or geographic pole on either its northern or its southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star that it orbits. On the summer solstice, Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. (Likewise, the Sun's declination from the celestial equator is +23.44° in the Northern Sky and −23.44° in the Southern Sky.) This happens twice each year (once in each hemisphere), when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or south pole.

The summer solstice occurs during the hemisphere's summer. This is the northern solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the southern solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 each year in the Southern Hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.

As seen from a geographic pole, the Sun reaches its highest altitude of the year on the summer solstice. It can be solar noon only along that longitude, which at that moment lies in the direction of the Sun from the pole. For other longitudes, it is not noon. Noon has either passed or has yet to come. Hence the notion of a solstice day is useful. The term is colloquially used like "midsummer" to refer to the day on which solstice occurs. The summer solstice day has the longest period of daylight, except in the polar regions, where daytime remains continuous for 24 hours every day during a period ranging from a few days to six months around the summer solstice.

A lot of different pagan groups celebrate this time of the year. Most famous in the world is the use of Stonehenge with it's alignment at this time. The Druids are the main people who use this site for this time of year.

Image source

In some countries this pagan holiday is still celibrated in mass, such as in Sweden. The symbolism of the old heathen ways still exist...

There are many people celibrating this time of the year, but what I am focusing on today is learning about the Odinist/Asatru ways. Here's what they're doing in Latvia

In the Nordic traditions certain plants are referenced in Gylfaginning, in Sweden and Norway, the scentless mayweed (Matricaria perforata) and the similar sea mayweed (Matricaria maritima) are both called baldursbrá "Balder's brow" and regionally in northern England (baldeyebrow).[16] In Iceland only the former is found.[16] In Germany lily-of-the-valley is known as weisser Baldrian; variations using or influenced by reflexes of Phol include Faltrian (upper Austria), Villumfallum (Salzburg), and Fildron or Faldron (Tyrol).

Balder's brow Balder, God of Light

The main heathen god focused on this time of year is Balder.

Baldr (also BalderBaldur) is the god of Light and Purity in Norse mythology, and a son of the god Odin and the goddess Frigg. He has numerous brothers, such as Thor and Váli.

In the 12th century, Danish accounts by Saxo Grammaticus and other Danish Latin chroniclers recorded a euhemerized account of his story. Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Baldr as both a great tragedy to the Æsir and a harbinger of Ragnarök.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, Baldr's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik. - Wikipedia

Baldr from the Prose Edda;

The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be[.] — Brodeur's translation

There's a lot of interesting things concerning Balder, such as his dreams in the Poetic Edda's that I might focus on more on another post later.

  Midsummer Blots

Lastly, I've been looking into this days celibrations coming from an Asatru/Odinist perspective and have been reading the AFA's Book of Blots.

I particulalry like Kim Welch's Midsummer Blot. Here's just a small portion from "The Calling"

The Godhi assumes the Elhaz stodur facing north, and says:

On this, the longest day of the year, we call to you, Balder, as our Ancestors did in the sacred groves of old. Be with us, the Folk, children of the Aesir and Vanir, as we call to you;

Balder!
Husband of Nanna!
Son of Frigga!
Son of Odhinn!
Father of Forsetti
You for whom the world weeps!
You whom Hermod sought!

Balder, Shining Ase, be with us here this night, and whisper in our hearts the words that all-Father whispered in your ear. Teach us the lesson of new beginnings coming from endings!” Teach us the lesson of hope when all seems lost!

There's nothing like being around a group of people for a blot. Unfortunately, this year I will not be around others to raise my horn with, but I will still be celibrating alone.

Here's a video of an Asatru Folk Assembly midsummer gathering...

Have a wonderful Midsummer celibration, everyone! Hail the gods! Hail the ancestors! Hail the Folk!

 

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The Thorn Rune - An exclusive animated video - This one is very good luck and protective.

