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Thor and Electricity

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Metaphysics and Hidden Messages in Old Norse Myths

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The Death of Balder and the End of the Golden Age

The death of Balder is another important part of the Old Norse cosmogenesis that explains the origins of the Mysteries of Initiation and why the Golden Age came to an end and why we are barred from our divine heritage – but also explaining how we can retrieve it. In Part One, I am presenting the Edda poem called the Vegtamskvida, “The Song of Way-Wont”. “Way-Wont” (The One Who Knows the Way to Hel) is the name Odin uses to disguise his real identity as he approaches Hel in order to understand why Balder, his son, is having bad omen dreams. The long dead Völva (witch), whose grave is situated to the East (to the Sunrise) of the Hel-gates, is wakened by spell-songs of death-choice (“Válgaldr”) and reveals that Hel is brewing the precious mead for Balder and is decorating the High Hall of Death for Balder – that is, she is expecting the god to enter her realms in the Underworld. Odin asks who is to kill Balder, and the Völva reveals that the killer is Strife the Blind (“Hödr Blindi”), one of Balder´s brothers. Odin asks who is to avenge Balder by throwing Strife the Blind on the pyre, and the Völva tells him that the avenger will be “The Choice” (Váli), another yet unborn son of Odin, born of “She who Rejects” (Hrind/Hrinda) in Western Halls. The West is the land of humanity. The story continues in Part Two: Balder`s Funeral and Hermod`s Ride to Hel, where I have added an additional myth in the description relating to “She Who Rejects” and the birth of Choice who avenges Balder.
Eventually, Odin asks about some mysterious “maidens” who “weep and sob”. This is when the Völva (the wise woman of the Underworld) reveals that she is not the Völva at all, but Loki, the “mother of three trolls” (Loki himself, who is intersexed, or Loki`s lover Angrboda (She Who Bids Rage) gave birth to the three trolls of Greed, Fear and Limitation (Fenrir, Hel, Midgardsormr), and he can not answer the question about the “maidens”, who represent the fate goddesses of the worthy souls.

While Odin undertakes his shamanistic journey, Snorri relates how Loki, blinded by jealousy, changes into a woman in order to visit Frigg in Fensalir (The Liquid Halls) in order to trick the Goddess into telling him how Balder may be killed. The Goddess tells him how, and Loki makes an arrow out of the Mistletoe and steers the arms of Strife the Blind (Hödr Blindi), a metaphor for mindless rage steered by jealousy, into shooting Balder. In another poem, Lokasenna, Loki mocks Frigg by telling how he tricked her into revealing how her own son could be killed, and is told that he is a fool to think that he has tricked her, since Frigg “knows all fate, even if she speaks naught”.

In Part Two of the Death of Balder I relate Snorri`s tale of Balder`s funeral and the subsequent story of Hermodr, the first Hero, who travels to Hel in order to ask the Goddess to release Balder from the Underworld. This shamanistic journey is the beginning of the path of initiation.

THE MYTH OF “SHE WHO REJECTS”: The Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus tells a story about how Odin tried to woo Hrinda, who “rejects” him because he is too old. Even when he offers her all the gold of Àsgard does she reject him, saying that she has enough gold in her father`s halls. Then Odin resorts to witchcraft, making Hrinda go crazy. He changes into an old witch-woman and comes in this disguise to Hrinda`s people and claims that he can heal her. He has the people bind the crazy Hrinda to the bed because he has to give her a very bitter medicine. Then, having made all the people go outside, he rapes her. What happened is a metaphor (Old Norse myths should always be read as metaphors, something which is both obvious on its own and also explained by Snorri) explaining how Hrinda, as a representative of humankind, rejects the Spirit and thus looses her freedom and her mind. It is also a metaphor for the fate of women when they reject the Spirit. In the Poetic Edda (the Gròagaldr), Hrinda is said to have lived for a while with Ràn, the Goddess of Death, where she received nine spell-songs. After that she gave birth to Choice, who “avenges” Balder, that is, he restores Balder and all he represents by throwing “Strife the blind” (Ignorant Struggle) to the pyre. But Saxo also tells us that Odin was punished by the other gods with excile after having commited the crime of rape, thus leaving Frigg (The History) alone without the Spirit. While he is away, she (according to Snorri) marries his brothers Will and Awe (Vili and Vè) instead – another metaphor for how History is lost to Spirit and living in the clutches of lower vibrations. However, Odin will return and reclaim his wife when Balder had been restored.
I do not tell the tale of Odin`s rape and excile in this movie, but go on to retell Snorri`s version of the myth, in which Loki (“The Fiery One”), a metaphor for the human passion, is seized by jealousy and manipulates Strife the Blind into killing Balder. I have not added this myth in the movie but am retelling the Snorri story of Balder`s funeral and the first shamanistic journey to Hel undertaken by a human in order to restore Balder (what he represents) to the world.


