Wight of the Nine Worlds


I welcome thee free spirit, which thou shalt come with an open heart, open mind and an open soul, for what you are about to read can only be understood by the wise who are eager to learn and to embrace the roots deep and forgotten in the hearts of the free people of Europe, by accepting who you are and where your roots lie, is half way into the great road of life. We will journey unto where our spirit takes us with the knowledge we gained. Learn and teach.

The one-armed warrior of Siberia

A burial site in western Siberia was found and archaeologists started working on it. It appears they unearthed a preserved burial from a legendary warrior who was slain in battle. The body was discovered in a mound in the Omsk region dating back to the 11th or 12th century. The warrior died when he was more or less 40 years old and he was about 1.80 meters tall. According to the studies held by the archaeologists and anthropologist, his right shoulder was smashed and his left arm severed, evidently in battle. The arm was preserved and buried alongside him.

The warrior was buried with a mask on his face, complete with a bear claw above the nose, as well as bronze tools and 25 war arrows; many of which were still sharp when discovered by the archaeologists. He was probably a warlord trained since childhood for a life of combat.

Siberia was mostly colonized by the Russian Empire between the 16th and 18th centuries, its indigenous tribes offered more resistance than is commonly known. The Chukchi people in the far-eastern tundra on the shores of the Arctic and the northern Pacific defied conquest for 150 years and were ultimately subdued through negotiations, not military effort. The Khanty people, along with the neighboring Nenets, led one of the few ethnic uprisings against the Bolsheviks between 1931 and 1934, protesting the destruction of their traditional way of life. With shamans encouraging their fight against the Bolsheviks, the rebels ( no more than 150) resisted submission for three years in the harsh conditions of the tundra.

It is still unclear who killed this warrior unearthed from his burial mound, but he may have been a recent victim (historically speaking) from the period of the russian empire, between the 16th and the 18th centuries.

Norse Paganism and the shaping of a society

Before the widespread christianization of Europe, the different cultures all over the ancient continent has their own religions, polytheistic and very complex. The northern parts of Europe were the last places where christianity came, while all others were already christian, the Norse were still attached to their old beliefs and traditions. As late as the 11th century, the recently converted peoples of Scandinavia still continued to practice their old tradition and worshiping their old gods, pagan practices not likely to be in the good graces of the well structured hierarchies of the christian powers to the south. Christianity and the church, had many problems in Scandinavia, while trying to convert people and made them forget their old ways. It was practically impossible to turn the northern peoples into worshiping the christian god only.

The pagan beliefs in Norse societies differed from one area to the next. While there isn't  much evidence which may tell us in detail the different types of group beliefs and individual beliefs, a few aspects to the religion may be inferred based upon other knowledge we have of other polytheistic religions. In the classic world in the regions of Roman and Greek original influence, as well as Mesopotamia and Egypt, polytheism gave rise to numerous religious sects within the belief system of their pantheons.  Individual settlements chose patron gods based on their needs, and in this way, it may be inferred that the Norse chose patron gods to suit their needs as well. A village dependent on hunting, for example, would have likely chosen to worship the god of the hunt Freyr and probably the goddess Skadi, and perhaps even Ullr, while the cult of Odin was for the elite warrior groups of the Norse society. Based on the patron god a settlement would chose, religious practice would have looked slightly different. Norse Paganism would have been diverse in its beliefs and practices, contrary to the desperate need for consistency exercised in the Christian church.

With each community in Scandinavia differing in cult from area to area, the Norse pagans did not establish a separate class of society whose role it would have been to officiate a specific religious practice. The chieftains of separate communities took under charge various roles to officialise festivals and rituals. For example, the ritual of giving a name to the newly born child, was of the competence of the Jarl (pronounced "Yarl" - a noble of Norse society), whose blessings held great importance to the parents of the baby. Jarls also officiated weddings and funerals, participated regularly in festivals, family gatherings and solstice celebrations. But in the spiritual field, the Jarls had no power. Magic, divination, rune reading, prophesying, was seldom the competence of men, rather was the field of expertise of women, the Völvur, the women practitioners of Norse magic and Shamanism.

There were other members of the Norse society who had experience and whose work was the arts of divination and magic. Magic, was the act which involved the ability to communicate with the gods, tell the future, and heal people of various ailments, it existed peripherally in Norse paganism and shamanism. Both genders could ostensibly practice the art of magic, but men risked emasculation in pursuit of the magical arts. Women were typically those who practiced magic as I have mentioned before. The role of magic in Norse paganism varied mostly in conjunction with the variations of worship in Norse paganism across the pantheon.  The Magic role in society was consistent insofar as the mythological basis for it emerged from the same set of stories. For example, Odin accepted magic for self-gain knowledge of all things, so he sacrificed an eye at Mimir’s Well. But he also gained the ability to do magic which linked him to shamanism, when the Goddess Freyja taught him how to do it, and in this case we can see again that the female figure was linked to such shamanic acts. Other deities in the Norse pantheon were intrinsically magical as well, both genders, but especially the goddesses. Magic therefore served as a rapprochement to the gods or patron god of choice. Accepting magic did not guarantee acceptance of practicing magic. Many of the practitioners of magic, if not all, lived as outcasts, away from the community, usually in the wild places or just a couple of meters outside villages and towns. They lived like hermits, a very solitary life. These were typically women who either never married, or had some form of birth defect. Birth defects were interpreted as either a curse, or as a sign. The exact interpretation of birth defects is a contested part of the historical study of the Vikings, and therefore not a conclusive aspect of this particular analysis. The art of these solitary magic practitioners was exploited by the rich and powerful, including Jarls who took into consideration the wishes of the gods in preparing religious observances.

A few of the common features of Norse Paganism, which permeated across all the sects of beliefs within their society, are the beliefs we probably think of when portraying the Vikings. They all believed in Valhalla, even if it was a place only for those who died in battle. There was also a belief they commonly shared which actually differs the Norse deities from other deities of other religions; all of their gods were mortal. There was also the constant fear and belief that Ragnarok would happen eventually, and the world and gods would come to an end, the end of all life and the beginning of something new. All of these beliefs affected how the Norse pagans and their society in general interacted with the outside world. Warriors appeared to have no fear of death, for they believed death and battle would be their "salvation", this way of thinking made the Vikings fearsome foes. Odin had the passion for learning; the Norse pagans displayed a similar desire to learn about the world, to explore, and to adopt learned technologies.

Unlike Christianity, Norse paganism was not absolute. Changes to the dogma of worship were common and made to suit whatever adversity a community faced. Also unlike Christianity, Norse paganism was not necessarily prejudicial. In practice, the Norse pagans were accepting of other sects of beliefs because it was recognized that multiple gods existed. Religion, was a personal matter not to be shared too liberally with others. Culturally, this meant the Norse Pagans were less likely to persecute others who didn't share the same beliefs. While Christianity eventually gained a solid foothold in the North, it struggled to change this aspect of Norse society who were reluctant to judge others for their beliefs. It would take the absolute monarchs of the 13th Century to finally eliminate the cultural vestiges of Norse paganism.

The Hell Hound of Suffolk

In the ruins of Leiston Abbey, in Suffolk - England, archaeologists discovered the skeleton of a huge, massive canine-like creature that would have stood seven feet tall on its hind legs. There was a legend in these parts which spoke of a hellhound named Black Shuck. The creature with flaming red eyes and a rugged black coat, used to terrorize the villagers of that area, and the remains of the creature found by the archaeologists are precisely near the area of the legend.

