christian loring

You can call the spirits that live in the pools and trees God’s grace if you like, old man. But if Jesus were from this land he’d be putting milk out for the fairies himself.
—  Confessions Of A Pagan Nun
2

Jezebel
→Daughter of Ethbaal of Tyre, Wife of King Ahab, Queen of Israel

Jezebel was outspoken when women were quiet, she questioned patriarchy, was loyal to her husband and to her beliefs and she faced certain death with dignity.

I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.

An Informal Guide to the Vampire Chronicles: Part 1

Transcribed from the Appendix in Prince Lestat (edited with more info.)

1. Interview with the Vampire (1976) - In this, the first published memoirs of a vampire with his tribe, Louis de Pointe du Lac tells his life story to a reporter boy he encounters in San Francisco - Daniel Molloy. Born in the eighteenth century in Louisiana, Louis, a rich plantation owner, encounters the mysterious Lestat de Lioncourt, who offers him immortality through the Blood and Louis accepts- beginning a long spiritual search for the meaning of who and what he has become. The child vampire Claudia and the mysterious Armand of the Théâtre des Vampires are central to this story, including the death of Claudia at the hands of the theatre run by Armand- devastating and further plummeting Louis into his own quiet misery.

2. The Vampire Lestat (1985) - Here, Lestat de Lioncourt offers his full autobiography - recounting his in eighteenth century France as a penniless provincial aristocrat, a Parisian stage actor, and finally as a vampire in conflict with other members of the Undead, including the coven of the Children of Satan (or Darkness) being led by the vampire Armand. After a long physical and spiritual journey, Lestat reveals ancients secrets about the vampire tribe that he kept for more than a century, learned by an encounter with the Roman vampire Marius- a keeper of the king and queen of their kind, “Those Who Must Be Kept.” Emerging as a rock star and rock video maker, he eagerly attempts to start a war with humankind that might bring the Undead together and end in vampiric annihilation.

3. The Queen of the Damned (1988) - Though written by Lestat, this story includes multiple points of view from mortals and immortals all over the planet, responding to Lestat’s revealing rock music and videos, which awaken the six thousand year old Queen of the Vampires, Akasha, from her long slumber. As the younger unassociated vampires gather at Lestat’s rock concert to assassinate him, they are set aflame by the Queen Akasha, who steals Lestat away and reveals her plan to recreate the world in her vision, as a Goddess of mortals. But an ancient prophecy concerning twins witches, seeking to take revenge on Akasha for the creation of their kind, is set into motion which sweeps old and new Undead into a Great Gathering to save their kind. This is the first book to deal with the entire tribe of the Undead around the world. This novel contains the first inclusion of the mysterious order of mortal scholars known as the Talamasca, who study the paranormal.

4. The Tale of the Body Thief (1992) - Lestat’s memoir in which he recounts his disastrous encounter with a clever and sinister mortal named Raglan James, a sorcerer experienced in switching bodies - a battle which forces Lestat into closer involvement with his friend, David Talbot, Superior General of the Talamasca, who scholarly members are dedicated to the study of the paranormal. As Lestat realizes the second taste of mortality does not satisfy him, he and David work together to defeat Raglan James and in the process, gain his body back and turn David into one of the many Undead.

5. Memnoch the Devil (1995) - Lestat narrates a personal adventure, this time filled with devastating shocks and mysteries as he confronts a powerful spirit, Memnoch, claiming to be none other than the Devil of Christian lore, the fallen angel himself, who invites Lestat to journey with him to Heaven and Hell, and seeks to enlist Lestat as a helper of the Christian realm. Dragged into his own rendition of the Divine Comedy, he reemerges with a taste of the Christ’s blood and Veronica’s Veil, to which other vampires Mael and Armand surrender themselves to the sun as martyrs to their newfound faith.

6. Pandora (1998) -  Published under the series title “New Tales of the Vampires”, this story is Pandora’s (introduced in TVL & QOTD) autobiographical confession, recounting her life in the ancient Roman Empire during the time of Augustus and Tiberius, including her great and tragic love affair with the vampire Marius and the creating of her two fledglings, the Athenian Flavius and Arjun, an Indian prince of the Chola dynasty. Though it does recount later events, the book is principally focused on Pandora’s first century as a vampire.

7. The Vampire Armand  (1998) - Here, Armand, a profound and enigmatic presence in earlier novels, offers his autobiography to the reader, explaining his long life since the time of the Renaissance when he was kidnapped from the monks in Kiev and trafficked to Venice as a child sex slave, only to be rescued by the ancient and powerful vampire Marius. Yet another kidnapping by the vampire Santino puts Armand in the hands of the cruel and notorious Children of Satan, superstitious vampires who worship the Devil. A story of survival and love, he explains his point of view of meeting Lestat and his fledglings and the comfort founded in his two mortal saviors after his attempted suicide in Memnoch. Though Armand concludes his story in the present time and introduces new characters to the Chronicles, most of the account focuses on his earlier years.

8. Vittorio The Vampire (1999) - One of the “New Tales of the Vampires,” this is the autobiography of Vittorio of Tuscany, who becomes a member of the Undead during the Renaissance who finds a way to survive after the murder of his family by a coven of Undead who hunt him down after making him one of them. This character does not appear anywhere else in the Vampire Chronicles, but he is of the same tribe and does share the same cosmology.

9. Merrick (2000) - Told by David Talbot, this story is centered on Merrick, a Creole woman of colors from an old New Orleans family and a member of the Talamasca, who seeks to become a vampire during the last years before the end of the twentieth century. She uses her powers to put a spell upon both David and Louis, eventually summoning the spirit of the child vampire Claudia for Louis to bring him closure. This is a hybrid novel, involving a glimpse of a few characters from another series of books devoted to the history of the Mayfair witches of New Orleans to whom Merrick is related, but it is principally focuses on Merrick’s involvement with the Undead, including Louis de Pointe du Lac.

10. Blood and Gold (2001) - Another in the series of vampire memoirs, this time written by the ancient Roman Marius (introduced in TVL) who is the caretaker of Armand’s only fledging, the young reporter boy Daniel Molloy from the first novel. He explains much about his two thousand years amongst the Undead and the challenges he faced in protecting the mystery of “Those Who Must Be Kept”, the ancient parents of the tribe, Akasha and Enkil. Marius offers his side of the story of his tumultuous love affairs with Pandora, Armand, the courtesan Bianca Solderini, and his conflicts with other vampires. This novel concludes in the present but is principally focused on the past.

