Asgard

The word Asgard comes from the Old Norse word Ásgarðr, meaning Enclosure of the Aesir. Asgard is one of the nine worlds in Norse Mythology, along with Niflheim, Muspelheim, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, and Helheim. Asgard is the home of the Aesir, deities of one of two tribes of Norse gods. The other tribe, the Vanir, used to share Asgard but the two tribes fought a long, epic war over their differences and the Vanir were forced to leave Asgard. The two tribes did reach an eventual truce as they joined forces against their common enemy, the Giants.

Snorri Sturluson, author of the Prose Edda, wrote that Asgard was created by the gods after they created Jotunheim (Giantland), Midgard (Middle Earth or home of humanity), the seas, sky, clouds and the Earth. The home of the gods is said to be a giant fortress with walls reaching up into the clouds to protect them from their enemies, particularly the frost-giants.

Asgard is situated in the sky upon the plains of Idavoll, where the gods met to discuss important matters. It was connected to Midgard by a rainbow bridge called Bifrost. The mythical place was invisible and inaccessible to mortal men.

The ruler of the gods, Odin, had his throne in Asgard, in a hall called Valaskjalf. His throne was called Hlidskjalf and it is believed that when Odin sat on Hlidskjalf, he could see the whole of heaven and Earth and everything that happened anywhere! A hall made of pure gold was also situated in the home of the gods. It was called Gladsheim and housed the thrones of Odin and the 12 highest gods. The goddesses’ hall was called the Vingolf or hall of friendship. The gods and goddesses would meet every day and discuss the fate of world at the Well of Urd (destiny), from which the Yggdrasil (the tree connecting the nine worlds) grew.

Asgard also housed Valhalla (the hall of the fallen). Odin granted access to the worthy dead, the majority of whom were esteemed warriors. Here, he feasted and celebrated with the battle heroes. Valhalla was easily recognizable by its rafters formed of spears, and use of shields as roof tiles. According to certain sources, the doors of Valhalla were so wide that 800 warriors could walk through at the same time! A vast river, the Thund, and a barred gate, Valgrind, protected the entrances of Valhalla.

Aesir Gods

They are one of two clans of Norse gods, the other being the Vanir. The Aesir and Vanir were in conflict for quite some time, leading to the Aesir-Vanir war. Later on, however, they seemed to get along just fine and the Vanir were eventually considered to be a sub-group of the Aesir.

Therefore, depending on the time in which a specific myth is set, the word Aesir may refer to all Norse gods or only to the ones that began as Aesir.

In Norse mythology, there are nine world that various beings may inhabit. These worlds are held in the branches of the World Tree, also known as Yggdrasil. We humans live in Midgard, whereas the Aesir live in Asgard. The Vanir have their own world: Vanaheim.

Although they lived in a different world to humans, they actively ruled over the lives of men. Norse people would call on the different gods who represented specific aspects of life when they needed aid or blessing. There are many stories surrounding the Aesir, such as that of Odin the Allfather coming to Midgard. They would teach people lessons or otherwise influence what happened in Midgard.

The Aesir also acted in other worlds in Yggdrasil, such as Jotunheim, where the ice giants live. One of their most important duties is to keep the ice giants at bay, protecting the worlds from them.

Interestingly, although the Aesir are the principal gods of Norse mythology, they are not the creators of the cosmos. They are, however, the creators of mankind and the worlds within the cosmos.

In the beginning, there were two worlds: Muspelheim and Niflheim. Muspelheim was the realm of fire, while Niflheim was the realm of ice. Between them lay an empty void known as the Ginnungagap. The fire and ice met and filled the gap, and from this event, the first giant, Ymir, was formed. Ymir’s sweat produced further giants, who were the first beings in the cosmos. As the frost melted, the cow Audhumbla emerged to feed Ymir. The cow lived on the saltlicks in the ice. Her licking revealed Buri, the first Aesir, who had apparently been stuck in the ice.