The name Shuck derives from the Old English word scucca, which means a "demon". The creature is one of the many ghostly black dogs recorded across the British Isles.  Its alleged appearance during a storm on the 4th of August, 1577 at the Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, is a very famous account of the creature, in which legend says that thunder caused the doors of the church to burst open and the snarling beast crashed in and ran through the congregation, killing a man and a boy before it fled when the steeple collapsed.

The remains of the massive canine creature which was found in the dig site, which is estimated to have weighed 200 pounds, were found just a few miles from the two churches where Black Shuck killed the worshippers. It appears to have been buried in a shallow grave at precisely the same time as Shuck is said to have been on the loose, primarily around Suffolk and the East Anglia region.

Radio carbon dating tests will be carried out to give an exact age for the bones. There is still no proof that these remains belong to a legendary creature, maybe it was probably a huge hunting dog. Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely to change the iconography of the local area, which relies on stories of Black Shuck to attract curious visitors and tourists.

Orkney - 5,000-year-old temple complex

More or less 5 months ago I read on a National Geographic magazine, about the Orkney excavation side and the archaeological works held there. It's a really interesting subject that I would like to share with you. Our ancestors never cease to surprise me.

The excavation of the prehistoric temple complex on the Scottish island of Orkney, has revealed that the Neolithic inhabitants of that same island were far more advanced than initially realised. It was also found a large collection of ancient artifacts that reflect a complex and culturally rich society, archaeologists also discovered that the three major monumental structures on the island  (the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stennes, and the Maes Howe tomb) were linked in a way, connected for the same purpose.

The archaeological site, known as the Ness of Brodgar, covers an area of over six acres and consists of the remains of housing, remnants of slate roofs, paved walkways, coloured facades, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic "cathedra" or "palace", inhabited from at least 3,500 BC to the close of the Neolithic period more than a millennium and a half later.

The workmanship of these people was impeccable. The imposing walls they built would have done credit to the Roman centurions who, some 30 centuries later, would erect Hadrian’s Wall in another part of Britain. Cloistered within those walls were dozens of buildings, among them one of the largest roofed structures built in prehistoric northern Europe. It was more than eighty feet long and sixty feet wide, with walls of thirteen feet thick.

The archaeological excavation, which has so far only unearthed around 10% of the original site, has yielded thousands of incredible artifacts including a few ceremonial mace heads, polished stone axes, flint knives, a human figurine, miniature thumb pots, beautifully crafted stone spatulas, highly-refined coloured pottery, and more than six hundred and fifty (650) pieces of Neolithic art. It is by far the largest collection ever found in Britain.

The three monumental sites mentioned before, Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness and the Maes Howe tomb, are all located within several miles of the Ness, used to be seen as isolated monuments with separate histories but as the excavations at the Ness have progressed, archaeologists have come to believe that the megalithic sites in the surrounding region were all connected in some way with the Ness of Brodgar, although its purpose remains unknown. What the Ness is telling us is that this was a much more integrated landscape than anyone ever suspected. The people who built all those monuments were a far more complex and capable society than has usually been portrayed.

Mead - Short History

Mankind invented countless of alcoholic drinks throughout time, since the famous mesopotamian beverages 5.000 years ago till our days, we have developed a keen taste for the sweet alcoholic nectar. The fermentation of fruits and cereals has always been a subject which has to be included in a society, or at least its included in a global way of thinking. But of all the fermented drinks, especially the ones with a huge  historical background, mead is one of the least known beverage in our nowadays societies and cultures.

It's true that nowadays, especially throughout Europe and Northern America, there are many producers of homemade mead, but the different types of mead seldom enters a worldwide market, well... it seldom enters any market at all. Not many people consume mead, most of the consumers are people somehow linked to the old norse/germanic traditions, either because they practice the old ways, or just because they like that part of history and those ancient cultures. But mead isn't a Norse exclusive drink, nor is it Germanic. Mead is a beverage shared by many cultures throughout the world and brewed in different ways; production methods and styles of fermentation.

So, what exactly is mead? The word mead derives from the Old English, and is used to describe any drink made from the fermentation of water and honey. Other languages call it differently of course, such as Mjöd (Swedish), Hidromel (Portuguese), Met (German), Sima (Finnish) etc. Many cultures brew it differently, as such, different types of mead were and are created. Mead is one of the oldest and most widespread fermented drink in history. According to historians and archaeologists, mead predates wine, liquors and the various forms of beer, except the ones made out of wheat which are older than any drink. Most European countries, and some Middle East and African countries, can claim mead as a drink synthesized by their culture.  Therefore, mead has a shared cultural heritage.

As it happens with all fermented drinks, mead is fermented in different ways, different degrees. Most meads can be classified into one of three categories which are, Honey liquor, honey wine (The word "Met" in German actually referes more to the Honey wine) and beer which is the less alcoholic compared to the two categories. Cultures across the world made mead according to their liking, tradition and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. The Vikings for example, used to drink a more watery mead, while others throughout Europe use to make it stronger, with less water and more time of fermentation. Stronger meads were not typically fabricated to drink, but to transport to be diluted appropriately with water upon arrival.

Beer and Wine are the most popular drinks, but why isn't mead also a popular drink among our societies? Well, one possible explanation is the fact that honey is harder to produce, more difficult and in tiny quantities if we compare to wine which is made of grape and beer out of wheat and/or varieties of cereals, largely cultivated. Therefore, mead producers traditionally have not been able to keep up with demand as well as other fermented drinks. In Europe, this was compounded by the vast influence of post-Roman idealism spread by the Carolingian and its successor states.  Mead became a specialty rather than the mainstream drink of choice by the early medieval period. 

Children skulls - Bronze Age gifts to the gods.

Innumerous children's skulls dating back to the Bronze Age, were discovered around the perimeter of some ancient settlements in Switzerland and Germany. The skulls show signs of violence which probably led to their deaths. According to the archaeological studies, the skulls may have been offered as gifts for the local deities of the lake.

During the 1970s and 1980s, archaeologists discovered a series of ancient settlements dotted along some Alpine lakes in Switzerland and Germany. Excavations at these sites revealed more than 160 dwellings, along with hunting tools, ceramics, and other artifacts dating back to between 3,800 and 2,600 years ago. The villages would have been set up close to the lakes to provide ready access to fresh water, along with fish for eating, and reeds for weaving. However, the Bronze Age lake dwellers also regularly faced flooding. Archaeological evidence shows that the houses were built on stilts or wooden foundations and that homes were moved further away when lake levels rose, before being returned again after they receded.

During the Bronze Age it was common to societies to make sacrifices to the gods, not only to appease them but also as gifts in turn of the divine gifts; plentiful schools of fishes, good harvests and peace of example. Offerings were made by either burying the sacrifice in the ground or placing it in water. It was important that the right type of gift was sacrificed in the right way and in the right place, and water appears to have been one of the most important places to make such offerings, perhaps due to the belief that water was a "doorway" which led to the spiritual world. Archaeological discoveries, such as the bog bodies of Lindow Man and Tollund Man, show that humans also sometimes formed part of these offerings.

In the Bronze Age lake settlements in Switzerland and Germany, archaeologists not only found ancient artifacts but also found many children's skulls encircling the perimeter of the villages. Many of these skulls had been placed there long after their initial burial, at a time when the settlements experienced the worst inundation from rising lake levels.

