Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inside the Viking Mind: Cosmology, the After-life, and the Self

“My research is essentially concerned with the human condition,” wrote Price from his home in Uppsala, Sweden, where he lives and holds a second appointment at the university, “the familiar age-old questions about life and its meaning that we all ask ourselves at some point – but placing this in a specific historical context and trying to recapture the Vikings’ own perspective on mortality. Every culture seeks its own answers to the eternal questions, including matters of morality, and I think we can always learn from reflecting on others’ attitudes to these same things that we still puzzle over today.”
The full text of this interview by Bill Chaisson of Prof. Neil Price of the department of archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland can be read at Ithaca.com.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blog Recommendation: Trolldom & Hoodoo

Thanks to Aluric for referring me to this blog. Trolldom and Hoodoo has many fascinating articles on the survival of Swedish folk magic and beliefs among immigrants to the U.S., including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, with emphasis on their parallels with and possible influence on the practice of Hoodoo or "root" in those areas. Many of these beliefs and practices date to pre-Christian times. Article topics include trolls, use of dreambooks (or "Drommebogs"), and use of magical herbs. Some articles are in English, while others are in Swedish. The blog's URL is http://trolldomhoodoo.blogspot.se/

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hollebeer Haven, Summer 2012 Now Available

Thanks to Rob Schreiwer for posting this to the Hexenkunst list on Yahoo! The Summer, 2012 edition of Hollerbeer Haven: The Journal of Urglaawe, Braucherei, and Deitsch Wisdom is now available in .PDF form and may be downloaded for free at:
http://urglaawe. com/uploads/ 15_Hollerbeer_ Haven_Summer_ 2012.pdf


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hnefatafl - the Strategic Board Game of the Vikings

In case you're unfamiliar with the site or the game, Sten Helmfrid has gathered a wealth of information on the Norse game of tafl and its many variants. Kings, nobles, and war leaders were expected to be well-versed in this game and its strategies, and the gods themselves are recorded as playing it in Voluspa. Not only to learn more about the Norse and Germanic peoples, but also gain a special insight into their history and politics, you would do well to visit this site.

Amorphis Guitarist Discusses Upcoming Album


"Released on May 27, 2011 via Nuclear Blast Records, "The Beginning Of Times" was described as "the most challenging AMORPHIS album so far in terms of both music and lyrics." Its central character is the iconic hero of Finnish mythology, Väinämöinen, whose tale has been masterfully retold by lyricist Pekka Kainulainen." Read the full article at Blabbermouth.

Thor II filming headed for Iceland?

"Filming for the upcoming action sequel is just getting underway in the United Kingdom, but now several sources have said that the crew will head farther afield in the North Atlantic. The location would be more than appropriate, as the figure of Thor and Norse mythology originate from a handful of Germanic countries, one of which is Iceland."

Read more at Ice News.

Thor And Beyond: Movies About Norse Gods

Featured films in this article include "Thor," "Son of the Mask," "Valhalla," "Thor: Hammer of the Gods," and "The Runestone." Noticeably absent are any of the film adaptations of the Nibelungenlied, but this seems to be written more for the popcorn and pizza DVD/ Blu-ray crowd. The article may be read at Screen Junkies.

Germany’s Fairy Tale Road is a Grimm adventure

"Germany celebrates the contributions of the Brothers Grimm with the Fairy Tale Road, which makes a serpentine route for nearly 400 miles through the back roads and countryside of Hesse and Lower Saxony. It was here that the brothers were born and collected their stories.

... For lovers of quaint villages and towns nestled amid pastoral landscapes, this is an ideal tour for parents and grandparents seeking to relive their childhood and for children to explore the sights where the stories took place."

Read the full article by Bob Taylor about this tour dedicated to the Brothers Grimm, whose collection of fairy tales marks its bicentennial this December, at the Washington Times.




Pennsylvania Dutch cooking gets an advocate in chef who makes scrapple appetizer, hog maw sauce

"Little develops menus with new twists on Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. He adheres to a simple philosophy — whatever produce is plentiful, makes the plate. One week diners might find a roasted cauliflower dish on the menu, the next week a carrot salad."  This article by Sue Gleiter may be read in its entirety at PennLive.

Wikipedia: Rus' Khaganate

Kälvesten Runestone 


"The Rus' Khaganate was a polity that flourished during a poorly documented period in the history of Eastern Europe, roughly the late 8th and early-to-mid-9th centuries AD. A predecessor to the Rurik Dynasty and the Kievan Rus', the Rus' Khaganate was a state, or a cluster of city-states, set up by a people called Rus', who might have been Norsemen in what is today northern Russia. The region's population at that time was composed of Baltic, Slavic, Finnic, Turkic and Norse peoples. The region was also a place of operations for Varangians, eastern Scandinavian adventurers, merchants and pirates."
Read the full Wikipedia article.

Anglo-Saxon gold pendant treasure

"A gold Anglo-Saxon pendant which was found in a village outside Canterbury has been determined to be treasure at an inquest.

Malcolm John Skeels made the discovery when he was metal detecting in Petham on November 1."

Read the full article at This Is Kent.

Anglo-Saxon warrior found in Wessex

"An award-winning project using archaeology to aid the recovery of soldiers injured on Operation HERRICK has concluded its success on Salisbury Plain with an astonishing treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon finds.

Soldiers taking part in ‘Operation Nightingale’ unearthed a major sixth-century burial site at Barrow Clump, uncovering 27 bodies – including Anglo-Saxon warriors - buried with a range of personal possessions. Artefacts uncovered included shield bosses, broaches, amber and glass beads, spearheads, a silver ring, and a wooden drinking vessel with bronze bands."

Read the full article at British Forces News.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Runa Raven Press Closing

From the Runa Raven "News and Articles" page:
"Unfortunately Runa-Raven will be going out of business as of September 20, 2012. We will honor all orders that have already been made and we still encourage everyone to buy the books still available before September 20. They are bound to be collectors items in the future.
Because we can print on-demand, we can still get most of our titles right up to the end. Custom orders of larger quantities of certain titles at a discount can be arranged by email (runa@texas.net). In the end we were unable to overcome the damage done to the business in 2011."

Books may be ordered through their site at https://runaraven.com/


Monday, August 6, 2012

Sliasthorp, Fabled Viking Military Town, Possibly Unearthed In Germany

"In what may be one of the biggest digs of the 21st century, a team of Danish archeologists believe they have uncovered a once thriving center of Viking activity, Sliasthorp, the fabled military base occupied by the earliest Scandinavian kings.

