Birds and their meaning in Nordic Folklore


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

Long before human beings had ever dreamed of entering the sky realm birds were considered to have otherworldly abilities letting them fly as messengers and communicators between heaven and earth. Birds became important as a way for humans to read signs from the spirit realm, and they were held in awe and even feared. Different birds communicated different warnings and auspicious messages.

The Raven


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

The raven is probably the bird with the most spiritual significance in the Nordic countries. The raven was Odin’s bird, or rather birds, he had two ravens, Hugin and Munin, who resided on his shoulders occasionally flying down to the earth realm to be Odin’s eyes on earth. The Norse people considered Raven feathers to be magical, they could among other things pick any lock, perhaps even the lock to someone’s heart.

Another Norse legend tells us of a small pebble that could be found in a raven’s nest, and if you could get hold of this pebble you could, by putting the pebble in our mouth, turn invisible. This pebble was especially sought after by warriors. But if you misused the pebble to do mischief you would be turned into an owl, the least auspicious birds according to the Norse belief, so it came with a fair warning to be used with extreme caution.

If two ravens were seen fighting while a wedding was taking place this warned of a bad marriage, and the wedding could be stopped. If a chieftain saw seven ravens fighting in the sky this meant that war was coming and he had to start preparing his warriors. These signs were taken seriously and followed, without question, by the Norsemen.

The Eagle


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

Another significant bird in the Norse symbolism was the eagle. The eagle in most cultures is a symbol of freedom and strength. To the Norsemen the eagle was even more significant. Odin, the king of gods, could turn himself into an eagle in order to fly to earth to drink the elixir of life that kept him immortal and forever young. So if you saw an eagle in the sky you could never really know if it really was Odin in disguise, and accordingly you were on your best behavior around eagles, trying to display honor, courage and bravery. The symbol of an eagle was therefor often used to inspire bravery in warriors.

The Cormorant


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

The Cormorant was, to the old Nordic people, the messenger between the “Folk of the Forest” and the humans. They brought warnings to people from the Folk, such as “danger is coming”, this the Cormorant demonstrated by unfolding their wings and holding them up in a protective gesture before the people the warning was meant for. This also gave them the status of being a protector. They could also warn the fishermen of bad fishing by flying against the boat when the men were on their way out to sea.

The Wood Grouse


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

The Wood Grouse was nicknamed the trollbird by the old Nordic people. The reason for this was that they thought the wood grouse actually was a troll woman turned into a bird. She was someone to be careful around because she could be unpredictable and moody, sometimes choosing to do good while other times she was full of mischief luring young men into the woods to seduce them and kidnap them. But if you found a feather of a wood grouse you were very lucky because it had healing properties, especially for “womanly” ailments.

The Swan


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

There is an old Norse legend that tells of the origin of the Nordic Lights. The legend states that there was a flock of seven swans who were too late to migrate and got stuck in the ice on a lake. Their frozen wings blazed over the sky and turned into beautiful green and blue lights. So whenever the Nordic Lights appeared on the sky it was the seven frozen swans fluttering their wings.

The Dipper


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

The Dipper is the Norwegian National bird, maybe because of its mystical past in the Norse culture. The Dipper, who spends most of its time on the ground near waterfalls, was in close contact with the underlings, the fey folk living underground. These underlings were considered to be hostile towards humans who tread on their homes, and the Dipper could plot with the underlings taking revenge of anyone who disturbed their nest or young ones. So the Dipper was a bird who were left alone and avoided at all cost.


Art by the Norwegian Fairytale artist Theodor Kittelsen.

As we can see, birds have a long and mystical history in the North. Most of it is now forgotten and just considered to be old superstition, but many people still swear by birds when it comes to telling the weather or whether or not the fishing is good. Birds do have a deep connection to nature and the elements, and can still be a valuable messengers and teachers when it comes to changes in nature. Besides, some claim that the symbolism around birds is still important today as it points to deeper truths about ourselves and about life.

What do you think?