Buri went on to marry a giant, Bestla, so his children Odin (who is the most famous), Vili and Ve were all half-giants. These three brothers decided to end Ymir’s life and, in a rather grisly development, used the various parts of his body to make the world. For example, his blood became the oceans, and the dome of his skull became the sky.

These gods then got around to creating us, the humans of Midgard. The first humans were a male and female pair with the names Ask and Embla. When they had finished jump-starting humanity, the gods decided to give humans their own world, a fenced-off region they named Midgard.

But why did they feel the need to slay Ymir? The most likely reason is that Ymir was a being of chaos, and the Aesir’s purpose is to bring order to the cosmos. That’s also the root of their main struggle with the ice giants, who want to destroy the world during Ragnarok, restoring the primordial chaos of the Ginnungagap.

Björketorp Runestone

Runes were the alphabetic system of the Vikings in the past. However, the Vikings didn’t commonly use runes for the communicative purpose between people and people. Rather, they used runes as a tool to communicate with their gods. One of the main sources that we have the information about runes is from the runestone. Thanks for the Vikings carving their runes onto materials like stone, we have something to look back at the age of the Vikings. One of the runestones surrounded by mysteries is the Björketorp Runestone.

The Björketorp Runestone currently rests in Blekinge, Sweden. It is a part of the grave field including some standing stones that form a circle.

It is among the tallest runestones in the world, measuring 4.2 meters (~13.7ft) in height. The Björketorp Runestone is the only stone that has rune inscription on it. 

The runes were carved in Proto Norse language around 6th or 7th century. This language might have been in use from the 2nd to 8th century. Also, it might have been the foundation for the Old Norse language. There are two sides with the rune inscriptions on this stone. One side consists of a shorter line reading “I predict perdition”.

The other side with inscription evokes many controversies though. The message from the other side of the runestone reads: 

Haidz runo runu, falh’k hedra ginnarunaz. Argiu hermalausz, … weladauþe, saz þat brytz. Uþarba spa.

This can be translated into: 

I, master of the runes conceal here runes of power. Incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who breaks this (monument).
I prophesy the destruction/prophecy of destruction.

While some runestones contain the names of the tribe, the Björketorp Runestone lacks the name of the creators. The scholars have been in dispute about the purpose of the runestone. But the major theory is that the runestone is erected as a grave and a kind of curse is carved onto to protect it.

Sources: bavipower.com

Raidho (Raido)

Raidho (Raido)

Pronounced: rah-eed-ho

Astrological: Sagittarius/Virgo

Tarot: The Hierophant

Element: Air

Key Words: Journey, Pilgrimage, Change, Action, Cartwheel

This Rune is concerned with communication, with the attunement of something that has two sides, two elements, and with the ultimate union that comes at the end of the journey, when what is above and what is below are united and of one mind.

Inner worth mounts here, and at such a time you are not intended to rely entirely upon your own power. Instead, ask what constitutes right action. Ask through prayer or meditation, through addressing the Witness Self, the Teacher Within. Once you are clear, you can neutralize your refusal to let right action flow through you. Not intent on movement, be content to wait; while you wait, keep on removing resistances. As the obstructions give way, all remorse arising from trying to make things happen disappears.

The journey is toward self-healing, self-change and union. You are concerned here with nothing less than unobstructed, perfect union. But the union of Heaven and Earth cannot be forced. Regulate any excesses in your life. Material advantages must not weigh heavily on this journey of the self toward the Self. Stand apart even from like-minded others; the notion of strength in numbers does not apply at such a time, for this part of the journey—the soul’s journey—cannot be shared.

Reversed: Receiving Raido Reversed puts you on notice to be particularly attentive to personal relationships. At this time, ruptures are more likely than reconciliations and effort may be required to keep your good humor. Whatever happens, how you respond is up to you.

