Issue #5, Easter-Moon

Welcome to the Easter-Moon Issue. This month we have Part 3 of Ingrid Fischer’s Germanic Soul-Lore.

May you know the blessings of Eostre!

COMPONENTS OF THE GERMANIC SOUL

[Above] you can see the traditional Old Norse body-soul complex with its many components, according to Edred Thorsson.  (Figure: traditional body-soul complex[1])

 The fylgja or fetch is not something every man has; some men have a very weak and underdeveloped one, but powerful men have a strong fylgja. Here again, we see the connection to the ancient belief in physical strength and power in general. This shows the beginnings of a body-soul separation where the soul is no longer entirely bound to the body but takes on personal, individual traits. 

Óðr, the ‘soul’ in a state of utter arousal opens the access to new and normally unreachable worlds and man can find a higher, freer existence which enables him to succeed against enemies and other detrimental situations. Óðr makes man transcend mediocrity. In its second meaning it shows poetry born out of the passion of the soul, out of enthusiasm and divine inspiration.

Hugr (ON), the hugh or hidge, is the cognitive faculty and is that part of the mind which can analyse and work with data. Whilst in ancient times hugr was bound to the body, in later times it becomes independent from it and forms what we call a man’s ‘personality’. This is when hugr becomes the seat of man’s will.

Minni (ON), the myne, is in simple terms memory and the reflective faculty, the storehouse of consciousness and the unconscious that also contains transpersonal elements, i.e. the archetypes of the collective unconscious.

Hamingja (ON) or luck is the life force and power of the soul which can be passed on even during one’s lifetime.

The lyke or lík (ON) is the physical body; it is given its shape by hamr (ON) or the hyde; önd (ON) is the ‘breath of life’, the athem.

Sjálfr (ON) is the Self which potentially can lead man to synthesise and understand all other faculties; sál (ON), the soul, is the death shade and all actions are recorded in it.

It is important at this stage to point out the clear distinction between the psychosomatic soul complex (i.e. önd and óðr) and the semi-autonomous concepts (hugr, hamr, hamingja and fylgja). As Flowers states, ‘önd and óðr denote activities, qualities, forces or essences which are active within a man’s psychosomatic complex, but which do not approach the measure of autonomy or transferable characteristics’. The second group, with hugr, hamr, hamingja and fylgja, is the more autonomous and also in most instances personifiable one. It seems that fylgja is the most personal and individual part of the soul; it is the most anthropomorphised of the various soul concepts and appears to have developed a will of its own. However, once the individual has gained an insight into the past and his (ættar-) fylgja, it becomes more evident that the ‘being’ which seems to be ‘other’ than himself is in truth the sum total of all that he is, and all that he has done.

Next time we shall discuss the development of personality.  

Practical work: 

From the diagram above you can see the core triad of the soul complex: óðr, hugr and minni. I call this the core triad because without any one of them, or with one weaker than the other two, your whole being will be out of balance and you will not be able to reach your full potential in life.

Many of you will know the UAIEO formula. This time we shall add one vowel and vocalise the sequence in runes, up and down your body. Stand up straight, inhale and intone, three times:

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz           

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz 

Now visualise the core triad covering your whole body in a three-dimensional triangle: óðr is located at the crown of your head, hugr to your right and minni to your left. Think of what they represent and feel their power circulating. Record your feelings, emotions, obstacles you encounter and so on. You will need these notes next week and we would like to hear about them here. Remember regarding feedback that being courageous enough to show a part of yourself to fellow travellers is an act that will, in and of itself, help with this work – so don’t be shy.

[1]          Edred Thorsson, Nine Doors of Midgard

Issue #4, Storm-Moon

A happy Storm-Moon to all our readers! This month we have a tiny excerpt from Christopher Smith’s 2016 ground-breaking study ‘Icelandic Magic’. I reviewed the book here and would recommend it highly for anyone interested in Northern European magic.

Abridged extract from “Icelandic Magic” by Christopher A. Smith (Avalonia, 2015)

Introduction

More than any other country, perhaps, Iceland has an iconic status for students of ancient Germanic lore and culture. The reasons for this are not hard to seek. The environment itself is dramatic, the perfect setting for tales of heroism and magic. A sub-Arctic island, oft-times battered by the cold waves of the North Atlantic Ocean and storms from the polar region, it is a land of glaciers and volcanoes where the primal forces of fire and ice compete to increase the hardship of the small population. Summers are brief and winters long, while spring and autumn struggle to find any place at all among the seasons. Arable land is hard to find, and even good grazing is at a premium. The earth itself shakes and rumbles from time to time. It is a land of liminality, where the world of men is squeezed and constricted between vast and hostile forces.

