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This article is part of the

Odin series



Regional traditions




Odin's names

Odin's sons

For other meanings of Odin,Woden or Wotan see Odin (disambiguation), Woden (disambiguation), Wotan (disambiguation).

Odin (Old Norse/Icelandic Óðinn, also known as Oden, Woden or Wotan), is considered the chief god in Norse mythology and Norse paganism. Like the Anglo-Saxon Woden it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wodinaz or *Wodanaz.

His name is related to óðr, meaning "fury", "excitation", "mind" or "poetry". His role, like many of the Norse pantheon, is complex. He is a god of wisdom, war, battle and death. He is also attested as being a god of magic, poetry, prophecy, victory and the hunt.

Contents -

1 Characteristics

2 Origins

3 Blót

4 Eddic

4.1 Exploits

4.2 Attributes

4.3 Stories And Myths

4.4 Names

5 Persisting beliefs in Odin

5.1 Woden's Day

6 Toponyms with the name of Odin

7 Modern age

7.1 Germanic neopaganism

7.2 Modern popular culture

8 References

9 External links

- Characteristics

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with "poetry, inspiration" as well as with "fury, madness and the wanderer." Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.[1]

An 1886 depiction of Odin by Georg von Rosen.Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.

Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Midgard, Ragnarök.

He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory. In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his javelin Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin's beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin's table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves(Geri and Freki) on each side of him.

Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.

- Origins

Main article: Wodanaz

7th century depiction of Odin on a Vendel helmet plate, found in Uppland.

The 7th century Tängelgarda stone shows Odin leading a troop of warriors all bearing rings. Valknut symbols are drawn beneath his horse, which at this time still has the normal number of legs.Worship of Odin may date to Proto-Germanic paganism. The Roman historian Tacitus may refer to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos,"the leader of souls."

Because Odin is closely connected with a horse and spear and transformation/shape shifting into animal shapes an alternatively theory of origin contends that Odin or at least some of his key characteristics may have arisen just prior to the sixth century as a nightmareish horse god (Echwaz), later signified by the eight legged Sleipner. The original function of this horse was to carry the dead to wherever they were going and to sometimes snack on their flesh. Some support for Odin as a late comer to the Scandinavian Norse pantheon can be found in the Sagas where, for example, at one time he is thrown out of Asgard by the other gods - a seemingly unlikely tale for a well established "all father". Scholars who have linked Odin with the "Death God" template include E. A. Ebbinghaus, Jan de Vries and Thor Templin. The later two also link Loki and Odin as being one-and-the-same until the early Norse Period.

Scandinavian Óðinn emerged from Proto-Norse *Wodin during the Migration period, Vendel artwork (bracteates, image stones) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri's tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by the Aesir, intruders from the Continent.[2]

Parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry. Both have ravens and a spear as their attributes, and both are one-eyed. Julius Caesar (de bello Gallico, 6.17.1) mentions Mercury as the chief god of Celtic religion. A likely context of the diffusion of elements of Celtic ritual into Germanic culture is that of the Chatti, who lived at the Celtic-Germanic boundary in Hesse during the final centuries before the Common Era. (It must be remembered that Odin in his Proto-Germanic form was not the chief god, but that he only gradually replaced Tyr during the Migration period.)

- Blót

It is attested in primary sources that sacrifices were made to Odin during blóts. Adam of Bremen relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hung from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect their king but also to depose him, the sagas relate that both King Domalde and King Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine. It has been argued that the killing of a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in war was well-documented; in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek's Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus' account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king himself drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer (mid April, actually--summer being reckoned essentially the same as did the Celt, at Beltene, Calan Mai [Welsh], which is Mayday--hence as summer's "herald"), since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót "in summer, for victory"; Odin is consistently referred to throughout the Norse mythos as the bringer of victory. The Ynglinga saga also details the sacrifices made by the Swedish king Aun, to whom it was revealed that he would lengthen his life by sacrificing one of his sons every ten years; nine of his ten sons died this way. When he was about to sacrifice his last son Egil, the Swedes stopped him.

- Eddic

A depiction of Odin riding Sleipnir from an eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript.According to the Prose Edda, Odin, the first and most powerful of the Aesir, was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Ve and Vili. With these brothers, he cast down the frost giant Ymir and made Earth from Ymir's body. The three brothers are often mentioned together. "Wille" is the German word for "will" (English), "Weh" is the German word (Gothic wai) for "woe" (English: great sorrow, grief, misery) but is more likely related to the archaic German "Wei" meaning 'sacred'.

