Posts Tagged ‘Aesir’

Floki In the Temple

Floki In the Temple

On the mystery of Spiritual Awareness ~

I am a harmonious one,
A clear singer seeing,
I am the greeness of the growing earth,
blue depth of sky, a spirit with the freeing,
I am a wielder of the words that beget worlds,
A dancing that is advancing, a myth for the time being,
I am the unseen, a serpent of the air,
A dragon distributing keys to the temples of meaning,
I am the birds and the soul of the bees,
Ever sacred trees, paths to the stars and beyond all of these,
I am the speaker concealed in the heart
And I am to be found before riddle of minds start.

c.Celestial Elf 2014

Narrated in the voice of ‘Floki’, this animated poem descibes the perspective of being in tune with the inner self of thought and memory, balanced with the outer self of nature and cosmos. Acting then as a spiritual compass or sun stone, it is a poetic device by which to orient to the divinity within and as such serves as a very powerful blessing.

In the television series Vikings, Floki
Is a boat builder and incorrigible trickster, who also happens to be Ragnar Lothbrok‘s eccentric and closest friend. Committed to helping Ragnar sail west, he secretly designs and builds a new generation of Viking longboats for their voyage across the ocean westward.

He also does seem to embody many characteristics of his nearly namesake Loki.
While treated as a nominal member of the Aesir tribe of gods in the Eddas and Sagas, Loki occupies a highly ambivalent and ultimately solitary position amongst the gods, giants, and the other classes of invisible beings that populate the traditional spirituality of the Norse and other Germanic peoples.

Our Floki character appears to be based on  
Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson…

Flóki Vilgerðarson
9thC Common Era, was the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript. He heard good news of a new land to the west, then known as Garðarshólmi.
He wanted to settle in this new land and so he took his family and livestock with him.
From Western Norway he set sail to the Shetland Islands where it is said his daughter drowned. He continued his journey and landed in the Faroe Islands where another of his daughters was wed. There he took three ravens to help him find his way to Iceland, and thus, he was nicknamed Raven-Floki (Norse and Icelandic; Hrafna-Flóki) and he is commonly remembered by that name.

Three Ravens Print by Dona Reed

Loki and moral ambiguity;
Loki, famously ambivalent, is perhaps best known for his malevolent role in The Death of Baldur.
We may wonder why the Scandinavians had such an apparently wicked god in their mythology at all?
Loki features so prominently in the tales of Norse mythology because these tales explore the inner meanings of the physical realm that we still inhabit.  In earlier times the Northern peoples did not share the conceptions of  absolute moral ‘good’ or ‘evil’ that have been employed to various ends since the rise of christian dominated societies. Some values and actions were appropriate for some people and situations; others were inappropriate for those same people and situations but might be appropriate for other people and other situations.

This was not however the dangerous free-for-all of moral relativism that it sounds. In traditional Germanic society, a person who occupied a particular social role and was a devotee of that role’s corresponding god or goddess could rightly be held to the standard of conduct appropriate for that role and its divinity. Thus, while most Viking Age men were held to the standards of honor and manliness exemplified by such figures as Tyr, Thor, or Freyr, for example, not everyone was necessarily held to these standards.
Devotees of Odin, for example, followed a path of ecstatic and creative self-actualization that often seemed fickle, ruthless, irresponsible, and even shameful by the standards of, say, a man of Thor.

Thus Loki cannot fairly be considered an example of moral ‘evil’. Instead, he’s an example of one of the countless, often opposing and contradictory principles and meanings of which life consists. Wether they accept it or not, many people appear to share the flexible and self interested mindset as exemplified by Loki. It is inevitable however that in an informed and conscious Pantheisitic, animistic,perspective which accepts both light and dark as parts of a unified whole, even (f)Loki’s irreverence itself is a spiritual perspective and ultimately worthy of respect.

Grateful thanks to my source for this research;
Dan McCoy – Norse Mythology for Smart People./Loki
 Ásáheil og Vána!
May the Blessing of Aesir and Vanir
Ever Be With You!