There are three meanings to the name Odin. The name is derived from the word Òdr, meaning Spirit/Inspiration, Poetry and Frenzy/Rage/Ecstacy. The suffix -hinn (Òdr-hinn) simply means “the”. So Odin is “THE Spirit, THE Poetry and THE Frenzy.
His wife, Frigg, is an aspect of the Goddess as a complementary function to Odin`s three meanings. Frigg means Love or Beloved, corresponding to Spirit. She has two other names that are used throughout the poetry to describe her, Saga, the History, corresponding with the Poetry, and Hlìn, Mild/Calm, corresponding with Frenzy/Rage. Their child Balder is the metaphor for their divine union.
BALDER=Bold, Fearless, Courageus, Brave. WIDE VISION=Breidablik, Balder`s metaphorical “abode” (state of mind). His fearlessness makes him able to see wider than most. NANNA NEPRSDOTTIR= His wife. The name Nanna may very well be related to the old Sumerian Goddess Inanna, who is known to have grieved for her lover and followed him into the Underworld. Her last name means Daughter of the Ring and as we will see, the Ring is an important symbol of the original divine union and completeness, wholeness it creates. MISTY HEL=NìflHel, also known as Niflheim, MISTY WORLD, the realm of Death, the Underworld. HIGH HALL OF HEL= Hàva Halli Helju. SPELL-SONGS OF DEATH-CHOICE=Vàlgaldr. Vàl means both choice and death, referring to the chosen dead, chosen by Freya or the Valkyrias. WAY-WONT=Vegtamr, DEATH-WONT=Valtamr. LIQUID HALLS=Fensalir, Frigg`s abode. Fen=moist, wet, liquid, bog. The Goddess received sacrifice in bogs.

RING-HORN=Hringhorni, Balder`s ship, on which his funeral pyre takes place. The ship is so heavy that only a giantess can move it: FIRE-SCORCHED=Hyrokkin, a giantess. The name probably refers to the burning of the witch Gullveig(Freya), see my movie BURNING THE WITCH! etc. THANKS=Tökkr, the hag that refused to weep for Balder, Loki in disguise again. HERMODR=Courage of an Army (it takes courage to go into Hel while still alive). COURAGEOUS BATTLE=Modgunnr, the Maiden who guards the Resounding Bridge. RESOUNDING BRIDGE=Gjallarbru. It resounds when someone passes it. The bridge marks the border river (a resounding river) to Misty Hel, the realm of the dead.RESOUNDING RIVER=Gjöll

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The Initiation of the Goddess