Odin had several wives, with whom he fathered many children. With his first wife, Frigg, he fathered his most gentle son Balder, who stood for happiness, goodness, wisdom, and beauty. He also fathered the blind god Hodr, who was representative of darkness (in contrast to Balder's light). Frigg is best known for her love of her son Balder, as well as the story of how she travelled Earth in order to protect him from fated death. By the Earth Goddess Jord (Fjorgin) Odin was the father of his most famous son, Thor the Thunderer. By the giantess Grid, Odin was the father of Vídar, and by Rinda he was father of Váli. Also, many royal families claimed descent from Odin through other sons. For traditions about Odin's offspring, see Sons of Odin.

According to the Hávamál Edda, Odin was also the creator of the Runic alphabet. It is possible that the legends and genealogies mentioning Odin originated in a real, prehistoric Germanic chieftain who was subsequently deified; but this is presently impossible to prove or disprove.

- Exploits

Odin with his ravens and weapons (MS SÁM 66, eighteenth century)Odin and his brothers, Vili and Ve, are attributed with slaying Ymir, the Ancient Giant, to form Midgard. From Ymir's flesh, the brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir's blood, they made the rivers and lakes. Ymir's skull was made into the sky, secured at four points by four dwarfs named East, West, North, and South. From Ymir's brains, the three Gods shaped the clouds, whereas Ymir's eye-brows became a barrier between Jotunheim (giant's home) and Midgard, the place where men now dwell. Odin and his brothers are also attributed with making humans.

After having made earth from Ymir's flesh, the three brothers came across two logs (or an ash and an elm tree). Odin gave them breath and life; Vili gave them brains and feelings; and Ve gave them hearing and sight. The first man was Ask and the first woman was Embla and from them all human families are descended. Many kings and royal houses claim to trace their lineage back to Odin through Ask and Embla.

Odin ventured to Mímir's Well, near Jötunheim, the land of the giants; not as Odin, but as Vegtam the Wanderer, clothed in a dark blue cloak and carrying a traveller's staff. To drink from the Well of Wisdom, Odin had to sacrifice his eye (which eye he sacrified is unclear), symbolizing his willingness to gain the knowledge of the past, present and future. As he drank, he saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon men and the gods. He also saw why the sorrow and troubles had to come to men.

Mímir accepted Odin's eye and it sits today at the bottom of the Well of Wisdom as a sign that the father of the gods had paid the price for wisdom. Sacrifice for the greater good is a recurring theme in Norse mythology, as in the case of Tyr, who sacrificed his hand to fetter Fenrisulfr.

Odin was said to have learned the mysteries of seid from the Vanic goddess and völva Freyja, despite the unwarriorly connotations of using magic. In Lokasenna, Loki derides Odin for practicing seid, implying it was women's work. Another example of this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that men who used seid were ergi or unmanly.

Odin's quest for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, and his seduction of Gunnlod in order to obtain the mead of poetry. (See Fjalar and Galar for more details.)

In the Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering runes. He was hanged from the tree called Yggdrasill while pierced by his own javelin for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

Some scholars hypothesize that this legend influenced the story of Christ's crucifixion. It is also similar to the story of Buddha's enlightenment. In Shamanism, the traversal of the axis mundi by the shaman to bring back knowledge is a common pattern. We know that sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears. (See also: Peijainen) Additionally, one of Odin's names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasill—therefore could mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse". Another of Odin's names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged.

- Attributes

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

A depiction of Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir from the Tängvide image stone.Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the dwarven javelin Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe.

The Valknut (slain warrior's knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

- Stories And Myths

Odin had not yet drunk from the Well of Knowledge when he found Loki the handsome Jotun. Odin saw how talented Loki was and requested that the two become foster brothers. Loki agreed and was brought up to Asgard immediately, where the Æsir welcomed him warmly as Odin's brother.

Another myth tells of the time that Odin found a Jotun guarding an object protectivley. Full of curiosity Odin summoned the Jotun at once and asked him his name. The Jotun replied that his name was Mimir. Odin then asked him what his object was.

"It is the Well of Knowledge" Mimir replied, and, seeing the look in Odin's eyes added and you may have a drink- if you give me one of your all-seeing eyes. Odin readily agreed and took out one of his eyes. Odin then took a long drink from the Well and was, forever after, the wisest man on Midgard and the wisest God on Asgard.

