This is a hearty hail to Nordic Circle Kindred in Arizona, which was officially founded earlier this year in January 2016. What makes NCKAZ different from other kindreds is that they are actively in the streets passing out food, water and clothing to homeless military veterans. They are a kindred of action or as they would say, “Boots on the ground”. NCKAZ is making a difference! If you wish to make a difference by supporting the kindred’s efforts, or if you want to find out what the kindred is doing; go to their web page. You can call them at 1-800-529-1542. Or you can do as I do and follow them on Facebook. The veterans could use our support. They fought for us, let’s fight for them!
Raise your mead horn with me and give Nordic Circle Kindred a hearty hail !!!!
There are several interesting sites in Iceland named Bjarg including a farm in Borgarnes, which is now a bed and breakfast. There is also a farm called Bjarg in Midfjorur; which was at one time the residence of Asdis, who was the mother of Grettir the Strong. The red-haired Grettir survived all most twenty years as an outlaw, often seeking refuge with his mother at Bjarg. From the Saga of Grettir the Strong we learn that Grettir had defeated a draugr (un-dead/again walker) in battle, but the draugr cursed Grettir with bad luck in revenge.
In act II scene II of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we shall call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.” Juliet was obviously blinded by her love for Romeo, names are very powerful and important in our lives. Names are a source of identification, but they are also a source of connection. Names such as: Cooper, Baker, Smith, Miller are connections to occupations. Some of those occupations, such as Smith, have mythical origins, such as Wayland the Smith. Other names are connected to places in the natural world such as: Craig, Stone, Berg, Cliff, Lee, Leah, Heath, Hill and others. Those places in the natural world were often connected to spirits (landvaettir), which protect and nurture us, if we take the time to find and connect with them. Maybe our name is a hint to us as to where we should look to make that personal connection.
Some names are connected to our ancestors (Disir/Alf), such as: Jen(sen), Jan(son), David(son), Erick(son), John(son), Jon(sson), Johan(son), Robin(son), Robi(son), Robert(son) and so on. Other names are connections to ancestral deities such as: Brown(ing) or Ingi Freyr. In some instances people use more than one name, perhaps several. Examples of other names that people use are: nom de guerre (war/cadre name), nom de plume (pen name), regal name (name of position), stage name, user or screen name, religious and devotional names and nicknames.
One of the words used in Old Norse to refer to a nickname is Kenningarnofn. Nicknames indicated a special status or recognition. It appears that in days of olde, the presentation of a nickname may have created a special relationship between the name maker and the recipient. Can you not imagine a gift for a gift ceremony at a name fastening (nafnfestr) of a great Jarl or Konungur? King Harold Tanglehair became Harold Fairhair on fulfillment of his oath, I wonder if there was a special nafnfestr?
A nom de guerre was used by the French army before the advent of a numbering system. Today’s nicknames may be related to a call sign or given by the training cadre. Some groups will confer a nickname based on physical characteristics or a recent incident. The nickname will be conferred by members of the in-group on those in and out of the group. The “others” outside the in-group will be given special names, usually derogatory such as: Skraeling, Charlie, Slope, Kafur, Kraut, Limey, Frog and many others.
Nicknames for certain in-group members may change. Someone might be indecisive in a situation and others might start calling that person “Shakey.” The name might stick or it might change with a new situation. If “Shakey” makes a habit of borrowing from his buddies; his buddies might start calling him “Moochie.” Nicknames can put pressure on in-group members to conform and perform, no one wants to be “that guy” on a regular basis. Everyone wants their mates to think well of them, especially when one’s life depends on their buddies.
Special names are also given to initiates into religious or esoteric orders. As a point, one can not initiate oneself into a religious or esoteric order. One can only apply to be accepted. An initiate must be able to trace their genealogy back to the founder of the particular group. The current morass of “self-initiation” must be laid at the feet of Scott Cunningham. If one’s claims are legitimate they can be verified. One can not simply read the “Nine Doors of Midgard” and self-initiate into the Rune Gild. It is not that you do not know anything. You may be very knowledgeable and skillful, but you are not an initiate of that established organization.
