An Apology


I feel i might have been a bit sloppy and angry when i was writing a post on certain tendensies within SOME US Asatru..

It was in a period when i was feeling more or less bombarded with strange sentiments, incorrect history and weird oppinions.
The post was meant to reflect on a certain video and and their ilk and not “mainstream” (in lack of a better term) US Heathenry but i can see how it came across like a general
elitist abrasiveness.
Placing a picture on there without making clear that this kindred was NOT implied in the critizism was downright stupid.
The picture was really meant to illustrate that some Heathens DO wear historical clothing, but NOT in a “LARPy” way.
Some do in Sweden too (besides, i have nothing against LARPs or re enactement. I have LARPed for years myself).
Since then i have written a post on some things about US Asatru that i like and admire (and that sometimes are missing here ).

Neither post, ofcourse, is “general”. Nobody could write a post on Heathenry or Heathens anywhere that covered all Kindreds or individuals.

It is merely my oppinions or observations and might be totally incorrect or unfair.

Heathenry ,being orthoprax, there are all kinds of oppinions, traditions and “flavors” of it.

Historically that would be the case too, with farms, villages or groups having the same basic traditions, but with variations suited to them (even looking at Iceland and Sweden is enough to see that there where some differences in how things where done. Heathenry has varied in praxis with region as well as  time ).

I should also repeat what i have alredy said, any complaints (whining) i have are not about any Heathen community in general, that is, it is not meant to mean the majority of Heathens anywhere (and neither would i prefer Heathenry to be identical everywhere. That would go against it´s nature)but certain tendensies that bugged me at the time.

I know several kindreds (Asatru and Anglo-Saxon) in the US that i respect and like a lot and who obviously does something that works very well.

I also know a whole bunch of nutcases in Scandinavia using Heathen symbolism but who would not get any sympathies from most Heathens anywhere.

I do however sometimes come across all from simple difference of oppinion (wich is as it should be) to people getting upset with me for thinking Fenris worship is unhistorical.

There was a period when my feeling was that “my” culture was up for grabs and could be presented anyway anyone pleased without anyone speaking up.

As if Scandinavian (and other Norse) history was a matter of personal agenda and taste.

This is fine in art but not if presented as history (for instance) .

As a matter of fact i was even told once (on the web) that me, being European (actually the term used was “white”), had no right to complain about anything and should “shut up”.

If anyone feels that my whining doesent fit them at all, it is probably because it doesent.

I have stated before that the majority of US Heathens are just that, Heathens that happen to live in the US.

There are regional differences in Heathenry even within (todays) Sweden and there always have been.

It is quite common to see “What is your Sed (custom)”, in writing here, indicating that differences are expected.

There are traditions within families or individual traditions too (as i suspect there are everywhere).

There ARE people wearing viking age clothes here too and there are also Blóts where the presiding/officiating Godi is wearing special garb.

I must say i feel stupid for posting pictures in a way that could be understood as if the people on them where the ones i whined about.

I have practiced thinking twice since i wrote this in an attempt to avoid lashing out at the wrong people.

I am really sorry for any offence!
I have taken down the post and hope frith will be restored.
Marcel

Medieval texts colour our knowledge about Odin


Researchers disagree on the Viking Age conceptions of the god Odin. The source material is ambiguous and difficult to interpret.

Odin with his two ravens, Hugin and Munin (Illustration from a 19th century document. The Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland)
Today, the general conception of Odin is that of the one-eyed chief of the Norse gods. However, when it comes to the general conception that was prevalent in the Viking age, researchers disagree.
Up until now, research history shows us that the method for understanding Odin has been wrong.
Annette Lassen says.
“Regarding medieval texts as a single, heathen text and extrapolating an image of Odin from this is not a viable option. The texts are very diverse,” she says.

According to Lassen, once the Christian way of thought has been identified, not much information is left about Odin in the old sources.

She says that while archaeologists and historians of religion may not necessarily agree with this, there is not likely to be anyone disagreeing that it is necessary to analyse the Christian additions, before starting to look into the original Viking Age conception of Odin.

“My aim with the book was to focus on the Medieval Odin figure, clarify the extent to which Christianity has shaped our ideas of heathenism and demonstrate that this calls for circumspection, but also to come up with a method that other researchers can use,” she says.

“Basing a thesis about the pre-Christian Odin on a series of elements from medieval texts about Odin presupposes an interest in whether those elements come from Christian ideas.

By: Irene Berg Sørensen

ScienceNordic

Whole Article: http://sciencenordic.com/medieval-texts-colour-our-knowledge-about-odin

The North is barbaric and sublime


Many associate the North with wealth and progress. But ancient stereotypes of barbaric Vikings and primitive ignorance are still alive and kicking, says Icelandic historian.

