Opening Ceremony 2016 Viking Valley, Gudvangen, Norway
Welcome, welcome, you are all welcome. So good to see you all gathered here for the opening ceremony of this the 14th Viking Market here in Gudvangen Viking Valley.
You are safe here, welcome; you can relax and enjoy yourself, even though you will be spending the day among huge, hairy, heavily armed Vikings.
We are glad to have you here eating our food, drinking our mead, looking at our stalls.
Yes welcome, so relax you will be safe here – it is when we visit you that you need to worry.
“And we won’t be emailing, there will be no polite email asking if it is OK to visit. We will suddenly be there but you will know straight away. You will be well aware we are among you.”
This is a very special place; there is something magical about this valley. Everyone says so. You begin to feel the effect of being here straight away.
These Vikings here, as soon as they step off the ship they calm down, which is unusual I assure you. All the time they are here they are friendly, easy-going and peaceful – well most of the time.
Look at me. When I am at home I am a wild, dangerous, rampaging mad thing.
You will enjoy yourselves! Do you hear what I say, and can you see the shine of sharpness along the edge of my axe. You will enjoy yourselves!
Besides, we have many things on our stalls which we want you to buy. We have been to many lands and learnt many skills; old, well-tried, traditional skills. We will enjoy showing you; try not to be nervous when you generously show your appreciation.
Yes, we have sailed to many nations. We have landed on a wide range of shores, seen people of many types – and robbed them, traded with them, I mean traded with them, yes, traded.
“Can we ask where you are all from?”
“Spain.” “Poland.” “Canada.” “Ireland.”
“Ah, those are the places we robbed.”
That’s where we got all these things we are selling.
“Hey, stall holders, lower your prices.”
Yes visitors we will sell your things back to you quite cheaply.
“And you will be safe here. Adrian remind them how welcome they will be, and how safe.”
Yes, yes, safe, yes. We have sworn an oath, an oath. We wanted to reassure you so we oathed an oath, and when a Viking makes an oath they make an oath and the oath that they oath is an unbreakable oath which we have oathed; an oath is an oath is an oath. Let it be known that we have oathed.
“What is an oath?”
A promise; and a promise is a promise and…
“Don’t start that again.”
No, right, of course, but we did; there is a ritual and a belief. To make that oath the first thing you have to do is – spit in a barrel.
Well we skipped that bit.
“Yes well we are selling lemonade and mead to you. So we thought it best not to spit in the barrels. Or talk about it even…”
No sorry. No spitting. The barrels are fine!
A promise is a promise though, and it has to be kept. We worry about where we will go when we die.
Oath-breakers have to walk through a river of gushing ice. This ice is formed into axes, spears and knives – then, you step out – to be kept in a tower made of living serpents. Bitten and sprayed with burning poison for ever and ever and ever and ever.
Or until Ragnarok; the end of the world.
“So we keep our promises; enjoy.”
If, you enjoy hearing of the old mythos – watch out for the ravens…
A shadow will flicker over you. As you look up, the second raven will fly in from the world waters, by you see the third raven it will be too late. There it will be upon the mast of an incoming ship; a ship so terrible you will quake at the sight of it. The Vikings are coming, and they are no ordinary Vikings. These are Njardar. Njardar Vikingslag.
We are coming to you and charging onto your land. Hear the roar. See the gleam. A huge army of huge warriors are upon you. These are the best (the Mayor of Aurland himself said that we were second in exports and visitors and soon to become first, so it must be true). It is like the sky itself is filled, and they wait, with weapons high, only for a command to charge. Step forward the chieftain; Olafr Reydarsson. When he speaks we listen. He is big! Very big!
Well, his beard is big anyway. He will give the command; the word and we will all, roaring, act upon that word.
The word is…
“Welcome; you are all welcome to come and visit us in Gudvangen. Everyone is welcome, except those who do not make others welcome. Come visit.”
And so they do, in their thousands, from all over the world.
We have had a battle though, a long, hard fought battle – a battle to build.
As you step though those gates into the fourteenth Viking Gathering here at Gudvangen you step back into the past. Now. The long battle is over. Now. As you step through these gates you are stepping into our future.
By the fifteenth Viking Gathering there will be a Viking Town. It is a two year project with the first row of Viking houses ready by May – I have put my name down for one of these already.
Here is the first of the timber being delivered now…
You will be able to take part in the Glima wrestling…
With hardly any risk to yourself….
Hear Galda upon the holy hill…
Learn leather skills with Hamish, or buy his bags from Annabelle…
Visit Lady Chaga…
Be warned; slavers are in the area and you are at risk…
And it is no use complaining, we know that now.
But no, no, no, do not worry, as we have promised, you are completely safe here, well, until six o’clock. Once the market closes at six all promises are off!
Don’t spit when you speak!
Vikings will become Vikings again.
You will be greatly at risk – unless you buy a tunic and a pair of boots and stay here.
Then you will be welcome.
Before we actually open the market and get on with selling you your treasures back, there is one rather tricky thing which must be dealt with.
“Don’t tell them Adrian.”
No, we must.
“There is a rumour.”
A terrible rumour.
“It has been whispered over and over as people come through the gate.”
We are now going to deal with that rumour.
“People have been saying that they have heard that a group of tourists with plastic wrist bands came here to visit and were never seen again.”
“It is true!”
Never seen again!
They bought Viking outfits and became part of this marvellous experience.
“Now we must warn you.”
This may happen to you.
“This valley is such a wonderful, unique place that once you have visited you never wish to leave. Many choose to stay and be here forever.”
This we must warn you of.
“But there is a greater risk, a great and terrible sadness and yearning which may come upon.”
“If you do choose to leave here you will regret it forever.”
You will always feel that you are not where you belong and will feel terribly, terribly sad that you did not choose to stay.
“Terribly, terribly sad.”
“Now, finally, we welcome you with one piece of explanation about what you might expect here, here is the secret – it is all about love.”
“We will be opening the market again tomorrow.”
And this worries me greatly.
“I will be wearing my helmet. It was a wonderful gift to me and is an accurate reconstruction of a Viking age helmet.”
And why does it have a figure of a boar on the top?
“This is to signify that I command a team of specialist warriors.”
What kind of warriors?
And you are wearing it tomorrow? This worries me greatly. I have pledged to always stand by your side. To dress appropriately and be there in the way that you need me whatever you ask of me. What does a Berserker wear?
“A small fur collar.”
And that’s it!
Right I will have to get my outfit ready then.
“It worries me as well, I don’t think I will be standing next to you tomorrow.”
(“And if you blog about it tomorrow Adrian, do not do a drawing.”)
Thinking about it, I will make a great berserker. If you put all the fighters and all the wrestlers in the field ready I will be able to beat the lot of them, I will clear the field.
If I come screaming across to them wearing nothing but my berserker outfit they will scatter. I will see off the lot of them.
They will run.
“So will I!” “Enjoy yourselves today, because tomorrow is berserker day.”
We now declare the Viking Market open!
“This is a marvellous experience, with Vikings and visitors from all around the world, none of the differences you might notice elsewhere matter at all here, all beliefs, all life styles are for elsewhere; here everyone gets along and shares the wonder which is Gudvangen.”
So it is spoken by Olafr (Georg) and this is the world.
Living in America Too. Oddities spotted along the way, and often I think, a display of my ignorance. You will probably enjoy this further glance into our life in Green Bay WI. Oh yes, and a trip round my mother’s garden back home in Scarborough, Great Britain.
Do forgive my silly approach.
Let’s start with Yard work (that’s gardening to you Brits).
I love Heidi’s Wood-burner and was real pleased when Dale and Lynn brought us along another stack of logs.
It might be a bit summery for lots of firelit evenings, but I do get to have a fire sometimes when the weather changes. While clearing out the garage I came across this pile of birch bark, and it crackles lovely.
Of course, hung up in the garage is all the flax, grown to turn to linen to weave to cloth.
While rummaging about in the garage or basement you do find some strange things.
I don’t quite understand the approach to recycling here.
There’s at least one thing me and Elvis Costello agree on.
It has been a good year for the roses.
And for hedges.
Not sure what they are, but they are beautiful.
“What’s that?” – “Ah they are Physiocarpus and Spirea.”
(Notice I am trying to coppice them, so they gradually intertwine. In a couple of years they will be a hedge.)
We bought some fairly expensive shrubs (Aren’t they always).
And found some old seeds in the garage.
Some might work.
We thought, lets feed the birds
And the birds are like, ‘Why didn’t you get one of these in the winter when we really needed it!’
This feller is waiting for me to clear the bed around the now planted shrubs.
Dwayne and Dian brought us these lovely flowers.
They brought them along on memorial day, to recall those who fell and those who came back broken.
This next feller has a tale to tell.
And see, I did get the shrubs in.
I told a friend about the above over the phone and I said it was a dwarf spruce in a weeping willy style. I don’t think I got that quite right.
(It looks like a bird’s nest by it’s finished btw)
This next little buddy will grow a bit taller so she will be hiding the gas meter.
And I am very pleased with my new toy. There is a lot to catch up on, don’t even get me started on buckthorn, so this is a way to catch up. I am hoping, once I am fitter that I can do most by hand. For now though, lets get radical.
And no I am not having a wee in this one.
I am going to need a big shovel.
