Wight of the Nine Worlds

welcome

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.

Álfablót – a sacrifice to the Elves



You can also watch the video about this subject in here: [The Álfablót]

 
In northern pagan traditions there is a celebration called Álfablót – a sacrifice to the Elves. This was a celebration held at the end of autumn, but we have to take in mind that to our Norse ancestors autumn did not count as a season. There was spring, a short summer and a very long winter. After the end of the harvesting season, when all the crops were reaped and the animals well fed, it was time to go indoors. The long winter and harsh weather forced people to shut themselves in. Just as nature would sleep beneath the cold mantle of winter, all birds ceased to sing and a dead silence fell upon the world, so did humans retreated to their dwellings and spent the winter indoors, surviving by feeding on the stored food. 
 
The true essence of paganism is to celebrate life; to cause facilitate well-being to the family and the community by working together. Each individual plays an important part in the welfare of the community. But the Álfablót is a different celebration, not like the other blóts or other pagan celebrations and festivities. This is a small celebration that can be made by one individual or one family. It was a local celebration at the homesteads of each family, and it was administered by the lady of the household. During this time, strangers were not welcomed near the homesteads when the celebrations were being held, because this is a private blót, a private sacrifice, a moment to be shared with the ancestors and honour them at their burial mounds. A celebration that focuses on the particular affections and love that people feel for the family members that are already dead. 
 
This celebration is not only to honour the ancestors, but also all kinds of other spirits, such as the Elves and the Landvaettir (Spirits of the Lland). The Elves are seen as spirits closely connected to the fertility of the land but also in contact with the dead. They are a source of spiritual power and through them people can communicate with the dead and the gods. 
 
Much like the Celtic belief in faerie, the Norse/Germanic peoples also believed that they were always surrounded by entities of great power all over the land. Gods and Goddesses, land spirits/landvaettir, Alfar (Elves), Duergar (Dwarves), ancestors, Trolls, Huldrefolk and so on. Every entity lived in the land, on trees, rocks, streams, in animals etc. and helped the people in their daily needs, mundane life. They would also help giving guidance and wisdom, or for some, giving a hand in magical works.  People lived in close association with these spiritual entities, and the connections and friendship between both sides were forged through a series of ritual actions. The most important ritual or celebration in this matter was the Álfablót. 
 
The Álfablót was a celebration held during or after the Winternights/Vetrnætr (the three days which mark the beginning of the winter season). The aim of this celebration/sacrifice was to help the participants connecting with the local spirits surrounding their farmstead, and to begin to 
Formatada: Tipo de letra: Itálico
establish the relationship of mutual trust, respect, and support with them. As I've said, strangers were not allowed near the farmsteads during these times. We can assume to know why strangers weren't welcomed and why this celebration was a local family thing, because those that did not belong to the family and had no close connection with the deceased members of the family, couldn't possibly have any link to the feelings shared by each family member towards their own ancestors.  
Strangers should be at their own homes with their own families – this was the main rule. To the Norse, their property wasn’t just their home and farm, but also the place where they would bury their dead. The family’s grave mound was built within the property; the same concept of a sepulchre. It was believed that the spirits of the dead occasionally wandered near their burial mounds, so during the Álfablót the celebration was also held near or on top of the burial mound.  It was important to maintain the bonds of love and friendship with the deceased family members, because the living ones would someday join them. This reinforces the privacy of such a celebration. 
 
This celebration is still held nowadays in many places. Today you can invite whoever you want, because the main objective of this celebration is to be connected with the sSpirits of the Lland. For instance, in Iceland, people still honour the local spirits of the place where they live, and ask them if they can build their home in the area, because the human presence may not be welcomed at such places by the local Spirits of the Land. 
 



References:

Bellows, Henry Adams, (Trans.), (2007). THe Poetic Edda, The Heroic Poems.

Dasent, George Webbe, (2014). Popular Tales from Norse Mythology

Mitchell, Stephen A., (2011). Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages

Örnólfur Thorsson, et al. (eds.) (2000) The Sagas of Icelanders: a selection. Penguin Books

Simek, Rudolf, (2007). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall

Sturluson, Snorri, (1997). The Prose Edda. University of California Press. Translated by Jean I. Young

Turville-Petre, E.O.G., (1964). Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia.

The Bear - Symbology During the Middle-Ages


A video a little bit different than usual. The symbology of the bear during the Middle-Ages. How it turned from a pagan symbol to a christian symbol of evil and the representation of the victory of the divine forces over chaos, in the early European medieval times. Enjoy! :D





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Summer Solstice - The Celebration of Fire


Whatever it is you want to call it, Midsummer, Litha, Midsummerblót, Saint John's Day and so on, the Summer Solstice is the celebration of the sun and the fire element. Never forget your ancestors and how important fire was to them. There were times when fire was the only ally our ancestors had, which helped them to get warm and to survive. Great celebration to all of you and may the sun bring you happiness and spiritual strength.





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Werewolves in Norse Mythology



You can watch the video about this subject in here: [Werewolves in Norse Mythology]


There is this idea that werewolves are exclusively from eastern Europe, but I’ve collected a lot of tales about werewolves from places I wouldn’t even imagine that such tales were part of the local folklore. But then again, it’s not surprising, because at some point in prehistoric times, our ancestors’ spiritual practices were very much connected to animal totems, the power of animals. As I’ve said before, in Europe, the animals connected to royalty, courage, the warrior spirit and such, were the bear and the boar. These two animals were the most representative creatures of every European culture. And then there was the wolf. The wolf was something else entirely. 
Beyond the borders of the villages and the boundaries of our familiar world, there lies vast, wild and solitary landscapes. When night comes, those places become a scenery of dark and gloomy shadows. In the deep forests the famished wolves roam and hunt, howling in the cold winter nights. Howling at the moonless sky. Their eyes glitter in the dark as if they burned with a foul fire. 
The human being has always feared the unknown, and in ancient times, these landscapes beyond their villages, were terrible places of both mystery and death, few were those who dared to venture into those places, so such places became the scenery of many fantastic tales and the wolves became a symbol of terror and power. These animals were considered to be the wildest beings on earth, always searching for the kill, so it is perfectly natural that these natural facts led to so many folktales about werewolves and other mythical creatures. 