- Names

Main article: List of names of Odin

The Norsemen gave Odin many nick-names; this was in the Norse skaldic tradition of heiti and kennings, a poetic method of indirect reference, as in a riddle. The name Alföðr ("Allfather", "father of all") appears in Snorri Sturluson's Younger Edda. (It probably originally denoted Tiwaz, as it fits the pattern of referring to Sky Fathers as "father".) According to Bernhard Severin Ingemann, Odin is known in Wendish mythology as Woda or Waidawut.

- Persisting beliefs in Odin

An 1893 depiction of Odin taking the dead Sinfjötli to Valhalla by Fredrik Sander.Snorri Sturluson feels compelled to give a rational account of the Aesir in his preface. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from the Anatolian city of Troy, etymologizing Aesir as derived from the word Asia. Some scholars believe that Snorri's version of Norse mythology is an attempt to mould a more shamanistic tradition into a Nordic mythological cast. In any case, Snorri's writing (particularly in Heimskringla) tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeoanthropological theories (see The search for Odin).

The spread of Christianity was slow in Scandinavia, and it worked its way downwards from the nobility. Among commoners, beliefs in Odin may have lingered for some time, and legends would be told until modern times. Currently, there are still isolated groups of worshipers, primarily in Iceland and Norway.

The last battle where Scandinavians attributed a victory to Odin was the Battle of Lena in 1208.[2] The former Swedish king Sverker had arrived with a large Danish army, and the Swedes led by their new king Eric were outnumbered. Odin then appeared riding on Sleipnir and he positioned himself in front of the Swedish battle formation. He led the Swedish charge and gave them victory.

The bagler-saga, written in the thirteenth century concerning events in the first two decades of the thirteenth century, tells a story of a one-eyed rider with a broad-brimmed hat and a blue coat who asks a smith to shoe his horse. The suspicious smith asks where the stranger stayed during the previous night. The stranger mentions places so distant that the smith does not believe him. The stranger says that he has stayed for a long time in the north and taken part in many battles, but now he is going to Sweden. When the horse is shod, the rider mounts his horse and says "I am Odin" to the stunned smith, and rides away. The next day, the battle of Lena took place. The context of this tale in the saga is that a peace-treaty has been signed in Norway, and Odin, a god of war, no longer has a place there. Håkon Håkonssons saga, written in the 1260s, describes how, at some point in the 1230s, Skule Baardsson has the skald Snorri Sturluson compose a poem comparing one of Skule's enemies to Odin, describing them both as bringers of strife and disagreement. These episodes do not necessarily imply a continued belief in Odin as a god, but show clearly that his name was still widely known at this time.

Scandinavian folklore also maintained a belief in Odin as the leader of the Wild Hunt (Åsgårdsreia in Norwegian). His main objective seems to have been to track down and kill the forest dweller huldran or skogsrået. In these accounts, Odin was typically a lone hunter, save for his two wolves. Originally, he was armed with a javelin, but in later accounts this was sometimes changed to a rifle[citation needed].

- Woden's Day

Wednesday comes from the German pronounciation of Odin--Woden.

- Toponyms with the name of Odin

Main article: List of places named after Odin

Many toponyms ("place names") in Northern Europe where Germanic Tribes existed contain the name of *Wodanaz (Norse Odin, West Germanic Woden).

- Modern age

- Germanic neopaganism

Odin, along with the other Germanic Gods and Goddesses, is recognized by Germanic neopagans. His Norse form is particularly acknowledged in Ásatrú, the "faith in the Aesir", an officially recognized religion in Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

- Modern popular culture

Donner calls upon the storm clouds in this illustration by Arthur Rackham to Wagner's Das Rheingold.Odin appears in Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. This has led to many portrayals based on Wagner's interpretation, although some are closer to pre-Wagner models. Since Wagner's time, Thor has appeared, either as himself or as the namesake of characters, comic books, on television, in literature and in song lyrics.

- References

^ Skaldskaparmal, in Edda. Anthony Faulkes, Trans., Ed. (London: Everyman, 1996).

