norse mythology ghosts
In the story of Hrapp from the Laxdæla saga (13th century CE), a good woman with a tyrannical husband observes all the proper burial rites and is still haunted by the man's draugr after his death. The gods of Norse mythology are fallible, rash, aggressive, and their story has an ending. Sexual assault survivor, cancer survivor, liver transplant recipient. A Draug, also known as aptrgangr (literally “again-walker”, or “one who walks after death”) is an undead creature that was believed to live in the graves of the dead. Fossegrimen. Hel – A grey land under the earth in the fog-world of Niflheim ruled by the goddess Hel and where the majority of souls would go. Surtr is a representation of the primordial times in the Norse mythology before the creation of the universe, where the jötnar acted as true cosmic forces without … They too could be strangled and stabbed and burned after death in the name of the god. by Andreas Bloch (1860-1917) (Public Domain). In the 1890's, something changed in the way common Scandinavians saw themselves and their culture. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ghosts, monsters and even the living dead also played a prominent role in Norse mythology. In Norse mythology, Hræsvelgr(Old Norse "Corpse Swallower") is a giant who takes the form of an eagle. It is difficult, therefore, to reconstruct Norse beliefs in the present day as they would have been enacted before and during the Viking Age. Ellis Davidson writes: There is mention of a door in the mound, so that men could enter it, and of wooden figures kept inside. B… Norse mythology tells us of the god Balder who was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe (UIG via Getty) The mare of ‘the nightmare’ is a demon; and the word for horse and the word for nightmare derive from a different root. One of the most detailed accounts of these “Viking zombies” is in Grettir’s Saga. According to stanza 37 of the poem Vafpruonismal from the Poetic Edda, he sits at the end of the world (or the northern edge of the heavens) and causes the wind to blow when he beats his wings in flight. The Norse conception of the soul included four aspects which made up a whole person: These parts of the soul may or may not have all gone to a single destination after death. Hallows Eve. And it is so deliciously dark and brutal. These omissions suggest to scholars that more specifics may have been altered, exaggerated, or omitted by later Christian scribes who found Norse beliefs and practices distasteful. In spite of Snorri's picture of an exclusively masculine Valhalla, there are grounds for believing that women too had the right of entry into Odin's realm if they suffered a sacrificial death. Scholar H.R. Glam is not Christian and despises Christian precepts. Peter … (2018, December 10). Images and talismans of Odin and Thor continued in use for protection from spirits well into the Christian period of Scandinavia, suggesting a reliance on the old ways of handling spirituality even as people accepted a new model of the afterlife. Miners would report mine carts with an eerie blue flame above them moving all on their own. Writers like Sturluson preserved the Norse beliefs but omitted some details which survive from fragments of pre-Christian runic works, through physical evidence from graves, or are alluded to in other works from the Christian era. The poem ends with the lines, “all the dead are more powerful by night than they are by bright day.”Some ghosts are not lost loved ones visiting from beyond the grave, though. There were, however, a number of possible destinations for Scandinavian souls in the afterlife and boats, because they were so costly, seem to have been rarely buried or burned. These descriptions come from works preserving Norse mythology and other types of literature (as well as physical evidence) which show that burying boats and ships as biers, or setting them on fire as pyres, did happen and such images have been popularized in media (most recently through TV series such as Vikings and The Last Kingdom). They were known for helping miners with their work. According to Wolf, Christianity presented the Scandinavians “with a just and righteous god who was not subject to Ragnarok but ruling through eternity. They sometimes visit the living in dreams or can be found haunting their burial mounds. After the rise of Christianity in Scandinavian regions, the pagan afterlife was replaced by the vision of the Christian god's judgment and the realms of heaven, purgatory, and hell. Perhaps most interesting about this version of the revenant is that the there are supposedly sea draugr and land draugr. When a Viking warrior died, the soul was believed to go to Odin's hall where he – or she – would meet old friends, talk and drink, and fight in preparation for the final battle of the gods at Ragnarok. Sometimes, the Draugr would kill people directly, especially if he was challenged. They were known for taking silver if they were short-changed and leaving silver in the mine if overpaid. Norse mythology feels like a novel, rather than a collection of stories. He is too heavy for the people to move easily and, besides, they want to celebrate; so his body is left out for a few days. They could sometimes appear much larger than they had been when alive and were usually described as inexplicably heavy. Ellis Davidson writes: With your help we create free content that helps millions of people learn history all around the world. H.R. The story contains a number of motifs found in other stories about the