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 03:23
Continuing with our 3d animated videos describing the runes - here we have the latest in runes... The Thorn/Thurisaz/Thurs rune. Below is the next video Odin's Eye has created in the series. The interpretations are by Horik Svensson from his book, "The Runes". They are for runecasting and peering into them in shamanic ways. The Thorn Rune The rune ᚦ is called Thurs (Old Norse Þurs "giant", from a reconstructed Common Germanic *Þurisaz) in the Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem it is called thorn, whence the name of the letter þ derived. It is transliterated as þ, and has the sound value of a voiceless dental fricative (the English sound of th as in thing). The rune is an adoption of the Latin letter D, while the d rune takes its shape from an Italic variant of the letter Δ (delta). It is absent from the earliest Vimose inscriptions, but it is found in the Thorsberg chape inscription, dated to ca. AD 200. --- There are more to come. When all done, they'll be combined to create one single film on the Runes. --- How do you interpret the runes? How do you use them? Odin's Eye is going to explore this and more. --- The other runes so far: + The Peorth Rune + The Hagall Rune + The Wynn Rune + The Jera Rune + The Rad Rune + The Ansur Rune + The Ur Rune - video + The Runes... so far - videos > --- Thanks for watching. Hail the gods! Hail the ancestors! Hail the folk! - Heathen Howl ---

Researchers find mysterious wooden pagan circles are actually 800 years older than Stonehenge

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 19:38

Thought Stonehenge was our oldest relic? Think again.

Mysterious religious rituals were happening WAY before the stone circle was assembled, in a lesser-known prehistoric site some 20 miles down the road in Avebury, Wiltshire.

Experts discovered the circular Palisades – which would have appeared like large wooden enclosures and stretched 250m in diameter – 30 years ago.

They initially believed they were erected at the same time as Stonehenge, at around 2,500 BC.

But new radiocarbon analysis suggests they were built in about 3,300BC - just a few hundred years after the first farms emerged in Britain.

The wooden rings would have been burnt to the ground to create rings of fire and could be dated using charcoal samples.

> These strange wooden enclosures stretched over more than four kilometres and used more than 4,000 trees. They are 800 years older than the current stones at Avebury (pictured, stock image) which were built in 2,500BC

Professor Alex Bayliss, a carbon-dating expert at Historic England had been waiting for technology to advance so they could learn more about the rings.

He told The Times: "They are two really massive circles of timbers.

"One of the hypotheses is that one could have been for women and the other for men to use for rituals.

"We have an entirely new kind of monument that is like nothing else ever found in Britain."

He doesn't believe they were occupied or for storing livestock - suggesting that they were for religious rituals.

The two structures would have represented a huge investment of time and labour.

The study, published in British Archaeology, estimates that the rings stretched over four kilometres and used more than 4,000 trees.

The incredible discovery comes as Druids and Wiccans gear up for the summer solstice, celebrated at Stonehenge in midsummer, which this year will take place on June 21.

--- Sources and further reading ---

1,000 Year Old Toilet From the Viking Age Discovered in Denmark

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 18:35

While excavating a Viking settlement on Stevns in Denmark, archaeologists have uncovered a two metre deep hole. They are saying it's not just any random hole, but it seems to be a toilet, and the oldest toilet in Demark dating back to the Viking Age (late 8th to mid 11th century), reported Science Nordic

Scientific analyses of the sediments accumulated in the hole were confirmed human feces.

“It was a totally random find. We were looking for pit houses—semi-subterranean workshop huts—and it really looked like that from the surface,” Anna Beck from the Museum of Southeast Denmark told Science Nordic.

“But we soon realized that it was something totally different,” Beck said.

“We know about privy buildings inside cities in the latter part of the Viking Age and the early Middle Ages, but not from agrarian settlements and farms,” she said.

“We imagined that people had defecated in the midden or in the barn with the animals in order to use their waste as fertilizer for the fields,” added Beck.

Archaeologists have known that when in the city Vikings would have a sewage system, and those rural went outside and collected the feces for fertilizer.

