Monday, April 28, 2014

Havamal Analysis - Stanza 1

The discussion and analysis presented after these translated stanzas is our opinion. Read the translations for yourself and our analysis, but also seek out varied sources and come to your own conclusions.


Auden and Taylor:

The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?


Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.
Bellow's Note: This stanza is quoted by Snorri, the second line being omitted in most of the Prose Edda manuscripts.


At every door-way,
ere one enters,
one should spy round,
one should pry round
for uncertain is the witting
that there be no foeman sitting,
within, before one on the floor


Watch out and check all gates before faring forth.
One should spy around,
one should pry around.
Hard to know what foe
sits before you in the next room.


Have they eyes about thee when thou enterest
be wary alway, be watchful alway,
for one never knoweth when need will be
to meet hidden foe in the hall.


At every doorway what you have to do
is look around you
and look out;
never forget: no matter where you are
you might find a foe.


1. All door-ways,
before going forward,
should be looked to;
for difficult it is to know
where foes may sit
within a dwelling.


In a fairly straight-forward way, this stanza is telling us to be cautious when entering a hall or building. It warns us to look this way and that before entering, because you never quite know what dangers might be waiting for you in there (in the form of foe or foes).

The stanza suggests we live in a somewhat dangerous world, and that being cautious and truly considering those dangers is well worth your time. For me, the stanza applies to more then just entering strange doorways. Anytime you are encountering a situation or people that are outside your trusted inner circle, you should keep you eyes open to the possibilities that a "foe" may be nearby. Even an unseen or unrecognized foe among people you are meeting and encountering.

In very simple terms, the stanza is telling us not to be a naive moron stumbling unknowingly into trouble. Be aware of the dangers and keep your eyes open for them. It is certainly a warning to "look before you leap."

In a modern context, the stanza works in a literal sense. When you attend a party, a social gathering, or an event with lots of should be aware of who is present, who is in the room, who is near you, etc. Is there someone there you don't want to be around, or don't want to have any contact with? Is there someone you don't know yet who is drinking too much, visibly angry, or looking like they might cause trouble? What is the tone or mood of the room or environment? Is this a safe place for you to be, or do you need to take precautions to make sure you are safe?

In a less literal sense, when you are entering into a new effort, a business venture, a new job, or any other new situation...what are the hidden dangers? Have you really thought about it with your eyes wide open to the possible problems and pitfalls? Is everyone involved trustworthy, and do they all have your best interests at heart? Are they fair and honorable? Have you left yourself unnecessarily vunerable?

One point I've heard made, is that there seems to be a presumption that the doorway will be entered. It is not a warning to not enter new doorways. It is not a warning to pick and choose which doorways you do decide to enter. It simply warns to be aware of the dangers before you make that step through the gate.

Another point I've heard made focuses in very closely on the people in the room you are entering. Do they seem to be friends but aren't? Do they smile to your face and say kind words, but then turn against you when you aren't there with them? For some, this stanza points out the difficulty of knowing who is your friend and who is your foe. And this can certainly be a difficulty in life.

It is interesting that this is the first verse of the Havamal, because it is the "doorway" into the Havamal in a sense.

For me, Chisholm's translation of this stanza seems to read the clearest and is the one that is easiest to understand.

To view this analysis on the Temple of Our Heathen Gods website, Click Here.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Havamal Analysis - Stanza by Stanza

The easiest way to study and understand the Havamal is to read and analyze the poem and its meaning stanza by stanza. In order to assist you in this task, we have put together a page for each stanza of the Havamal, presenting multiple translations of the same stanza side by side. We then provide our thoughts and analysis on that particular stanza. Please understand that these are just our opinions. Please seek out other sources, think for yourself, and come to your own conclusions. As you are reading the various translation so the same stanza, look for commonalities and differences in meaning. Keep in mind that there may be several levels of meaning, and various ways that one could interpret each stanza.  Here is the page where this project is developing:

We'll also be sharing each stanza's translation comparison and meaning here on the Kansas City Heathen blog.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nine Men's Morris - My First Board

This is a Nine Men's Morris game board, and the first one I've made. Nine Men's Morris, or Mills, is an ancient game. It likely originated with the Romans, but our Northern European ancestors also played Mills. Many Tafl boards had a Mills boards carved or burned on the on the flip-side. Some viking food boards had a Mills board on the flip side, so they could play the game after a meal. It took me a several days to finish this board, because my daughter and I kept playing the game on the unfinished board!

Click Here to view the full album on Facebook.

The holes were drilled, the lines were burnt, the board was stained, and then the playing area was dry-brushed with gold paint. Then everything was given a nice glossy clear coat.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Establishment of Local Heathen Communities is a Holy Act

The establishment and growth of an active and tight-knit Heathen community here in Kansas City is quite literally a Holy act on the part of everyone involved. It is a right and worthy deed to which all of us can contribute and benefit. It is not about individual needs, though clearly many individual needs will be met. It is not about personal glory, though as a group our efforts may obtain some level of recognition. It is a community effort. We are each a cog in the machine working toward the same community-oriented goals. We are each important to the effort, but no one of us is more important than the effort, or each other. It will take dedication, generosity of time and effort, and sacrifice. But, in the end we will have built something that no one of us could have accomplished on our own. We will have created something from nothing, and be able to pass our efforts on to those of our children that wish to carry the torch forward. And what will this effort require?

It will take a willingness to be there regularly, once a month, so that we may build bonds, honor our Gods and Ancestors, learn together, and begin to work together. It takes the dedication to give the practice of your religion and community-building efforts some priority in your life. Family and being able to support that family always comes first, but where does your loyalty to your Gods, your Ancestors, our Ways, and your fellow local Heathens fall in your life? What priority are you willing to give these things? It means getting involved. Offering to help with things that need doing. It means reaching out and opening yourself up to making new friendships with those that share your beliefs and your practices. It means a shift in how you view that you see yourself as an integral part of the Heartland Hof & Hall effort. And why do it?

Being involved in the Heartland Hof & Hall effort will enrich your life and the life of your family. Involving yourself in the local Heathen community assists you to be more focused on your native Folkway. It makes it easier to learn and grow more solid and knowledgeable in your beliefs. It allows you to put your Heathen world-view into practice, as you interact with an entire community of Heathens who share that same world-view. It allows all of us to be there for one another, when each of us inevitably needs a little moral support. For me, there is also the spiritual aspect of knowing that our Gods and Ancestors watch us every day. What are we doing to remember them and honor them? What are we doing to ensure the survival of the Ways of our People? What are we doing to pass our ways onto the next generation of Heathens? And that brings us full circle. Our involvement in building and growing an active and tight-knit Heathen community here in Kansas City gives our Gods and Ancestors their answers to these questions. This effort is quite literally a Holy act on the part of everyone involved.

I think it is important to be very intentional in your deeds, and to understand exactly what drives you.  Living intentionally requires understanding the meaning of your own actions in your life and the lives of others.  I believe that every effort to bring Heathens together into local groups and communities is a spiritually important and Holy act.  If you don't see your own efforts in this light, think on it a bit.  If the establishment of local Heathen communities is not a Holy act, of the greatest importance to ourselves and our families, then I don't know what is.  Seeing these efforts in this light, can bring new focus and energy to your own efforts, whatever stage of success you find yourself.

To learn more about the Heartland Hof & Hall effort, visit the HHH Page.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods