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.