Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

A film team from France were creating a documentary about the Cheiftain of the Viking town in Gudvangen, Norway and I was asked to write a poem in my role as skald to be part of the film…

Njardar Viking Town

Look around

What brings you here?

Dream-creator

World-shaker

Love-bringer

History-maker

Community-seer

Remove-fear

Happen-here

Team-steer

Freedom-father

Gudvangen-leader

Gift-sharer

All-carer

Past-weaver

Peace-caster

Doubt-killer

Hert-filler

Originator

Let love and growth sustain

All because of

Our Chieftain

A man who has no power

And no official role

Who makes things happen by the hour

And gives this place its soul

Let me say it here again

May your gods be thanked for

Our Chieftain.

 

AS

 

 

 

 

 

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Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #35 The Power of the Runes

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #35 The Power of the Runes

A stunning new approach to the myths the Vikings loved; enlightening and challenging for the novice and veteran alike.

The Gods and Goddesses of the Nordic Mythos Prose Poems were created following research for Gods Bless Ya!! Rock Opera with Alda and Sigrun Bjork Olafsdottir and a forth-coming book with SigRun Viking Art & Design.

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The Power of the Runes.

 

Óooooðin looked down from his great stone slab and he saw Mimir. Mimir the head was guarding his pool. I must seek out the power of this pool thought Óooooðin.

He knelt. What is this place? He asked. The drugged herbal head of Mimir it mumbled. It took many attempts until Óooooðin understood him and making his hands like a cup went to drink there. There is a cost was the mumble from Mimir and it was a terrible cost that we now know Óooooðin by. He must pluck out an eye. So One-eye was wise. Now he knew everything, was all wise and all powerful this was his reaction to his mind being so full and in tune.

 

No wait murmured Mimir you have not got a rune. You will be needing these song things, the runes of the underworld. Down where witches are shaman-like living an undeath. Buried among them is the rune power you need. As Óooooðin he requested how best to procure them Mimir murmured that you have to be dead.

Nine nights long Óooooðin hung from a tree with his head down, a spear in his side caused a dread wound and his life force unwound. He was dead. With the wisdom of the immortals he dream-like reached forward and from the magic women of the underworld he snatched out the rune power. Then he came back alive again. To Asgard he returned with all of the power he had. Now he really was a God.

 

 

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #1 Thor

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #2 Earth

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #3 Night

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #4 Augelmir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #5 Heimdall

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #6 Eir

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #7 Vili

Norse Gods and Goddesse Prose Poems – #8 Ve

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #9 Siv

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #10 Hænir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #11 Frejya

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #12 the Hyndla Lay

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #13 Freyr

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #14 All for the Love of Gerd

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #15 Skaði

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #16 Njörð

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #17 Frigg

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 BalderNorse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 Balder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #19 Then Balder Was Dead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #20 Iðun

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #21 Iðun’s Apples

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #22 Sól

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #23 Máni

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #24 Rán

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #25 Hel

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #26 Óðin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #27 Huggin and Munin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #28 Loki’s Salmon

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #29 Loki

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #30 Loki’s Monsters

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #31 Týr

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #33 Wisdom Pool Wonder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #35 The Power of the Runes

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #36 The Poetry Mead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #37 Kvasir

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runes

 

 

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

 

 

 

There is a strict no swearing policy and definitely no entertainment allowed, in the vibrant, friendly, (and gay friendly), little pub by the York Minster; The York Arms.

You may feel like swearing though if you were to use the stairs. you will be on the floor. As the stairs only lead to the private accommodation it will serve you right for either not paying attention or for being up to no good. The stairs are guarded. You may see the figure of a previous landlady or you may not. If you do you may have a moment to consider how elegant she is with her flowing hair and long gown. Whether you see her or not you will feel her presence. Just in the instance of a strong sensation of anger at your intrusion you will feel her push you very hard. You are on your way down. All in the back bar will see you and definitely hear you as you crash to the floor by the serving hatch. You may still be conscious but are unlikely to be able to run, or to even get up; so you will be apprehended for your crime. For the crime of interfering with the privacy of the lady on the stairs. She keeps her fellow residents safe.stairs

Even less friendly is the ghost across the road, he is running away, running away to cause trouble. Especially if chased. Especially on the eve of his death, death, death.