Back to that hedge.
Shrubs to plant.
The rhubarb plant cost a small fortune but I feel I have done a good job of protecting it with potting soil, the a topping of cardboard covered in a home made mulch.
Same with the raspberry canes. they are out the back so didn’t need the fancy mulch stuff. And the rhubarb will serve as ground cover and the leaves as green manure.
Some days you really need to water, and others not so
We didn’t water this day.
The weather is changeable here in America, well OK I only really know about Green Bay. There might be a hint in the name though.
Now other people’s outdoor shots that have caught my eye.
I am not sure where I got this beautiful image from. If you let me know I will be grateful.
I don’t know where I half-inched this next one from either but it is of Njardarheimr Viking Town in Gudvangen, Norway and I feel homesick.
(I guess Green Bay is my home and my other homes are Scarborough and the home of my chieftain.)
Now come with us now on a walk to the hardware store (among other places).
I think we passed this house with a tower at just the right time, while all the folks with bows and arrows were on a meal break.
Then just down the road was an example of unrestrained novelty gardening.
The two big deep-voiced brusque blokes were huddled on the stoop deep in planning. “Do you think we should get another pink flamingo?” “Ah yeah, you can never have enough pink flamingos.” There is a lesson in life to be learned here.
We window shopped.
Then I got lost
The we passed the Hydrant Pizza place.
Come on, you can think of a better name than that. It is hardly appetising is it! And how are people going to find you? Where is that place? Oh it is by the hydrant.
If you need water to fill your hose there is a river nearby (I think it’s the Fox). It currently is in full spate. Spate is a thing you ever in fully, never in a mild spate.
As for this tree stump
I just like this tree stump. I have nothing to complain about it at all.
Now here is something I am very happy about. Tea grown in Yorkshire.
And no, you don’t ever have cream in tea.
These I was intrigued by.
It just doesn’t ring right. either it should be animal crackers or the crackers should be in brackets. Crackers!
Then to my horror I opened them. I had my cheese and chutney ready and my marmite. I was hanging back slightly though because I have noticed very small seashells to throw in your soup being called crackers, so they might not be big enough for my chunks of cheese.
I had after all heard the song; Animal Crackers in my soup.
After asking which animal was which I realised the great bounty I had discovered. I had to put away the cheese and chutney, for these were biscuits! Proper biscuits, like what we get in Britain. Not weird bread you put white sauce on and call it gravy. These were like Edinburgh shortcake. Wow I will be finding custard creams next.
We nearly went in here, for the free gifts.it is impolite to say toilet paper here, so people say TP. Oh I said it.
It is wrong to say toilet, but it is OK to say back-side. I am learning, I am learning.
I am not sure saying, you are going to need toilet roll, is a good way to advertise your food outlet.
We passed a jewellery store but I don’t think the decorations outside gave the right level of sophistication.
Plastic beads instore perhaps.
I don’t understand how making your religion part of your business sign helps keep the jobs coming in. Might other faiths be put off? And isn’t the main point good roofs?
The above reminds me of all the businesses in Britain who, as soon as we left Europe, put out England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island flags. Less than thirty per cent of the voting public voted for it. Don’t they want those people in their pubs and cafes?
Rant over. (Rant one)
I didn’t understand this little garden ornament I saw for sale.
See nothing, Say nothing and Hear nothing. Or is the middle one Smell nothing?
What so everybody stops? I was stood here for ages.
Heidi was calling and calling for me to come on, but it said stop.
I told my pal Rob that he was welcome anytime.
When he heard about Gus’s Gun Bar he said he was bringing all the lads. Having eight pints of beer and then being able to buy an automatic rifle was their idea of a great night out.
(BTW I am thinking of going in this place and criticising their use of apostrophes, what do you think?)
Maybe I should just have a drink of water instead.
Is this outside the Waterpump Pizza place?
On our way to the hardware store I noticed this.
On our very first ‘almost’ date I walked Heidi into this. We made it to the store this time.
Now, I get very cross about the fact that it is called Martin Hardware, when it should be called Martin’s Hardware, but they do have a very nice little history section.
And as for Hardees.
Drainpipes aren’t the same here. They don’t go into the drains. so maybe they aren’t called drainpipes. Lawn waterers or something. I dunno. I do think this is a good use of an old paddling pool (there is one in the garage so I am wondering about digging a big hole).
We could get frogs. Maybe otters?
While we are on this walk to the hardware store I was wondering if we should get some vodka? For her.
At first glance she might not look thirsty, but she does come as part of a set.
Cone-cat survives the raccoon attack.
“Soon as I get this thing off I am sneaking back out there.” Mr Stumpy considers revenge.
But he does have delicate moments, he is seeking a lot of fuss and support.
Egbert is happy some of the time. Eggroll! Eggroll!
Or is he just trying to escape from Bumper-cone?
He has started using it as a battering ram to move everyone out of his way.
Did I mention revenge?
(We let him out of his cone for five minutes and he is ready to kill.)
His ‘girlfriend’ Giffa sometimes has to get away from him.
She stays away from him for a very long time.
Not sure where I got this pic (So am happy for comments and corrections) but I like these hog back stones.
The ones in the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens in York are described as burial stones, but I don’t think so. Tell me if I am wrong but I reckon no bodies have ever been found under them; so they are memorial stones.
I will take advice on these too.
Can I cook them or burn them or anything?
That’s it for Vikings in this edition.
Heidi’s late husband Arnold designed this t shirt (and the album cover too) and I thought a few of you might have heard of the band.
That’s all the art I have for you this time.
Oh no hang on. I just spotted this amazing piece of art of a hero of mine. Such feeling and character. I hope my wonderful friend Linda doesn’t mind me sharing her joyful skill.
Now artwork from the family in the Zoom family quiz. We had to recreate some classic pieces of work with only as few minutes to see it and then sort it.
I pinched this one too.
Before the distasteful pictures of chicken’s feet etc here is a feature from Scarborough, Yorkshire, Great Britain.
No, before the garden, here are a couple of old family photos. Carefully preserved by my sister.
My Mum and Dad and Ginny my sister. Circa 1957.
From around the same period, four generations of women. Toddler, (Ginny), mother (Connie), Nana, (Mary) and my great grandmother.
(Oh yes and a duck.)
My Mum’s Garden
Ah, but first here is a pic I got from the Facebook page I Love Scarborough of way back when a whole hotel fell into the sea.
Stories are that they knew there might be subsidence so they charged the guests at supper time. Other’s say that guests were eating breakfast and were told the hotel was actually moving and people sat and finished their black pudding and beans etc before running for their lives.
A guy who used to drive me to the hospital told me he worked there and it wasn’t erosion from the sea it was subsidence from above. The beck or stream or creek had been built over and the water went down into the lime stone and eroded it from under the hotel.
Anyway my mum’s beautiful garden which looks up at the castle above.
I think there is a glimpse of the castle up at the top. There’s my mum’s palm tree behind her roses. This is the top rank and then there is grassland, then woodland, then the castle.
I am most pleased to see the marigold, I put seeds all over that wild banking and at least this one came up.
Note the bunting all over the gooseberry bushes, this is to keep the birds off the fruit.
These lilies were kindly planted in memorial for my father.
We get more every year.
This next plant is doing very well, and I don’t think mum is very pleased about it. It started off as a tiny rock plant when I bought it (For less than a pound.) and it turned into a monster.
I think we are indoors for this beauty.
This next one is adorable.
As is the whole garden (Well done Heidi Two, er I mean Kirsten. Mum gets their names muddled up all the time.) A great job Kirsten.
And this amazing shot from the Facebook page I Love Scarborough this amazing shot of just along the road from mum’s. the boat is just off shore from fifteen minutes walk away.
I think this was taken in Scarborough. this is an example of taking social distancing too far. You could never hit the pan standing that far away.
Below this link – The final section; the food section, perhaps needs to come with a warning. I’ve been trying some horrid food!
Viking Travel Course – Part One I am thrilled to be part of the team taking a group from University Wisconsin to Norway for a Living History course where we will develop skills and deepen knowledge in a sharing and encouraging way. the group of Students, graduates and others will be traveling from UW Green Bay in the US of A to Norway to visit Viking sites and live as Vikings in a recreated town. The students will be reporting via blogging, vlogging and social media as part of their course, as will the team, so this is the start of my personal contribution looking at it all from the point of view of the storyteller. How did I come to be part of this, some might wonder? Those of you who know of my work and travels will not be too surprised at this development; I am Skald to the Chieftain of a Viking town. As a full-time storyteller I travel widely, especially in the Upper Mid-West of America and in Norway. It is through these travels and performances that I have become part of things at the Viking Hus in the grounds of UWGB. We are about to start recruiting students to become part of this adventure and hope to be taking up to 20 of you along with us. Who are we? Professor H Sherman, Head of History, UWGB, Katie Walkner, Professor of History, UWGB Manitowoc (and myself as Instructional Consultant). We are lucky to have Jemma Lund, Assistant Director of Study Abroad as part of the team, she will be the ‘Michael Collins’ to the ‘Buzz’ and ‘Neil’ of the lucky two instructors who will be heading off to walk the Viking way; Jemma will be coordinating from the UWGB end of things. The students will each create a Viking outfit to take along and will learn and demonstrate a skill from a selection offered. Our journey will be mid-May through to mid-June 2020 and the itinerary will be something like this… Fly into Oslo, Norway to visit the Ship Museum, the nearby Folk Museum and to include the stave church there. We also plan to visit Viking Planet before heading off to Borre to be guided around the burial mounds and the Midgard Historic museum. A picturesque train journey over the mountains will lead us to Bergen to visit Hordamuseet and then a further journey of train and ferry will lead us deep into the Sognfjord for our stay in Gudvangen. Here in the Viking Town of Njardarheimr we will live as Vikings. Freemen, Freewomen and crafters there will offer skill training in a wide variety of topics so that each of the students will learn at least one craft or skill and will then demonstrate for the many visitors. We will be active participants in all the shared experience of Viking life there, this will include events and activities as well as time with the Chieftain, the ‘Skald’ and other guides. Future blogs will include useful links to creating your own Viking gear plus an on-line guide to all things Viking. Stay tuned for details and photos of the many skills you can learn and discover how you too can contribute to the development of Viking Valley.