Ancient stereotypes of the far North as a barbaric and primitive place thrive together with more modern images of wealth and progress. (Painting: Norsemen Landing in Iceland, by Oscar Wergeland)

The North and the far North have had many and varied depictions thrown at them over the centuries. The region has moved from poverty to wealth, from enlightenment to romanticism, from being cold and barbarous to being warm and kind.

These different permutations of the North clearly illustrate the constant change in people’s images and stereotypes of the North.

“All these ideas were well known in earlier eras and they have survived to this day,” he says. “The North is simultaneously a utopia and a dystopia. We can argue that it is perhaps more correct to speak of many and various Norths rather than one individual North.”
By: Dann Vinther

ScienceNordic

Whole article: http://sciencenordic.com/north-barbaric-and-sublime

 

Forn Sed – The Fennoscandic Perspective


Perhaps one thing i can observe in Scandinavian Forn Sed (exept for the temporal, non emphasis on the “Viking Age”) is a perspective that is more Fennoscandic.

There are discussions on wether the Sámi influenced the magic known as “Sidr” or not and i get the feeling that people outside of Scandinavia might see the different linguistic and ethnic groups as more historically “distinct” than they are.

They are different linguistic branches but they are also living next door.

During parts of our history (Sweden was a “superpower” for a while) both Finland and Estonia where parts of  the Swedish empire.

To a Swede it is only natural that both Finnish and Sámi influences are very present in our language and culture since long back.

An area close to where i live is called “Finnveden” (“The Finn  Woods”) because it was inhabited by forrest Finns.

Linguistics

There are three major official languages in Sweden, the same as in Finland: Swedish,Finnish and Sámi.

There are loanwords between all three and in some cases loanwords have even come back to the original language.

One such case being the cityof Haparanda in Sweden, the name is a loan from the Finnish “Haapa Ranta” (“Aspen Beach”).

“Ranta” in turn is a loanword from the Swedish “Strand” (“Beach”).

So, from Swedish to Finnish and back to Swedish again.

Seite, Sidr and so on

When it comes to religion and cult practices one might draw conclusions from the likness of “Seidr” and the Sámi “Seite”.

Stabben: A siedi(worshiped stone) inBalsfjord.

Seite is a word from Sámi religion but is more a matter of a natural idol than a methodology or discipline. It is often a large rock, oddly shaped tree or other natural formation.

The symbol of goddessBeaivi, hypostasis of the Sunand breeder of mankind. It’s also the pattern for tradtional Sami ritual drums.

The Noaide (“Shaman” in lack of a better term) IS however using a Bodhran like drum and a singing voice (there  is a distinct Sámi way of singing called “Joik”) and i imagine contemporary practitioners of “neo seidr” see “utesittning” (“sitting out”) a bit in that fashion (Shamanic trance work).

Solveig Andersson, jojk “bjiejjie”

Some have speculated that Galdr may be influenced by Joik but the same has been done with Kulning / Kauking and that sounds very different and has a different vocal technique.

Kulning / Kauking (Sweden / Norway)

However, trying to produce some artificial “separateness” between the languages because they are not related (ignoring region as a factor) is simply denying connections that are there acording to any etymologist i have read.

The Sámi God Horagalles is often also called Tiermes.

Sami people worshipping Horagalles or Tiermes. Copper engraving by Bernard Picart from Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde(1723–43)
Horagalles is also called Thoragalles and have been called Thoron or quite simply Thor.
He is described as wielding a hammer (sometimes two), creating thunder and fighting the obstructing powers, protecting man. He often has a nail or piece of flint in his head (my own speculation draws paralells to the shard from Hrungnirs weapon left in Thors forehead).
“Horagalles” pretty much means Þórr Karl (Thor Man).
The fact that Sámi is an Ural language and Norse a Germanic one has no real bearing (nor any arguments for them being different cultures. They are still in the same region).
The Finnish “God of thunder” is called Perkele, probably connected to Perkunas. He too has a hammer is connected to oaks and so forth.
Now, Perkunas is Baltic, not Uralic.
The Sámi moon goddess is named “Mano”.
Who influenced whom, when,if and how is open to speculation but to pretend there are no likenesses is simply being obstinate.
In all fairness totally unrelated cultures, like the African Dahomey and Yoruba cultures also have a world pillar and an axe wielding “God of thunder” (Xangó / Changó) but there there is no regional closeness or etymological connections (obviously).
Indigenous
One must remember that the Sámi are indigenous to this region and where here before there even was a distinct Germanic culture or language.
It is perhaps (?) easy to think of the Sámi as some native nomads inhabiting some corner of Fennoscandia but in reality their traditional land took up (about) half of todays Sweden and Norway and Norse people would have been in frequent contact with them.

