Bow-Gods: Ullr, Skadi, and the Sami

The bow and arrow were so useful that the Norse had two different deities associated with them: Ullr and Skadi. Ullr skiied, travelled across the ice, and shot game with his bow. The giantess Skadi also skiied and lived in the mountains, like the indigeneous Sami, whose lifestyle was so different from that of the sea-faring and farming Norse.

Hunting with a bow was a Sami trait, along with the use of magic. Norse sagas don’t come right out and condemn archery, but in Norse myth Tyr and Thor use close-combat weapons, although Odin uses the arrow’s near relative, the spear.

Read More »

Celtic Hercules

When you consider what Hercules did for Gaul, it’s no wonder that they loved him. He founded the city of Alesia, and introduced the rule of law. “And for the entire period from the days of Heracles this city remained free and was never sacked until our own time…”1 (Diodorus Siculus 4.19.1)

Other myths said that Hercules was the father of Celtos, Galatos and Iberus, the ancestors of the Celts, Galatians and Iberians. This would make him the ancestor of the French, Spanish and Anatolian Celts, who would thus become many-times-grand-children of Jupiter.

To honour their fore-father, they offered statuettes of him at shrines (especially the god Borvo’s), and many Gaulish gods, including Ogmios and Smertrios, were paired with him as part of interpretatio celtica. (MacKillop: 248)

Read More »

Books on Brigit: a Review

Books Reviewed: Pagan Portals: Brigit – Morgan Daimler, Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess – Courtney Weber, Brigid: Goddess, Druidess and Saint –Brian Wright, Brigit: Sun of Womanhood – Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott, and The Rites of Brigid: Goddess & Saint – Seán Ó Duinn.

“A teacher of mine believes a whole spiritual tradition could be filled solely with Brigid devotees…” (Weber, Loc. 49) This is probably true, and you could certainly fill a bookshelf with volumes on Brigit, goddess and saint. For this post I wanted to review books that would be easily available, written for a popular audience, and likely to appeal to readers. I could easily have gone past five, but anyone who is that enthusiastic about Brigit will no doubt find more on their own.

Read More »

Njord: God of Peace and Plenty

When you think of Norse myths, you tend to think of Thor, smiting the giants, or Odin, outwitting his opponents. Or perhaps you think of Loki, causing mischief wherever he goes.

But life is not all battles and uproar. Alongside the gods of war were the gods of peace and plenty, the chief of whom was the god Njord. Poets used his name as a kenning for “warrior”, so he must have been able to fight, but his real interest was good harvests, peace for his people, and wealth.

Njord’s nature reflects Norse society: we often think of him as a sea-god, but he really looked after sailors, merchants and all who travelled on the sea. Equally important, the god known as Njord the Wealthy would make your voyage worthwhile.

Read More »