Since excavations began in 2010, roughly 200 buildings, along with weapons, precious jewelry, glass beads, and silver coins have been unearthed at Füsing, near the Danish border, National Geographic reports, findings that they say offer valuable insights into the military organization and town planning of what is thought to be the earliest Viking settlement in the historical record."

Read the full article at the Huffington Post.

‘Thor: The Dark World’: Christopher Eccleston is villain Malekith

So the "Dark World" in question is apparently Svartalfheim?

"“Thor: The Dark World” has cast its villain. Christopher Eccleston, known for his work in “Doctor Who,” will play Malekith in next year’s sequel to the 2011 Marvel blockbuster that starred Christopher Hemsworth in the title role.

In the comics, Malekith is the ruler of the dark elves of Svartalfheim, one of the nine worlds of Asgard. The dark elves possess superhuman strength, stamina, speed and smarts. Malekith can also teleport, fly by transforming into mist and cast illusions. He is served by minions Bitterhand, Wormwood and Grendell."

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times's Hero Complex site.

What Vikings really looked like

Thanks to Hex Magazine for finding this:
"There’s no shortage of myths about the appearance of our notorious Viking ancestors....
We have picked out five myths from the resulting debate and asked researchers to help us confirm or bust these myths." Read the full article Science Nordic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

‘How Can His Word Be Trusted?’: Speaker and Authority in Old Norse Wisdom Poetry

Courtesy of Medievalists.net: "Hávamál itself, a famous but notoriously problematic text probably reflecting multiple layers of composition. It is at the heart of the question of how mankind relates to supernatural beings – a relationship which could be particularly fraught where the transmission of wisdom occurred." The full ext of this article by Brittany Erin Schorn, Doctor of Philosophy, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, may be read in PDF format here.

History, the Norns, and the Nutritive Past

"So, if the ancient Germanic languages didn't really have the three tenses, then the three Norns are probably not simplistically Past, Present and Future. If not, then what are their meanings? And are they a trinity of equals? Not really. The key to the Norns is the figure of Urth, first of the Norns. It is her name given to the Well that nurtures the World Tree; it is her name mentioned over and over in the mythology; it is her name that is cognate with that weird concept of Wyrd." Read the full article by Dawn Work-MaKinne at MatriFocus.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wishing everyone a blessed Midsummer

"A slideshow with pictures from midsummer celebrations in Finland and Sweden:"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

State-Sponsored Church of Norway Abolished

"In an unprecedented move, the Norwegian Parliament has voted to abolish the state-sponsored Church of Norway with a constitutional amendment.
The bipartisan measure to create a separation of church and state will officially be presented on Tuesday, reports Norway's TV2. The nation will not have an official religion, and the government will not participate in the appointment of church deans and bishops."
For Heathens, this may at first appear as vindication for the days when Olaf forced the conversion of his people to Christianity. However, the increasing secularism of Norway may prove a double-edged sword, as it has been cited as a factor in the government's apparent indifference towards preserving the Ranheim Temple and other pre-Christian sites. The full story on the abolition of the Church of Norway may be read at Digital Journal.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lightning Across the Plains 2012

"On September 20-23, 2012, heathen tribes, strong families, and solid heathen individuals from around the Heartland will gather at Gaea Retreat, a campground about 40 minutes outside of the Kansas City Area. There were 240 heathens at LATP in 2010 and 225 heathens at LATP in 2011, with 65-70 children in attendance both years.  This makes Lightning Across the Plains one of the largest heathen gatherings in the world." To learn more about Lightning Across the Plains, and to register, visit their site.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

East Coast Thing: 22-26 August, 2012

"The East Coast Thing is an Asatru community-building event in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. It was established in 1999 and is a family-friendly place where Asatruar gather in fridh to honor the Aesir and Vanir, exchange ideas in classes and workshops and renew the bonds between kindreds and individuals. While the event is open to all individuals, the focus is on Asatru and the Northeast Asatru community."

"A call for papers to those who may wish to present some academic pursuit that would interest both experienced and novice in the Asatru community. Register before June 1st for discounted prices!"

For further information, visit the East Coast Thing site.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Walpurgisnacht 2012

Here's hoping everyone had a wonderful Walpurgisnacht/ Freyjablot/ Frowe's Night! Hail the Lady of Cats! Hail the Mistress of Seiðr! Hail Vanadís! Hail Freyja!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lebanon Valley College analyzing Colonial-era Deitsch/German documents

From the Hexenkunst Yahoo Group:

Students are assisting the Lebanon Valley Historical Society in translating and archiving documents from the colonial era written by the early German and Swiss settlers in Pennsylvania, many of which were written in dialects and scripts of German which are no longer used. WGAL has a report on the students's work, the video of which can be viewed here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Scientists find runes on ancient comb

Thanks to Hex Magazine for this item:
"Archaeologists have found the oldest engravings of letters ever to be discovered in central Germany, officials from the area announced on Thursday.
The ancient letters, called runes, were scratched onto a 12.5 centimetre-long comb by Germanic settlers in the second century, scientists working on the site in Saxony-Anhalt believe." The complete article may be read at The Local.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Danes vs. Somali Pirates

All I could think when reading the headline was, "Don't mess with the experts, guys. Danes were a-viking long before you young men got the idea." Story courtesy EagleSpeak:
"The Danish navy captured 16 Somali pirates and freed 12 captives when it intercepted a "mothership" vessel off the Horn of Africa, it said on Thursday.

The Danish warship Absalon, serving in NATO's counter-piracy mission Ocean Shield, stopped the vessel off the east coast of Somalia on Wednesday, boarded it without resistance, arrested the suspected Somali pirates and found the hostages."

The full story may be accessed via Reuters.

IHF Heathen Cookout Pictures

 Here are images from the Heathen Cookout hosted at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, North Carolina by Irminsol Heathen Fellowship on 31 March, 2012. About 20 Heathens and like-minded folks from various locations in North and South Carolina were in attendance. A blót for Eostre and Sunna was held, with a small effigy of Old Man Winter burned on one of the grills. Good food and a good time was had by all. To learn more about IHF, visit their website.







Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three Approaches to Ancestor Worship in Modern Heathenry

New essay by Mark Ludwig Stinson:
"I was writing back and forth with Kari Tauring today about ancestor worship and cultural identity, and this brought to mind three different approaches to honoring our ancestors that exist within modern Heathenry.  Most heathens actually use all three approaches, but most focus in on one (or perhaps two) of them as their primary approach to honoring their ancestors.  I think there is value to examing all three approaches and discussing the benefits of each one.  I'm going to progress in order from the least personal to the most personal in nature."
Mark's full essay can be read on Facebook.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just for fun ...