An Old-Fashioned Norwegian Christmas

In Norway Christmas starts on what we call Little Christmas Eve, which is the 23rd of December. On that day most schools and offices are already closed. The celebrations start on Little Christmas Eve evening. When I was a little girl we would all, the whole family, gather together to decorate the Christmas tree, which was of course always a real Norway Spruce. My mother would fill the table with Christmas cookies and gløgg, which is spiced or mulled wine, with a non-alcoholic version for the kids made from blackcurrant juice.

Gløgg or Spiced Wine.

My brother and I would unwrap all the Christmas tree ornaments, and we would laugh and tell stories about the origin of each ornament. My mother would get a new Christmas tree ornament every year, a tradition I have kept up with now as an adult. My father was always the one to put the lights and the Christmas star on the tree. After we had decorated the tree we would each fetch the presents we had kept secretly hidden in our rooms and put under the tree. This was the most exciting part of the evening, especially for us kids. When the Christmas tree was ready and shining in all its glory close to the window (most Norwegians put their tree somewhere close to the window so that people can see it from outside. A very cozy thing to do, I think!) we would gather in front of the TV.

The Christmas Tree in my parents’ house.

Every year there is a special “The eve-before-the-Eve” program on TV featuring a special beloved skit at the end. My mother would serve us rice porridge with melted butter sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. We ate one bowl each and then we had to save the rest of the porridge for the next day when my mother would turn it into cold Rice Cream pudding with crushed strawberry sauce (strawberries picked from my granny’s garden last summer). The skit at the end of the program is the same every year, it is an old British black-and-white skit called “Dinner for one”. Little Christmas Eve is still not the same for me without it. Thank God, it is now available on YouTube!

A still from the skit “Dinner for one”.

The next day my brother and I would wake up to the smell of Christmas. To me that is the smell of pine needles, burning birch twigs in the fireplace, rutabaga mash, and lamb being boiled on twigs from the forest. Even after I became vegetarian at 11 years old, the smell of the slow-boiling lamb-on-sticks still instills the warm feeling of family Christmas in me.

Christmas Soda or Julebrus in Norwegian.

My brother and I would get up at 8 am to a wonderful Christmas breakfast spread consisting of Dutch cheese, potato salad, ham, scrambled eggs, fruit salad and smoked salmon. My mother always told us to eat well as she would not serve another meal until the evening. But we never really got hungry during the day anyway because we spent the rest of the day munching on marzipan, chocolates, Christmas cookies, doughnuts and gingerbread, washed down with what we call Christmas Soda in Norway, which is a kind of raspberry soda pop only available at Christmas time.

Most children in Norway spend the day watching Christmas cartoons on TV just waiting for the day to pass and the evening to arrive. My brother loved the vintage Disney cartoons, like Donald Duck and the snowball fight, Mickey Mouse in the Christmas carol, and Chip and Dale and the Christmas Tree. My favorites were “Three wishes for Cinderella”, a Czech film from the 1970s (I have reviewed this film here: https://talesfromthefairies.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/three-wishes-for-cinderella-tri-orisky-pro-popelku/) and the Norwegian classic “The journey to the Christmas Star” (This is a review of the newer version of this film https://talesfromthefairies.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/journey-to-the-christmas-star-reisen-til-julestjerna/ ).

Our local Church in the forest.

My family never really went to Church as I was raised in an Atheist family, but I developed the habit myself when I was a little older. I mostly went so that I could sing the Christmas carols and get in the Christmas spirit. Our local Church is only 3 minutes’ walk away from my parents’ house. It is located inside a forest. The Church would have three services as there were just too many people to manage with just one. I used to go to the service around 2 pm. Sometimes my granny would accompany me.

The Silver Boys or Sølvguttene in Norwegian.