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Mead Of Poetry

<br>
The Mead of Poetry (Old Norse skáldskapar mjaðar), also known as Mead of Suttungr is a mythical beverage that whomsoever drinks becomes a skald or scholar, imbued with wisdom, able to recite any poem and answer any question. The drink is a vivid metaphor for poetic inspiration, often associated with Odin the God of ‘possession’ via berserkerrage or poetic inspiration.
A Word On Odin in the context of Poetry;
Odin ; The Old Norse noun Óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá). In addition, Óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and as noted has connotations of  ‘possession’.
<br>

<br>

The Mead of Poetry

Mead of Poetry                     all men makes wise.
Mimir’s Knowledge          harbours secrets.
Odin by charms                  calls insights forth
The dew of knowledge   and destiny.
<br>
Aesir Vanir                             abjure their war
In bond of Gods                   good Kvasir sired.
Wielding Knowledge        he wisdom shares,
Traveling far                         teaching freely.
<br>
Fjalar Galar                            two ghastly Dwarves.
Resentment grew              into darkness…
They killed Kvasir            but kept his blood,
With honey brewed         poetry’s mead.
<br>
Fjalar Galar                            a Giant’s bane
His wife they slayed         bloodthirsty brood.
Sutting the Giant               weregild Dwarves mead,
Three barrels hid               beneath mountain.
<br>
Without delay                      departing hence,
To  taste the mead            inspiration…
Odin he sought                   Sutting’s brother,
Baugi his name                  mead will bring him.
<br>
Odin intent                            inveigled plan,
Workmen discord            will die fighting.
Baugi becalmed                 Odin burst in,
As Bolverk garbed            he was disguised.
<br>
Bolverk struck deal          Baugi defray,
Harvest he’d take               for taste of mead.
Once work was done        Bolverk’s demand,
Sutting refused                    mead denied him.
<br>
Odin inverse                          initiate,
The mead to man              poetry’s gate.
Bolverk with wiles            wheedled Baugi,
Into Mountain                    he drilled a hole.
<br>
Odin stole in                          with stealth of snake,
As quiet as snow                 heartbeats halted.
Gunnlod asleep                   as mead she guards,
Sutting’s daughter            should be watchful. 
<br>
Odin moon-eyed                 found magic mead
Then Gunnlod gasped    in her waking.
Odin had changed             handsome young giant,
Under his charm                she was heedless.
<br>
Odin thrice kissed            three barrels quaff,
And Gunnlod lost             the magic mead.
Sutting startled                  by Gunnlods scream,
As Odin flew                         with his treasure.
<br>
Odin escaped                      on eagles wing,
Riding the winds              to his country.
Sutting he seethed          searching he flew,
Chasing Odin                      into Asgard.
<br>
When eagle saw                Aesir approached,
Odin’s return                     would bring blessing.
Down Odin flew               in flash arrived,
With barrels three         he would share them.
<br>
On Sutting shone           sun rays of dawn,
His eagle fell,                     to stone transformed.
And Odin spake               So Shall It Be,
Sunlight Strike Down Those Darkness Leads!
<br>
No silent gold                     nor silver grasp,
To wisdom voice            shall insight see.
They then rejoiced       themselves to drink,
The magic mead             of poetry.
<br>
The Mead Of Poetry c Celestial Elf 2012.
A new poetic account of an ancient Norse tale, inspired by Tolkien and written in the old Norse form of Fornyrdislag.
<br>
Odin with wings, he thinks of things.

About The Mead Of Poetry;

After the Aesir-Vanir War, the Gods sealed their truce by creating a man named Kvasir to share their blessings. He was so wise that there were no questions he could not answer. He traveled around the world to give knowledge to mankind.


The Fellowship of Kvasir

Unfortunately two dwarves, Fjalar and Galar, who were jealous of Kvasir’s wisdom and thought to profit by Kvasir’s death, killed him. They then mixed his blood with honey and created the magical mead of inspiration which endowed anyone who drank it with the gift of world-renowned poetry and wisdom. They explained to the Gods that Kvasir had suffocated in intelligence..

These same dwarves also took it upon themselves to drown a Giant named Gilling, and when they told his wife of the dreadful accident, to silence her wails of grief they killed her too.

When Gilling’s son Sutting learned what had happened, he went to take his revenge on the dwarves. To save their lives they offered him the magical mead in compensation for his father’s death (a compensation payment for death was known at this time as ‘weregild‘ and was employed to reduce socially destructive family feuds that could plague generations). Sutting accepted the mead because he knew of its magical properties and that the Aesir would want it. He kept the three barrels of the precious mead in his halls beneath Hnitbjorg mountain where his daughter Gunnlod was locked in to guard it.