Creatures of the Norse – Animals of Norway and creatures thought of as mythical are collected on these decorative cards, which one do you identify with?
I created these for Angela, my fellow storyteller at Njardarheimr Viking Valley in Gudvangen, Norway. The idea was that visitors can pick one and be inspired and a selection can be used to improvise a story.
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
I have already been there, in other writings, in other lives, and these are the times. I am stood between Siw-Alfadis and Blathnaid-Brigid whilst Bjorn-Ole surveys the sea from the promontory, we are in Njardarheimr in Freyr-An’ersh’s Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am here with my heart. I am at once really here and yet also actually here in this dream.
My Gudvangen Dream Life IV portrays me already in a Viking-style life in Gudvangen where I am actually living as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway; in this blog version everything of myth and legend has become real.
Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.
NB The names used are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.
PS Credits will be given for any writings.
PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there). A huge thank you to all those who have made suggestions and offered writings (there are loads half written up for the next one).
Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV
We use the name Viking yet we are different, we are from different worlds, different worlds of thinking. We are together; I do not think like you. I do not think like you. I am Vanadís. I am Díser of the earth. Creature of the old ways. I craft. I drag the iron from the very earth. I tell stories. I tell stories from my mother tongue. Far away. We are all far away. We are all here. See how the spring shoots grow. See how the hammer is protective. I sew the Troll cross. There is little time to practice to survive. I swing the iron. We practice with long shafts. I see the Ramslurk grow. I see the mists and their foreboding. The children play. The wolf sleeps. Dream people; for we are a commune. Ships come.
Our chieftain, Freyr-An’ersh, respected as he is, he welcomes, while we judge and consider. They bring more skills. We flourish. We are what you call Viking and this is where we lie. Tread lightly as you go for you walk upon our heart.
Fires suddenly burn along the tall ways. Along the high edges of the fjord walls. The lands we hardly know of. Top side. Up there in the Sami lands; the seasonal lands of nomadism, they pay respect to us. They are watchers. They trade with us. They will come down soon as warmer weathers once faded lead to cold times before the hard freeze. They go somewhere else when it is all frozen solid. Some say they go to other worlds, some that they are always of those worlds and visit us through a veil, some that they cave-live for the winter, in the steep sides of uninhabited fjords where no one can observe their smoke.
They will come down for the final trade quite soon. Coming to us is the nearest they ever get to warm climes, and that is in the far end of autumn.
So the beacons burn. The ancient debt we receive for; the old old owing, yet how can we ever repay the repayors! They far surpass whatever it was in ages past that caused them to be owing to us. Yet the fire beacons burn when we are in need of warning. They watch from on high whenever they are in the heights of their seasonal hunting grounds. Their camps look down upon the fjord and they see ships come. So they light the beacon fires; one upon one upon run and light along the high ground; and we know, we know: of battles, or enemies, of returnings, of strugglings. A ship is coming, (or a leviathan). We shall not venture out to sea to see.
We shall watch. We shall prepare ourselves.
Bjorn-Ole stands the stock of blades and bows in the strategic places we have established. Our defences are in place.
Poppa-Varg, Poppa-Volva and the other children climb Yew and Maythorn trees back on the higher ground.
Warriors; Tor-Gunlodd, Brunhildr, Ailbhe Connell and Frode-T’or climb cliff sides.
There is an expected returning. There is a ship we know and love returning just as we hoped that it would quite soon. Nothing comes. The beacon fires up high should have brought a ship or result by now. Our Viking ones are overdue. The beacons must mean other than ‘Here comes your brethren returning’.
Our thoughts are that, there is a complication. Perhaps enemies assail them. Perhaps they are all dead. Perhaps they are sinking on their way home.
We do not know and Thorfinn Asmundsson will no doubt regail us of the tale in a slash by blow way after the settling of them; the hopeful settling of them. We wish and hope for a safe fare landing together if all return and blood is staunched; the fettles calmed.
A light, we see a light. Surely we do. Just a hint of a glimpse of a dot of a shine that amplifies within the mind into a massive talisman of hope. There is a ship coming, it has a light above. We peer in hope and anxiety. Down the long fjord we glimpse for real.
It cannot be an enemy shining one light. Many fires waved would be to intimidate us, but just one would serve as a warning and defeat the objective of the incomer; so this shall be our returning vessel.
One of our brave travellers must have climbed the mast with a flaming torch and is lighting the way. No, the light would guide them very little, it must be for us to see. They are letting us know that they approach. They must be a-feared that they may not make it, they are struggling. “Sail out, they are sinking,” cries Björk-Mari, “Board our vessel here at the harbour and sail out. Just enough to crew the ship, to row to their rescue.
“Yes,” calls Siw-Alfadis, “we may need room for them to board for safe return”.
The one light in the far far distance is standing now, it comes no nearer. “We must hurry, worries Jan-Robert.
Leif-Lasse leaps, “Row, row like the wind”.
“One of you must climb the mast with a burning brand so they know you are coming, to give them hope: for us to see also so we can hope,” Signy Volsungsdottir.
Long is the watching. Long is their journey. Small hands clench maternal hands. Our home ship is slowly nearing the returning vessel. Just in time perhaps we hope. But no. The far light is tipping. Slowly, steadily, heading lower. The mast is swinging. The ship is tipping. They are lost to us in some moments.
The home ship is nearing. Our hands are all gripping. We gasp. We cry out. We clench each other’s shoulders. They are, distantly from us, heading for the ice-cold sea. The nearer ship approaches them, it is traveling fast. They are rowing as hard and as sleek as they possible can. We fear that they will ram.
The one light steers beside the other light. We see the lower light lift. One ship has hit into the side of the other with its fast-incoming flank.
The power of the one ship arriving straightens the other. We see the flaming torch lift till both are the same height.
We can only guess the crew are pulled aboard. It seems that the lightened load of the suffering ship may well be enough to let her ride this stormed night.
There is no blood left in our fingertips, nor in our shoulders, or in our hearts. We can scarcely breathe for the holding of each other so very very tight.
“One ship is bringing both the crews and is pulling the other ship in too,” sighs Björk-Mari.
It is an age and an eon until those two ships near us.
The torch is gone from the mast of the rescued ship and eventually from the saviour vessel.
Our cliff-top warriors cheer.
Eventually they are home. Their ship is home.
There is much blood.
It was a battle at sea. A swooping pirate of the waters has attacked and followed and attacked again. Our ship, the returner, was valiant and saw their ship adrift and empty. The binding which held them while the crews leapt from ship to ship in battle were unloosed. And the empty ship went far adrift before it eventually would go down.
It may have been better to keep it. For our far-travelled ship was much damaged. It made it as far as it did.
The ship is home. Both our ships are home. The long-journeyed crew are mainly returned. Safe and back and families are reunited.
All is good.
This ship which returned did not remove its battle dragon. How could it do so. It is not a trade ship which returns. It is a ship of dragonhead. A serpent thing upon our land. Whether intentional or not. It has been accepted here with sign of war. With sign of mystical beasts. Of other worlds. The Díser are enraged. They abandon us. The land is cursed. Cursed. We all are cursed.
The land is cursed. The Díser leave us. All last growth dies. The new growth in the spring of tomorrows will not happen.
Our chieftain must journey to the land of the Vanadís. We burn the herbs. The juniper for the visions. We shall all sleep. We shall dance, we shall tremor, we shall sleep and some of us shall journey to the realms of the Vanadís and we shall tranquil them. Standing with our chieftain as he bravely speaks. He steps forward and declares. He acts for us all and his true heart is read, “We ask of the earth to return to us growth and plenty”.
There is a cost. In old old tales we hear from other lands terrible costs are paid; the life of the first born, the servitude of the next borne or other such heart-wrenching promises. Terrible things. We promise a terrible thing. We promise that one shall go from our midst to ever-serve in the all-time forever as a Vanadís, returning only at will in the when-ever and at times of need and of love and of celebration. Always over there though in the forever of the timelessness.
We shall not choose who will go though. We shall wait till one is willing. We will tell this tale for generation upon generation, the Sami at the topper-most shall also tell. From our midst and perhaps from theirs too shall emerge a chosen one; chosen by their self.