This find shows the Vikings were just as up to date civilized as anyone else.

--- Read article on Odin's Eye Media ---

TIL: Vikings sold "Unicorn horns" for tremendous amounts of gold

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 17:20

Living in the icy waters of the Canadian Arctic and the Greenlandic and Russian waters, narwhals count as one of the most authentic Arctic predators. In winter, their food, benthic prey, can be found at the bottom of the sea and under dense pack ice; during summer, they feed on Arctic cod and Greenland halibut.

For centuries, the toothed whale, considered the king of the Arctic seas, has been appraised for the possession of its large “tusk” from a protruding canine tooth. It is one of the two living species of the unusual Monodontidae family of whales, first described by Carl Linnaeus in the publication Systema Naturae in 1758.

Illustration of a narwhal and a beluga, its closest living relative, by A. Thorburn (1920).

 

This narwhal skull has rare double tusks. Usually, the canine tooth only on the left side of the upper jaw becomes a tusk. Only rarely does a male develop two tusks. This specimen, however, was a female (Zoologisches Museum, Hamburg; collected in 1684). photo credit A short history of narwhals

The unusual and unique look of the narwhal has enabled these sea creatures to feature in many legends. Inuit legends tell of the creation of the narwhal’s tusk, that a woman, with a harpoon rope tied around her waist, was dragged into the ocean when the harpoon had struck a huge narwhal. According to the story, she was transformed into a narwhal, and her hair, which she was wearing in a twisted knot, became the emblematic spiral tusk of the narwhal.

In medieval Europe, some people believed that narwhal tusks were the horns from the legendary unicorn. Whilst in the north, the tusk simply had a practical or decorative use, on the European continent, the tusk was believed to have superb magic powers, like healing from poison or curing certain diseases. This made the item worth huge amounts of gold, an opportunity which the Vikings and other northern traders probably used to acquire wealth with.

Image of the narwhal from Brehms Tierleben (1864–1869). In Qaanaaq, an Inuit man demonstrates traditional kayaking technique used for hunting narwhals. photo credit

Those who purchased the Narwhal tusks, believing that it was unicorn tusk, made cups from it, thinking they were able to negate any poison that might have been slipped into their drink. Royal buyers would increase the value of the tusk according to how much they believed in the legends and the magical lore of these mystical sea creatures. For the Vikings and for any other culture that participated in these kinds of tradings, this would have been a perfect system of deception.

During the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I received a unique carved and bejeweled narwhal tusk worth 10,000 British pounds, an amount just enough to purchase a whole castle. The tusk was delivered from Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a pioneer of the English colonial empire in North America who had proposed the item was from a “sea-unicorn”.

Author Herman Melville wrote a special chapter on the narwhals in his 1851 novel Moby Dick, stating that a narwhal tusk hung in Windsor Castle for a very long time after it was given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth. He also mentions that Danish kings made their thrones from the precious item, which adds to the notion that the narwhal tusk is an early example of commodity fetishism.

Fluke of a narwhal, photo taken in a polynya of Baffin Bay (north-eastern coast of Bylot Island), photo credit “Musei Wormiani Historia”, the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Ole Worm’s cabinet of curiosities.

As the narwhal tusks were always held in mystery and awe, they were staples of the Cabinets of curiosities, also known as wonder-rooms during the Renaissance Europe; the rooms served as an encyclopedic collection of objects which were still unclear and under the subject of investigation.

Europeans learned the truth about the narwhal tusk once they gradually started to explore the Arctic regions themselves, during the Age of Exploration.

--- Sources and further reading ---

Movie Review: Birkebeinerne / The Last King (2016)

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 03:43

The following is our first movie review to our new Movie Reviews section here on Odin's Eye. There are spoilers, be warned.

Title: Birkebeinerne / The Last King (2016)
Released on DVD: October 4, 2016
Actors: Jakob Oftebro, Kristofer Hivju, Thorbjørn Harr
Directors: Nils Gaup

Upon after my post in the art gallery of the painting "Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child" by Knud Bergslien, I began to look around a bit more about the true story that it's depicting and much to my suprise I found this was turned into a Norwiegan movie called Birkebeinerne or The Last King back in 2016.