 

 

   

Tortured, hanged, drawn, quartered and then burnt over and over again. No wonder he causes fires if disturbed.

Yes we have left York Arms and across from there you can see, you guessed it, the Guy Fawkes Tavern (formerly Youngs Hotel). You have passed the main doors of the Minster and more poignantly St Michael Le Belfry. That’s where we are coming from. That’s where the ‘guy’ (sic) was christened. Contrary to what you may have heard of late Guy was his real name. It isn’t now, but it was when he was christened. Guy Fawkes. He was a hero. A hero of Catholicism; a servant of the Pope. Remember remember his whole world was Catholic; the whole of Christendom as they referred to it.

The British (*spit*) protestants were anti-Jew and anti-Catholic, quite an austere lot altogether really. Mr Fawkes was following a Papal Bull – a holy command.

Britain was up against the world and the Pope issued instructions to do whatever you could to destroy the new faith.

Guy was a hero in Spain and his righteous valour caused him to be awarded the more fitting first name of Guido, this he preferred and this we shall call him from now on.

 

 

Guido the terrorist, globalist, servant of the Pope, soldier, did not blow up the houses of parliament, he did not try to blow up the houses of parliament, well he did yet it is not the purpose of his endeavours. He was just a distraction so the King’s boys could be abducted and brought up Catholic. The future of the throne was the main intent.

Thus it is that on a certain date, (Remember remember the ‘fourth’ of November), his angry restless spirit appears to storm home from St Michael Le Belfry to his birthplace, through the tavern to the read annex where he was born.

His storming figure has been seen in the residential area. Two women told my mum of their experiences there. This was the fourth of November, the eve of his death. This is, of course, a death which has been re-enacted countless times.

The fifth of November is Bonfire Night and upon every bonfire, (originally fires of bone), is placed an effigy of Guido Fawkes. No wonder he is angered into haunting as his horribly cruel death is venerated over and over again culminating in explosive cheers and sizzling bones. Everywhere they dance to his death, everywhere except St Peters School. He is an old boy of St Peters. So, it is told, that they never burn a guy – they burn a gal. Victims of their ritual burnings are said to have included Victoria Beckham, Maggie and Katie Price.

 

 

The year the two women saw him that rule was planned to be broken – St Peters school planned to burn a guy, ‘the’ Guy, their Guy. No wonder he stormed home.

“Excuse me,” cried one of the ladies as they ran down the stairs from the residential area, “There is a strange man upstairs,” “Yes,” added her friend, “an intruder.” The bar ‘guy’ ran upstairs and sure enough there was the intruder, a sinister figure in a long black flowing cloak. “Oy,” he half turned towards the bar man’s call then marched on. On into the end of the corridor. On, right through the wall.guido The office beyond burst into flames at just gone midnight – November the fifth.

There are ghosts in this ancient city and my mum knows that for sure. She met many of the witnesses. She worked for the author: John Mitchell. He wrote Ghosts of an Ancient City. It is still out there and it started it all. Not the inventor of the ghost walk though. The original ghost walks were invented by…

My mum’s pals.

A gang of them. They got together and chatted and the next thing mum knows the phone is ringing. “You know how you were the researcher and met all the witnesses first hand?”

“Yes.” Hang fire here comes the invention of ghost walks…

“Why don’t you take us on a walk round York and tell us the stories where they actually happened.” Now there are eight or nine companies doing ghost walks every night of the week.

 

 

Yes my mum was in on it at the beginning but she didn’t know that my sister Ginny was too. John Mitchell ran experimental groups which would have several lasting repercussions. It is only in the last couple of years that it has come out that they both attended these groups.

The library at St Olavs is dedicated to John Mitchell, but his chief work was undertaken while he was teacher, and later ‘head’ at the ancient school of St Peters.

People from all walks of life were invited to experiential workshops with experiments, practices and discussions.mitchell

Mum listened to voices among white noise, talked to the dead, discussed the power of visitation with the then late H G Wells, held vigils late into the dark, felt upturned wine glasses fill with power,

“So did I,” proclaimed my sister, “with my teacher.” Her teacher from Mill Mount School for Girls had recruited her for one of John Mitchell’s projects. Light in the dark; wisdom for the believer.

From all of those groups came the search for witnesses, from these came a book, from this came the ghost walks. From those decades of ghost walks came an invitation for me to tell ghost stories to young people. Ghost stories in St Olavs school in the John Mitchell library. I told stories but not for long as you will see.

 

 

I did them ‘the worst thing about doing ghost walks’. The worst thing about doing ghost walks is – there is always someone on my ghost walk who knows a better story than me! It is just not fair!

Take the lady who told me of coming home from work late. It was a large terrace house which had been split into two and her and her husband had the top part as their apartment.

She was late home. Work were keeping her. She managed to let her husband know. She would not be in till 19.30 but he would have a meal ready.

She got off work not as late as expected and headed home. She let herself in and started up the stairs, as she neared their apartment she heard voices.

There was someone talking to her husband; it was a woman.

There was a woman inside her home. She could hear her voice. That woman was in her living room.

She burst open the door. There was no one there.

She could still hear voices. They were in the bedroom.

She crept to the door; she burst it open. There was no one there.

They were in the bathroom. She could definitely hear them talking. She burst open the door.

 

 

There was her husband looking in the mirror and shaving. As he slowly looked round, she asked, “Who were you talking to?”

He answered haltingly, “I, thought, I was talking to you.”

Then he was staring to the side of her – to – behind – the – door. She peered around the door and there was a young woman. She was dressed smartly, but rather old fashioned; her full-skirted black lace dress had frilled cuffs and a ruff at the neck, “I must be in the wrong house.”

The young woman walked out and around my friend and past her into the lounge. They watched as she opened the main door, they heard her clunk down the stairs. They heard the front door open and close. They came to their senses and ran after her.

They ran down the stairs. They got to the door – it was locked. Locked, twice, and both bolts were across and the chain was on.

By they had it open the woman was gone. They locked up and went back up into the lounge. He flopped in one chair and she in the other. They stared for a second then one said, “She was as real as me and you.”

Then the other said, “But,” and then they both said at the same time, “She didn’t have any feet.”

Yes she was as real as me and you but she disappeared from the ankles down.

After a few more such tales as this it was time for the kids, and boy did they know tales.

 

 

They frightened each other; the girl with no face, the lover who turned out to be long dead, the figure you just know is right behind you, the building no one ever goes in and no one ever returns from, the ribbon around the neck which must never be removed, the fingers in the trunk, the light over the gravestone, the warrior who slowly turns towards you, the romans in the cellar, the roman in the Minster, the angry figure. They frightened each other.

I reminded them of whose library we were in. John Mitchell would certainly be listening, he spent his life trying to discover the truth about life after death. He was York’s man of ghosts, now his school’s pupils were telling ghost stories in his library, of course he was listening, and going by the bristling tension we had created, of course he would be proud.

 

Click links below to see previous editions

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

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I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

See also my Nordic Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses series…

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

mimir.jpg

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

A stunning new approach to the myths the Vikings loved; enlightening and challenging for the novice and veteran alike.

The Gods and Goddesses of the Nordic Mythos Prose Poems were created following research for Gods Bless Ya!! Rock Opera with Alda and Sigrun Bjork Olafsdottir and a forth-coming book with SigRun Viking Art & Design.

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Mimir

 

Herb-head Mimir. Wisest of all but one he is just a head, he didn’t see that coming. His final duty before Sun rises on a new world will be, “Óðin, go out there and die.” For now, the platter-sitter appears whole in your mind and he can read you like a nursery rhyme. Raise his glass for him

Mimir’s Blame

 

If the old gods wish wisdom

Then send them Mimir

He is wise and ancient

He is the guardian

All wisdom springs from his spring

Forming a pool for his guardianship

 

So it was he was sent to the Vanir

He and handsome Hænir

Counter hostages to the Njord clan

Mimir was the wisdom man

 

He stood at Hænir’s right hand

He advised the less intelligent man

Who got the blame

For the irritation?