And they shall go. They will be the payment for the return of life to this valley. The Díser shall be welcomed back. The earthy ones who inhabit our realm in a distant way shall be here and the Vanadís shall be in their realm. With our daughter or son. They shall be ever watching through to ours.
That serpent beast-head upon the returning ship has taken a terrible cost and payment shall be forever. (The one who eventually went is still there even in your time as you read this and they are looking down upon us all.)
Lo the freeze times come and there is chanting, throat music, names of old old gods and beings, remembered ones; chanting, casting, renewing.
Hear the visitation from above. Down the goat path they come; the Sami.
Olga-Stina leads the dancing chant for all to add to. “We sing to lead.” “We sing to enchant.” “We sing to mislead.” “We have pipes of metal to suck back our kindred’s brains in revenge.” “Follow us if you dare, if you are of evil intent.” “Look you follower, a sharp drop off a cliff.” “Come with us enemies, we will keep ourselves safe by leading you, come, come, come.” They softly spookily chant, chant.
They come to trade. First. They come to work. They drag and dodge and massively bundled tree trunks dodge and slide and drag; behind, in front, by sides. They, harnessed, bring the wood they need.
They pile and build and burn and create charcoal, here in the flatter lands of warmer ways.
They bring the wood they need. They pile and build and burn and collect; resinous flowings. Twenty two trees for every trunk needed for wood work.
There had been a huge shadow behind each one of these shamanic nomadic visitations as they traversed down the steep sides in their ancient ways here in Gudvangen; with poles under arms they steered huge mountains to down here, to bring us furs.
There is, before they disappear for winter’s hard of hardest times, a trade, a final trade.
What can we give them worth their trading, worth their skills, worth their service?
They have charcoal for their forging, resin for their building, praise and thanks for their service to us. They have worked well high above and have aplenty.
The crunch and the green and the fruiting of the lower lands. We have lived a summer; they have lived a harshness.
We have a year’s worth of preserves for them. Some still fresh too. Some in sealed leather.
Food up there freezes, here it ferments, when buried (gravved) we dig for them and they guzzle like it is fresh; they chant and then eat more.
Have we a feast for them. “Come join us.” “Come feast”
“Talk of fermented, here is brew you yearn.”
High nethers never yielded such dairy. Milk; they glug. Yogurt with honey they laugh and laugh with joy. This is a feast of many things, the largest of which is joy. Joy.
We have pledges to renew and enjoin.
Then there are bounteous gifts. You from the high lands have done us so much. You are promising so much. We will be united in the blessing of the land which the Vanadís have renewed. We shall be united in the pledged of promise to these Dís. One of you, one of us, will agree to go.
We have a yield to share amongst our two types of humans and a yield to share from our world to another world; the world of Dís. We commemorate this as promise. This is an eternal gift and true true all-world promise.
Boots we have. Bounteous harvest too. Much-folded swords. Treasures; Coptic and Islamic. Gold in bent shapes, and coins. Coins with many pictures amongst them. Jasper. Jade even. Dying materials gathered for this trade. They ‘yeep’ at the colours they can make. They almost wee at the thought.
We give them arched strong bows.
We cry now for they return the wool we shared. We have a holy gift for them we have held back, held back. Here first is the return. Wool. Uncarded it went and spun it returns. The Sami they spin.
They sit and they spin. They walk and they spin. They talk and they spin. They ride and they spin. They spin.
Them Sami can spin,
We have bounteous return for them. We have worked hard over the years, over the seasons two results. One for us. One for them. We own, we have a result from our shared spinning. We have to give… A blanket.
Thus is the strength of our gift.
It will be spring-time and gone by you know this yet here is the winter gathering. The fire. The mjord. The time of tellings. Of sharings. “We gather now and hear,” declares Poppa la Princesse Une fois.
“Let me tell you of a clear blue sky,” our Sami friend now relates, “and then of a terrible sudden downpour; from an empty sky it came, till in a blink, well everything was soaked and covered. Then the strange thing happened. In that instant out of the warm blue it froze. Everything frozen. A bush, the rocky mountain side, for I was not quite at the top. The stream, the moss upon the stone. Everything was silver. Completely silver. Even myself; I had to shake, twist, to break free from it and drop thin sheets down upon the ground. In the time it takes for chick to hatch it was gone and everything was wet and damp. The sky was just as blue and clear as ever”.
“I have been down below there, nearer the dim waters – in the almost always dark,” relates Finley Mac with his woman by his side, “As we sailed out I saw things, well, a thing; it was big and it climbed. It climbed so far then it leapt. As slopes turned to crags it needed to leap to gain purchase, but all of this was fast, very fast indeed. I don’t want to know what I think it was, I don’t want to hear myself say it aloud, but it was grey, it had long arms, long legs, a big knobbly head. I almost wish I hadn’t told you”.
“Indeed, it was huge…bigger than a tree and then it climbed in no time,” Linnea-Ingeborg whispers, “Hundreds of feet it jumped and he told me late one night in the sleepless dark how he saw the space between land and sky where the dark bulk left the ground…”
“There was something on the way back,” says Olafr-Andreas whilst staring outward.
“Who looked out, we were sinking!” wonders Frederick Steinsson.
“No there was something.”
A few listening shudder and quietly groan; they were obviously looking too.
“It had wings,” continues Olafr-Andreas, “No it was wings; wings of shadow, yet with strength. There was nothing else though. Just the wings. They were slow and strong and ponderous, and they were close to the steep stone sides; low over the water. Travelling forever.” “Wings.”
“There was something else terrible travelling back with us!” outbursts Kjell-Toffe, “A man in a skirt!”
“It is a kilt”, proclaims Collum McCull.
“Well, you are from the far north, even norther than the north lands; just below the ice,” spells out Johnson.
“You are Pictish,” points out Patrick.
“It is better than Elvish!” chips in Myrull-Ylva.
“Or silky!” remembers Olve-Daan.
“Or from the realms of rain, begorra,” winks Ragnhild.
“We renamed your Pictish land after us doon forget; Land of the Scots, doon forget that means Irish,” laughs Blathnaid-Brigid.
“Irish? Eh, O, OH, Aye?” laughs Collum McCull.
“Ah yes the land of little men and rainbows,” adds Lars-Eirik.
“The place where the women came from!” Blathnaid-Brigid interjects, “The scribes”.
“That is another story,” adds Add ri An.
“Hex yer, hush noo, ahn look yee tiv the skirt of the monn will yeee,” winked Inga-Idun.
“Take the blame you sailors of all Viks,” declares Hin-Mann, “All the north and all the northern lands are of the Viking in ouradays, look not to stilltocomeadays or longgoneadays I ask you to awaken promptly. All is Norse, deal with it”.
“Kjilt inne Norske Yeh,” laughs Meretha-Silje, “Pleat the material. Look yeh at hoo affluent you look. You are a Viking if you are terribly proud.” “Aifter you.” “Aifter you.” “What yer doing pushin in yer grunta?!”
I heard the dying words of Atle, “it started here”.
“Eermm ok… once upon a time”, starts Björk-Mari, “there was a very commanding Viking chieftain named Hrollr. His village was very powerful and other chieftain would travel from afar to pay his respects in the hope that Hrollr and his army wouldn’t wage war upon them. They would bring Hrollr their most prized treasures from raids from all over the world! One day, a Scottish chieftain by the name Glnockie came to visit and he brought with him the most exquisite wool from the Highlands. Hrollr was mighty impressed with the quality and beauty of the tartan and ordered his most prestigious seamstress, Njaela to stitch together a tunic that he was going to wear during a blot and in honour of Glnockie.
Njaela was ecstatic at such honour bestowed upon her and immediately began cutting the fabric, despite it being dark – so she sat down by the fire and began her work. As she was almost finished, a tiny spark from the fire caught the fabric and in front of her eyes, half of the tartan vanished before her. She knew that the chieftain would certainly have her blood-eagled for this, so she called upon Loki to help her.
Loki had travelled far and wide in his eagle-guise and had seen many strange things however, he quite fancied seeing the two chieftains at war so he began telling Njaela a tale of how the most powerful warriors in all of Midgard wore “half skirts”. Thinking that this would surely impress the chieftains, Njaela began sewing a “half skirt” and added, bedazzled it, with jewellery and a bag with the most beautiful hide she could find.
The next day, her chieftain, Hrollr, called upon her and asked her to show him the tunic. When he saw the “half shirt” he almost exploded from rage until Njaela was able to explain to him that all the greatest warriors that Loki had seen in Midgard, wore those but that this one was the most exquisite of them all. Upon hearing this, the chieftain put it on and entered the feast, presenting his “half skirt” to Glnockie.
Glnockie was so impressed by the “half skirt” that he immediately asked Njaela to make him one too – which she of course did! Upon arriving back to the Highlands, Chieftain Glnockie became a fashion icon and all the clans in the land followed suit.
The Vikings however, quickly discovered that the cold didn’t agree with the half skirts, so the trend never really caught on here.”
“Or so it is told.”
“I came here from even farther away,” tells Bjorn-Ole, “My family were traders and travellers so I was born and bred upon the road and have never seen my homeland. I learnt of the letters though, and so I have written. I sent my ancients letters in a message to be sent to my grandparents in our faraway land”.
“Ah yes I have seen those pictures that you write which are like complicated runes,” adds Nils-Harold.
