The complete Icelandic staves / Ásatrú symbol series. (Artwork 2015)
Reupload of one of my most popular posts.
artwork is representing an element. They are presented here in the
following order : fire, earth, metal, water, wood and air. The symbols
are accompanied by stanzas of the Hávamál or Völuspá, written in runes.
for purists : admittedly for aesthetic effect only, as these runes are
Elder Futhark and thus predates the viking era by a few centuries.
(Let’s not even go into the subject of Icelandic staves which are even a
lot younger than that). The transcription is also a wild approximation,
again accuracy wasn’t a concern during the creative process.
The stanzas :
1) Fire : Helm of Terror
Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die
fair fame of one who has earned.
2) Earth : Vegvísir
Happy is he who hath in himself
praise and wisdom in life;
for oft doth a man ill counsel get
when ‘tis born in another’s breast
3) Metal : Hólastafur
Hard is it in the world, great whoredom, an axe age, a sword age, shields shall be cloven, a wind age, a wolf age, ere the world sinks.
4) Water : Veiðistafur
He welcomes the night who has enough provisions
Short are the sails of a ship,
Dangerous the dark in autumn,
The wind may veer within five days,
And many times in a month.
5) Wood : Varnarstafur Valdemars
An ash I know, Yggdrasil its name,
With water white is the great tree wet;
Thence come the dews that fall in the dales,
Green by Urth’s well does it ever grow.
6) Air : Valknut
Thought and Memory each morning fly
Over the vast earth:
Thought, I fear, may fail to return,
But I fear more for Memory.
These iron staffs from Gavle, Sweden and Fuldby, Denmark are thought to represent magic wands. Viking Age in date, they were most likely used by sorceresses known as Volur. These female shamans feature extensively in the Icelandic sagas and their name appears to be derived from the Old Norse for “wand carrier” or “carrier of a magic staff”. At least 40 wands are known from Scandinavia, where they are typically found in richly adorned female graves.
Freya is the goddess of war, love, and fertility. She is the daughter of the sea god Njord, and sister to Frey. She has many admirers and treasures, and also knows many different powerful magics (which she taught to a select group of gods, including Odin).
She has taken an interest in the heroic dead. While many people are familiar with Valhalla, Odin’s Hall for the slain, few know about Sessrumnir, Freya’s hall. Freya always gets first pick among the dead, and so it can be argued that living in her hall is a more sought-after prize than Valhalla.
These three snakes are important to Norse mythology:
Jörmungandr, the Midgard snake, who encircles the world and will let his tail go at Ragnarök. Níðhöggr, who gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil. And the serpent who drips venom onto Loki’s face as his punishment.
Pyrography by Wood Fire Ink.
Please do not remove credit.
Yule falls this year on December 21st. This is the official beginning to the celebration which should last as long as you can manage (typically 12 days). Out of ease on my family we’re celebrating the twelve days before and culminating at Yule.
So, what can we do for Yule?
- give small presents on each of the twelve days
- drink cider, wine, or mead and go wassailing
- throw a party for your friends on the 21st and introduce them to Yule
- offer in a ritual
- have a bonfire shaped like a goat
- have a Yule log or a tree for inside
- enjoy your friends and family
- sing, be merry, eat, offer, pray, fill your day and night with joy
If you have kids, leave boots filled with hay outside for Woden to feed his steed and fill them up afterwards with doodads. This is an old equivalent to stockings but more pagan. It’s also a wonderful time for story telling about the gods and goddesses, your children should hear stories about them.
In all honesty, Yule is so intermingled with the western idea of Christmas that if you celebrate Yule it will be very similar to anyone you might invite over. Yule was appropriated by Christianity ages ago and they do a pretty good job of celebrating it. This means it’s obvious how to celebrate for the most part.
One thing of note worth elaborating on though: the night of the 20th is Mother’s Night (Modraniht). This night is sacred and should be devoted to the honoring of your female ancestors and motherly goddesses. I will be honoring my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother as well as Eorthe and Frige that night. I will bake bread and leave a large and very safe candle burning on an altar through the night. As much time as I can devote to it will be spent in reflection and prayer that night. I will also be weaving some that night to link into that whole magickal process and activity. The Norns would be of great importance in the night’s feeling and thoughts so spinning and weaving will get you right in the feeling. It is a subdued night, not boisterous like Yule, but instead reverent and contemplative.
The ritual I am preparing for each of these nights will be forthcoming.
As a side note, what better time of year than this is there to give others a better image of us as heathens? Heathenry has an image problem that will only be solved by awareness. So invite people to your Yule party, go all out and wow them with the true spirit of the season.
You ask Ullr to bless your hunt. You get one buck with an impressive rack.
You ask Freyr to bless your hunt. You get a few fat does that fill your freezer, and a few skinny ones that wouldn’t have survived the winter.
You ask Odin to bless your hunt. You get three chipmunks, some blurry photos of Bigfoot, and an old leatherbound hunting journal that had belonged to your grandfather, who disappeared in these same woods all those years ago ….
You ask Skadi to bless your hunt. The cops never find their bodies.
Appreciatively sourced from Ralph Blum’s Book of Runes. Note that the order of the Runes isn’t correct, and some of the interpretations are contentious. There is also no evidence of a blank rune existing before Blum made one in 1982.