The requirements for your growth may totally disrupt what you had intended. Desired outcomes may elude you. And yet what you regard as detours, inconveniences, disruptions, blockages and even failures and deaths, will actually be rerouting opportunities, with union and reunion as the only abiding destinations.

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals

Ansuz

Ansuz

Pronounced: ahn-sooz

Astrological: Leo/Virgo

Tarot: Death

Element: Air

Key Words: Communication, Divine Inspiration, Spiritual Power, Wisdom, Ideas, knowledge

The keynote here is receiving: messages, signals, gifts. Even a timely warning may be seen as a gift. The message may be that of a new life unfolding. New lives begin with new connections, surprising linkages that direct you onto new pathways. Take care now to be especially aware during meetings, visits, chance encounters, particularly with persons wiser than yourself. When the Messenger Rune brings sacred knowledge, you are truly blessed.

Loki is the ancient trickster from the pantheon of the Norse gods. He is the heyeohkah of the Native Americans, a mocking shadow of the creator god, as well as the bringer of benefits to humankind. He is a reminder that even scoundrels and arch-thieves can be the bearers of wisdom. When you draw this Rune, expect the unexpected: The message is always a call, a call to new life.

Ansuz is the first of the thirteen Runes that make up the Cycle of Initiation—Runes that focus directly upon the mechanism of self-change—and as such, addresses our need to integrate unconscious motive with conscious intent.

Drawing Ansuz tells you that connection with the Divine is at hand. It is a signal to explore the depths, the foundations of life, and to experience the inexhaustible wellspring of the Divine in your nature.

At the same time, you are reminded that you must first draw from the well to nourish and give to yourself. Then there will be more than enough to nourish others. A new sense of family solidarity invests this Rune.

Reversed: You may be concerned over what appears to be failed communication, lack of clarity or awareness either in your past history or in a present situation. You may feel inhibited from accepting what is offered. A sense of futility; of wasted motion, may overwhelm you. Remember, however, that what is happening is timely to your process. If the well is clogged, this is the moment for cleaning out the old. Reversed, Ansuz is saying: Consider the uses of adversity.

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals

Thurisaz

Pronounced: thur-ee-sahz

Astrological: Leo

Tarot: The Emperor

Element: Fire

Key Words: Strength, Good News, Protection

With a gateway for its symbol, this Rune indicates that there is work to be done both inside and outside yourself. Thurisaz represents the frontier between Heaven and the mundane. Arriving here is a recognition of your readiness to contact the numinous, the Divine, to illuminate your experience so that its meaning shines through its form.

Thurisaz is a Rune of non-action. Thus, the gateway is not to be approached and passed through without contemplation. Here you are being confronted with a clear reflection of what is hidden in yourself, what must be exposed and examined before right action can be undertaken. This Rune strengthens your ability to wait. Now is not a time to make decisions. Deep transformational forces are at work in this next-to-last of the Cycle Runes.

Reversed: A quickening of your development is indicated here. Yet even in times of accelerated growth, you will have reason to halt along the way, to reconsider the old, to integrate the new. Take advantage of these halts.

If you are undergoing difficulties, remember: The nature of your passage depends upon the quality of your attitude, the clarity of your intention and the steadfastness of your will. Be certain that you are not suffering over your suffering.

Drawing Thurisaz Reversed demands contemplation on your part. Hasty decisions at this time may cause regrets, for the probability is that you will act from weakness, deceive yourself about your motives, and create new problems more severe than those you are attempting to resolve. Impulses must be tempered by thought for correct procedure. Do not attempt to go beyond where you haven’t yet begun. Be still, collect yourself, and wait on the Will of Heaven.

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals

Uruz

Uruz

Pronounced: oo-rooz

Key Words: Power, Energy

Astrological: Taurus/Leo

Tarot: High Priestess

Element: Earth

Key Words: Freedom, Healing, Health, Vitality, Strength, Power, Gratitude, Courage, Change

The Rune of terminations and new beginnings, drawing Uruz indicates that the life you have been living has outgrown its form. That form must die so that new energy can be released in a new form. This is a Rune of passage and, as such, part of the Cycle of Initiation.

