Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Huldufólk 102

Trailer for the 2006 documentary by Nisha Inalsingh about the continuing belief in the huldufólk ("hidden folk," or elves) in modern Iceland:

One native writer's input on the hidden folk may also be read at Iceland Review.

The Ancestor Effect: Thinking about our roots boosts intelligence and confidence

"We all know that giving thanks is something we 'should' be doing. But recently a clinical study reported that thinking positively about our family roots boosts emotional confidence and even intelligence." Read the full article by Ryan Hurd at The Dream Tribe. Hail the holy ancestors!

Flamboyant director Ken Russell's wish was for a Viking funeral

Funeral of a Viking, by Sir Frank Dicksee, 1893.
Courtesy Art Magick
"It is a lurid image to grace any of Russell's films: the conflicted Catholic film director leaving the world in a blazing pagan longship. And, unlike many of the projects of his final decades, it looks like it might actually happen. 'We will do one, even if it's symbolic, and even if we have to wait a while,' Mrs Russell said." Read the full article by Ben Hoyle of  the Times at the

Glíma - Beware the slaying stone

Wikimedia Commons
"In settlement times glíma fell under two categories: “leikfang” or play wrestling and wrestling “in earnest,” the purpose of which was to get a man on the ground and kill him. Yet even leikfang had potential for harm. As it says in Jónsbók, a book of laws dating from 1325, 'whosoever participates in the contest of friendly wrestling does so on his own responsibility.' This warning may have had something to do with the involvement of 'the slaying slab. This was a waist-high tapered stone stuck into the ground that a wrestler would try to bring his opponent to in order to throw him onto it and break his back or, for varietes sake, on occasion slam him belly-down on it and crush his ribcage." The full version of this article on Icelandic folk wrestling may be viewed at the  Reykjavik Grapevine.

Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in US

Via Yahoo! News: "TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month." The article makes no mention of the consumption of horse meat by pre-Christian Northern Europeans, or the sacrifice of horses to Odin and other Nordic and Germanic deities, whose followers then ate the meat at feast. Reconstructionists and other traditionally minded Heathens may find revival of this practice easier should this ban remained lifted, though some modern practitioners have often voiced their own concerns about the practice. Read the full article here.

Karen Engelsen gives some background on the practice of sacrificing and eating horses at blót in her article "The Whiskey of Spirit: Viking Religion and Sacred Foods," at In the Company of Stones.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Northern Lights make impressive show

Wikimedia Commons


"The CME that hit Earth gave us some nice, colourful and easy-moving auroras," says photographer Antti Pietikäinen of Muonio, Lapland, Finland, who enjoyed the show with his two dogs.

Also in the Finnish Lapland, Chad Blakely says "the auroras exploded all over the sky. If this is a sign of things to come the rest of the season should be fantastic!!"

Several amazing photos from various contributors have been posted to the Space Weather site. More can be viewed at Lights Over Lapland.

The Vikings in Scotland

Courtesy of
"The evidence for Scandinavian presence in modern-day Scotland can be gleaned from several sources. There are no Scandinavian documentary sources of relevance to Scotland which survive from before the 12th century, although there are references for early Viking raiding activities supplied by the Annals of Ulster for example, telling of raids on Iona in 795AD amongst others (000-299-997- 051-C). These opportunistic raids focused on monastic centres and coastal monasteries in Northern England, most notably Lindisfarne had already been visited by the Vikings in 793. Iona was however to suffer more than many monastic houses, with repeated attacks in future years. Such information survives in the reports written down by the very clerics who were being attacked for their church wealth and manuscripts – items of loot being taken back to Scandinavia as trophies. Such apparent devastation is not so clear in the archaeological record however."

The full article is available at Scran.

Frau Holle: In the Marchen and Beyond

"Known internationally  through the  Aarne-Thompson  Tale Type  Index as AT-480, and also known in the  fairy tale world of the  Grimm Brothers  as Frau Holle, the fairy tale Frau Holle is arguably  one of the most well  known tales  in all  of Germany.  How is the figure Frau Holle in the  Grimm  Brothers'  fairy tale the same  as the  figure  Frau Holle in Germanic mythology and  what is the relationship between the two?"