Free Kindle Download: The Isle of Many Gods

The Isles of the Many Gods - An A-Z of the Pagan Gods & Goddesses of Ancient Britain worshipped during the First millenium through to the Middle Ages, by Sorita d'Este and David Rankine. The Kindle edition of this work is currently a free download at Amazon UK. 

The Pagan Roots of Easter

"All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures." Read the full article by Heather McDougall at the Guardian.

Easter and Its Pagan Origins

"The word Easter itself seems to be a cognate of Ēostre, the name of a Germanic dawn goddess. Ēostre is attested by a Northumbrian monk named Venerable Bede  in his book “Temporum Ratione” or “The Reckoning of Time.”" Read the full article at Death and Taxes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Day Nordic Mythologies Conference at UCLA

Thanks to Troth member Josh for this item.

"Nordic mythology—with its remarkable stories of gods, giants and the catastrophic end of the world—has captured the imaginations of scholars and the public alike for centuries, keeping the Medieval North front and center in the popular imagination. Recent films, such as the Hollywood blockbuster, Thor, contribute to the popularity of the Nordic mythological world while, at the same time, contributing to the proliferation of misunderstandings about that same world.
In this conference, we interrogate the complexities of the Nordic mythological realms interdisciplinarily from the scholarly perspectives of folkloristics, anthropology, religious studies, cultural history, linguistics, archaeology, philology, film criticism, textual criticism and the history of ideas. We explore how religious and secular institutions have made imposed differing narratives of interpretation on this mythological world, and we explore the interaction of the Scandinavian realm with other belief groups, such as the Sámi and more recent ones such as the neo-pagan Ásatrú."

Conference is set for April 27-28, 2012. To find out more, go their website.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Update: Preserve the Ranheim Temple!

Following the recent discovery of the ancient temple in Ranheim, Norway, efforts are underway to prevent development of the site and to instead preserve this ancient treasure. A Facebook group has been formed towards this end. You may view and request to join the group here. The group's language is in Norwegian, but can be easily translated with Google for those not fluent in the language.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trothmoot 2012

"Mark your dates for Trothmoot 2012 on the calendar now: June 7-10, 2012, at Camp Netimus in Milford, Pennsylvania. This event will be the 25th annual Trothmoot, and as a tribute to the history of The Troth and to its founders and successive leadership, some of the Elders of The Troth will be in attendance. This Trothmoot will present participants with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet some of the greatest movers and shakers in Heathenry and to hear their experiences first hand." You may register for Trothmoot here. To learn more about and to join the Troth, visit their main page.

The Scandinavian impact on Irish seafaring technology

Courtesy Medievalists.net:
"In the Middle Ages mariners from both Ireland and Scandinavia sailed the North Atlantic, but in different types of ships and for very different reasons. The Irish sailors appear to have favoured skin-covered ships called curraghs as the means by which they sought out remote islands on which to establish monastic retreats. The Norsemen, however, travelled the northern seas in clinker-built wooden vessels seeking plunder, land and trade. When at the end of the eighth century the Vikings invaded Ireland, these two distinct seafaring traditions came into contact with one another. This thesis is an analysis of the impact that the arrival of Scandinavian seafaring technology had upon that of the indigenous Irish." The full text of this 1984 Master's Thesis by Garth Stewart Wilson may be read in PDF format at the University of British Columbia's website.

Viking mice marauders swept across northern Europe

"They didn't rape and pillage or wear horned helmets*, but Norwegian mice accidentally stowing away on Viking ships swept through almost as many countries as the fearsome humans whose ships they boarded.

That's the conclusion from an analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from modern house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) living on Iceland and Greenland, which was compared with mtDNA extracted from mouse skeletons on the islands dating to the Viking heyday, 1000 to 1200 years ago. The sequences were also compared with mtDNA sequences from Viking mice in Norway and the UK."
Read the full article at the New Scientist.

*Blog owner: The Vikings didn't wear horned helmets, either, thank you!

Shamanism Approved as a Religion in Norway

"This is the first time that Shamanism has been officially recognized as a religion in Norway. According to TV2, director Lone Ebeltoft in the newly founded Shamanic Federation welcomed the governor's decision and expressed her ambition to preserve and continue the shamanistic traditions and practices in the country." The full story may be read at The Nordic Page.

Archaeologists uncover pre-Christian temple in Norway

"Located at the site of Ranheim, about 10 kilometers south of the Norwegian city of Trondheim, the astonishing discovery was unearthed while excavating foundations for new houses and includes a "gudehovet" or "god temple." Read the full story at the Examiner.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rural Settlements in Medieval Norway, AD 400-1400

Courtesy Medievalists.net:

"In the 5th and 6th centuries the three aisled longhouse with a byre and a living section appears to dominate on rural settlements in all regions. From the 7th century onwards the diversity is greater. In northern Norway the longhouse is still built in the 10th century. In eastern Norway the function fragmentation of the longhouse advances step by step until the domination of the two roomed timbered livinghouse from the 12th century onwards. In western Norway this fragmentation also occurs, but the longhouse without a byre also continues to be built, probably until modern times. Alterations in building techniques probably played a limited role in these developments."  The full article may be read at Ruralia.

UK experts find 7th-century teen buried in her bed

Via Yahoo! News and the Associated Press:

"Archaeologists excavating near Cambridge have stumbled upon a rare and mysterious find: The skeleton of a 7th-century teenager buried in an ornamental bed along with a gold-and-garnet cross, an iron knife and a purse full of glass beads.
Experts say the grave is an example of an unusual Anglo-Saxon funerary practice of which very little is known. Just over a dozen of these "bed burials" have been found in Britain, and it's one of only two in which a pectoral cross — meant to be worn over the chest — has been discovered."

The full article may be read here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Linnaeus’s Game of Tablut and its Relationship to the Ancient Viking Game Hnefatafl

Modern tafl board reconstruction. Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Aluric and Medievalists.net:

"This paper concerns Linnaeus’s 1732 work Iter Lapponicum and his important (though inadvertent) contributions to the field of Viking age archaeology. A journal entry from his publication contains a description of a Lapp board game called Tablut (also called Swedes & Muscovites), which later scholars realized was related to the Viking game of Hnefatafl. ..."

"... The British game historian H. J. R. Murray was the first to identify the importance of Linnaeus's description of the rules of a Lapp game called Tablut.  This game, he argued, was related to, and possibly identical with, an ancient Viking game called Hnefatafl, which the Icelandic sagas frequently reference ..."