“They are our letters. I dimly remember how it is done from being a child and Add ri An commanded that I should send word. I will never be able to visit as it is so far away and I am a Viking now. If I could visit I would take sore eyes to my grandparents, but as it is I have sent the letters at the command of the Skald. He said I should say that they could congratulate me on being a good soul who knows their own path and is strong. I told him (didn’t I Add ri An) that I would be too blushed to say so even in writings. Yet he commanded it and Blathnaid-Brigid she also insisted that it be so. Mind you she also suggested I ask them to send us some silk!”
“Let the truth be known at your homes Add ri An told me and I admitted that his command was my command (‘Wise old man that you are,’ I added with a wink)”
“Hahaha he agreed reluctantly what a great honest skilled respected wise man he is who is strong and we are proud of. and he eventually agreed to say. Ah no come to think the wise bit was about me,” laughs Add ri An, “Say that a wise man said, that’s me. He promised.”
“What a noble errand indeed,” is the final word of Blathnaid-Brigid.
“Eh, it’s a good yarn,” smiles Teresa-Linn.
“I recall that when I came here I asked what the white stuff was on the tops of the mountains and now I am sending word of how well I am thought of here.”
“Your grandparents will have sore eyes,” adds Lis-Ravn..
“Wood-smoke fills us, fills this place, it will clear it will clear.”
“Tears are smoke,” acknowledges Tyra av Rafnsblõt.
“Tears are smoke and a sea trip will cheer us,” states Linnea-Ingeborg..
We sleep and as we wake we see the distant Sami climbing. These creatures are fond of welcome; fearful of a goodbye.
So, after feast leftovers are filling us to break our short sleep fast we recall the pledge of line and net to cast.
To net and line and catch and gut and clean and work together.
“A fishing trip, a boat outing, a pleasure to cruise among the fjord walls which in places never feel the step of man,” announces Linnea-Ingeborg.
“Lars-Eirik claims to be the only human to have stepped ashore at every one, (he does fish from his dugout often),” laughs Loke-Daan.
“Pale skins may have stepped there, but often it is as if my feet are the first ever human feet to stand a being tall upon these hidden inner lands, yes,” says Lars-Eirik.
Skirts are held. Arms are held. Ship bows are held.
And tensions, as we gaily step, are released.
This is a ship trip.
The waves skip.
More coming in than river ripples outwards. They bring a mix of clemency.
And we are ripping out.
A turnabout, we feel the drift, the tide within the turn within the burn; is going out. We row anyway. Sails in fjord waters are for gentle sessions or sheer emergency. We seek wider pass where half-rig will tender bob us on. While we sojourn.
Light twinkling on the facets of the stone sides gives a promise of spring,
“And while we idle,” muses the Johnson, “let me intrigue with a riddle…”
“Ooo yes we like a puzzle,” enthuses Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt.
I am your ally on the hunt
But do not walk with me
Lest I be warning to your quarry
Eye glaze and there is quiet for a while.
Others will think longer.
“I shall tell my tale,” says Bjarki, “For this journey reminds me of many,” he says as he sits and spins.
“I went to Hildrgard, beautiful Hildrgard,” he glances fleeting to the side, “and I told her – I had made a lock and attached it to my dwelling at the other side of the by, then I untied the key from my belt and offered it to her.”
“He clearly was asking me to move in with him,” chips in Hildrgard from her rowing perch.
“But you wouldn’t would you.”
“I moved in,” she added, “I said I wouldn’t be with you because you had nothing.”
“I cannot help being an orphan; a victim of chance, war and plague.”
In a stirring of mail across towards the prow T’or-Gunlodd asides, “Balder wasn’t there for you was he.”
“No T’or-Gunlodd there was no sense of family for me,” agrees Bjarki
“Never-the-less,” states Hildrgard, “your uncle left you the house, the small house. The blacksmith Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt taught you how to make the lock and you still owed her for the iron, not to mention for the lesson.”
“I pledged to pay the blacksmith in the same way I pledged to pay you; a future promise.”
“I wondered how you could ever repay of an equal value to such pledges. Then I learned you had arranged to go Viking.”
“So Hildrgard, you arranged to move in.”
“I agreed to move in on my own, then, when you returned, if you didn’t return dead, I would let you in if you brought treasure.”
Bjarki turns to the crew, “I came back with nothing. Nothing but an agreement to go again.”
“That wasn’t good enough, but I did admire your determination. I couldn’t agree to anything until after your return as you had no skills.”
“I used to watch my mother spin.”
“And on this ship, I asked him, there are times when you just sit?”
“Yes, yes.” Bjarki eagerly nods as if still in that moment.
“Then, I said, take this wool and this spinner and then we will see.”
“Few of us returned alive, all of us with nothing.”
“Except you, you returned with sacks of yarn. It was nearly enough for me to let you in, but not quite.”
“Then you had another idea, and I had planned another adventure.”
“I asked, when you are in foreign lands, do you sometimes sit by a fire? You said you did so, so I said, if you return and you have dyed this yarn I will accept.”
Bjarki looked proud, “I returned with blood-red yarn…”
“And treasure as well my love.”
“Armour and two swords!” beamed Bjarki.
“I made those.”
“And now you are my beloved Bjarki Famed Fletcher.”
“And father of three!” grins Bjarki.
“I am looking forward to the goat hunt in the spring,” smiles Tove-Marie.
“I less so.”
“Why would that be Add ri An?”
“I clambered the old path by the Galda Cave and through the forest came a whole pack of wolves. They were running, running wild for the sake of it. They brushed right past me. One stopped, she was a large silver-grey she-wolf. She hissed breath in and out of her teeth and it sounded like, “Rieka Sølvulven runs with wolfs,” and then they were gone.
Among the very mixed reactions is a sharp intake of breath everyone looks round, they are relieved to look away from Add ri An.
Olafr-Andreas speaks, “As I was about to die upon that tied battle ground at sea I saw a shadow of that famed she-wolf and the tide turned – the tide of the battle that is – I heard the shadow as it fell upon him say, May you feel the burning of a thousand suns as they rise at one upon you. And then I stabbed”.
The eerie silence is broken, “Perhaps once the returned ship is repaired it will be time to build another,” suggests Leif-Lasse.
Myrull-Ylva speaks, “This can be a good opportunity to be a fighter Viking for a big and rich chieftain. Maybe he will allow me to go to Gardariket also. Then I will fight for the big sultans and be rich me too. And then, I can go wherever I want after that. And get my own army of ships and Vikings. I can see me standing there with the big kings and chieftains, with sword of the best blacksmith in our known world.”
“I am a big rich chieftain,” proclaims Freyr-An’ersh.
Happy laughter bursts from all.
“Back to enjoying the boat trip,” Linnea-Ingeborg.
“We are not doing much fishing,” adds Poppa-Varg.
They all laugh and look around.
As the boat gently bobs, their chieftain Freyr-An’ersh adds, “It is enough to know we have worked so hard. That we have enough of everything. To be thankful to those who gave. We move onward in our town in happiness they earned for us. Parties are not the only way to happy. Nor are stories. We are a story. We are taking a boat trip and it is fulfilling. While there is light enough.
Take time to feel the bobbing of the rhythms.”
Poppa-Volva chips in, “Oh look it is time to turn back!”
“And so we return to sleep till spring,” adds Thorfinn Asmundsson.
“Ha you wish,” musters Tyra av Rafnsblõt, “This is when the work starts”
“Oh I long for spring,” sighs Blathnaid-Brigid, “Where I am pleased to know we will witness little miracles growing all around. I am sure we will, I am sure we will, and am so very excited.”
Footnotes and Credits
The element of the story where one ship props up another in a fjord rescue is based upon the real-life memories of my sister-Norn Sigrun watching out for family members returning upon a fishing vessel; hers is an extremely moving tale to hear.
Thank you to my chieftain Georg for the story of the dragon head and the Vanadís.
The traumatic effects of burning the fruiting juniper branch come from the book Legal Highs.
The riddle is the first of a few I shall feature and come from a small book of Vikingesque riddles by highly skilled bone-worker Peter Merrett (and I am sure many of you will wish to add comments below).
Thanks to my good friend Grethe-Irene for her tale of the warrior Viking.
The natural phenomenon of the ice rain in the Rockford area was brought to me by my niece.
Thanks go to Judson, Atle and Holly for discussions on kilts.
My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time III
I am already there, stood between Patrick and Bjork-Mari, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.
My Gudvangen Dream Life III sees me already in the Viking-style life ahead of me in Gudvangen where I will be living (and blogging) as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway. Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.
NB The fictitious names are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.
PS The innocent will be protected until the group decides upon going to war. (The time is now.)
PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there).
In the mist-morning when the thumps of white are so dramatic forming shapes balanced in the air; blink and the solid realness of it is, over there. It was here. It was this shape. It is, *blink*, up the mountain, down the path, here in the garden.
It is morning I think.
I still hear trees creak. Waterfalls thrum. Even shadows cast an echo.
And this is war. Today we shall go to war.
We wake for war.
The thick lamb broth of the yesterday is still warm we won through there.
Breakfast is thick and fast and hot. The breath steams.
We do not wish to have to tell you how to feel but a raven flies in.
Siw-Alfadis thinks they see a raven out to sea coming this way.
