“Happy Sif’s Day and Some Personal and Writing Notes” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Sif’s Day

Sif: Gold-Haired Earth Goddess

After a week’s deliberation, I decided that from henceforth, Saturn’s Day will now be Sif’s Day.  I juggled Eostre and Idun in this spot but in the end, I think Thor’s wife, goddess of the land, earth, and harvest takes Saturn’s Place the best.  Her story in Norse mythology is the one where her hair is shaved off, presumably by Loki as a prank.  Thor threatens to hurt Loki repeatedly unless he fixes the problem.  Through a complex, multilayered scheme, Loki convinces the Dwarves to create living gold hair that when Sif places it on her head attaches itself and becomes her hair.

Other than that, Sif represents the fertility of the earth.  Something that is missing from the week with the current gods and goddesses.  As Thor’s wife, the rain – earth duo is in the days now.  I rejected Idun and Eostre in the end because they already have their time of the year all to themselves in many respects.  Sif represents the constant and continual bounty of the earth in all seasons.  With Sol, we have the bright sun goddess who is a beacon of life and truth.  With Frigg, we have hearth and home.  Freya gives us a passionate woman both in love and war.   The addition of Sif gives us the hard-working woman in the field. A welcome addition.

So. Happy Sif’s Day.

Personal Notes: 

This is not a The Grey and The Wayfarer post. But after writing my four-part series of getting things off my chest so to speak, I have felt much better.  I have thought of some of these things far less and seem to be moving on better. Perhaps the Storm is breaking and some sun is shining through at last.  Time to get moving.

My job search can be a little frustrating at times. I learned recently that most Human Resources jobs want certification.  No problem accept its another few months of time and a couple thousand dollars. So crossing that off at least for now, I have focused on Business, Education, and Government.

Business – I am moving my focus from human resources to retail as I actually not only have some education there as far as management but also experience both in retail and management but never at the same time. Mostly, business is attractive because I have 15-20 years left before age and retirement will start to kick my ass and I need to make as much money and put it aside as possible in that frame of time.  At the same time, the physical labor thing is going to be less and less of an option. Retail Business Management fits given experience and education.

Education – I could go to another state and teach.  Texas would let me start and then learn the education stuff as I go.  Mostly though I would be using it as a springboard for a masters’ degree and eventual doctorate. I would want to teach at the university level.

Government – Like it or not, I am adding this to the list because my Political Science degree gives me the most qualifications for government jobs. It is what the degree is actually designed for, so it is time to add it to the list.

One of the things I have done is to rewrite my Resume again. I eliminated, as much as possible, any references to my ministry career and my education for it. They are irrelevant to the jobs listed above.  I also have been removing anything that might give away my age. My experience listed will still make me older, but I want it to be, without lying, a little nebulous.

Writing Notes:

There is, of course, my other ‘career’ as a writer which I need to get more serious about.  So here is that list:

Blog: This personal blog needs to be kept up because it is simply good practice.

Blog Fiction: Last time I wrote about some fiction ideas I had floating, but there is some other fiction on this blog already that I need to address and make the previously mentioned ideas a little more concrete.

  1. The Grey Wayfarer (Serial) – I wrote this series when I first started this blog  It was a work of fantasy fiction with the same name as the blog.  That was confusing I am sure, but the reason I stopped writing it here was a realized it had potential to be one helluva novel.  So, I leave the five parts that exist as a teaser to a someday maybe finished work. I just felt the writing was that good and so was the concept.
  2. Rogue Wizard: The Fire of Fury –  There is a large part of me that senses the whole Hedge Wizard of Redberg / Rogue Wizard universe and storyline needs come to a complete end. I originally started the whole thing as a labor of love for Miss Salty and now she is gone out of my life.  The continuation based on it in this blog is difficult emotionally at best to write. Spoiler: It might be time for the whole thing to die. But it will die by my own hand and not just fade away unfinished. I have been sitting on Part 10 for months because emotionally it might be the last difficult thing to write with the whole saga. After that, it is simply a matter of killing off the main character. Me.
  3. ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (adult version) I have toyed with the idea of taking fairy tales and giving them a modern spin many times.  It would fit my short story or short fiction series niche.  Red Riding Hood, if you know the actual origin and symbolism is already a pretty adult tale, but I want to give it an urban fantasy truly adult feel.  Little Red wouldn’t be the only one but it is my favorite fairy tale and a good place to start.
  4. Tales of a Viking Muse (working title) – I mentioned this a couple days ago.  This will be my Viking Shieldmaiden Skald Muse.  I am using Dungeons and Dragons to flesh out the character and to create the backdrop world to an extent.  She will be a combination of a fighter/bard.
  5. ‘Space Tramp’ – Basically I am taking the advanced character generation system from MegaTraveller and doing a year by year full flesh out of the background of a character.  The challenge, of course, is the random nature of the generation process which will force me to in one year explain a near-death and another year take a pretty boring admin assignment and make an interesting story of it.  The character will be a free trader crewman of the merchant branch, so it should give him the freedom to move about as he sees fit.  It should be fun.