The full article by John C. Ashton may be read at Heroic Age. A fair introduction to Tafl and its variations may be found at Wikipedia.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany

"A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810–1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world."

The full article may be read at the Guardian. One of the fairy tales, "The Turnip Princess," may be read here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Women in Heathenry

Skade (1893) by Carl Fredrik von Saltza. 
Courtesy Wikimedia.
Thanks to Ashley for finding this.
"... I can’t sew a button let alone knit, I don’t practice any sort of magic, and my family cult is to Odin. I suppose if I stretch it I could be warrior of sorts, choosing the pen over the sword, but I choose the role of scholar over gythia or seidth worker because I’m good at it, even if I have been judged for “not minding my place” which has happened several times. Not that there is anything wrong with any of the things I listed, its only that I believe through my research that there was so much more to our preceding sisters and that we are cheating ourselves and our history by not studying it."
The full editorial by Raven-Radio Co-Host Jill Budynas may be read at The Urban Ásatrúar.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bit of humor

PA Dutch Braucherei

"On this site you will find my thoughts and experiences with the faith healing and folk magic of the Pennsylvania Dutch culture; a fascinating blend of religion, superstition, magic, healing, astrology, charms, folklore and faith.  I hope you enjoy your visit!" On this blog by braucher Rob Chapman, you will find much useful information regrading the traditions of braucherei, hexerei, pow-wow, etc. His site also includes sample charms and recipes, and also links to his YouTube videos. His blog may be found here.

Vikings – the Rus – Varangians

Courtesy Medievalists.net:
"The Viking age in Scandinavia is usually dated from the end of the eighth century to the mid-11th century. Those who came from Scandinavia were called Rus and Varangians by peoples in Eastern Europe. French and Anglo-Saxon chroniclers sometimes divide the Vikings into ‘Danes’, ‘Swedes’ (Svear) and ‘Norsemen’ (Norwegians). In their turn, Arab scribes distinguished between Scandinavians, inhabiting Western Eurorpe, calling them ‘magus’ or al-urmania, and peoples in the east, which they called al-rus." A PDF of the full article, originally published in Historiska nyheter (2004), may be accessed at Academia.edu.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Europe's last Pagans": The Mari

"The republic of Mari El is situated 800 kilometers east of Moscow. People of Finno-Ugric origin live there, divided into two main groups — lowlanders and highlanders. They speak different languages and live in different regions of the republic. But there is one thing that unites Mari El people – faith." A twenty-five minute documentary on the Mari people and their religious practices can be viewed at RT.com.

Penda the Pagan: Royal sacrifice and a Mercian king

Courtesy Medievalists.net:
"Penda, a seventh-century king of Mercia, was a noted regicide. Indeed, his other achievements – his military campaigns and a crafty and unlikely alliance with the British king Cadwallon were instrumental in carving out Mercia as an independent kingdom and establishing it as a power to be reckoned with – were almost completely overshadowed by his reputation as a slayer of kings. As Penda was a pagan, and his alleged victims all Christian, it comes as no surprise to find that medieval chroniclers, mostly monks or Christian nobles, viewed his reign and deeds with horror and denigrated him at every opportunity. The reputation of his ally Cadwallon, himself a Christian, suffered by association: in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, written in the early eighth century, Bede of Jarrow describes him as ‘a barbarian more savage than any pagan’ with ‘no respect for the newly established religion of Christ’ [1]. Bede’s invective was not tempered by the fact that Cadwallon was a Celt."
The full article by Alby Stone originally published in Mercian Mysteries, may be read in full on At the Edge.

Kvass (Russian Fermented Rye Bread Drink)

"Kvass (kvas, quass) is probably a bit of unusual drink to this part of the globe.

Indeed, if you read ingredients list: dried rye bread, water, sugar and yeast – it probably will not strike you as something delicious. However this is one of soft drinks which is, according to Wikipedia, popular in Eastern Europe countries, especially Russia, since ancient times."

A full recipe, with step-by-step instructions for preparing this traditional Russian drink, may be found here.

Romuva

From Wikipedia: "Romuva is a Baltic ethnic religious organization, reviving the religious practices of the Lithuanian people before their Christianization. Romuva is a folk religion community that claims to continue living Baltic pagan traditions which survived in folklore and customs.

Romuva primarily exists in Lithuania but there are also congregations of adherents in Australia, Canada, the United States, and England. There are also Romuvans in Norway, for whom a formal congregation is being organized. Believers of Baltic pagan faiths also exist in other nations, including Dievturība in Latvia. Practising the Romuva faith is seen by many adherents as a form of cultural pride, along with celebrating traditional forms of art, retelling Baltic folklore, practising traditional holidays, playing traditional Baltic music, singing traditional dainas or hymns and songs as well as ecological activism and stewarding sacred places."

An introduction to Lithuanian Paganism may be found here, with a version in English here.

Hunter Yoder on Fracking

Hex sign artist Hunter Yoder talks about the upcoming May 2012 show by Brian Spies at the Hex factory in Philadelphia's Fishtown:


Friday, February 10, 2012

Viking Women: A Reinterpretation of the Bones

"According to a new journal article by Shane McLeod in Early Medieval Europe, the concept of the male Norse invaders migrating across England in the 9th and 10th centuries CE is potentially biased. He argues that based on burial evidence, females were equal in number if not outnumbering the males, leading to a new interpretation of the Norse migration. Textual evidence of the Norse invasion into Britain notes the presence of women and children in some of the invading groups, but primarily they focus on the high number of male warriors. McLeod argues that there were more women than previously thought based skeletal analysis, and this requires a reinterpretation of the Norse invasion."
Read the full article at Bones Don't Lie.

Viking Ethnicities: A Historiographic Overview

Courtesy of Medievalists.net:
"The ‘Viking Age’ is well established in popular perception as a period of dramatic change in European history. The range of viking activities from North America to the Middle East has excited the interest of many commentators. Vikings are variously regarded as blood thirsty barbarians or civilised entrepreneurs; founders of nations or anarchic enemies. But how cohesive was the identity of the ‘Vikings’ and how did they see themselves? In recent years the answer to this question has been evaluated from a range of perspectives. Established paradigms (often situated within a nationalist framework of thought) have come under greater scrutiny and new ideas have entered the debate. This paper will review some trends in the historiography of viking ethnicities and cultural identities in the period 800–1000 AD. This overview also highlights the value of comparative analysis of human migrations to the field of Viking Studies." The full article by Clare Downham of the University of Liverpool, originally published in History Compass, Volume 10, Issue 1, may be read in PDF format at the Wiley Online Library.