“It can’t be a raven,” says Olafr-Andreas, “that’s an omen”.
“And a myth,” rejoins Blathnaid-Brigid.
“Do not say Odin’s ravens are a myth,” gleams Siw-Alfadis, “for the two ravens watch us”.
“Not the two ravens,” recounters the Irish born maiden, “the three”.
“The three, the three, the holy three,” dances Janne-Annhja.
“We are before your holy ghost and the Draugen still climb from the sea in fear of Ran and her nine waves,” Bjork-Mari leans seriously forward fixing the eye.
“It is the nine,” intones Siw-Alfadis.
“The nine,” is the stern echo from Teresa-Linn.
“The nine,” we all confirm in solemn depth.
“The nine!” a thin voice cries, and a nine-pointed star shoots from the hand of Bjorn-Ole into a doll hung upon our sacred dressed tree.
We all laugh at the leap and throw, of the far-travelled adopted one who took a name and life in service, “Nine not three”.
“Two not three for that is the number of the ravens,” claims Blathnaid-Brigid, “The stories they tell us of the ravens”.
“I know of the three ravens for I am from the new lands where they still tell the old tales.” Johnson doesn’t rise for his scraping-sheet is upon his knee and the sharps hurt the feet of the one to follow there where they fall.
“Wise is the chap who cages three ravens. For such a karr will have their guidance. When one has sailed beyond the fjords and heads out south…”
“No, no, one should never leave the fjords”, proclaims Tor-Gunlodd, “Yes, I know Bjorn-Ole is from far away but that was over land; I know Blathnaid-Brigid is across the seas, but surely just in sight and not that far, for all she is a Celt.
“There are lands a year from here and many drown who seek to come from there and many more who seek to leave here,” insists Johnson.
“To be sure you are all wrong, wrong for there are words of marvellous lands far far beyond the lands of my home, beyond the green. Magical lands we can never enter at all at all at all”.
“You stop it too Blathnaid-Brigid,” scolds Freyr-Anders with a smile, “Well just for now sweet wild thing. Let us hear of the ravens of Jorvik”.
“Not of my lands at all,” says Johnson.
“Not at all at all at all at all,” chips in Patrick.
“Stop it I said,” laughs our Chieftain.
“Not of my lands, not of the lands of ice, or the further lands of ice which lie to us by saying they are green.”
“Send you poor farmers to Ireland and you rich sons to Jorvik we know we know we know,” says Patrick.
“No there are further lands.”
The circle hush.
“How dare one say such a thing,” queries Frode-T’or.
“There are the old tales,” whispers Tone-Irene.
“They sailed,” says Johnson, “or so it says, the word. Take three land birds of the feather dark with you and guard them well. After a few days let one go. It will wing back to where you came from and you know you will still have far to go.
Let out the second later and there is still no land, it circles. You know you have come so far. It settles on the mast. There is no land for it to fly to. A few days of hopeful sailing later you let go the third. Oh how we rejoice, it flies forward. It smells the land, a new land and new place, a new found land”.
“This is where I say the tales are wrong, you don’t need three,” stands Blathnaid-Brigid, “The one on the mast would smell the land ahead and fly forward. All you had to do was feed it now and then, to keep up its energy, and it would fly. You don’t need the third”.
“So it is with all stories,” wonders Leif-Lasse.
A raven lands at their feet.
Siw-Alfadis looks down with a slight tremor of the face, “Methinks this was the blink of dark of shadowed sky I spied a while back flying in, it traversed the walls of high stone over fjord waters and I say it came from sea; it is an omen.” She turns to look at us.
“A warning,” agrees a serious-faced Bjork-Mari.
“The enemy are coming,” resolutely Frode-T’or states.
“See how it pecks of the remains of another bird which died, the entrails of a smaller thing are no longer on the wing yet take shape,” says fixated Siw-Alfadis.
“Ooooooh, oooooh,” shamanic-like Linnea-Ingeborg foresees, “Raven is a warning as it flicks at guts of littler dead thing. It says they, the unknown, sail this way”.
“The enemy,” repeats Bork-Mari.
“Yes, yes, yes – Prepare for war!” cries Lars-Eirik.
“Visitors come, stands Freyr-Anders, “it is true, but from within the lands they come to see. To see how we live and eat and fayre.”
“Then let us go about our lives,” says Brinhild as she starts to walk.
The sweat lodge beckons.
“I have kept great stones hot,” quiet Kjell-Toffe guides.
Clothes are falling as we walk behind him.
Behind the blacksmith’s near lowered bathing bank an entrance beckons. Before this leathered structure a fire; it burns long and slow and all since yesterday. Broad, lasting, logs, so slow are cossetting the dampened stones. Huge stones. They are dry now, hot, extremely hot; long strong poles await.
We do not follow commands from Krell-Toffe, in words; in strong actions, he leads, we follow. An arm jerks here, and stern look there, we follow. Grasping those poles and as with his poised strength we bolster, lean and slowly keen the stone from burn. They roll at last the stones. Bigger than a sheep, heavier that our heaviest man. Kjell-Toffe heaves now and we follow lead. The stones lead on and roll into the delve, they roll right within the lodge.
We dug here, set stakes around the shape of egg and laid damp wood shapes around the curve. The bending of the stakes a roof formed to leather clad. A carving of the centre forms a station for the in-rolling stones. They roll there now.
We are naked and we form a shape of egg around as we sit. The stakes above are clothed. The tent hut of skins surrounds and darkens. A leather kettle is dipped into and a churn of water dampens stones. The effect is immense. We are bathed. We are boiled. We are cleaned. We are naked. We are babes. We are calmed and quietened.
Gradually we share out quiet thoughts.
“So when the war comes, who will wield what? Wonders Frode-T’or.
By we leave we are battle ready.
The visitor they did come.
They sit upon banks and await amusement.
“Welcome but stay safe,” in our language and their own calls the statuesque Tone-Irene.
“Yes stay back and stay safe,” repeats Bjorn-Ole in our words and then in his mother tongue, “for one of you could be my mother”
Youths and maidens refresh them.
Our great chieftain Freyr-Anders seeks to quieten them. They see. They see into his beautiful dark eyes, he raises an arm. Then. Upon his hand lands. A raven.
From the sea another one. We turn to run.
We turn to run for arms.
For look, see sails.
They are close. The harbour they can have. Too late to set the fire lines. The harbour they can have. Their ships can land.
Those who ran far and fast now return with arms.
We stand between the boat houses, between the high fences.
Bjorn-Ole the far-child trade-swap from a land of silk he says he is not of the size to wield a shield or long long spear; as they near he lifts his chosen weapon from his ancestry, a slender spear-shaft he has crafted to a slim long curve-sided blade. “Stand in your lines, with this I raise.”
“I too have slashing blade,” our chieftain proclaims, and it is raised. “From a king of long gone.
This is my king blade, but I will take a shield.” A shield so large it rests upon the floor, he reaches over, wielding slashing blade and hopes for war.
Upon his head the helm of boar.
A wildness over comes us.
“Take up your stand of arms and form a line,” he commands.
Johnson of the madness still has no clothes. He takes a shield and axe and says his head is dead and he will surely soon be, “Let it be a glory morning”. His skin is blue.
Nils-Harold wears fur, I need no shield but I will bare upon command. “With this blue board and this sharp steal I stand here. Rooooar!”
Brinhild will not stand with shield. “And I too frail,” states Ingerlill-Nairaa, “so we will stand at spear”.
“I stand nearer,” cries the tall strong blond Tone-Irene and takes a shield and large axe.
Thirteen stand at front; fifteen behind.
Axe and flat of sword are banged at shield, “Ooooodin”. Feet are stamped in surety, “Ooooodin”.
“Come on invaders.”
“Come on in, if you can.”
Bang bang – Bang bang.
They land, unboard, do not take a charging course.
They disembark some more.
“They, have horses,” spies Inga-Idunn.
Mounting now they ride this way.
Behind us children cry.
Smokes fly wisping hints of home at us.
We are firm and fierce and yet afeared.
“We die today!”
Tone-Irene, Lars-Eirik, Kjell-Toffe, Siw-Alfadis, Olafr-Andreas, Patrick, Lief-Lasse and Nils-Harold form to either side of the chieftain; his wall of blonde strength. Fire and raven-haired fill the ends.
Behind them fourteen take up long spear, they raise, they place a foot upon the base and lower slowly to shield bearer’s free shoulder.
Man and horse is each like a single monstrous beast, long shining claw of steel once waved is set back in sheath. As they ride a bow is lifted from side. They charge up close.
The long spears run in until each wielder is right behind their shield-bearer.
The horsemen stop just short of spear heads; their arrows fly.
Beaded jewellery shatters as Inga-Idun drops stiffly backward, Kjell-Toffe screams as chain links of shoulder shred and redden, and in the centre, the dead centre, an armour piecing arrow splits the largest shield and chieftain cries; pinned to shield and propped there while a pool forms round his boots.
His shield wall freezes in dread and are falsely cheered, are fooled enough to rally, by, the dying words of Freyr-Anders, “We stand and fight”.
The enemy reach for a second arrow. A stone is hurled, the central rider is now faceless under helm.
As Bjorn-Ole switches back to his curved blade-stick rest of riders turn and flee.