Now, let’s focus on werewolves for Northern Europe. We have many mythological accounts about werewolves in ancient Scandinavia. Let's start with one of the most famous tales. The tale of two men, Sigmund and Sinfjötli, who one day find a house in the middle of the woods with men under a sleeping spell. These men had enchanted wolf-skins. Sigmund and Sinfjötli steal their wolf skins and put them on. The moment they do this, they transform themselves into wolves and can even understand the wolf language. Then, after a few adventures and killing other men, things go wrong and one wounds the other, apparently a mortal wound. But things turn out for the best and the two men survive and take off the wolf-skins and destroy them. 
First of all, these two men were in the woods because they were outlaws and lived from robbery and other activities against the law. They were outlaws. In ancient Scandinavian societies, the outlaws, murderers, defilers of temples and thieves, were given the name of Vargr - they were the Vargar - which means wolves. Such people weren't killed by their actions or arrested, they had a worse fate. They were expelled from the community or the tribe and were left in the wild landscapes, as an animal who now needed to survive alone or in a group of people in equal circumstances, just as wolves do. Everyone could kill them, hunt them on sight, with no penalty nor punishment, because the Vargar were animals now. No one considered them as humans; they were mere beasts. 
Another aspect, they came upon other men in a remote area, in the wilds, away from civilisation, who possessed enchanted wolf-skins. Now, we might be in the presence of individuals who are also outlaws, and as such, they are Vargar, or we are in the presence of shamans. Shamans also lived outside the communities, far away in the wilds. But they didn’t live as beasts. They had their own dwellings and most survived because of the offerings the community gave to them in exchange for their power, their assistance in a variety of fields, from healing, to divination, and so on. In the history of shamanism we see many parallels with this aspect. Shamans living outside the communities, being both feared and revered; no one wants them close, but at the same time they need them. There are other tales similar to this one in the northern European countries. In Finland for instance, there are tales about men stumbling upon other men under a sleeping spell. Men with great spiritual power and can even turn into animals, mostly wolves. 
So the two men stole these enchanted wolf-skins and turned into wolves. They either accepted their condition as outlaws, or precisely due to the fact that they lived in the wilds, they encountered a spiritual path, they had contact with a shamanic perspective of life. To our ancestors, spiritual power came from the wilds, away from civilization, going out these to seek knowledge and power. We see this in shamanism, isolation as a shamanic technique to induce trace. The boundary between civilization and the wilds is a parallel to the boundary between sanity and madness, and it’s precisely with that balanced state that shamans do what they do. 
There were also tribes of shaman warriors, which could take the form of wolves in their trance journeys, and they acted like wolves, these shamanic mysteries were preserved as hereditary traditions among some families. These shamans at their initiation rites to become wolf-warriors, would go into the swamps, the most dangerous and wild places of the world, and left their clothes behind, symbolically this is the abandonment of the human form and the identity as a member of a community. These people would live their lives out of the civilized world and learning from the wilds. These people were called wolfmen or werewolves. 

There are other accounts of werewolves in the Norse tradition, such as Ulf Bjalfason, a character in the Egil’s Saga. As soon as night approached, his mood would darken and he had to get away from everyone and being isolated. People started to be suspicious and began to wonder that he might be one of those who changes his skin. People started to call him Kveld Ulf (night’s wolf), cool nickname. We can see in here the similarities with the previous account. Isolation and to become a skin-changer. 

I’m sure you were already thinking about this. Obviously, in Norse mythology, we have the Great wolf Fenrir, son of Loki. Fenrir will kill Odin during the events of Ragnarök. Eventually I shall speak about Fenrir in another time. But Fenrir symbolises the wilds, power, chaos, the other side of things that oppose order, but must exist to create a balance. The wild side of nature, its cruelty and destructive power. As we have seen before, people sought knowledge in the wilds, spiritual knowledge, the knowledge that can only come from the dead, from what is chaotic, untameable, and people have always had this need to try to tame the untameable in order to survive. It’s interesting to see that Fenrir will kill Odin. Odin being the personification of wisdom and power, but Fenrir is also power, the other side of power, the wild power. Two opposites against each other and it’s the wild power that will eventually succeed but ultimately be consumed and fail. Just as we have seen with Sigmund and Sinfjötli, they enjoyed their time being wolves, but could not control the power and the wild side took control of them and one ended up killing the other, 
but taking their wolf-skins off, they became men again - civilized. Fenrir might be the remnants of a prehistoric tale about those who are skin-changers that take the form of wolves and live their lives according to their wolf-totem. Every tale has a moral, and this one would probably be that seeking power is healthy and wise, but be careful to not let yourself be consumed by such power and let it control you. Fenrir also has two sons: Sköll and Hati. One chases the sun and the other chases the moon, every day, like a shadow. Darkness seeking to overcome balance and nature itself. We have the same principle as with Fenrir. 

We know of two other wolves. Geri and Freki, the wolves of Odin himself. There is a great possibility that these two wolves are not just pets, two animals akin to dogs and Odin just likes to have them near, pet them and feed them his food under the table. It’s possible that Geri and Freki represent skin-changers, and that in fact these are two people. Maybe Odin’s own bodyguards, or two chosen warriors of his utmost confidence; the best of the best, the perfect loyal soldiers. There are many archaeological finds depicting figures wearing wolf-pelts.  
In Scandinavian societies, the tales of wolves went further than the mythological tales, there was the existence of the elite warriors called Úlfhéðnar (Ulfhednar) people who went to war dressed with the skins of wolves, and were also warriors with immense strength, who sometimes fought naked, without showing that they were uncomfortable with the cold weather, or the landscape itself, adapting perfectly to the harsh environment just like wolves. These warriors went to battle in some kind of a trance and did not have the need for weapons, they could kill with their bare hands or bite just as a wolf does. In fact, that is what they were, people with the shapes of wolves, who thought that they were wolves themselves and acted like the creatures. There is a great possibility that before battle, they consumed some kind of hallucinogenic, entering in a trance-like state, psychologically they could feel the difference. It's just like if someone asks you to lift a table, and you don’t have the strength or the strength fails you and it's hard, but when you are angry, you gain strength and you can lift and throw the table with no problem. People sometimes go beyond the limitations they think they have, when they are physically and psychologically affected, when people are pushed into certain situations, the need to survive comes to the surface and the wild and savage feelings hidden within us appear, almost feral. Of course these accounts may be exaggeration, but the fact is, we find representations in archaeological excavations, so people probably believed in this and these warriors were actually part of a cult which involved hallucinogenic-drugs and pushing people to their limits, inducing rage, anger, inducing a state of uncontrollable mindless violence – being feral. These people were represented as wolves, from a cult which goes far back before recorded history. To the prehistoric shamanistic communities of wolf-men, or werewolves. 

The Boar in Celtic Culture




You can watch the video about this subject in here: [The Boar in Celtic Culture]


There are many mythological accounts concerning boars in a variety of cultures throughout the world. Boar hunt, and all its process – from tracking the animal, chasing it and delivering the final blow at the end – as always been a very ritualistic activity, greatly linked to initiation rites, tests of manhood, strength and an exercise to prepare for war. 
Hercules chased and captured a ferocious and gigantic boar; the goddess Artemis sent a boar to Calydon to ravage, lay waste, create chaos in that region because Oeneus, the king of the city, forgot about the yearly sacrificial rituals to the gods; in Norse mythology we have Gullinbursti – the god Freyr’s mount - a boar; In Hindu mythology, the boar Varaha is the third of the ten avatars of Vishnu and under that form Vishnu defeated the demon Hiranyaksha. Well, it’s not my intention to give you a list of mythological accounts about the boar, I just want you to understand that this was an animal of great importance in many cultures, but let’s focus on the Celtic culture. 