Mimir’s head

When Odin found out about the existence of the magic mead through the head of Mimir, he set out the next day to obtain it. He came to Sutting’s Castle and planned how to recover the mead. First he set Sutting’s brother’s nine farmers to argue amongst themselves with the result that they killed each other, which left Baugi without enough hands for his harvest. Then Odin disguised himself as ‘Bolverk’ a wandering workman and offered to do the work in return for a taste of the mead, to which Baugi agreed.

However after the harvest, Sutting did not agree to Baugi’s deal with Bolverk and refused to give a taste of the mead to the workman. Bolverk then tricked Baugi  into boring a hole through a wall of the treasure chamber where the mead was kept without his brother’s knowledge. Once the hole was made, Bolverk turned into a snake and went through the hole. Realizing his mistake Baugi tried to kill the snake but failed.

Bolverk convinces Baugi to drill a hole

Now inside the treasure chamber, Odin found Gunnlod, Sutting’s daughter. He turned himself into a handsome young giant and with three kisses coaxed her into allowing him to drink the three barrels of mead.

 Odin drinks the Mead of Poetry with Gunnlod

Then Odin  got her to open the door of the chamber, whereupon he immediately turned into an eagle and flew away. Realizing that she had fallen into his trap, Gunnlod screamed and Sutting hearing her came running. When Suttung discovered the theft, he turned himself into an eagle and chased after Odin.

When the Aesir saw Odin’s eagle approaching, they took out three large barrels for him. But Suttung was so close to Odin that he let some mead fall away, which anybody can drink this part is known as the ‘rhymester’s share’. Odin then landed with a  flash and emerged with the three barrels full of the magic Mead Of Poetry. As the rising sun rose its beams touched the wings of Sutting’s pursuing eagle, which immediately turned into stone and plummeted down to the ground.
Then Odin said, ‘So shall it be with all the Giant kind. If the sun shines upon them in the holy land of Asgard, the evil that is in them shall weigh them down, and they will turn into stone.’

And so the Aesir celebrated as they each took a drink of the magical mead, Odin’s gift to the Gods and to  men gifted in poetry, the mead of poetry.

This story survives both in fragmentary form in the Havamal, and in a more complete form in Snorri Sturluson’s Skaldskaparmal. The story is old, picture stones illustrating the story existed more than four centuries before Snorri wrote the story down.

About Norse Poetry; & The Fornyrdislag Form.

Poetry played an important role in the social and religious world of the Vikings. In Norse mythology, Skáldskaparmál  tells the story of how Odin brought the Mead of Poetry to Asgard, which is an indicator of the significance of poetry within the ancient Scandinavian culture.

Old Norse poetry is conventionally split into two types, Eddaic poetry (also known as Eddic poetry) and Skaldic poetry.  Eddic and Skaldic poetry are meant for oral delivery and as such, more meaning is contained in the sounds and rhythms of the voice than may be apparent on the page.
Eddic poems are usually mythological, or heroic in content. Most are in the Fornyrðislag form (pronounced FORT-near-this-lahg), while málaháttr ( speech meter ) is a common variation. The rest, about a quarter, are composed in ljóðaháttr. The language of the poems is usually clear and relatively unadorned. While Kennings are employed, they do not rise to the frequency or complexity found in Skaldic poetry. Kennings are a poetic rewrite of a word ( i.e. a corps’ sea = blood, wound-wand = sword ). They could be even more complex, with rewrites of rewrites and no limits to the words that were used to describe a single word…
Skaldic verse is usually created as a tribute to a specific Jarl or King, follows very strict rules and employs many Kennings which can make them hard to understand.
By contrast, most English poetry is dominated by a single form, the ‘end-rhyme’ in which the final word of each line rhymes with one or more other lines; the exact lines in a stanza which are paired or grouped in rhyme differ according to the specific form, giving us such end-rhyme forms as doggerel, limericks, and sonnets.