Some of the skulls were examined and it was found evidences of violence which was the cause of these children's death. There were markings of axe blows and other head traumas. Apparently, these injuries do not have the uniformity associated with sacrifice or ritual killing, and it is more likely they were killed during times of conflict. Nevertheless, the circumstances of the burials suggest the skulls may have been offered after death as gifts to the lake gods to ward off flooding, as they had been intentionally placed at the high-water mark of the flood waters.

Across Europe as a whole, there is quite a body of evidence to indicate that throughout prehistory human remains, and particularly the skull, were highly symbolic and socially charged. The results provide further insights into Bronze Age culture, revealing new information about how they treated their dead, and religious beliefs and rituals associated with natural calamities.

Women of the Viking Age

Women during the Viking Age on Scandinavian soil, played very important roles in their society. We already know that there were some women who were warriors, they took up arms and went to battle, although, there is little evidence to support that fact as being something they would usually do. Its impossible to generalize that but of course some women would go to war. However, women in the scandinavian society during the Viking Age had important roles in the household and land ownership, that was their frequent power.

According to archaeological findings, women had defined roles in cooking, knitting, taking care of the house and the children, managing the slaves they owned and taking care of the farm as well as the land within their properties. During times of war and the absence of their husbands, they would take up arms to defend their land, their properties.

During times of war, women were frequently left alone with their children and became widows. All the possessions of a warrior, including is land and belongings, went to his wife. Viking Age women in the scandinavian society need not to be married to another man upon their previous husband's death, it wasn't an obligation, they were absolutely free to choose to be without a husband or to find a new one. As such, women would take the role of their deceased husbands as being the head of the household and also as being warriors, so in these cases it was frequent to see a woman fighting with, taking up shield and weapons. If a male warrior and his wife died, their land and property would be passed on to their eldest child, regardless of gender, if they had children of course.

The reason the Viking warriors gave their land to their wives ,upon their deaths, was because a marriage in Scandinavia was a contract in which both parties entered as equals. All material possessions were recognized as given to the newlywed wife for protection. Thus, we may rightly infer that Viking Age women had more rights than their christianized descendants, for that newly monotheistic religion brought much suffering to women because of the negative view around the female gender. We might even assume that during those times and in the scandinavian society, women had more rights than most women of our era. It seems that the Vikings were not the mindless, bloodthirsty barbarians the christians depicted.

The Tollund Man

Those of you who are interested in the study of "bog bodies" and the history and religious rituals behind such theme, the Tollund Man is definitely one of the most interesting archaeological findings on this matter.

The Tollund Man ,as it was named, is the naturally mummified body of a man who lived during the 4th century b.C., during the period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was hanged as a sacrifice to the gods and placed in a peat bog where he remained preserved for more than two millennia. Today, the face of the Tollund Man is as preserved as the day he died. The look upon his face is calm and peaceful, as though looking upon a sleeping man.

It was the 6th of May, of the year 1950, when two brothers cutting peat in the Bjaeldskov bog, an area about 10 kilometres west of the Danish town of Silkeborg, came upon the lifeless body of a man. The man's physical features were so well-preserved that he was mistaken at the time of discovery for a recent murder victim and the police was called. Puzzled by the appearance of the remains and recalling the discovery of two other ‘bog bodies’ in the same bog in 1927 and 1938, the police asked an archaeologist named P. V. Glob to come and view the discovery. Recognizing that this was an ancient burial, Glob began efforts to remove the body for further study.

The examination of the Tollund Man at the National Museum of Denmark in 1950 revealed an unusually well-preserved body of an adult male who was slightly over five feet tall and approximately 40 years old when he died. The stubble on his chain, eyelashes, and the wrinkles in his skin can still be observed in minute detail. His last meal was porridge made from 40 different kinds of seeds and grains.

The Tollund Man was naked apart from a leather cap and a wide belt around his waist. Around his neck was a braided leather rope tightened in a noose.  It was clear that he had been hanged, but why? Was he a criminal, a victim of crime, or part of a ritual sacrifice? Archaeologists embarked on an investigation to find out.

Like all the other "bog bodies" that have been found, the Tollund Man showed no signs of injury or trauma, apart from that caused by the hanging. It was clear that he had also been buried carefully in the bog , his eyes and mouth had been closed and his body placed in a sleeping position, something that wouldn’t have happened if he was a common criminal.

When someone died in the Iron Age, the body was cremated in a funeral pyre and the ashes placed in an urn, but the Tolland Man was buried in a watery place where the early people of Europe believed they could communicate with their many gods and goddesses. He was also killed in the winter or early spring, a time that human sacrifices were made to the goddess of spring.

Taking into account all of these factors, archaeologists believe that the Tollund Man was ritually sacrificed. He may have been an offering to the gods in return for peat that was taken from the bog. The incredible discovery of Tollund Man has brought to life in vivid detail the lives and deaths of the people of prehistoric Denmark. He now resides in a special room of the Silkeborg Museum.

World's oldest wooden statue

Scientists in Germany are ever closer to dating an ancient wooden statue which they say contains secret encrypted codes written around 9,500 years ago - possibly the oldest on the planet (so far). The Shigir Idol, as it was called, is twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids and was preserved as if in a "time capsule" in a peat bog on the western fringes of Siberia. Now Russian experts say the remarkable relic contains encoded information on the 'creation of the world' - a message to modern man from the Mesolithic Era, during the pré-historic time.

German scientists are now close to a precise dating - within five decades - of the remarkable artifact, which is a stunning example of ancient man's creativity. The results are likely to be known in late February or early March, 2015.

The idol, 'scraped' using a 'stone spoon' from larch timber, is around 4,000 to 5,000 years older than Britain's world famous Stonehenge monument. The idol stands 9.2ft (2.8 metres) in height but originally was 17.4ft (5.3 metres) tall, as high as a two storey house.

Almost 6.5ft (2 metres) of the artefact went missing during Russian's 20th century political turmoil, though Siberian archaeologists drew images of all the pieces. It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this. It is very alive, and very complicated at the same time.

The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of this Idol. While the messages remain an utter mystery to modern man, the Russian academics have said its creators lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world.

There is a representation of a straight line in this idol, which could denote land, or horizon - possibly the boundary between earth and sky, water and sky, or the borderline between the worlds. A wavy line or zigzag symbolised the watery element, snake, lizard, or determined a certain border. In addition, the zigzag signaled danger, like a pike. Cross, rhombus, square, circle depicted the fire or the sun, and so on. But the marks could have multiple meanings for the ancient statue-makers who gave the idol seven faces, only one of which is three-dimensional.

If these are images of spirits that inhabited the human world in ancient times, the vertical position of figures (one above the other) probably relate to their hierarchy according to the researchers. Images on the front and back planes of the Idol, possibly indicate that they belong to different worlds.

If there are depicted myths about the origin of humans and the world, the vertical arrangement of the images may reflect the sequence of events. Ornaments can be special signs which mark something as significant.

The Nine Worlds: Niflheim

Niflheim literally means "The Home of Mists". In the norse mythology and cosmology this realm is depicted as being very cold, covered by snow, frost and ice. Niflheim is one of the two worlds that collided in the beginning of time, thus creating all the other worlds and life itself. Niflheim collided with Muspelheim - frost and fire.