The area traditionally inhabited by the Sami people.

Sweden in the 12th century before the incorporation of Finlandduring the 13th century.

  Geats
  Swedes
  Gutes
They would have been in southern Norway already ca.8300 BC – 7300 BC as the Fosna/Hensbacka cultures.
Archeology shows that people reached Utjoki in Finnish Lapland around  8100 BC.
The Germanic culture didnt come into being until around 1800 BC.

Map of the Nordic Bronze Age culture, around 1200 BCE

During the Iron Age and Viking Age there was heavy taxation on the Sámi by the Norse.
It is believed that a lot of Sámi where assimilated into Norse culture.
There are no proof of direct battles but there are folkloric sources naming the “Stalo”, interpreted by preacher Laestadius as Vikings, that where hostile.
Finns
There is research ongoing that might prove the first pre glacial, Neandethal finds in the Nordic countries.
Otherwise people of the Kunda and Swiderian cultures reached Finland as the ice withdrew ariound 9000 BCE and are believed to be the ancestors of the Finns and the Sámi.
Written history in Finland starts after a Swedish conquest. Iron Age is considered to have lasted 500 BC until c.1150 AD, by what time the Swedes where present.
There where Viking settlements in Finland and a lot of both commercial contact as well as plundering since pre Christian times.
There was Swedish rule in Finland through Birger Jarl since around 1249 (Second Swedish Crusade).
Wars with Finns are described in the Sagas and in legends (though “Finland” or “Finns” in this case could mean either what we call Sámi or Finns in this case).
“It happened one summer that King Agne went with his army to Finland, and landed and marauded. The Finland people gathered a large army, and proceeded to the strife under a chief called Froste. There was a great battle, in which King Agne gained the victory, and Froste fell there with a great many of his people. King Agne proceeded with armed hand through Finland, subdued it, and made enormous booty.”
Ynglinga Saga  (taking place in the 4:th century)
Norna Gests Thattr tells of Finnic Kvens and Curonians raiding in Sweden in the 8:th century.
Karelians are blamed for raiding and burning Sigtuna 1187 according to Erics Chronicle 1335.
According to Saxo and Snorri many heroes of Scandinavia had Finnic roots.
According to Egils Saga Norway had conflicts with the Kvens 873.
Divinities (Norse)
Völund (Wayland) is described as the son of a Finnic (Sámi) king in Völundskvida.

The hero Völundr the ‘ruler of the elves’ (vísi álfar), sometimes thought to bedwarves, nicknamed ‘dark elves’ (dökkálfar)
Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that Skadi may have had Sámi connections. She is a skier, archer and hunter and a cult in Hålogaland, northern Norway might have thrived because of this (a place where Norse and Sámi people would have lived in close proxemity) and that her split with Njördr might be symbolic of  a similar split between her cult and that of the Vanir.

Skade (1893) by Carl Fredrik von Saltza
Conclusion
All i am really trying to say is that this separateness of the Norse people that seems to be a picture held by some  outside of Scandinavia is usually not the one held by Scandinavians or Nordic people, neither is it shared by scholars.
The Norse people, as far as evidence goes, seems to have been anything BUT separate, especially from those neighbouring them, they where influenced  in both language, clothing, religion, jewlery and a number of other things.
I dont speak for other Nordic or Swedish people but i would be surprised if i cold find even one Swede with an interest in history that could imagine Swedish pre history/history separate from that of Finland and Sápmi.
That naturally spills over in Forn Sed too…..it being “Forn” and all.
(Finnish, Sámi or other historians / archeologists / anthropologists, feel free to correct anything incorrect here. Especially Stone Age pre history is not my forte).

Authentic Viking DNA Retrieved From 1,000-year-old Skeletons


Authentic Viking DNA Retrieved From 1,000-year-old Skeletons.

ScienceDaily (May 27, 2008) — Although “Viking” literally means “pirate,” recent research has indicated that the Vikings were also traders to the fishmongers of Europe.  In a new study,  Jørgen Dissing and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, investigated what went under the helmet; the scientists were able to extract authentic DNA from ancient Viking skeletons, avoiding many of the problems of contamination faced by past researchers.

Sampling of teeth for aDNA analysis. The last layer of soil was removed and two teeth extracted while wearing full body suit, hairnet, gloves, shoe covers, and face masks. The teeth were placed in sealed sterile tubes and transported to the aDNA-lab. (Credit: Melchior L et al. Evidence of Authentic DNA from Danish Viking Age Skeletons Untouched by Humans for 1,000 Years. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002214)

Analysis of the Viking DNA showed no evidence of contamination with extraneous DNA, and typing of the endogenous DNA gave reproducible results and showed that these individuals were just as diverse as contemporary humans.

