Northern Lore: A Field Guide To The Northern Mind, Body & Spirit
by Eoghan Odinsson
First, I’d like to say that I liked this book. At first it was a bit academic, a bit dry, but then the interesting stuff made an appearance.
Eoghan was born in Canada and is also an award winning journalist. He has a Masters in Science from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and taught there for a time. Eoghan holds a black belt in Shito-Ryu Karate and taught the martial art in Canada and the U.S.
It’s said that Odin gave up one of his eyes and hung himself upside-down from the world tree, Yggdrasil, and learned the Runes. There are many versions of runes. The oldest know is the Elder Futhark. The other two main versions are Old English Futhork and Younger Futhark.
Futhark/Futhork comes from the first six letters of the runic alphabet;fehu, uruz, thurisaz, ansuz, raido, and kenaz.
The Elder Futhark is separated in three groups of eight called Ætts. The original names of the runes have been lost to time but have been remade based on names given to the runes of the younger sets of alphabets.
As I said earlier, there are many versions of runes. These are the ones listed in the book; Elder, Anglo-Saxon, Younger, Hälsinge, Middle age, Dalecarlian, Icelandic/Norwegian, Long-branch, Short-twig, and Medieval.
Historically, the runes were derived from the Old Italic alphabets but no one knows for sure which alphabet.
J.R.R. Tolkien used the Anglo-Saxon runes on a map to show a connection with the Dwarves in the book, ‘the Hobbit’. Tolkien created a rune-like alphabet called Cirth to replace the Anglo-Saxon runes in later drafts of ‘the Lord of the Rings’.
Either historic or fictional versions of the runes have been used in fantasy fiction, video games, etc. runes were also used as the written language of the Asgard race in the ‘Stargate’ TV series and movies.
The Germanic tribes had a wealth of weather lore, much of which was shared be other cultures. Many of the old Germanic weather proverbs correspond to actual natural phenomena and many have to been proven to not be accurate.
All of the various world cultures have watched the weather to know when to plant for the best yield, when to reap the harvests, cull the herds for meat, etc. watching the various creatures can tell you how bad the winter is going to be.
One of the idioms that I’ve discover on my own was written on a place-mat at a restaurant; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. It means that it’ll be stormy if you see a red sky at dawn and pleasant evening if the sky is red at dusk. Of course, sailors always want the weather to be to be pleasant, since the seas can be dangerously rough when it’s stormy out.
There are many sayings on various aspects of weather, including how far sound travels, air pressure, winds, etc.
In Northern Europe, health was important. They had different ways of keeping in good health; runic yoga/Stádhagaldr(a recent creation as of approx. 1984 and was possibly based on an earlier version from the 19th century), herbs, use of animal products, etc.
A form of runic yoga called Stav was created in Norway and uses what’s called ‘Rune Stances’. The Hafskjold tradition of Stav is the only mind/body/spirit system know to the author in Europe. The author included an interview with Stav master Graham Butcher that he did when Butcher stayed at his home in 2005 and updated the interview in 2010.
There are several more topics in the book including cuisine, mythology, the Havamal (Sayings of the high one), and various spiritual practices.
Northern Lore, also, has a nice sized bibliography so the reader can do extra research if they wish.
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