As I have mentioned before, we speak of worlds not as actually seperate worlds but realms, nine realms of the norse cosmology, so vast that led people to believe (spirit-workers and shamans of old) that the nine realms were actually worlds because of the vastness of the landscape and the different types of weather, flora and fauna that exist in each of the nine realms.

Niflheim is a very ancient world/realm, and its glaciers and mountains were solidified long ago, duo to its famous river, the River Elivagar (Icy Waves). This great river crystallized all things into frost, this everything turned into ice and remained as such. When muspelheim collided with Niflheim, the ice of Niflheim began to melt away in the southernmost areas. It was when the first being was created/came to life, the great frost giant Ymir, born of ice and fire unified.

Unlike the other realms of the norse cosmology, its very hard to be aware of the seasonal changes in Niflheim, it seems to be always winter, similar to the artic regions of out own world. The days are long and the nights longer still at Winter, it seems that night never ends.

More than half of Niflheim is covered by snow and ice, and it will never melt. The weather is often cloudy and shrouded in mist on the low land. The sky is covered most of the time, so it is easy to get lost in here, the stars or the position of the sun and moon are of no avail, and everything in the landscape looks exactly the same thousands of miles in every direction. Closer to Svartalfheim the landscape turns more mountainous and the ice starts to melt by the shore, creating a sea of icebergs and snow-covered islands till it reaches the southern shores of Svartalfheim.

The most important geographical feature in Niflheim, is probably the sacred well named Hvergelmir. Hvergelmir is the largest well sacred well, and hot-spring of turbulent waters from which many rivers flow.

About the fauna and flore of Niflheim, those only exist in the northernmost parts near Svartalfheim. A few plants dotted the soils of the islands and the tundras. In the water there are seals and other cold-water mammals. There are also a few mammoths roaming in the tundras and a dire wolves to the north-east.

To a friend

I knew one, friend of old
true was his friendship and love
gleaming heart of pure gold
akin to a brother? Sort of...

In a tarn of clouds
now lies another star
veiling mist, it shrouds
but I see it from afar

Short-lived is happiness
we dwell in shivering grief
mirth minished, marred in gladness
we remain in disbelief

Most unexpected, all too soon
ere hope has faded
from us swept this afternoon
yonder, you have waded

Memory remains, like wind over water
sweeping the surf upon the beach
fate, I can not avert
where you are, I can't reach

Valiant-hearted, you are friend
certainly we shall meet again
all comes to an end
the question is, when?

Eager to see you, we are
you must wait a little while
shine bright young-spirited star
you left more than a smile

Arith Härger

Cσρуяιgнт © 2014™

A friend departed, and in this winter-grieving day this mournful spirit wrote a poem to him.

Working With The Gods: Hela

In the Norse pantheon, Hel/Hela is the goddess of death, the deity that rules in the underworld and all its denizens. In previous posts I have written about her already. Now, I will not delve much into the subject of who she is and her purpose as a goddess, nor will I talk about her gifts. In this post, I will write about her in a different manner, how to work with her in a spiritual way. To those who already know her, it will be easier to interpret.

The majority of the Norse gods (both genders) are associated with light, but Hela on the other hand, is one of the few Norse deities which represents exactly the opposite. She is associated with darkness, the kind of darkness which absorbs the light, a very powerful negative energy. This is probably one of the reasons people associate her with evil and an horrific afterlife spent in darkness. The christianization of Europe adopted her name to label the terrible afterlife awaiting those who sin, the place where the devil reigns and tortures souls (Hell). This is an awful mistake, Hela has nothing to do with christian beliefs, and she may be associated with darkness, but that doesn't mean that darkness itself is naturally linked to evil. She seldom comes in the lore, and even the most important lore we have about the gods, such as the written works of Snorri Sturluson, had already a christian influence which is perfectly natural at that time, for the christian faith was gaining much ground and none could speak or write about subjects which "defiled" the christian faith. Most of what we really know about the goddess Hela, comes from the spirit-workers who have the honour to work with her. Unfortunatelly, such people are few, but we still can learn a lot about the gods in this manner. We must let go all the mysticism and lies that were created around many pagan gods.

Working with Hela:

When meeting with Hela (if you have such honour, because she really only chooses a handful of spirit-workers once in a life time), she would certainly like to be offered something to drink, be that alcoholic or not, preferably home-brewed. She usually wears long and simple clothing, normally black or grey or both, you will recognize her easily.Also, the her best feature which you will recognize her immediately as soon as you see it, is the fact that she usually wears rings. One ring on every finger of her left hand.

There are some people, Spirit-workers or not, that paint half of their faces resembling a skull, or actually use a mask like that to honour her. Hela will often work with female spirit-workers, but occasionally it is possible for her to also call for a male spirit-worker, but that seldom happens.

Hela walks very slowly and moves quietly. She only speaks to a person at the time, there are no group gatherings around her. Be very quiet, don't interrupt her, listen intently to what she has to say. Her vast knowledge is something that she will not share with most, and if she chooses to share it with you, be certain that you are being given the most honourable audience of all.

Female Shamans and Medicine Women

Shamanism has been a spiritual practice that accompanied Mankind throughout history, since pre-history. However, such practices ended in most countries, but there are still a few shamanic tribal societies that kept these traditions going. In some of these societies, there is a preference for the practitioners to be female. There are lots of evidence abiut this fact, including in archaeological findings in Czech Republic, indicating that the earliest Upper palaeolithic shamans were in fact women and not men. Descriptions of female shamans describe these women as invokers of spirits of the gods, earth and ancestors, as well as being healers, herbalists, oracles, ecstatic dancers, diviners, shape-shifters, priestesses and shamanic journeyers. Female shamans or shamankas, are  located among the Tungus people, the Buriats, Yakuts, Ostyaks, and among the Kamchadals.

In the steppers and central regions of Siberia, the female shaman(s) possess greater power than the male shamans, or so it is believed. In general, the feminine element plays a very important and prominent role in terms of magic, sorcery, at least it is so among the Yakuts. Female shamans are dominant in some cultures where they ate to the forefront of the cult practice. Whether in ancient China or Japan, or Korea, South Africa, Okinawa, the Philippines, from northern California to southern Chile, female shamanism  is a widespread tradition.

Archaeological findings show us that all over the world, the female shaman was very important in the old societies. Such findings go all the way from the mediterranean, to scandinavia, far into the east of Siberia and down the southern hemisphere. For instance, the Ekven burial of a female shaman was found at Chukotka on the Russian side of the Bering Strait. A 2000 years old grave of an elderly woman with a wooden mask at her knees as well as other ritualistic and shamanic artefacts. Recurrent artefacts and examples of female shamanic practice are amulets, medicine bags, mirrors, and head-dresses shown by excavated regalia, as well as drums. Examples can be seen in southern Chile where female shamans of the Mapuche Nation use drums called kultran. Korean female shaman drummers use mudangs. Drumming would be accompanied by chants and invocations as is shown by the Mexican Indian shamans. An other example, during the Mesolithic period, it was found an interment at Bad Durrenberg which occurred 8,500 years ago. It was a woman around 25 years of age accompanied by a child of some 6 to 12 months of age. The grave goods and artefacts comprised those assumed to have a ritualistic and shamanic function.