Mimir

 

Power to Please

 

It could be he had left briefly

To attend to his pool

The axe that was intended

For the head of the handsome one

Swing at him on return

He walked into that one

 

He walked no more anywhere

His head it was sent

Perhaps Gullvieg flew with it

Óðin received it

 

Oh how the All-father lamented

The head cradled close

He wailed out

He wailed out the old songs

The wise songs

The nurturing ones

Bathing the head in a herbal secret

He sang from the runes and the old songs

 

The dead shall have the power of speech

This one

The power to please

With his wisdom

 

Mimir’s Pool

 

Mimir is sat by his pool

Mimir the guardian

Mimir the head

 

Under the root of Yggdrasill

In Jotenheim

Is the Spring of Mimir

Near frost giants

It bubbles and pool forms

Heimdall leaves his horn there.

At the cost of an eye

To the one who paid high

All wisdom it pools here

 

At Ragnarok

Which his wisdom will survive

He benefits Óðin

With his last advice

“Óðin,

Go out there and die”

 

Mimir is sat by his pool

Mimir the guardian

Mimir the head

 

 

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #1 Thor

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #2 Earth

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #3 Night

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #4 Augelmir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #5 Heimdall

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #6 Eir

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #7 Vili

Norse Gods and Goddesse Prose Poems – #8 Ve

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #9 Siv

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #10 Hænir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #11 Frejya

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #12 the Hyndla Lay

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #13 Freyr

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #14 All for the Love of Gerd

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #15 Skaði

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #16 Njörð

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #17 Frigg

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 BalderNorse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 Balder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #19 Then Balder Was Dead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #20 Iðun

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #21 Iðun’s Apples

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #22 Sól

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #23 Máni

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #24 Rán

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #25 Hel

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #26 Óðin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #27 Huggin and Munin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #28 Loki’s Salmon

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #29 Loki

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #30 Loki’s Monsters

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #31 Týr

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #33 Wisdom Pool Wonder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #35 The Power of the Runes

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #36 The Poetry Mead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #37 Kvasir

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Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

 

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Storytelling is… #10 The Links

LH – Living History characterisation tips for re-enactors – My most viewed blog.

A modern continuation of the Viking mythos, I scribble, artists from all over the world replace my images – The Hammer FliesOski and the AmuletThe Horned God and the Wild Hunt

Facts and Fiction storytelling magazine – I am grateful for so much from this by post magazine – in particular the Storytelling is.. poem is published there – The comic strip too.

I cannot wait to get to this amazing festival to perform…NHhorizontalheadline

http://hostfest.com/ – https://www.hostfest.com/experience/viking-village/

I am also looking forward to going on from there to University of Wisconsin Green Bay where I will be lecturing, running workshops and storytelling in their Viking longhouse. https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/

I have written prose poems and travelogue pieces as Skald to the Chieftain  click here for the beginning of the series and then click ‘Next in the current series’ on each of the 26 blogs on the topic!  The start of the skaldic writing links

I was commissioned to create an ‘It happened to me’ performance for school children attending Cliffords Tower on the effects of the Normans. Click here to enjoy the blog which is written in the style it was performed.

Under the wing of Viking Comics Inc. comes the quirky series OldMan Comics, here is a link to one of those where I actually change the course of the battle at Hastings, (oooops sorry OldMan does).

I actually am Hobb the Pig-man, originally created for a commission for Barley Hall in York ‘he’ tells tales from a medieval point of view. ‘He’ has also worked on many projects for Scarborough’s Create and here is a project created for the Fossil Festival. Fossils? Yes cos it is Hobb. Hobb the Pig-man, he has also been Hobb the Night-guard and here he is as Hobb the plough boy.

A big thank you to actor Graham Scarisbrick for voicing this piece from my, soon to be released, audio play – The Boat Rises – Click below to hear A Viking Trojan Horse…

 

 

 

Actor Donna Jones, (for those of you who know her, aka Donna Kitching), voices here, the possibly, first ever documentation of a UFO encounter, (of the third kind), in a six-thousand-year-old folk tale; The Bamboo Babe.

 

 

 

 

One of the most interesting jobs I’ve been given was to be paid to sit in pubs listening to people telling me stories. Hundreds of fascinating stories came from the experience, you can read them here.

The main tool I used to stimulate anecdotes was a set of prompt cards. You can see those prompts here.

I am always pleased to be able to work with Alda and to promote her music. Here is a link to her single A Real Good Time.

And of course her sister’s company SigRun Viking Art & Design.

The three of us together produced Alda’s Rock Opera Gods Bless Ya!

For my multinational stories I reduce a popular story to a few lines so those of many countries can help tell the sagas in a nutshell.

One of the roles of the Skald is to host Opening Ceremonies.

 

The Series…

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 3 Being Skaldic

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

red hat

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

You are a storyteller of great renown – it has been posited and it will be so

(If anyone can think of a way of describing my pontifications I would love to hear.)

There are proud moments though.

(You should strive to posit so, it may even be an expected role of the storyteller.)

Think.

Embrace.

Story.

Proud moments yes.

Odin was a giant.

He sought power.

He was Borrsson.

The All-father thing. It is all timeless and mixed up. This is the gods, they can be from whenever they wish.

One of the Vanir wasn’t even born when he turned up at the God-swap with the Aesir.

These are the things which I think in the dark of the night and these are the things I fit into my stories. Think of things for yourself, these are your things.

Those proud moments.

There on the tee vee is a pal of mine. He is telling the world of how his team of archaeologists have definitely recovered the bodies of Roman-age York-based gladiators. Next thing I know he is calling ‘hi’ across the street and I am going to him to thank him for a great presentation. They are hoping to find the arena so I commented that many Roman features were still around when the Vikings arrived; they commented on the roads, they will have utilised bathhouses and a temple as a palace. If there had been an arena they would have used it as their all-ting (circular government). He looked really excited at this and said when they find it the first thing he is going to do is look for Viking-age items.

Another archaeologist friend was very interested in my thoughts on Lindisfarne. I had picked up a tourist guide and saw it mention the 1500 Scottish Border Report which stated there was a large hidden natural harbour which could house a whole fleet as it prepares to invade. I pointed out that if it could hold ships then it could hold long ships and perhaps the Vikings hadn’t just raided the monastery they had set up camp there to do raids of the mainland. The next thing I know my friend has promoted a talk on a whole new look at the Vikings on Lindisfarne.

Proud moments yes, new lines of thinking too.

Adaptability is important. Places and events want storytellers. They have a theme or a period of time. You get some strange requests. So one needs to put stories and elements of stories together. A fitting set list.

The composite – the gathering of the information and the melding into one tale.

This can be a string of known tales but once you have researched the topic (within your own know how as well as in your sources) you may well have a collection of snippets and so. Folklore, history, characters. The most common way I weave these together is in an ‘It happened to me’ style. This works well in performance and allows one to ‘hide’ behind a persona. It is easier to act things out if you are a character.

You will need a fitting costume however.

Or at least a hat. Perhaps a few.

The sagas are bitty, the myths especially so. Partly due to being patched together from many sources and partly due to being frozen in time. I love a good index. Kevin Crossley-Holland comes to mind. His work on myths is a good source.

By working through all the references to a particular character or topic within the index you can piece together a fuller picture. Then you can see ways to tell. Stories leap out of your research and juxtapositioning. All new and always.

Vikings: We only have so much material and it is laid out in a certain way and we need to explore what we can do with it.

We can try and reach back to the teller of the time and try to gain their skills by studying thoughts of their motivations.

Let us look at their whole empire, the stories from it all are often hidden within the myths.

Let’s see what can be dug up.

I don’t sing. I don’t play an instrument (except the cave harp). I love to work with music. It changes everything. And with singers too. Melding my stories and prose poems in with their ballads etc.

In the Gods Bless Ya! show my stories set the scene for the songs of Alda Raven and I seek to fill in any gaps in the flow of narrative. I also perform her words (yes, I admit to the use of a script!). SigRun Viking Art & Design create the costumes and supply the models to be the goddesses, part of my job is to create a narrative to accompany them; to get the timing right and to direct their actions subtly.

Thus are stories dramatized.

We can take part together and play roles and allocate parts.