11. Blackwood Farm (2002) - A hybrid novel narrated by Quinn Blackwood recounting his personal history and involvement with the ever present Talamasca, the Undead, and the Mayfair witches of New Orleans, who figure in another book series. It follows the tale of his kidnapping by the cruel hermaphroditic vampire Petronia, his turning, and the haunting spirit of his dead twin brother Goblin. Set in a brief period of time in the early twenty first century.

12. Blood Canticle (2003) - Another hybrid book, narrated by Lestat, recounting his adventures with Quinn Blackwood and with the Mayfair witches. Following the tale of the newly turned Mona Mayfair, the story includes the Mayfair witches enlisting the help of ancient vampires Maharet, Mekare, and Khayman along with Lestat to help their battle against an advanced human species called Taltos. This story focuses on a brief period of time in the twenty first century.

13. Prince Lestat (2014) - The return of Lestat after years of silence. Many voices and points of view reveal the crisis of the worldwide tribe of the Undead. Vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned… Old vampires, roused from slumber in the Earth, are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco. A regathering of the so-called Coven of the Articulate from which the former novels are penned, along with a new set of supernatural beings meet to discover the source of the Voice, the spirit Amel, the very sacred core of the Undead. 

Italian Vernacular Prayer Against the Evil Eye

“Affascine ca vaie pe’ la via

da ________ non ci ire

che è bona nata

battezzata, cresimata 

A nome de Die

e della Santissima Trinitate.”

‘Fascino going along the way,

don’t go to _________

for she is well-born

baptized and christened

in the name of God

and the holy trinity.’

From Witchcraft, Healing, and Vernacular Magic in Italy by Sabina Magliocco

i think that the one thing about christianity that really rubs me the wrong way is the missionary aspects of it. the ideas of only One True God, “salvation”, and “barbarians” associated with christian lore and history really is patronising, condescending, and outright disrespectful and distasteful to followers of other gods and religions.

i think that one thing that really made me fall for paganism was the concept that every religion, religious path, and type of practise of deity worship and devotion can all lead to enlightenment and spiritual fulfilment.

it is simply a more human and moral outlook on life and our fellow humans.

anonymous asked:

I've been wondering lately if there is much discussion in norse myth/lore along the theme of "gluttony" or discussion of cultural views regarding what we may now view as gluttony (particularly related to food)? You seem like the person to ask such a broad question - you have such thorough knowledge it seems.

Sæll (eða sæl), vinur minn,
(Hello, my friend,)

This is a very peculiar topic, but I quite like that. My first impression, after doing some research, reading, and thinking, is that gluttony as we understand it today (which is a fairly Christianized concept) does not quite stand in Norse mythology and lore. There was, however, a fairly similar social expectation for food to be shared with others. A traveller, for example, was to be given lodgings, and that often included a meal, as well; guests are meant to be given food and a host must not withhold, or else he or she is a poor host. Yet, there does not seem to have been a set amount on how much had to be shared. A host could have more food than the entire local community put together, but he or she (because women often controlled the food, which was no small task, mind you) did not have to divide it out and be left with the same amount as the rest. They simply had to share it when the social situation demanded it of them. There is a case in Njal’s Saga where a man refuses to share food during a famine, yet that man was not charged with gluttony by the author (although the thought may have crossed his mind). Instead, he was threatened with rán, an unsociable act of theft that typically resulted in a feud. In theory, the concepts of gluttony and this social expectation have the same function within a society, but the cultural ‘essence’ behind them is a bit different.

To answer this properly, though, we must consider at least two things: our sources and who wrote them. Much of Norse mythology is contained within two books, the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, but bits of mythology are also scattered throughout other sources, such as Ynglinga saga and Volsunga saga. When considering themes such as gluttony in Norse mythology, we must first consider the authors who composed those texts, because we must ask ourselves whether or not they would have been concerned about gluttony to begin with. So, before jumping into the myths themselves, we should consider the cultural views of those who put the myths into writing, and how this society understood such a concept. For simplification, we will only focus on two sources for Norse mythology: the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, since they are the most cohesive sources that we have regarding Norse mythology.

The answer is quite long (perhaps even the longest that I have produced), and I hope that does not bother you. I had originally placed the information under a ‘keep reading’ tab, but it was not working properly for some people, and so I have since removed that. It is a fascinating topic in general, but there is much to be learned about the historical process here as well because I have constructed this answer as a progression of thought rather than just a definitive argument. That said, though, the answer may not be as straightforward as desired.


A DISCUSSION OF GLUTTONY IN NORSE MYTHOLOGY:

DEFINING GLUTTONY

Pinpointing the exact origin of an abstract concept is always a difficult feat to undertake, and so finding an actual ‘origin’ may be an unfavorable place to begin. Yet, our understanding of gluttony as being a negative practice of excessive consumption does not actually seem to be a natural part of Norse mythology itself. Rather, it seems more likely to have been ‘seeded’ into the myths through Christianity. This does not mean that gluttony is completely irrelevant in terms of Norse mythology, though, because much of our material has indeed passed through Christianity’s filter. Thus, to discuss the role of gluttony in Norse mythology, we must first remind ourselves where gluttony as we view it today (as a sin, or as a negative behavioral trait in general) began, but also how this concept would have been understood in their own time.

To get into the medieval mind a bit, I am going to bring up a few biblical verses about gluttony from the Douey-Rheims’ translation of the Latin Vulgate (with the Latin text first, followed by the English translation). Although it is not directly applicable to Norse mythology, it will allow us to better understand the concepts affecting the minds of our medieval authors.

Isaiah 22:12-14

“Et ecce gaudium et laetitia, occidere vitulos et jugulare arietes, comedere carnes, et bibere vinum: comedamus et bibamus, cras enim moriemur. Et revelata est in auribus meis vox Domini exercituum: Si dimittetur iniquitas haec vobis donec moriamini, dicit Dominus Deus exercituum.”

“And behold joy and gladness, killing calves, and slaying rams, eating flesh, and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die. And the voice of the Lord of hosts was revealed in my ears: Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you till you die, saith the Lord God of hosts.”

Zachariah 7: 4-6

“Et factum est verbum Domini exercituum ad me, dicens: Loquere ad omnem populum terrae, et ad sacerdotes, dicens: Cum jejunaretis, et plangeretis in quinto et septimo per hos septuaginta annos, numquid jejunium jejunastis mihi? Et cum comedistis et bibistis, numquid non vobis comedistis et vobismetipsis bibistis?”