Only to re-group, draw hand weapons and charge.
Long spears laying flat to the ground, as the horses near are suddenly raised.
They stop in time, all but one. Tove-Maria hits home., the rider dies, the horse twists. Tove-Marie sets both feet but she is dragged, gripping every slip. She is through her fellow fighter’s wall and in the middle of the field.
At last she lets go as a dozen arrows fill her young frame.
They turn and ride upon us once again. As spears raise you can see they pull back; a false charge: except for two they increase in speed – an axe in one hand a smaller axe in the other. The long spears stop their beasts the riders release. Dead horses stop in their tracks, riders fly on. Through the air they go, swinging down with their axes, hitting shield tops as they arc down. Two shields, one on each side of the chieftain, are pulled forward and two of us are now bereft of shield. These two of us are crushed by flying warrior; Siw-Alfadis and Lars-Eirik are broken.
As one axe -man swings into the thigh of Janne-Annhja, Bjorn-Ole pierces him with his slashing stick. Janne-Annhja, close to death, snatches the curved sword of her up-propped chieftain. Freyr-Anders, (thus realising he is dead and held in place by arrow through shield), and in the moment of her own dying kills the second axe-man; she has time for last words, “Our chieftain…..”
Two figures dash screaming through the shield wall, one naked-blue one draped in furs, out into the field; Nils-Harold and The Johnson pull down three from horse back to kill them before being stripped of life themselves.
Jan-Robert and Brinhild take up fallen shields; the wall still full. They may not hold for long the full charge is racing in. Our six remaining spears are raised, and hit! Each has boot against the base and their long spears as levers lift the enemy to the sky.
A heavy screech of noise and impossible flight of thrashing limbs hovers momentarily, for the soon to die below – it darkens.
The many are dead, it is like a new dawn for the stunned laid around, then one horse pitifully tries to rise.
All remaining horses run, in search of goat path, a few take riders with them.
Two are sliced into by high leap from silk-road child Bjorn-Ole before another makes him into two.
Patrick lifts his defence rune shield, “A last stance.”
When Bjork-Mari sees they run to the fire she understands and follows too.
Not the youngest of our fighters survive, but the biggest, strongest, most experienced do; Kjell-Toffe, Olafr-Andreas and Loke-Daan run to Patrick’s call and in a circle facing outwards with two weapons each foresee one last fight.
Bjork-Mari follows the lead of the other women by taking up a firebrand; she runs after Linnea-Ingaborg to stand on harbour, torches high.
The last mob of axe men angered, mad, encircle our small group and weapons clash.
Three torches high, “Leave us with no further fight or see ships burn”.
“Fight on, fight on!”
Ingerlill-Nairaa leads the women now, “Then let this burn”. Torches tip into the nearest ship as warrior smites at warrior.
The ship bursts faster, higher, than expected igniting our unused defence; the fire-lines. The harbour burns.
Three women aflame are falling, screaming, drowning, gone.
The flames race on, backwards to the way of their plan. Right back to boat houses bursting everything in flames. The boat house each, the warring parties each in one mad burn.
All are dead, the city falls. Nothing is left. Amid the blackened field the figure of the dead chieftain grimly stands.
All are dead, the end. Dream-time recollections end.
And in the sweat-lodge I, Add-ri-An, awakens. Gentle noises all around. I run out of the hot dark to look upon the field of death.
Within this dream the tourists on the bank stare on, awaiting spectacle. The boathouses and the harbour pristine stand.
Snoring from behind me makes me realise my comrades slumber on, and it is all a dream – a dream within a dream.
A raven lands.
The chieftain joins me and raises arm, a second raven lands upon his hand.
“An omen,” Siw-Alfadis joins them.
“The enemy,” calls Bjork-Mari.
There in sight on fjord water sail in ships; the ships of war are coming here.
The wild blonde shield wall forms, the sides are filled. The long spears lay upon their shoulders.
From the ships come foreign axe men, they lead off horses. They mount and form a massing line.
Our chieftain steps forward to the centre of our shield wall to address one and all, perhaps for one last time, “I, Freyr-Anders, chieftain of Gudvangen,” he raises his sharp curved sword, “I bid you,” we all can see the shine in those darkly commanding eyes, “Welcome! Welcome, welcome, welcome.”
How the horse men laugh and ride about us grasping raised arm after raised arm as they slowly pass. Kjell-Toffe and Inga-Idun are each clasped by arm by riders, who firmly grip and swing. Then suddenly their two lead figures have a standing friend upon the horse with them. Kjell-Toffe and Inga-Idun arms in air stand as their mounts encircle, echoing words of our great chieftain, “Welcome, welcome.”
My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time II
I am already there, stood beside Bjorn-Ole, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.
My Gudvangen Dream Life II sees me already in the Viking-style life ahead of me in Gudvangen where I will be living (and blogging) as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway. Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.
NB The fictitious names are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.
PS The innocent will be protected until the group decides upon going to war.
PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there).
We sun-down sat and shared our thoughts and sometimes-news. We brewed this filling of the horn which refreshes when tipped. We clink and watch the fjord walls as shadows fall. “It is alright to compost guys.”
We are greeted by this as we clink because time is fluid here; both in the moment and within the greater context. We are living Viking-style.
As perfectly as maybe, research however nods its head in the far ahead in when we came from. ‘It’s alright to compost.’
We have gardened and consulted, learned and conferred. In the dream-time reality of a future T’or-Gunlodd relates how a Culinary Archaeologist tells of little gardens; hut-side herbals: Vegetables adjacent and the soil was different. The soil was different.
We pledge, as of tomorrow, to start a compost heap.
We start now in celebration to mark the storage spot by standing there to relieve, (Tove-Marie squats higher up the bank), “Aaaaaaaaah,” sighs Bjorn-Ole for all of us.
Jan-Robert makes a ritual of this by his jocular ritual statement, “We moisten this pit for future growth and state the place to heap”.
As for what they determined was growing in that rediscovered composted hut-side little garden; it was turnip. We will not grow those. (‘Call them turnip, swede, kohlrabi what you will, no’, says Olve-Jeppe.)
This Viking-style reality would be just a bit too gritty a reality if all we had to eat was turnips.
Eel, we are excited about. (Lars-Eirik and T’or-Gunlodd are the most excited and early rising on this.) Eels we want, and other hunter’s produce brought to us. We will make a stew of pine tips once we are made sure of safe types by Tone-Irene.
For this homely garden though we will start with Olve-Jeppe’s herbal plants.
I am already there, stood beside Bjorn-Ole, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.
My tribal associates don’t seem to mind bees, (a part of their modern minds tells them there should be more of them), but not wasps. We run in fear of these. Well, most of us, I don’t. I watch as they jump and dash with hands fast flourishing.
“You must be mad”, Olafr-Andreas sternly tells me, “or not from here.” he laughs.
“How could I be the Skald and not know about the death of Fearie?”
“The death of Fairy?”
“Of all the Fey; the world of Fearie.”
Nobody believed in them anymore so they dwindled.
I do not believe this myself because I still believe in them and often see them, as does Tone-Irene.
Not enough believed in the long-ago though and all Fearie dwindled badly, especially the little cute gossamer-winged stereotypical ones. Gone. Dead.
Or as good as dead.
Their spirit moved on. Lived on. Befitting their wishes went on. Went into another creature.
Every reader knows what is coming next.
Whenever you see a wasp you are seeing what once was a fairy.
Every morning a pretty little fairy gently wakes. He / she is so so glad to be alive, so happy, quite giddy, excited; Oh sweet plans to fly around and frolic. Maybe paint some pansies, have a dance, – Oh how happy to be a fairy. Wait, there is no longer such a place as faerie. There are no longer fairies. What is this thing I am! It suddenly realises it cannot do any of those things it planned. Not a fairy, no – A wasp – Oh it is very angry.
Very, very, angry, always will be – that is why they sting.
This all may be a dream but I don’t make stuff up, I hear it from the eons since of old tales.
Kjell-Toffe the rock breaker returns from rolling giant stones into the sweat-lodge. Newly built, it is for him and Lis-Ravn to try it first. We all shall try it in a future dream-time. For now it is the place of the lovers to explore.
As moon-shone silverfish entwine they are star-struck, with their love moments living on in the vividness of all their neighbour’s knowledge, dreams and imagination. Oh how they love.
The faces in the fjord walls change at night, Blathnaid-Brigid tells us. Things appear which were not there at day. The faces become quite stern and angry in the winter time, but now they are just a little more mischievous. There are caves up there that haven’t been up there before.
Loke-Daan tells us there is a path up that steep side; the goat-herder’s path, but most of us would rather not try it. As he drops his heavy load of chopped logs besides the slowing embers he agrees that we are all probably best staying right here this evening.
Tove-Marie finds the driest and slimmest of the logs to rebuild the fire for supper-time and mentions the bounty in the sack she has besides her.
Brinhild opens her wicker back pack and with a proud smile opens a muslin wrap to show an enormous fish, “One of the local fishermen gave me it.”
Loke-Daan tells Add-ri-An he now knows what we are having for our well-earned supper
“More wine?” shouts out Siw-Alfadis.
No, his plans are for us all to share the huge fish given to us by the gods.
Tove-Marie jumps up from her task at the fireside, “You haven’t seen what I have yet.”