5 pm is the official Christmas time in Norway. That is when the Church Bells will “chime the Christmas in” as we say in Norway. I would always open all the windows so that the beautiful sound of the bells would fill the house. This was not always so popular as it is very cold outside in late December in Norway, and the church being just 3 minutes away (perhaps around 300 meters?) the sound from the church bells would be rather loud. Another thing that happens at 5 pm is that the Silver Boys (a Boys’ Choir) have a Christmas concert on TV, directly broadcasted from Oslo Cathedral. I still need to hear this concert in order to feel that yes, Christmas has really arrived.

At 6 pm the guests would arrive. My mother always preferred to host the Christmas party so most of my Childhood Christmases were spent at home. All my cousins, with their parents, and my grandparents would come. For each guest that arrived the space under the tree would grow narrower and narrower until the whole living room floor would just be an ocean of presents. Norwegians are really big on presents! It might not always be the most expensive gifts, but we love to make each other laugh and buy little things like a pair of socks or a chocolate bar or a bottle of wine, and wrap it in small individual presents, just to make the quantity of presents more.

Norwegian Rice Cream Pudding with Strawberry sauce.

My family are not religious so most of the evening revolved around the presents. Us kids would not be able to sit still during the dinner as we were just too excited to start the gift giving. But the adults would of course drag it out as long as they could, with my aunties doing the dishes in the kitchen and my uncles having coffee and cognac in the living room. Before opening of the presents we would have the Rice Cream Pudding my mother had prepared that morning, and hiding inside the Rice Pudding was a blanched almond. The one that found the almond in their pudding would get a small gift, mostly a marzipan pig covered in chocolate. This would always be a fun affair, accusing each other of hiding the almond so that everyone would eat more pudding.

Marzipan Pig.

When we were really small my uncle would dress up like Santa (Nisse in Norwegian) and give us extra Santa presents (these were different and often smaller than the “real” presents under the tree). We would always be a little scared of Santa, even though we understood quite early on that it was our uncle under the costume.

Me as a little girl in the national costume trying on my new skis.

Then finally the gift giving would start. In my family there would be one who would “announce” the presents, which was normally me, and one assistant who would hand out the present to the right person. I would read the label on the present out loud while everyone paid keen attention. The labels would often be funny or cryptic like “To my dear wife from your devoted husband” (leaving us to guess who was the recipient and who was the giver) or “To my lovely owner from Missy the cat”. Some labels might even have riddles or small verses on. We would always sit and wait for the recipient of the gift to unwrap it, and then he or she would show the content of the gift to everyone. This is why sometimes we would buy each other funny presents, like underpants or a back scratcher or a tiny chocolate wrapped inside a huge box. We would always laugh at the funny gifts together and marvel at the special gifts. My mother would always give me what I had put on the top of my wish list, which had as much to do with my sensible view on economy as her generosity, but it was still thrilling each year to see if she had bought me the “right” gift that year too.

Italian Christmas Cake.

The gift exchange would go on to past midnight and by the time it was over we would all be tired. Still, there was more eating to be done. My mother would bring out the Italian Christmas cake, a soft cake with a Cointreau filling (orange liqueur) covered in hardened chocolate, especially imported from Italy. Then we would pop the French Champagne, and even us kids got to taste a sip. Finally, by 1 am it would all be over and the guests would leave. My brother, my father and I would go to bed, leaving my mother to clean up. Something she actually preferred because after she finished she would put her feet up, have another glass of Champagne and watch the Pope’s Christmas speech directly from the Vatican.

My auntie’s house all decorated for Christmas.

Next day my brother and I woke up to Christmas stockings filled with chocolates, Christmas comics and another little gift. Christmas day was spent playing with our toys and attending another Christmas Party in the evening, often at one of my aunties’ house.

Romjul is the perfect time to play in the snow and build Snow People.

The time between Christmas and New Year, called Romjul in Norwegian, was mostly spent attending Christmas parties and meeting up with friends. Another custom we enjoyed when we were little was dressing up as Santas and going caroling. All the neighbors would be ready for the little carolers with gifts of chocolates and candy. We would always go caroling at night with red Christmas lanterns, and this made it extra atmospheric and exciting.