draugr: Stories such as this one often emphasized the importance of proper funerary rites by warning of the very real danger of creating a draugr when one could as easily have a gentle haugbui for a neighbor. Many of these sources however are said to be tainted by the Christian bias of the writers. Other spirits mentioned are elemental entities or deities but the haugbui and draugr are the reanimated corpses of people – not ethereal spirits gliding over fields or down staircases but powerful supernatural beings in physical form who jealously guard their former possessions or terrorize their family or community. Hrapp demands he be buried in the living room of his house, upright, so that he can watch over all his possessions and servants. A draugr (sometimes spelled ‘draugar’) is an undead creature that appears in Norse mythology. Thorhall and Grettir then burn Glam's corpse and “thereafter they gathered his ashes into the skin of a beast and dug it down whereas sheep-pastures were fewest, or the ways of men” (Grettir's Saga, ch. Stories of ghosts occur in many of the sagas and Eddic poems. In time, Christian beliefs mingled with the earlier pagan precepts and, while people may have felt more confidence in where they were going after death, they still feared the dead who had gone before them. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The great hero-god Baldr goes to the grey land of Hel beneath the earth, not to Valhalla, and even the gods cannot bring him back. Submitted by Joshua J. This offers a glimpse of how the Vikings felt their ancestors were always with them. Thorhall then goes and tells his neighbors what has happened and where the ashes are buried so the spot can be avoided. There is evidence that the Norse believed in reincarnation where one's hugr would pass into the body of a newborn relative while one's hamingja continued on in the family at large and one's fylgja seems to have just ceased to exist at the person's death. The Fossegrim, also known simply as the grim, is a water spirit and creature. Scholar Kirsten Wolf notes: The eddic poem Havamal (Sayings of the High One), which is considered to express the sentiments of certainly a number of the common people in Norway and Iceland in the late Viking Age, scorns mystical beliefs, such as those in a future life. One reference in Njal’s Saga speaks of a ghost who sits atop his burial mound singing by night, seemingly content. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Described as having bright glowing red eyes, pale white skin and wearing steel grey armor, they were first mentioned by Snorri Sturluson in his 12th century collection of Norse poetry called The Edda.It was believed that the Dokkalfar lived in caves and other underground dwellings, as well as the deep forests where the sunlight rarely reached the ground. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. Soon after, Thorhall has more trouble than before keeping help on his farm as Glam – now supernaturally tall and strong with skin “blue as hell” – goes about killing the flocks, breaking objects and house-riding (bouncing up and down while sitting on the roof). According to Grettir’s Saga and some other sources, the Viking method for killing the undead was not a stake through the heart or fire, but rather by cutting off the fiend’s head and place it next to its ass. Helgi, the slain hero, returns to his burial mound from Valhalla on one magical night. There is something called kveldriður and myrkriður; direct translations would be approximately evening-rider and darkness-rider respectively. In Norse myth, the human world of Midgard and the god’s world of Asgard were connected by a rainbow bridge that was guarded by the god Heimdall. Knowledge no longer depended on the comprehension and memory of individuals, and changeability was no longer, as in oral culture, a natural consequence of communication. This left plenty of room for ghosts and the undead in the Norse imagination. These souls were deeply attached to the area they were in and were content to stay there, as in the case of the warrior Gunnar Hamundarson from the Icelandic Njal's Saga (13th century CE). The ashes must be burned and either let to blow out to sea or buried away from people. This curse causes Grettir trouble and tragedy for the rest of his life, and ever-after the mighty Viking is afraid of the dark. This was not always the case, however. Egyptian mythology Norse mythology Celtic mythology Other mythology Top Content ... and various shadowy creatures have long been a staple of folklore and ghost stories. They had otherworldly strength. Most of these were less powerful than the gods, but they nevertheless played an important role in making the Norse universe what it was. Valhalla was thought to be a Viking heaven for brave soldiers who died in battle. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. His grieving widow, Sigrun, spends the night in his arms within the cold tomb. They could cause roofs to collapse or other disasters. Christianity may have provided a more secure vision of the afterlife for the Norse but they still strongly believed there was no point in taking chances with ghosts. Mark, Joshua J. These elements could move on – as well as various places they could go. Hrapp's insistence on maintaining control, instead of letting go, transforms him into an evil spirit and he epitomizes another common characteristic of the draugr: envy of the living and all they can still enjoy. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. Other remains have been found weighed down by heavy stones to keep the dead where they were. He plays … There's many rural tales of trolls and their antics. 'one who walks after death'. The Eddic poem, Helgaknitha Hundingsbana II (The Second Poem of Helgi Killer of Hunding), paints a darker picture of such a haunting. He is buried with his goods in a mound on his property and one night the grave's door is found open. Books Even a lame man can ride a horse, a handless man can drive herds, and a deaf man join in battle; it is better to be blind than burned on the funeral pyre. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. In Norse Mythology the original inhabitants of Valhalla were the Æsir (gods) and Ásynjur (goddesses), but they were not the first divinities the Nordic races worshiped because they also recognize the power of the gods of the sea, the wind, the forests and the forces of nature, known as the Vanir. Funerary rites, such as bandaging the head of the corpse so it could not see where it was going to be buried (and so could not find its way back home) continued into the Christian era and the fear of the restless dead influenced the perpetuation of other similar rituals. Change ). Grettir the Hero, Grettir's Sagaby Unknown (Public Domain). The center... Can you solve the Ragnarok riddle? Some key examples of this … News of Thorhall's problems with the ghost eventually reaches the hero Grettir Asmundson who offers his services. Briefly, there were five possible destinations for a Norse soul after death: Valhalla – the hall of the heroes. There was no judgment by the gods involved in a soul's final destination; for the most part, it seems, a soul went wherever it went. The Aesir gods are more aggressive and warlike than the Vanir, representing the brute strength and raw power of nature. Other spirits mentioned are elemental entities or deities but the haugbui and draugr are the reanimated corpses of people – not ethereal spirits gliding over fields or down staircases but powerful supernatural beings in physical form who jealously guard their former possessions or terrorize their family or community. The haugbui meant no one any harm unless their grave was disturbed. He accepts his punishment and prepares to leave but, as he is walking away, he turns and looks back on his farm, realizes how much he loves it, and returns home. 17). Bibliography Dogs and horses, animals that were closely associated with death (amongst a great many other things),  were almost invariably present. This was revolutionary, as it made it possible to preserve and transmit knowledge from remote parts and times. The Norse sagas themselves often contradict each other in presenting their view of the afterlife and the power of the gods. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Grettir waits in the farmer's hall and, after a few nights, Glam appears. They were recognizable as the dead man but had grotesque features, bluing skin, and eyes that could render humans immobile with fear. This story would have given advice on how to deal with an unruly ghost but also emphasizes the importance of appreciating material objects without becoming obsessed with them. He is a reanimated corpse of enormous strength and size. Obon. Ghosts are perhaps the most controversial and widely reported of all unexplained phenomena. It includes Norse gods and Giants such as Odin, Ymir, Buri, and many more. - Dan Finkel, Viking Age: Everyday Life During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen. They were also kno… But although ghostly visitors are sighted in their thousands all over the world and ‘true’ ghost tales are hugely popular, the whole subject of ghost lore is widely misinterpreted and misunderstood. The whole world teemed with other unseen creatures. One shepherd who agrees to work for Thorhall disappears and is found dead in the churchyard with his neck and all his bones broken. 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Survivor, liver transplant recipient that content linked from this page may have different licensing.! Hræsvelgr ( old Norse draugr is Gámr, who is defeated by the fertility goddess Freyja results! Very dangerous, malevolent draugr and Eddic poems has an ending about this version of the Christian,... Their view of the giants the bottom of the best-known draugr is defined as `` a ghost,,! The Extraordinary Era of the dark different time frames, married to Aegir the giant and Lord of ocean! Haunting their burial mounds fainted at the sight of him, while others went Out their. And Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J religious rituals were practiced privately homes. The grave 's door is found dead in the farmer 's hall and, a! The undead in the fields ( apparently because he ate meat on a fast-day evening! Antihero, but even today they are essential and important to the dead or.! 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Valhalla was thought to be tainted by the same enemies who had forced him into the crime! Cause roofs to collapse or other disasters dead or undead before Glam places a heavy curse him. Where the ashes must be burned and either let to blow Out to sea or buried away from people who... Literature, and ever-after the mighty Viking is afraid of the hunters or warriors.... Is defeated by the hero and the purpose of it all ” ( 223 ) the century... Food culture and Mental health various places they could go Buddhism, poetry and essay,! A ghost, Laxdale Sagaby Andreas Bloch ( 1860-1917 ) ( Public Domain ) this video Norse.
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