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Posts Tagged ‘Norse culture’

As one last hurrah before our summer vacation ends, my family took a day-trip to Oswego, NY, to see the Draken Harald Hårfagre.  It’s a modern viking ship that traveled from Norway, down the St. Lawrence River, through some of the Great Lakes, and is now going to move through the Erie Canal, heading to New York City. The crew stressed that it’s a modern viking ship, based on historical evidence and craftsmanship, but also equipped with modern navigation technology, bathrooms, and diesel engines.  Its 21st century conveniences don’t detract from its magnificence, and the people on board have weathered Atlantic storms and maneuvered around icebergs.  They have a lot of respect for their Viking Age predecessors.  We’ve been following their voyage via Facebook and their website with great interest.  My husband has been especially interested in it since he has Norwegian ancestry and has always been drawn to Norse culture.

Of course, the front of the ship had a remarkable dragon head! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

The red sails were down, but the mast was still impressive! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

The ship was obviously built by skilled craftsmen. A lot of detail, inspired by Viking culture, covered the skip. These beautiful carvings were on the front of the ship leading up to the dragon head. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

One of the coolest features, in my opinion, was the inclusion of these beautifully carved ravens - Odin's ravens - near the navigational tools. The guide explained that not only do they represent the God's corvids, they also harken back to how vikings actually navigated with ravens. Photo by Weretoad, 2016.

One of the coolest features, in my opinion, was the inclusion of these beautifully carved ravens – Odin’s ravens – near the navigational tools. The guide explained that not only do they represent the God’s corvids, they also harken back to how vikings actually navigated with ravens. Photo by Weretoad, 2016.

 

If you live in NY State and want to see the Draken, she’ll be stopping in Little Falls soon before making her way to New York City. It’s $10 per adult to board, and the short tour is worth it, in my opinion. You’ll be able to get up close and look at all the craftsmanship, smell the pine pitch covering the ropes, see the effort and passion that’s gone into the voyage, and meet with Odin’s ravens. A truly powerful experience.

 

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The Winter Solstice is very nearly upon us, and if you’re anything like me, handmade gifts are pure magic!  If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, my felt Yule Goat Ornament may be just the ticket*!

Yule Goat Ornament – made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

I’ve said this before, but I always feel a small tug from my Germanic ancestry at this time of the year.  My husband also has Scandinavian heritage and we like to celebrate that.  When I discovered the Northern European tradition of the Yule Goat, I fell in love.  Goats are one of my favorite farm animals to begin with.  When you consider that Thor’s chariot was pulled by goats, it makes my heart skip a beat!  We actually have a straw Yule Goat as a table centerpiece in our apartment.  There are small versions for decorating trees, but I’ve never found one before (and never think to save straw to try making my own until it’s too late).  So why not make one out of felt?  I originally tried this last year.  The fruits of my labor became an offering to Thor at Muin Mound’s Winter Solstice sumbel.  This year I made one for my tree and another for a Secret Santa at the Grove.

Here’s how to make one for yourself or a beloved heathen!

Gathering materials – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Materials:

  • felt (preferably a straw color like tan or dark yellow)
  • red thread (red is the color most traditionally used to create Yule Goats, but you may use another if your heart so desires)
  • slender red ribbon to hang the ornament
  • YuleGoatPattern
  • pins to hold the pieces together
  • a needle
  • scissors
  • dark colored beads for the eyes
  • red or gold colored beads for decoration

Procedure:

1.  Print and cut the above pattern.  Trace/pin onto felt and carefully cut the goat out.  Pin the sides together.

2.  Using a blanket stitch, work your way around the goat.  Be sure to add the ribbon on the back.  The easiest way to do this is knot the two raw edges together and insert it into the goat.  Stitch through it to secure.

3. Attach the eyes to either side of the head as desired.  If you like, hand embroider a harness and/or saddle on your goat.  See the above photo for a reference.  Attach any other beads to look like buckles or saddle decorations.

Blanket stitching around the goat – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Before you know it, you’ll have an army of wee Yule Goats to invade your Solstice tree!  Alternatives for the pattern are to make pins or hair barrettes.  Happy crafting as you prepare for the Sun’s rebirth!

 

* The pattern and design were created by me, Grey Catsidhe.  You are free to use it for gifting or personal decor, but you may not sell the pattern or the final products. May you have integrity with an artist’s work!

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A huge thanks to Woden’s Wandering Witch for the amazing resources on pregnancy lore in Norse and Irish cultures.

I really related to her Irish post, where she states that she is avoiding intense spiritual work because of the general belief that unborn babies are very vulnerable to such forces.  I did one trance working shortly after finding out I was pregnant.  It was part of a drum circle and was very powerful and moving.  My spirit guide carried me to a circle of women – my ancestral mothers – who were dancing in a circle.  Brighid danced with them over the fire they spun around.  I joined them as a mother and a future ancestor.  It was very moving and affirming – but I haven’t felt the need to do any more.  I’ve done some shallow meditations just to calm myself.  I pray.  I do divination. I make offerings.  Otherwise, I rest.

I am definitely going to be on the lookout for more pregnancy and childbirth lore.

 

 

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Check out this animated short about a heroic Viking fighting his way to Vahalla!  Oh those meddling nuns…

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