Re-enactment groups post up a story and say who would play which part? IE The priest was very angry about this and stormed off to the sea captain. The sea captain agreed a fee to ferry him and waved him aboard his ship bound for Normandy. You volunteer and you go along. Except for the odd word or two shouted from the field it is crowd scene acting with a narrator over the tannoy.

The ways the storyteller can be utilised, the roles expected, bring me to the idea of the skald.

I haven’t so much looked at the history of the Skald, as at the necessity of the Skald, by being one.

I have looked at skaldic verse with its beats and echoes and, of course, the kennings. It is believed that they were written in such a way you would not fully understand on the first listening, but then the Skald would tell the stories which are referred to in their poetry and then read the piece again. That way on the second listening the audience would understand.

As modern-day Skald to the Chieftain I have many roles, as we are seeking to echo Viking-age life as clearly as possible. I write praise poems for my chieftain and to mark occasions.

Practicality leads one towards storytelling and uses those skills as part of the needs of an occasion.

Leading parades with my chieftain. Opening festivals, markets and events. Collating other performers and introducing them along with course leaders etc. Acting as presenter at events and as entertainer at feasts.

Providing performance opportunities for members of courses and circles. Creating group dramas.

I find that circles draw in teenagers and young adults more than any other age which is very refreshing, they have seen the shows and want to experience more.

Getting others involved can be great fun. The walk by at opening ceremonies has caused great fun. As I talk of leather working classes a glamourous presentation of their produce parades back and forth in front of me. When I announced the timber has arrived for the new constructions two men with a plank hanging down between their legs groan their way across the arena. People clamour to take part with ideas of how to promote their activity. As I say, “Visitors are invited to take part in the Glima at their own risk,“ a huge wrestler whistles as he carries a ‘dead’ body.

The multi-national stories go down far better than I ever expected they would. I strip a saga down to a few dramatic sentences and then invite people of different nationalities or dialects to stand alongside me and translate one after the other. Great fun seeing them all acting it all out.

It is always an honour to be asked to take part in a ceremony; be it a naming day, a wedding, or an event blessing. I may accompany my chieftain’s activities with a relevant poem or tale. I might utilise the mead horn, statues, a mirror bowl, the chanter’s chair or the threads of the Norns.

One ancient tradition which must be respected is to do what the participants wish.

I am reminded of the words of Jane Harrison in Ancient Art and Ritual where she talks of the 1 2 3 of existence. The one being you. The two is you and the world and the three is: you perceiving the world, the world effecting you and you reacting to that. We are destined to perform ritual.

So, what is a Skald – imagine you are a chieftain – what do you want from me?

And so to my greatest powers; example and expectation. As simple as that, my work is inspiring and I have an expectation that you will be involved and develop.

You will grow and be

I am not an academic, I am not a reenactor, I not even a Viking if I am truthful; I am a storyteller. I seek to be true to the past I am part of and I seek to be very very good. I give you part of what I am and I ask you to be ready.

As we are drawing to the close of this section of the series I would remind of story points; you can’t do a story unless you have them. Slot them in a row in your mind and you are ready.

The next section of this series will be the feature on techniques. For groups and those intending to join one of my groups I would suggest the techniques section is looked upon as a hand out, a guide, to help empower you so you can help shape the sessions.

As for endings, look at some of ‘my’ endings. I lean towards throw away, I am not very strong on morals if you see what I mean and I find punch-line type endings take away from the believability.

As we draw to a close on the lecture and move on to the techniques section it is best to reiterate; I have always found that performance example inspires and encourages people.

To summarise my personal feelings, ‘Oh no I am going to have to learn all of this.’

 

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

 

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

with snake

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Right, I am going to get strict now.

Storytellers must always tell traditional stories which they have learnt by listening to another storyteller. They must sit and not move and they must never ever utilise items – the sinful prop! Sit still and tell old things rigidly.

Well there we have a whole set of rules to be broken. I certainly break them all. It is a school of thought though, an old school of thought.

There is a vision of the teller in a big chair and everyone hushed and still looking up in awe. It does happen. These are moments to cherish.

My first thought would be, where to put that chair.

