In this story, a farmer named Thorhall is having trouble keeping servants on his property; they keep leaving, claiming his place is haunted. Obon. The Fossegrim, also known simply as the grim, is a water spirit and creature. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. He plays … The poem ends with the lines, “all the dead are more powerful by night than they are by bright day.”Some ghosts are not lost loved ones visiting from beyond the grave, though. This was revolutionary, as it made it possible to preserve and transmit knowledge from remote parts and times. Books They sometimes visit the living in dreams or can be found haunting their burial mounds. According to stanza 37 of the poem Vafpruonismal from the Poetic Edda, he sits at the end of the world (or the northern edge of the heavens) and causes the wind to blow when he beats his wings in flight. Writers like Sturluson preserved the Norse beliefs but omitted some details which survive from fragments of pre-Christian runic works, through physical evidence from graves, or are alluded to in other works from the Christian era. A Draug, also known as aptrgangr (literally “again-walker”, or “one who walks after death”) is an undead creature that was believed to live in the graves of the dead. The popular image of the Viking warrior who scorns death, confident of a place at the tables of Valhalla, is contrasted by the view of death held by most Scandinavians in pre-Christian times who saw it as a tragedy. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. After the rise of Christianity in Scandinavian regions, the pagan afterlife was replaced by the vision of the Christian god's judgment and the realms of heaven, purgatory, and hell. The Burial Mound – The soul of the deceased could also remain where the corpse was buried and was then known as a haugbui ('howe', a burial mound), a 'mound-dweller', who would not leave the grave. Religious rituals were practiced privately in homes or at outdoor festivals and the Norse had no written scripture. Just before Grettir kills him, Glámr curses Grettir because \"Glámr was endowed w… A number of stories and legends include this detail of the open grave-door and the haugbui inside. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 10 Dec 2018. Gudrun & Ghost, Laxdale Sagaby Andreas Bloch (1860-1917) (Public Domain). The best-known vision of the Norse afterlife is that of Valhalla, the hall of the heroes where warriors chosen by the Valkyries feast with the god Odin, tell stories from their lives, and fight each other in preparation for the final battle of Ragnarök, the end of the world and death of the gods. Helgi, the slain hero, returns to his burial mound from Valhalla on one magical night. Sometimes the Draugr was content to guard his treasure in his burial mound, but others terrorized farms or haunted a specific area. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. They could cause roofs to collapse or other disasters. It covers how the Muspelheim and Niflheim met in the emptiness. Another world was called Utgard, which was the land of the giants. The Dokkalfar (dark elves) of Norse mythology are considered to be some of the most frightening creatures of Scandinavian folklore. Knowledge no longer depended on the comprehension and memory of individuals, and changeability was no longer, as in oral culture, a natural consequence of communication. Thorhall then goes and tells his neighbors what has happened and where the ashes are buried so the spot can be avoided. Some were fearsome, chaotic, and destructive. A difficulty in understanding Norse beliefs in the modern-day, as noted, is that Viking Age Scandinavians left us no written record (with the exception of inscriptions in runes, most importantly on runestones) until their interaction with and eventual spiritual conquest by Christianity (c. 10th-12th centuries CE). Follow Mark Beré Peterson: Myth, Folklore, Food Culture and Mental Health on WordPress.com, Mark Beré Peterson: Myth, Folklore and Mental Health. Death was the loss of all one had ever known and, if there even was such a thing as an afterlife, it was the dismal grey realm of Hel with its high walls and thick gates. One reference in Njal’s Saga speaks of a ghost who sits atop his burial mound singing by night, seemingly content. Grettir decapitates Glam, but not before Glam places a heavy curse on him. They were known for helping miners with their work. Fossegrimen. But Norwegian mythology and folklore is about far more than the Norse Gods. Ghosts are perhaps the most controversial and widely reported of all unexplained phenomena. They were also kno… Hallows Eve (more commonly known as Halloween) isn’t just a candy-fest that happens every October. Surtr is a representation of the primordial times in the Norse mythology before the creation of the universe, where the jötnar acted as true cosmic forces without … Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. This is repeated by Snorri in the Gylfaginning section of his Prose Edda. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Holidays That Celebrate Ghosts. The Norse eddas and sagas have recently been studied and rewritten by writers, filmmakers, and game designers with phenomenal results. 17). If Glam had been buried properly, even though he was not of the Christian faith, he probably would have remained at rest. To end the hauntings, the family has to dig up his corpse and move it “away to a place near to which cattle were least likely to roam or men to go about” (Ch. Norse mythology is my personal favourite. Sometimes, the Draugr would kill people directly, especially if he was challenged. "Norse Ghosts & the Afterlife." This entity was known as the draugr or as the aptrgangr (meaning 'after-goer' or 'again-goer'); i.e. In Norse myth, the human world of Midgard and the god’s world of Asgard were connected by a rainbow bridge that was guarded by the god Heimdall. Scholar Preben Meulengracht Sørensen writes: The most important tool of the church was the book. Related Content Funerary rites, such as bandaging the head of the corpse so it could not see where it was going to be buried (and so could not find its way back home) continued into the Christian era and the fear of the restless dead influenced the perpetuation of other similar rituals. One Christmas Day, Glam is found dead in the fields (apparently because he ate meat on a fast-day the evening before). The Aesir gods are more aggressive and warlike than the Vanir, representing the brute strength and raw power of nature. Norse mythology comprises the pre-Christian beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples including those who settled on Iceland where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. The Norse conception of the soul included four aspects which made up a whole person: These parts of the soul may or may not have all gone to a single destination after death. The house or possessions of a dead person are the most likely places to find a chindi, which is why they are often isolated or destroyed outright. These types of revenants often guard some sort of treasure that was buried with them and are said to have supernatural strength. This undead being usually had been a bad man who died in a bad way. This category contains various creatures and beings known for being ethereal, mysterious, and often related to the dead or undead. Soon after, Thorhall has more trouble than before keeping help on his farm as Glam – now supernaturally tall and strong with skin “blue as hell” – goes about killing the flocks, breaking objects and house-riding (bouncing up and down while sitting on the roof). There is evidence that the Norse believed in reincarnation where one's hugr would pass into the body of a newborn relative while one's hamingja continued on in the family at large and one's fylgja seems to have just ceased to exist at the person's death. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Even so, what precisely they would have expected is unclear. Gunnar is seen looking up at the moon and he “was merry, with a joyful face.” (Njal's Saga, ch. H.R. Originally, Hallows Eve marked the end ... All Souls Day. The great hero-god Baldr goes to the grey land of Hel beneath the earth, not to Valhalla, and even the gods cannot bring him back. This left plenty of room for ghosts and the undead in the Norse imagination. The ashes must be burned and either let to blow out to sea or buried away from people. The Norse sagas themselves often contradict each other in presenting their view of the afterlife and the power of the gods. The Harii attacked like ghosts, which may have inspired the Einherjar as ghostly warriors. This was not always the case, however. (154). The soul had four components and one's destination in the afterlife could range between continued existence in one's grave, haunting one's former home, one of the realms of the deities, or other possibilities. The Vikings were diverse Scandinavian seafarers from Norway, Sweden... Norse cosmology divided the universe into nine realms. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. For one thing, there’s the ghostly character of the hunters or warriors themselves. According to Grettir’s Saga and some other sources, the Viking method for killing the undead was not a stake through the heart or fire, but rather by cutting off the fiend’s head and place it next to its ass. Ghosts, monsters and even the living dead also played a prominent role in Norse mythology. But although ghostly visitors are sighted in their thousands all over the world and ‘true’ ghost tales are hugely popular, the whole subject of ghost lore is widely misinterpreted and misunderstood. There were, however, a number of possible destinations for Scandinavian souls in the afterlife and boats, because they were so costly, seem to have been rarely buried or burned. It is difficult, therefore, to reconstruct Norse beliefs in the present day as they would have been enacted before and during the Viking Age. Rán was a giantess, married to Aegir the giant and Lord of the Sea, who lived at the bottom of the ocean. 'one who walks after death'. Stories of ghosts occur in many of the sagas and Eddic poems. Even a lame man can ride a horse, a handless man can drive herds, and a deaf man join in battle; it is better to be blind than burned on the funeral pyre. Another servant who has remained on the farm for years is found in the barn in a similar condition and Thorhall's livestock is killed and eaten. This curse causes Grettir trouble and tragedy for the rest of his life, and ever-after the mighty Viking is afraid of the dark. (2018, December 10). One reference in Njal’s Saga speaks of a ghost who sits atop his burial mound singing by night, seemingly content. He is buried with his goods in a mound on his property and one night the grave's door is found open. Cite This Work ( Log Out /  This left plenty of room for ghosts and the undead in the Norse imagination. Bibliography Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. The gods of Norse mythology are fallible, rash, aggressive, and their story has an ending. Change ). Interestingly, archaeologists have found several Viking Age graves in which the skull was found between the skeleton’s legs, just below the pelvis. Most of these were less powerful than the gods, but they nevertheless played an important role in making the Norse universe what it was. Further, as noted, there seems to have been no reason given for a soul to go to one realm rather than another after death, except in the case of Valhalla (and it is unclear how prevalent a belief in that realm really was). Sigrun returns to the burial mound night after night, though it is unknown if Helgi ever returns. It gave them firm answers to questions about death, life after death, and the purpose of it all” (223). There was no judgment by the gods involved in a soul's final destination; for the most part, it seems, a soul went wherever it went. The door in the mound-howe was for delivering food offerings to the soul because the dead were thought to be always hungry. One shepherd who agrees to work for Thorhall disappears and is found dead in the churchyard with his neck and all his bones broken. To the Viking mind, there were different layers of self and different time frames. The haugbui and draugr are the central ghost figures appearing in Norse literature. Scholar Kirsten Wolf notes: The eddic poem Havamal (Sayings of the High One), which is considered to express the sentiments of certainly a number of the common people in Norway and Iceland in the late Viking Age, scorns mystical beliefs, such as those in a future life. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Sometimes the chindi would even terrorize an entire family for decades, as in the case of the Long Salt family, who were said to have been tormented for over 100 years. They were known for taking silver if they were short-changed and leaving silver in the mine if overpaid. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. 22 Feb 2021. The haugbui was only dangerous if its mound (and grave goods) were threatened. So, here are four fantastic books on Norse mythology. Obon is a traditional Buddhist festival celebrated in … Sexual assault survivor, cancer survivor, liver transplant recipient. As the graves of important men often contained a good amount of wealth, the Draug jealously guarded his treasures, even after death. ( Log Out /  The haugbuiand draugr are the central ghostfigures appearing in Norse literature. The haugbui meant no one any harm unless their grave was disturbed. Further, the Norse concept of the 'soul' was quite different from how it is understood in the present day or how it was by Christians in the 8th-12th centuries CE. ( Log Out /  Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. When he is finally buried there is not much ceremony involved because he was a heathen, but he does not stay buried for long. This offers a glimpse of how the Vikings felt their ancestors were always with them. One of the best-known draugr is Gámr, who is defeated by the hero in Grettis saga. Ellis Davidson writes: There is mention of a door in the mound, so that men could enter it, and of wooden figures kept inside. Mark, Joshua J. Ancient History Encyclopedia. They were often meant to scare children, but even today they are essential and important to the modern northern society. 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