A leg from lamb still hung with tatters of smoked meat, the one left from the hanging Fenalår.
Loke-Daan comments, “You have had many visitors.” The leg of cured lamb which can also be cold smoked to add to its storage duration in these warmer climes of the southern half of this long thin nation, is hung at the tent flap ready to welcome callers.
Each passer by is welcomed to call for a slither of the chewy tasty meat.
“We have the bone now,” says bright blonde Siw-Alfadis raising her drinking horn in confirmation.
Which of these foods would the party rather have, the bone or fresh fish? It is decided to crack the bone and boil it. The thick dark broth will be very warming and filling. There will be more than enough for us all to feel full and still enough left for breakfast. Later there will be an attempt to build the charcoaled logs around it so it is still warm for breakfast, but that is a task which is not always won.
“What of the fish?” asks Linnea-Ingeborg, “The fat fresh fish”.
I will be delighted to leave it to rot,” exclaims Brinhild.
She shall make Grav Fisk.
It has been gutted to avoid expansion of the juices within and she has rewrapped it in the muslin. “I have a marker over there where the last fisk was buried. I shall bury it there for three months to rot.”
“Lovely” exclaims the whole camp at once.
The previous burial will be ready to dig up and we can dig that out in a few nights time.
Bones tonight, rotten fish at the end of the week, it is a rich time we have,” laughs Bjork-Mari.
So, we shall be digging up some of the older Grav Fisk in the next dreamtime as well as exploring the sweat-lodge and building a Viking Dream long ship, or at least starting upon it, or at least starting to plan for it.
I never imagined the darkness of this wooden house when I first dreamed myself here; in this night now of being here I never expected such a dread as there is – frozen to the edge of a bench bed. No sleep. No waking. No listening. I know the sounds are there and I know which beings reside in my mind.
It is morning. I am spinning from the bed and bouncing towards the new light. Hrimfaxi’s dew wetting my feet as I drop clothes down to the waist and drench myself in the mountain’s waters. They well back up naturally from this man-drilled hole. Dark depths echo in the torrent I bathe with. I am awake in this ancient life force like I never have been in wakefulness. Beings sent me these feelings and I am braver in a day.
I shall leave the embrace of being a Viking in the Viking hut in this Viking market in this Viking village in this Viking history. Leave the sense of becoming for a while and go dress up as a person. Adrian is going fishing, a strange mix I have planned of this dream in this moment. Not being a fisher before I have planned yes, for in the store back in the real Scarborough was a telescopic rod and reel which would fit in a suitcase easily; the collection of additions life-collected by my brother-in-law who has neither never fished either are with me in this adventure too. With thanks to him I pick up my knapsack.
I have walked this riverside path of the steep-walled fjord before in a realer reality and in this there was more light then than in imagined semi-anxious realities of now. Then I had walked high from the surface along cliff edges and looked down. There was a ripple in a circle as if a fish had jumped, this was a powerful ring however, it had a white water wave as a wall, ever growing across the waters, until the whole circular wave was as wide as the wide river itself. There was something large down there. There was somewhere very deep where something lived and breathed. There was a very real creature in here.
I headed there now, if one looks back at this point they see along the line of the slender river with its clearer shallower waters that feeds these deeps that there in this world and not so is the serpent being. It drifts in and out and weaves in and among and looks at me from its slow journey down wall-side way and knows I recall its visitation to my mind. When a winged serpent speaks inside your brain you recall well its words that I would be safe, safe within my very real fear; well-deserved fear would serve me well but I should not yield to it for I would return from my adventures with success in my heart. “Go young soul,” the wyrm bellows, “Go hunting deep.”
So it was that modern man me journeyed some way from sight of dwellings, away for sounds of morning, away from this dreamed up reality of Viking worlds and before anything of man could sail its large journey up these fjord waters I had them all to myself – and it was fearful.
Others have clambered down this narrow rocky cutting to be closer to the waters and others had seen the depths. I was in timelessness and sat upon a rock.
I decided to dredge-fish, this was a term I probably had dreamt up, but I wanted something big. I telescoped out my compact fishing rod for the first time and the line spun up along its length as it stretched and hung there ready. I drew out quite a length and fixed a sizable lead weight to the line. Then at the very end I tied a lure; a large plum creature of rubber with its curled barbed teeth of hooks – sizeable indeed. I was after something large. Something fat. For I had myself to feed and I had people to greet and welcome. For serpent whispers had foretold that I would return.
I held on to this prediction for the fears of my imagination were welling up from before time and threatening to become real for me.
I cast. There was a dull thrum as if Nidhogg’s entourage were driving the air with their wings. Ploop. The line was far from me and it drilled down. When I felt that it was at mid-depth I started to steadily wind. The strong weight held the line at this depth and the lure was moving.
There was movement, there was impeding darkness, it was a gloom of age and ancientness not of anything of difference between day or night. This was a thickening of the air a density of existence and I was engulfed.
Substantial silhouettes were forming in the drowning flow and things were coming up towards me. I felt a presence behind me. Huge stretched high-eared shapes were mixing around each other and lankily looking down towards me in awareness. Live stone was thumping the path and filling all senses. They were right behind me. The water broke.
Mantatee creatures were milling in the water, filling all space. In my mind they were climbing and changing as they rose out. Bellowing painfully to the ears and opening toothed maws these Draugen-beings were filling my awareness. The stone things pressed from behind. There was one short moment of life left to me in which both sides considered their actions and their reactions to each other when snap the rod twitched suddenly and dove downwards. Another reality of dream was with us; the catching of the fat thing from the depths.
I was alone in my battle, and battle it was, I feared I may lose the rod, or the fish at least.
I had to let it swim, let the reel spin. I slowed it, held it, reeled it, let it spin. I slowed it, held it, reeled it, let it spin. As I tired I felt the beast did.
Oh how the air burst as it was filled with fish. The thoughts of the presence of other beings was dispelled and I was along in a battle of death.
It was round and tall and fat and golden green in a pale sheen. Even its exhausted flips in the air were almost enough to pull me from the rock. I flipped back and it shot over the rocks to land in a hollow a mere rock away from the waters. Thrashing it was. With line still attached I dripped my rod to the bank and hurriedly put on my strong thick gloves.
I grasp its gill. My Njardar knife is in my hand and I stab downwards, the neck is pieced, I twist down and sever the head.
As I got the thing I consider using these remains for deeper fishing bait to catch an eel to later jelly. I decide this is for another journey.
Partway back along the ledge I think to stop and hide the thing. I return in Viking garb and travel back to the village with it hanging over my shoulder.
There is a crowd round as I fillet. Half is hung over the fire to smoke and the other two fillets are in a pan to cook.
Will there be more I am asked from the crowd. I tell them, as I also tell you, that yes. The bees crowd around my head and whisper darkly that I must share with you all again and tell you of bees and beings and life in the dream of being a Viking in a Viking hut in a Viking village.
I am fed up that everything I tile is collected by auto-chicken.
I realise now that my mistake was probably that I tried to type auto-check instead of auto-collect.
But it has been collected.
There is obviously a fault. At least with the auto-correct but possibly worse than that. So while we are stuck here I might as well carry on.
There’s the joke of the year from Edinburgh Fringe by Ken Cheng, “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”
Well, things were different before the changes.
A previous year Tim Vine won with “I sold my vacuum cleaner, well it was just gathering dust.”
My son in law Spee tells me that Norwegian ships have a bar code on the side so they can Scandinavian.
On to my new look with the curls.
Now that it has grown back the way it has I don’t remember what my hair was like before I had radiotherapy, but I am sure it didn’t make mature women giggle like girls.
One Direction, they went their separate ways.
Away from humour and on to poetry with this corker from Ralph Bear (thank you ever so)
Me pen and paper
Me sword in hand
Me march off to unknown lands
Me get me got
Godspeed I trot
Me pen and paper
Me sword in hand
Here’s my big lad who has hit the big time…
This popped up again recently, created by Olivia Jayne Newton. As a promotion for the first ever stage production I’ve been in.
And my dream:
I dreamed that in the olden days what people who had excess limbs did is they joned the navy. Navy surgeons are renowned for cutting off limbs so sooner or later it is bound to happen. Neville had three legs so he joined up and a couple of years later there was an incident and sure enough the surgeon sawed one of his legs off. So he was able to come home with two.
When Mervin, (who had five arms) saw him returning looking so well balanced he too decided to go away to the navy. Eight years he was there, then sure enough there was an incident and they sawed off one of his arms. Trouble was, they sawed off the right arm, which was the only one he had at that side and left the other four he had on the left side as they were.
There is a moral to this story, or at least there was a moral to it in the dream.
NASA announced lately that they had discovered a planet that could harbour life, but it couldn’t be guarenteed that there was intelligent life there; of course there is, who do they think built the harbour.
For any of you who haven’t heard, I was given the all clear last week.
Feedback on my Discworld Blog;
“And, oh my! what a joy to receive your narrative on and your utterly delightful drawings of the most marvellous place to be in in the entire Multiverse. (Tho’ I can’t help thinking your portrait of C.M.O.T. Dibbler is just a little too flattering; “unsavoury”, after all, is not just a word that applies literally to his wares, it also applies metaphorically to his person.)” Julie Speedie