There is an esoteric belief among some that a soul complex that reincarnates has a “true name.” Discovery of one’s “true name” or true nature is at the heart of esotericism. “Know thy self” is the goal of the quest. There are some that have traditionally believed that one’s true name must be guarded as carefully as their hair and nails; least some nefarious sorcerer gain control of your soul. Remember the cautionary fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin“? The miller’s daughter, who would become queen, made a bargain with Rumpelstiltskin that she would give him her first-born in exchange for the knowledge of turning straw into gold.
Rumpelstiltskin held up his end of the bargain, but when the queen was to hold up her end of the bargain, she balked. Confident in himself, Rumpelstiltskin entered into a name game with the queen. The queen was given three guesses. The queen was naught for two guesses and in a tight spot. Later by happenstance, the desperate queen came upon the unsuspecting Rumpelstiltskin gleefully talking to himself in the woods. Thinking himself alone Rumpelstiltskin said his name aloud and the queen heard it. During their next bout, the queen revealed Rumpelstiltskin’s name gaining control of him. An esoteric concept in plain sight.
“Now, lady, what is my name?’ ’Is it JOHN?’ asked she. ’No, madam!’ ’Is it TOM?’ ’No, madam!’ ’Is it BJARG?’ ’It is not.’ ’Can your name be RUMPELSTILTSKIN?’ said the lady slyly. ’Some witch told you that!– some witch told you that!’ cried the little man, and dashed his right foot in a rage so deep into the floor, that he was forced to lay hold of it with both hands to pull it out.”
The word clan comes from the Scottish Gaelic word Clann, which essentially means offshoot. Therefore a clan is made up of individuals who have a direct or perceived kinship to a common ancestor. However, one might marry into or be adopted into a clan. There were several Scottish highland clans and Scottish lowland families that were descended from Scandinavian settlers, who were usually called “Danes” regardless of their actual origin. Highland clans such as Gunn, McDonald of the Isles, MacLeod, MacQueen and MacAuley claim Norse descent.
The northern most Scottish clan, Clan Gunn, has traditionally, if not mythically, claimed descent from Sweyn Asleifsson, the ultimate Viking of the Orkneyinga Saga. Sweyn Asleifsson was born approximately in 1116 and was killed in 1171 while fighting in Dublin Ireland. Sweyn’s grandson was Gunni. Gunni’s wife was Ragnhild, whose grandfather was St. Rognvald, Jarl of Orkney. In 1198 on the death of Ragnhild’s brother, Harold Ungi Jarl of Orkney and Caithness, Ragnhild inherited most of Orkney and Caithness. Ragnhild and Sweyn passed their holdings on to their son, Snaekoll. The folk that were to become Clan Gunn were at the height of their power in the thirteenth century, a time of which little is known about the Gunn’s history.
It appears that Scottish kings, in an effort to increase their power on the northern edge of Scotland, began to give land grants in northern Scotland, to loyal nobles, depriving the Gunn’s of their good farmland. In 1586 the Sinclair Earl of Caithness and the Gordon Earl of Sutherland formed an alliance against the Gunns. In the middle of the fifteenth century George Gunn of Ulbster, also known as the crowner (Am Braisdeach Mor), was the first truly “Scottish” Clan Gunn chief. George Gunn and four of his sons were killed in battle against Clan Keith. George Gunn’s three surviving sons would be the genesis of the three branches of the clan (the galley on the Gunn arms has three masts, the supporters are a Viking Warrior and a Pic Woman).
James (Sheumus) took lands in Kildonan, Robert took lands in Braemore and John took land in Cattaig. James’ son would be known as the MacSheumas Chataich and would be the progenitor of the MacKeamish
Gunns. The Gunns were involved in many battles with neighboring clans, through the years and over time they did not fare well. During the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, Clan Gunn was led by the MacKeamish with approximately 120 men, on the Hanoverian side of the conflict. The Gunns were attached to the Earl of Loudon’s regiment, but as a unit they were not present at the battle of Culloden. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces at Culloden, laws were passed to incorporate the Scottish Highlands into the rest of Great Britain. Scottish clans were essentially made illegal. In 1746 parliament passed laws banning Scottish Highland attire and bagpipes, except for those serving the in British military.