The full PDF of this Master's thesis by Kerby Lynne Boschee, originally submitted at California State University, Sacramento, in 2009, may be viewed here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roman ring and Viking fragment found in North Dorset declared treasure

Courtesy of the Witches' Voice, Inc:

"A Roman ring and a silver Viking fragment found on farmland have been declared treasure and seized for the Queen." (Actually they were taken for the Queen's subjects, the British public, to be placed in a museum.) The full story may be found at the Bournemouth Daily Echo.

Yule and Christmas: their place in the Germanic year

From the preface: "This book treats of the problems connected with the Germanic year - the three-score-day tide of Yule, the Germanic adoption of the Roman calendar, and the introduction of the festival of Christ's Nativity into a part of the German year, which til then had apparently been without a festivity. It traces the revolution brought about by these events, in custom, belief, and legend up to the fourteenth century. By that time, the Author believes, most of the fundamental features which go towards the making of modern Christmas had already come to have their centre in the 25th day of December."

Written in 1899, this book by Alexander Tille is available in a digitized version at Google Books.  Though focusing largely on Germany, Tille also devotes two chapters to Scandinavian customs regarding Yule and the Midvinterblot.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda, and Related Figures

Article by Lotte Motz which first appeared in Folklore (vol. 95:ii,  1984):

"The figures under discussion appear under two  main designations: Frau Holle, especially prominent in Hesse and Thuringia, and Frau Perchta who belongs, above all, to the Alpine regions. Various other names have also been  recorded, such as Stampa, Rupfa, Luzie, Frau Frie, or Frau Gode."

A PDF of the complete article is available at Winterscapes.

Children's Workshop at the Hex Factory in Philly

Just learned of this. If you're in the Philadelphia area and want to treat your kids to some hands on experience with hex signs, check this out.

Frau Holle movie on YouTube

This is a West German 1961 film adaptation of the German fairy tale, directed by Peter Podehl and starring Lucie Englisch in the title role. Sorry, there are no subtitles, although an English dubbed version was released in the US in 1968 under the title, "Mother Holly," and may be available on DVD. Another version was filmed in East Germany in 1963. The Brothers Grimm version of this fairy tale, in English, can be found here and may help non-German speakers follow the film. The film's IMDB page provides some additional information.

Website on Uppåkra

Many thanks to Jeff Wolf  for finding this, a site about archaeological digs and research at Uppåkra, a town dating back to the first century CE (possibly earlier) which controlled West Scania and was a major religious and commercial center before and during the Viking era. Many exquisite items, including an image of Odin, a bird brooch, and the enigmatic Winged Man of Uppåkra have been found here. The Swedish version may be found here. The English version of the original site may be found here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waiting for Ullr to awaken on Summit County ski hills

" 'We're waiting for Ullr to wake up!' said Arapahoe Basin spokeswoman Kimberly Trembearth. The ski and snowboard area is holding off on trail openings this week." Full story at Summit Daily.

Wild Huntsman Legends

Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo
Wikimedia Commons

As this is the season of the Wild Hunt, I thought I would post this link from D. L. Ashliman's website on Odin. The page, with which some will already be familiar, contains numerous legends about the Wild Hunt, from England, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, and Bohemia, plus links to additional stories. The page may be found here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Amid simmering speculation, Iceland volcano keeps intentions quiet

"Iceland’s Katla volcano is always aquiver with seismic activity and local people and scientists have been waiting for an eruption for years — although they probably experienced them this year and in 1999 without even noticing."  Read more at Ice News.

Saxon burial ground under Warwickshire couple's home

"...archaeologists identified the remains of at least four bodies which included two adult females, a young male and a juvenile aged between 10 and 12. ... Radiocarbon dates from two of the skeletons show that they died around 650-820 AD in what is known as the middle Saxon period." Read the full story at the BBC.

DRAGONSBANE: 'Kirby as Channeled By Robert Rodi'

"It's safe to say that Robert Rodi is pretty comfortable with mythology — at Marvel, he's written Thor stories from the Loki miniseries to the current Thor: The Deviants Saga. He's exploring the Norse worlds and more in Kirby: Genesis – Dragonsbane, a new ongoing series debuting in January 2012 from Dynamite." Read more about this new comic, inspired by Norse mytholoy, at Newsarama.

