anonymous asked:

hi! I'm a follower of the asatro and I identify as genderqueer. I wondered if you know anything about a third gender/transgender/intersex in old norse/asatro/norse paganism or the like? I'm desperately trying to find something I can relate to and thought I'd ask you. thanks!

Velkomin(n), vinur minn,
(Welcome, my friend,)

There are several examples in Norse mythology in which gender boundaries are disregarded; the gods were often quite fluid about their genders, both literally and ‘socially’ (assuming the gods had their own social norms to live by). It all depended on the situation, really. Loki is arguably the most famous for this. In fact, Odin’s steed, Sleipnir, was Loki’s child — but he wasn’t the father, he was the mother. To summarize that story briefly (before directly quoting the relevant part), there was a builder from Giantland who came, and Loki made a deal with him that the gods did not like. To make things right, he had to make the builder forfeit the payment for succeeding in his task. And so it goes:

“And the same evening, when the builder drove out for stone with his stallion Svadilfæri, there ran out of a certain wood a mare up to the stallion and neighed at it (such a flirt). And when the stallion realized what kind of horse it was, it went frantic and tore apart the tackle and ran towards the mare, and she went away to the wood and the builder after them, trying to catch the stallion, and these horses ran around all night and the building work was held up for that night. […] But Loki had had such dealings with Svadilfæri (Snorri is being polite — they had sex) that somewhat later he (Loki) gave birth to a foal. It was grey and had eight legs, and this is the best horse among gods and men.”(1)

Yet, it is not just Loki who disregards gender boundaries. Odin himself disregards them, but more so in the sense of socially constructed gender expectations (at least from my knowledge and experience). There is a form of magic known as seiðr, but it was regarded as a feminine practice. So much so that any man practicing it was charged with ergi (another similar term is argr), which was usually considered a very serious insult (for a man). More on that another time, perhaps (this post has already gotten very long, so a separate ask about the attitudes of ‘actual’ society may be more wise than cramming it all here). Even in the realm of the gods, though, this term still weighed against men who took part in feminine activities. Odin, regarded as a male figure, was no exception to this. This is mentioned in Ynglinga saga, from Heimskringla:

“Óðinn knew, and practised himself, the art which is accompanied by greatest power, called seiðr, and from it he could predict the fates of men and things that had not yet happened, and also cause men death or disaster or disease, and also take wit or strength from some and give it to others. But this magic, when it is practised, is accompanied by such great perversion that it was not considered without shame for a man to perform it, and the skill was taught to the goddesses.”(2)

I actually stumbled upon an article about Valkyries and Shield-maidens as a third gender while looking for resources to answer your question with. Here are a few excerpts from it, though please do bear with me, for I am going to include quite a bit of direct quotes (I think that you, and others, will find them to be very fascinating). Besides, I cannot be sure how many of you have access to these academic articles, let alone have the resources to locate them, so I want to make sure I can give you all a good taste of the work:

“Most scholarship on valkyries and shield-maidens categorizes them as women, as kinds of warrior women who are connected to other, rare warrior women, such as the maiden king (meykongr) and to other women who, in exceptional circumstances, take up arms to fight (Andersson 1980; Damico 1984; Jesch [1991] 2010; Larrington 1992b; Præstergaard Andersen 2002; Quinn 2006, 2007). These discussions of valkyries and shield-maidens tend to insert them into a binary of masculine and feminine, wherein they sit somewhat uneasily in the feminine category. Yet, as other scholarship on Old Norse gender and sex has shown, the situation for all persons, not just valkyries, is much more complicated. The boundaries between masculine and feminine are not always rigid, at least insofar as women can take on masculine characteristics and receive approval, even if that approval was limited. Valkyries and shield-maidens, like the strong women of the sagas, are met with admiration, though not as paragons of femininity. As this article argues, these figures are best understood as a third gender—a hybrid of masculine and feminine characteristics that were dominant during the time period explored.”(3)