Remarkably, however, Iceland is less famous for its geography than for the vast outpouring of literature that its people have produced, especially in the Middle Ages. The very word ‘saga’, meaning ‘story’, has passed into English to denote a tale that is epic and heroic. From the earliest settlement at the end of the ninth century, Icelanders developed, passed on, and eventually recorded the tales of their lives, first by oral tradition and eventually through the establishment of a strong tradition of vernacular literacy.

The people of Iceland jealously guard and preserve their culture. Though predominantly Lutheran by religion these days, they are as familiar with the mythic tales of Thor and Odin as they are with tales from the Bible. Even young children are taught at school to recite “Þat mælti mín móðir”, the first poem of the famous Viking, poet and sorcerer Egill Skallagrímson.   The Icelandic language has changed little over the past thousand years, certainly in comparison to its linguistic relatives in Scandinavia, the European mainland and the English-speaking world, and the country’s educational establishment does its best to prevent the adoption of foreign words.

From the elaborate sagas of the Middle Ages to the folk tales and legends collected and recorded by Jón Árnason in the nineteenth century, the stories of Iceland are shot through with magic and dealings with supernatural beings such as elves, land-wights, ghosts and trolls. Even today, many Icelanders attach credence to the continued presence of the ‘hidden folk’; even if they do not absolutely believe in elves, they would not go so far as to categorically deny their existence. It has even been known for a major road to be diverted so as to avoid disturbing a place where the hidden folk are reputed to have their home.

The grimoires (galdrabækur, or ‘books of magic’) in the Icelandic National Library and the Arni Magnusson Institute, together with other old manuscripts relating to runes and magic, are, or certainly should be, of great interest to anyone with a serious interest in the authentic practicalities of Germanic magic. They are certainly not hidden from view, as many of them have been catalogued on the website www.handrit.is together with others in the Arnamagnaean Institute in Copenhagen, and even made available as digitized copies, which one can download. The earliest, AM 434a 12mo ‘Lækningakver’ dates from between 1475 and 1525; the most recent, ‘Rún’, dates from 1928

Given the availability of this material, it comes as something of a surprise that nobody has yet attempted a comprehensive survey of Icelandic magic in the early modern period. Much has been written about magic and witchcraft in the Middle Ages, but most of these works tend to focus on the anthropological, ethnographic or sociological perspectives without much consideration for the practicalities, the ‘nuts and bolts’ if you like, of magic in northern Europe

 

An even greater surprise is that these preserved volumes of Icelandic sorcery have been so little exploited and largely ignored by modern practitioners of Rune magic. Instead, much emphasis is given to the characters of the various Futhark rows (Elder, Anglo-Frisian and Younger) and their esoteric interpretation, mainly based on the evidence of three Rune poems and a handful of archaeological finds whose magical significance will always remain the subject of debate. Considering that the use of Runes plays a relatively minor part in the early modern magic of Iceland, is it possible that we have been barking up the wrong tree all the time?

Issue #3, Wolf-Moon

Welcome to the Wolf-Moon issue of the Runa-Eormensyl blog. We have for you the second part of Ingrid Fischer’s Introduction to Germanic Soul-Lore.
(As you can see from the notes, this is the second part of the first week of the Arcanorium course.)

Germanic Soul-Lore, Part 2

Following Stephen E. Flowers’ (Towards an Archaic Germanic Psychology, Rune-Gild, 1985) proposed three-fold pattern of soul conceptions (the breath concept, the emotive faculty and the cognitive faculty), we find that the earliest mentions of soul aspects are connected with breath and related bodily functions.

In these pre-magical soul concepts ON fjör (= life; compare OHG ferah, ferh = soul, life) and önd (= breath, life, soul) feature prominently, but without developing any personal qualities or attributes they remain undifferentiated and basic.

