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Thread: Njärd, Ull and "Pre-Asatru"

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    Question Njärd, Ull and "Pre-Asatru"

    I don't know alot about asatru (yet!), but at the moment I'd really like to know more about the gods that were worshiped in at least parts of Scandinavia before asatru came along (or however that happened).

    I know that Odin is supposed to have defeated Ull, the sun god (right?), and that the godess Njärd was his mate. There are alot of names on places around where I live (like Ullevi, Mjärdevi, etc) which indicates they were places where you worshiped these gods (vi = "place of worship"). However, when searching Skadi I didn't find anything, so maybe they're spelled some other way in modern English?

    If there are any reliable resources on this (books or web sites) I'd be really interested. Thanks.

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    Re: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    Actually, there is no evidence Nerthus was Odin's mate, and none that he ever faught Ull or Uller. As for good websites there are several. If you do a search on Asatru websites, you will turn up a very good thread on it.

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    Re: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    Ull fighting Odin himself..? not documented, as far as i know. He talk humans to ski, but being the sun god? never heard of that.. I agree with the previous poster though. To get the straight dirt, definitely go to the Asatru sites.

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    Re: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    We know in Roman times (and beyond ) of Wodenaz and Woden in the south (- Germania and the NorthSea region ). I assume the name travelled north , eventually as Odinn!
    Voluspa (in the Elder Edda) speaks of the "first war in the world" - that between the Odinic Aesir and the Vanir . ( " Dwelling in their midst were gods who came of a distinct tribe , the Vanir." -Turville-Petre). The Vana God Njord is much linked to the sea (at Noatun). I have always assumed that Njord "and the Vanir" preceded the coming of Odin (from the south) (Perhaps there was in this story of a divine/tribal conflict a major north-south split within Scandinavia itself). How the goddess Nerthus may have appeared in the north is surely unknown (?). Was there really a goddess called Njard ? (interesting). Njord, of course, married his own sister - this not uncommon for the Vanir it is said - and was thereby the father of Frey and Freyja.

    Events and deities preceding the Vanir and Aesir presumably belong in the field of an earlier archaeology.

    carl

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    Sv: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    Indo-Europeanist Georges Dumezil deals with the subject of Aesir and Vanir in his book Archaic Roman Religion, and he deals with the concept of the "war of the gods" as well. According to Dumezil this concept is also found in Roman legends (with Sabines and Romans), and the Indo-European Ossetes. It is not to be taken literally, but is a way of mythically explaining how the balance between the functions of power/sovereignty, war/martial power, and wealth/fertility was established (Aesir, Romans and Ossete Alägatä and Ähsärtägkatä being representatives of the two first functions, and Sabines, Vanir and Ossete Boratä of the third).

    More to read on the subject here, in Swedish unfortunately:
    http://oskorei.motpol.nu/?p=95

    Some Aesir-gods seem to have been more recent arrivals than others though.

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    Re: Sv: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    I would prefer to trust Voluspa* on this. Is it not reasonable to think that an incoming tribe/God system might find itself in conflict with pre-existing tribes ( and Gods) . SHE* relates how the walls of the AEsir were damaged.... and Odin et al were confronted with arranging and agreeing a truce - which is what SHE claims. I believe the Vanir Gods were well established and , in their way, rich and powerful. The subsequent truce was really quite effective, Freyja working very closely with Odin in his vital subsequent undertakings. Njord, of course , is said to survive Ragnarok and return to his own lands by the sea.

    carl

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    Sv: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    Marija Gimbutas wrote very interesting things aboout the pre-Indo-European civilization in Europe.

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=56034

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    Re: Sv: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    If we could get back to the original question - which hasnt been directly answered . I am certainly interested in when Odin appeared in various parts of the North. It follows from this question to ask what ( and who) came before . It is difficult to research this from outside the region and I suspect there are not really any written records. I believe that Nerthus and (W)Odin where in Denmark (part) in Roman times. The runes certainly were. Denmark was always well connected to the south - in this period at least. When Nerthus switched her gender identity is still a mystery (?). Odense , on Fyn , was formerly Odens-ve -but the actual begining of this identity I still dont yet know! I wonder if there is any written history .

    What is certainly clear is that the presence of Ull(r) is widespread in parts of Sweden and Norway and appears to well predate the coming of Odin in the north.The name is however rare in Denmark. Ullr has many wintery characteristics in common with Skadi - including snowshoes, skis and hunting!

    I do not think that Odin was ever in real conflict with Ullr; it is , in later times, related that Ullr assumed importance in Odin's absence - but this was quickly reversed on Odin's returned.( A similar situation therefore to that of Odin's own brothers). I am interested to find that whereas Tyr is little known north of Denmark, Ullr is equally little know in Denmark and further south. This would not however imply any co-indentity as has been suggested. Even in England there are settlements named variously after Tyr.

    And I would still like to know more about the coming of Odin in the north! Clearly in later times he co-existed with Freyr and Thor - and others , of course.

    carl

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    Sv: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    In the Swedish author Kata Dalströms "Nordiska Gudasagor" from 1887 she writes, about the Vanir Gullveig-Heid:

    The english text is my translation, since I don't know the english equivalents of all names I kept some in Swedish. I also apologize for the errors I probably made in the translation, feel free to correct anything.