“In eddic poetry, shield-maidens are similarly denizens of battle. Whereas valkyries seem divine or, at the very least, semi-divine, the shield-maidens are human and have human parents and human lineages. However, they also have supernatural abilities, such as being able to ride over the sea and through the air. These beings take a special interest in human men—the heroes of the narrative—for whom, like the valkyries, they intercede in battle, but only to protect their heroes and aid them. Shield-maidens engage in sexual relationships with their heroes and most marry them; after that, they cease to be shield-maidens and become only feminine. The description here derives from the scant information available in the sources; there are not many examples of shield-maidens in the literature. One example is Sváva, who, like the other shield-maidens of the heroic poems of the Edda, is armored and carries weapons. Her helmet dominates the description of her as she rides among an accompanying troop of shield-maidens: “a white maiden under a helmet” (Helgakviða Hjǫrvarðssonar [hereafter HHv], stanza 28, in Neckel 1983). Another example is Sigrún, a major character in two Helgi poems. Also described as helmeted, she and her band carry spears and wear blood-spattered byrnies, which are a sort of mail coat (Helgakviða Hundingsbana [hereafter HH] 1, stanza 15, in Neckel 1983). Valkyries and shield-maidens are similar in that both wear armor and carry weapons, act in battle to determine the fate of men, and are unmarried women. Shield- maidens are different in that they marry human men, which results in a change of status.”(4)

Valkyries and Shield-maidens as feminine:

“Aside from this linguistic categorization as female, valkyries and shield- maidens have a number of other attributes that are part of medieval Icelandic culture’s hegemonic constructions of femininity. Perhaps one of the most ‘traditional’ feminine activities of the valkyrie is her work in Valhǫll, serving men drinks. At the same time that Snorri describes the valkyries’ functions in battle, he writes that they “serve drink and look after the tableware and drinking vessels” (30). An example of this work is found in Snorra Edda, in which the goddess Freyja is the only one who dares to bring a drink to the giant Hrungnir, whom no other is brave enough to serve (Edda: Skáldskaparmál, in Faulkes 1998, 20). Human women similarly serve drinks to the men in the hall. As the keeper of food-stores and the manager of the household, women of the highest rank in Iceland were closely associated with food and its distribution. By serving men, they enacted that association and their subordinate position to the men they served. By depicting valkyries in this feminine role, the texts are able to have their cake and eat it too—the warrior woman is domesticated in Odin’s ‘beer-hall.’”(5)

Valkyries and Shield-maidens as masculine:

“At the same time, valkyries and shield-maidens embody masculinity: they wear men’s clothing and act in ways understood by medieval Icelandic culture to be masculine. It is significant that they clothe themselves as men not simply by wearing “the pants,” but by putting on the garb and carrying the tools that mark the most admired sort of man—the warrior. The helmets and other armor together are common elements in their appearance and important aspects of the valkyrie’s masculinity. Sigrún and her troop’s blood-spattered byrnies (noted above) are quite striking. The byrnie (or brynie) also figures importantly in the story of Brynhild, who was the most famous of all of these warrior women. The word itself is one part of her compound name: Brynie-hild (brynie-battle).

This armor-wearing valkyrie is not simply named for armor, but her armor becomes part of her. […] In sum, the removal of the byrnie is the removal of one of the valkyrie’s most important masculine attributes. In the version in Vǫlsunga saga, the removal of the mail coat marks the end of her time in the third gender. As that story progresses, and a different version of the same narrative in Snorra Edda, Brynhild soon ceases to be a valkyrie and enters the feminine gender.”(6)

And a bit of her conclusion:

“The myths and legendary sagas of medieval Iceland that are retold and recorded offer up both the possibility of the third gender, in the form of the unmarried valkyrie, and the stories of the effects of marriage on members of that gender. In the stories of Brynhild, Sváva, and Sigrún, one gets a sense of the life of any married woman of the time, though, more accurately, their stories most closely represent the life of a woman with few family members or other relationships. These myths and sagas have also provided a reservoir of depictions that have fed later cultural products up to the present day. With the exception of Wagner’s Brünnhilde—the unmarried warrior woman—the valkyries of the third gender are most influential. Though often altered through the modern retellings of Norse myth, the contemporary valkyrie is still recognizable as such.”(7)

