Word Fame- Alice Karlsdóttir

Freya [Public Domain]
Freya [Public Domain]
This writer would like to give a very heart-felt hail to Alice Karlsdottir.   Ms. Karlsdottir has been active in asatru for over forty years as a gythia and a Master of the Rune Gild.   Ms. Karlsdottir’s work has appeared  in “Gnosis” magazine, “Our Troth” and her seminal work “Norse Goddess Magic: Mythology, Ritual and Transwork” is possibly the most extensive and widely read practical work on Norse Goddesses.   Ms. Karlsdottir has also focused her attention on the nefarious Loki.

Ms. Karlsdottir was a featured vocalist on the album “Birdking” by Fire+Ice, as she sang her song, “The Lady of the Vanir.”    Ms. Karlsdottir also sang on the album “North Country” with the group Verdandi.   Despite the fact that Ms. Karldottir works full-time and is a stage actor, she makes time to mentor selected apprentices in the Rune Gild.   Ms. Karlsdottir took her valuable time and mentored this writer through the Doors, for which this writer is very grateful.   Ms. Karlsdottir maintains a presence on Facebook and a blog at https://mad-alice.blogspot.com.      This writer believes a fitting tribute to honor Ms. Karlsdottir are her own words:

The Lady of the Vanir

There came a lady fae the west
Who left not one cold man here;
She smelled of trees and ocean breeze,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She kissed the pollen on the rose,
She kissed the golden corn ear,
She kissed the seed within the womb,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She went forth from the towers of light,
She felt no sorrow nor fear;
She went to seek the heart of the night,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She found the cavern dark and deep,
All filled with gold and jewels dear;
She found the small men at their work,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She put her arm about the East,
And found a thought so light and clear;
She breathed forth song and melody,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She put her tongue about the South,
And in her breast a flame did sear;
She shouted forth her battle cry,
The Lady of the Vanir.

She put her leg about the West,
And felt her Mother’s breast near;
She gave her heart to all the world,
The Lady of the Vanir.

© Alice Karlsdóttir 1981

Raise your mead horn and give a hearty hail to Alice Karlsdottir!



Is it BJARG?

Attribution: I, Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason
Attribution: I, Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason

Bjarg is old Norse from Proto-Germanic bergaz and means “crag, rock, mountain, highlands and poetically- cliff.”  If we look to Wiktionary we find:


n5 Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative bjarg bjargið bjørg bjørgini
Accusative bjarg bjargið bjørg bjørgini
Dative bjargi bjarginum bjørgum bjørgunum
Genitive bjargs bjargsins bjarga bjarganna

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.”




Thurisaz- A Rune for the Wolf Age

thornThis writer would like to briefly touch on the topic of Germanic runes in the Wolf Age.    Many new to Germanic heathenism often take a great interest in the study of runes and rightly so.   However, this writer suggests that in the beginning most of one’s time should be spent studying the primary source materials about Germanic culture such as the Eddas, sagas, and historical writers to obtain an overall understanding of the culture in which the runes were used.    The study of a Germanic language, other than English, is also encouraged.  This writer has included several links to suggested reading lists in the blog roll for those interested.

Runes are a paradox, on the surface they are easy to understand simply as letters for writing a language.     However, the energies that each of the letters represent are a mystery.    The word rune roughly translates as mystery.   Those mystical energies pre-date the gods and were not created by them.   Odin sacrificed himself upon the tree Yggdrassil, so that he could take up the mysteries, or the runes, into himself and rise out of the chaos into godhood.   This writer does not see Odin as a god of war, but as a god of death and transformation, which is required for the cycle to move forward.

This writer sees Tyr as the god of war and Thor as the protector of the gods.    There is no doubt that Thor was the most popular god among the common warriors and Odin was much less popular among them.   However, Odin did have a cult following among certain nobles.  Other warriors followed deities such as Freya or Frey.  There were regional differences in which gods were honored and how they were honored.  The folk’s relationship with the gods was not so much an individual thing, but more of a group relationship.   The folk did not envision themselves apart from their community; because to be removed from the protection of the law of the folk was to be an outlaw or accursed.    Some tribes or blood lines were favored by certain gods and goddesses, because the gods had sired their noble blood lines and took a special interest in their well being.   All of the folk can claim descent from the gods through the god Heimdallr, therefore the gods are our noble kinsmen.

Odin did not give the runes to men, that was done by the god Rig also known as Heimdallr.   However, men must follow Odin’s example to understand the powers represented by the runes.    It is also interesting to note that Heimdallr is associated by some with the world tree Yggdrassil.   Men were fashioned by the gods out of trees and Odin hung on the tree to find the mysteries near the root of the tree.    The runes are typically carved on wooden staves, not on small stones for rune casting.   This writer is unaware of any source material which would lead one to believe that runes were historically used for divination.   Although they can be and they are currently used for divination by some.

