VIKING SPIRITUALITY by Tyr Neilsen

  VIKING SPIRITUALITY - TYR NEILSEN -  "ÅSGÅRDSREIEN" BY PETER NICOLAI ARBO (1872)

 VIKING SPIRITUALITY - TYR NEILSEN -  "ÅSGÅRDSREIEN" BY PETER NICOLAI ARBO (1872)

Spirituality was an integral part of the Norse people. It was a part of everything they were, in a way that is difficult for us born in this modern world to understand. For the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age, everything in nature had a spirit. For these people, it was important to communicate with spirits and cultivate their own strong spirit.

Much of our understanding of Viking spirituality comes from Norse Mythology. Mythology is a collection of sacred stories of a religious or cultural tradition. A culture's collective mythology helps convey explain nature, history, customs, and a culture’s spirituality.

In Norse mythology, there are stories about interpreting dreams and the sacrifices. According to these sacred stories, everything in the universe is physically connected, and everything is spiritually connected.
 
There were and are many spiritual paths in Viking spirituality. Seiðrgaldrutesitting and runes are forms of coming in contact with spirituality. There are Norse ceremonies that follow year cycles and phases of the moon. In Old Norse, seiðr was a type of sacred ritual which was practiced in Norse society during the Viking Age. 

Our ancestor’s wisdom can be found in the Norse myths, in the Edda poems and sagas. Wisdom and understanding can be found in Norse myth stories about the world's creation, destruction and renewal. Urkraft, a name for ancient power, is a strong and free power, which can't be suppressed or manipulated.

Viking spirituality has many similarities with Sami shamanism and other shaman traditions around the world. The Norse vǫlva (a female shaman or seer) and Seiðmenn (seið-men) had a thorough understanding of healing herbs found in nature, energies, spirits and wisdom. Vǫlva in Old Norse means "wand carrier" or "carrier of a magic staff". Practitioners of seiðr were predominantly women, vǫlva or seiðkona, seiðr-woman or seiðr-wife". There were male practitioners, seiðmaðr, seiðr-man, as well, but this was deemed unmanly.

There is not a lot written about Norse spirituality, and a lot of the Viking's spirituality is very misunderstood, but spirituality was a major part of a Viking's life.Spirituality is very important regarding the way the Norse people and especially Viking warriors lived. A major part of this spirituality was connected to fate and destiny and the understanding of life after death. 

To live not just without fear of death, but to live and fight knowing that you would live again and serve a greater purpose, gives a freedom to live and fight without reservation that is hard to imagine for most people today. This wasn't a question of belief, these people knew that this was the way of things, which made it possible to live and fight to the fullest. 

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HÁVAMÁL - VIKING WARRIOR SPIRITUAL WISDOM

For the Viking warrior, his or her spirit and spirituality was of paramount importance, according to the Edda’s. This is very clear in a specific part of the Poetic Edda called the Hávamál.

Often described as the wisdom of the North, Hávamál is one of the most important documents from Viking Age Scandinavia. Attributed to the Norse God Odin, the Hávamál’s wisdom gave spiritual nourishment to the Vikings in their daily lives, their long journeys to discover new lands, and their personal journeys to discover the meaning of life and death.

Hávamál - verse 15

Þagalt og hugalt              People should be
skyldi þjóðans barn         Quiet and thoughtful
og vígdjarft vera.             And brave in conflict
Glaður og reifur               They should live
skyli gumna hver             Happy and friendly
uns sinn bíður bana.        Until their last day.
 

The first 80 verses called "Hávamál proper" deals with basic everyday wisdom. Verses 80 to 164 deal with magic. Vikings garnered wisdom and inspiration from Hávamál, inherited from their ancestors. Hávamál’s content provides a clear picture of the Viking's philosophy and beliefs about how life should be lived both as a physical being and a spiritual entity. On a spiritual level Hávamál explains how to deal with a world of spirituality where unknown dangers and sacred knowledge are hidden.

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SEID

Seid, or seiðr, is a collective term for the knowledge and techniques that are at the interface between religion and magic. Seid was considered secret/sacred knowledge in the Iron Age and Viking Nordic region.

In Norse society, seid was mainly practiced by women who were called Volve, vǫlur, Seiðkonur and vísendakona. A man could also engage in seid, but he did not receive the same respect as the Crone or Volve. There are accounts of male practitioners, known as seiðmenn, but in practising this sacred knowledge, they brought a social taboo known as ‘ergi’ on to themselves, and were sometimes persecuted as a result.

Odin is the Norse god who is simultaneously responsible for war, poetry and sorcery. It is said that Odin learned seid from the goddess Freya. This shows that Odin was a god who had no boundaries or adherence to social norms.

Accounts of Seid/seiðr are found in sagas and other literary sources, and evidence of Seid has been unearthed by archaeologists. Various scholars have debated the nature of seiðr over the centuries, with some arguing that it was shamanic in context, involving visionary journeys by its practitioners..

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GALDR

Galdr (plural galdrar) is an Old Norse word for spell, incantation or song enchantment. These were usually performed in combination with certain rites, such as before a battle or Glima competition.

Galder’s were used to make swords blunt, make armor soft and decide victory or defeat in battles. Examples of such galders can be found in Grógaldr and in Frithiof's Saga. In Grógaldr, Gróa chants nine (a significant number in Norse mythology) galdrar to aid her son, and in Buslubœn, the schemes of king Ring of Östergötland are averted.

Galdr incantations were composed in a special meter named galdralag, and could be used by both women and men. A practical galdr for women was one that made childbirth easier, but they could also be used to affect another person’s humor. Galdr is referenced in Skírnismál, when Skirnir uses galdrar to force Gerðr to marry Freyr.

Galdr is also mentioned in several of the poems in the Poetic Edda, for instance in Hávamál, where Odin claims to know 18 galdrar. Odin mastered galdrar against fire, sword edges, arrows, fetters and storms, and he could conjure up the dead and speak to them.

Galdring is a tool for achieving spiritual wholeness. Making and singing a galdr is an excellent means to strengthen a person objective and future goals. A personal galdr song can be fortified with words verses from the eddas to create esoteric mantras.

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THE WILD HUNT

Our ancestors were strongly tied to hunting. According to Norwegian folklore, Oskorei, often understood and written as Odin's Wild Hunt, Åsgårdsreia, Aasgaardsreiden, Asgardsreien and Asgaardsreien, was a hunt that started on 31 October and held until 30 April.

The hunt consists of gods from Asgard and dead souls, who ride through stormy sky. The sound of hunting horns can be heard through forests and mountains, but the hunt is rarely seen. When Odin's Wild Hunt is heard, it means changing weather or trouble.

 ACADEMY SENIOR INSTRUCTOR TYR NEILSEN WITH THE BEAUTIFUL PAINTING "ASGARDSREIEN" BY PETER NICOLAI ARBO - 1872   PHOTO - BENTE WEMUNDSTAD

ACADEMY SENIOR INSTRUCTOR TYR NEILSEN WITH THE BEAUTIFUL PAINTING "ASGARDSREIEN" BY PETER NICOLAI ARBO - 1872   PHOTO - BENTE WEMUNDSTAD

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