Was this how contemporary society (Norse society) understood the valkyries and shield-maidens? Perhaps not. We must take care to not impose our hopes and experiences onto the past. Yet, it seems likely that they at least understood such concepts — at least that of homosexuality and the difficulty for humans to remain in their socially constructed gender-box for behavior. Such people have always existed; it is not some modern invention nor a fashionable modern trend. The Norse did have terms that denoted a failure to comply with their gender’s expectations, after all, such as ergi and argr.

Now, there is far more than that to explore in mythology, but I do believe that I have shared enough examples to show you that there are most definitely things that you can relate to. I would also like to recommend a few other knowledgable people who could help guide you even further on your quest (for I am far from an expert on these matters). You may already know of them, but here are my suggestions (of which there are plenty of others, by the way): @edderkopper​ (as well as @lokeanwelcomingcommittee​), @answersfromvanaheim​, @hyacinth-halcyon, and even @theasatrucommunity or the many who are listed with @valkyriesquad. Again, there are many others who can lend a hand and share information with you. They will likely stumble upon this post (or so I can hope), so be on the look out for any helpful reblogs and replies.

Regardless, there is much more that I could still ramble on about, but this post is already long enough (perhaps too long for some to bother reading). I had a lot that I wanted to say about ergi/argr, and the attitudes of gender-bending in Old Norse society (law codes, family sagas, etc. — non-mythological sources), but that would be best for a separate ask (because it would also be a fairly long post — could you imagine the length of this post with both of those discussions?! My oh my). If you would like to hear more about that (or if anyone else reading this would like to), please send me an ask about it, and I will happily respond. It may take me a bit to get around to answering it (I still have 11 other questions to answer), but I never refuse a guest to my hall, especially when they seek knowledge!

I hope my words have helped, friend.

Með vinsemd og virðingu,
(With friendliness and respect,)

1. Snorri Sturluson, Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes (repr., 1987; London: Everyman, 1995), 36. [Online Edition (Free)]
2. Snorri Sturluson, Ynglinga saga, from Heimskringla, Volume I: the Beginnings to Óláfr Tryggvason (Second Edition), translated by Alison Finaly and Anthony Faulkes (London: Viking Society for Northern Research — University College London, 2016), 11.
3. Kathleen M. Self, “The Valkyrie’s Gender: Old Norse Shield-Maidens and Valkyries as a Third Gender,” Feminist Formations, Volume 26, Issue 1, Spring 2014, 144.
4. Ibid., 148.
5. Ibid., 150.
6. Ibid., 152.
7. Ibid., 167.

NOTE: Here is a read you may be interested in. It is about homosexuality in the Viking Age, but it still has some relatable elements. The source seems credible enough, so I do recommend it if you are interested: Gunnora Hallakarva:
The Vikings and Homosexuality.



Today at Draugar Vinlands, we focused on one of the most important aspects of a close-knit Viking hird; a little something we call Kameradschaft. In order to work and operate as a single unit you have to know and trust the person to either side of you, and through kameradschaft we build trust, friendship and loyalty.
We kindled the Jarlfire, which has now grown green and beautiful since we first set up camp on that forsaken mound of mud and dirt (a good sign from Freyr!) and we shared food, drink, stories and jokes to the delight of all gathered!
Bjørn proudly displayed some new trinkets he picked up from his trip to The market in Bergen (you might have noticed his absence last week?) and also gifted his brother Ragnar a byrnie to protect him through the heat of battle!
The Jarl did some yard work to clear a pesky tree by the fire, Bjørn practiced his archery and we all marveled in the beauty of the natural world.

Next week, we of Draugar Vinlands shall be traveling south to King Richard’s Faire!