Through archaeology we know our ancestors started the process of domesticating animals during the beginning of the Neolithic period. Of course they domesticated animals before this period, but the Neolithic marks a time when Man’s actions greatly changed the behaviour and the physical appearances of animals. Changes in the animals eating habits, changings in the habitats, inter-breading to enhance certain features of an animal – the earliest genetic changes – well, a variety of factors which contributed to change the physical appearances of animals. Boars were domesticated and we have transformed them into pigs, and for millions of years, in general to us there as always been this idea that boars were just wild pigs and pigs were domesticated wild pigs. So there was no great difference between the two. However, to the Celts, a pig was a pig and a boar was a completely different creature. In the Celtic languages there are different words for a pig and for a boar, I mean, the Celts didn’t just refer to boars as wild pigs. The Celts did not identify the two animals as being from the same species. For instance, he word for Boar in ancient Irish and Gaelic-Scottish is “torc”, in Welsh is “baedd gwyllt” and in Cornish “bath”, this shows us the singularity of the boar in the Celtic cultures.  

Both the bear and the boar were considered to be the most fearsome creatures of the forests in pre-Christian times and throughout the early middle ages. The Celts highly respected and admired the capacity the boar had to defend itself when the creature felt threatened. So the boar became a symbol of courage and bravery, and also ferocity in battle. To the Celts and also among the Anglo-Saxons, the boar assumes the zoomorphic figuration of the Ideal Warrior, which is why the figure of the boar appears in decorations of weapons and in the equipment of warriors, most prominent in helmets and shields.  

When the Celts went to war, one of the most characteristic objects they would take with them was the Carnyx, those long bronze trumpets, with an animal head from where the sound would come, and most of the heads were representations of a boar’s head, of course there were other 
animal representations such as serpents, but the boar was the most used representation for these wind instruments. The boar being an animal linked to courage, bravery and ferocity in battle, it’s really interesting to see this very creature represented in these objects emitting a battle chant from the depths - frightening. 

The boar is also associated with certain Celtic deities, such as Vitiris, a Celtic god who was worshipped in the British Isles, a very popular deity amongst young warriors and even roman warriors who adopted this god. And the god Mogons also associated with the boar and Moccus a deity from Gaul, worshipped by boar-hunters. The goddess Arduinna, also from Gaul, a goddess from a specific forest in ancient Gaul, and she is associated with hunt and the boar, she even rides a boar. And in ancient Lusitania, the cult of the god Endovélico involved sacrificing boars, and also pigs. So the boar was one of the main animals used in the cult of a variety of Celtic deities. And we have other spiritual/religious references to the boar, such as some of the warriors from ancient Celtic Scotland wore wild boar skins, or even a Celtic tribe from northern Britain, whose name was Orci which means “tribe of the boars”. And then a wondrous variety of statuettes and figurines of boars, and boars represented in coins. The boar was one of the most represented animals, second only to the horse. 

In conclusion, the boar is one of the most representative animals of the Celtic culture, as a symbol associated with war, but above all, courage and bravery, ferocity in battle, and in a variety of folktales and Celtic legends, even the ones about King Arthur, the boar is also associated with magic and the other world, in Celtic mythology, especially in Welsh mythology, the boar can speak with humans and the creature is able to lead people into the world of the spirits, linking the animal to initiation rites; rites of passage. 

The Valknut is a "Lie"




A video about the term "Valknut" and how it has been misused, applying it to the wrong symbol. A possible name to the symbol in question is a matter of discussion brought to light by our new studies. I hope you enjoy it friends :D --- Aside from the English subtitles, this video also has subtitles in Portuguese, Spanish (American-latin), French and Italian. My thanks to all the contributors.





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Bealtaine and Friggablót




Well friends, here's a new videos talking about Bealtaine and Friggablót, where you have to suffer a little bit of my silliness at the beginning before the actual content. Enjoy it :D






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Viking Warrior-Women existed?




You can watch the video about this subject in here: [Viking Warrior-Women]


As I’ve told you before, there are historical facts and then historical facts proven by sciences. There was always this idea of Viking women fighting alongside men; fearsome female warriors in poetry and in the sagas. For instance, we have the famous Freydís Eiríksdóttir, the daughter of Erik the Red. She appears in the Sagas of the Greenlanders as a fearsome warrior, with masculine physical features, and a lot of people died due to her schemes, and she even fought the North-American natives. But there were no certainties that she even existed. We have always heard about warrior women in the ancient Scandinavian societies, especially during the Viking Age, but the truth is, there were no palpable evidences that they were real, that the women in these societies were warriors or could be warriors, it’s like when you have an idea, you spread it so much that all of a sudden everyone is talking about it as if it were true and becomes a fact. But fortunately nowadays, and this is a recent discovery, there are physical evidences that viking warrior women really existed, all thanks to archaeology, physical anthropology and genetics. So now we can say with certainty that women in ancient Scandinavian societies could be warriors. 

Women were very active within ancient Scandinavian societies. For instance, unlike Iceland where men were more active in activities related to witchcraft, especially Galdr, in mainland Scandinavia, Seidr – witchcraft, rune-magic, divination and so on – was the province of women.  Women also took care of the household and the farmstead when men were away raiding, they could even get divorced, and if their husband was killed they could take their sit in the Thing (the assembly of the community), having a very active role in politics. But when there were kids to take care of, their mothers were in charge of teaching them the arts of war. Mothers would teach their kids how to use the bow and arrow, the shield, sword, axe and spear - so women knew the Scandinavian medieval martial arts. With this knowledge in fighting and using weapons, why not try their luck like men? I’m sure taking care of the farmstead was a dull business, being at the assembly probably quite boring, so why not explore the world, discover new places, meet new people and kill them and rob them of their properties? 

Archaeological evidences of warrior graves are numerous, especially during the Viking Age period of Northern Europe. And in the Viking town of Birka, in nowadays Sweden, was the key centre of trading between the 8th and 10th centuries. There is a great number of graves distributed over large burial grounds encircling the town area. Of course, graves not only for warriors but other town's folk, but there is a specific area just for the garrison of this town, and in this area were found the deceased warriors. The graves in this area contained all manner of objects linked to the activities of warriors. The grave goods included swords, axes, spears, armour-piercing arrows, battle knifes, shields, well . . . the complete equipment of professional warriors. Some graves even had horses, and horses already indicate high-ranking officers. One of these high-ranking officers was a woman, scientists came to the conclusion after osteological and genetic tests. 

