Amber: The Blood of Ancient Trees

14 Aug

Amber is tree resin fossilized over the course of thousands of years produced by ancient forests around the Baltic region so many years ago. It features prominently in myth as well as practical use throughout history.

Today, amber is valued for its beauty as jewelry and often thought of as a gemstone but is of course not a stone (many are astounded by its relative light weight compared to actual gemstones.)
Its current uses include as a teething necklace for babies. No, the babies do not bite the amber but some mysterious healing property of the amber appears to be activated when the amber makes contact with the skin.
More metaphysically speaking, this is due to amber‘s ability to absorb negative energy.
In terms of composition however, amber contains a compound called succinic acid which is antiseptic.
Amber has a long history of use toward health purposes and was even put to work to fumigate plague stricken areas. Those who used amber were reported to have not fallen ill.

Amber has been used in jewelry since around 11,000 BC. Romans reportedly prized the substance.

In Northern Europe, amber was prominent in Norse legend. The Viking culture believed amber was the crystallized tears of the goddess Freya. Freya wept so for her lost love (the god Od or Svipdag in other tellings) that her godly tears became beautiful amber „gems“. Her tears fell into the deep sea below as she wept in her giant cat drawn chariot in the sky.
Practitioners of Asatru inspired witchcraft can use amber to call upon the goddess and invoke her qualities in ritual. The amber as a symbol is ancient and time tested.

If you would like hints on where to get it:
Get your own amber https://www.etsy.com/no-en/shop/NorthSpiritRunes?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

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The Oseberg Ship: Pagan Ritual Tool or Means of Transportation?

14 May

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The Oseberg ship, along with several other ships found in Norway  during archaeoogical excavations, is on display at the Oslo Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset). Visitors from all around the world flock to the exhibitions to catch a glimpse of real Viking history. They imagine fierce warriors poised in the ships, navigating the high seas in search of adventure and mischief, commerce and crime. Perhaps their thoughts wander to the image of heathens of yesteryear, as the Vikings became christianized only after their misdaventures began.

Besides the aforementioned Oseberg ship, the mighty Gokstad ship (in its well-preserved state measuring  23.8 meters long and 5.1 meters wide) stands to be viewed. The Gokstad ship was found at the site of the “Kings mound” (Konungrhaugr in old Norse)  or Gokstad mound in Sandefjord Norway. The skeleton of a man in his 40s or 50s was found buried along with this largest of ships found in Norway. The skeleton is thought to have belonged to a powerful king or chieftain. The ship and mound date back to the 9th century.

Similarly, the Oseberg ship date back to the 9th century and is believed to have also been involved in some sea voyages.  The length of the ship was measured to be 21.58 meters and was 5 meters wide. In contrast, the Oseberg ship was ornately decorated with intricate knotwork, as compared to the more simple and utilitarian build of the Gokstad ship. The skeletons of two women were unearthed. The exhibit text refers to one of the women having been a queen.

Upon closer look and some mental “reading in between the lines”, you might come to notice some curious points not clearly discussed in the exhibit’s accompanying text.

While the Gokstad ship is somewhat larger than the Oseberg ship ( a good meter plus) the Oseberg ship features carvings decidedly more ornate. The amount of time and care that such demands is not insignificant. The Oseberg “queen” was likely not just a queen, but a priestess whose status was based on the role she would have played for her people.

Items such as a ritual rattle (seen below) , a meditating figure seated (reminiscent to a Buddha figure) and other unusual things besides jewelry and vauables indicating status were also uncovered.IMG_1932

 

Such a rattle would have been wielded and used to create rhythmic sound, perhaps similar to that of beating a shaman drum (several of which were found in Finland and also Norway, belonging to the Sami peoples )

The only individuals accorded higher status than a king would be those holding spiritual power within a society.  In indigeneous societies even today, the shaman is charged with traversing the other world, navigating the world of the spirit, gleaning information or helping the dying cross over, or to bring back the sick or wounded. Similar in function in Norse mythology/legend were the Valkyries, women who helped the dead find their final resting place. This coincides with the thought that the Volva, or seeress/shaman-like figure was a woman who could divine using runes and other instruments and go into trance-like states to obtain useful information for her tribe.