Northern Wisdom - The Havamal, Tao of the Vikings

YouTube trailer for Eoghan Odinsson's new book, due out 27 February. For more information, visit his site.




What did Old Norse sound like?

Readings by Jackson Crawford of UCLA from Völuspá, Hávamál, and Grímnismál. For further inforamtion, visit  his blog.




Thursday, February 9, 2012

Remembering Eyvind Kinnrifi

On this day, 9 February, many followers of the Northern Traditions remember Eyvind Kinnrifi, a Norwegian noble landowner who was tortured to death on orders of Olaf I for refusing to abandon his ancestral faith and convert to Christianity. Some accounts say he was drowned, but most say he was instead tied to a table and had a brazier of hot coals placed upon his belly, which eventually burst open from the intense heat.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lagarfljótsormur

This story has begun to circulate recently:
"A video was recorded this weekend of what may or may not be the legendary Lagarfljóts Worm — Iceland’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster.
The video was taken of what looks like a giant, icy swimming snake in the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal river, which runs in to Lagarfljót. The unexplained creature, or phenomenon, appears to be swimming upstream, against the current." Read more, with link to the video footage, at Ice News.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hearth Cooking: An Ancient Cooking Technique Revisited

National Park Service
As this is the time when some honor the Hearth Wights and Goddesses, this seemed an appropriate link to post.

"Hearth cooking is an ancient and wonderful craft. It is the craft that stands at the center of European cuisine. With few exceptions, all recipes that originated in Europe were first created on an open hearth and only adapted comparatively recently to the modern kitchen."

Read more at Mother Earth News.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Urglaawe Altar

More on Urglaawe as practiced in the Pennsylvania Dietsch area, courtesy of YouTube:


Charming of the Plough and Disting

Detail of the Gefion Fountain (1908) by Anders Bundgaard, Copenhagen. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

"For many pagans, this is the time of year where they honor and celebrate Imbolc one of the eight sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year. For those of us in the Northern Tradition however, we have our only celebrations known as holy tides (from the Old Norse hátíðir) that we may currently be celebrating instead: Charming of the Plough or Disting." Read the full article at Pantheon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More Facebook Fun

Researchers collect DNA from men with possible links to York’s Viking past

(Thanks to Christy for finding this.)

"Men with Viking surnames filled the meeting room of New Earswick Folk Hall and queued to help research into the ethnic origins of the British people.

Academics were collecting DNA from men with Viking names to see if they are directly descended from the Scandanavian traders and seaman who once ruled York and Yorkshire."

Read the full article at the York Press.

Der Ewich Yeeger

As we come to the time when the Wild Hunt traditionally returns home, this video on the Pennsylvania Deitsch and Urglaawe take on the Eternal Hunter seems appropriate. From the uploader's comments:
"Der Ewich Yeeger, known also as Ewicher Yeeger and the Eternal Hunter, is credited with saving the early Deitsch settlers along (and north of) the Blue Mountain ridge in Pennsylvania. He and his pack of hounds are still heard in the villages along the Ridge. Urglaawe celebrates His fame and deeds in November."



A Heathen family Devotional: Odinism Begins at Home

"A Heathen Family Devotional promotes the idea that the family is the answer to our problem. The Divine is nurtured by our devotion, our prayers, and our sacrifice. Families turn into kindreds, kindreds turn into clans, clans turn into tribes, tribes turn into nations, and nations turn into homelands. Society must be organized from the bottom up not the top down." This new book by Wyatt Kaldenberg is available from Amazon.

For the Wagner fans, - Jay Hunter Morris on playing Siegfried

 F. Paul Driscoll talks to tenor Jay Hunter Morris, who had a last-minute success in the title role of the Met's new Siegfried in October. This month, Morris sings Siegfried in The Met: Live in HD presentation of Götterdämmerung . Full article at Opera News.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Der Butzemann

Among practitioners of Urglaawe and other Germanic paths of Northern Tradition, the time of year we are now approaching, the beginning of February, is the traditional time of creating and activating the Butzemann, a type of scarecrow, the practice of which was brought to America by German and Swiss settlers whose descendants are known as the Pennsylvania Deitsch. But rather than scaring crows, the Butzemann has the more important task of blessing and protecting the crops, making them grow large and fruitful and keeping away blights and other maladies.  The Butzemann serves as the corporeal shell for a spirit of the land which fulfills this task and to which offerings are made of flowers, food, or coffee. He has his counterparts in the Alraune which may be used to protect the home in Northern European systems of magic, and also to the Utu and similar dolls used in the African diasporic systems. Wikipedia cites a Burtzefraa as a female counterpart, set up opposite the Butzemann as his wife, though I have heard the refutation that the Butzemann is already married to the Earth. For this reason, our Hearth, which incorporates some of the Pennsylvania Deitsch and Urglaawe customs into our practice, only puts out a Butzemann. Most of what follows is how we perform this task and ceremony. Others may do it differently.

The Butzemann is activated in the Ceremony of the Corn, in which he is called to life by a name which he has already told us, and shown the land that shall be his domain and responsibility in the coming season. This is traditionally done on February 2, Groundhog Day, - or as close to it as possible, - which is also the time for Charming of the Plow. Our Butzemann is composed of the usual old clothes, but rather than the usual straw or hay, which we do not grow, we stuff ours with remnants of the previous year's crops, - bean, tomato, and squash vines, corn stalks, leaves from our fig and pear trees,  - which we wish to grow in the coming year. The corn stalks come from the Last Sheaf gathered and put out for Sleipnir at Winter Nights. As this also marks the time that the Wild Hunt returns home, we're fairly certain Sleipnir has had his fill.

At Halloween or some time before that, - but no later, - our Butzemann is retired in the prescribed method, by burning. As this comes close to the time for Winter Nights, it is usually incorporated into the observances for that time. The Butzemann is thanked for his hard work and bid farewell, and is burned facing the Last Sheaf, which, because it will be incorporated into next year's Butzemann, is referred to as his son. The ashes are then gathered and scattered upon the garden beds as a final blessing for fertility.

Burning the Butzemann before the start of Winter is important because it releases the spirit and destroys the shell. If this is not done, the spirit may still leave of its own volition, but may be replaced by a more malevolent one. Per the temperamental nature of land wights, the original spirit may alternatively remain in the body and become angry at what it sees as neglect and disrespect. Either way, the Butzemann may take on the characteristics typical of his name's more common translation in modern German, that of  "boogeyman." Farms with this type of angry spirit may find themselves with blighted crops, poltergeist activity, skittish animals, or children suffering nightmares.