Non-Fiction Book: My book here is basically Life of Christ, but form a skeptics’ point of view. I taught the life of Christ as a pastor and instructor in the faith probably ten times. I am simply writing what would amount to a harmony of the gospels with a twist.  I am going to show even with four accounts, the gospels still are not compelling evidence to believe that the Life of Christ as presented in the Bible is a genuine story of any more historical value than Homer’s Illiad or the Tales of Gilgamesh.

Novel: Over the last few years the successful fantasy stories have been the epic ones from Game of Thrones, to Lord of the Rings, to Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth.  I don’t mind these but I enjoy more the stories that are a little more down to earth.  Five friends from a small village heading out into the unknown and finding an adventure.  No saving the world or correcting the imbalances in the powers of magic for the universe.  Just some friends finding themselves in a tough spot and fighting to get out of it.  That’s my novel. I am thinking of using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to fast forward its content by 50,000 words in November.

This is a lot of writing, but good writers write a lot and I want to be a good writer. So, raise a drinking horn to the challenge of making some changes in my writing with the goal of publication and making it my second and hopefully also paying career.  What you may see over the next couple of weeks is me trying to make progress on all of this. Hopefully, my muse will come alive and something will not only click but take off.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Role-Playing Games as a Writing Tool” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Thor’s Day!

This post idea has been sitting in my hopper since July.  It’s probably about time that I clear it.

In writing, there are a couple of challenges when it comes to characters and their interaction with each other. The first is record-keeping in that you need to make character notes and that can take a lot of forms but you want something simple that can be easily altered as the story unfolds.  The second is the ability to compare characters wih each other.  Which one is stronger, smarter.  Along with this is what can one character do that the others cannot.  This can be tricky if you don’t have a system that can compare them objectively or makes not of the differences.

My solution has been when applicable to use role-playing games (RPGs) for this purpose.  The paper, dice and pen kind. Over the years I have used Dungeons and Dragons for instance to make records of my Fantasy Characters.  By having already made up character sheets and plans to make notes, it makes it very easy to do this.  You also can know which character is stronger or smarter by comparing Strength and Intelligence scores for instance. You can also know that one character has knowledge of history while the rest of the group does not and the other has knowledge of how to speak Elvish and the others do not. I currently use this for my novel which is a fantasy novel, but I have also used it with science ficiton and urban fantasy.  With the first MegaTraveller has been used and with the second d20 Modern with the Urban Arcana addition works very well.

The trick with it though is sometimes you can’t be completely bound by the world the RPG characters are created in when writing. Then you might be writing fan fiction but not original stories.  Fantasy is easier to avoid as you can simply create your own world and adapt the RPG system you are using to it.  But science fiction can be more problematic with this approach.  Science Fiction RPGs tend to be very universe specific. Mostly though as a writer you have to be story-driven not rules-driven.

By opening up my writing schedule recently, I think a good way to get the creative juices flowing would be to create a single RPG character and then take them for a writing fiction ride for a while.  I am going to combine this with my search for a new muse as well. I am thinking I may do a D and D female character – I am thinking a Bard (Skald). 🙂

I also may in time drop into the science fiction world of Megatraveller. I have an idea for fleshing out the background of a character creation of a young orphaned lad who joins the Free Traders and starts traveling the stars.

One thing is for sure I need to get my creative juices flowing and there is a wealth of ideas to draw from RPGs and its time I began to tap into them.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Revival – Asatru (Part 5)” – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: ‘Herr Mannelig’ – Garmarna

 

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Crazy World YOU DON'T HAVE A RIGHT TO THE CARDS YOU BELIEVE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT. YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO PLAY THE HELL OUT OF THE ONES YOU'RE HOLDING.'

The situation is always changing and it is not always in your favor.  Regardless there is always the best way to play your hand and it is your obligation to find it.

Text:

See the source image

If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Sermon:

It is hard to say when the revival of the interest in Pagan Norse Religion really began. In some cases, we might say that it was preserved through family traditions and merging pagan traditions with Chrisitan ones. There was also a limited amount of writing done by historians and literature experts on Norse Mythology and religious practice.