The Oseberg ship served as the priestess’ burial vessel and contained many items that would serve her in the afterlife. Perhaps symbolic, or recepticles containing energetic residue that would resonate with her while she and her companion (a family member or perhaps a helper) found their way to the afterlife.

It is still a shame that museum authorities do not see the evidence for the Oseberg “queen” being compelling enough to refer to her as a priestess. Enough artifacts are present to deduce this however as private persons visiting the site. The curious can take their travels to the site where the ship was found and observe whether it “speaks” to them, if they are intuitively inclined or sensitive to energy.

Seasons of the Sun and Moon

22 Jul

 

The written word is not only a mode of transfering information, but an art form in itself. As music and art work more with the psyche and the emotions (whereas most “modern” media exploits these as well as capturing one’s intellect) poetry takes the reader to new realms of thoughts and feelings.

For most of my life, I’ve been working with the poetic and lyrical form to capture a specific thought or especially frame of mind or specific mood. Many of the poems have made it to song form, but most of them have never been seen by eyes besides my own.

I thought it was time to share with those who still, in this day and age, have an eye for poetry and want to transport themselves into another world with the written word.

Here is the paperback of my poetry collection (chapbook) Seasons of the Sun and Moon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521894353

If you have Kindle, you can download the works here:

 

Temple of Lemminkäinen

11 May

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The mythical temple of Lemminkäinen is a stone structure, perhaps natural in formation or with some assistance by the hands of man. It was believed by Ior Bock and others to be a site of ancient worship to the Finnic god Lemminkäinen. Located about 30 km east of Helsinki in Sipoo, the stone formation can today be viewed as a cave often too filled with water to physically enter.

Lemminkäinen is thought to originally have been a god comparable to the norse/Scandinavian Baldur. A god of fair face, much loved yet also sacrificed and reborn through the affections of his mother. The Kalevala, the epic “rune” poem gathered by the Finnish scholar Elias Lönnrot and published in 1835, features Lemminkäinen as a sort of composite figure. He is not a pure “god”, rather depicted more as a war hero and wanderer. Due to the Christian nature of the time period in which the Kalevala was written and also due to the fact that Finnic mythology was written down in text even less than the Scandinavian and relied heavily on oral tradition through the ages, much of the original meaning and “heathen”/ pre-Christian symbolism is dilluted or lost.

The infamous Swedish-Finnish Ior Bock attempted to re-kindle the pre-Christian pagan spirit of Finland in his own eccentric way. He claimed his family was the bearer of an ancient pagan oral tradition, entrusted to him to bring to public attention by his mother as she was dying.  He directly linked together the myths and spiritual beliefs of Scandinavia and Finland; that the norse gods had equivalents in their Finnish counterparts. For example, he directly claimed Baldur as the equivalent of Lemminkäinen. The Finnic Ukko and the norse Thor/Tor (German: Donner) are also similar archetypes in their hammer bearing, sky dominion attributes.

The Bock saga claimed excavations of the stone structure on the property of Ior Bock held heathen artifacts as well as proof of the saga itself. Work undertaken did revel a very large cave with a chamber, but the project collapsed under the weight of financial trouble before digging revealed anything that confirmed beyond a doubt, unfortunately.

Other locations around Finland were claimed by Bock to also contain artifacts and were of historical significance to a pagan past. The government and archaeological groups refused to undertake any examinations and so the mystery persists unconfirmed.