The story of the war between the two divine tribes of Aesir and Vanir forms a very basic part of Old Norse cosmogenesis. According to Snorri, the Vanir were a native tribe in Scandinavia when the Aesir arrived from “Asia”, more spesifically from Turkey. The Aesir (“Asians”) descended from Thonar the Thunder God and his wife Sibylla, who was clairvoyant, were now led by Wodan and his clairvoyant wife Frija. The Asians conquered all the lands of North-Western Europe, married the women and soon everybody spoke their language. Only when they arrived in Scandinavia did they meet considerable resistance from the Vanir, who with their sorcery conquered the conquerors. Wodan (Odin) was smart and managed a beneficial truce.
The story is curiously reminiscent of actual prehistoric facts. Towards the end of the Stone Age in Northern Europe, “The Battle Axe People” started to move from Southeast-Europe towards the North-West. Many have claimed that these were the Indo-Europeans, and that they are the reason why almost all the European languages are closely related. The Battle-Axe people was different from the native, communal and matriarchal Megalith-builders, concerned with individual power, war and hierarchy. There was no way Snorri in 1225 AD could have known what archaeology has shown and so many people have assumed that the legend about the Aesir immigration is based on actual events.
I find it possible that such an event, the complete social upheaval and cultural change in a world where nothing before had really changed for millennia, may have been remembered in oral transmission, even over thousands of years. But Old Norse myths have more layers. It is important to notice what the Aesir and the Vanir represent – the Vanir obviously rule the universal laws of nature while the Aesir rule matters of the conscious mind.
In the Voluspá (poetic Edda) we find an older version of the myth that includes the burning of Gullveig the Witch.These lines form the prelude to the war and all scholars agree that the witch that was burned was Freya, the Great Goddess of the Vanir tribe. But WHY did the Aesir burned Freya and pierce her with spears? Most believe it was some sort of punishment because the Goddess was “greedy for gold”, and that she “corrupted the women”, and so they burned her and then her people, the Vanir, came to take revenge. This interpretation is pure fantasy as there is nothing in the sources that would even hint to such a reason for burning the witch. First of all, the idea that Gullveig means “Greedy for Gold” an interpretation that has stuck since it was proposed in the 1930s, is simply wrong. Gullveig means Gold-Brew or else Gold-Strength and refers to the magical golden drink of mead that the Goddess offers. Gold is a metaphor for wisdom, divine light and poetry, as is clearly explained by Snorri. Also, the Vanir did not attack the Aesir to avenge the murder, on the contrary it was Odin who started the war by throwing his spear towards his opponent at a sacred counsel.

I believe the burning of the witch in this case is a story of initiation. Just as Odin later let himself be pierced by spears and hung in order to achieve knowledge of the runes and spell-songs, the Goddess shows through a trial of fire that she can conquer death, and afterwards starts her journey as an operating witch under a new name – a typical structure of initiation. Odin observes her death-defying feat and wants her power for himself, which is why he attacks the Vanir and obtains exactly what he wants: Freya comes to the Aesir and teaches them her art of Seidr. The union leads to great wisdom and a golden age, but this age ends as greedy priests want to monopolize divine wisdom and keep it away from others. When divine wisdom is no longer available to everyobody, there is a need to create a path of initiation for those who still want to seek it.

The translations of names: WITCHES WITHIN WOOD= “Ividiar”, literally meanin “in-wood” but was the title of sorceresses or giantesses and are identified as nine previous worlds.Wood refer to world trees. GOLD-BREW=Gullveig. BRIGHT ONE=Heidr. WICKED WOMEN=illrar brúdar (naughty, unconventional).PEACE OF WISDOM=Fródafrídr. KING WISDOM= Fródi Konungr. BROAD VISION=Breidablik.
Music by Ehwaz: Embla Maria Franz (voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Gustav Holberg (Voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Thomas Kvilhaug (voice, bass, guitar and percussions), John Gunnar Brynjulvsrud (voice, jews harp, kantele, Lótar and percussions), Kjell Øyvind Braaten (voice, ballafon, gambri, bass, guitar and percussions).

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Rune Lore of the Poetic Edda

