Norse 101, Part 1

I’m sure most of you have at least heard of the Norse pantheon.  If anything, you might know some of Their names by way of the Marvel films or comics.  Perhaps you’ve met a Heathen or an Asatru at a local pagan gathering.  Browse blog posts on WordPress long enough, and you’re sure to come across something written by a devotee.  I’m writing a series of posts to introduce you to some of the Norse traditions, ideals and beliefs, and our Gods and Goddesses.  I’ll be sure to recommend some websites and books for you to read if you want to delve further into things for yourself, which I highly encourage.  Always read, always learn, always ask questions, and always dig deeper!

Let’s begin with a general overview of the Norse ways.  There are many different manners in which people honor the Norse Gods and Goddesses.  Some people choose to recreate rituals with as much historical accuracy as possible, relying heavily on the remaining recorded lore.  Others take a more modernized approach and lean less on the lore.  There are some that have read the lore, but prefer to base their practice mostly on unverified personal gnosis (UPG).  Personally, I don’t see just one “right” way to honor the Gods, so long as what you do comes from your heart.  Nor do you have to be a devotee to request Their assistance in a ritual, spell, or situation, so long as you are respectful to Them and make an appropriate offering.   

Here’s a quick introduction of some of the more well-known deities of the pantheon.  This will be helpful when I explain the Norse cosmology.  We’ll start with Odin, the All-Father and king of Asgard.  His wife is Frigg (or Frigga) the All-Mother and queen.  Thor, the God of Thunder, is one of Odin’s sons as is Baldur.  Loki is Odin’s blood-brother, and Thor’s close friend and traveling companion.  Freyr (or Frey) and Freyja (or Freya) are brother and sister.  Freyr is a God of fertility and agriculture while Freyja is a Goddess of beauty, love, and battle.  The Norse sky has a sun Goddess, Sunna, and a moon God, Mani.  Hel, Loki’s daughter, is the Goddess of the Norse underworld, and Her hall is where all those who did not die gloriously in battle end up.

It is important to note that Norse mythology was mainly an oral tradition until a monk named Snorri Sturluson compiled and recorded the stories well after the region converted to Christianity.  Some scholars suspect that Sturluson’s Christian views altered the original stories in an effort to reflect his own religious ideals.  But that is a question that will never have a definitive answer.  If you’d like to read them, the book The Norse Myths by Heilan Yvette Grimes is a plain-English translation that is very easy to understand.  

Next week, we’ll look into the Norse creation story.  That post will be a bit longer than this first introduction.  It’s a lot of information to condense into one post, but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet.  And if you have any questions, or if there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to ask!  See you next Friday!

norse47

Samhain – Day 23

Samhain Magic, Divination and Spirit Work [Part 10]

10.  The Samhain Needfire

In some of the Celtic countries, it became tradition to light a “Needfire” at the time of Samhain. Find out what this fire was for, and what was so special about lighting the Needfire. More »

By Patti Wigington

Samhain – FLashback 2007

“At the beginning of the Witches’ New Year, the nights grow long, the wind chills, and the cold winter begins. To celebrate this final harvest, meat is put up; root crops, nuts, and apples are stored; and the years activities draw to a close. Debts are paid, old things are cleaned, mended, or discarded. The house is swept clean and old brooms are thrown out and replaced by new brooms to make sure no bad luck follows the household into the new year.

The aire crackles with energy and excitement as the veil between the worlds is thin, spirits are near, and power is in the air. This is a night to celebrate the Witch and practice a few ancestral customs. Coven and solitaries celebrate this sabbat with reverence, joy , and magical workings.

Spirits are easily contacted, and debts to those who have passed over are paid in the form of food offerings left at crossroads. The different realms are more easily accessed now, including the feary realm. Care must be taken not to offened or disreespect the dead, the Fey, or other beings beyoun our own plane of existence.”

COpyright Abby Willowroot Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2007 Page 115

Beltane – Flashback 2007

“Bonfires, maypoles, and Morris Dancers all celebrate the awaking of the Earth. In ancient times, there was fear that the Earth would continue to slumber and remain fallow unless awoken at the FIre Festival BEltane.

Morris Dancers woke the Earth from its winter sleep by rhytmically knocking wooden staves on the ground as they danced to summon the return of bountiful crops.

Beltane is when the cares and fears of winter are sloughed off, giving way to youthful exuberance, playfulness, and sexuality. Peopepl exuberantly dance around maypoles in a symbolic representation of the union between the Goddess and the God, creating a circle of abundance. COrn dollies made from the last sheaves of the previous year’s crop are planted with the first seeds sowen.

Many bonfires are lit, often in pairs. Both human and animals pass between two bonfires. Couples often jump over the flames to bless their union and ensure fertility, good fortune, and blessings of the Goddess and the God.”

Copyright Abby Willowroot Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2007 Page 63