“And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: Speak to all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying: When you fasted, and mourned in the fifth and the seventh month for these seventy years: did you keep a fast unto me? And when you did eat and drink, did you not eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?”

Given just these verses about gluttony, and assuming that this was not a similar concept to be found in pre-Christian nordic lore or society, we can deduce that gluttony, if it were to appear in the Nordic myths of the Eddas and sagas, would be excessive consumption with an emphasis on selfishness. If our medieval authors were ecclesiastically trained, or at least familiar with the writing and copying of Latin texts and thus intimately familiar with biblical verse and Christian culture, then this would have been, generally speaking, what gluttony may have ‘looked’ like in their minds.

Now, there are several complications involved with this, but the most important of these is that our authors are often anonymous, meaning that we cannot be sure they would have such intimate familiarity with a biblical definition of gluttony. There are only two sources out of the four mentioned above that have a comfortably known author, and that is Snorri Sturluson and his Prose Edda and Ynglinga saga (contained within his larger work, Heimskringla). Yet, given the tone and treatments of certain subjects, it is possibly to assume, within reason, whether or not an anonymous author had a ‘Christian-oriented’ mind based on their use of language and narration style, or tone. The anonymous author of Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, for example, clearly demonstrates the Christian mind through his treatment of how that saga, and Hrolf’s final battle, came to a close.

Discussing Christian themes in these sources is tricky business, because they are not solely Christian nor are they solely pre-Cristian; they are blends of old and new, and thus separating them becomes rather difficult. Assuming gluttony to be a Christian-only concept, for example, is one such difficulty. Our lack of sources to help confirm a pre-Christian Nordic tradition regarding excessive food consumption or hoarding is another. And yet, assuming that pre-Christian Nordic lore had such a concept at all, and that such a concept held a similar negative context, would also be dangerous, because many of our source have passed through that Christianized filter. Even when looking at sources that perhaps did not pass through that filter, such as a runestone, there is still the filter of our own, contemporary minds to worry about. In fact, equating the Cristian-based understanding of gluttony that western society holds today (which has a long-rooted history) to a possible, similar concept in pre-Christian Nordic lore also brings us insecurities.

Yet, these debates will not be able to get us anywhere at the moment, for they obviously involve a long, winding path to a place we do not intend to walk to. My lack of knowledge in terms of gluttony in the pre-medieval Nordic world, or rather in any place outside of the Christian-medieval mind, could also be holding us back from a more concrete answer. Instead, it may be best to keep these complication in mind and move forward into the texts themselves.


WEAVING OLD AND NEW: SNORRI STURLUSON

A good place to begin such a broad journey is with the most secure source. When I say ‘secure’, though, I mean it in a fairly specific way. In terms of this answer, secure means that we know the author and date of the work in question. Since we know that Snorri Sturluson played a major role in writing down much of Norse mythology and lore, he is a suitable place to begin a discussion about themes of gluttony. Not only does he provide us with a time period to work off of, but also a voice.

Snorri Sturluson, born at Hvamm (in western Iceland) in 1179, was a historian, poet, and politician. Although he was a very secular man, caught up in matters far removed from traditional ecclesiastical concerns, Snorri was a learned and Christian author. Yet, he was not a cleric, unlike many other Icelandic writers during this time. (1.) Still, considering his Prologue, one could hardly argue that Snorri was completely detached from Christian learning. He wrote in the thirteenth century, which was a time of great political, economic, and social change for Iceland. The Church, for example, had gained more power and authority in Iceland (it was a native Church, but eventually becomes very much Norwegian, which, in turn, was more continental). While this happened, the Church “attacked the traditional power of secular chieftains,” which Snorri himself was. (2.)

While all of this turmoil unfolded, Snorri seemed concerned about his traditional succumbing to new order. As early as the twelfth century, at least, Latin stories, such a saints’ lives and chivalric romances, were being translated in Iceland. (3.) It is likely that Snorri saw this as superseding the tradition of the skalds, which could have been one motivation for writing his Prose Edda; he wanted to encourage his contemporaries to compose traditional poetry with traditional (and new) material and thus keep the art form alive and well. In such a sense, his Prose Edda truly does become a blend of cultures, which explains his purpose for aligning Norse mythology and lore to the newly encompassing Christian realm. In form, at least, the Prose Edda owes much to the influx of Latin works, particularly of Latin learned treaties. (4.)

In the end, although Snorri was passionate about his traditions, he was still a Christian, which means that Christian elements could have made their way into the retelling. Even though he was no ecclesiastically trained, he had to have been taught by someone who was (and if not he, the one before him). Even so, he lived in a Christian world, not a pagan one. His purpose was not to revive heathenry, but to revive the traditions within a Christian framework. He did not do this in a religious sense, though; his work is fairly detached and impartial. Even in the Skáldskaparmál, for example, he warns his readers against actually believing in the material. (5.) Thus, it is quite likely, then, that Christian themes like gluttony could have made their way into certain stories, whether consciously or subconsciously. Having this temporal context in mind, as well as Snorri’s personal ‘voice’, we might be able to unravel the question of gluttony a bit more easily.


SOCIALIZING WITH GLUTTONY IN THE PROSE EDDA

The Prose Edda, despite its many flaws, is “the only comprehensive account of Norse mythology from the Middle Ages.” (6.) Yet, even if Snorri’s work was not particularly influential in his own time, it is definitely foundational to our understanding of Norse mythology today. In considering the theme of gluttony, though, there are several portions of lore that concern food and consumption in particular, especially in Valhalla and at feasts. The problem we will begin to run into is that food is often being referred to in a magical and ideal sense; when food is mentioned, it is among gods, not men. In the realm of the heavens there is no shortage of food and thus no shame in abundance, for all have an endless supply. This is suggested by the nature of food in Valhalla:

“…there will never be such a large number in Val-hall that the meat of the boar Sæhrimnir will not be sufficient for them. It is cooked each day and whole again by evening.” (7.)