Monday, November 21, 2011

YouTube: Goddess Frau Holle

Yes, I know how some Heathens, especially hard Reconstructionists,  feel about Thunder Wizard's stuff as a whole, but still found the video to be an interesting take on Frau Holle:

Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York

Vidar. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


"Leather was one of the most important materials used by pre-industrial societies, The raw materials, hides and skins, were readily available as a by-product of meat provision. After processing, the resultant leather was a highly versatile material, being both strong and flexible, and could be made into a wide range of items. The remains of a large number of these items have been found at York, along with waste material from both the processing of hides and production of artefacts. All were preserved by the unusual anoxic burial environment. The leather described here spans a range of 600 years and provides an insight into one of York’s principal trades during the Anglo-Scandinavian and medieval periods." The full text of Quita Mould, Ian Carlisle and Esther Cameron, first published in The Archaeology of York, Vol.17 (1993), may be found in PDF format at the website of the York Archaeological Trust.

Ancient Scandinavia: Runes

Codex Runicus, c.1300. Wikimedia Commons.
"Runes consist of a main staff from which one or more less staves point diagonally up or down. Prior to the Viking Age, there was a twenty-four-character rune series known as Old Germanic or Primitive Norse furthark (after the phonetic values of its first six letters: f, u, th, a, r, k), that was used by all Germanic peoples. At the beginning of the Viking Age, a new sixteen-character rune series was developed. Philologists feel that this new series was a conscious reform intended to make the rune script conform more closely to spoken language. However, with the sixteen-character series, each rune had to symbolize more than one sound."  The full text of this overview of the runes by Ojibwa may be found at Daily Kos.

Lady of the Elves: The Great Germanic Goddess

Frau Holle, or Berchta, and her train.
Harper's New Monthly, December 1873,
artist unknown. Wikimedia  Commons.
Courtesy of

"The prominent goddess of Europe was known in Germany as Berchta and Holda, who appear as goddesses of the bright and the gloomy. These pairings might be represented as Berchta and Holda, Frigg and Hel, and Freyia and Hyndla. The bright goddess arose as a goddess of the sun and sky and the gloomy one appeared as representative of the earth and underworld, but with Berchta and Holda they encompass both aspects and were largely interchangeable. She received the souls of the dead who rode along the path of the Milky Way in a wagon to the underworld. As ‘lady of the elves’ or ‘queen of the fairies’ the huldren, elves, and dwarfs, thought to be spirits of the dead, would appear with her on earth from time to time."  The full article by Timothy J. Stephany may be read on the Rochester Institute of Technology's website.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Poet and the Spae-Wife: An Attempt to Reconstruct Al-Ghazal’s Embassy to the Vikings

Courtesy of

"The  purpose  of  the  present  essay  is  to  review  the
evidence  for  the  authenticity  of  al-Ghazal's  embassy  to
the  Vikings:  to  affirm  that the  first  Viking  attack  on  the
emirate  of  Cordova  in  844  was  a  Norwegian  adventure
undertaken  by  way  of  the  Biscay  coast  from  original
bases in  Ireland; and that al-Ghazal was sent by the amir
Abd-al-Rahman  II  to  the  Norwegians  in  Ireland  where
he  encountered Turgeis  and his  wife  Ota."

Note that many myths and stereotypes about the Vikings have been dispelled thanks to the less biased accounts written about them by Arab chroniclers. The complete PDF of this 1960 essay by W.E.D. Allen may be found at Saga-Book.

Review: Francesca Simon's The Sleeping Army

"Imagine a world in which Christianity was merely an exotic minor cult that died out before the end of the Roman Empire. A world in which the official state religion of these islands is that of the pagan Saxons and Vikings, and people still worship the old Norse gods. It's a neat idea, and one that allows Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon to explore the Norse myths in a quest tale with a contemporary central character, and have a whale of a time in the process."  Read the full review at the Guardian.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More Saxon treasure unearthed

"A silver clothes buckle dating back to the Saxon era has been discovered by two keen archaeologists. ... This item has gone to Verulamium museum as it may be declared treasure trove. ...David Sewell, 52, of New Road, Northchurch, and Mark Becher, 37, from Uxbridge, are regularly unearthing ancient treasure as the heads of firm The Metal Detectors."  More information can be found at Hemel Today.