Space.

Put yourself in your space. Find the place where you feel right.

I like to get there early. I step into that school hall and I guess I am getting the vibe, I most usually walk straight to a spot, “I would like to stand here”. It isn’t always where they expect you to go.

It is the same on a ship, in cave or on a stage. Put yourself where you need to be.

“Can you put my chair here please?”

“And my table here if you are using ‘the dreaded prop’.

The inner translucent layer of a mammoth skin has been draped across near the rear of this cave, with a small fire behind, you step out of a hidden side alcove when they are distracted and you beat a hollow log with your talking staff; you are suddenly there, a misty figure in front of them.

And you have your place.

Your place in history.

Step around into the open and stamp your white staff to the ground. Stay silent for a moment while they take in the carvings and the natural twist leading to the gleaming crystal.

Play a little on your cave harp.

Or say but three words then lift up your bone flute.

If you are more modern than this you may be wishing to commune with Odin. Your fur-covered Chanter’s Stool is brought out for you and you flick your cloak as you sit.

The large seat.

The shamanic drum.

The soft toy – well, that is me.

Rocky the Dragon gets very sad because he never gets any kisses.

I might be better getting a white wood staff.

And so to sit.

Or stand.

Or both. I tend to be out of my chair most of the time but starting things off sitting seems to work for me. I am a bit all action and cannot keep still.

Silliness seems to happen. In among the gripping and the scary a bit of silliness too.

‘I have lived in the land of fairy – and I have never been the same since.’

Being trapped in a fairy ring causes one to have to dance and for all people laugh they are intrigued. For all the silliness of stories of meeting and even marrying beings from the realm of the Fey I tend to attract people who hang around to tell me of their real-life experiences of meeting or seeing creatures from the mystical lands.

You have to remember who is out there. I will look at the idea of being a ‘Skald’ in a little while, let it be said there is always a sense of ceremony. The way we conduct ourselves, be it at a ritual or on the content of our set lists should always seek to be inclusive. In your audience is someone who happens to have come along, a tourist who wants to see how we do things, a historian, an Odinist or Asatru who follows the ways of the old gods, a person of another religion.

Respect. Respect mixed with entertainment.

Art is always a compromise. There is the viewer the one experiencing the art. They are to be considered. And yet one must maintain their own integrity.

Yet you must always do what it says on the tin. If it says chocolate milk we don’t want root beer coming out into the glass.

Many circles are spontaneous of course. Chiefly though, you have been invited. The audience have come along because of what the publicity said.

The publicity has been written by the inviter, they wrote it after talking to you, but they also put their own needs into it.

You must try and fit with this description.

You might always try and describe yourself slightly differently from the last time.

What does it say on your tin?

We have talked a little of the oral tradition; that the content and possibly style of our ‘show’ come from the past.

If we talk to a ballad singer, someone from the folk world or perhaps a shanty singer, we will come across the school of thought; traditional means that nobody wrote it. An old song has gone through so many singings, been passed from one singer to another, that the version we hear now is no longer anything like the first song which somebody actually wrote.

The shanties or other work songs have been created by the group to fit a rhythm or a need so have really evolved and developed.

We do live in a modern world where information is available to all. So it is possible to go back to the root or at least dig deep.

We are also freed up a little by this information availability. We can ‘tell’ in our own way. As long as we are respectful to the story.

Some of the records of folklore etc are a little clumsy, they are a record for posterity, not a classic novel.

This is where that second storyteller by the universal fire comes into things. Making the story better, more fun, gripping, relevant to the original concept, getting it all across is a skill. A developed skill. This is just as much a tradition as passing along the accuracy of the tale. We are all somewhere in the middle of this quandary, this long drawn out ‘story’. That innovative storyteller is a tradition.

Take the responsibilities with you but bring that tale alive. It deserves you. It deserves you to be your very best.

Embrace the past in your own way.

Where are we in the timelessness of storytelling and can we become our self back then as if we are there.

There are old stories. They were not always written down, as they are now, yet they survived. The enjoyment of them survived. So, although we can be glad of those who recorded them and of those who share them today, it was never meant for such a rigid thing as text. Never let it be so.