Now the question is, do weapons found in graves necessarily determine a warrior? There is a variety of archaeological findings of viking-women buried with weapons and they weren't 
necessarily warriors. But this one not only had all the equipment a warrior needs, also had horses. Two horses, as I've said. Horses weren't easy to come by, and it was extremely expensive to own one horse, let alone two. Horses were also chosen to be the sacrificed animals when it came to funerary rituals for someone of great importance, extreme importance really. But that depends on the context. In this context, these two horses show us that they were worthy of an individual with responsibilities concerning strategy and battle tactics. Of course there is the Oseberg ship case, where two women were buried with a great number of horses, but on that context we are in the presence of something completely different and unique, which I would love to talk about on another video someday.  

And now you ask, what about signs of trauma in the skeleton which indicate that the individual was a warrior? Well I must say that the skeletal remains of this female warrior did not exhibit signs of trauma. But weapon-related wounds are not that common, actually, during the Viking Age, traces of violent trauma are more common in mass burials, so it's more likely to find graves for a single warrior with little or no traces of trauma, and not every weapon hits the bones and leaves a mark, we have to take in mind that there is a lot of flesh and muscle to slice and people can die from it. 

Well, this goes beyond my professional knowledge, as an archaeologist I know a bit of theoretical physical anthropology and a tiny bit of genetics, but that work is left to the scientists who really know about this stuff, and they say this skeleton belonged to a woman and we can be certain it did. Now, is this the only female warrior of the ancient Scandinavian society? Of course not. Till now the idea was that men were the warriors and no one really went to the trouble of properly study the osteological remains to see the gender. This woman was not only a warrior, but a highranking officer, so if women could have such a high statues in the military field, certainly they could be warriors. In conclusion, female Viking warriors were part of a society that dominated from the 8th to the 10th century of northern Europe and now with certainty we can say that women were full members of this society, being very active in every field. 

The Autumn Equinox




You can watch the video about this subject in here: [The Autumn Equinox]


The equinoxes are somewhat times of equilibrium, day and night are matched. After an entire year of hard labour, not just when we speak of agriculture, but also in a kind of spiritual development, the autumn equinox is the time of repose, even in nature when the days become shorter and nights are longer. The autumn equinox marks the completion of the harvest, the waning powers of the sun, a farewell to summer and making preparations for the coming darkness. But let’s start with the Mabon celebration and then the Haustablót or FallFest. 

Mabon is often the term referring to the celebration of the autumn equinox, and to know why this name was adopted for this particular date of the year, we must understand its meaning and where it came from. The name "Mabon" was introduced by the neo-pagan religious movements and in the seasonal list of celebrations of the year. This name comes from the god of hunting "Mabon ap Modron", or in other words, Mabon son of Modron, a deity from the Welsh mythology. Mabon means “Divine Son” and he is the personification of youth. This god was kidnapped, three days after he was born, and was taken to Annwn, which is the other world, the world of the spirits and of eternal youth. We see a union here with youth and death, the beginning of life meeting the end of all things, decay, death itself, and this union is somewhat the personification of this season, letting go summer, youth, rejuvenation, light, and accept the very opposite of that which nature shows us almost in a poetic way, winter, cold, decaying of the soils and put a stop in life. 

So Mabon is the celebration of the year when the days start to grow shorter and the nights and darkness will prevail till the winter time comes. A preparation for the harsh winter, when the crops come to an end, and when people start to gather food to survive the long dark and cold days of winter. It is also a time to burn the soil and the fields where the crops were, in order to fertilize the land that will be covered by frost and snow, and at the spring time nature will do its work, and the land is ready to be planted again. The main celebration during this time consists in the need to share what the earth has given to us throughout the year, during the harvesting cycle, the fruits of the earth are shared with the community in a sort of ceremony to secure the blessings of the gods during the coming winter months. There is a similar Northern pagan Tradition at this time, called the Haust blót or Haustablót, and let’s talk about that so you can better understand the true purpose of this celebrations and enter in the pagan spirit of the season. 


I often talk about blóts, but what exactly is a Blót? I’m afraid I’ve never share that knowledge with you, so I will take this opportunity to do so. Blót was Norse pagan sacrifice to the Norse gods and the spirits of the land. The sacrifice often took the form of a sacramental meal or feast. Related religious practices were performed by other Germanic peoples. This celebration wasn't made just by the norse/germanic peoples, but also throughout Europe, the celts, and latins did it, in their own traditions. Animals and even people (mostly prisoners of war) were sacrificed. The word Blót means "to worship with sacrifice", and in this type of celebration/ritual/ceremony, the people gave their offerings, such as mead, food, animals, 
personal objects, all to the Gods and in turn people expected the Gods to give them gifts back, they asked for fertility, good health, a good life and peace and harmony between people and Nature. 

Now that you know what a Blót is, I will tell you what the Haustablot is, this specific blót in this time of the year, between the 21st and 24th of September. This is the autumn equinox, such as the Celtic Mabon, it is a time to celebrate the harvest of the crops and it's ending, it is also a time to thank and to meditate, the celebration is made with the food and drink that is made with the Corn and wheat, and also to celebrate with cakes, cookies, mead, bread, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and so on. 
It isn’t just a time to thank to yourself, your family and the Gods, for all the hard work, blessings and mutual help among the community, but also a time to thank and praise the Landvættir, who are the spirits of the land, and they protect and promote the flourishing of specific places where they live, which can be as small as a rock or a corner of a field, or as large as a section of a country. It’s important to take note that when people worship or pray to the Landvættir, or to the gods in general for that matter, people are perfectly conscious that the Landvættir or the gods will not solve anything for them, they will solve things WITH them. The Landvættir and the gods manifest themselves through us and infuse us with the power we need to do the things we must, to perform our tasks, so people didn’t ask for, let’s say, give me money, make my fields productive, clean the house for me, no, people asked for the power, the will, motivation to do things for themselves, just a little push to be successful in their hard work. 

In the Northern pagan Traditions, there was a celebration held in this time of the year, at the beginning of the autumn equinox, it’s called Haust blót, or the Autumn Sacrifice, and it is still held today by the neo-pagans who worship the gods from the Norse pantheon. As the season indicates, this is the time when the days grow shorter and darkness prevails until the winter time comes to an end. The last crops are coming to an end also, people start to gather their food and store it to survive the long and harsh winters of Northern Europe. Now, we can try to understand the pagan mind of our ancestors by looking at the natural world itself and how that influenced them. This was also a time to make festivities around the fire and praise, in a way, the Fire Element, because the world itself would take its colours, the fields are veiled by a cloth in tones of fire, dark yellow, red and oranges, the skies at dusk emit a red light that resembles blood, a warning that the days ahead will be hard, the forests and the mountains become silent, most animals also store food and hide in holes or inside old trees, others will hibernate, ravens will go to and fro, from place to place, in search of those who did not survived the hazards of the season and the harsh weather, so this is a time where everything becomes more magical and mysterious, but also the beginning of the trials that are in store for us, the ability to survive and prevail, in a way, a sort of battle between Man and nature, it’s exiting, because we humans love to be challenged, and during winter we are being challenged by the gods themselves, who manifest their powers through nature, and it’s a great honour to accept such a challenge and better still to be victorious at the end, it gives a certain feeling of being worthy.  