Perhaps most compelling of Bock’s tellings was the notion that Finland and the surroundings were in fact the cradle of civilization. Findings recently prove that the Arctic region was inhabited long before the pre-conceived assumption of 10,000 years. The Artic region in fact has revealed evidence of having been inhabited for up to 45,000 years. http://arctic.ru/analitic/20160704/386534.html

One doesn’t need to believe in everything that Bock and his followers had to tell or thought to be the truth to feel fascination awaken at the notion of exploring what Northern Europe’s ancestors were really made of. The world has undergone much change and to think that everything is as those who write history (the victors) would have us believe is naive at best. Any leads, any quick peeks into what was or might have been can be fruitful to simply meditate on, consider, and undertake travels and research to come closer to the heart of it all. Healthy skepticism is a valuable tool, a hearty imagination can also bring us close to the truth. Together, these elements of the human mind and spirit can take us tot he heart of things.

Much mystery still enshrouds Europe’s heathen history, and current trends lead people away from kindling interest in what remains to be seen beyond the veil of time. Still, many are sparked by what is beyond the accepted history books, beyond the direction of soulless consumerism and interest persists in those who came before.

“Frøya and Svipdag, Songs from Njartharlåg” : creativity and ancient stories

18 Sep

The world needs more creativity, more beauty and more appreciation for these elements. The world is striving for personal gain, instead of grounding and appreciation for nature. Roots are forgotten as almost entire groups of people simply uproot themselves and travel to new places. Where is their connection to the lands they come from?

Being conscious of the roots from which we originate and cultivating these roots and growing them into something more has been a focus of mine as a musician, writer, artist… I want to add to the creativity in the world. I want to share these feelings with like-minded souls. Using acoustic music as a medium to convey stories from the past, I can put in my own perspective (without taking liberties too great of course).

The latest album released by my project, Idis Örlög tells various stories coming from the pagan past of the north.

One song, related to the title of the album is about Frøya and Svipdag and is taken from the Svipdagsmål, which tells of Frøya and Svipdag being reunited. (Frøya is called Menglad here). 800px-Day-spring_finds_Menglöd

The rest of the title of the album refers to the island of Njartharlåg, today called Tysnes which is located on the west coast of Norway, not all too far away from Bergen. Njartharlåg is a place name referring to the goddess of Njarthar, or Nerthus (the latinized form of her name).

There are many sacred places on the island, which even form a sort of geometry between them. There is a stone circle, a single standing stone, an altar dedicated to nordic gods (the remains of it which date from pre-Christian times), a sacred water for Njarthar, a processional path, and many other places of high power. In a previous post, I wrote about this amazing place which so occupies my mind. It was only natural to create an album centering around it.You can order the album here: http://idisorlog.bigcartel.com/ IMG_1061 (2)

Pagan Places of Power and Energy

12 Jan

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Where does mankind seek his connection to the divine? Since the Christianization of Europe, people have looked to scripture, to orature in churches to find clues to the spirit. Like a roadmap the Bible served to navigate treacherous waters of a world full of temptation. Our grandparents and great- grandparents attended church and revered the word of Christ so they could have some hope of an afterlife. They contemplated the meanings and foraged their way through, often with very modest financial means. The church was their tie to community and spirit. Today, it is often thought that humans seek the spirit less, and find themselves in the material more. They concentrate on career, on money. They seek fame and recognition. They want romantic relationships, or at least a “good time”. Where does the spirit fit into all of this?

The East seems to offer some hint. Yoga and meditation are all the rage. They help to strengthen the body, the mind and the spirit. With a refreshed mind and a sense of an inner world, one is able to go through life more rooted and balanced. Yoga is a part of Hinduism, and some folks who get into it a the fitness studio also turn to hinduism’s many gods. They recite mantras, they pray and they learn.

Some people in the west also look to Buddhism. A belief in reincarnation, teachings of non-cruelty and simple living offer solace in the fast-paced, high-pressure modern world.

Others convert to Islam, Judaism or find devout Catholicism. The piety and religiousness of these respective faiths are welcomed by those hungry for respite from the materialistic, plastic day and age.

But is there something else?

In the wooded landscapes, the epic mountain lines, the seas, flowing rivers and rocky shores, the lakes and the brooks, the forests full of young birches, the stately old oak trees whisper of days long past. Our ancestors lived with nature long before the name of Christ was heard in Europe. Our forefathers and foremothers cooperated with nature to build their lives. They literally left their mark in caves, thousands of years ago. They had time to venerate nature, painting images of deer and elk. The ancient Europeans were in harmony with the stars, knew what the tides of the seas could tell them. They found food aplenty, and later began to cultivate and hunt for nourishment. Through these various phases, the natural elements and forces were very really, and were personified as gods who interacted with our ancestors in a way that was very, very real. This was not the belief that we hold today: it was a conviction honed from experience.

The energy the ancestors drew from nature, they also gave in return. Like breathing, there was a balance of give and take that we today can barely grasp. This had to do with survival, but it went further than that. Our forefathers and foremothers thrived in landscapes we would deem harsh. They celebrated the changing of the seasons, and they worked with the natural forces. Their rituals enhanced the energy of certain areas to create places that sensitive people even today can feel the reverberations of. The lasting legacy of our pagan ancestors survives in places of power called “Kraftorte” in German. This literally translates to “Strength Place”, or “Power Place”. These are sacred places where a heightened sense of psychic ability may be felt, or an increased awareness, or an enhanced sense of well-being. Where these places have been desecrated however, they leave behind a feeling most unpleasant, unsettling and perhaps even truly frightening….

Hornelen

14 Nov

Hornelen

Mystical mountains of might

There are mystical mountains all around the world. Not much attention is paid to their myths and magic, but slowly they are coming more into focus. For example, Untersberg in Salzburg is said to be home to the Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa, who sleeps as long as the ravens fly. He is said to awaken when his people need him most. Another mystical mountain in Austria is Grossglockner. This mountain is the highest peak in the region, but more fascinating is that it is located on a powerful energy layline and as such, generates more energy, sending it thus into the universe.

Norway has its own mountains of myth and might. One might have heard of Lyderhorn in Bergen. One of the seven mountains of the city of Bergen, witches dance on the winter solstice. People once believed the witches cavorted and danced with menacing demons, casting spells on the fearful Christians nearby.

Witch Mountain Hornelen

A less known mountain of legend is located in Nordfjord. That is Hornelen, which is notable in other terms for being the highest underwater peak with a great portion of its rocky fells extending below the sea. It rises up to the sky with a distinct form. Here, legends were told of witches as well: witches who committed such questionable acts as sex with goats, and other fanciful tales including demons, orgies and the like.

During the Viking age, the top of the mountain was called Smalsarhorn, (meaning) Sheep Horn. The rest of the mountain was called Helen. Over time, the names came to merge to Hornelen (Horn-Helen).

If we examine archaeological fact of the region, we note that cave paintings in Vingen dating back thousands of years are found nearby. These cave paintings were thought to not have been simply the amusement of a bored day, but to have served a ritual purpose as the location was not easily accessible (i.e., people travelled there by boat when the occasion thus called for it, as in special heathen holidays, worship and ritual). So people reserved the location for specific interaction with natural elements and gods, as part of their spirituality at the time. The cave paintings depict animals, such as deer. In Shamanism from all over the world, animals hold a symbolic and literal power to connect the shaman to various aspects of the self and the universe. As such, one could conclude the paintings played a similar role in the context of rituals held.

All over Europe, we find remnants somewhat hidden from view, just calling for our attention. They will awaken our spiritual senses, inspire us, and make us realize that our ancestors too, possessed a shamanic, native religion where they communed with the powerful, life-giving and also destructive forces of nature and the universe. Though some elements survive today only as campy little stories of witches and wizards and demons, going further back in time, these silly stories are based on real and sacred spiritual practices (often twisted to profanity to discourage interest in them). If we look closely and with reverence at the natural surroundings, we will find more and more places of natural power and wonder and can thus feel stronger ties to ancestors and rekindle an interest in Pre-Christian, Nordic past.

Hornelen in Nordfjord

Hornelen in Nordfjord