In the Norse world, there seemed to have been a slightly different importance placed on food than there is in Christendom. For example, as the Hávamál will later attest to, there is a social expectation for the wealthy to hold great feasts for their guests, although these guests are often of high class themselves. Although this next portion of the lore does not say that a gluttonous man is to be shamed, it does suggest that a non-providing host would be shamed in a similar fashion:

“This is a strange question you are asking, whether All-father would invite kings and earls and other men of rank to his house and would give them water to drink, and I swear by my faith that there comes many a one to Val-hall who would think he had paid a high price for his drink or water if there were no better cheer to be got there, when he had previously endured wounds and agony leading to his death. There is a goat called Heidrun standing on top of Val-hall feeding on the foliage from the branches of that tree whose name is well known, it is called Lerad, and from the goat’s udder flows mead with which it fills a vat each day. This is so big that all the Einherjar can drink their fill from it.” (8.)

Although ending once more on a magical and idealistic source, such a passage begins with a strong tradition in providing food for guests of rank. Not only that, though, but it is expected that the host provide more than mere water. This, of course, is skewed to upper strata thinking, but still indicates an significance being imposed upon the nature of food. In terms of excess, though, there does not seem to be any negativity surrounding it, although there is an expectation that it should be shared with your guests. This is a bit different from gluttony, though, and so I would not be quick to consider them to be the same concept. The punishment for not sharing in excess is not considered to be sinful, but rather it is considered unsociable; a host does necessarily not need to provide for the needy, but for his guests.

This guest-host custom is actually a bit more complicated than that, though. It is not solely fixated on food, nor is it only a practice among the wealthy. In sticking to mythological material only, there is an instance in which Thor and Loki are guests in a peasant’s home:

“In the evening they arrived at a peasant’s house and were given a night’s lodging there. During the evening Thor took his goats and slaughtered them both. After this they were skinned and put in a pot. When it was cooked Thor sat down to his evening meal, he and his companion. Thor invited the peasant and his wife and their children to share the meal with him.” (9.)

This bit of lore actually brings even more complexity into the question concerning gluttony. For one thing, Thor is able to bring an unlimited food source to their table, because his goats can be sacrificed and brought back to life if treated properly. Yet, Snorri has also been very removed from these stories and thus does not offer much elaboration on their meanings. Thor shares the meal with the peasants, which could suggest that it was expected that one should share their food. If gluttony is selfishly hoarding and consuming food, then this social expectation to share food with others could suggest the possibility of a more social-based gluttony, rather than the moral and religious based understanding of gluttony that we have procured from Christianity.

Things begin to change once we consider the stories told in the Skáldskaparmál, though, which is not terribly surprising considering that there is speculation that Snorri wrote this portion of his Prose Edda before the Gylfaginning, meaning that it could easily contain a slightly different intent. It also has a different purpose than the Gylfaginning, because it aims to instruct a contemporary audience on applying mythology to contemporary skaldic practice, whereas the Gylfaginning was much more like a contextual background for the Skáldskaparmál. Literary debates aside, there is a more ‘active’ take on food customs from the very beginning of the Skáldskaparmál, when Loki is enraged that a giant eagle was being rather gluttonous:

“…it let itself from from the tree and sat on the oven and to begin with immediately put away the ox’s two hams and both shoulders. Then Loki got angry and snatched up a great pole and swung it with all his strength and drove it at the eagle’s body.” (10.)

I used the word ‘gluttonous’ a bit carelessly, but it is clear that Loki is upset (and rightfully so) because the eagle was selfish about his portion of the meal, which was meant to be shared. Of course, this tale may have a different intention overall, but this is still an evident moment where the selfish indulgence of food causes strife. Yet, it is still within the frameworks of an unsociable act, rather than a sinful act that would result in some spiritual damnation. We could debate this, though. If a person is a bad host, are they not punished by some divine force? In Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, Odin, disguised as a traveler named Hrani, puts King Hrolf’s behavior as a guest to the test. King Hrolf fails to accept Hrani’s gifts with appreciation, resulting in Odin denying him victory in a battle yet to come. Thus, a divine force could punish a person for not adhering to a social custom. This, however, did not involve food, which is a key difference between the Norse guest-host custom and gluttony; it does not have to be about food.

Taking a step back, though, there was never a heavy distinction placed between religion and society in the pre-Christian Nordic world; they were very much connected and inseparable. Even from a scientific viewpoint, religion and morality have a social function; they are ‘created’ to ensure that a group can work together more easily. The difference we have begun to observe, then, comes down to where the theme of gluttony is applied; is gluttony a spiritual failure or is gluttony an unsociable act? Although the Norse custom of guest-host behavior could involve food, and when it does it seems similar to the Christian notion of gluttony that we hold today, one could argue that the Norse had different connotations associated with it. Still, in the end, a sinful gluttony and an unsociable gluttony have the same role in a society, which is to ensure that food is shared when others are in need. I strongly advice against equating the two, though. The Nordic notion of guest-host behavior was not exactly the same as the Christian theme of gluttony, especially because that custom was not founded in food alone.

Having discussed these intricacies, we should be able to read our next example a bit more cautiously. In the Skáldskaparmál, Odin boasts about his horse, Sleipnir, to a giant named Hrungnir. In a “giant fury”, he chased Odin all the way into Valhalla, even getting past the gates! Since he had arrived, the Æsir treat him as a proper guest, for that is the guest-host custom that must be kept, even between gods and giant. Nonetheless, here is how Hrungnir behaves:

“…when he got to the hall doors, Æsir invited him in for a drink. He went into the hall and demanded that he should be given a drink. Then the goblets that Thor normally drank out of were brought out, and Hrungnir drained each one. And when he became drunk there was not lack of big words: he said he was going to remove Val-hall and take it to Giantland, but bury Asgard and kill all the gods, except that he was going to take Freyja and Sif home with him, and Freyja was the only one then who dared to bring him drink, and he declared he was going to drink all the Æsir’s ale.” (11.)

After this, the Æsir have Thor come into the hall with his hammer. They are unable to fight right away, though, because they must work around the social norms and customs that regulate guest treatment and host responsibilities. Eventually they do fight, and the Æsir are ‘avenged’. When we consider Hrungnir’s actions, he did two things that led to his ‘downfall’: he consumed more than was respectful and he cast various threats to those acting as his hosts. As a result, food is not the only issue here, although it clearly is a part of the problem. He was gluttonous in nature, but it was this in combination with poor guest habits that truly caused the violation.