Positive growth and change, however, may involve a descent into darkness as part of the cycle of perpetual renewal. As in nature, this progression consists of five aspects: death, decay, fertilization, gestation, rebirth. Events occurring now may well prompt you to undergo a death within yourself. Since self-change is never coerced—we are always free to resist—remain mindful that the new life is always greater than the old.

Prepare, then, for opportunity disguised as loss. It could involve the loss of someone or something to which you have an intense emotional bond, and through which you are living a part of your life, a part that must now be retrieved so you can live it out for yourself. In some way, that bond is being severed, a relationship radically changed, a way of life coming to an end. Seek among the ashes and discover a new perspective and new strength.

Reversed: Without ears to hear and eyes to see, you may fail to take advantage of the moment. The result could well be an opportunity missed or the weakening of your position. It may seem that your own strength is being used against you.

For some, Uruz Reversed will serve to alert, offering clues in the form of minor failures and disappointments. For others, those more deeply unconscious or unaware, it may provide a hard jolt. Reversed, this Rune calls for serious thought about the quality of your relationship to your Self.

But take heart. Consider the constant cycling of death and rebirth, the endless going and return. Everything we experience has a beginning, a middle and an end, and is followed by a new beginning. Therefore do not draw back from the passage into darkness: When in deep water, become a diver.”

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals

Vikings in Greenland

Greenland, or Grœnland in Old Norse, was settled by Norwegian and Icelandic explorers during the 10th century AD, where two major Viking settlements emerged until their abandonment in the 15th century AD.

According to a medieval text called the Landnámabók, translated as “Book of Settlements”, Greenland was supposedly first sighted by Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, also known as also known as Gunnbjörn Ulf-Krakuson during the early 10th century AD when his ship was blown off course.

In AD 978, Snæbjörn galti Hólmsteinsson is said to have set sail for Greenland with about two dozen companions, and settled on the islands of Gunnbjarnar Skerries, a small group of islands lying off the coast of Greenland, that according to Johannes Ruysch’s map from AD 1507 had “completely burned up” (possibly by volcanic activity). After spending a terrible winter on the islands, the settlers murdered Snæbjörn and his foster father, and abandoned the settlement to return to Iceland.

The first successful settlement of Greenland was by Erik Thorvaldsson, otherwise known as Erik the Red. According to the sagas, the Icelanders had exiled Erik during an assembly of the Althing for three years, as punishment for Erik killing Eyiolf the Foul over a dispute.

Erik went in search of land that had been reported to lie to the north and reached the coastline of Greenland where he spent the three years of his exile exploring the new land.

Upon returning to Iceland, he is said to have brought with him stories of “Greenland”, an auspiciously named land in order to sound more appealing than “Iceland” to lure potential settlers.

Erik returned to Greenland in AD 985 or 986 with a large number of colonists, who established two colonies on the southwest coast: The Eastern Settlement or Eystribyggð, in what is now Qaqortoq, and the Western Settlement or Vestribygð, close to present-day Nuuk. A later Middle Settlement emerged in what is now Ivittuut, but this is generally considered to be associated with an expansion from the Eastern Settlement.

Erik built his personal estate of Brattahlíð, near present-day Narsarsuaq where he ruled as paramount chieftain of Greenland until his death. According to legend, Erik had planned to journey with his son Leif Erikson (who is believed to have established a Norse settlement at Vinland), but Erik fell off his horse on his way to the ship. He later died from a pandemic that killed many of the island’s colonists in the winter after his son’s departure.

At their peak, the settlements are estimated to have had a combined population of between 2,000-10,000 inhabitants (sources differ), with archaeologists identifying the ruins of approximately 620 farmsteads spread across Greenland’s south-western fjords.