This is the time to pray and to thank the Landvaettir, the spirits of nature, of the soils and the land, to pray to the ancestors who still look over their decedents and protect them, and in some 
way still work the soils to provide better crops, so the family can survive in prosperity, happiness and wealth. People also prayed to the elves, who work along with the land spirits, to maintain the land fertile and the soils rich. People also pray to the God Freyr and to Freyja, the Gods of fertility, because the land itself also needs fertility, it needs to be prepared to be planted again, with new seeds, when the winter comes to an end. 

With hard work, perseverance, patience and love the land gives us so much, enough to survive and live with health, and a gift always calls for a gift, so we in turn must give something to the land, a personal object, or food, the mead that is passed amongst the folk in the drinking horn, will be poured into the land, so our ancestors and the gods, may also drink with us, giving to them what we can create with the things the earth gives us. People dance and sing, tales of old are told, to remember the deeds of our ancestors, and so we might find inspiration and strength. 

The Runes: Uruz ᚢ


Alright dear friends, the next rune is here: Uruz. Its basic meaning, the mythology connected to it, its upright and inverted meaning for divination purposes and a bit of information on binding runes with Uruz/Úr. Enjoy :) (Forgot to mention in the video, but  this rune is connected to the water element, even though it's primarely a rune connected to the male gender).







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The Runestaves


  
You can watch the video about this subject here: [The Runestaves]


To establish a context, I’ll start with the history behind the rune staves, but let’s not go that far back in time. To better understand the rune staves, we must understand the historical background of Iceland during the Middle-Ages, for that is the historical line I draw here because it was a time of great changes in the Scandinavian pagan mind. 

  Iceland was first settled in the latter decades of the 9th century, mainly by Norwegians and their Celtic thralls (slaves). These Norwegians came to this unpopulated island to seek political and religious freedom, running away from a monarch who was “hunting down” pagans – King Haraldr hárfagra (fair-hair). This king was still a pagan, but under the political influence of Christian Europe he set about to conquer Norway and bring it under a Christian-style monarchy. The new Icelanders set up a social order deeply rooted in their native heritage, so the land was ruled by local priest-chieftains, goðar (sing. goði). The Icelanders practiced the religion brought with them – their polytheistic Germanic heathenism – which is a religion that allows as much individual freedom as possible. Of course there were a number of Christians among the Celtic thralls brought to Iceland, and even some of their masters converted to the faith. The Icelanders originally tolerated such religious differences, but eventually Christianity was accepted as the official religion of Iceland due to a variety of social, economic and religious pressures of the Iceland’s foreign contacts who had all become Christians. The acceptance of Christianity by Icelanders was highly formalistic, so the old practices were maintained, in private, even though certain aspects were forbidden, in public. 

  The individual freedom of their native faith allowed Icelanders to compose works about certain aspects of their spirituality. In terms of magic, manuals were scarce in the beginning but there was still a lot of oral tradition and practices which survived within the families, and of course the Sagas and the poems. The written records we have of such magical practices were written during Iceland’s Catholic period; the social and religious realities were very much different, great changes had occurred, and obviously the mixture between paganism and Christianity greatly influenced the people who composed these works. Hard to say how far the reliability of such accounts go, but in terms of magic, and cultural aspects in general, the Catholic period in Iceland wasn’t that radical. Luckily, one of the traditional areas of Germanic magic survived in some parts of Scandinavia as late as the 19th century, and this area is “rune-magic”. 
   
  In pagan times the runic sorcerers/magicians, were well known and honoured members of the society. Traditionally these people were members of a social order interested in intellectual and/or spiritual pursuits. Now, the general technique of rune magic during pagan times consisted of 3 steps: 1) Carving the symbols in an object; 2) Colouring them with blood or dye; 3) Speaking a vocal formula over the staves to imbue them, load them, with magical power. We have several examples of this technique in Old Icelandic literature, this kind of magical work can be read in “För Skírnis” or “Skírnismál”, a poem in the Poetic Edda; we have an example there of a curse, for instance. Or in the Egil’s Saga, in order to detect poison in his drinking horn, Egill drew out his knife and stabbed the palm of his hand, he rubbed the blood in the horn which was carved with runes and changed an incantation. So the runes are symbols of power, but in order to awaken that power, one must give part of him – blood – life itself and probably all the ancestral history printed in the blood, all the knowledge of the ancestors, and also an incantation, giving breath to it, the breath of life, a sort of spiritual part of yourself and the 
uniqueness of your voice. Remember that Galdr is exactly that, the power of the voice, and in Norse mythology that was the gift Odin gave to mankind – the breath of life – and through sound powers are awaken, be that the power of suggestion, persuasion or invoking/summoning, hidden forces.  
   
  Of course during the Catholic period elements of the ancient native heritage and the new foreign religion were being syncretized. The pagan elements in magical tradition would naturally be diminished over time. Nevertheless, the old techniques must have continued in a way for many generations. Many features of the pagan tradition were kept alive for a long time, but then we start to see this magic changing when demonic entities and orthodox figures appear in spells. Of course there came a period in Iceland when magic was absolutely forbidden and written materials were destroyed, but a few books survived, remarkably, and it’s from those written sources we know about magical work in ancient Scandinavia. 

  Now, putting this historical introduction aside and let’s move on to the rune staves. We have all heard about magical symbols, objects, talismans at least once in the context of magic and ancient religious practices, such a subject is often heard, so now let's try to understand the runes as talismans, or placed in objects that might help in any kind of magical work. 

  In the Norse/Germanic traditional paganism, runic talismans for magical work are often constructed in the form of staves, which surprisingly, (or maybe not that surprising) this kind of work is also very similar with the magical practices using Ogham - the Celtic alphabet. The runes for spellcasting, or runestaves for magical work, usually are handled in series of three or more according with their influences. Most staves consist in either three of five runes, because it is easier to manage, anything longer than this can be very confusing, not just to the person who is using the runestaves, but also for the powers a person is working with. Things are normally kept as simple as possible. Before someone chooses the runes, they must know if the talisman they are about to create is a permanent charm or if it is intended to have a finite effect. This is something that people had to ponder deeply before creating such a talisman, because the purpose of these talismans are to create an event or to attract something to the person or to any one that owns the talisman, after the event occurs, the spell is done and the talisman has no further purpose, and as such, the talisman must be removed from this world, burnt or destroyed in any way, according to the Norse traditional magical practices. So this is why the majority of the runestaves were created in either parchment or wood, to easily destroy them. 