In 1780 the eighth MacKeamish, William Gunn, was killed while serving with the British army in India and the chieftainship passed to William’s brother, Morrison Gunn. Morrison Gunn, the ninth MacKeamish, died without issue serving with the British army at Gibraltar. Back in the highlands, the Countess of Sutherland determined that the Gunns, who resided on her lands needed a chief, who would assist her in clearing the clansmen from her lands to make room for sheep. At that time the demand for wool in Great Britain made sheep on the land more profitable than tenant farmers.
In 1803, without the authority of the Lord Lyon, a sheriff’s court was held in Thurso and Hector Gunn was appointed chief of the Clan Gunn. When Hector Gunn died, his son George Gunn became the next chief; although unrecognized by competent authority. The Countess of Sutherland took George Gunn as her protégé, gave him lands and secured him a military commission. Former clansmen from all over the highlands were removed from their ancestral lands and transported to various locations in the British Empire; after being rounded up and their homes burned to ensure they would not return. It was a tragedy similar to the “Trail of Tears” in the United States.
For a long time there was little interest in being chief of a clan that in reality did not exist anymore. Those people who had been betrayed by chiefs, whom they considered to be their kinsmen and leaders, had little interest in renewing the relationship either. However, in time, old wounds slowly began to heal. Sir Walter Scott’s novels and the Highland Society of London began to spark a romanticized interest in all things highland. In 1822 King George IV appeared in Edinburgh wearing a kilt, signaling royal approval of the kilt. Some British lords with highland estates, had kilts made for their male Scottish servants to wear while at work at the estate. Visitors would see the lord being served by men in highland attire causing some in Scotland to view highland attire in a more negative light.
Scots serving in highland regiments in the British army take great pride in Scottish highland traditions and have quietly been a tremendous influence in promoting a positive “highland” culture in Scotland and throughout the world. In 1821, one year before King Edward VI arrived in Edinburgh, The Loyal and Benevolent Society of the Clan Gunn was formed for the relief of poor Gunns displaced by the clearances.
In 1960 the Clan Gunn Society was formed in the U.K. by William Gunn of Banniskirk with Iain Gunn for the purpose of locating a chief for the clan. William Gunn was designated as Commander of the clan by the Lord Lyon in 1967 to lead the clan society, until a chief is found. After William Gunn’s death in 1968, Iain Gunn of Banniskirk was designated Commander of the clan in 1972. Commander Gunn has worked tirelessly promoting Gunn kinship in Scotland and throughout the world with Scottish diaspora for many years.
On 18 July 2015 a Derbhfine or family convention was held in Scotland with Clan Gunn’s armiger members with the purpose of selecting a chief. After debate, Iain Gunn of Banniskirk was recommended to the Lord Lyon. On 16 April 2016 in Merchants Hall in Edinburgh Scotland, Dr. Joseph Morrow Lord Lyon and King of Arms presented Iain Gunn of Gunn a Grant of Arms as Chief of Clan Gunn. Over two hundred years after the death of the last recognized chief Morrison Gunn; Clan Gunn at last has a chief. Clan Gunn could not have done better. Iain Gunn of Gunn and his lady, Madam (Bunty) Gunn of Gunn are both much admired and loved by those who claim kinship to Clan Gunn, including this writer.
Let us charge our horns with good mead and give a hearty hail to Iain Gunn of Gunn- Chief of the Viking Clan- Clan Gunn. Aut Pax Aut Bellum!
On 01 May 2016 the Asatru Folk Assembly Alsherjargothi Stephen McNallen made an announcement on Facebook, that he would be going into a well-earned semi-retirement to spend more time on his personal development. Mr. McNallen’s contribution to American Heathenry since 1972 can not be over stated and his semi-retirement, for AFA members, will be bitter-sweet. This writer will not attempt to list Mr. McNallen’s achievements, that would take an entire chapter of a book. If Else Christensen is the folkmóðir, then surely Stephen McNallen is the faðir of the trufolk movement in the United States and to him we are indebted.
[Ostara in the South 2016 Stephen McNallen and Henrick Palmgren (photo courtesy of Kalki Weisthor- www.kalkiweisthor.net)]
Raise a horn of mead with me and, “Hail Alsherjargothi Emeritus Stephen A. McNallen”
But a noble name | will never die,
If good renown one gets.