The settlers shared the island with the late Dorset culture, who lived in the northern and western parts of Greenland, and later with the Thule culture (who the Norsemen called the Skræling) that entered from the north around AD 1300 after migrating from Alaska.

In AD 1126, the Roman Catholic Church founded a diocese at Garðar in the Eastern Settlement at present-day Igaliku, which was subject to the Norwegian archdiocese of Nidaros and constructed several churches. By AD 1261, the Greenlanders had accepted rule by the King of Norway, which then entered into a union with the Kingdom of Denmark in AD 1380.

The settlements continued to prosper until the 14th century AD, where they entered a period of decline until their abandonment in the 15th century AD. Various theories have been proposed to explain the abandonment, with the most prominent being gradual climate change, loss of contact and support from Denmark, opportunities for migration back to Europe after the plague had left farmsteads abandoned, economic factors, or conflicts with the Inuit peoples.

The last written record from the Viking Greenlanders dates from AD 1408, which documents a marriage between Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdóttirin.

Source: HeritageDaily

Three Rune Spread Reading

Three Rune Spread Reading

The number “three” figures prominently in the oracular practices of the ancients. The Three Rune Spread which, according to Tacitus, was already in use 2,000 years ago, is satisfactory for all but the most demanding situations.

With an issue clearly in mind, select three Runes one at a time, and place them from right to left, in order of selection. To avoid consciously changing the direction of the stones, especially as you become familiar with their symbols, you may want to place them blank side up, and then turn them over.

Once you have selected the Runes, they will lie before you.  Reading from the right, the first Rune provides the Overview of the Situation; the second Rune (center) identifies the Challenge; and the third Rune (on the left) indicates the Course of Action Called For.

How you happen to turn the stones may still alter the direction of the glyphs to either an Upright or Reversed position, but this too is part of the process. Since only nine Runes read the same Upright and Reversed, the readings for the other sixteen will depend on how you place or turn the stones.

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals

Fehu

Pronounced: fay-hu

Astrological: Aries/ Taurus

Tarot: Tower

Element: Fire/ Earth

Key Words: Harmony, Fertility, Wealth

Fehu is associated and sacred to the God and Goddess Frey and Freyja. In Norse mythology, Freya is portrayed as a Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful, Freya is described as the fairest of all goddesses, and people prayed to her for happiness in love. She was also called on to assist childbirths and prayed to for good seasons.

 Fehu is a Rune of fulfillment: ambition satisfied, love shared, rewards received. It promises nourishment from the most worldly to the sacred and the Divine. For if the ancient principle “As above so below” holds true, then we are also here to nourish God.

This Rune calls for a deep probing of the meaning of profit and gain in your life. Look with care to know whether it is wealth and possessions you require for your well-being, or rather self-rule and the growth of a will.

Another concern of Fehu is to conserve what has already been gained. This Rune urges vigilance and continual mindfulness, especially in times of good fortune, for it is then that you are likely to collapse yourself into your success on the one hand, or behave recklessly on the other. Enjoy your good fortune and remember to share it, for the mark of the well-nourished self is the ability and willingness to nourish others.

Reversed: There may be considerable frustration in your life if you draw Fehu Reversed, a wide range of dispossessions ranging from trivial to severe. You fall short in your efforts, you reach out and miss; you are compelled to stand by and watch helplessly while what you’ve gained dwindles away. Observe what is happening. Examine these events from an open perspective and ask, “What do I need to learn from this in my life?

Even if there is occasion for joy, do not let yourself be seduced into mindless joyousness. Reversed, this Rune indicates that doubtful situations are abundant and come in many forms and guises. Here you are being put in touch with the shadow side of possessions. Yet all this is part of coming to be and passing away, and not that which abides. In dealing with the shadow side of Fehu, you have an opportunity to recognize where your true nourishment lies.

Sources: The Book of Runes, Runes: Pagan Portals