Sunday, July 31, 2016

Watching the #boats in #seattle #washington #ZenOfBeer

via IFTTT Keeping things alive on the blog, until I get back around to actually writing my backlog of posts. Enjoy :)
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Voluspá Discussion XXXIII

Neither cleansed his hands         nor combed his hair
till Baldr's slayer         he sent to Hel;
but Frigg did weep         in Fensalir
the fateful deed:         know ye further, or how?
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Voluspá Discussion XXXI - XXXII

I saw for Baldr,            the blessed god,
Ygg's dearest son,            what doom is hidden:
green and glossy,            there grew aloft,
the trees among,            the mistletoe.

The slender-seeming            sapling became
a fell weapon            when flung by Hoth;
but Baldr's brother            was born full soon:
but one night old            slew him Othin's son.

I wanted to put these two together because while they don't tell the full story of what is foretold in
Voluspa, together they lead in to the story of the death of Balder. 


The first stanza of the pair (really a trio, but I didn't pull in the third here), struck me as interesting because we begin by stating in the first two lines the subject of this prophecy, Balder's fate. The next two lines of this stanza are very interesting to me. The subject matter is obvious, of course, because if you're familiar with the story you know that as a result of Balder's disturbing dreams his mother Frigg compiled a list of all the things in the world that might do him harm and made them swear that they would not hurt him. This stanza sets the stage for the story of how the mistletoe was overlooked, and eventually that would be the thing that kills him. What I find interesting, however, is how these two lines seem to step back from the story and almost feel like they're setting up a narrative outside of the narrative of the Seeress speaking of her visions.  


The second of the two stanzas builds on the first by pulling the mistletoe in to the events and describing how Balder's brother Hoth threw a spear or similar weapon fashioned from the mistletoe at Balder and killed him. Following this, we lead in to how Odin was able to avenge Balder's death, but we'll talk a bit more on that one next time. 

Aside from the delivery of the second two lines of the first stanza, the kennings used in this part of the poem also struck me as interesting. 
We're still using Ygg to refer to Odin, Ygg, The Terrifier. 
Balder, The Glorious. Also, and I'd like to be corrected where I'm mistaken, but Balder would be unique in that he is the son of both Odin and his wife, Frigg. 
Finally, we have Hoth, War. 

Odin, the Terrifier is father to both "The Glorious" and "War." War is blind in its rage and jealousy
(Hoth is also blind), guided by Loki (we know he is part of the story, and we can see that by this time Loki has gone beyond mischief to general and undirected chaos) and ultimately is the end of "Glory." How much can you really read in to this? Who knows. These were violent, harsh times, but mythology tends to be a reflection of the people who create the myths. From that perspective one might see a sense that these people recognized that war, especially war without cause or purpose, serves to do little more than destroy what is beautiful in the world. 
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

And We're Back Again

Let's see, what excuses do we have this time? Job changes, A move across state lines (or did I use that one already?), broken knee, flu shot gone horribly wrong resulting in surgery, I'm sure I can come up with a few more.

Anyway, My goal is to give myself time to publish on a bi-weekly schedule. Somewhere around every other week I plan to publish one new post talking a little about the next sequential stanza. I found myself thinking today, what do I do when I manage to get all the way through Hollander's translation of the Poetic Edda? Then I looked at the frequency of my posts and realized I've probably got another couple hundred years before that really matters all that much :). Keep your eyes open, and get ready to jump in on the discussion. I'm hoping that this will turn in to more of a conversation than just my rambling thoughts. Feedback is always welcome.

Be back soon.
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Voluspá Discussion XXX

The valkyries flock     from afar she beholds,
ready to ride     to the realm of men:
Skuld held her shield,     Skogul likewise,
Guth, Hild, Gondul,     and Geirskogul:
for thus are hight     Herjan's maidens,
ready to ride     o'er reddened battlefields.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Out of touch for a while

I was just browsing through my stuff, and it looks like I haven't actually posted here since about September of 2009. It's been a little while, I guess. It's not that I've forgotten, or lost interest, but time has been less available. I made my last post not too long before leaving my previous job, and joining a company that has kept my brain busy for over a year now. I'm loving my current work, but the fact is that with a job that is keeping me more intellectually engaged, I have less energy to spend on other interests. In addition to that, I'm on the verge of packing up my family and moving the hell out of Utah into an environment that fits us a little bit better. That's going to take up even more of my time until some point in July. So, with all the time I don't have, why am I posting now? I'm taking total advantage of being a couch potato on a Sunday. We've been packing things, showing the house, and doing all the stuff around that, and I'm just tired. I'm gonna sit for a while. Maybe all day.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Voluspá Discussion XXVII - IXXX

The next several stanzas seem to be another shift in the story. Stanza 27 seems, to me, to be a somewhat awkward transition from the seeress telling the story of the first war to a one on one conversation between her and Odin.


Where Heimdall's horn          is hid, she knows,

under heaven-touching,          holy world-tree;

on it are shed          showery falls

from Fjolnir's pledge:          know ye further, or how?

In stanza 27 the seeress is boasting a bit about her knowledge. She states, in the third person, that she knows the location of Odin's eye by stating that it lies under the root of Yggdrasil that points towards Niflheim, in Mirmir's well. This story from chapter 15 of the Prose Edda, Gilfiginning, tells how Fjolnir("The Concealor" one of Odin's kennings) desires a drink from Mimir's well because he realizes that drinking from the well will grant him wisdom and wit. Mimir, however, demands a sacrifice before allowing Odin to drink. Odin plucks out his own eye and casts it in to the well. Here we touch back on a previously discussed theme, that of the quest for, or evolution to, enlightenment. While I know nothing of what ritual may or may not be referenced here, we do seem to have a mention of some sort of ritual in which the seeker must give something of himself in order to achieve a higher state of learning. I doubt that there was an abundance of shaman running around plucking out their own eyes, but one can almost see this as being symbolic of the so-called third eye once the initiate has gained the ability to intentionally interact with higher levels of consciousness...the eye is immersed in the well of knowledge. 


Alone she sat out          when the lord of gods,

Othin the old,          her eye did seek:

"What seekest to know,          why summon me?

Well know I, Ygg,          where they eye is hidden:

in the wondrous          well of Mimir;

each morn Mimir          his mead doth drink

out of Fjolnir's pledge:          know ye further, or how?

In stanza 28 we begin with the seeress "sitting out," or performing a form of magic in which the magician is able to interact with the dead. Odin has gone out and is actively seeking her attention, in that he wants her to share her knowledge. When he finally catches her eye she again shows her visionary prowess by mentioning the previous story and telling him that she knows how Odin came to lose his eye. After sharing an example of the extent of her knowledge she asks if he would like to hear more. We also have another interesting bit to consider. In the above stanza she explicitly states that each morning Mimir drinks the mead of knowledge from the well out of Fjolnir's pledge. We'll remember that Fjolnir is Odin, and the pledge is his eye. As we'll see later, Mimir becomes the source of advice and knowledge for Odin. At the same time Mimir expands his knowledge each day by drinking from the well using Fjolnir's gift, Odin's eye. We can almost imagine a self feeding process in which the seeker of knowledge gives of himself in to the larger and growing sea of knowledge while those who have progressed further on the path of enlightenment gain from the knowledge added by those who seek while at the same time teaching and sharing newly gained knowledge with those seekers. In essence, explaining that knowledge, when shared, is far more than the sum of its individual components.   


Gave Ygg to her          arm rings and gems

for her seeress' sight          and soothsaying:

(the fates I fathom,          yet farther I see,)

see far and wide          the worlds about.

In stanza 29 we see Odin giving payment to the seeress for the service he is requesting. We can see this as a continuation of the previous stanza in that she first offers a sample of the knowledge she has to share. Once Odin is satisfied he offers payment for the services. While there is nothing particularly profound in this act, we can take something of value from this. There is a fairly practical lesson here. For the first part, the seeress provides a sample of her skills before receiving payment. For the second part, Odin receives proof of the value of the goods before offering payment. We would do well to take this to heart.  

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