^ [1]

H. R. Ellis Davidson, The Battle God of the Vikings, York (1972)

Hector Chadwick, The Cult of Othinn

Kris Kershaw, Odin, 2004, ISBN

Horst Obleser, Odin, 1993, ISBN-X

Grenville Pigott, A Manual to Scandinavian Mythology, 2001, ISBN

Padraic Colum, Nordic Gods and Heroes, 1996, ISBN

Peter Sawyer, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, 1997, ISBN

Neil Philip, The Illustrated Book of Myths, 1995, ISBN

Sverre Bagge, "Society and Politics in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla", 1991, ISBN

- External links

A. Asbjorn Jon's "Shamanism and the Image of the Teutonic Deity, Óðinn"

Viktor Rydberg's "Teutonic Mythology: Gods and Goddesses of the Northland" e-book

W. Wagner's "Asgard and the Home of the Gods" e-book

"Myths of Northern Lands" e-book by H. A. Guerber

Peter Andreas Munch's "Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes" e-book

-v • d • eNorse mythology

List of Norse gods • Æsir • Vanir • Giants • Elves (Light Elves • Dark Elves) • Dwarves • Troll • Valkyries • Einherjar • Norns • Odin • Thor • Freyr • Freyja • Frigg • Heimdall • Loki • Baldr • Týr • Yggdrasil • Ginnungagap • Ragnarök

Sources Poetic Edda • Prose Edda • The Sagas • Volsung Cycle • Tyrfing Cycle • Rune stones • Old Norse language • Orthography • Later influence

Society Viking Age • Skald • Kenning • Blót • Seid • Numbers

People, places and things

Preceded by

Gylfi Mythological king of Sweden Succeeded by


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Categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since March 2007 | Mythological kings of Sweden | Inventors of writing systems | Norse gods | War gods | Wisdom gods | Hunting gods | Oracular gods | Magic gods | Norse mythology | Death gods




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Huldra is also the name of a witch in Sheri S. Tepper's The True Game series of novels.

In Scandinavian folklore, the huldra (Norwegian, derived from a root meaning "covered" or "secret") is a seductive forest creature. Other names include the Swedish skogsrå or skogsfru (meaning "lady (ruler) of the forest") and Tallemaja (pine tree Mary). A male hulder is called a huldu, or in Norway a huldrekall. Her name suggests that she is originally the same being as the völva Huld and the German Holda.[1]

The word huldra is the definite form in Norwegian ("the hulder") - the indefinite form is ei hulder ("a hulder"). The plural indefinite form is huldrer ("hulders"), and the plural definite form is huldrene ("the hulders"). In the plural it is also common to use the collective form huldrefolk (indefinite) and huldrefolket (definite).

Contents -

1 Features

2 Folklore

2.1 Human relations

2.2 Hunting

2.3 Origins

3 Toponyms

4 Parallels

5 Modern culture

6 See also

7 References

- Features

The huldra is a stunningly beautiful, sometimes naked woman with long hair; though from behind she is hollow like an old tree trunk, and has an animal's tail. In Norway, she has a cow's tail, and in Sweden she may have that of a cow or a fox.

In Norway, the huldra has often been described as a typical dairymaid, wearing the clothes of a regular farm girl, although somewhat more dazzling than most girls.

- Folklore

The huldra is one of several rå (keeper, warden), including the aquatic sjörå (or havsfru), later identified with a mermaid, and the bergsrå in caves and mines who made life tough for the poor miners.

More information can be found in the collected Norwegian folktales of Peder Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.

- Human relations

There is a story of a huldra being kind to a collier, watching his charcoal kiln while he took a much needed rest. Knowing that she would wake him if there were any problems, he was able to sleep, and in exchange left provisions for her in a special place. A tale from Närke illustrates further how kind a huldra could be, especially if treated with respect (Hellström 1985:15).

A boy in Tiveden went fishing, but he had no luck. Then he met a beautiful lady, and she was so stunning that he felt he had to catch his breath. But, then he realized who she was, because he could see a fox's tail sticking out below the skirt. As he knew that it was forbidden to comment on the tail to the lady of the forest, if it were not done in the most polite manner, he bowed deeply and said with his softest voice, "Milady, I see that your petticoat shows below your skirt". The lady thanked him gracefully and hid her tail under her skirt, telling the boy to fish on the other side of the lake. That day, the boy had great luck with his fishing and he caught a fish every time he threw out the line. This was the huldra's recognition of his politeness.