Magic aside or not, the primary use of runes for asatruar today is personal transformation or evolution.   Personal evolution during the Wolf Age is a good idea, so the study of the runes is encouraged by this writer.     The question for the beginner is where to start.    This writer suggests one to contact the Rune Gild to begin the process.   Or one could also contact Wodenson at NRR-Northern Runes Radio, who has an excellent series on runes.   This writer is certain that there are other good sources as well, but simply buying a book will not be enough.   Even buying several good books will not be enough.  To understand the runes one must begin an organized study under a competent teacher that will take several years just to master the basics.   As always, the teacher is more important than any organization that the teacher may be affiliated with.

All runes are facets of the primal or mother rune, which is Hagalaz.   This writer has been noticing, as events have been escalating in the western world, that certain runic energies are recurring or are prominent enough that this writer has taken notice of them in daily life.   This writer has noted a prominence of the runic energies of Fehu, Thurisaz, Tiwaz and Dagaz several times in the last several months.   In this short essay the writer will address Thurisaz/Þurisaz.

The three oldest Germanic runic alphabets are: the Elder Futhark, the Younger Futhark and the Anglo-Saxon Futharc.   Thurisaz holds the third position in all three of the above Futhark systems and is the third rune in the elder futhark in the first or Freyr’s Aett in the Elder Futhark.    Thurisaz or Þurisaz in Proto-Germanic means Thor or Giant.   Thurs/Þurs in Old Norse means Giant.   In the Anglo-Saxon Futharc the rune Thurisaz is called þorn which means thorn.    Some believe that thorn is a kenning or a metaphor for giant.   Giants are primal, wild, uncontrolled, powerful energies that are generally hostile to the order established by the gods and they are especially hostile to man.   Giants are not inherently evil; they are chaos opposed to order.   The gods themselves were once giants who elevated themselves out of chaos.    Loki is not evil in and of himself, but a necessary catalyst for change to take place allowing the cycle to move forward.                

This writer has been planning on writing this article for at least one month.    During that time, the writer has noted that his Rune Gild sib, Kalki Weisthor, published an article on Thurisaz entitled Meditation on the Thorn Rune at his blog.   Wodenson at Northern Runes Radio, just did a podcast on the rune Thurisaz (and it was very good).    Mere coincidence?   Maybe, or are people picking up on something that is going on at a deeper level?

Descriptions of the runes included in the three alphabets are found in three historical poems, the Old English Rune Poem, the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, and the Icelandic Rune Poem.

Thurisaz is described in the Old English Rune Poem as follows:

serveimage7MVIPN3D(Ðorn- thorn) is very sharp; for every thegn

Who grasps it, it is harmful and exceedingly cruel

to every man who lies up on it.”

Thurisaz is described in the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme as follows:

serveimage7MVIPN3D(Þurs- giant) causes the sickness of women;

Few are cheerful from misfortune.”

Thurisaz is described in the Icelandic Rune Poem as follows:

serveimage7MVIPN3D(Þurs- giant) is the torment of women and the dweller

in the rocks and husband of the etin-wife Varth-runa

Saturn. “ruler of the legal assembly.”

Thurisaz has been used in magical operations of offense and defense for centuries, and it appears to be a rune associated with life and death.    It is a sharp piercing energy associated with pain and blood loss.    But it appears to have other uses as well.   In the Lay of Sigdrifa we discover that Odin pricked the shield maiden Sigdrifa (Brynhild) with a thorn or sleep rune (Svefnthorn) causing her to fall into a deep sleep; until she was to be awakened by the hero Sigurd, who she is supposed to marry.   We find other references to the Svefnthorn in the Saga of the Volsungs, The Saga of King Kraki, and Gongu-Hrolf’s Saga.    There are hints of the Svefnthorn in the fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

BrynhildIn our time during the wolf age, we find our heroine Sigdrifa/Brynhild/Europa had been placed into a deep sleep; but she has been partially awakened.    Our hero must slay the dragon Fafnir and prove himself worthy through his courage to wed the maiden.   As our heroine awakes she says:

” I counsel you eleventh; there lurks evil
Round each bend of the road:
A long life you must not look to have,
So great are the hatreds grown.

Our heroine warns the hero to always be on his guard against being bewitched (seduced through mind control), believing the words of his enemies (wolf’s kin) as truth, and avoiding  brother’s quarrels.   Our hero should only give his oath if he intents to fulfill it; and it would be better for him to perish on the battlefield than burned in his home.     Our hero must succeed in his quest; if he is to wed the maiden returning peace and prosperity to the land and the folk.    The thorn rune is in play; life, death, re-birth.