Me and my best friend’s little brother dressed up as Santas, ready to go caroling.

Then by New Year’s Eve it was all over. Most Christmas trees are taken down after New Year’s Eve, and by January fourth schools and offices reopen.

Granny’s old-fashioned Christmas Decorations.

I still carry with me a lot of these traditions today, even though I have swapped out some of them with more spiritual traditions adopted from here and there. I have also made up a lot of new traditions myself, and of course I’ve had to rewrite my whole Christmas menu after becoming vegetarian at 11. After living in India for some time, my Christmas smells now include the scent of sandalwood, incense, Cinnamon, cardamom, Irish Coffee and Vanilla. But I still have to watch “Three wishes for Cinderella” and “Dinner for one” every year, and still the beautiful sound of the Silver Boys “singing in” Christmas fills my house every Christmas Eve at 5 pm.

Old-fashioned Norwegian Nisse in Granny’s House.

I am wishing all of you a happy holiday season. Remember, Christmas is what you make of it yourself, so don’t hesitate to start new traditions or repeat the old ones from your childhood, no matter where you are in the world and with whom you celebrate with.

A Child’s Life at Sea – Part 1

My brother bangs the side of his cot as a huge wave crashes into the wooden side of the boat and soon after my little round-shaped window is submerged in water. The boat, in which we are sleeping, or are supposed to be sleeping in, topples over and my brother holds on for dear life as he is pushed by the mere force of the ocean towards the edge of his cot. We both laugh out loud and I shout in excitement: It’s like being rocked in a huge cradle! ‘ Yeah, ‘ adds my brother, ‘ or a hammock!’ We both giggle at that, and soon it is my turn to be hurled over sideways by King Neptune. But it is then that I feel it. It sneaks up on me like a mischievous current, but when it starts pushing its way through there is no going back. I cringe. But I have to go, it’s impossible to pretend my way out of it. ‘ Daaaaaaad!! I have to pee!’ I shout. My father soon appears in the tiny wooden door separating our sleeping quarters from the deck. ‘ You really really have to?’ My father sighs. I nod my head apologetically. ‘ Okay, but you can’t go to the bathroom in this weather. To sea is too rough.’ The bathroom is all the way on the other side of the boat. ‘ But I HAVE to go!’ I insist. My father looks thoughtful, but then he smiles and disappears. He is, however, soon back. With a bucket. He places the bucket on the floor next to my cot. ‘ If you can’t go to the toilet, I bring the toilet to you,’ he says and smiles. I giggle as I worm my way out of my sleeping bag and slowly climb down from the cot. ‘ Incoming!!’ Shouts my brother, and I brace myself. Luckily the floor is not much larger than the bucket so it still remains standing up when the wave hits. I can’t stop giggling as I squat over the bucket. When I am done my father collects the bucket. ‘ Are you gonna throw the pee in the sea?’ Teases my brother. My father ignores him. Relived I climb back into my cot, still giggling a bit. ‘ My sister peed in a bucket! My sister peed in a bucket!’ My brother makes his voice into a sing-song rhyme, and I stick my tongue out at him. But I am giggling too much to make an angry face. And soon we are back playing our wave-game again. It is a seven hour crossing. I can hear my mother complaining to my father on the deck : ‘can’t they just go to sleep.’

Old-Fashioned Christmas Magazines

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Christmas Magazines is a tradition we have had in Norway since the 1800s. Just right about this time of year, end of November/beginning of December, the shops and kiosks are filled with beautiful traditional Christmas Magazines!
Some of these magazines are just Christmas editions of already existing magazines, but many of them are exclusively made for Christmas only!

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The Christmas Magazines can be just comics, or elaborate paperbacks filled with short stories, recipes, pictures and fun activities! You might think these magazines are mostly for kids, but no, they are for everyone, and I even think adults are the main target group!