    In the dawn of time happiness and peace prevailed in both Asgard and Midgard. The gods lived happily, built castles and played with the game guldtafvel. Between the humans content and unity reigned. But then came the powerful giant daughter Gullveig-Heid to Asgard and caused unrest between the gods.
    [...]
    Finally the cunning and evil vanir had made herself so hateful to the gods by mixing the air with betrayal, that the gods, having forgot the (i]helgd[/i] (holy status?), captured her inside the gates of Valhalla itself, spearing her and burning her at the stake. But the fire would not kill the vanir. Burned three times, she rose once again and lives to the end of time
    [...]
    Since the asirs had burned Gullveig, the vanir, who were befriended to her, demanded compensation for the deed.

    The gods gathered at the ting (session) and held council. After alot of discussion Odin rose with wrath and threw his spear right into the vanir flock, as a sign that the dispute should be settled with weapons, and not with words.

    Gudamakterna (the god powers..?) parted as enemies, and before long the vanirs returned to Asgard with their gathered troops, to courageously siege its firm castle walls.

    At Odins side were Heimdall and Skade, besides Tor and all the asir, at the vanir side were Odins mate Frigg, Njord, Fröj and Fröja plus Ull.

    After a long siege, and not until Njord cunningly took possession of Sleipner, who carried him over the falming vaferlågorna (wafir flames?!), that guarded Asgard, could the vanir take the castle. Njord split with a strike of his battle ax the castle gate, and the vanir band stormed in.

    Now when Asgard was taken, Odin was expelled, and spent his exile in Manhem, and Ull, Tor's stepson, occupied his place in Asgard.

    But this split caused unrest between the gods, and threathened both then and the humans with ruin. [...]. Odin was therefor asked to return to Asgård and again be the ruler of the gods.
    And the original text, in Swedish:
    I tidernas morgon rådde lycka och frid i både Asgård och Midgård. Gudarna lefde lyckliga och glada, byggde borgar och lekte med spelet guldtafvel. Äfven bland menniskorna herskade endrägt och förnöjsamhet. Men så kom den mäktiga jättedottern Gullveig-Heid till Asgård och stiftade split mellan gudarne.
    [...]
    Slutligen hade den sluga, ondskefulla valan gjort sig så förhatlig för gudarne genom att blanda hela luften med svek, att asarne, glömska av Asgårds helgd, grepo henne inom sjelfva Valhalls portar, spetsade henne på spjut och brände henne på bål. Men elden ville icke förtära valan. Tre gånger bränd, lefde hon ånyo upp och lefder till tidernas slut
    [...]
    Sedan asarne brändt Gullveig, kräfde vanerna, som voro befryndade med henne, vederlag för dådet.

    Gudarne samlades å tinget och lade råd derom. Efter mycken rådplägning reste sig Odin vred och slungade sitt spjut rätt in i vanernas flock, till tecken att tvisten skulle slitas med vapen, ej med ord.

    De båda gudamakterna skildes åt som fiender, och inom kort återvände vanerna med sina samlade skaror till Asgård, för att modigt belägra dess fasta borgmurar.

    På Odins sida befunno sig Heimdall och Skade, jemte Tor och alla asagudarna, på vanernas däremot Odins maka Frigg, Njord, Fröj och Fröja samt Ull.

    Efter en långvarig belägring, och först sedan Njord genom list lyckats bemäktiga sig Sleipner, hvilken bar honom öfver de flammande vaferlågorna, som värnade Asgård, kunde vanerna intaga borgen. Njord klöf med ett slag af sin väldiga stridsyxa borgporten, och vanernas skaror stormade in.

    Sedan nu Asgård intagits, fördrefs Odin, hvilken under sin landsflykt vistades i Manhem, och Ull, Tors styfson, intog hans plats i Asgård.

    Men denna splittring och ofrid gudarne emellan hotade både dem och menniskorna med undergång [...]. Odin ombads derför att återkomma till Asgård och ånyo varda gudarnes herskare.
    The sources she name for her book are: "Afzelii, Bugges, Grundtvigs, Gödeckes, Munchs and Rydberg", and also the Prosaic Edda.

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    Re: Njärd, Ull & "pre-asatru"

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I would prefer to trust Voluspa* on this. Is it not reasonable to think that an incoming tribe/God system might find itself in conflict with pre-existing tribes ( and Gods) . SHE* relates how the walls of the AEsir were damaged.... and Odin et al were confronted with arranging and agreeing a truce - which is what SHE claims.
    You are trusting Her [!] out of a sense of respect and religious devotion? And yet at the same time you are happy to euhemerise her utterances, with this talk of toppling of ancient dogma?

    If the Vanir/Aesir theme are shared across IndoEuropia, then they must predate the Germanic [or preprotoGermanic] expansion into Scandinavia.

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If we could get back to the original question - which hasnt been directly answered . I am certainly interested in when Odin appeared in various parts of the North. It follows from this question to ask what ( and who) came before .
    It must be borne in mind that what we know of Norse mythology comes to us in a late form, and is quite distant from Common Germanic. The basic stock of stories and figures probably remained constant, but emphasis and style may have altered somewhat. I'd imagine Woden was there all along, but rose to predominance around the First Century or so.
    What is certainly clear is that the presence of Ull(r) is widespread in parts of Sweden and Norway and appears to well predate the coming of Odin in the north.The name is however rare in Denmark. Ullr has many wintery characteristics in common with Skadi - including snowshoes, skis and hunting!
    THough the Vanir/Aesir thing seems to predate Germanicisation of Scandinavia, this Ull might well be an introduction into the pre-existent IE scheme, taken from the earlier inhabitants.
    I am interested to find that whereas Tyr is little known north of Denmark, Ullr is equally little know in Denmark and further south.
    Is this based on placename evidence? I'd love to see a discussion of that.

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