Here is the description from Wikipedia

The Last King (original Norwegian title Birkebeinerne) is a 2016 Norwegian historical drama, directed by Nils Gaup. The film centers on the efforts of the Birkebeiner loyalists (Birkebeinerne) to protection the infant, Haakon Haakonsson (later King Haakon IV), who was an heir to the Norwegian throne after the death of his father, King Haakon III. The film is set during the Civil war era in Norway during the 13th century.

Here is the trailer;

I wasn't sure how this would be to be honest. I was suprised that I had not heard of this movie, as I like watching these types of movies. Just looking around on the internet you can tell they didn't have a huge budget, which doesn't matter if they produce it well. I also noticed how short of a film it is which usually means poor character development. However, I thought it does have Thorbjørn Harr as one of the main characters. He's famous for the blood eagle scene in Vikings! So, I gave the flick a chance. Also, Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones, as well.

Right away in the first scenes you can feel the authenticity they've produced well, and it plays out well from the beginning to the end. It was a lot better of a movie than I was expecting.

The version I've seen, and basing this review off of was in Norwegian and subbed in English. I believe this to be better how to treat these kind of movies, to preserve the stories in the original language to give a more accurate depiction of how it truly was. So, for me I think that's great.

The movie is an action film, and it's a bit bloodier than something like Vikings. I particularly liked the skiing chase scenes. If it was anything that would make this movie stick out beyond any of the other Viking/medieval time period movies it would be the use of ski's going through the snow, and in battle with axes, swords, spears and arrows.

Another thing I liked about the movie, is the actual true story it's based on, and how this is in the midst of the Christianizing of the Pagan people of Europe. The Church in particular is seen for being blood thirsty for power to take over a people.

It was very brutal, and so in scenes you see people with Mjölnir, but then praying to the Christian god. This was a time of civil war in Norway, and also a paradigm shift that changed Norway forever, that people are only just beginning to look into with a different lens.

There's great scenes of survival, showing that tough Viking men could take care of a baby in a blizzard. LOL!

It also shows the importance of storytelling and passing on such traditions.

Great battle scenes and "Brave Heart" like scenes to get you pumped up for battle.

My only complaint about the movie is that it does go a bit quick, and would of liked to see more into the background story of the people presented.

Really, this movie has it all, and is something I think anyone who likes classic Viking / medieval movies and series' will like this. It tells of an authentic story of bravery that the people of Norwegian decent should be telling for all generations. 

I definitely recommend watching this movie. 4/5. 

 

--- Odin's Eye Movie Reviews page ---

Art Gallery: Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child by Knud Bergslien

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 19:53

Click on image to open full size

Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child. Painting located at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, Oslo, Norway.

Painting title: Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child

Artist: Knud Bergslien

Region: Norway

Image Source

--- Also see on Steemit: Art Gallery: Hervors død by Peter Nicolai Arbo --- "Art Gallery" is a new section on Odin's Eye dedicating to re-emerging true art into the world. --- Art Gallery page ---

Danish Viking Tomb Reveals Unprecedented Gems

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 16:45

In what may be of the most important Viking discoveries in recent times, archaeologists have uncovered an elaborately gilded horse bridle likely owned by a high-status individual of the early Viking Age, possibly a confidant to Gorm the Old, the first ruler of Denmark.

Originally discovered in 2012, the Viking burial site in Hørning, Denmark consists of two graves and a tomb that is believed to contain two or three burial chambers. Excavations have started on the first of the chambers, and so far, the archaeologists have been astounded by what they’ve found. Just outside the burial chamber was an elaborately gilded horse bridle, leading the archaeologists to surmise that the person buried within was of very high status.