In some traditions, the huldra lures men into the forest to have sex with her, rewarding those who satisfy her and often killing those who do not. The Norwegian huldra is a lot less bloodthirsty and may simply kidnap a man or lure him into the underworld. She sometimes steals human infants and replaces them with her own ugly huldrebarn (changeling huldre children).

Sometimes she marries a local farm boy, but when this happens, the glamour leaves her when the priest lays his hand on her, or when she enters the church. Some legends tell of husbands who subsequently treat her badly. Some fairy tales leave out this feature, and only relate how a marriage to a Christian man will cause her to lose her tail, but not her looks, and let the couple live happily ever after. However if she is treated badly, she will remind him that she is far from weak, often by straightening out a horseshoe with her bare hands, sometimes while it is still glowing hot from the forge.

If betrayed, the huldra can punish the man severely, as in one case from Sigdal, when she avenged her pride on a young braggart she had sworn to marry, on the promise that he would not tell anybody of her. The boy instead bragged about his bride for a year, and when they met again, she beat him around the ears with her cow's tail. He lost his hearing and his wits for the rest of his life.

- Hunting

The hulder has long been associated with hunting; she might blow down the barrel of a huntsman's rifle, causing it never thereafter to miss a shot. Some men are not so lucky, or perhaps skilled, and escape her only after surrendering their sanity.

After the Christianization of Scandinavia, the chief deity of the Norse pantheon, Odin, came to be associated with the Wild Hunt. The hunt is often for a woman, who is captured or killed. The rationale behind this antipathy is never clearly explained in the accounts. Odin's Wild Hunt connoted a violent storm where much lightning struck the wild forests where huldra lived. This storm suggested Odin's berserker rage against his rivals, the trolls, which is sometimes seen as akin to huldra. (Before the process of Christianization, the deity Thor was credited with lightning strikes against the giant trolls, in the form of his hammer.)

- Origins

Associated with Christianity, a tale recounts how a mother had washed only half of her children when God came to her cottage; ashamed of the dirty ones, she hid them. God decreed that those she had hidden from him would be hidden from mankind; they became the huldrer.[2]

- Toponyms

Huldremose (Huldra Bog) is a bog located on Djursland, Denmark famous for the discovery of the Huldremose Woman, a bog body from 55 BC.

- Parallels

The huldra may be connected with the German holda. The huldra is also known in Finnish folklore.

- Modern culture

The Norwegian municipality Lardal has a hulder in its coat of arms.

In modern day Iceland, stories still abound of the huldufólk. It is said that work crews building new roads will sometimes divert the road around particular boulders which are known to be the homes of the huldufólk.

- See also




- References

^ The article Huldra in Nordisk familjebok (1909).

^ K. M. Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature, p 147 University of Chicago Press, London, 1967

Hellström, AnneMarie (1985). Jag vill så gärna berätta. ISBN 91-7908-002-2

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Categories: German and Scandinavian legendary creatures | Germanic paganism | Scandinavian folklore




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"Tyr" redirects here. For other uses, see Tyr (disambiguation).

Týr, depicted here with both hands intact, before the encounter with Fenrir. is identified with Mars in this illustration from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.Tyr (English pronounced /'t??/;[1] Old Norse: Týr IPA: [t?y?r]) is the god of single combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as a one-handed man. In the late Icelandic Eddas, he is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus' Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon.

Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Tyz , Old English Tiw and Old High German Ziu, all from Proto-Germanic *Tîwaz. The Old Norse name became Old Norwegian Ty, Old Swedish Ti, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.

Contents -

1 Origins

2 Tyr in the Edda

3 West Germanic Ziu / Tiw

4 Lexical traces

5 Tyr rune

6 Toponyms

7 Personal names

8 Modern popular culture

9 References

10 See also

11 External links

- Origins

The name Tyr meant "god" (cf. Hangatyr, the "god of the hanged" as one of Odin's names); probably inherited from Tyr in his role as judge and goes back to a Proto-Germanic Tîwaz, earlier Teiwaz, continuing Proto-Indo-European *deywos "god" (whence Latin: deus, Sanskrit: deva and Lithuanian: dievas).

The teiva ??????????? of the Negau helmet inscription (2nd or 1st century BC) may be a direct reflection of the Proto-Germanic term, but this is uncertain.

Discounting the Negau helmet, the oldest attestation of the god is Gothic *teiws, attested as tyz, in the 9th century Codex Vindobonensis 795[2].

Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point before the Migration Age. In Eddaic myth Tyr's strength is considered comparable to Thor's.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped "Isis", and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

Tyr sacrifices his arm to Fenrir in an a 1911 illustration by John Bauer.

- Tyr in the Edda

According to the Edda, at one stage the gods decided to shackle the wolf Fenrisulfr (Fenrir), but the beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually they had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir from such items as a woman's beard and a mountain's roots. But Fenrir sensed the gods' deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf's mouth.

Tyr, known for his great honesty and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. Fenrir sensed that he had been tricked and bit off the god's hand. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the "Leavings of the Wolf".

According to the Prose version of Ragnarok, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel. However, in the two poetic versions of Ragnarok, he goes unmentioned; unless one believes that he is the "Mighty One".

In the Lokasenna, Tyr is taunted with cuckoldry by Loki, maybe another hint that he had a consort or wife at one time.

- West Germanic Ziu / Tiw

A gloss to the Wessobrunn prayer names the Alamanni Cyowari (worshipers of Cyo) and their capital Augsburg Ciesburc.[3]

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza a the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

The name of Mars Thingsus (Thincsus) is found in an inscription on an 3rd century altar found in Northumberland, thought to have been erected by Frisian mercenaries stationed at Hadrian's Wall. It is interpreted as "Mars of the Thing".

- Lexical traces

Tyr/Tiw had become relatively unimportant compared to Odin/Woden in both North and West Germanic, and specifically in the sphere of organized warfare. Traces of the god remain, however, in Tuesday (Old English tíwesdæg "Tiw's day"; Old Frisian tîesdei, Old High German zîestag, Old Norse týsdagr), named after Tyr in both the North and the West Germanic languages (corresponding to Martis dies, dedicated to the Roman god of war and the father-god of Rome, Mars) and also in the names of some plants: Old Norse Týsfiola (after the Latin Viola Martis), Týrhialm (Aconitum, one of the most poisonous plants in Europe whose helmet-like shape might suggest a warlike connection) and Týviðr, "Tý's wood", in the Helsingor Tiveden may also be named after Tyr, or reflecting Tyr as a generic word for "god" (i.e., the forest of the gods). In Norway the parish and municipality of Tysnes are named after the god.

Tyr rune

- Tyr rune

Main article: Tiwaz rune

The t-rune ? is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god., the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as Teiwaz, or spelling variants.

The rune was also compared with Mars as in the Icelandic rune poem:

? Týr er einhendr áss

ok ulfs leifar

ok hofa hilmir.

Mars tiggi. Tyr is a one-handed god,

and leavings of the wolf

and prince of temples.

- Toponyms

Duisburg, Germany - Tyr's Fort (possibly)[4].

Thisted, Denmark - Tyr's Stead.

Tiveden, Sweden - Tyr's Woods

Tysnes, Norway - Tyr's Headland

- Personal names

Icelandic has a number of male names that are derived from Týr. Apart from Týr itself: Angantýr, Bryntýr, Hjálmtýr, Hrafntýr, Sigtýr, Valtýr and Vigtýr. When Týr is used in this way, joined to another name, it takes on a more general meaning of "a god" instead of referring to the god Týr.

The meaning of a name such as Hrafntýr (Hrafn means raven) is raven-god, god of the ravens. This would be a referral to Odin, who is the god of the ravens. Same thing happens with Valtýr, which means god of the slain, again referring to Odin.

- Modern popular culture

Although representations of Tyr are less common than those of Thor, Odin or Loki, Tyr is often referenced or appears as a warrior figure in many modern depictions, particularly those relating to high fantasy, most prominently as the basis for Rand Al'Thor, in the series The Wheel Of Time, by Robert Jordan. Tyr is usually most identifiable by his missing arm and lust for battle.

- References

^ Merriam Webster Online Dictionary: Tyr

^ Grimm, Teutonic Mythology

^ Peter Buchholz, Perspectives for Historical Research in Germanic Religion, History of Religions, vol. 8, no. 2 (1968), 127.

^ Adrian Room, Placenames Of The World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features and Historic Sites, 2d edition ,McFarland & Company (2005), 114

- See also

Germanic paganism

Indo-European religion



- External links

Grimm's Teutonic Mythology (English translation, chapter 9)

Tyr in Germanic Religion

Týr and Zisa by William Bainbridge

Týr Official Site A Viking Metal Band from The Faroe Islands

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~Yule log

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Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2007)

For other uses, see yule log (disambiguation)

A chocolate yule log.