This is probably the source for living scarecrows being a motif in so many horror stories. The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz is said to have been inspired by childhood nightmares author L. Frank Baum had of being chased by a scarecrow. Baum also once spoke of the "mystical feelings" scarecrows inspired in him as a boy, and how they seemed to move of their volition.  He also noted that the scarecrow on his father's farm hung up for many seasons before being blown away in a storm. The Nathaniel Hawthorne tale "Feathertop," which is about a living scarecrow, probably  played a great influence on Baum also, as he was an avid reader of Hawthorne's work. Being of German ancestry himself, Baum may have been aware of the Butzemann legend as well. Ruth Plumly Thompson, in her Royal Book of Oz, gives an alternate origin for the Scarecrow in which he becomes alive as he is placed on his bean pole and a spirit races up the pole out of the Earth and into his body. Actor turned novelist Thomas Tryon, author of the horror novel Harvest Home, may have also been aware of the Butzemann legend or some variation thereof, as the inhabitants of the town in that novel and the 1979 television mini-series adaptation with Bette Davis also burn their scarecrows in a large communal bonfire and scatter the ashes on their fields. Though in the case of Tryon's novel, one of the scarecrows is an actual human being who dared curse the crops and the Earth. Stories of the Butzemann may also be the source for the taboo against taking clothes from a scarecrow and wearing them, as this brings much bad luck.

Our Butzemann for this year has not let us know yet what his name shall be, but his clothes are being gathered ad the crop remnants are waiting to be gathered.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Telling Time without a Clock: Scandinavian Daymarks

"Very far north (or south) of the equator, however, the difference between the length of  daylight time in the summer is very much greater than in the winter. In parts of Scandinavia above the Arctic Circle (at a latitude of 66.5° North) the Sun does not set at all for part of the summer--it is daylight all the time. On the other hand, for part of the winter the Sun does not rise in these same areas. Obviously there is no point in dividing the daytime or nighttime into twelve sections if they are not taking place! Even if the Sun sets for only three of our modern hours in the summer, if one is dividing the daytime and nighttime into Babylonian/Egyptian-style "temporal hours", the nighttime hours will be so short compared to the daytime hours that there is hardly any point in making the divisions.

However, even very far north (or south), no matter where the Sun rises or sets, the middle of its path is above about the same part of the horizon. That means you can always tell when the middle of the day is if you know above which point on the horizon the highest point of the Sun's path is. Also, no matter how high the Sun is above the horizon, it always passes over the same points on the horizon after the same interval of time. Using these facts, the people living in Scandinavia developed a system of time-keeping quite different than the Babylonian/Egyptian system."

The full text of this highly detailed and informative article, courtesy of Harvard University, may be found here.

Der Grundsaudaag ("Groundhog Day")

‎"The groundhog is similar to Ratatask, the squirrel that runs up and down Yggdrasil bringing news of the nine worlds.... Braucherei reports the day as being sacred to the “Hearth Goddess,” who naturally would be Frigg. ... Akin to the second item is the creation of the Butzemann. The Butzemann is a scarecrow who is spiritually activated via a Braucherei ceremony called the Ceremony of the Corn. ... Also akin to Frigg is the cleaning of the hearth. ... Tradition holds that the first travelers with Holle and Wodan on the Furious Host (Wild Hunt) begin to return to the land at this time, if the groundhog predicts an early end to winter."  The full text of this blog entry on how practitioners of Urglaawe ("the original faith") observe the day known to many other Heathens as Disting, to Celtic Recons and Wiccans as Imbolc, and to most Americans as Groundhog Day may be found here at the Urglawwe blog site.

Solar Storm Puts Beautiful Northern Lights on Display [VIDEO]

Video of the recent Aurora Borealis display caused by last week's solar storm, filmed in Norway, courtesy of Mashable:

Viking mass grave linked to elite killers of the medieval world

"A crew of Viking mercenaries – some of the fiercest and most feared killers in the medieval world – could be the occupants of a mysterious mass grave in the south of England, according to a new theory.
The intriguing hypothesis is being put forward in a documentary, Viking Apocalypse, which will premiere on National Geographic UK on Wednesday, 25 January, and attempts to piece together the identities of a group of men who were apparently the victims of a horrific mass execution around the turn of the 11th century." Read the full article at PhysOrg.com.

Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'

"After years of ridicule and misrepresentation, the Vikings are on their way home. Plans are well under way for what the Swedish company Fladenfilm is calling "the ultimate Viking movie". The $30m version of Frans G Bengtsson's bloody Nordic saga The Long Ships (which is due to shoot in 2013) will comprise two feature films and a television series. What is different about this project is that it is being made by Viking nations – the Swedes in combination with their neighbours." Read the full story at the Independent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Sagas of Icelanders as a Historical Source

Courtesy of Medievalists.net:

"The Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders), sometimes called the Icelandic family sagas) are a valuable resource in the study of society and culture in the Viking age. However, for a variety of reasons, one can not depend upon the sagas as historical fact. This article provides an introductory look at using the Sagas of Icelanders as a historical source. The Sagas of Icelanders are comprised of about two score longer narratives and a larger number of tales. The stories are unique among medieval literature in that they focus not on kings or saints or mythological heroes, but rather on the farmers and chieftains who settled Iceland during the Viking age. Theyíre stories about plain folk in the pursuit of honor, while engaged, for the most part, in their normal, everyday activities. Additionally, the stories are unique because they were written in the vernacular, old Icelandic, rather than in Latin." The complete article by William R. Short, first published in 2005, may be found at the Hurstwic site.

The Girl and the North Wind

A retelling of this children's story. Note that the girl's name is Kari, which is also the name of the Etin associated with the wind, especially the North Wind of Winter. The story is posted at Sheer Poetry.

Wynbeam, Old English Vocabulary

A blog on Tumblr I've recently discovered:

“Hwæt!”
So I just started this blog so I would have a place to be a “nerd.” I have a passionate interest in all things Medieval, ranging from the Early Middle Ages through the Renaissance, and even as far back as Late Antiquity and the Hellenistic Age. Whether it’s art history, history, literature, culture, language, religion, architecture, or legend, as long as it happened in Western Europe before c.1688 I enjoy learning about it. Occasionally I come across objects in the modern world that draw from Medieval influences and customs, and these are the things which fascinate me. I usually post about them on FaceBook or Twitter, but these sites adhere to strict character limits. I felt a blog might be a better place to share my findings.