Fjör, life, is the body soul which is tied to the heart, the respiratory organs and the diaphragm (in connection with the kidneys that were thought to be the centre of all psychic powers). We can see that there a dualism between body and soul has yet to develop. In Old Norse literature fjör is never used in kennings; it shows man without any individuality and without any consciousness of its existence. Fjör, if seen as the highest personal possession, which is fully committed and defended in battle however, forms the transition to the individual soul.

Önd, breath, is an element of nature as it stands for ‘life’. This is not an individual life, it does not differentiate between worthy and inferior but encompasses that which is common to all humans and beasts. It is a power which drives and moves the body but has no consciousness and is undifferentiated.

A step closer to the Viking era is what might be called the period of magical soul concepts with clear mention of what Flowers calls the ’emotive faculty’.   The three ON words to mark the development in these soul concepts are hamr m. (skin, shape, form), oeði f. (rage, fury, madness, frenzy) and oeði n. (nature, disposition, mind).

Hamr is not strictly speaking the human shape but rather the animal one, and not the whole body but only that which builds its outer form, i.e. skin, fur etc. Man puts on the animal hamr and changes form to gain physical power. This so-called hamskiftning or hamramr enabled man to control even giant powers with animal strength. Through shape-changing, man (and the gods) was (were) able to free himself (themselves) from the fetters of his (their) body. Hamstoli (= deprived of one’s wits, frantic, furious) points to an internalised idea of hamr as a soul-form that can easily be changed but also lost. Hamhleypa (= a human being who travels in the shape of an animal; a witch who goes in ham-farir) casts off all bonds to do with space and time and reminds us of the hamingja. Hamingja developed from *ham-gengja and originally meant ‘the soul going around in a form’. The more psychic power a man possesses the larger his hamingja would be and, after his death the hamingja would attach itself to another human being, mostly within the same family. The hamingja was fed by honourable deeds or by gaining numinous knowledge; and is also an embodiment of a personal moral ‘law’ and a cumulative quality. The hamingja is the first model or ideal of the soul concept based on magic and stands for life force and soul power. Later on it takes on the more abstract meaning of ‘luck’ or more accurately, ‘indwelling’ luck.

Closely connected with the concept of hamingja is the fylgja (‘guidance’ or ‘following spirit’, a noun related to the verb fylgja which means ‘to accompany’, ‘to help’) in its forms of mannsfylgja, aettarfylgja (‘family-

fylgja’) and dyrfylgja (‘animal-fylgja’). The concept of fylgja puts a lot more emphasis on the personality of man than any of the previous models; the fylgja or fetch is unique to an individual and is yet completely independent from him.

One step further in this development is óðr (= mind, feeling; song, poetry), which is the spontaneous stirring of the soul born out of its own inner ability without the need for an environment to trigger it.

This was a brief overview of how Germanic soul lore developed; further information on the various components of the soul will be offered in Week 2.

  Practical Work: Stand up straight, inhale and chant the following rune sequence three times; each rune also three times before going on to the next.

Ansuz for the Æsir

Jera for the Vanir

Hagalaz for the Etins

Eihwaz for the Elves

Mannaz for Man

Contemplate what you have learnt and how it relates to the different kind of beings; what are the differences; similarities and so on. Let us all know your insights and results.

 

Issue #2, Yule-Moon

Welcome to the Yule-Moon issue of Rûna Eormensyl. This month’s offering is a seasonally-relevant piece on the Wheel of the Year by Dr Jon Sharp.

A good Yule to all our readers!