Tens of thousands of people may have told of that dugout canoe the first people survived in before and spider taught written signs to any tribe.

(I am not too sure how the canoe got to every single nation in the world – but I have heard of it wherever I go!)

I cannot tell you what to do. I don’t know how your mind works. I do know one thing; every individual’s mind works in a different way.

Go with your failings.

Mine is names. So I allow myself to forget. I think of ways. His brother. The tall giantess. With a flick of her hair. You know; avoidance, distraction.

You might want to force yourself to digress. Or to get back onto topic quicker.

I’ve talked of being a collector. Here is an aspect which can make the whole audience die of groaning or can fill hearts with soaring fire, (not to be sexist, but I think I am talking blokes); details.

Factual information. I struggle here in the same way as I do with names to be honest. I did, however, experience a split of reactions recently.

My father drove steam engines. You can already see where this is going. I have told great stories from his experiences for many years. Before a recent performance I thought I should have a refreshing look through his book. There was all that information; fourteen-foot fireboxes, that sort of thing.

Then here among it all was, 40302.

Engines always had a number like this. To me it is just a number. Then I read in my own father’s book that there is a reason behind this number; a sense to it. It refers to the wheels; 40302. There are four axles, a space, three axles, a space, two axles.

I look quickly now at my (currently virtual) audience and half of them are raising their eyes at an obtuse angle and half are achingly keen to hear more of such things which will fill them with inner bliss.

Where do you sit in this factual quandary?

How are you going to challenge yourself!

(Or cope with yourself.)

To be fair to myself I managed to play on that division within my audience and they laughed as they re-enacted their reactions.

I actually challenged an audience member, (it was in a chatty circle event were sharing was encouraged – and there was beer.), “How can you be so sure?”

“Oh,” he replied, “I file all my memories in date order”.

We are all different.

Shout out a date, another friend of mine can tell you not only what day of the week it was but every little thing about what happened. I gave her a date from the seventies and she described the embroidered flowers on my yellow large-lapelled suit jacket.

Another friend cannot pick and choose she has to scroll. She can recall every single thing which happened to her from the age of three, every feeling, every sound, smells, the works.

Will your mind allow you to be spontaneous?

Find a way.

The Skalds did poetry. Bards too. Many say poetry is a means of remembering something. I say do not memorise poetry. It will rattle along like a maraca in a samba band.

Poetic works need the meaning emphasising not the rhythm, beats or rhymes.

For me, I have written thousands of poems, I have two I can do from memory.

Set me on with storytelling though.

I have worked a full week of six hour days and finished the story just in time to clock off.

(It was a queue constantly streaming into a museum so I had to be sure and make every element work alone.)

I am quirky.

Not being believed is another failing of mine. The whimsical way I portray tales makes people think I have made it all up, I think it is my cheekiness. The fact that I have spent hours on research and finding new ways to think are lost in the gag.

“You have made that up.”

We are quirky.

You are and you need to deal with it alright.

Reinterpret, research, reconsider, posit, discover.

Hours of research go into one snippet; a gag from hours.

This is a concept I have real difficulty explaining. There must be a word for it. There must.

Like there is for what Jung did. To posit. He explains how he was asked how the brain worked and he didn’t know. So he said there were two parts; the conscious and the unconscious. Now there is. There really is. He posited.

Say how something is and therefore it is forever so.

Edward De Bono reckoned that we posit all the time; especially politicians.

It is one aspect of what I mean.

I’ve described this idea in detail to someone whom was writing a thesis for academics to assess and she said what I meant was historical research.

That doesn’t seem quite right to someone plodding along in their own way hoping for the best.

If you talked to anyone going to a museum they would describe it as ‘the point’ because every single person who goes in an old place has a point to make. It is more important than looking to see what is in there. They have researched. They have thought. Here is the thought!

I am full of such thoughts.

(I try to address my stories with such things.)

I slip them in. I am the only person in history of Vikings to give the Gods surnames. Well, Patronyms. It took me ages to think about it and then I do a story and say Odin Borrsson and nobody notices. ‘Ah yes, that is his name.’

This is an inspirational talk so you can go away and not be motived either.

Yet…