The Poetic Edda is a collection of (probably very old) pagan poems written down in Iceland some time during the 11th century AD. The manuscript was hidden throughout four centuries until it was uncovered from an Icelandic farm in 1643 AD and sent to the King of Denmark. The Dark Ages were over and finally the heathen poems could safely be known again to the public. The Runes were a type of letters inspired by the Roman alphabet and used by German and Scandinavian tribes for a thousand years. However, the word rún means secret, and the runes clearly had an occult and sacred use as well. In the Poetic Edda, rune lore reveals the great mystery connected to these inscriptions. The goddesses of Fate, Urdr, Verdandi and Skuld (Origin, Becoming and Debt) created the runes by carving them into the World Tree (Yggdrasil, The Steed of the Old One). Odin, who was a god but nevertheless mortal, learned from Freya the art of Seidr and let himself be the first to be initiated into the mysteries of Fate. He uncovered the Runes of Fate and created a path of initiation. The tragedy was that he through greed and ignorance betrayed the Goddess who had taught him, here called Invitation-to-Battle (Gunnlöd). He recognized his mistake, and the balance is restored when the hero Sigurd, after many lives of trying, managed to wake up the sleeping Goddess, now called Sígrdrifa (Victory over Bad Sight) and later Brynhild (Battle of Armors). She teaches him the runes and asks him whether he will have her counsel throughout his life. Sigurd declares that he will not flee from his Fate (the Goddess), and lives with her guidance in life. At death, she comes after him into the Underworld and saves him from oblivion. The Goddess appears as a giantess and as a valkyria, but the epiteths used to describe her (the Goddess of Gold, the Lady of the Land of the Dead) reveals that she is Freya, The Lady, Great Goddess of the Viking Age. She also reveals that she is the sister of Odin, something Odin confirms in the last stanza of the Hávamál poem. The rune lore of the Poetic Edda are thus tightly connected to stories of male initiation rituals into the mysteries of the Goddess who rules all fates. As all Old Norse poetry must be read metaphorically, we may assume that Odin, the bestower of breath, inspiration and creative intelligence, represents the human spirit, and thus his story is relevant to all of us. The Goddess represents Destiny, and union with her means to unite oneself with one´s own destiny, thus reaching the highest state of divine freedom. Her sleep is “the sorrow of mankind”. I have tried to translate the poems as literally as possible and still reconstruct their poetic and rhythmic drive into the English language.
Some of the names I have translated: STEED OF THE OLD ONE= Yggdrasill, the World Tree. ORIGIN´S WELL=Urdarbrunnr, the cosmic ocean that nurtures the World Tree. ORIGIN, BECOMING, DEBT= Urdr, Verdandi, Skuld, the three norns, goddesses of fate, thought to represent past, present and future. RUNES OF THE SOUL= Húgrúnar. Húgr signifies thought, intent, passion, and soul. SHATTERED ONE= Hroptr (Odin). BRIGHT DROPS=Heiddraupnir. HEAD-TEAR-APART= Hodrofnir. MEMORY= Mimir, whose head is kept by Odin. BAD-THORN= Bólthorn, the father of Bestla, Odin´s mother. His son is Odin´s maternal uncle. Of old, the brother of the mother had a responsibility to educate his sister´s children. POETRY-STIR= Ódrerir, the cauldron in which the mead is kept. INVITATION-TO-BATTLE=Gunnlöd. SEAT OF THE SAGE=Túlarstólinn. THE GREAT SAGE: Fimbultúl. A Túl means someone who recites. It signified a priest, a sage, like a bard who knew how to recite sacred hymns. The Fimbultúl is Odin, the bard of bards. “The shattered one among the gods”=Odin. THIN MIST=Tundr, one of the many names of Odin, in Grimnismál he reveals that he was Thin Mist before anything else. DRINK-HEAVY= Suttungr, Gunnlöd´s father. MOUNTAIN OF THE DOE= Hindarfjöll. GODDESS OF GOLD=Gullna Dís. The valkyria is called this twice in the Helreidr Brynhilds.

Music by Ehwaz: Embla Maria Franz (voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Gustav Holberg (Voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Thomas Kvilhaug (voice, bass, guitar and percussions), John Gunnar Brynjulvsrud (voice, jews harp, kantele, Lótar and percussions), Kjell Øyvind Braaten (voice, ballafon, gambri, bass, guitar and percussions).

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The Old Norse Goddess of Initiations

From Stone Age shamanism through Bronze Age Sun worship and Sacred Marriage, the Great Goddess Freyia evolved into the great Regeneratrix of the Vikings who sought initiation and resurrection through a deadly journey through the Underworld that would lead to union with the Origin of All Souls, goddess of the cosmic ocean from which the universe was birthed. Based on my book “The Maiden with the Mead – a Goddess of Initiation in Old Norse Myths”.
All drawn art in this movie is copied from Scandinavian Stone Age, Bronze Age and Viking Age rock art, engravings and sculpture (by me).
Music by Ehwaz, a group that is (sadly) dissolved. Thanks to the musicians of late Ehwaz for attempting to revive Old Norse musical styles: Embla Maria Franz (voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Gustav Holberg (Voice, violin, flutes and percussions), Thomas Kvilhaug (voice, bass, guitar and percussions), John Gunnar Brynjulvsrud (voice, jews harp, kantele, Lótar and percussions), Kjell Øyvind Braaten (voice, ballafon, gambri, bass, guitar and percussions). The songs are: Skumringsdrøm, Vi Riden Så, Gwerin, Vinda, from the albums “Den siste Ulvejakta” and “Ehwaz”.