Dubbed the “Fregerslev Viking,” the individual is believed to be from the early Viking Age. Merethe Scihfter, a project manager and archeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg told the Copenhagen Post, “The artefacts that we’ve already found are exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle. This type of bridle would only be available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age, and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from the king.” In fact, they believe the fittings date to 950 A.D., meaning that the Fregerslev Viking could have been the confidant to the first historically recognized ruler of Denmark, Gorm the Old, or maybe his rival.

One of the gilded fittings. (photo: Museum of Skanderborg)

The horse headgear was decorated with fine ornamentation and Viking bling—geometrical figures, weaving, herringbone and annular patterns. Along with the incredible horse harness, they found partially preserved organic remains of leather, and seven cross-shaped belt fasteners with animal heads at the raised center. While the excavations are in the beginning stages, archaeologists have already preserved the headgear with a bridle, silver-plated quillons (the cross-guard of a sword) and cheek-plates.

Archaeologists think this may be the most remarkable Danish finding since 1983. In fact, the importance of these findings has been compared discoveries like the Tollund Man (the most well-preserved prehistoric “bog body” in the world) and the Egtved Girl (a Nordic Bronze Age girl aged 16-18 whose remains were discovered in an oak coffin in 1921 in Denmark).

 

Tomb complex as it was discovered in 2012. (Credit: Museum of Skanderborg)

The two graves outside the tomb were already excavated in 2012—one did not contain any significant grave artifacts while the other housed an oak coffin with a single skeleton lying on its back with its arms at its side.

Managed by the Museum of Skanderborg, the excavations will continue on the tomb chambers in April 2017 and will feature daily guided tours. You can find up-to-date information on http://www.vikingfregerslev.dk/. Some of the discoveries will be on display at the Museum of Skanderborg from April 7 to May 7.

--- Sources and further reading ---

George Washington: A Descendant of Odin?

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 00:54

Yvonne Seale on a bizarre and fanciful piece of genealogical scholarship and what it tells us about identity in late 19th-century America.

Replica of the Gokstad Viking ship complete with the Stars and Stripes proudly flying, featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 — Source.

George Washington: first President of the United States, father of his country, crosser of the Delaware, and descendant of Odin. This, at least, was the claim put forward by the late nineteenth-century genealogist Albert Welles. In the floridly titled, four-hundred-page tome The Pedigree and History of the Washington Family Derived from Odin, the Founder of Scandinavia. B.C. 70, Involving a Period of Eighteen Centuries, and Including Fifty-Five Generations, Down to General George Washington, First President of the United States (1879), Welles created a family tree for Washington of truly mythical proportions, and one which shows just how useful nineteenth-century Americans found the Middle Ages to be when it came to shaping their understandings of their country’s origins.

Welles stopped short of claiming that Washington was of semi-divine ancestry — likely because of his own devout Christianity. He therefore took his cue from the thirteenth-century Icelandic author and fellow Christian, Snorri Sturluson, who had proposed that Odin and the other Norse gods of his ancestors should be understood merely as venerated, mythologized versions of particularly successful war leaders. This meant that Odin was not the god of healing and death and the foremost of the Æsir, or Norse pantheon. He was instead a flesh-and-blood man who had lived almost two thousand years ago, ruling over a Turkic people in central Asia called the Aesir. Over time, Odin’s conquests took him further and further west until he finally settled in Scandinavia and declared himself king of all its peoples in the early first century BCE. Welles sniffed that previous historians had not come to this very obvious conclusion because they — unlike him — were “unable to separate the real from the mythological history”.

Welles was not the first to trace a lineage back to Odin. This image from the 12th-century Libellus de primo Saxonum uel Normannorum adventu shows Odin crowned as ancestral king of the Anglo-Saxons. The text describes the royal lineages of the kingdoms of Kent, Mercia, Deira, Bernicia and Wessex respectively, each claiming descent (and so also the right to rule) from the mythical figure turned king — Source.