  It's interesting to see that those who had such practices had a very conscious view about the subject itself. In the sources and also what comes from oral tradition and folk accounts, people couldn't expect, sitting at home, for the effects of the magic they performed to happen simply because there was magic at work. There was an understanding that things don't magically happen, so there was this idea that the runestaves, and even bindrunes or any other kind of magical work, helped to create or attract an event in someone's life, and everything in this world to be attracted to something must be near it or have any kind of contact with it, like a magnet attracts iron, so if people created a talisman to find a job, for example, they needed to go out 
there, search for a job, to take physical action, and the talisman will help its owner, it will help in attracting that event into that person's life.  

  One tricky aspect about runestaves is that when someone creates them, they have to make sense, the sense that expresses the intention regardless of the direction the runes are read - left to right or backwards. 

  So, as you can see, in the old northern European societies, it was common to use runic symbols and combinations of runes for different magical purposes. Most of the symbols and spells used in the incantations of the bidding of runes, appear to have been for the use of simple daily problems in the life of the common folk, at least that's what was left not only in written sources but also archaeological evidences. For instance, we have many examples of talismans and runestaves for catching a thief or to overthrow an enemy. Surprisingly, the ones to catch thieves were very common and abundant, which might indicate a connection to the economical background of ancient Scandinavia, when people's wealth was measured in the quantity of cattle, and stealing cattle was fairly easy so there was probably a lot of thievery in these aspects. Anyway, other runestaves helped heal livestock, whilst others look at cursing the animals of another (again, the importance of cattle and the measurement of wealth). It was also common to create charms to help preserve food and ale, staves to bless the bearer with strength or courage, or symbols to help with fishing or prevent death by drowning. The bidding of runes, charms, staves and so on, were also commonly created to protect a person while in battle, to enhance the durability of a shield, the deadly strike of a weapon or the flexibility of a bow. 

  However, the people in the 17th century in Iceland faced more difficulties in agriculture, herding and hunting and fishing, rather than the troubles of war. With long dark winters, little arable lands for crops, and icy seas, life was unforgiving. Luck seemed to have an important role in that society, and the inhabitants would do what they could to influence their fortunes themselves. In times of famine, neighbours would be tempted to steal from each other, and disputes would often end in violence of course. Reputation and the ability to intimidate seems to have been an important factor in survival, and many staves were created to allow the bearer to do this or cast back negativity upon their perceived attacker. So this was the time when a lot of runestaves, talismans, magical symbols, were created for these specific troubles of this era - the 17th century. 
   
  The 17th century in Iceland was marked by an event, when Denmark established a trade monopoly over Iceland so that the island could no longer trade freely with whomever it pleased. This resulted in a time of economic hardship (1602). This was also an age when Christianity had great influence in the European societies. Witchcraft was still used by some but in secrecy, as folk remedies for instance. This was not like in the beginning when Norwegians settled in Iceland and there was a certain religious freedom; now things were different in terms of witchcraft, it was much more restricted, illegal even. The staves appeared to have been drawn by using the Norse runes and later mediaeval and renaissance occult symbols. They were at least influenced by later charms used on mainland Europe, as we have seen already, the period when paganism 
and Christianity were being syncretized. But during the 17th century in Iceland, it was a time when the Christian faith and the old Scandinavian faith was much more mixed together to create almost a new magical tradition, when compared to the early traditions. Icelandic society never forgot their past, their traditions, fortunately, so some charms that accompany certain staves mention the Old Norse gods such as Odin and Thor, whilst others mention Solomon, Jesus and Mary and other Judeo-Gnostic formulas. The system seems to be an interesting blend of old and new magical beliefs. During the periods of transition between religions, Odin was still appealed to or mentioned, but his role had shifted from being the All-father figure to that of a sorcerer. The Christian God had taken the place of the Father of men on earth, so the old gods started to be used for magical purposes, and Odin lost the connection with death, war and creation, and started to be the god associated with wisdom and witchcraft. 

  Folk magic went underground and its practices became hidden. Some records that still exist of the staves, and their uses and other magical practices by the Icelanders, were made by the courts during the trials of witches. Ironically, it is this act that has preserved some of the old customs to this day. Without being recorded, they would simply have been forgotten or would have died with their practitioners. But how well were they transcribed? It's very likely that the true knowledge of such magic has been completely forgotten. However, after so much time in secrecy, these magical practices returned. It was only in the last century that it became safer to explore the practices of folk magic throughout Europe. Whilst still frowned upon as superstition and nonsense, the Icelandic staves have seen a surge in popularity. Many of the staves are used in art and decorative wares, whilst some people have taken to having them tattooed onto their bodies. The Icelandic staves have evolved over the centuries, and while certainly incorporating Norse runes, they cannot be considered exclusively of "Viking" culture as they are influenced by other esoteric practices from mainland Europe and beyond. 

Walpurgis Night



Hello friends, this is my little contribution to the knowledge on the subject (and celebration) Walpurgis Night. Enjoy ^^





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Are the Eddas reliable?




You can watch the video about this subject in here: [Youtube Video]


Are the Eddas reliable? First of all, what does “Edda” mean? Opinions differ, greatly, as to be expected. But the most usual meaning is that the word is related to ódr (poem/poetry) and may be translated as “poetics”. 

Our knowledge of the pagan deities comes from several sources, and most prominent among them are the two Icelandic works, the Poetic Edda, a collection of songs relating the deeds of Nordic gods and heroes, and the Prose Edda, a work composed by Snorri Sturluson. These are two essential works to have an understanding of pagan Germanic religion. 

But let’s start with the Prose Edda first, which seems much more complex to talk about. The Uppsala Codex is one of the three most important manuscripts composed by Snorri Sturluson, the first part is about the Aesir and Ymir, then comes the Skáldskaparmál (Poetic Diction) and last the Háttatal (Account of Meters) a composition about King Hákon and Duke Skúli. 

Snorri Sturluson writes his Prose Edda during the 13th century. He made good use of the Poetic Edda, but also other accounts, some lost forever, obviously, but others which have survived through oral tradition. He gives us a synthesized and simplified version of the Norse mythology. This work of his comes in contradiction with other sources, and also, quite possibly, his work was influenced by Christianity, which already was the official religion in Iceland for 200 years, already in Snorri Sturluson’s time. It’s also very likely that the sources Snorri used to compose this mythology comes solely from the region of Throndheim, in Norway, such sources composed by the end of the X century. The very myth of creation, transmitted to us by Snorri, which he refers to it as – in the beginning there was only a great void and two worlds were created, one of ice and another of fire – might give us the indication that this might be a very Icelandic perspective of the creation of the world, adding familiar elements to the story, the landscape of Iceland – glaciers and volcano activity – combined to create a land. This brought to my attention that mythology is clearly different from place to place, not only because of historical, cultural and traditional factors, but also because of geographical factors. To the Scandinavian communities further south, where the landscape is clearly different of that of the north, such communities wouldn’t have the same perspectives on the creation of the cosmos.  