Overall, these various examples from the lore preserved within the Prose Edda paint a complicated picture of ‘gluttony’ in Norse mythology. If gluttony is “excessive consumption with an emphasis on selfishness,” then there are indeed elements that do resemble gluttony. The giant eagle was selfish in his portion of food, which resulted in Loki being angered and attacking him. The giant eagle’s behavior was clearly a selfishness derived from excessive consumption, but more importantly of the best cuts of meat. Hrungnir was completely selfish in his consumption of the Æsir’s ale, which also encouraged anger among his hosts. Yet, this was also packaged with various, unsociable insults. Thus, there was a concept of gluttony in the Norse traditions of the Prose Edda, but this concept was not the gluttony that we know today. It may appear in a similar form, but it is intermingled with various other unique social norms and practices; food was never the only factor.


FOOD AND THE GUEST-HOST NORM IN HÁVAMÁL

Now that we have looked deeply into this theme as it appears in the Prose Edda, we will turn to the Poetic Edda to better define what we have observed. Although the Poetic Edda consists of a great variety of poetry, this discussion will mostly be centered around the Hávamál. Not only will that poem serve to help us better understand this guest-host norm, but it also has a bit more to say about excessive consumption in regards to both food and drink. Of course, this perspective will complicate things, because it would be wise to remind ourselves of the caution that should be taken. The poems in the Poetic Edda are considered older material, but they were still written and compiled much later, in the 1270s, by far-removed hands; they are not free from possible alterations.

Most scholars agree that the mythological material contained in these poems is largely unaltered, but the social backing may have not gotten off as easily. Mythology, and the beliefs involved therein, were never standard nor stagnant; practice and belief varied on the basis of both region and time. As far as we know, “the localized nature of cults and rituals produced neither dogma nor sacred texts.” (12.) Thus, the contents of the Hávamál, for example, which has much to say about the doings of guests and hosts, may have been speaking more to a thirteenth-century audience using older, mythological motifs. We do not know the author who compiled these poems, nor do we actually know when and where these poems actually originated for certain. Such a claim (concerning a thirteenth-century influence) would require a lengthy discussion, though. The point I wish to make is that this material could be a blend of old and new, and that it would be unwise to assume otherwise. Although many of these norms have roots in a more distant past, they have not gone through time unchanged.

With that having been said, we shall turn our attention to this guest-host norm. The very beginning of Hávamál concerns the expectations of a proper host. When considering food, the host is expected to share; it would be viewed negatively if the host were to selfishly withhold food from a guest in need. Yet, even though this is fairly similar to gluttony, it still alludes us; it cannot fit nicely into our box. Nonetheless, here are the stanzas:

“ ‘Blessed by the givers!’ A guest has come in,
where is he going to sit?
He’s in great hast, the one who by the log-stack
is going to try his luck.

“Fire is needed for someone who’s come in
and who’s chilled to the knee;
food and clothing are necessary for the man
who’s journeyed over the mountains.

“Water is needful for someone who comes to meal,
a towel and a warm welcome,
a friendly disposition, if he could get it,
speech and silence in return.” (13.)

A guest ought to be brought in, warmed up with fire, given towels and clothes, provided with water and a meal, and given a friendly welcome and stay. When considering the theme of gluttony in the Prose Edda, these were the many of the other expectations that were intermixed with the importance of sharing in food. The Æsir had to be proper hosts for Hrungnir, after all, despite his poor behavior. Considering this list, though, food actually plays a far less significant role in this custom; gluttony, on the other hand, is solely fixated on food. The theme of food is present within this guest-host norm, but it is not central.

So what made Hrungnir a poor guest in terms of consumption? We know that he was insulting and unkind to his gracious hosts, but there was still the concern of his excessive consumption. His consumption habits also had far more to do with alcohol than with food. The Hávamál has much to say about consuming too much alcohol:

“No better burden a man bears on the road
than a store of common sense;
no worse journey-provision could he carry over the plain
than over-much drinking of ale.”

“It isn’t as good as it’s said to be,
ale, for the sons of men;
for the more a man drinks, the less he knows
about his own mind.”

“The forgetfulness-heron it’s called
who hovers over ale-drinking;
he steal’s a man’s mind;
with the bird’s feathers I was fettered
in the court of Gunnlod.”

“Drunk I was, I was more than drunk
at wise Fialar’s;
that’s the best about ale-drinking that afterwards
every man gets his mind back again.” (14.)

It is important to mention that these stanzas do not morally condemn those who drink too excessively. Rather, these lines carry the tone of guidance for a wise man to avoid being a foolish one; the emphasis is always on the mind. It is about what is ‘logical’ behavior and what will bring a man greater struggle and hardship. This is quite different from the Christianized theme of gluttony that western society holds today, which is generally rooted in morality and religious failure. Yet, this does not mean that a Christian author (or reader) would not have drawn a parallel between these stanzas and the theme of gluttony.

There is something to be said about food in particular as well, which is rather peculiar since drinking is often the focus, not food; there is much less concern about food, for there are many more stanzas about excessive drinking than there are about the excessive consumption of food. The Hávamál, however, does have something to say about food, although nothing very concrete. Here are the examples:

“The greedy man, unless he guards against this tendency,
will eat himself into lifelong trouble;
often when he comes among the wise,
the foolish man’s stomach is laughed at.”

“Cattle know when they ought to go home,
and then they leave the pasture;
but the foolish man never figures
the measure of his own stomach.” (15.)

These are, perhaps, the most convincing bits of ‘lore’ regarding actual gluttony in Norse mythology (at least out of those examined in this response). Here, Odin (although not actually Odin, but a poet using his ‘image’ to make a point) explicitly says that a man who consumes food to an excessive degree is “greedy.” Furthermore, there is a much more Christian-like tone to the words following that, saying that the man is greedy “unless he guards against this tendency.” That is, the tendency to eat too much. To say that this tendency is gluttony, though, is difficult. Is the poet condemning gluttony specifically here, or is the criticism still fixated on this man’s mind? Although the term ‘greedy’ alludes much more strongly to gluttony, the poem reverts back to ‘unwise’ and ‘foolish’. It is as if the poem briefly scraps the surface of gluttony, but then recedes back into the motif of Odin and his wisdom — from morality to sensibility. More context would be needed to make a definite conclusion (or another long discussion focusing on this specifically).


BRINGING EVERYTHING TOGETHER

Having looked at the Hávamál, then, we are forced to take a step back and bring all of this information together, especially since a lot of material and intricacies have been discussed. Overall, the traces of ‘gluttony’ in Norse mythology have a much stronger basis in social practices than Christian gluttony, which seems to be far more individualistic and self-reflective. In the examples above, themes of gluttony, or gluttony-like scenarios, are interwoven with social norms that relate to food consumption within society. The giant eagle’s ‘gluttony’ was more about an unfair and unbalanced deal; he was to be given a portion, but not to selfishly take whatever he pleased. Hrungnir was ‘gluttonous’ (although mostly in terms of drink), but it was truly his poor behavior after his excessive consumption that led to strife. In all of these tales from the lore, food was never quite the only problem.