Yet Welles was keen to engage in some myth-making of his own, stressing the similarities between the Odin he conjured up and George Washington. Though separated by eighteen centuries — and though no one knows what even a human Odin might have looked like — Welles writes that both men were of “wild, massive, manly” stock. If Odin, the first king of a united Scandinavia, were “the Mars as well as the Mohammed” of the region, then surely the first president of the United States had to hold a similarly elevated position.

From Odin, Welles traced thirty-two generations of descent down to about the year 1000 which encompassed figures both historical and legendary. In doing so, he gave George Washington further links — which even allowing for their fictional status were sometimes highly tenuous or collateral — to people like the Viking king Ragnar Lodbrok, or the brothers Hengist and Horsa who purportedly led the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain in the fifth century. Welles also claimed that Washington was related to the eleventh-century Icelandic explorers Thorfinn Karlsefni and his wife Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, who sailed across the Atlantic to Greenland and Vinland, the coastal region of eastern America which was briefly colonized by the Vikings. There, Thorfinn and Gudrid had a son, Snorri — the first known child of European parentage to be born in the Americas, long before Martín de Argüelles or Virginia Dare in the sixteenth century. Ragnar, Hengist, Horsa, Thorfinn, Gudrid, Snorri: these are all tangential figures in Welles’ imagined Washington family tree. But by taking the time to include brief biographies of them, and by linking them to George Washington, Welles was in a sense extending Euro-American history back into the far past. Rather than a nation which could trace its origins back only a hundred years or so from the time of Welles’ writing, or a continent whose colonization could be traced back to the voyages of an Italian Catholic, Anglo-American Protestants were cast as heirs to a long northern European tradition of exploration, conquest, and colonization.

Puck cartoon from 1893 satirising the boastful claims made by the upper classes of America (left) and the nobility of Europe (right) as to from whom they were descended. Top right shows a “Viking” amongst the boasts of Europeans — Source.

Even America’s grand democratic experiment had a medieval Scandinavian ancestry, in Welles’ eyes. He conceded that the Washingtons of the fifteenth century may have taken opposite sides during the Wars of the Roses, but wrote that he attached “no credence to reports of the Cavalier sentiments of the Washington family”. In other words, it was impossible that any ancestor of George Washington could have harbored royalist as opposed to republican sympathies during the English Civil War of the seventeenth century, because no member of the extended Washington clan could ever display a love of “power without principle”. The Washingtons were, after all, almost entirely of Germanic descent — untainted by the continental European influences of Norman blood — and throughout the centuries, “Saxon opposition to the Norman rule in England took the form of liberalism”.

Albert Welles wrote in an America whose aesthetic and moral sensibilities were informed to a great extent by medievalism. The Gothic-revival churches which were springing up across America were thought to be representative of an authentic “Teutonic” style, modified by civilizing Protestant influence. Mass-market consumer products married nineteenth-century inventions with often wildly inauthentic “Gothic” flourishes. In 1876, Henry Brooks Adams — a grandson and great-grandson of American presidents — published the first academic history of medieval Europe to be produced in the United States. Architecture, home decor, textbooks, and lecture series: they all promoted the idea of the European Middle Ages as a time of white racial purity and valor.

George Washington himself seems not to have been unduly interested in the intricacies of his own lineage beyond his immediate family, writing in a letter that “this [his family tree] is a subject to which I confess I have paid very little attention”.1 It does not seem that he spent much time contemplating who his ancestors in the Middle Ages might have been. And yet he made copious use of a very medieval symbol: the Washington family coat of arms, which dates back to at least the fourteenth century. He emblazoned it on his personal seals, silverware, bookplates, the interior of his home at Mount Vernon — in 1790, Washington even had it added to the doors of his personal carriage.2

The Washington coat of arms, as featured in Welles’ The Pedigree and History of the Washington Family Derived from Odin (1879) — Source.