Request for submissions

From Larisa Hunter:

CFS: From the author of Fulltrui, Patrons in Asatru comes Living Our Faith (title to be determined) and is Currently seeking for submissions for an upcoming book entitled: Living Heathen. I am seeking information relating to the daily life of those living with patron gods, goddess or other entities within the nine worlds. I am seeking information relating to the daily maintance of these relationships (how you honor them daily), how these relationships changed your life (good or bad stories apply) and how you feel that these connections affect your life.
Submissions can be any style and incorporate as many words as contributors wish. We are unable to pay for submissions, however copies of the book may be provided. Submissions can be sent to mist at kenaz dot ca. The deadline is December 2011 (but this deadline is flexible). Contact Immanion Press for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If You're New to Asatru

... And even if you're not, here's a few good pointers from Steven. T. Abell in his latest "Letters from Midgard" column at Patheos.

Where did Monday come from?

"Why is Tuesday called Tuesday, and what does it have to do with a one-handed Norse god? Click through this slideshow to find out how something called Frīgedæg eventually became our Friday." This slideshow on the Beaumont Enterprise website shows the pre-Christian origins of the days of the week, showing the influence the Northern European traditions have had on modern culture. It may be viewed here.

Frigga's Loom Opens

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
From Larisa Hunter:

Kenaz Kindred has opened a new shop that makes spiritual gift for heathens by hand. It is called Frigga’s Loom and they make custom embroidered harrow cloths with gods and mythology incorporated.

Book Release: FULLTRÚI, Patrons in Asatru

Submitted by Larisa Hunter:

Book Release: FULLTRÚI, Patrons in Asatru: Throughout history, the ancient Northern people claimed themselves devoted to their gods. In many of the sagas and folklore, the ancients even trace back lineage directly to the divine. Today, in modern heathenry close personal relationships with deities have returned with full force. FULLTRÚI examines this phenomenon by showing real life examples of people living with patron gods. Granting readers an inside look into the joy and hardships of these relationships through personal firsthand accounts of those living and working with gods, FULLTRÚI answers many questions about working with gods including how to find and develop relationships with the gods by using practical and down to earth material that virtually everyone can relate to. This book breaks the standard academic nature of most heathen books, by allowing readers into the life of those that live with the gods. FULLTRÚI includes: Exercises to develop personal relationships with gods; Guided meditation to discover your personal patron and the worlds they live in; Devotional poetry to bring you closer to your gods; Compelling articles that show deep connections with gods; Historical examples of patron relationships. And much more.

Let Mist take you on a personal exploration of patron relationships through which anyone can learn and develop bonds of their own. Come and heed the voice of the gods and submit yourself to fulltrúi.

Author: Mist, ISBN: 978-1-905713-65-3, Pages: 172 Release Date: June 2011 Price: £10.99 $19.99
Available at Immanion Press: as well as Amazon and other online retailers

Mist has also just release a free downloadable PDF entitled The Heathen Shaman available at: or

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kristnitakan – The Adoption of Christianity

Brief and more or less neutral encapsulation by Katharina Hauptmann of the introduction of Christianity to Iceland. She makes note of some of the compromises made with the local pagans, such as the eating of horse meat and private pagan sacrifices remaining legal. She also notes at the end of her article the revival of Asatru in Iceland. Full article may be read at Iceland Review.

Foraging 'weeds' provides ancient Anglo Saxon fare today

Plantago major. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
"You probably didn't know that many of what we consider some of the most pernicious weeds in our gardens were once considered sacred among the ancients....For example, when you're mowing your lawn, you may be shredding some of the Anglo Saxons' nine sacred herbs: mugwort, plantain, chamomile, betony, stinging nettle, chervil, fennel and crab apple."  The complete article by Jim Ewing may be found at the Clarion Ledger.

Leeds lands vital grant to save its golden hoard

"The National Heritage Memorial Fund gives £95,000 to keep Anglo Saxon jewellery in the city where it was found. Good news for Leeds' campaign to raise money for the outstanding Anglo-Saxon jewellery found by a metal detectorist, as the Northerner reported last week." Read the full article at The Guardian.