Evidence of the primordial origin of female shamans is shown by the excavated burials during the archaeological works all over the world. Such burials have been found dating from the 5th century before our common era. These include the Priestess of Ukok ( as well as remains from south Kazakhstan, and the basin from the Ukraine to the Tarim. Archaeologists have determined that these ancient female interments in central Asia were shamanic priestesses. The mummified remains of a female shaman was from the 5th century BCE, and a kurgan of the Pazyryk Culture of ancient Altai. A Mummy of the Ukok princess was discovered and excavated in 1993-1997, and she has been dubbed as the Siberian Ice Maiden. This woman is also variously known as the Princess of Ukok and the Altai Princess, or Ochy-bala after the Altai heroine.

The burial of a female Natufian shaman was discovered in a cave site at Hilazon Tachtit ,in Israel, was dated to circa 12,000 B the common era. The Natufians of the southern Levant of 15,000 to 11,500 BCE were a nomadic people who lived along the east Mediterranean. The excavated remains were those of a diminutive, disabled ‘shaman’ woman of advanced years, in a specially constructed grave. The interment represents the ritual burial of one of the oldest human spiritual figures. There are many interments that show rituals and techniques, indicated by shamanic burials with especially placed animal bones, and in same places tortoise shells as well, and some times feathers.

Among north Amerindians, medicine women are as common as medicine men, especially among the Dakotas and the Creeks, with both occurring among the Inuit. As it is with shamans, the medicine woman and their healing practices, are not restricted to members of the male gender.

In ancient Greek mythology, in the temples of Argos, the goddess Hygeia was the daughter of Aesculapius. The fact that the great Mother Goddess Hera, as Lucina, propitiated at or presided over childbirth, and that the original goddesses were probably real medicine women. In remote antiquity women were engaged in the practice of medicine. In central Australia, the medicine is ranked equal to the medicine man just as the female shaman is the equal of the male shaman. Shaman women as medicine women, propitiated the spirit world and practised the healing arts towards their own sex. Medicine women were thus equal to the medicine man. Not only in the way they became, but also in social status, their role and function, but in all other aspects.

As has been shown by both female shamans and medicine women in many times, climes and cultures, it's not infrequently the idea that the female shamans prevails to such an extent that the most powerful shamans are women. The antiquity of the shamanic role of women is illustrated by the evidence of surviving rock and cave art which can be interpreted in terms of shamanism, fertility ritual, and rites of passage. Rock art in southern Africa can be analysed from two approaches, one that incorporates women issues within a framework of shamanism, and secondly, one that treats it as outside the understanding shamanism. Depictions on cave walls can be interpreted in terms of the shamanistic nature of the puberty rites of girls. A distinction has to be made between the meaning of the terms ‘shamanic’ and ‘shamanistic’. The word ‘shamanic’ refers to the practices and experiences of shamans, whereas ‘shamanistic’ refers to general beliefs and practices. The analysis can be, and have been, extended to an interpretation of cave paintings claiming that the art was the work of women. A recent study produced results, indicating that prehistoric female artists also helped create the famous ‘spotted horses’ cave mural and various others. The hand prints on the mural were dated to 25,000 BCE.  Many of the hand prints were smaller than female hands as established by analysis of digital ratios.The evidence appears to show that a large number of Upper Palaeolithic cave artists were women  confirming that  the women’s role in prehistoric society was much greater than previously thought. It is most likely, considering the role of women in primordial society as shamans, that ancient art was mostly the work of women. Hand prints on cave walls were analysed and show us that there was a gender difference between relative lengths of fingers. Men and women’s finger lengths are different. Even though another theory claims the hand prints may be those of adolescent boys, but some 75% of cave art hands are female.

Examples of hand print art in caves have been found in southern France, in Australia, Argentina, Africa and Borneo. In northern Spain hand prints were believed to date back to 40,800 years old, where of 32 hand stencils, 24 were female. Hand stencils support the theory that, not only were women actively involved in cave art, but that they were in their role of shamans leaders in ritualistic, fertility and magical practices as well, and many of which were also linked to rites of passage for other members of the community.

The Discovery of Thor's Hammer - The mystery of Viking amulets

A 10th century Viking artifact resembling the Hammer of Thor was discovered. This discovery has solved a long mystery surrounding more than 1.000 ancient amulets found all over northern Europe. These relics, known as the Mjöllnir amulets, appear to depict hammers, which historians have linked to the Norse god of thunder, Thor. However, this could not be concluded with certainty as their shapes are not conclusive, and none of them contained inscriptions revealing their identity.

Another similar pendant has been found in Købelev, on the Danish island of Lolland, which is the first one to be discovered with an inscription. The runic text reads “Hmar x is”, which translates to “this is a hammer”.  Cast in bronze, and likely plated with silver, tin and gold, the 1,100-year-old pendant shows that Thor’s myth deeply influenced Viking jewellery. It seems that his is the only hammer-shaped pendant with a runic inscription (so far found). This is a good indication tha the pendants are in fact depicting hammers.

According to the Norse mythology, (which I have mentioned countless times in this blog) Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, friendship, honour, the protection of mankind, healing and the fertility of the land along with his wife Sif. Thor is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic peoples, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania, to the tribal expansions of the Migration Period, to the high popularity of this deity during the Viking Age, when, in the face of the process of the Christianization of Scandinavia, the Mjölnir amulets were worn in defiance and Norse pagan personal names containing the name of the god bear witness to his popularity. In fact, Thor was much more worshiped than his father, Odin.

Featuring an interlacing ornament on one side of the hammer head and the short runic inscription on the other, the newly discovered Mjöllnir amulet is believed to have been made by a local craftsmen. Fragments of silver needles and a mould for making pendants indicate that the jewellery was produced in a silversmith’s workshop on Lolland island.

The Viking Berserkers – Brave warriors or drug-addicted?

Nowadays we often use the word "Berserk" or "to go berserk" to label any person in a irrational state of mind, or a person who isn't able to control his/her actions because the rage is such, that the person enters a frenzy, lunatic state, a destructively person or frenetically violent. The word Berserker or Berserk, comes from the old Norse word "Berserkr", which means "a wild warrior or champion". These warriors wore hides of bears, which might explain the origin of the berserkr as a compound of "Bera" - Bear, and "Serkr" - shirt or coat. These were the fierce viking warriors who were known for battling in an incontrolable trance-like rage, and were alleged to be able to perform seemingly impossible super-human feats of strength, akin only to a wild beast.

In the medieval history and folklore, of both Norse and Germanic, the berserkers were described as members of an unruly warrior band/gang, whose main devine cult was the cult of Odin, the king of the Aesir tribe of gods. The berserkers were also commissioned to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and special elite troops, who would strike fear into all who encountered them.

It wasn't hard to struck fear into the hearts of the enemies, as the berserkers behaved like an animal, roaring, grunting and howling, entering in a state of uncontrollable rage. Most of them would leap towards the enemy, biting shields and gnawing upon the skin of their enemies. 

Dating back as far as the ninth century, the berserker Norse Warriors were said to be able to do things that normal humans could not. According to ancient legend, the berserkers were indestructible, and no weapon could break them from their trance.  They were described as being immune to fire and to the strike of a sword, continuing on their rampage despite injury.

Most anthropological and psychological studies indicate that the Berserkers simply worked themselves up into a self-induced hysteria before fighting, that was part of the cult to Odin, very violent. They would act like animals, abandoning their clothes and dress with animal pelts, an initiation process to leave behind the human condition and become an animal. Other researches indicate that the consumption of drugs or alcohol, or even mental illness, could be the key to understand their behaviour. Some botanists have claimed that berserker behaviour could have been caused by the ingestion of the plant known as bog myrtle, one of the main spices in Scandinavian alcoholic beverages.