Fornyrðislag has two stressed syllables per half line, with two or three (sometimes one) unstressed syllables. Its name means ‘the metre of ancient word’ and it is an old Norse poetic form introduced in Snorre‘s Old Norse Poetic Eddas. The Norse poets tended to break up their verses into stanzas of from two to eight lines (or more), rather than writing continuous verse after the Old English model and used used Alliteration instead of rhyme (syllables alliterate when they begin with the same sound). The loss of unstressed syllables makes these verses seem denser and more emphatic. The Norse poets, unlike the Old English poets, tended to make each line a complete syntactic unit, avoiding enjambment where a thought begun on one line continues through the following lines; only seldom do they begin a new sentence in the second half-line. Often these poems also use ‘Heiti‘, which is a poetic word (synonym) that was used when other words could not fit into the strict form (some times they also made up new words).

J.R.R. Tolkien, Author, philologist and expert on Anglo-Saxon and Middle English also made use of the Fornyrðislag in his narrative poem The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, based upon the poetry of the Elder Edda and written to retell the Norse saga of Sigurd and the fall of the Niflungs.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

”When ancient German, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon bards sat by the hearthfire of a night-dark hall, holding their harps and singing of heroes, monsters, and gods mastered by fate, this is the style that they used. And just as Tolkien loved the ancient Germanic tales, so also the world he created echoes them: Tolkien’s Middle Earth, like Norse Midgard, is a realm ruled by fate, a world of Elves and dwarves and men…”
( Forgotten Ground Regained ©1999, Paul Deane ).
Tolkien’s sources of inspiration also included Norse sagas such as the Volsunga saga and the Hervarar saga, the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and numerous other culturally related works.

By Stone and Star
Blessed Be ~

The Tree of Life…

The Tree holds an important place in many ‘Nature~Al’ perspectives of the world, from ancient spiritual & psychological symbolisms of life, wisdom and friendship,
to modern environmental awarenesses that champion the need for a more holistic relationship with the delicately balanced eco systems of the earth our home.

As The Cosmic or World Tree touches the ‘Three Worlds’ of sky, earth & underworld, it thereby links them symbolically & psychologically provides an Axis Mundi or Center of the world, by uniting these realms enabling travel and communication between them.

As The Tree of Life, It also represents both a feminine symbol, bearing sustenance; and a masculine, phallic symbol.
In addition, The Tree of Life represents Eternal Life, because of its ever-expanding branches and because of its seemingly endless cycle of regrowth from seed to towering tree and so on…

Of Magic Trees, some have the ability to speak to certain individuals, usually those gifted with divination.
In particular The Druids were said to be able to consult Oak trees for such divinatory purposes,
(the Christian Bible stories also reference a talking Bush to the visionary Moses)

Such Trees have carried great significance across various world faiths,
including The Yggdrasil or World Ash where, in Norse mythology, Odin discovered wisdom and understanding,
& The Bodhi Tree under which Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha found enlightenment.
For the Babylonians, The Tree of Life had a magical fruit which could only be picked by the Gods and dire consequences befell any mere mortal who dared to pick them.
Whilst this Babylonian prohibitive/punitive Tree has apparently found its way into the Judeo-Christian legend of Adam and Eve…
In the esoteric Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is a mystical symbol used to describe ‘The’ path to ‘God’.

Across cultures and traditions then we see that The Sacred Tree holds an important place in the minds and hearts of mankind, from the purely practical applications of fruit and resources, to the deeply symbolic and spiritual language of interconnectivity and harmonic interdependence, the Tree serves and embodies many significant functions which furnish our lives and spirit’s.

* * * *

The ‘Celtic’ Tree of Life (known in Ireland as the ‘crann bethadh‘) was central to the Celtic tribal life,
they always left a great tree in the middle of any new settlement which demonstrated the integrity of their Celtic traditions.

This Tree of Life represents the wheel of life as witnessed in the cycle of life, death and rebirth (‘rebirth’ in Tir Na Nog the Celtic Afterlife, the Land of Eternal Youth), as well as the Celtic theme of three worlds, that of the upper for Gods, the middle for our physical plane, and the lower as the realm of the fey or faeries (often housed below underground mounds or fairy hills). This symbolism is depicted by the branches that reach to the heavens, the trunk or body in the center, and the roots below, specifically showing that all stages and aspects of life are intrinsically connected through nature.
The Germanic peoples who also worshiped their deities in open forest clearings and believed that a sky god was particularly connected with the oak tree, similarly employed a central tree in their tribal settlements.
All trees in the Celtic perspective have specific powers or serve as the home of fairies or spirits, especially the magical trio of Oak, Ash, and Thorn.
That Chieftains were inaugurated under these Sacred trees with their roots stretching down to the lower world and branches reaching to the upper world, ceremonially endowed them with the magical powers of both the underworld and of the heavens.