Dave Lee

The Wheel of the Year – A brief exploration

Authenticity
Most, if not all of us, are familiar with the concept of the ‘Wheel of the Year’, but there is often confusion about the authenticity of its inclusion within Heathenism. To some, the Wheel of the Year is a contemporary invention that has no necessary relationship to the praxis and beliefs of the pre-Christian peoples of Europe.
This begs the question of what exactly we mean when we talk about ‘authenticity’. If this term is understood in the historical sense, then the Wheel of the Year is authentic only if it can be shown that it was originally used by our pre-Christian ancestors.
However, if we think of authenticity in Jungian or existential terms, then the authenticity of the Wheel of the Year is dependent on whether it performs a useful integrative function in the life of the individual who engages with it conceptually, aesthetically or through their spiritual or magical praxis.
When we examine the origins of The Wheel of the Year, we must acknowledge that it is a product of the Twentieth century. It first appears in the 1950’s, and it used by both the Gardnerian Bricket Wood coven and the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. The first published Heathen Wheel of the Year was designed by Stephen McNallen in the early 1970’s. If we are concerned solely with historical provenance, the Wheel of the Year is certainly not authentic.
However, there is a fundamental contradiction in valuing a conceptual design by virtue of its antiquity, while at the same time regarding the associated praxis as something more profound than a form of re-enactment. Ritual structures are formed within a matrix comprising (as a minimum) spiritual universals, tribal or clan based particulars, historically shaped modes of behaviour and the cultural environment in which the ritual structures develop. Consequently, ritual praxis must respond dynamically to the changes in the cultural environment in order to be effective. By the same token, valuing ritual purely in terms of its historical trappings confuses the contingent form of ritual with the source of its functional power.
My own approach is to value Traditionalism as a methodology to be applied rather than to value the artefacts that it might generate at a given point in history. Traditionalism does not depend on the ossification of behaviours or on quasi-religious games of dress-up; rather it requires that we apply the core values and modes of being predicated by Traditionalism within our current historical context. It may be a paradox, even a Dagazian paradox, but Traditionalism is most effective and authentic when it is dynamic.
The Wheel of the Year, whether 6 spoked, 8 spoked or some other variation, is a wholly modern invention, but it is nonetheless authentic. What matters is that we approach it with a clear understanding of its history and value it as a useful tool rather than a faithful representation of ancestral conceptual structures.
If we take a Jungian approach to authenticity then the Wheel of the Year has much to offer and we will explore this in the next issue of the blog. . .

Purpose and Application
While there is no evidence that the Northern European peoples made use of a Wheel of the Year, the temporal divisions it displays and the festivals it records, were understood and embedded in the culture of our ancestors. Moreover, the Wheel of the Year visually emphasizes the pre-Christian understanding that time is non-linear.
A Wheel of the Year hanging on the wall can remind us on a deep level that time is a circular/ spiralling function. At its most basic level, it can also be used as a handy calendar. We can draw one out and use the dates of the current conventional calendar to ensure that we never miss Walpurgis Night again.
We could select a version of the Wheel of the Year that includes only those dates of consequence that we definitively know our ancestors marked through some particular celebration or rite. Using this model of a Wheel of the Year we can learn much about the aspects of life that mattered most to our ancestors; which seasonal periods were times of concern and anxiety and which were associated with plenty and conviviality.
At another level, the visual structure of the Wheel of the Year encourages us to think about the nature of time itself. In particular the circular repetition creates a model that both emphasises the permanence of the cycle of return and the ephemerality of each individual year. This in turn has implications for we might think of our own place in the Heathen cosmological model.
Runic Reflections*
In closing this very brief consideration of the Wheel of the Year as a tool within our Tradition, I would like to suggest some thoughts about how we might use the concept to stimulate a deeper understanding of Rûna.
Runic epistemology as discussed in my Master-Work, moves from a trothful approach based on accepted lore and the knowledge given by our senses, through to a pragmatic and skilful application or manipulation of knowledge and finally to a deeper or wiser appreciation of the Mystery within. We can apply this epistemological triad to the different focal points in the wheel of the year and to the concept of the wheel as a whole. Each festival is both a moment of manifest trothful activity and requires the application of knowledge to be celebrated. From a runic perspective we can also use the three modes of knowing from the final stage of epistemology – Thinking, Remembering, and being fully conscious to explore the runic nature of these festivals more deeply.
Dr Jon Sharp

Rûna magazines for sale

Some back issues of Rûna Magazine are still available. You will likely live to regret it if you miss this opportunity!

£3.00 each.

Postage

UK: up to 4 Issues = £ 2.00. 4 + = £4.00

Europe: 1 Issue = £4.00. Add £1.00 each for further issues.

Rest of World: 1 Issue = £6.00. Add £1.00 each for further issues.

Payable via Paypal to ianfread@gmail.com. Please include name, address and which issues you want.