Other more esoteric theories surround supernatural beliefs. For instance, some scholars have claimed that the Vikings believed in spirit possession and that berserkers were possessed by the animal spirits of wolves or bears. According to some theorists, berserkers learned to cultivate the ability to allow animal spirits to take over their body during a fight (an example of animal totemism) that also involved drinking the blood of the animal that they wished to be possessed by.
Speaking in a more esoteric term, there are some theories surrounded by supernatural beliefs.For instance, some scholars have claimed that the Vikings believed in spirit possession and that berserkers were possessed by the animal spirits of wolves or bears. According to some theorists, berserkers learned to cultivate the ability to allow animal spirits to take over their body during a fight, an ancient cult of animal totemism linked to shamanism, that also involved drinking the blood of the animal that they wished to be possessed by.

In 1015, Jarl Eiríkr Hákonarson of Norway outlawed berserkers. The Grágás, the medieval Icelandic law code, sentenced berserker warriors to outlawry. By the 12th century, organised berserker war-gangs had been completely disbanded.

Angrboda - How To Praise And Make Offerings To Her?

As I have written the other day about this norse goddess, this post will be only about making offerings to her. Summarizing, Angrboda was the first wife of the god Loki. That is how she was entitled as a goddess thereafter, foe being connected with another deity. This doesn't mean she had no power before, on the contrary, she was a powerful figure in Jotunheim, chieftain of all the tribes of Jotnar. Such power she had, that Loki himself felt drawn to her. She is also the mother of the death goddess, Hel, or Hela, as well as the great sea serpent and the wolf Fenrir. Angrboda's marriage to Loki produced three children - Hela, who became the goddess of Death; Jormundgand the Great Serpent who surrounds and protects all of Midgard; and Fenris the wolf-shaped God of Destruction who was chained. 

In the previous post about her, I wrote that she will not work with anyone, her choices in spiritual-workers are very specific. Whoever she chooses, she will protect the person if she considers him/her to be a member of her clan.

In Ironwood, as well as in most places throughout Jotunheim, she is known as the Wolf Mother. This shows her matriarch personality. This title "Wolf Mother" is actually relevant for this post, because most want to work with her but can't, so in other to help her or give her offerings indirectly, you can help the wolves of your country, those animals are an endangered specie in all the countries which they are native. Helping the wolves, in whatever kind of job is needed in the centres that protect them, is actually hard work, and Angrboda appreciates the tough ones.

Most people only know Angrboda by her marriage with Loki and for being the mother of many of his children. The lore speaks of such things but not how to work with her and what is her real purpose. Through time, many spiritual-workers gave us the knowledge of the things that don't come in the lore.
She is a strong figure, violent, passionate, very protective like a wolf mother to her cubs, and also much wise. She as a reddish hair, a brown hair with a mixture like copper and red, or the color of dried blood.

As i told before, she is a very strong mother-figure, not in terms of nurturing or tender love, but in terms of motivation, support and advice, she takes special care to those who are "different", who have physical anomalies, people who also need love and care and need a mother-figure to guide them and to tell them they are also beautiful, as long as they are strong inside and never give up.

To work with her indirectly, you don't need to just help wolves, but also people with physical and mental disorders. As I have said before, she requires a strong spiritual-worker, capable of leadership, determined, wise and inclined for more primal aspects of life and human behaviour. Take note that she only works with female spiritual-workers, but once in a while a male spiritual-worker might also be summoned.

Meteorite fragment found inside a 9.000-year-old hut

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) in Szczecin discovered a meteorite fragment inside the remains of a Neolithic hut dating back more than 9,000 years in Bolków, northwest Poland, according to a news report in Naukaw Polsce. Academics believe the object was recognised as being ‘not of this world’ and was used for shamanic purposes.

Archaeologists had been carrying out excavations on the banks of Swidwie Lake in the West Pomeranian region for several years before discovering an unusual rock last year measuring 8cm in height and 5.3cm in width. The fragment was cylindrical shaped, porous, and unusually heavy, but it was not until recently that it was identified as a meteorite fragment.

The meteorite was discovered among a large group of sacral objects, including an amulet, a so-called ‘magic staff’ fashioned from antlers and decorated with geometrical motifs, and an engraved bone spear. The meteorite was brought to the shelter as a special object, not of this world, which must have been obvious to the contemporary men, knowledgeable of stone raw materials. The thing became an object of belief, and maybe even shamanic magic.

The discovered fragment is surprisingly heavy. In addition, the side profile shape suggests various associations; the original finder millennia ago probably saw in it shapes of a mysterious world of spirits. Close to the remains of the Neolithic hut with the meteorite, archaeologists found a second, almost identical dwelling in a peat layer. The central part of the huts contained the preserved traces of a hearth.

3000-Year-Old Baby remains found at Halloween's Birthplace

The 3,000 years remains of a baby has been found at a site in Ireland that is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween. Studies show that the fully intact skeleton belongs to a 7-10 month child. The remains were unearthed during a three week excavation at Tlachtga, on the Hill of Ward near Athboy Co. Meath. One of Ireland’s most enigmatic sites, the Hill of Tlachtga features impressive circular earthworks which are best seen from the air. Medieval texts link the site to Samhain, the ancient Celtic Festival which is the precursor to modern Halloween.

 The skeleton was found on the bedrock at the base of a 1.5m (3-foot, 28-inch) ditch. It may never be possible what caused the death of this child. Excavation and surveys carried out using airborne laser, revealed the area was a key ritual site. This same site, has several different phases of monumental enclosures and it is believe that those are associated with festivals and rituals potentially dating back as far as 1,000 B.C.

The Hill of Ward and Tlachtga, is a site steeped in folklore. According to Irish mythology, it got its name from the daughter of the powerful druid named Mug Ruith. According to legend, the remains of the druidess, who is said to have died on the hill after giving birth to triplets, are buried there. Tlachtga is also believed to be the site of the Great Fire Festival in which sacrifices were offered to the gods on Samhain eve. All hearth fires throughout Ireland were extinguished and then lit again from a central fire on the hill.

As I have written before about Samhain, I will quickly write about what it is, to place this post into the context. Samhain means "Summer's end", and it was the great festival of the dead. This was a time when the doorways to the otherworld, or a gap between worlds, opened and journeys through both realms could be made from one side to the other. This means that people could visit their ancestors, the deities and others beings, and vs versa. What goes in, also comes out. The veil between the worlds of the living and the world of the dead was believed to be the thinnest on October the 31st, a day which lies exactly between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

The excavation revealed the monument of Tlachtga is actually the last of at least three phases of enclosure on the hill. There is at least one small enclosure, about 15 inches in diameter, enclosed by a very large, tri- or quadrivallate enclosure, about 650 feet in diameter, which was replaced by the monument we may see today. The excavations also brought to light evidence of burning, which could have been ritual fires or the result of glass-making.

It is believed that the child was most likely not the victim of any human sacrifice on the ritual site. The remains have been taken to the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin for further examination.

Working With The Gods - Angrboda

In Jötunheim, the land of giants, lies the most famous forest of all the nine norse cosmic worlds. Jarnvidur is its names, or commonly known as "Ironwood".

