9th April 20:39
Havamal 111 (faith songs able runes order)
Two initial comments: 1) I have been extremely busy lately so the amount of
time I've spent mulling over this recent installation of my lore commentary is
longer than any of the previous breaks. I have no idea if my pace will be able
to resume. 2) Google is having a fit with submissions lately so I am posting
this through the e-mail address. I'd love to find a news provider who offers a
111. Odin, I believe,
a ring-oath gave.
Who in his faith will trust?
of his drink bereft,
and GunnlĂ¶d made to weep!
I believe that importance of stanzas within the Havamal
can be judged by how often the topic is repeated and also
by how much space taken up by the topic. This sequence
runs from stanzas 105-111 for a total of 7 stanzas. To me
that suggests it is a topic of immense importance. To
part of the entire poem.
Why would it be arguably the most important part of the
poem? Because it's about the Lore itself. It is about
writing songs and how they are easier to remember than
essays or lectures. It is about poems and how they are
easier to remember than stories and sagas.
Odin gave up his life for the runes, but he gave up his
HONOR for songs and poems. Both writing and skaldcraft
are ways of being remembered across the generations.
While the ancients often valued honor over life, Odin was
willing to give up both to be remembered.
Far more than "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"
and Idunna's apples even keep death away, poetry, songs
and writing are the literal immortality of the Aesir among
It WORKED, my fellow heathens. To this day cautious
heathens have trouble trusting Odin, but remember him we
do. And follow his clan we do. Across a millenium gulf,
we remember him and his and follow him and his. The
way that the Aesir actually acheive immortality among us
humans (as opposed to their own long lives that rarely
touch us humans) justifies an immense amount of stress
in the Havamal and sure enough here it is.
In today's world it is now writing that beats singing. I am
writing this not singing it, and you are reading it not
hearing it (barring future archival users using automated
speaking machines). But a thousand years ago and more
few people were literate and most were taught to sing and
recite. A thousand years ago and more, the songs ended
up making the transition to writing anyways.
On a more superficial level, this is a jibe by skalds at
scribes. Skaldcraft, with its long apprenticeship programs,
was to be valued more than being able to write. Any of the
nobles listening as this was recited might have been able
to understand this message and would have chuckled.
A poet claiming superiority over a warrior. But in the end
it's true. The only reason the Volsungs are remembered at
all is they employed skalds to sing their tales. And so a
poet could get away with this assertion without getting
skewered by a sword while he sung to warriors.
Not that Suttung came by it fairly. Odin stole it and lied
to defend his new possesion, but the tale will remember that
the Jotnar weren't the just owners either. Poetry, songs,
memory, immortality, they aren't the sole domain of either
side in the eternal battle between our team and their team.
Yet she doesn't weep for lack of the mead. She's immortal by
way of this tale. She is one of those who Odin treated
dishonorably. Odin chosen to be remembered as an
immortal cad and oathbreaker rather than be forgotten and
keep his honor.
And so we move to yet another symbol level of meaning.
The mead was there no matter which side had it. Memory
through songs and recited poems exists among us humans.
What if Surt's team had control of the inspiration that leads
us humans to compose songs?
Odin chosen dishonor so that humanity would remember and
sing about his side not Surt's side. It was a PR move! To think
that had Odin stayed home, we would now be discussing a
different set of heroes and following a different team of immortal
It makes me think - Is morality absolute of relative? Does Odin's
team actually hold the moral high ground against Surt's team,
or are we on his side merely because he has better PR through
control of the Mead?
To me that's a rhetorical question. One of those things that make
me go hmmm without changing my mind about anything. I follow
the Aesir even though I know they are the ones who are fighting a
losing battle. I follow the Aesir even though I know that destruction
in the end is the natural order. Like the Volsungs doomed to die,
I chose to struggle against that eventual defeat.
The Christian missionairies called this Asatru view of the universe
negative and fatalistic. But human life is cyclical and the universe
probably is anyways. The joy is in the riding of the cycle not in
trying to deny it. The missionairies got it wrong. Of course they
did. They did sort as a deliberate PR plan.
So I move on to yet again another symbolic level. The poems
lived even in the face of the missionary efforts to destroy ancient
Asatru. By his oathbreakign, Odin got us through from the
Conversion era to the new Reawakening.
I for one agree with Odin that his efforts were worth it.
13th April 02:43
Havamal 111 (runes)
I think it left it's footprint. What else is the point of heavy metal
with lyrics that go along the lines of "raaaaarrrrrr raaaaarrrr
grrrrrr! Raaaaaarrrrrr! Wooof!"
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http://www.rexx.co.uk/runes/ - personal online rune readings