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My grandmother just has to have these magazines every year in order to get into the Christmas spirit! And my mother has always put Christmas magazines in mine and my brother’s stocking every year (along with an orange and a chocolate!)

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Some of these magazines date back to the 1890s, and they are still in print today!

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I just adore the vintage look of many of the magazines, and a lot of people agree with me, because now they have become collectives!

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I love the more traditional ones with short stories and old-fashioned pictures in them, and I always ask my mother to buy some for me. It is a beautiful tradition which makes me feel all Christmassy and cheerful!

Do you have Christmas magazines where you live?

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Elves

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Art by T. Kittelsen

Did you know that J.R.R Tolkien’s elves are originally from Scandinavia? The name elf comes from the Norse word Alfr meaning Alv (Norwegian) or Elf in English. The belief in elves dates back to the Norse times in Scandinavia, and the elves were a part of the Scandinavian Norse Mythology. They were considered to be nature personified, and they carried the spirit of a tree, a rock, a mountain or a lake within their being.

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Illustration from Lord of the rings

The nature was worshipped by the Norse people and so were the elves as they were considered to be divine beings with an immortal soul. The elves possessed magical powers that could either be used to help people or to hurt them, so the elves were very much respected and honored. There were Elves belonging to the Light, they lived in Alvheim, and dark elves who lived under ground. The dark elves could be dangerous and could cause natural disasters.

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Art by T. Kittelsen

There was no queen of the elves, but a king, and he was called Alberich. In some of the old sagas from the Norse period it has been mentioned that the elves married humans and had children, and that this race became a magnificent and powerful race. The king Alvarim is mentioned, he was the king of Alvheim, and he had a daughter called Alvhild. There is also mention of a King Alvgeir with a son called Gandalv. According to Norse Mythology the God Frey was the ruler of the elves.

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Art by John Howe

With the arrival of Christianity the Elves were made into something evil, a dark force ruled by the devil, and people were no longer allowed to worship them. They became feared and many spells and amulets were made to keep them away.

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Art by T. Kittelsen

In the 18 hundreds there was a revival of the elves. They made their way into the fairy tales as young, beautiful and magical beings. In the Norwegian Fairy Tales we hear about elves dancing in the fog in early mornings leaving behind a ring, often overgrown with mushrooms.

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Art by August Malmström

We also hear about the danger of entering into these rings or to see the elves dance. The elfin time is different than ours, it moves much slower, and spending an hour in the company of elves can be a lifetime on earth. Therefor people were warned against seeking out elfin rings or the elves.

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Art by T. Kittelsen

Nowadays, the elves are a part of our Scandinavian heritage and folklore. Very few people believe in elves anymore in Norway, but in Iceland the belief in Elves is still strong and the world of elves is very much alive as a part of the spirit world of nature.

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From Lord of the Rings

In Norway the Victorian image of the flower fairy is more popular as a decorative element in houses or a popular theme for books and movies. The Flower Fairies are more related to the Irish belief in the fey people which is quite similar to the Norse Elves, so much so that many consider them to have sprung from the same root.

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Art by Cicely Mary Barker

The Secret Language of Trees

Yggdrasil

Trees have always played a very crucial part in Nordic Mythology and Culture. The first sacred tree we hear about is “Yggdrasil” the cosmic world tree in Norse Mythology. Yggdrasil is an enormous Ash Tree, with roots extended into the many worlds and branches reaching into the Heavens. Yggdrasil means “the horse of the terrifying one”, which scholars have interpreted to mean Odin’s Horse. Odin is the greatest of the gods in Asgaard the abode of the gods, he is the grandfather who rules the worlds.

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Norse Mythology also claims that the first humans called Ask (Ash Tree in Norwegian) and Embla (Elm Tree in Norwegian) were fashioned from tree trunks. Odin was the one who breathed life into them.

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In Scandinavia it was, and still is, the custom to plant a tree outside on the farmyard called the “Tuntre”. The Tuntre would stand watch over the farm for generations and was considered to be a great protector of the farm. The tree was much respected and cared for and often even worshipped. Especially in Finland these trees were given great importance. The Tuntre could also give warnings about the future, if the tree looked sick or unhealthy a great disaster would most likely come to the farm.