Angrboda (Whose name means "the one who brings grief") is the leader of all the Jotnar tribes living in Ironwood. According to the spiritual workers of the northern shamanic traditions, this goddess prefers female attendents, in other words, feminine spiritual workers. But she doesn't work with any who wants to work with her. In physical terms, she prefers tall women, strong, capable of enduring every trial Angrboda might have for them. However, she also preferes to work with older women, and in such cases, it doesn't matter their physical aspect. Only the young ones must be strong, willing to work with her. She doesn't work with teens for example, only adult women with some authority.The weak and delicate are not welcomed by her.

Angrboda is one of the oldest deities in the Norse cosmology, she was worshiped in prehistoric times, as such, she doesn't like to work with spiritual-workers who come clothed with something that may hold movements. Come to her in your natural form. That is part of the psychological profile of the spiritual-workers she likes to work with, without cloths that may hold the movements, is a metaphor for a person who moves with confidence and unconcern. If you must wear any type of clothing, choose a tunic or something made out of leather or animal skins. She likes women who have a warrior spirit. She is not a sweet deity, neither kind nor patient. Although, she is very kind to those who are physically different.

Note: When I've written that she likes clothes of animal skin, it would be absurd to assume that she likes to wear those just as a fashion, after all, she protects the wild animals, especially the wolves. She is a figure of ancient prehistoric cults as I have said, to be more precise, from the Neolithic period; she has been worshiped for a few millennia. Just as the humans once needed animal skins to warm themselves and to protect the body against the cold winter, she also needs them, for Ironwood is in Jotunheim, a hard place to live for those who aren't used to its weather. The best place in this world you might compare to it, are the thick shadowy and cold forests of Siberia.

Sweden's 11,000-year-old relics

Earlier this year (2014) a unique discovery in the Baltic Sea was made. Stone Age artefacts left behind by the Swedish nomads, dating back to 11.000 years ago. Some call it the Swedish Atlantis, as such, this is the oldest settlement in Sweden. But first of all, this as nothing to do with Atlantis, nor does it resemble and old city, not even a small village. But it is exciting nonetheless.

While excavations are still underway, so far, they have uncovered a number of remnants that are believed to have been discarded in the water by Swedes in the Stone Age. Objects which have been preserved thanks to the lack of oxygen and the abundance of gyttja sediment, which is sediment rich in organic matter at the bottom of a eutrophic lake. It is extremely rare to find evidence from the Stone Age so unspoiled.

Buried 16 metres below the surface, Nilsson wood was uncovered as well as flint tools, animal horns and ropes. Among the most notable items found, it includes a harpoon carving made from an animal bone, and the bones of an ancient animal called aurochs, the ancestor of domestic cattle, the last of which died off in the early 1600s.

Such objects were thrown in there, probably because around 11.000 years ago there was a build up in that area, and all the tree and bone pieces are preserved. If the settlement was on dry land, there would probably have been only stone-based things, nothing organic.

However, unlike the stories of Atlantis, the remains do not come from a great city or even a village because the people were nomadic at the time.

Archaeologists are continuing the underwater excavations, and are now particularly interested to see whether there is also an ancient burial site in the region.

Working With The Gods: Heid

Heid is not the only Norse goddess who is seldom heard, as such, people tend to work with other deities and pay little attention to some deities. Heid is as important as any other deity, especially in her field of expertise of course. When she is called upon and comes to work with the spiritual-worker, she appears as a little old woman, it's her disguise. If you want to make an altar for her, don't forget to add her favorite colours, which are: Black and gold. Usually Heid doesn't work with a single person unlike Gerda. Heid prefers to come to a group, a circle or seidr-workers, in order to give them advice and training. She works with both genders, but both men and women should be older, middle-aged at the least. Those who work with her should/must be seidr-workers, otherwise she will not come, it is unlikely that she will.

Working With The Gods : Gerda

Gerda is a Vanir goddess and the wife of the fertility god Freyr. Gerda is of giant blood, an etin woman. She is quiet and introverted. She is not the type of deity that likes to gather a lot of people, nor does she like a crowd of followers. She will likely to work only with a very small group of people, sometimes even just one single person. So if a group of people wants to call upon her, she will not come so willingly. She is a goddess linked to the earth, as such, she prefers colours that remind her of her beloved land. Greens and browns are a favorite colours, but also greys and purples. If you want to make an offer to her or when calling upon her to make spiritual work, don't forget to have near by freshly-cut herbs. Also burn or boil a few, the scent will certainly catch her attention.

Gerda Will only appear to you when there is no need at all, when you have probably got over the problems you were facing and those might have been the reason why you called upon her in the first place. When she comes, she will advise you and give you a certain amount of information that you probably needed to hear. Gerda is also the patron of the women who make abortions, because that is a very difficult thing to be handled and it might bring complications to the body. If that is your problem or the problem of the person you want to help, bath yourself or the woman you are trying to help, in salt water first, before calling upon Gerda. Also add some herbs to the bath. Gerda will certainly seem calm to you, very quiet. Be respectful when she comes. I should point that she doesn't work with male spirit workers, only female.

The Home of the Celts

Even nowadays with the turning of the century, the Celts do not cease to amaze us, and we are still digging up the truth about these European peoples who shared a similar culture, beliefs and traditions. For the last century, historians believed that the homeland of the Celtic-speaking peoples lay in central Europe, thus, from there they spread across the European continent in several waves of migration. Spreading their language, culture, traditions and way of living to almost every corner of ancient European landmass. It is told that the Celts originated during the late bronze and early iron ages, in communities of southern Germany and northern Austria, and such knowledge became the default reading of early Celtic and indeed early European history.

However, we often encounter problems in these so called historical facts. Amongst the professional academic cerclis, this theory is suspected to be wrong, and many state that it is wrong indeed, and for decades they know about it.

The homelands of the Celtic-speaking peoples were never in central Europe it seems. They were in the one place where Celtic-speakers have always been known to exist and where some still do exist, the north-western and western Europe. The modern nations and territories of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, England, Brittany, western France, Spain and Portugal form the historic heartland of the Celts and their ancient place of origin. It was thought that the Celts came from Nowadays Germany and Austria into the western lands, but in truth they originated in the Atlantic regions, went to central Europe and then their migrations in mass started from there and came back (some never left) to the Atlantic regions, to their ancestral lands.

The BBC has news on a new three-year project to trace the origins of the Celtic peoples, including an interview with Professor John Koch, who points out the failure of the old theories to explain the origin of the Celtic-speaking nations. Even myself, I have been studying about European cultures for the past 8 years, not only the Norse as you might think when reading my blog, but also the Celts. Amongst my colleagues of History and Archaeology, we too have found a lot of evidence that strongly supports this theory.

Yakut - The recognition of a pagan creed

Contradicting the trend against the official recognition of unusual religions, the neo-pagan faith Aar Aiyy won formal recognition in the Siberian republic of Sakha. Practicers of the religion have been waiting for this moment for at least 18 years.

This creed was native to the original Turkic-speaking population of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, but was forced out as Orthodox Christianity spread during Russia's 17th century colonization of the region. Even so, the Yakuts have preserved the creed and are now free to practice it. 

The Russian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of belief, but while creating a "religious group" requires no formal permit, the relevant legislation sets strict limitations on the rights of such groups to proselytize and to carry out daily operations.

Registering an "organization" requires a minimum waiting period of 15 years and comes replete with exhausting inspections, including by the Federal Security Service, KGB's successor. The registration of Aar Aiyy was finalized in late April 2014.