Wynbeam: tree of delight.
Yggdrasil is the World Tree in Norse Mythology and is pictured in this page’s background. My blog Wynbeam is a collection or “tree” of things in this world which branch from the cultural influence of the Middle Ages. I hope to post photos, trivia, historical facts, hypotheses, etymologies, and anything else I find in today’s world that conjures the ideals of these fascinating eras.

You can find and read posts on Wynbeam here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Icelandic Feasts and Celebrations - Þorrablót

"Þorri is one of the old Icelandic months. It always begins on a Friday, between the 19th and the 25th of January, and ends on a Saturday between the 18th and 24th of February. The first day of Þorri is called Bóndadagur or "Husband's Day/Farmer's Day", and  is dedicated to men (formerly only farmers). In my family (and many others) , the women bring the men breakfast in bed on this day - just as the men will do on Konudagur - Woman's Day (if they know what's good for them). ...
The tradition of a Þorri feast is an ancient one. It has its roots in old midwinter feasts, Þorrablót, which the advent of Christianity could not quite abolish, although the way in which it is celebrated has changed. This month falls on the coldest time of the winter, and therefore it is no surprise that Þorri has become a personification of King Winter. He is usually portrayed as an old man, tall and grizzled, who is as cruel to those who disrespect him as he is gentle to those who show him respect. Some have suggested that the month is named after the legendary king who united Norway into one country. Others think it is derived from the name of the thunder-god Þór (Thor), and that this was his feast during the pre-Christian era in Iceland.... "

More on this celebration, and a menu of traditional and non-traditional food items, may be found here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Viking remains reveal warriors filed their teeth to appear more ferocious to enemies

"An axe-swinging 'rape and pillage' fighter found in a Viking burial pit had filed his teeth to look more ferocious in battle.
The pain without anaesthetic would have been excruciating - but it would have proved his status as a great warrior, archaeologists said.
The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, had grooves filed into his two front teeth."

Read the full article at the Daily Mail.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Frith Within Modern Tribes - The Joy it Brings

"A man who acted in a way outside of Frith, was loosened from the whole and seen as less than nothing. As part of a family, one was fully expected to act in Frith toward other members of the family, and in turn...fully expected Frith to be shown in return. When one was confronted with a tough situation where one was bound by Frith, there was not even a struggle whether or not to show Frith. For to not show Frith, was to break the bonds that made you a human being. There was no inner struggle over the matter...you simply did what you did, because this was your family, and this is what families do." The full text of this article by Mark Ludwig Stinson may be accessed through the Facebook page for Temple of Our Heathen Gods.

On the Meaning of Frith

"Frith is often translated as "peace". The full meaning of frith encompasses peace but extends well beyond it, to cover a large portion of the most meaningful and essential foundations of human social life, especially as it is lived in more “traditio nal” societies. A full understanding of the concept of frith will show that “peace” is not identical to frith; rather, peace as we understand it is generally an outgrowth of frith, resulting from the conditions of frith being met. When frith has been ac hieved, usually peace is there too, though that is not always the case, as I shall show." The full text of this fine article on frith by Winifred Hodge of the Frithweaver's Guild may be found at Frigga's Web.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Þorrablot

"The month Thorri starts in the 13. week of winter, 19.-25. January. This is often the hardest winter month. So, in the last decades it has been traditional to have celebrations, Thorrablot (blot is the name of the old heathen "masses" in honour of the old gods), where people mix up old traditions and new traditions, and have generally a good time.

Individual traditions can be different in details between neighbourhoods or groups that are having the Thorrablot, but the blot here was wonderful as always. All day long we the women at Langhus were preparing the food that our group was going to eat in the evening."

This article at Icelandic Horse includes a sample menu of foods that served at a Thorrablot celebration, for those of you outside Iceland who are thinking of what to prepare for your own celebrations. The author notes that while the foods may not seem appetizing to the unfamiliar, they are partly eaten in remembrance of the days when Icelanders did not have refrigerators or supermarkets and had to rely on what little was available during the  hardest and most difficult part of the winter season, when winter stores of food would begin to deplete.  The full article may be read here.

Tarrytown, New York - Residents Honor Gods, Ancestors During Solstice

"Most people think of Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa when discussing the holiday season, but a growing population in the Tarrytown area celebrates something different: the solstice.
Chuck Hognell is a member of the Asatru community, a religion that has roots in Northern Europe for several thousand years." Read the full article by Meredith Shamburger at the Daily Eastchester.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Kensington Runestone

This has recently come up as a topic of discussion on The Troth's forum list, and so I decided to post some links for those unfamiliar with this artifact and the controversy surrounding it. The Wikipedia article takes a more or less neutral stance while noting that most authorities believe the stone to be a hoax. The Runestone Story site seems to take the view that the stone is genuine.

Excerpt from the Wikipedia article: "The Kensington Runestone is a 200-pound slab of greywacke covered in runes on its face and side which, if genuine, would suggest that Scandinavian explorers reached the middle of North America in the 14th century. It was found in 1898 in the largely rural township of Solem, Douglas County, Minnesota, and named after the nearest settlement, Kensington. Almost all Runologists and experts in Scandinavian linguistics consider the runestone to be a hoax. ... The runestone has been analyzed and dismissed repeatedly without local effect. ... The community of Kensington is solidly behind the runestone, which has transcended its original cultural purposes and has "taken on a life of its own".

"Translation: Eight Götalanders and 22 Northmen on (this?) acquisition journey from Vinland far to the west. We had a camp by two (shelters?) one day's journey north from this stone. We were fishing one day. After we came home, found 10 men red from blood and dead. Ave Maria save from evil. There are 10 men by the inland sea to look after our ships fourteen days journey from this peninsula (or island). Year 1362
When the original text is transcribed to the Latin script, the message becomes quite easy to read for any modern Scandinavian. This fact is one of the main arguments against the authenticity of the stone. The language of the inscription bears much closer resemblance to 19th century than 14th century Swedish.
The AVM is historically consistent since any Scandinavian explorers would have been Catholic at that time."

Wm. P. Holman's site on the Kensington Runestone may be found here. Bear in mind that while the site claims several pieces of evidence to support the authenticity of the stone, such as stonecut moorings for boats such as were used by Vikings, it does not cite any sources for this information. The stone is currently housed in its own museum in Alexandria, Minnesota, whose site may be found here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Iceland celebrating thirteenth and final day of Christmas

"Today is the thirteenth and final day of the Christmas festival in Iceland and what better way to celebrate than with more bonfires and fireworks?
The skies across Iceland will light up one more time this evening as the end of Christmas is celebrated and the last of the Yule Lads makes his way back home to the mountains." Read more at Ice News.