Theon the  (un) Smiler

So, I was doing some searches on named animal characters and came across this line:

“The last thing Theon Greyjoy saw was Smiler, kicking free of the burning stables with his mane ablaze, screaming, rearing …”

-Theon VI, aCoK

Yep, the very last thing Theon, the character who has his smile as a defining feature, sees is his horse, Smiler, being killed by Ramsay during the sack of WF. 

Keep reading

Where is the horse? Where the young warrior? Where now the gift-giver?
Where are the feast-seats? Where all the hall-joys?
Alas for the bright cup! Alas byrnied warrior!
Alas the lord’s glory! How this time hastens,
grows dark under night-helm, as it were not!

Stands now behind the dear warband
a wondrous high wall, varied with snake-shapes,
warriors forsaken by might of the ash-spears,
corpse-hungry weapons–famous that fate–
and this stone-cliff storms dash on;
snowstorm, attacking, binds all the ground,
tumult of winter, when the dark one comes,
night-shadow blackens, sends from the north
rough hailstorm in anger toward men.

All is the earth-realm laden with hardship,
fate of creation turns world under heaven.
Here goldhoard passes, here friendship passes,
here mankind passes, here kinsman passes:
all does this earth-frame turn worthless!

So said the one wise in mind, at secret conclaves sat him apart.
Good, he who keeps faith, nor too quickly his grief
from his breast makes known, except he, noble, knows how beforehand to do cure with courage.

—  The Wanderer (translated from the Old English)

Northern mountain ponies.

In the mountains north of Winterfell live the Northern mountain clans, they are a hardy people who, like other northmen, claim descent from the First Men and worship the old gods. There are roughly forty mountain clans, large and small, the most prominent of which are the First Flints, the Wulls, the Norreys, the Burleys, the Harclays, the Liddles, and the Knotts. The most powerful of the clans are the Wulls. Although they do not consider themselves truly highborn, the chiefs of these clans are given the treatment of “lord” by their lieges, the Starks of Winterfell. Given their high latitude and sparse resources, the clans suffer population strain during winter years. The young are sent to the Starks’ winter town, and old men often announce that they are “going hunting.” Some are found the next spring; more are never seen again.
In battle, clan champions fight with huge two-handed greatswords or axes and sometimes armor themselves with mail byrnies. The common men sling stones or wield staffs of mountain ash. Clansmen wear ragged skins and studded leathers; Some disguise themselves with leaves and brush for arboreal fighting. They breed hardy mounts in their high valleys and mountain meadows.


Oberyn Martell meme: (2/3) three outfits → Oberyn’s armour
The Red Viper was lightly armored; greaves, vambraces, gorget, spaulder, steel codpiece. Elsewise Oberyn. was clad in supple leather and flowing silks. Over his byrnie he wore his scales of gleaming copper, but mail and scale together would not give him a quarter the protection of Gregor’s heavy plate.”

haruspicus  asked:

Regarding your response to the Pink Letter post, you think Whoresbane is going to betray the Boltons? Perhaps this is just part of the GNC I never picked up on, but I thought he was with the Boltons so that they'd install him in Last Hearth after Stannis and the loyalist Northerners were defeated.

Hiya! There are a lot of reasons why I think Whoresbane is a secret Stark restorationist. Neither Roose Bolton nor Barbrey Dustin, both excellent people-readers, believe Whoresbane is a genuine Bolton loyalist:

“Even here in Barrowton the crows are circling, waiting to feast upon our flesh. The Cerwyns and the Tallharts are not to be relied on, my fat friend Lord Wyman plots betrayal, and Whoresbane…the Umbers may seem simple, but they are not without a certain low cunning.”

“Dressing her in grey and white serves no good if the girl is left to sob. The Freys may not care, but the northmen…they fear the Dreadfort, but they love the Starks.

“Not you,” said Theon.

“Not me,” the Lady of Barrowton confessed, “but the rest, yes. Old
Whoresbane is only here because the Freys hold the Greatjon captive.”