Contents

Issue 11

  • Peter Béliath – Envoys of the Æsir
  • Exchange Listing
  • Tansy – Nine Herbs Charm
  • Didrik Søderlind – The Allure of the Lur
  • Valgard – The Valknutr Working
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Collin Cleary – The Missing Man in Norse Cosmology
  • Valgard – The Duodecimal System
  • Reviews

Issue 15

  • Thierry Jolif – The Cernunnos Mystery
  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview
  • Reviews
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Völsungadrekkr II
  • Exchange Listing
  • Michael Moynihan – A Germanic Magic Lantern Cycle
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Simon Collins – Light My Fire

Issue 16

  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview II
  • Local Wyrm – The Lyminster Knucker
  • David J. Jones – Waxing in Water
  • Reviews
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Sangster – A Peculiar Quality IV
  • Dave Lee – Rig’s Tale

Issue 17

  • Sarah Crofts – The Fowler’s Troop Jack in the Green
  • Dave Lee – The Sky Under the Earth
  • Reviews
  • Roger Digby – English Country Music – A Personal View
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Ingrid Wultsch – Grettir the Strong – A Doomed Hero
  • John Kirkpatrick – What English Folk Music?
  • P.D. Brown – Rune-Poem

Issue 18

  • P.D. Brown – On Poetry
  • Jonathan Jones – Creation Myth
  • Dr Stephen Edred Flowers – Vedic India
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Valgard – The Valknut as a Devotional Item?
  • Jim Chisholm – Learning and Teaching Old Norse
  • A.C. Haymes – The Wail of Wóden
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Idun
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 19

  • Ristandi – Turning the Elf-Mill
  • David Jones – Evil?
  • Tapio Kotkavuori – Rites of Passage
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Ensio Kataja – The Runes of the Holy
  • Elizabeth Griffin – The Griffin
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews

Issue 20

  • Jennifer Culver – Echoes of Dragon Slaying
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • P.D. Brown – Skyland
  • David Griffiths – Tolkien – A Radical Traditionalist?
  • Michael Kelly – Carpe Diem
  • P.D. Brown – The Ninth Wave
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews
  • Jonathan Jones – Horsemeat

Issue 21

  • John Cooper – The Man Who Met Odin
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Steps Along the Way
  • David Jones – Mauschwitz
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Cunningham – A History of Song
  • Jonathan Jones – Performance
  • Carlos B. Hagen-Lautrup III – A proliferation of Heathen Names in Iceland
  • Jim Chisholm – The Common Law is Pagan, Not Christian
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 22

  • Michael Cunningham – In the Shadow of the Tree
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes II
  • David Griffiths – Symbolic Resonance Between the Brythonic and Germanic Traditions
  • Reviews
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit

Issue 23

  • Jason Moffatt – The White Horse and the Alcis
  • Michael Cunningham – Flesh and Stone: Dualism and the Drúedain
  • Mark Deavin – Hidden Symbolism in Hávamál 138?
  • Exchange Listing
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit
  • P.D. Brown – Calling to Heimdall
  • Michael Cunningham – The Bidding of the War-Shaft
  • P.D. Brown – October 14th
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Reviews

Issue 24

  • Ingrid O. Fischer – Luck, Fate and Heroes
  • Thomas Karlsson – Dark Initiatory Witchcraft
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Jonathan Jones – Albion Song
  • Reviews
  • Tyla at Ajna Bound
  • Interviews Thomas Karlsson
  • Jon Sharp – Little Wolf and the Art of Concealment
  • Michael Kelly – Dragon Runes
  • Robert N. Taylor – Pathways to the Gods
  • Annabel Lee – Grail Medicine

Issue 1, Fore-Yule Moon

Germanic Soul Lore (1)

Welcome to the first monthly issue of this new Rune-Gild blog. In the first year of the blog, we will be publishing an extraordinary series of pieces by Ingrid Fischer and Ian Read on Germanic Soul-Lore. These will be interleaved between other articles, and artwork by other Gild members.

Ingrid Fischer and Ian Read, both Masters in the Rune-Gild, ran a course at Arcanorium College (http://www.arcanoriumcollege.com/) a few years ago called The Essence of Germanic Soul Lore. The material presented here is a synthesis that draws upon both modern psychology and ancient magic, as practised by the authors.

Dave Lee

The Essence of Germanic Soul-Lore

INTRODUCTION

Readers may have already worked with Runes and may have gained some insight into the ancient Germanic ways of thinking. Anyone else, who has never worked with Runes before, or at least read about them, is strongly advised to start doing so now because Old Norse Soul Lore does not exist as an isolated body but is an integrated part of Runelore and the whole ancient Germanic system.