Tolkien denied the Nobel Prize for bad storytelling

"Tolkien, a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford who drew inspiration for his works from medieval literature, was nominated in 1961 by his close friend CS Lewis, another medieval expert who dabbled in fantasy literature. But according to Nobel Prize documents released after 50 years, one of the jury members, Anders Osterling, said that the work "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality"." The full article may be read at the Daily Telegraph.

Christmas Day in Anglo-Saxon Tamworth


"At Offa's Christmas feast venison or pork would be roasted on a spit over the open fire in the palace, with someone appointed to baste the beast.

The smell of the roast would galvanise the appetites of all and sundry and great chunks of meat would be sliced or ripped off the animal with gusto.

Hygiene was very low on the agenda and, in the preparation of the various meats, the intestines and other unusable waste from the animals would be thrown on the floor for the dogs to consume.

What they left behind would attract the mice, rats and other vermin.

A few lucky peasants who happened to be servants at the Christmas banquet may have been able to help themselves to the carcass leftovers, probably wrapping it in hessian and taking it home, their equivalent of the 'doggy bag'."

The full description of this feast at the Mercian king's palace may be read at the Tamworth Herald.

A Look Back in History: Dutch shoot in New Year

"The traditional New Year’s folklife in the Oley Valley and Oley Hills, as elsewhere among the Pennsylvania Dutch, was as follows: On New Year’s Eve, German dialect speaking neighbors of Pennsylvania Dutch descent would gather at the home of the New Year’s Wisher, who had memorized the Pennsylvania German dialect “New Year’s Chant” and was ready to call on all his farm neighbors.

The highlight of this traditional blessing was when the chanter reached the final verse and asked the homeowner if there was any reason why they should not “shoot in” the New Year for his household. If the owner gave permission, the group of well wishers shot off their shotguns in the midnight air, breaking the silence of the countryside at each home."

Essentially this is a counterpart to the English custom of wassailing, with Germanic roots. A similar custom is practiced in one small North Carolina town, in an area also settled by Germans in the colonial era. Read the full article at the Boyertown Area Times.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Barlaston Wassail: Celebrating an Anglo Saxon new year

"A village in Staffordshire is celebrating the new year with a procession in honour of its Anglo Saxon kings and heritage. ... Local historian Tim Cockin has organised a two-mile long, torch-lit procession from Barlaston in Staffordshire across the heathlands. ... Standard bearers will carry 12 Anglo-Saxon themed banners representing the 12 calendar months delivering wassail - meaning good cheer - as the Anglo-Saxon procession tours around the village." Read the full article at BBC News.

Hex sign research leads to art career

"As a Kutztown University student in the summer of 2008, Patrick J. Donmoyer began documenting hex signs on Berks County barns. ... Traveling the county's rural byways, he would photograph hex signs - sometimes called barn stars - on about 425 barns. ... Donmoyer's study, titled "Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars: Celestial Symbolism in Folk Culture," is one of the most comprehensive assessments of the region's cultural symbols." Read the full article, including information on contacting Mr. Donmoyer about his work, at the Reading Eagle.

Genetic Britain: How Roman, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Genes Make up the UK's DNA

Thanks to Rebecca for finding this:
"The genetic make-up of the British people is a hotly contested subject in academic and political circles. Britain has a tumultuous history that includes Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Roman invasions, but what legacy of these settlers and invaders remains in the DNA of Brits today?" Read the full article at Heritage Key.

Scottish Nationalist Party plans closer Scandinavian ties after independence

"An independent Scotland would shift much of its attention away from the UK to become a member of the Scandinavian circle of countries, with its own army, navy and air force modelled on its Nordic neighbours, according to detailed plans being drawn up by the SNP." Not surprising, as while much of Scottish language and culture is Gaelic in nature, the country has a long history of Nordic influences. Read the full article at the Independent.

Njáls saga as a novel: four aspects of rewriting

Via Medievalists.net:

"Inspired by Njáls saga and Laxdæla saga, the novel Fire in the Ice by American novelist Dorothy James Roberts is one of numerous modern rewritings of classical and medieval literature. With her works Roberts joined a diverse group of nineteenth and twentieth century writers who borrowed plots and themes from Iceland’s early literature in their own works. The earlier adaptations were often influenced by the nationalistic and racial concerns of the rewriters, but the tides had changed when Fire in the Ice was published in 1961. By then the sagas were celebrated as remarkable works of art, even as milestones in the history of World Literature. “The best Icelandic Sagas,” writes Roberts in her preface, “approach the finest of modern novels, and are more closely related to them than to the European literature of their time.” With this statement in mind, four important aspects of Roberts’ rewriting are explored." The full article by Jón Karl Helgason of the Reykjavík Academy, originally published in The Garden of Crossing Paths: The Manipulation and Rewriting of Medieval Texts, edited by M. Buzzoni and M. Bampi (Venezia: Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, 2005), may be viewed at the Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia site.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Axed Man of Mosfell: Skeletal Evidence of a Viking Age Homicide and the Icelandic Sagas

Courtesy Medievalists.net:

"When Christianity was adopted by law in Iceland (1000 A.D.) Grim of Mosfell was baptized and built a church there. . . . When a church was built at Mosfell, the one Grim built at Hrísbrú was demolished and a new graveyard was laid out. Under the altar some human bones were found, much bigger than ordinary human bones, and people are confident that these were Egil’s because of stories told by old men – Egil’s Saga, Chapter 86.

The discovery of the skeletal remains of the person described in this chapter is one of many scientific results of the Mosfell Archaeological Project, an ongoing international research effort we began in 1995. The project’s goal is to produce a comprehensive reconstruction of human adaptation and environmental change in Iceland’s Mosfell Valley from Viking times until the present. To do this, we have used a multidisciplinary approach that integrates information from archaeology, physical anthropology, saga studies, and the environmental sciences."

The full article by Phillip K. Walker, et al, originally published in The Bioarchaeology of Individuals, may be read at The University of California Santa Barbara Department of Anthropology site.

Western Youth: The Lost Reverence for Ancestors

Thanks to Jack Donovan for sharing this link:

"In the contemporary world, reverence for ancestors and ancestral traditions has been lost to the void of hedonism and consumerism. The sad state of social practices in Western society has degraded to one of complete narcissism and the overturning of almost every traditional, ancient practice of the Occidental world. In the preceding generations to the current one, the societies of Western Civilization had always reserved a special place in the social mores for reverence and remembrance of individual and collective ancestors and their ancestral traditions." Read the full essay at the Youth for Western Civilization site.