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The origin of the tuntre comes from the belief that a holy tree would grow where the “haugbonden”, a magic elf residing over the farm was buried. The tree would protect the grave from bad luck and witchcraft.

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Oak

The great Oak tree is considered to be the King of the Trees according to ancient Norse culture. It symbolizes strength and endurance and is considered to be the Norse god Thor’s tree. It is often referred to as the Tree of Thunder. Anyone can seek protection and shelter under the oak and Thor’s sacred power will keep them safe. The Oak is also said to be the keeper of ancient wisdom as it is the tree that lives the longest. You can seek out this tree to obtain this old and mystic wisdom and the tree will bless you forever.

Birch trees in a summer forest

Birch

The Birch tree might be one of the most feminine of trees in the forest. It is said to hold the portal between this life and the afterlife. The Birch holds the light, and it will light your path through even the deepest of the dark. It looks quite angelic lighting up the forest in the night. This tree is able to grow and thrive almost anywhere as long as it has access to water.

Ask

Ash

The Ash tree is an important tree both in Nordic Mythology and in Celtic mythology. It is said to be the abode of fairies and holds the portal to Fairyland. As we have learned the great Yggdrasil is an Ash Tree and the first man was fashioned out of the trunk of an Ash Tree. Odin writes the ancient knowledge in runes on the trunk and branches of the Ash Tree. Ash is a very auspicious tree to keep close to your house because it will bless the house and all the people living close to it, but only if it is treated with respect and care. Ash is a protective tree, especially for sailors and in the ancient North people used charms made of ash to prevent sailors from drowning and give them safe passage over the seas.

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Hazel

The Hazel Tree is Thor’s tree. It is said to protect people against lightening. In ancient Norse Culture it was said that if you stood under a Hazel Tree in a thunderstorm Thor would protect you and you could not be struck by lightening. Hazel tree is also known in Celtic mythology to be the Fairy Tree. It is loved by all fairies, and if you go out looking for fairies you should start with the Hazel Tree. Hazel Tree was also used by the Celtic druids to make themselves invisible. The Hazel is the tree of Fairy Knowledge.

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Spruce

The Spruce, or the Norway Spruce, is the traditional Christmas Tree in Norway. It is the most common tree in most parts of Norway, but especially in the south. It is an evergreen tree symbolizing endurance, courage, long life and positivity.

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Alder

Alder is a tree associated with fire. People rarely wanted to build houses near an Alder tree as they were afraid the house would easily catch fire. Witches were said to make flutes out of Alder to come in contact with the North Wind. Alder is a sturdy tree and symbolizes vitality, good health and strength in difficult circumstances.

Alm

Elm

Elm is the tree which the first woman Embla was fashioned out of. Elm is a female tree associated with female qualities. Elm is used in many herbal medicines and is therefor considered to be a great healing tree. Elm is also very nutritious and can be used in cooking to give extra strength. Elm is a very auspicious tree to live close to as it provides protection, nutrition, medicine and healing.

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Rowan

Rowan is another tree associated with the Norse god Thor. It is said to have protected Thor against a great flood. Rowan is perhaps the most magical of the trees, believed to be the tree of witchcraft and fairy magic and frequently used in magic potions. It is also said that if you burn rowan twigs in your house then the smoke it creates will chase away ghosts and evil spirits. Rowan can also be used in divination, as it will help you to look into the future and have clairvoyant dreams.

Animals of the North

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Animals have always played an important part in our lives, especially in ancient cultures when people lived more close to, and in harmony with, nature and the natural world. In these old cultures, like the Sami Culture, the Native American culture, the Aboriginal culture and the Celtic Culture animals symbolized powers that we as a humans could posses if we listened and learned from the animals. In the Norse Culture of Scandinavia animals were seen as messengers from the spirit world trying to guide us through life. So let us take a closer look at these animals of the north and try to understand what message it is that they are trying to convey.