The religion — whose name translates roughly from Yakut as "belief in higher deities" — teaches that the Universe, consisting of three worlds, possesses a Creator aided by 12 celestial helpers and is populated by numerous spirits. The creed comprises elements of shamanism, animism and Tengrianism, a religion unique to Central Asian and Siberian nations, which was followed by Ghengis Khan's Mongols.

It was unable to provide an estimate of the number of Aar Aiyy practitioners among a population of 950,000, including 467,000 ethnic Yakuts. But it is said that the group never had any run-ins with the powerful Christian church and does not expect trouble as it plans to limit its missionary activity to   — as such, anyone can join.

Many Yakut Shamans died during the Soviet period, but neo-pagan beliefs remain strongly rooted in Yakut culture. In the 1990s, neo-pagans were actually an opposition force to be reckoned with in Yakutia's parliament, though they lost all of their mandates during the 2000s.

Nevertheless, Yakut neo-paganism retains popularity, and its institutionalization cannot be stopped. This is a native folk tradition, which always was and hopefully will always exist.

Vampire burial in Poland

In Poland, a 16th - 17th century grave has been unearthed, showing evidence that the deceased was believed to be a vampire; a brick was found between his teeth, and his leg had been staked to the ground to prevent him rising from the dead and terrorising the living. According to the pagan beliefs in the area (typical slavic folklore), people who were considered bad during their lifetime might turn into vampires after death, unless of course certain rituals were held postmortem, including wedging open the jaw to prevent the vampire from feeding after death, and stabbing the deceased with an iron or wooden rod before being buried. People believed the rod would pin them down in their graves to prevent them from leaving at midnight and terrorising the wilderness. The legends formed an important part of Poland’s folklore, as well as other countries throughout Europe.

Hundreds of ‘vampire burials’ have already been found throughout Eastern Europe, including more than 100 in Bulgaria, all of them male and all prominent citizens. Incredibly, the ancient practice, which began at least as early as the 13th century, only stopped being practiced in Bulgaria 25 years ago. 
The latest discovery was made during excavations in the town of Kamien Pomorski, in north-western Poland. A brick had been so forcefully wedged in the deceased’s mouth that it knocked out the upper teeth. The remains also featured a large puncture in the leg, which suggests that the leg had been staked to the ground. It seems such vampire-slaying rituals were common in the region.

It has also been suggested that some of the beliefs about vampires stemmed from the characteristics of Black Death corpses. Mass graves were often reopened to bury corpses during epidemics, which sometimes displayed blood seeping out of the mouth and with a hole in the shroud used to cover their face. The people of the time believed that these ‘vampires’ spread the plague by chewing their way through their shrouds after death. Placing a brick in their mouths was believed to prevent this from happening.

Witchcraft and Shamanism

When we hear about shamanism, we immediately think about the type of shamanism from Siberia, or the Americas, spirituality connected to tribal rituals and traditions. When speaking of European shamanism, we have no clue what it is, or at least the first thing that comes to mind, is the type of shamanism practiced in the northern countries of Europe. However, there is an tremendous body of evidence, in anthropological and historical literature, that the historical european.style witchcraft was in fact a form of shamanism practiced by the different cultures of Europe.

Lets make it clear first, the definition of “shaman” in use here is an anthropological one. As I have written before, "shaman" is a word that originates from the Tungus language of Siberia, and has been somewhat misapplied to the religious beliefs and practices of Native Americans (which are quite diverse, some are certainly shamanistic, others not so much). 
 The shaman, in this context, is a magical practitioner who works with the help of spirits, usually on behalf of or to the benefit of his or her community, by means of healing, divination, and such. 
Shamanic experiences all over the world share some general characteristics. In the form of a traumatic personal experience and/or a visitation by spirits, the formation of a strong bond between the shaman and one or more helping spirits, and a working relationship with those spirits, frequently characterized by ritual invocation and spirit flight or trance states to achieve specific goals.

The pre-christian practices of the European peoples, had these characteristics. All the way from the Iberian Peninsula, to the far East and up into the cold North, the peoples of Europe had their own ways to communicate with the spiritual world and the natural world, which in most of the cases (speaking in such spiritual practices) are two worlds strongly connected. With time and the constant invasions of different cultures in each country, these European practices have been lost. However, during the medieval ages, these practices were very much alive and we can find it in most books that talk about the medieval times. People during that time still practiced the spiritual ways of their ancestors, it lived on in the most rural parts of each country, and it was often thought that this happened, because the people in the rural areas hadn't much access to what was going on in the city, and because these people were less educated, they continue to practice the old ways. None of this is true. In spite of each country have had a lot of invasions and the cultures changed, because people had been killed in masses, and temples have been destroyed and such, each invador kept alive the inhabitants that worked the fields and took care of the animals, because they needed people to work for them, people who already knew how to deal with the land, turning them into slaves for new masters. Those people kept the old ways and so they were passed on from generation to generation. During the medieval ages, these spiritual practices were still being held, but the christian faith was spreading fast, and people were accused of witchcraft and most people were killed. The last places to have these practices until the late medieval ages, were the peoples from the East and the northernmost parts of Scandinavia, because it was hard to get there, hard to spread the christian faith into those places.

Because of the mass executions held during the medieval times, most of the information we have about this subject, comes from trial records and interrogations. The accused were subject to torture, it can be hard to sift truth from confabulation. 
Several point out that the folkloric material was not what the interrogators were interested in, and in fact was considered a distraction, subjects of interrogation would be pressed to describe a formulaic encounter with the Devil wherein they traded magical power for their immortal souls. Instead, accused witches often described encounters with fairies and the dead. This is consistent with what we know about fairy beliefs, that Elphame or the realm of the Fair Folk was also the realm of the dead. External evidence for the folkloric material, including beliefs about fairies and specific beliefs to do with spirit flight, doubles, and familiars, combined with the fact that interrogators actively discouraged it, lend a degree of confidence to the picture they paint of what medieval witches were up to.

Witches during these times, worked alone, or in groups (but most of the time, alone). They often had named spirit helpers who appeared to them frequently, these spirits might be in the form of a cat, rat, toad, bird, a human being, or a non-natural creature. They also encountered other figures, including the King and Queen of Elphame, who sometimes presided over gatherings and sometimes helped them directly. They described leaving their homes and flying or going forth in the forms of animals, generally a cat or hare, which is also frequently mentioned in shamanic practices. Their interactions with spirits, flying, and other seemingly fantastic or impossible activities are described as straightforward experiences. They also performed numerous acts of witchcraft, ranging from healing or other beneficial spells without distinction between what we would now consider herbal medicine and what we would think of as “magic.” This is consistent with books of “home physic” from that time period and later, which often include both an herbal concoction and an incantation in a single cure.

This is absolutely similar with the way that shamans from other cultures describe their experiences as well, but is so far from current Western ideas as to be feared as pathological. Another thing to take into consideration is that becoming a witch fully is something that you can neither inherit nor study nor buy, but only receive as the gift of an ongoing relationship with the spiritual world from other beings, such as it happens with shamans. One does not simple becomes a shaman just because he/she wants it, a person becomes a shaman because it was chosen by beings, spirits, gods and so on, something out of the person's control. That has profound implications for how a witch seeking to be traditional will approach such things as training, teaching, and joining an initiatory lineage.