Category: Rituals and Customs

Continuity: Folklore’s Problem Child?

Abstract: : This essay examines the role of continuity in the study of medieval Northern popular cultural. Among other issues, it questions: the nature of continuity as a concept; the roles “tradition” and “continuity” have played in the development of folklore studies historically (e.g. Finnish Historical-Geographic Method, the “superorganic”) and their value today in relation

An Eye for Odin? Divine Role-Playing in the Age of Sutton Hoo.

This paper presents some new observations concerning the construction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, as a  point of entry to a wider discussion of pre-Christian religious and ideological links across Scandinavia. It will be argued that in certain circumstances and locations, such as the firelit interior of the hall, the wearer of the helmet was seen as both

The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda, And Related Figures

MOST of our knowledge of Germanic myth is derived from the Old Icelandic texts and especially from the Eddas. The Eddic tales centre their attention on the trials and triumphs of the male members of the pantheon and tell us little of the female forces.’ That these wielded power we learn, however, from votive monuments, from the names of

The Religion of the Vikings

What will be outlined here are the religious beliefs and rituals of the Scandinavians in the eighth to the eleventh centuries including those who went for trade, plunder or settlement abroad, that is, the ‘vikings’ properly speaking. Some among them were already Christians but the vast majority of the population still clung to their traditional religion. From a modern

Myth and Ritual in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Landscape

I grew up in the forest region of northern Sweden. As a young boy, an old female relative of mine, an aunt to my father, told me now and then of her encounters with the ‘small people’ when she was herding cattle as a herdess at the seter in the forests, especially of the beautiful

How Uniform Was the Old Norse religion?

One often gets the impression from handbooks on Old Norse culture and religion that the pagan religion that was supposed to have been in existence all over pre-Christian Scandinavia and Iceland was rather homogeneous. Due to the lack of written sources, it becomes difficult to say whether the ‘religion’ — or rather mythology, eschatology, and

Elleborus in Anglo-Saxon England, 900–1100: Tunsingwyrt and Wodewistle

This article examines the meanings of the Latin word elleborus in later Anglo-Saxon England. They prove to have varied, from Ælfric’s implicit assertion around 1000 that elleborus had no vernacular Old English counterpart, to the association by the translator of the Old English Herbarium, perhaps around 900, of elleborus albus with tunsingwyrt, which seems to

Madness, Medication — and Self-Induced Hallucination? Elleborus (and Woody Nightshade) in Anglo-Saxon England, 700–900

Studies what Anglo-Saxons in around 700–900 understood by the Latin plant-name elleborus, looking particularly at Aldhelm’s Latin riddle Elleborus, which suggests that the word was understood to denote woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara). It examines the semantics of Old English words that gloss elleborus in earlier Anglo-Saxon sources: wedeberge, ceasteræsc, ceasterwyrte, and ælfþone. The article finds evidence for the presence of a copy of

Gods of High Places and Deep Romantic Chasms: Introductory remarks to a study of the landscape situation of Bronze Age sacriicial sites in the Lake Mälaren area

“This paper outlines work in progress with the Bronze Age sacriicial sites of the Lake Mälaren provinces in Sweden. The project’s goals are twofold: a) to understand the landscape rules behind the siting of deposits, and thereby b) to develop predictive model that would allow scholars to ind undisturbed Bronze Age deposits without the aid of farmers, dredgers

The Ship in the Field

“The Vanir have been a topic addressed in previous issues of RMN Newsletter. The present article will carry this discussion into the field of archaeology, asking whether there is a connection between the Vanir and the stone ships and boat burials that dot the landscape of the pre-Christian North Germanic cultural sphere.” Originally Published: (2011).