So, unless you acquire at least an overview of the whole system you will not benefit fully from what Soul Lore has to offer.

Accompanying reading should include Runelore by Edred Thorsson and two articles; The Germanic Idea of the Holy published in Rûna 10 and The Nordic Belief in Fate in Rûna 13 (leave a request in Comments for details of availability). Also recommended is The Fetch by Ristandi. This in-depth study of the practical use of embodied wisdom to work with the Fetch can be found as a free download at: https://vdocuments.site/documents/fetch-55845ad73f355.html

Old Norse Soul Lore (or psychology) is a complex and rich body the ancient Germanic peoples developed. We are lucky to have a multitude of Old Norse literary sources with a vast vocabulary describing the various concepts and parts of the soul, and closely linked with this we find the Germanic belief in fate (wyrd).

Old Norse Soul Lore does not separate the soul from the body; it deals with the whole person or, as we call it nowadays, the psychosomatic complex.

Ian Read

 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOUL CONCEPTS

By Ingrid Wultsch

Ancient northern soul lore as we know it now developed out of the need of the ancient peoples to make sense of the world they were facing. Man depended on nature and its powers for his survival and as a result it was commonsense to worship nature and impart it with a soul. We can still witness the last remains of these ancient beliefs in customs like disk throwing or burning the sun wheel. Since the fire of the sun and the earthly fire were identical for our early ancestors, we can see that with these practices man ‘assisted’ nature in its awakening after the long and dark winter nights.

Along with these nature beliefs our ancient forbears worshipped their ancestors and thought that their souls would be aptrborinn (reborn) in one of their descendants or, more accurately, some parts of them would be. In the dark nights around Yule we still uphold ancient customs surrounding death, souls and ancestry.

In accordance with those early beliefs we find it no surprise that early soul concepts are closely related to the human body.

The finest example for this can be found in stanza 18 in the Völuspá where we read how the gods bestowed man with a soul.

Önd Þau né átto,
Óð Þau né höfðo,
Lá né læti
né lito góða;
önd gaf Óðinn,
óð gaf Hœnir,
lá gaf Lóðurr
oc lito góða

They had no breath, they had no spirit,
Being nor vital spark, nor fresh complexion;
Spirit gave Óðinn, breath gave Hœnir,
Being Lóðurr, and fresh complexion.

Óðinn gives önd, the ‘breath of life’ which is in keeping with his nature as the sovereign god meting out life-giving power. Önd governs the bodily life and is therefore common to man and beast.

Óðr is ‘inspired mental activity’, the ‘divine spark’ in man which is influenced by higher powers. The ancients distinguished this particularly in poetry, the gift of Óðinn. Hence poetry is called óðr, and the mead of poetry is kept in Óðrerir (‘óð-stirrer’). Why then would Hœnir (from hœna – ‘attract’) give óðr to man, even though we know that he cannot act without the inspiration of other gods? Edgar C. Polomé (Comments on Voluspá Stanzas 17 – 18. Old Norse Literature and Mythology. A Symposium. University of Texas Press, Austin & London, 1969) explains that Hœnir is the vehicle of divine inspiration and that he interprets the signs given by an outside power. In this capacity he is instrumental in endowing man with óðr.

is commonly interpreted as either ‘blood’ or ‘heat of life’. But, as Edgar C. Polomé points out, it is very difficult to find the right meaning through a plausible etymology. could simply mean ‘look, mien, face’ or be cognate with Tocharian lek, ‘appearance, mien’; or it could have the poetic meaning of , ‘hair’. Hair was sacred to the ancient Germanic peoples; it was the vehicle of the hamingja, of the soul, of happiness. Læti means ‘voice’ according to Snorri or ‘gestures, attitude’.

Lá gaf Lóðurr oc lito góða could therefore mean either “Lóðurr has given man his mien and fair complexion” or “Lóðurr gave hair and fair complexion to man.” 

Lóðurr, ‘wanderer’, is often seen as a fire god or Loki which, however, is not very sound etymologically.

If we look at the qualities the gods bestow on man, we can distinguish between spiritual ones (which Óðinn and Hœnir give) and physical ones (which Lóðurr gives). Since Lóðurr governs the physical aspects, he could be a god closer to fertility and nature. See the Indo-European (PIE) root * leudh- ‘grow’ and ON lóð ‘produce of the land’.

(to be continued)