Yet despite this evidence of pre-existing popular interest in such mythologizing, American-style medievalism, The Pedigree and History was overwhelmingly dismissed by Welles’ contemporaries, often in very forthright terms. In a letter to the editor published in a July 1889 issue of The Nation magazine, the genealogist W.H. Whitmore declared that “it is only fair to suppose that Mr. Welles was not in a sound state of mind” when he put pen to paper. The book was a “rank and stupid forgery”, “a mere rambling collection of useless notes.”

In fact, it took until the early twentieth century for Welles’ work to gain any traction at all — and then it was because it suited quite a different set of political needs. The short-lived Northern Review: A Cultural Magazine for the Northwest was published in Minneapolis during the First World War. Unsurprisingly, given the ethnic heritage of a large proportion of Minnesota’s population, the magazine took a distinctly pro-German stance about the conflict. In promotional material about the magazine, Germans and Scandinavians were called “Teutonic twin brothers” whose settlement in the Midwest had “made the desert to blossom”. A 1918 issue of the magazine reprinted a summary of The Pedigree and History under the title “Washington: A Scandinavian”. How could he be anything else, the anonymous epilogue to the summary concluded: George Washington’s ancestry was additional proof that his character was clearly that “of the ancient Vikings of the North”. He too believed in the values of independence, liberty, and patriotism and was possessed of a “powerful frame”. The thrust of the article was clear: the peoples of the United States, Germany, and Scandinavia shared a common ancestry and a set of values which should prevent them from going to war with one another.

Phrenology diagram indicating the strength inherent in the shape of George Washington’s head, featured in Fowler’s The Practical Phrenologist (1846). Note the accidental crown suggested by the labelling lines — Source.

A similar kind of article cropped up in a 1925 issue of the Nordmanns-forbundet (Norsemen’s federation) magazine.3 The goal of this Oslo-published magazine was to encourage cultural and linguistic unity among the Norwegian diaspora, something which was felt to be increasingly necessary amid the heightened nativist environment of the United States in the post-war years. The article’s Norwegian-born American author, Simon Johnson, took Washington’s purported Scandinavian ancestry as fact. In doing so, Johnson was attempting to promote the idea of Scandinavians — and so Norwegian immigrants — as “true” Americans, something which wasn’t always accepted by other white Americans of nativist inclinations.

--- Sources and further reading ---

Excalibur Found? Legendary Welsh sword dating to sixth century discovered near Welsh lake

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:31
After cleaning and careful examination, experts believe the sword dates back around 1,500 years

A sword which dates back to the sixth century and the days of King Arthur has been discovered at a Welsh lake.

The sword was discovered by National Trust rangers whilst working on the footpaths near Llyn Ogwen in Snowdonia.

After careful cleaning and verification, experts have revealed that the sword dates back around 1,500 years.

National Trust archaeologist Kathy Laws said: “Snowdonia is shrouded in myths and legends and there are countless stories about King Arthur. Locally there are claims Excalibur ended up in Llyn Llydaw whilst other legends implicate Llyn Ogwen.

“We didn’t actually find the sword in the lake, but the proximity and the age of the piece support Llyn Ogwen’s claim to the legend.

“It’s astonishing to think, that after all these years, it would turn up during what has been dubbed as the ‘Year of Legend’ by Visit Wales. We’re just gobsmacked!”

The group of rangers were out checking paths, as part of National Trust Wales’ ongoing work to maintain the stunning landscape of Snowdonia, when they caught a glimpse of something buried in the mud.

Lead ranger Dewi Roberts said: “We were just resurfacing a section of the path when a glint caught my attention. We weren’t sure what it was to begin with so we carried on digging, even though it was covered in mud it was obvious that we’d found a sword.

“We all tried pulling it out carefully. Looking back it was quite a surreal moment. We’re all aware of the legend. We had no idea at the time that the sword could actually be that old and could potentially be Excalibur.”

National Trust Wales are continuing to work with Arthurian experts and archaeologists to verify the exact age of the sword and whether the faint embellishments along the hilt match the sword described in the Mabinogion.