“…Lord Wyman is not the only man who lost kin at your Red Wedding, Frey. Do you imagine Whoresbane loves you any better? If you did not hold the Greatjon, he would pull out your entrails and make you eat them, as Lady Hornwood ate her fingers.”

Note that they are more right than they know about Wyman “Pies are People” Manderly; why not Whoresbane? (Roose’s ellipsis alone speaks volumes about Whoresbane’s reputation in this arena.) 

As for the man himself…he is reintroduced in Dance sitting beside Ramsay at the Dreadfort, but is unable to hide his disgust at Ramsay’s abuse of Theon, hinting that he’s not truly loyal to the Bastard:

“You would have done better to slit his throat,” said the lord in mail.

“This grows tedious,” said the lord in the mail byrnie. “Kill him and be done with it.”

Remember, this is a dude nicknamed after an act of disembowelment, advocating strongly for a quick death! Moreover, as you can see, GRRM really emphasizes that “he wore a ringmail byrnie, even at table,” like Edwyn Frey and show!Roose at the Red Wedding; is Whoresbane expecting a fight?

Whoresbane is also sitting next to Arnolf Karstark, and the two have much in common: they’re castellans whose younger lords (nephew for Whoresbane, great-nephew for Arnolf) are being held prisoner by the Lannisters. Arnolf, as his great-niece Alys explains to Jon, is trying to get Harrion executed so he can inherit Karhold. Yet Whoresbane never tries to pull the same trick with the Greatjon; as long as his nephew lives, how will Whoresbane become lord of Last Hearth? 

But the true basis for my suspicion that the Umber brothers are working together to bring down the Boltons is a narrative emerging from four quotes, taken together. (Bear with me.) From Whoresbane himself at the harvest feast in A Clash of Kings

“It’s longships we need, aye, and strong men to sail them. The Greatjon took too many. Half our harvest is gone to seed for want of arms to swing the scythes.”

So with winter on the way, starvation is imminent for the people of Last Hearth. Jon and Alys discuss how Northerners handle such a crisis in A Dance with Dragons:

When the snows fall and food grows scarce, their young must travel to the winter town or take service at one castle or the other. The old men gather up what strength remains in them and announce that they are going hunting. Some are found come spring. More are never seen again.

Also in Dance, Big Bucket Wull provides the perspective of those self-sacrificing old men as only he can:

“Winter is almost upon us, boy. And winter is death. I would sooner my men die fighting for the Ned’s little girl than alone and hungry in the snow, weeping tears that freeze upon their cheeks. No one sings songs of men who die like that. As for me, I am old. This will be my last winter. Let me bathe in Bolton blood before I die. I want to feel it spatter across my face when my axe bites deep into a Bolton skull. I want to lick it off my lips and die with the taste of it on my tongue.”

And to tie this all together, from Theon and Stannis in The Winds of Winter:

“As you will. Tell me, Theon, how many men did Mors Umber have with him at Winterfell?”

“None. No men.“ He grinned at his own wit. “He had boys. I saw them.” Aside from a handful of half-crippled serjeants, the warriors that Crowfood had brought down from Last Hearth were hardly old enough to shave. “Their spears and axes were older than the hands that clutched them. It was Whoresbane Umber who had the men, inside the castle. I saw them too. Old men, every one.” Theon tittered. “Mors took the green boys and Hother took the greybeards. All the real men went with the Greatjon and died at the Red Wedding. Is that what you wanted to know, Your Grace?”

That’s the Umber plan, right there. Whoresbane takes the old-timers on a kamikaze mission inside Winterfell, both for a glorious death and to spare Last Hearth the burden of all their mouths to feed. Crowfood, meanwhile, hangs back with the whippersnappers, both to coordinate the conspiracy and preserve the next generation to rebuild the North when spring comes.

Chainmail: done.

Here it is, no to much different from last time, but most importantly: done!

I added the latten rings on, and changed the neck piece, and thats it.