Durian-flavoured log.

Yule log made of birch.A Yule log, sometimes known as the Great Ashen Faggot[1], is a large log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or Christmas celebrations in some cultures. It can be a part of the Winter Solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night.

The expression "Yule log" has also come to refer to log-shaped Christmas cakes, also known as "chocolate logs" or "Bûche de Noël".

In the U.S., the Yule log has also become a modern tradition in the form of a TV screen in one's home showing video of an actual Yule Log burning in a real fireplace. The video is accompanied by Christmas music, actual crackling fire sounds, or both at the same time. This is now a very popular trend on DVDs, but it began on a whim in 1966, by Fred Thrower, former TV programming director for WPIX in New York City, who wanted to offer a Yule Log for the majority in New York City who had no real fireplace of their own. It has been offered for several hours each year (on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day) as a video greeting card to viewers, and is syndicated across the U.S. Many others have offered their own versions over the years on TV, and in all video formats.

Contents -

1 Origins

2 Confection

3 References

4 External links

5 See also

- Origins

In Northern Europe, winter festivities complete with ceremonies full of spirits, devils, and the haunting presence of the Norse god, Odin, and his night riders. One particularly durable Solstice festival was "Jol" (also known as "Jul" and pronounced), a feast celebrated throughout Northern Europe and particularly in Scandinavia to honor Jolnir, another name for Odin. Since Odin was the god of intoxicating drink and ecstasy, as well as the god of death, Yule customs varied greatly from region to region. Odin's sleeping sacrificial beer became the specially blessed Christmas ale mentioned in medieval lore, and fresh food and drink were left on tables after Christmas feasts to feed the roaming Yuletide ghosts. Even the bonfires of ancient times survived in the tradition of the Yule log, perhaps the most universal of all Christmas symbols.

The origins of the Yule log can be traced back to the Midwinter festivals in which the Norsemen indulged in nights filled with feasting, "drinking Yule" and watching the fire leap around the log burning in the home hearth. The ceremonies and beliefs associated with the Yule log's sacred origins are closely linked to representations of health, fruitfulness, productivity, and regularity. In England, the Yule was cut and dragged home by oxen or horses as the people walked alongside and sang merry songs. During winter, towns people would gather these large logs to be ridden, like a modern sled, down embankments of ice and snow. It was often decorated with evergreens and sometimes sprinkled with grain or cider before it was finally set alight.

In Yugoslavia, the Yule log was cut just before dawn on Christmas Eve and carried into the house at twilight. The wood itself was decorated with flowers, colored silks and gold, and then doused with wine and an offering of grain. In the area of France known as Provence, families would go together to cut the Yule log, singing as they went along. These songs asked for blessings to be bestowed upon their crops and their flocks. The people of Provence called their Yule log the tréfoire and, with great ceremony, carried the log around the house three times and christened it with wine before it was set ablaze.

To all Europeans, the Yule log was believed to bring beneficial magic and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as twelve days, warming both the house and those who resided within. When the fire of the Yule log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood would be saved and used to light the next year's log. It was also believed that as long as the Yule log burned, the house would be protected from witchcraft. The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule log were scattered over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the water. Sometimes, the ashes were used in the creation of various charms, to free cattle from vermin, for example, or to ward off hailstorms.

Some sources state that the origin of Yule is often associated with an ancient Scandinavian fertility god and that the large, single Log is representative of a phallic idol. Tradition states that this Log was required to burn for twelve days and a different sacrifice to the fertility god had to be offered in the fire on each of those twelve days.

- Confection

Sometime in the late 18th to early 19th century, a fascimile of the Yule Log became a traditional French dessert. Usually, it is in the form of a large rectangular yellow cake spread with frosting and rolled up into a cylinder - one end is then lopped off and stood on end to indicate the rings of the "log." This "Bûche de Noël" became a traditional Christmas desert, and has recently spread to other regions, where it is often referred to as a yule log.

- References

^ Ashen Faggot at Dartmoor

The Yule Log at

The Yule Log at

- External links

Several variations of Yule Logs created by Pastry Chef Eric Hubert

- See also

Jolnir – Icelandic island named for Odin, from which "yule" is derived.

Tió de Nadal - a Christmas log tradition in Catalonia.

Badnjak - a Christmas log tradition of Serbs.

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