Of the many realms that may be reached via these sacred trees,
Legends of the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil (pronounced ig.dre.sil) ((called Irminsul in Germanic mythologies)) describe that around it exist nine worlds.
Yggdrasill is an immense Ash Tree; Ygg’s {Odin’s} horse, was so named because of the notion of the ‘tree’ as the ‘horse’ of the
‘hanged’ on which Odin hung during his self sacrifice for knowledge as described in the Poetic Edda poem Havamal & was often represented by a Cross or a Gallows, however as death did not cary the same finality or distress of modern religious and secular perspectives, these symbols indicated the doorways of change.
The Aesir (Norse gods) go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts because the branches of Yggdrasil extend into the heavens, and because the tree is supported by the three roots that reach the Three times…;
Through these paths they could interact with the various realms including the magical sacred creatures that live within Yggdrasil, such as the Wyrm or Dragon, the Eagle, and the Sacred Stag.
The notion of an Eagle sitting on top of the sacred Tree and the World Serpent coiled around its base also has parallels in other cosmologies from Asia, and thereby may be seen to hold psychological significance beyond any narrow micro cultures specific meanings.

Writing of its Shamanic origins Hilda Ellis Davidson comments that the existence of nine worlds around Yggdrasil is mentioned more than once in Old Norse sources, but the identity of the worlds is never stated outright…and speculates that the nine worlds could either exist one above the other or perhaps be grouped around the tree, while the gods are pictured as in the sky, using a Rainbow Bridge (Bifrost) connecting the Tree with the Other Worlds.

* * * *

Of the Christmas Tree..
When the Roman Christian Church decided on a date to celebrate Christ’s birth,
they chose the day of the Pagan Winter Solstice because this was already firmly fixed in the minds of the people,
they thus sought to ‘Christianise’ existing festivals and so both overthrow earlier traditions whilst maintaining the rituals that gave meaning to the indigenous peoples lives.

Some accounts place the earliest Christmas trees in Tallinn capital of Estonia and Riga capital of Latvia,
(both of which resisted Christianity longer than any other European nation and so point towards an earlier Pagan tradition).
The custom of erecting a Pine Tree specifically to celebrate Christmas can more precisely be traced to 16th century Germany, as Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann (Marburg professor of European ethnology) reports of a Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 which states that a Fir Tree was decorated with apples, nuts and paper flowers, & set up for the guild members children to collect the treats on Christmas Day.

By the early 18thC use of Christmas Tree’s had become common in the upper Rhineland of Germany,
but was still regarded as a Protestant custom by the Roman Catholic majority throughout wider Europe.
Robert Chambers in his Book of Days (1832 )asserts that the festivities of Christmas
“originally derived from the Roman Saturnalia, had afterwards been intermingled with the ceremonies observed by the British Druids at the period of winter-solstice, and at a subsequent period became incorporated with the grim mythology of the ancient Saxons“.
However, just as Christmas was established (approximately) over the earlier Pagan Winter Solstice,
so the Christmas Tree was eventually accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as part of the seasons regalia, because it could not prevent its use.
In the early 19thC the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia.

In Great Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced by George III’s Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in early 1800’s,
but the custom hadn’t spread much beyond the royal family.
After Queen Victoria’s marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert in 1840, the custom became more popular throughout Great Britain as people emulated the much admired and ‘ideal’ role model family.

* * * *

Regarding the addition of lights and decoration to these Festival Tree’s;
Whilst dried apple’s may have been tied to the Tree as an offering to The Mother Goddess in the hopes of being gifted more fruit in the coming summer,
& Candles may have been lit upon it to represent and summon the return of the (Father’s) Summer Sun
The placing of candles and lights on the Tree also invited and gave home to the associated spirits and faeries that otherwise would be abandoned outside to the hash northern winters.
In this view then, the ancient traditions of decorating and sacralizing a celebratory Tree survives because it meets basic needs outside of our intellectual rationalizations of their purposes,
perhaps embracing deeper psychological or spiritual needs,
But certainly and not least of all….
because we enjoy them.

And in this the blessing of our Nature~Al spirit shines through.

_/\_

%d bloggers like this: