Righting Misconceptions of Norse Heathenry
Updated: Apr 3
Hailsa friends, and welcome to the first posting/writeup of what I hope to be an ongoing journey of discussions, frith, and learning!
This series of writeups is targeted towards dispelling rumors, and misinformation surrounding many of Norse Heathenry, or Norse Paganism symbols and beliefs. There are constantly new members of the community coming forward after bad experiences across all platforms, with receiving bad information, or falling victim to extremist views before knowing what was happening, and then become scared to delve into their practice from there. Whilst this will not be a Heathenry 101 class or anything of the sort, my goal is to lay a foundation, and resources for those who are new, or seasoned to learn, and grow forward with.
Some of the topics to be covered are;
What are the differences between Asatru, Rokkatru and Heathenry?
What is the Web of Wyrd, and is it an Old Norse Symbol?
Why is Gugnir so special?
The Realms and Halls of the Gods, and where are they?
What is the first stop after your current cycle? And why is it not Valhalla?
Who are the beast and beings besides the Gods and Goddesses?
How the Hel do you say Yggdrasil, and what do we need to know about our world tree?
Three massive wells are not a proper water delivery system. Discussing the Wells ‘neath Yggdrasil.
What is the Galdastafar?
What makes a Bindrune a Bindrune?
What is the Vegivisir, and why does it elicit a response from everyone?
The Helm of Awe, what about it is leaving us in awe?
The Runes, and the story behind them.
This is not an exhaustive list and is in no particular order. The List is subject to change upon readers' discussion and questions.
There will be times when my personal interpretation will be pointed to as examples and they will be made known in each writeup where it applies. I also will research and utilize to my professional best as many primary and secondary sources as possible.
So come along, have fun, ask questions and let's learn a thing or two!
For our first discussion: Why is Gungnir so special?
Why is Gungnir so Special?
What is Gungnir? Who is Gungnir? I'll do you one better; why is Gungnir? Special that is. Thanks Drax for the cheesy line, love Gotg. To put it simply, Gungnir is Odin's spear, and main attested weapon of choice. So intimidating and deserving of respect, it's even been said that the spear Odin threw over the field of the Aesir and Vanir is what started the war, although the secondary source of the Eddas does not name Gungnir specifically. What is attested, however, is that in chapter 51 of the Prose Edda, Odin will ride at the head of the Einherjar, don a golden helmet, and a cloak of mail, with Gungnir in hand. So why did Odin commision Gungnir, or did he find it embedded in a stone somewhere? Neither in fact, it was actually a gift from everyone's favorite agent of change Loki. That's right, Loki bequeathed Gungnir to Odin, but it was part of a very elaborate plan that involved Lady Sif’s hair, and a very angry Thor. The telling is found in Skáldskaparmál ch. 35 of the Prose Edda.
The story of Gungnir begins with Loki being Loki and playing a prank on Lady Sif in which he cut off all of her golden hair, then Thor found out, and was enraged and rightly so.He seized Loki and threatened to disfigure him, and destroy all the bones in his body. Loki pleaded with Thor to let him go down to the land of the Dwarves, Svartalfheim, to persuade the master craftspeople to fashion a new head of hair for Sif, one even more beautiful than the original. Thor agreed, and Loki headed off. Loki then met with the Sons of Ivaldi and was able to persuade them to not only make Lady Sif’s new hair, but also Skidbladnir, (the best of all wooden ships that will always carry a favorable wind, and can fold up small enough to be carried in pocket) as well as the topic of your reading, the deadliest spear dubbed Gungnir. Now Loki could have stopped there, and gone to give the gifts to their owners, but Loki decided to push his luck and make a wager with his head, “literally” with the Dwarves Brokkr and Eitri that they couldn't possibly make three other objects to rival the sons of Ivaldis gifts, and that piece of the story is how we get Gullinbursti, Draupnir, and the most know of all Mjolnir, after some quick thinking on Loki's part to attempt to save his head. Loki then made it back to Asgard and presented Odin with the gifts of Draupnir and Gungnir.
The only notable detail that we have of Gungnir's appearance is of the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa recounting to Sigurðr that runes were carved on Gungnir's point in the eddic poem Sigrdrífumál. It's also worth saying that Odin has lent his spear at least one attested time to Dagr, the son of Högni, so that he could kill Helgi Hundingsbane and thus avenge his father's death, which is pretty on brand for Odin to help with. Gungnir is also the spear that Odin used to pierce his side and mortally wound himself as he hung from Yggdrasil’s branches in his claiming of the runes from the well of Urd, the great well that Yggdrasil grows from. It is also said that any oath sworn on Gungnir is unbreakable as well.
Gungnir, a Dwarven forged weapon of war that's unbreakable, has runes that we don't know carved into it, if you make an oath on it, it's unbreakable, throwing it over the field of battle ensures victory, is said and attested to never miss its aim, and is one of the few items that has tasted Odin's blood. This is why Gungnir holds such a high place in Norse Heathenry and why the spear amongst Norse pagans is the most well known and revered of the bladed weapons and not the axe or sword.
Laurie Sottilaro for editing help