I’m still not too crazy about turning the neck piece into an actual collar… that was quite accidental really, I just made the latten rings go to high… and I ain’t changing it until I feel ready to… cuz’ when I do I’ll have to redo the neck piece again.

you may be able to see where I used older vs newer chainmail in this photo… look about where my armpit is on the left side of the picture, you’ll see how it goes dark-lighter-dark… thats because I put them on as separate sheets, which wore down their finish at different rates… it wouldn’t be that noticeable if I used the correct wire but… meh.

wow… chainmail makes me look really fat… for the record, thats because the chainmail above the belt is hanging on the belt, which is what it should do, gives it more support and makes it feel lighter for the wearer.

Close up of the arm latten. The latten rings are made of brass and are purely decoration. The arms feature a full 3 columns of brass rings, followed by one of steel… I may remake this when/ if I change up the collar, just to make them of the same pattern.

And a close up of the neck latten. This latten is about half steel rings, half brass. This is because I ran out of brass and; being in college, I don’t have access to my ring jig. The reason the rings kind of dip down a little is because I have a reversal in the grain direction beneath them, this is so I can actually make a necklace of latten rings, which I then attach to the suit, which means that they are going the opposite direction around the sides… I should have made the patch of chainmail that goes against the grain curl up a bit at the edges, so that I wouldn’t get this dip in the chainmail… makes it look like a square when I’m wearing it.

Also, here is a closeup comparing the steel to the brass rings while still on the spring. While they are both advertised as 16 gauge, the steel is easily 1/32" larger in diameter then the brass… this may be due to the galvanization process? I don’t quite know…

So thats it! The suit, if I had to hazard a guess has about 1500’ of wire in it, which is about 18000 rings? maybe? The best way to find out is for me to weigh it, then divide that by the weight of a ring… problem is I need a scale that is accurate to milligrams, but can still go over 25 pounds… which is about how much the suit weighs.

Anyway, its been a fun summer project, and I plan on doing more to it over time, such as changing the latten rings, making it into a hauberk, etc. I also plan on making more armor to go with it… I’m not sure what style yet though, I’m thinking late viking, with the lamellar cuirass and such. I plan on doing a nice photoshoot with it later, like in the snow or something while borrowing my friends bastard sword and making some sweet-ass poses. As always, questions/ comments are welcome!


So, here it is in all its glory: the finished chainmail byrnie! has about 15-1600ft of wire in it, so about 20,000 rings in total. weighs about 20ish lbs, and smells kinda off (zinc from the galvanization smells weird)

Me on the deck again, you’ll notice I made the neck hole quite a bit larger, this is mainly because I wanted to have a bit more room to move about it… although really I almost gave it too much room.

Back view shows how the portion below the neck hole area hangs differently… I’m not entirely certain why this is, but my guess is that it has to do with the back contractions.

Here is a close up of the neck… I had to redo this area completely 4 times before I arrived at what you see here, which is simply 3 rows of brass rings layered onto the steel rings (I found that the brass on their own simply bent out of place). You can also see that its a bit wonky near the bottom of the picture, this is because thats where the band of brass rings change grain direction… no way to make it look not weird to my knowledge really, but its alright.

and here is the closeup of the brass on the arm, which is again, 3 layers of brass, but put on in a column this time (since thats the direction of the grain on the sleeves).

and here is the obligatory action pose… thats a machete btw, don’t have an actual sword, so this was the best sword-like-object I had.

so thats pretty much it on the chainmail! I might still make additions to make it into a hauberk, but for now its a functioning byrnie so… yeah. I also may post more dumb poses as they occur to me, but for now, thats it.

I cry about undertale all the women’s meat He keeps hackin’ and whackin’ and smackin’ He keeps hackin’ and whackin’ and smackin’ He keeps hackin’ and whackin’ and smackin’ He keeps hackin’ and

Byrnie Sanders. DOUBLE DUTCH ✌️ DICK TOUCH 😏😍❤️❤️❤️.