Vikings With Vanity: Vivid Colors, Flowing Silk, Fashionable Until Advent of Christianity


Vikings With Vanity: Vivid Colors, Flowing Silk, Fashionable Until Advent of Christianity.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2008) — Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons, and glittering bits of mirrors – the Vikings dressed with considerably more panache than we previously thought. The men were especially vain, and the women dressed provocatively, but with the advent of Christianity, fashions changed, according to Swedish archeologist Annika Larsson.

Swedish viking men’s fashions were modeled on styles in Russia to the east. Archeological finds from the 900s uncovered in Lake Malaren Valley accord with contemporary depictions of clothing the Vikings wore on their travels along eastern trade routes to the Silk Road. (Credit: Photo by Annika Larsson)
She maintains that Swedish Viking women in the pre-Christian period probably dressed much more provocatively than we previously believed. She bases her theory on a new find uncovered in Russian Pskov.
She maintains instead that the Birka women’s skirts consisted of a single piece of fabric and were open in front. The suspenders held up the train and functioned as a harness that was fastened to the breasts with the clasps.

Sacral King


In many historical societies, the position of kingship carries a sacral meaning, that is, it is identical with that of a high priest and of judge. The concept of theocracy is related, although a sacred king need not necessarily rule through his religious authority; rather, the temporal position itself has a religious significance.

 

 

 

Germanic kingship refers to the customs and practices surrounding kings among the pagan Germanic tribes of the Migration period (circa AD 300-700) and the kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages (circa AD 700-1000). The title of king (Proto-Germanic:*kuningaz) is in origin that of the leader elected as sacral and military leader from out of a noble family, usually considered of divine ancestry, in the pagan period.

The Germanic monarchies were originally pagan, but their contact, during the Völkerwanderung or Migration Period, with the Roman Empire and the Christian Church greatly altered their structure and developed into the feudal monarchy of the High Middle Ages.

The term “barbarian monarchy” is sometimes used in the context of those Germanic rulers that after AD 476 and during the 6th century ruled territories formerly part of the Western Roman Empire, especially the Barbarian kings of Italy. In the same context, Germanic law is also termed leges barbarorum “barbarian law” etc.

 

 

Election of a King at “The Stones Of Mora” by Olaus Magnus

 

 

The Germanic king originally had three main functions:

  • To serve as judge during the popular assemblies.
  • To serve as a priest during the sacrifices.
  • To serve as a military leader during wars.

The office was received hereditarily, but a new king required the consent of the people before assuming the throne. All sons of the king had the right to claim the throne, which often led to co-rulership (diarchy) where two brothers were elected kings at the same time. This evolved into the territories being considered the hereditary property of the kings, patrimonies, a system which fueled feudal wars, because the kings could claim ownership of lands beyond their de facto rule.

As a sort of pagan high priest, the king often claimed descent from some deity. In the Scandinavian nations, he administered blóts at important cult sites, such as the Temple at Uppsala. Refusal to administer the blóts could lead to the king losing power (see Haakon the Good and Anund Gårdske).

According to the testimony of Tacitus (Germania), the early Germanic peoples had an elective monarchy already in the 1st century.

“They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit. These kings have not unlimited or arbitrary power, and the generals do more by example than by authority.

 

 

The notion has prehistoric roots and is found worldwide, on Java as in sub-Saharan Africa, with shaman-kings credited with rain-making and assuring fertility and good fortune. On the other hand, the king might also be designated to suffer and atone for his people, meaning that the sacral king could be the pre-ordained victim of a human sacrifice, either regularly killed at the end of his term in the position, or sacrificed in times of crisis (e.g. Domalde).

Among the Ashanti, a new king was flogged before being enthroned.

From the Bronze Age Near East, enthronement and anointment of a monarch is a central religious ritual, reflected in the titles Messiah or Christwhich became separated from worldly kingship. Thus, Sargon of Akkad described himself as “deputy of Ishtar“, just as the Pope is considered the “Vicar of Christ“.

The king is styled as a shepherd from earliest times, e.g., the term was applied to Sumerian princes such as Lugalbanda in the 3rd millennium BC. The image of the shepherd combines the themes of leadership and the responsibility to supply food and protection as well as superiority.

As the mediator between the people and the divine, the sacral king was credited with special wisdom (e.g. Solomon) or vision (oneiromancy).

 

Examples

Sacral kingship was carried into the Middle Ages by considering kings installed by the grace of god