For now, the sword will be on display at Ogwen Cottage with more information available from National Trust’s rangers base. Visitors can also embark on a walk around Llyn Ogwen, taking in the discovery site for themselves.

--- Sources and further reading ---

The psychological trick that gave the Vikings an edge in battle

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 03:28

The Vikings aren’t very special on paper. Their weapons and armor were similar to other European armies’ of the time. Their helmets were basic iron or leather (those iconic horned outfits were invented in 1870 by an opera costumer). So what made these medieval Norseman such legendary warriors?

In addition to superior maritime navigational skills, the Vikings possessed an important psychological advantage over their opponents.

According to National Geographic, Viking armies were organized into boat crews comprised of several dozen men from the same area. In between battles, the men lived together at sea for weeks at a time. “You row, pee, eat, drink, and fight together,” Viking expert Igor Gorewicztold National Geographic. “There’s a very close connection with people from the ship, and morale is very, very high.”

Those bonds carried over to the battlefield. A Viking could fight boldly, knowing that his comrades had his back. If he didn’t, he knew the shame of failing his neighbor-soldiers would travel home with him, literally.

Peer pressure is an important factor in battlefield cohesion. A 2009 University of California, Los Angeles analysis of 41,000 soldiers who fought in the US Civil War found that Union soldiers were most loyal to units made up of men similar to themselves in religion, race, hometown, or socioeconomic background. Desertions were lower in units of men from the same region—where soldiers knew that word of their cowardice would make it back home—than in more diverse units with higher levels of morale.

It seems that in battle, a friend can be mightier than a sword.

--- Sources and further reading

 

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Do You Have Viking In Your Blood?

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 02:32

Some folks are announcing the creation of a new map that helps people discover whether they may have Viking in their blood.

This map from SonsOfVikings.com illustrates the prevalence and path of Vikings across the globe during the peak of the Viking Age (800 A.D. – 1150 A.D.). The original Vikings were Nordic and hailed from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, The Faroe Islands and The Aland Islands. Many of the earliest Viking settlements were Celtic (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany).

According to History.com, they left their mark as pirates, raiders, traders and settlers on Britain, most of the European continents, and sections of modern-day Russia, Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland.

Vikings continued to travel, conquer and settle into Normandy, Europe, Russia, North America and beyond as they bravely left their homelands to seek their fortunes. They saw that Europe was being flooded with riches and they wanted to engage in trade with them (mainly Scandinavian furs) and gain wealth for themselves. Such seafaring warriors were known interchangeably as Vikings or Norsemen, feared for their predilection to raid coastal sites.

By the time the Viking Age came to an end after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, they had left behind untold destruction and signs of their strength, to be sure, but also a wealth of information, stories, inscriptions, tales, weaponry and symbols that continue to impact the world today. As an example, a major cultural influence impacting millions of viewers today is the hit TV show Vikings on the History Channel.

New information continues to come to life proving that it’s not just the ancestors of those from Denmark or Norway that have potential Viking blood in them (as previously assumed); Vikings actually grew and conquered their way through many countries, leaving a large and lasting impact throughout Europe and beyond.

While certainly not all people that hail from those areas of the globe are direct descendants of Vikings, a strong percentage of them do. Do YOU have Viking blood in you? Here at Sons of Vikings, all of our jewelry features symbolism from Norse Mythology, the Viking Age and the Celtic people.

--- Sources and further reading

 

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Art Gallery: Hervors død by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 02:30

Hervör was a shieldmaiden in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing, presented in̪ the Hervarar saga, of which parts are found in the Poetic Edda. Greatly outnumbered, she died leading the army against the first assault of the Huns in an inheritance conflict between her brothers (Hlöd and Angantýr). The men in this image may represent her foster-father (Ormar) and brother (Angantýr); but as they mourn her in Árheimar (where Ormar flees to Angantýr with a report of the invasion and defeat) exactly this scene does not occur in the saga.

Painting title: Hervors død

Artist: Nicolai Arbo

Region: Norway

Image Source

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