The Paper Trail Leads to Syktyvkar

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
"More than 70 different nationalities live in Syktyvkar, with Russians making up just over half of the population. Komi, the area’s indigenous inhabitants, are the second-largest group. They became a minority population of about 30 percent following a rise in immigration to the Komi republic in the post-World War II period." This article in the St. Petersburg Times on the city of Syktyvkar makes (all too brief) mention of the Finno-Ugric Komi people and their mythology, specifically the story of Yirkap and his magic skis. The full English version article may be read here.

Finnish folk metal band Turisas begins tour of Spain

Century Media
"The Finns landed in Spain to present their new album 'Stand Up and Fight', a very ambitious work which hearkens back to high drama and epic themes. Turisas are a band that has achieved great popularityTurisas are a band that has achieved great popularity in a very short time thanks to its blend of folk and heavy metal." Full article, in Spanish, may be found at Suite 101.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

World Upside Down: Gunnlöth's Tale

Review by  Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir of the new English edition of  Svava Jakobsdóttir's 1987 novel, loosely based on the story of Gunnlöth, Odin, and the Mead of Poetry. The full article may be read at Iceland Review.

Viking religion Asatru: A new research project explores the faith of Odin's descendants

This article, in German, is about the study of Asatru as practiced in present-day Germany and in part compares it with Asatru as practiced in Iceland. It may be found at the Grenz | Wissenschaft-aktuell  (Current International Science) blog site.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hail the Fallen!

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
As various countries around this world honor those who have served those countries in battle, we hail the fallen and thank all those who have fought to defend their homes and our freedom. Hail!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Joanne Harris on her new book Runelight ahead of appearing at the Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival - "Her take on the Nine Worlds has a second origin – in a story called Witchlight that she wrote as a teenager, which starred a young girl called Maddy. ... The daughter of Thor the thunder god, she survives as the central character in Harris’s series." Read more at the Liverpool Daily Post.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Braucherei and Hexerei in old Pennsylvania

Lecture by author Ned heindel on the practice of Witchcraft in the area of William Township in Pennsylvania. Full article by Tiffany Bentley at Lehigh Valley Live.

Get Your Herbal On

Professor of food studies William Woys Weaver lectures on Pennsylvania Dutch herbal remedies as presented in the 18th century work, Sauer's Herbal Cures, America's First Book of Botanic Healing. Full article may be read at the West Chester Patch.


"Pennsylvania Dutch poet and folk artist Peter V. Fritsch opens his new book, "Pennsylvania Dutch Halloween Scherenschnitte," with an autobiographical ode about a dedicated paper cutter....Scherenschnitte, which means scissors cutting in German, is the age-old art of cutting paper into intricate designs." Read the full article at Reading Eagle.

How Christianity portrayed Jesus as a warrior to woo the Vikings

"It is one of history’s ironies that the Viking expansion into Europe actually set about the beginning of the end for the Viking religion. As Vikings came into increasing contact with Christians in continental Europe and Britain, their acceptance of Christianity grew – particularly as more and more married Christians. In many cases, however, Vikings converted to Christianity as a way to secure alliances and ensure neighbouring realms would not attack on religious grounds." Read the full article at The Copenhagen Post.

Beowulf Musical Spoof to premiere in London

"Join Beowulf, along with Grendel, Grendel's mother, his sidekick Wiglaff, King Hrothgar and a bladderful of other characters in a maelstrom of bad jokes, great music, excruciating audience participation and downright dangerous dough dodging." Read more at Broadway World.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

This feature length version of the dark Finnish web video short is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Those familiar with elements of the Krampus, Wild Hunt, and Old Man Winter myths may appreciate this less than cheery take on Santa Claus. Read the review on Inside Pulse.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Swan of Tuonela

Jean Sibelius "Four Legends from the Kalevala, Op. 22," unused sequence from the original "Fantasia (Walt Disney, 1940)."

Legendary Viking sunstones may be real

Courtesy University of Pittsburgh.
"A Viking legend which tells of a glowing 'sunstone' that, when held up to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have some basis in truth, scientists believe." The stone may actually have been an Iceland spar, a calcite crystal that could be used to pinpoint the Sun's location on cloudy or foggy days "within a degree." Read the full article at the Daily Telegraph.