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Odin´s Raven-Charm

In 1867, the Norwegian authority on Old Norse literature, Sophus Bugge, dismissed the Raven Charm of Odin as a hoax and decided that it should never again be published as a part of the Poetic Edda. He based his decision on his belief that the Edda poems were representative of simple folklore, a category into which the Raven Charm did not fit. Also, he confessed, as many before him, that it was impossible to decipher this poem.
All the Edda poems are metaphorical and allusive, giving away just a tip of an enormous narrative iceberg. But at least it is usually possible to recognize a narrative, and thanks to Snorri Sturlusson, who in 1225 wrote an explanation of the metaphors known as The Prose Edda, most of the Edda poems may be understood. Not so with the Raven Charm, and Snorri never even mentioned this poem.
However, I believe that Snorri consciously left out of his explanation poems and parts of poems that were simply too seething with paganism to be acceptable in his time, and that could, in any way, reveal the true spiritual depths of the pagan lore and thus be a threat to the Christian faith. The hanging and self-sacrifice of Odin, a narrative that actually makes up the climax of the Hávamál poem, is not mentioned by Snorri at all, although he often quotes other parts of that poem. The story of Gunnlöd offering the precious mead is reduced by Snorri from being a story of sacred marriage and a stately goddess offering the drink from a golden throne, to being a story of theft where the Goddess appears as a foolish and easily seduced girl. The display of immortality and path of initiation offered by the goddess Freya in the Voluspá, a very important part of that poem, is also left out by Snorri. In the Poetic Edda there are numerous stories about initiations and pagan rituals, but they are often easily disguised as legends and romances, and this is how Snorri explains them.
He did this either because he was a devote Christian who happened to be fond of his literary heritage, or because he was wise enough to know how to conform with the Church authority in a time when heretics and pagans would be executed and their books burned. I do not think it is coincidental that the Poetic Edda collection was hidden from the public throughout four centuries while the more moderate Prose Edda was accepted. In 1225, after more than 200 years of Christianity in Iceland, Snorri wrote his explanations because young students of poetry were BEGINNING to be at loss about how to understand the ancestral poetic heritage because they no longer knew the pagan myths by heart. He also based his explanation on the oral transmissions he was offered by elder men and women in whose minds the old myths were still vivid. Thus paganism could still be considered a threat by an increasingly powerful Church. Snorri did his masterpiece, collecting and saving the mythical lore and making it harmless by presenting it as legends of the ancestors rather than stories of gods, practitioners and their rituals. I believe that the Raven Charm may very well be authentic, belonging to a real esoteric tradition within the Old Norse religious world rather than common folklore.
In this translation I have not been able to compare my interpretations with that of other translators because there hardly are any to be found. Thus my translation must surely have errors and I apologize for that, but I still think it is important that this poem is once again known to those interested, but who are not able to read Old Norse and look it up in some dusty university library. Until some translator or publisher decides it is time to return this poem to its rightful place among the Edda poems, you will have to make do with this, unless you can find some other translations on the internet. My translation is based on Sophus Bugge´s Edda collection of 1867. As with my other translations, I have also made an effort to translate/interpret the names of characters and places. Contrary to what is common, I believe that it is important to attempt to offer translations of such names because they are never just names, but crucial to the coded messages of each line and stanza.

Here follows some of the names that I have translated:
Origin=Urdr, the oldest norn. The Soul=Huginn, Odin´s RAVEN. Illusion=Ginnung, All-Burner=Alsvidr, Odin. The Returning One=Idunn, goddess of regeneration, owns the apples that restore youth. Inner Ruler=Ivaldi. The Desiring=Thráin, Death= Dáin, Expander=Vidarr, Odin´s son who will survive into the next era. Shivering Voice=Bifröst, the rainbow bridge that connects the worlds. The Giving Lady=Gefion, Freya. Earth-woman=Iorunn. The Hanged God=Hangagúd, Odin. Pusher=Hnikarr, Odin. Great World=Heimdallr. Howling Sound=Ómi. Dawn=Dellingr, who invented time-counting. Hibernation=Dvalinn. Elf-Wheel=Alfrödull, the Sun.

Music by Varde Duo: “Secrets”, Liv Nome and Tor Egil Braaten

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