In the end, it seems that Norse mythology does not contain the same notion of gluttony that we do today. Some of our medieval authors may have noticed some opportunities to insert the concept into the myths, but they have done surprisingly well at avoiding this. Snorri Sturluson, for example, did his best to remain neutral about the material he was presenting (with the exception, perhaps, being the Prologue). He also had a very specific purpose behind his work. Although we cannot say the same about the Poetic Edda, having an anonymous author and an unclear date of origin (for the poems themselves), that work still shows a similar theme of gluttony that is entangled within social practices and behavior.

To conclude, Norse mythology has a similar theme, but it is skillfully blended with related social norms; we cannot extract a wholly gluttonous scenario or tale. There are a few reasons for this, but it is most important to note that, when approaching material with a ‘non-native’ concept, we must take care not to impose this concept onto the material. The same applies for forcefully removing ‘foreign’ concepts from something that time has permitted to enter it. It is surprising to see that Christian authors like Snorri Sturluson had not imposed this view onto the material when committing it to pen, but less so when considering his motivation behind doing so. In perhaps an unsatisfying response, gluttony is not present within Norse mythology, at least not to the form that it exists within our minds today. Elements of gluttony, though, are present, but they are combined with rather specific social norms. To truly understand the mythology that has been presented to us, and the various concepts that dwell within it, we must carefully consider who wrote them and when they were written. Then, we must be carefully not to alter the lore to serve our own bias or tendencies (at least when speaking in terms of historical practice).

Thank you kindly for asking. I do apologize for the long-winded response, but there are many intricacies and complexities to address. Still, I hope you find something beneficial from reading this response, although it may not be exactly the answer you were looking for.

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


FOOTNOTES:
1. Snorri Sturluson, Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes. (repr., 1987; London: J.M. Dent, 1995), xii. [Free online version
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., xiii.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid., xvii. “…take this book as scholarly inquiry and entertainment. But these stories are not to be consigned to oblivion or demonstrated to be false, so as to disprove poetry of ancient kennings which major poets have been happy to use. Yet Christian people must not believe in heathen gods, nor in the truth of this account in any other way than that in which it is presented at the beginning of this book, where it is told what happened when mankind went astray from the true faith…” (64-65).
6. Ibid., xviii.
7. Ibid., 32.
8. Ibid., 33.
9. Ibid., 37-38.
10. Ibid., 59-60.
11. Ibid., 77.
12. Carolyne Larrington trans., The Poetic Edda. (repr., 1996; Oxfrod: Oxford University Press, 2014), xii.
13. Ibid., 13. (Stanzas 2-4).
14. Ibid., 14-15. (Stanzas 11-14).
15. Ibid., 15. (Stanzas 20 and 21).


DISCLAIMER

2

Lilith
→ chaos, seduction and ungodliness
First mentioned in Babylonian demonology, Lilith is a winged demon that preys on pregnant women and infants. She is later mentioned in the Gilgamesh legend, the Bible and the Talmud. 7 C.E she is called Adam’s first wife for the first time in the Alphabet of Ben Sira. It is said she left the garden Eden because she wouldn’t tolerate being treated as an inferior to Adam.
She is seen as the opposite to the culture of men and lives in shadows and bareness. Some legends even call her a succubus. The owl as an animal represents her.

anonymous asked:

I'm trying to be cool, but S12 has just been amazing with all the destiel development and when I think of the fact that Asmodeus is now a character that we're likely to see in the show I keep pissing myself with excitement. "Asmodeus is the demon of lust and is therefore responsible for twisting people's sexual desires"--wikipedia. Like I've seen fic writers use this demon specifically to great success in destiel fics. I can't help but wonder if his plot might relate to destiel on screen

Sorry I didn’t answer this last night, I wanted to give it my full, unintoxicated attention. 

I did have this thought! The princes of hell seem to draw their names from all over. Dagon is a Philistine god in the Bible then later featured in the works of HP Lovecraft (another season 6 call out). Ramiel and Azazel were both fallen angels in the Bible. Ramiel and Asmodeus both show up in Dungeons and Dragons.

But yeah, Asmodeus is a demon of lust. He’s one of the actual seven Princes of Hell in Christian lore, sometimes the king. I’d really like to see him show up and fuck shit up for everyone in the gayest way possible. 

heeeey

more books! help me clean out my bookshelves. I super just need to get rid of these, so help out if you want them!

hamilton, shakespeare, LOTS of theology/religion stuff, sexy kings and queens, LGBT history, a fancy Les Mis en francais

some of my favorites that i super recommend, but just don’t have use/space for them anymore. if you used to read a lot of my millennial gospel/theology pieces years ago - these are the books that taught me what I know now!

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

baby witch here. i was hoping you answer me what deities are followed in traditional witchcraft ?? i can't seem to find a definite answer. thank you

Hi Anon,

From what I know of traditional witchcraft is that the main deity/spirit goes by many names such as The Witchfather, the man in black or the devil. He is considered to be separate from the christian devil and his lore is said to hark back to older pagan horned gods. I do not know for sure, I don’t consider myself to be a traditional witch, although I like some of the practices. The one time I worked with the witchfather I did not feel wholly comfortable with the experience, and found it difficult to separate him from the christian concept of the devil. Not my cup of tea. 

Also I think you won’t find a definite answer as such because people practice differently. The craft is a very personal path.

There has been little mention of a Goddess in TW, but I have noticed a lot of practitioners on tumblr work with The Queen of Elphame alongside The Witchfather. I’m really not the best person to ask about this. Can I point you instead to the very knowledgeable @ioqayin @spiritscraft and @visardistofelphame these guys will be able to answer such a question :) 

The Difference Between Wicca and Satanism

Wiccans and Satanists – much to the consternation of each – are often confused for one another. There are a number of reasons for this – self-definition as witches, a belief in magic and the use of an encircled, the pentagram as a holy symbol, to name a few – but, fundamentally speaking, the two couldn’t be farther apart. What the confusion ultimately boils down to is a basic misunderstanding of three very different belief systems: Wicca, theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. There has been an enormous amount of confusion and disagreement about the beliefs and practices of both Wicca and Satanism, but hopefully this will help clear some things up.

Lets start with Wicca:
Wicca is a nature-based religion that believes in multiple deities. Most Wiccans worship both a God and a Goddess. There are different aspects of the God and the Goddess as well, so many pantheons are worshiped in Wicca. Wiccans work to bring back the ancient pagan religions, mostly of European origin. There are hundreds of Traditions of Wicca, such as Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Italian, Norse, Welsh, and Dianic. Wiccans either work in groups (called covens) or they work alone (solitary). This is all dependent on the witch.

Often confused with Satanists, followers of Wicca do not believe in the devil. The concepts of the devil and hell are part of Christian theology and have never existed in the Wiccan religion. Satan is a Christian construct, and Wiccans don’t worship him. Even the Satanists don’t actually worship Satan, but that’s a whole other conversation. We do not have a Satan or Devil in our faith. Wicca is a religion that underscores polarity and views the Goddess and God as equals. So Wiccan witches have nothing to do with Satan; But that doesn’t mean that other Witches don’t. Witchcraft is not a religion, so there could be people who practice witchcraft and say it is a satanic practice, while other people don’t view it as satanic at all.Wicca is a modern pagan, witchcraft religion. It draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practice.

Wicca is a diverse religion with no central authority or figure defining it. It is divided into various lineages and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organisational structure and level of centralization. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Wicca is typically duo-theistic, worshiping a god and goddess traditionally viewed as a mother goddess and horned god (not Satan). However, beliefs range from hard polytheism to even monotheism. 

Lets talk about Satanism:

Satanism is a broad term that represents diverse beliefs. The main archetype of Satanism is Satan, the fallen angel turned demon king of Christian lore. As such, Satanism is a Christian concept, and Christianity is diametrically opposed to it. Satanists generally regard Satan as a pre-Christian symbol, representing pleasure, virility, and strength. He is not viewed as a living entity. Satanists the world over have been widely condemned throughout history by mainly Christian groups. Many famous incidents of cruelty, torture, and serial and mass murder have been attributed to Satanist practices or values.Satanism consists of one main faith group – The Church of Satan – and many smaller religious groups.

Studies of Satanism by specialists in new religious movements and from discussions with individual Satanists that the vast majority of Satanists do not recognize Satan as a deity. They are, in fact, Agnostics, Apatheists, or Atheists.

Agnostics believe that one cannot prove either the existence or the non-existence of a god or gods.

Apatheists regard the existence of god(s) or supreme being as a relatively meaningless and irrelevant question. Even if a proof for a god or gods existed – or for that matter, a proof that no god existed, – they wouldn’t really care.

Some Atheists simply have no belief in any deity; others actively assert that there is no deity.

Theistic Satanism:

While their individual beliefs are just as diverse as those of Wiccans, virtually all theistic Satanists – also sometimes known as Luciferians or Setians – worship or venerate Satan in some form or another. They are probably closest to what most people think of when they hear the term Satanist, however the vast majority of theistic Satanists do not see Satan as a destructive figure of absolute evil, neither do they typically practice an inverted form of Christianity. Rather, they view the God of the Abrahamic faiths as a vengeful deity, who seeks to enslave or oppress humanity. Satan, in their view, is God’s rightful adversary and an embodiment of free thought and humanity’s creative potential. 

The theistic Satanist’s moral code is based on individual self-interest and personal development. They are quick to point out that they neither perform nor condone human sacrifice or other forms of ritual abuse and argue that disturbed individuals who do such things – some of whom might self-identify as Satanists – are part of a criminal fringe and in no way representative of Satanists in general.

The Wiccan Pentacle:

In Wicca, the pentacle or pentagram represents the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. A circle is often shown around the pentacle itself. In ancient earth-based religions, circles are representative of the feminine, the goddess and the interconnection of all things. The circle encompassing the pentacle is meant to show the unity of all life. As such, it is a powerful symbol used in the casting of spells. An upright pentacle represents the spirit world’s dominance over the material world, whereas the inverted pentagram would symbolize the opposite.

The Satanists Pentagram:

The pentacle of Satanism is an inverted pentagram, meant to represent the head of a goat (Satan is often portrayed in mythical drawings as a man with a goat’s head.) The two upward-facing points are meant to resemble the horns of a goat, the sideways-facing points are ears, while the downward-facing point is the muzzle. Some schools of Satanism use the three downward-facing points to represent the rejection of the Holy Trinity of Christianity – the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The pentagram is used in Satanic ritual to draw upon the powers it represents.

Sirin and Alkonost. Birds of joy and sorrow by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1896

Alkonost and Sirin are creatures from Slavic folklore. Alongside with Gamayun, another bird-maiden, they play a significant role in Russian mythos. Their main duty is to ward the Tree of Life. They’re commonly believed to be a fusion of Greek legends, Pagan Slavic folk tales and Christian lore.

Sirin was initially based on Greek sirens, with possible addition of traits characteristic of Slavic water spirits, in particular that of wila. However, she later assumed more positive features, becoming a symbol of harmony, joy and beauty. Sirin descends into world of mortals, singing of incoming happiness. Even in later legends her voice is enticing to the point of being dangerous to humans and Siren can be associated with treachery, insanity and temptation. As bird-maiden is sensitive to loud noises, people would save themselves from her hypnotic song by ringing bells and shooting cannons.

Alkonost is possibly named after Alcyone, a Greek demigoddess transformed into a kingfisher. Her voice possess the same bewitching capacity as that of her sister. Alkonost is typically associated with Hors, the god of sun. Sometimes called the bird of dawn, she brings winds and lightnings on her wings. It is believed that on Koliada (a holiday in the middle of winter) Alkonost lays eggs on the seashore. For seven days after that sets good weather.

smarmyanarchist  asked:

Er, alright. What are the general things I should know about Heathenry and the Aesir? I also don't really understand the differences between Aesir, jotun, vanir, etc so if you could tell me about that it'd be really helpful!!

Alright, so the classification of Aesir is pretty loosey-goosey to an extent. For one, who counts as a member of the Aesir changes over mythic time. For instance, Njord and other members of the Vanir can be considered to be Aesir as well as Vanir. In addition, one can have jotun parentage and still be a member of the Aesir. (See Thor, Heimdallr, Tyr, and Loki) So “Aesir” in particular doesn’t denote anything inherent to an entity. I tend to see it more as a descriptive term or as a professional identification to be quite honest. They’re described as or possess the profession of being Aesir, or gods, but it doesn’t speak of anything inherently unique about them other than this. So the Aesir are who were typically worshiped or had cults and were prayed to - they were the beings who had the jobs of being gods. This doesn’t mean only they had godlike magical powers but they were the ones officially with the job of receiving cultish worship. (Note: That we have evidence of. There’s slim evidence of jotun worship aside form Loki and Skadi but it’s very very slim.) 

Now, in Icelandic aka Eddic lore, the Aesir are generally described as a family and all the gods are related somehow. However, their relationships to each other are not necessarily clear. For instance, Heimdall’s father is unknown. So he has no known direct familial relation to the rest of the Aesir. Many of the non-Vanir Aesir however are descended from Odin: Thor, Tyr, and Baldr are his sons. Freyja is his wife and although nothing is known of her parentage, she’s still married to Odin and therefore part of the family. With this said, “Aesir” could also be envisioned as denoting a family group. But this only applies to Icelandic lore as far as we know; other countries had differing conceptions of the gods and Odin wasn’t the Allfather in them all. Not to mention, the Vanir are technically hostages so not exactly part of the family yet still referred to as members of the Aesir. So again, I stick more to envisioning it as a “professional” title. Profession: god. 

The Aesir as a group tend to embody humanity and civilization. As such, they tend to rule over things that are of importance to humanity and civilizations such as poetry, war, farming, justice, laws, and naval travel. Even the bits of nature that the Aesir-identified entities rule over are pretty civilization based: fertility, farming, sunshine, and rain. Thor is an outlier having his affiliation with thunderstorms as they’re a powerful and deadly natural phenomena. These things are normally reserved for the jotnar. See for instance, Njord is associated with the side of the ocean that benefits society (fishing, whaling, naval travel) whereas the jotnar Aegir and Ran rule over the ocean itself. Thor does have jotun parentage through his mother Jord (and technically also through Odin) but having jotun parentage doesn’t automatically pass on jotun traits really. For instance, Thor can’t shapeshift like the jotnar can. Tyr possess no nature powers and neither does Heimdallr as far as is known. He has heightened senses but those aren’t necessarily a jotun thing. So there’s some further distinction from between Aesir and jotnar: both possess mighty powers but only the Aesir are considered gods and worshiped. In addition, the Aesir tend to lack certain gifts that are common in the jotnar despite being direct descendants from them. 

The Vanir is a category much like the Aesir in that it’s somewhat of a familial denotation but it also has more of a “professional identity” side too. The Vanir we know about are all family members but considering there was an Aesir-Vanir war and there’s allusions to the land of Vanaheim, there are likely more Vanir than are known about so they aren’t necessarily all family. Like the Aesir, the Vanir are gods insofar as the possess powers and received cultic worship. Their rule tends to be over wealth and fertility especially over wealth gained from nature i.e. farming and whaling. They’re kind of like an intermediate between the total civilizational aspect of the Aesir and the total nature aspect of the jotnar. In practice and in god politics, they tend to serve this role of intermediate as well in my experience. Like the Aesir, they lack most of the powers of the jotnar. Freyja however can shapeshift but only into a falcon and only through the use of a feather-cloak unlike jotnar who generally can shift without use of tools.

The jotnar are the first beings and at least the Aesir all descend from them in some way. The jotnar represent nature and nature’s seemingly chaotic forces. They are wild forests teeming with beasts and they are natural disasters and they are nature’s reclamation of civilized areas. In addition, the trollish ones represent the fears and threats of society like outlaws and ethnic others. The jotnar in short then, represent all the forces acting against the current organized society which is the Aesir. Their ability to control natural forces, rule over natural habitats, rule over foreign lands, and ability to shapeshift with ease all reflect this. The jotnar were not gods; the had godly powers but they weren’t beings people wanted to worship and ask for help from. They likely received occasional appeasement offerings but formal worship? The evidence for that is still very slim. Because of their destructive nature, the jotnar were framed as adversaries of the gods and society. However, how great the enmity between the two sides was is hard to say due to Christian tampering. However, the lore constantly has tales of jotnar and other supernatural creatures being exploited by the Aesir in various ways. So the dichotomy to me reads of oppression and exploitation by society of nature and those deemed “lesser” leading to righteous indignation on the behalf of the jotnar being exploited which finally culminates in Ragnarok. I’ve written more extensively on this here.

Um, this is getting really long and I’m not sure what specifically might be useful to you in regards to the other question so I’m just gonna leave this like so and hope this rambling makes sense.

Some places to read on this:

  • Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend by John McKinnell
  • “Wilderness, Liminality, and the Other in Old Norse Myth and Cosmology” Jens Peter Schjødt
  • “Supernatural Others and Ethnic Others: A Millenium of World View” by John Lindow
  • “The Giant Who Wanted to Be a Dwarf: The Transgression of Mythic Norms in Þorr’s Fight With Geirrödr” by Kevin J. Wanner
  • Giants in Folklore and Mythology: A New Approach by Lotte Motz

Sambucus Nigra, or Elder

Most of you’ll know that you can make some really nice juice out of its flowers, but what more can be learned from this tree?

- In folklore, the elder is best known as a fairy tree, and it was connected to heathen gods and spirits. Frau Holle, from German folklore, is its most notable inhabitant. Note: the German word for ‘elder’ is ‘Holunder’.

- Elder isn’t only a fairies’ tree, but also protects against evil. Because it is such a powerful tree, one can not cut it, except under certain circumstances and while showing your utmost respect. Also: never burn elder wood, because the sprits that inhabit it will haunt you.

- Much heathen folklore has a bad rep in christian lore, and this maybe why it was an elder tree that Judas chose to hang himself from. Also, many say that the cross on which Christ was sacrificed, was made of elder wood. In my opinion this shows how powerful this tree still was.

- It’s probably because of the above, that a cross of elder wood was often hung in home and stable for protection.

- The English call the elder the ‘pipe-tree’ since its soft branches are perfect for making flutes. It’s use is very old - Pliny the Elder (yes, really) already mentions that the wood of the elder is best fit for making whistles and horns.

The above is all general folklore - I don’t have particular sources, but you can find them out for yourself if you google around a bit.

For me, it took me a while to appreciate this tree. It was only when I started to really look around, that I noted that the elder is everywhere, where I live. I’ve really made a connection with it, and through it with Holda. It’s such an elegant tree, with it’s white, sweet flowers and delicate, dark berries. And despite its look, there’s this connection to the under- and otherworld that I really appreciate.