Bear

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Bear was seen as the forefather of man. The Norse Gods Thor and Odin often took the shape of a bear to visit the human world. The bear stands for strength, healing, inner wisdom and balance between the seen and the unseen world. The female bear was the symbol for the feminine aspect and principle and the male bear was the masculine principle. Similar to the Chinese Yin and Yang.

Polar Bear

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The polar bear, or Ice bear as we say in Norway, is the animal that will unblock suppressed emotions so that they can flow freely. The polar bear helps us to overcome difficult challenges and to be flexible.

Moose or Elk

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The moose, or the elk, is known in Norway to be the King of the Forest. He carries within his spirit the deep knowledge and mysteries of the forest. The elk will help us to find this inner wisdom and inspire us to be more confident and appear with grace.

Roe Deer

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The Roe deer is the animal that carries within the power of the Goat willow or the selje as we say in Norway. Selje means victory. The ancient mystique Rune associated with Selje is Saille:

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The Roe Deer remind us of our spiritual growth. It tells us that we have a soul that longs to grow and expand beyond our body.

Lynx

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The Lynx is the guardian of deep secrets and hidden knowledge. This animals symbolizes the power to see beyond what is right here in front of us. It reminds us to explore the depth within ourselves and see what is hidden in our hearts.

Hare

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The Hare is a moon animal. It carries intuitive messages, and tells us to listen to our intuition.

The hare is associated with the Common Gorse and the mystique rune is Onn:

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Red Deer

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The Red Deer carried a lot of meaning to the Norse people. In Norse Mythology we hear about Dunøyr, Duratro, Dvalin and Dain, three Red Deer who graze in Yggdrasil, the tree of Life. The Red Deer is associated with the healing touch and the resurrection of the spirit. It is the messenger between our world and the otherworld.

Horse

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Horse is associated with the Oak tree and the mystique rune for horse is Duir:

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The horse had a deep significance to the old Norse people. We find strong horses in Norse Mythology, like Odin’s horse Sleipner:

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Skinnfakse and Rimfakse were the two horses who pulled the wagon of Day and the wagon of Night across the sky. Svadilfari was the stallion who built Asgaard.

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The horse is the animal of strength, vitality, nobility and intelligence. It is a Sun Animal and symbolizes endurance and faithfulness.

Wolf

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The Wolf is an animal of protection. The wolf is a Moon Animal associated with renewed energy and wisdom through connecting with our inner child. In Norse mythology we hear about Odin’s wolves Freke and Gere who bring him news from Earth.

Raven

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The Raven is Odin’s animal. Odin has two ravens called Hugin and Munin. Hugin is thought and Munin is memory. These ravens help Odin to rule the realms and give him wisdom.

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Eagle

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The Eagle is associated with the Birch Tree and its rune is Beith.

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In Norse mythology we find Vidofnir, an eagle sitting in Yggdrasil, the world tree. The Eagle is Odin’s animal and associated with him. The Eagle is a Sun Animal symbolizing Light conquering darkness, justice, victory, spiritual power and magic. The Eagle helps us to see hidden spiritual truths.

Hawk

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Verfolne is the name of the hawk that sits between the eyes of the eagle Vidofnir in Yggdrasil the world tree. Hawk is a sun animal and is the messenger between worlds.

Owl

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The owl is associated with Hawthorn and the mystique rune is Huathe.

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The owl is the guide to the underworld, it helps us to see in the spiritual and actual dark, and it shows us how to look inside the darkness in ourselves and find a way out of it.

The Mountain Goat

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The Norse God Thor has two male goats Tanngrisner and Tanngnjost pulling his wagon across the sky. We also hear about the goat Heidrun grazing on the roof of Valhall.

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The male goat symbolizes the creational force of nature and the seeking of truth. The female goat symbolizes the fertility of the earth.

All the images have been sourced at Google.no