Another aspect is that the great majority of the sources were composed by poets, financially sponsored by political and military authorities, and also poems to spread amongst warriors. Which means, poems to be read and listened by certain groups, where certain deities were more popular than others, which helps to explain why in archaeology Freyr was much more relevant in ancient Scandinavian societies, and why in Denmark there are more place names related to this deity, and also Týr, but then in the sources, particularly in the Prose Edda, Odin seems to be the most important deity, almost to the point of being the major deity, because in the Prose Edda Odin is seen as a god not only related to war, but also poetry, and here we can see the connection between poets and the military and political leaders. 

Being the major deity, or seeming to be the major deity, might be one of the aspects that shows us the influence of Christianity. The Catholic Age in Iceland (1000-1550) changed pagan behaviours a lot. Public sacrifices to the Germanic gods and the traditional faith was kept in private, in hiding. The conversion was a prolonged gradual transition, from generation to generation the new faith, and the culture along with it, began to take hold. Icelandic scholars travelled abroad to learn the new faith, and schools were established in Iceland itself, and 100 years after this slow process of conversion, the Icelandic language was first used to write down histories, sagas and poetry. During Snorri Sturluson’s time, in the 13th century, was a time of Danish dominion in Iceland and a sort of golden age of Icelandic culture and literature. Poems of the Poetic Edda were committed to parchment during this time, also, and Icelanders already lived really comfortable with their national Catholicism.  

Snorri Sturluson was a man of power, very active as a politician, and Christianity was also very active in the Icelandic political network. So you can’t expect Snorri Sturluson to write something completely pagan and get away with it during this time. There was the great risk of losing his position in the Icelandic society, so if you read the Prose Edda, you can see a lot of Christian influence; you will see the Icelandic political and social realities printed in this work. So we need to read it and go beyond the metaphors, try to separate what is Christian and what is pagan, so we can understand the religious background of the Norse societies, and of course we need to already have a certain knowledge of the pre-Christian Germanic religion in order to understand it better.  

Now, in terms of the Poetic Edda, the majority of the information in there comes from WesternScandinavian sources – Norway and Iceland – with a Germanic influence, of course, in some of its compositions and even Irish, in some of the poems. But what we have in our hands nowadays is the written version made in Iceland, therefore, culturally shaped by Western-Scandinavia. The material of the Poetic Edda was written during the 13th century, but its contents can be dated between the years 800 and 1200 (the Viking period of Scandinavia). Some of the elements come from a much earlier age, through oral tradition, but the form in which they were preserved is definitely medieval. The skalds who composed these poems may have been pagans, but they were aware of Christianity and Islam, which may or may not have influenced them in creating such tales. Furthermore, the religious understanding of the Central-European Germanic peoples who fought the Romans, is very different from the medieval far-travelling Vikings. So it’s a great mistake to think the Vikings subscribed to the exact same mythology as the Central-European Germans a thousand years before. Religion in prehistoric Europe was not a static unchanging tradition, but a wild field of creative innovations, and that sort of thinking lasted till the middle ages.  

In conclusion the Eddas reflect late Icelandic believes rather than a Pan-Germanic mythology, but they are still great sources to understand Norse mythology if your mind is opened to the fact that what is written there isn’t purely pagan, and you have to accept that a Germanic religion doesn’t exist as a whole, a unified religious belief; it is a beautiful variety of pre-Christian believes mixed together to give us a better understanding of the world.  

The Black Viking



You can see the video about this subject here: [The Black Viking]


This is a story about a man named Geirmundur Heljarskinn, born in Rogaland (Norway), between the years 850-950 AD. He was one of the first explorers to settle in Iceland, going with the early Viking expedition teams. This is not a fictional character from Norse mythology or the Sagas. This person is in fact an historical figure and nowadays in Iceland people can still trace their bloodline through genetic tests to this ancestor of theirs (and such tests have been performed). He was a "black" Viking, but not in the way you might think; not black because he was of African ancestry, nor because he was so evil that he gained this seemingly ominous title of being "dark" when darkness is associated with evil, mystery, death and even magic. He was black/dark according to the perception of the people of those times. The reactions people had in relation to this man, are really interesting and makes us wonder about certain attitudes society has towards people who are physically different. 

The rather short story of Geirmundur Heljarskinn is present within the Landnámabók, which is “The Book of Settlements”, a medieval Icelandic written record which describes the settlement of Iceland by the Norse between the 9th and 10th centuries. If you research the story, it's called Geirmundar þáttr heljarskinns, and this story is about Geirmundur and his brother Hámund. This account comes in great detail about the lineage of Geirmundur, which I will not write it here so we can go straight to the point. Suffice it to say that there was a man called Hjör, doing the regular raiding and pillaging to obtain wealth. This Hjör went raiding in Bjarmland, the westernmost part of Siberia, where there was a great trading activity between the natives and the Norse. Hjör took as a hostage of value a young Siberian woman called Ljufvina, the very daughter of the "king" of Bjarmland. Hjör ended up marrying this woman. Now, in Siberia there were no kings, these were nomadic people, so it's quite possible that this whole story of her being a princess was made up to have a royal justification for her to become a queen in Norway, otherwise, without a royal lineage, she would have no claim to the throne. 

The majority of Siberians are of Mongol origins - with dark hair and skin - and Ljufvina was no exception. Now, speaking of genetics, we know that when two people, both having different skin-colors from one another, the darker pigmentation tends to thrive and be more visible. But this is nowadays that we have this knowledge, back in medieval times people expected their sons to follow their father's lineage, therefore more prone to look like their fathers. Hjör was a man with Nordic features, so people were surprised when Ljufvina gave birth to two boys with dark hair and skin. To the ancient Scandinavian societies, people with darker skin-colours were considered to be, well, back. But being “black” during these times, at least in ancient Scandinavia, wasn't necessarily a motive for prejudice, intolerance. The only problem here was the fact that the father was white, tall, fair of hair, and the social belief that children should look like their fathers. These were patriarchal societies. Another problem, was that the children looked nothing like the royal lineages of the kings and queens of Norway, they looked much more like Thralls - slaves - and this was absolutely unconceivable for nobles. 

This isn't a case of racism in ancient societies. The problem wasn't directly due to their skin, the problem was breaking the royal lineage. 

The secret of the two brothers, Geirmundur and Hámund, was kept by the family and a few trustworthy people. A white slave woman had given birth to a son, and so they replaced the two brothers for this white-skin baby from a slave. The two brothers lived as slaves within their own father's household. As I have said, it didn't matter at all if the boys had light-skin or dark-skin. The only thing that mattered was the fact that they were sons of the king and carried within themselves many of the noble and royal virtues of this great lineage, independent of the dark skin. The two young boys grew up and became healthy, resilient, strong and intelligent - all the characteristics associated with royalty - while the young white prince grew up weak, cowardly and not very clever - a verdict of his slave ancestry according to this account. When the boys reached the age of four, it was clear to those who knew the secret that no one could hide the truth any longer, that the slave boy who looked like a prince had no nobility at all, he only had the colour considered "right" because it was closer to the colour of Hjör, and nothing more. 

Well, finally, the mother brought forth the two brothers and told the truth to the king (yeah, he had no idea about the swapping-babies-scheme). The king was only surprised by the colour of their skins because he had never seen before such darker skins, but he believed the boys were his sons. Thereafter the boys gained their nickname - "heliarskinn"(dark-skin). The boys grew up to be great warriors and raiders, accumulating wealth and honour, and perfectly accepted by the society they lived in. 

Finally, Geirmundur, like his father before him, travelled to Bjarmland (Siberia) and returned with another Siberian wife - Illþurrka. Together they settled in Ireland and then in Iceland, where they became a very powerful family. The truth of this story has been confirmed by DNA tests of living Geirmundur's descendants living in Iceland, who have mitochondrial (maternal) DNA which indicates their mother's Asian/Mongolian ancestry. 

The Druids and the Moon


You can watch my Youtube video about this subject in here: [The Druids and the Moon]


The Druids are still a fascinating subject, and the unknown still brings mystery, and what is mysterious and almost mystical nowadays, gives us a certain delight in knowing that beyond our dull lives in a civilized world, there is still magic out there, somewhere.  

It’s still extremely hard to understand what the Druids were up to. We know they studied a variety of arts for 20 years, maybe more, but left no written records of their doings. Fortunately, and unfortunately, we have written roman sources describing the religious, intellectual and social functions of the druids within their communities, but these are the points of view from a society with a different cultural, historical and traditional background, seeing from afar something they had never come in contact with; ancestral practices so deeply carved upon the Celtic tribes, impossible for outsiders to fully understand the true essence of Druidism. 

Even so, during Caius Iulius Caesar wars on Gaul (the very same who played such an important role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire), we have really interesting accounts about the druids, especially duo to Caesar’s friendship with Diviciacus of the Aedui, of course a Romanised name for a person we may never know his true name. Now, there might be a certain confusion here, because there was another Diviciacus during Caesar’s time, and he was also a Gaul, a Gaulish King to be more precise, but we know this Caesar’s friend was a Druid, not by Caesar himself but by Marcus Tullius Cicero, a roman politician who had a very peculiar career before becoming an active figure in the political network of Rome. Cicero had been an Augur, a priest whose purpose was interpreting the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds. So Cicero met this Diviciacus in Rome and had long debates with him, because they were colleagues of some sort and both argued about the art of divination. 

This is one of the most important sources we have about druidism. However, as you might have guessed, it’s only a tiny portion of what druidism is and was. We are talking about druidism practiced in Gaul, from a certain Celtic group within a Celtic group, and obviously other druids did things differently, with certain similarities, but we can’t possibly say that all druids were the same everywhere. Also, these are written roman sources with that beautiful roman political touch of the Roman Republic. 

But the question is, what concrete knowledge did the Celts and the Druids had on the stars and how did they applied such knowledge on their societies? In truth, we aren’t certain (sorry), but we have a variety of studies which gives us a glimpse of such a knowledge which seems with each passing year we come to the conclusion that these societies knew much more than we realised the year before, and the year before that. We can count on the yearly celebrations, harvesting cycles, equinoxes and solstices, we can count on the traditional folklore written by Irish priests, and of course we can count on the studies made by Archaeologists and Astronomers about the orientations of the monuments of antiquity. However, this last one, unlike most people think, such megalithic monuments are not Celtic; they were raised during the Neolithic, so we are talking about roughly 5000-4000 years before the Celts, of course the chronology differs a lot from place to place, still, we know the Druids used such monuments during the Iron 
Age, but did they really knew what that was all about? Were they really using such monuments for the astronomical purposes they had been built so long ago? 

It’s possible that the Druids knew how to use such monuments. Oral tradition since immemorial times survived till nowadays, even though with a lot of changes along the way. But we know the knowledge of the druids was passed along, from generation to generation through the oral tradition, in the attempt to keep the secrets of their wisdom, and they did a damn good job because we are still trying to crack this business. And such a tradition partly survived in the Irish Astronomical Treatises of the Middle-Ages, written in Latin, the very same knowledge the Christians used to continue the studies on the stars. 

But the key to this knowledge seems to be in the Moon. According to the roman sources, the knowledge about the Moon and the observation of its phases was one of the most important subjects for the Druids. The complexity of the knowledge of the Moon cycles is something our modern culture lost, at least the peculiarities of this knowledge. 

First, it must be noted that there are two cycles in the motions and appearances of the moon. The first and best known is that of its phases, which are repeated every 29.5 days approximately. Secondly, is the position of the Moon on the horizon, in fact, if we look at what point of the horizon in which the moon appears, we will see that for about 27.5 days the Moon travels in an arc in the horizon, in a round "journey" between its north and south ends. It is important to note that since both cycles are different, the moon does not always leave in the same phase by the same site of the horizon. 

Now, as the lunar orbit is inclined to that of the earth about 5 °, the points of the horizon where the Moon appears on the horizon does not coincide with the appearances of the sun across the sky. In addition the Moon appearances are not static. And then there is a variety of complex information of the cycles of the Moon which would make my statement too long and complex. What I mean with this is that the Moon cycles are much more complex and we need to be precise in our observations of the moon, because the positions are never the same each year. We had to observe the real cycle of the moon for at least 18 to 19 years, until the whole cycle comes to an end and starts again. 18 to 19 years is very close to the 20-year-study of the Druids. Coincidence? Caesar himself left us an account that it took a novice in Druidry nineteen years of preparations to become a Druid, which coincides with the complete observation of one Moon cycle 

So the Druids had to have a real understanding of the natural world. According Caesar and also Gaius Plinius, a roman philosopher and sort of naturalist of the Roman Empire, the Druids only required to observe the Moon in order to understand the stars and the position of the earth in relation with the stars. 

It's interesting to see that the megalithic monuments are not only aligned to be possible to observe the solstices, but some monuments are actually aligned with certain starts. The starts which are much more visible to the human eye without requiring a tool to enhance the celestial "dome". And these monuments I'm talking about, were not only for initiation rites, but also funerary monuments. Monuments with a variety of functions in prehistoric societies. And as I've said, these monuments are much older than the Celts, so it's a wonder the knowledge these people had, and how this knowledge survived for thousands of years until the Iron Age, and the Druids made good use of such knowledge. 

This may be one of the reasons the Moon has played such an important role in the pre-Christian societies, and why there were so many deities related with the Moon. For instance, since I’ve written about the Romans, we start to see in the Roman funerary stelae (stones slabs) a representation of the crescent moon with the propagation of Celtic tongues and certain customs and traditions mixed with local traditions.