Some argue that it was the early 20th century with the interest in Germanic ancient culture by the Germans that saw the start of it.  It is also a criticism that it might be colored by the Nazis but it is probably more likely to be the case of the Nazi’s using cultural trends to their advantage as far as PR.  Symbols and history are often coopted by those that rule to form a romanticism they tap into.  The romanticism though already existed because a lot of it can be traced back to the 19th century long before the nazi’s perverted the mythology and the Swastika.  I and many other people who study Asatru and history would say the chief deity of the Nazi party was Adolf Hitler himself, not Odin, Thor or Tyr.

In any case, in the last 70 years or so a revival of interest in ancient Northern European mythology has arisen.  Becoming more popular, as Diane Paxton observes, starting with the writings in England with Tolkein and CS Lewis. Robert E. Howard with Conan chimed in during the 1950s.  Is it any wonder that I have an interest in this mythology when what sparked my interest was these great writers and my own heritage.

In 1969, the same year I was born, the Odinist Fellowship was founded, followed by Viking Brotherhood in 1971 and Asatru Free Assembly in 1976.  All in America. In Iceland, Asatru became an accepted religion by their parliament in 1973 thus opening up the most direct route to a religious revival of ancient ways through Asatru.

What has followed has been a process of Norse paganism in Asatru arising and organizing into various groups. The 1990s saw a great deal of expansion and development. Publications and books are becoming more and more frequent.  I would say interest has been revived and increase due to the television series Vikings among many others.

For me, my personal story of ‘conversion’ to Asatru is a long one.  Like I said, I loved fantasy books from an early age. devouring CS Lewis, Tolkien, and Howard. Conan became a favorite hero of mine along with Gandalf.  I was a Dungeons and Dragons player and Dungeon Master for many years and that has this culture and religion as a large part of it.   The more I learned the more it fascinated me.  I suppose the crisis moment and conversion point would be me leaving Christianity for good last year and realizing my need for a new code of conduct.  I looked at many warrior codes, but Asatru appealed more than all of them because of this connection to my culture, history, and interests. My pagan tendencies tend to line up very much with Asatru.

This ends part one of my Asatru analysis.  Next will be a discussion of many of the Norse gods and goddesses and their significance to the followers of Asatru.

Parting Thought:

 

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Paganism does have some bit of a ‘dark’ side.  In that, most of us will do terrible things if the ones we love are threatened.  There is no turn the other cheek or forgiveness without restitution.  And if the person opposing us doesn’t offer us restitution or threatens to take what is ours, then we can get such restitution by other means.  You might say justice has a different meaning to us.  Your best course of action in dealing with us is being honest and respectful and mind your own business.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Races and Creatures – Giants

Happy Saturn’s Day

I suppose the imagery of a giant is pretty universal but as we will see there is a controversy about it when it comes to Norse Mythology. Giants are the primary antagonists in most of the stories of the gods in Norse mythology.  The frost giants take prominence but there are also other types of giants.  Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition’s Monster Manual lists six types of giants – Cloud, Fire, Frost, Hill, Stone and Storm.  It might be argued that all of these have some  from ideas found in Norse mythology.

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But the question starts pretty early as regards if the Norse people actually conceived these giants as ‘giants’.  The problem is one of translation and when Christians began to translate the word for ‘giant’ they may have bastardized it by adding the Greek mythology concepts and used the word for ‘giant’ that reflected this change.  What you see then is a mutation of the original Norse Idea and the Greek idea of titans.

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The original concept in the Norse may simply have been beings that represented the forces of Chaos. When you look at some of the giants you get that – Storm, Fire, Frost, Hills, Stone and Clouds are forces of nature that are both large and powerful.  Both needed for survival, but also feared because of their destructive nature at times.  The “giants” are simply personification of these forces.  They may or may not have been large humanoids to the Norse people.  It would make more sense if they were not.

See the source image

The reason I say it would make more sense if they were not, is  the simple fact that the gods and goddesses mate with giants and produce offspring. Sex between two individuals of great difference in size becomes problematic, unless the Norse people didn’t really have the concept of giants being large humanoids but rather simple humanoids that personified certain powerful natural forces.  To the Norse people the gods and the giants may simply been the same size just representing on the one hand forces of order and civilization (the gods), and on the other, the raw natural forces of the world (the ‘giants’).

What I am saying is that the whole notion of these ‘giants’ being large humanoid like creatures might be a later addition.  This would explain why later writers had to give some of the gods the ability to shape shift and change size.  But the original myths may not have had this at all. The my simply have been referring to ‘giants’ as those being who represented the great powers of nature.

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To me this makes the parings of some of the gods and giants interesting because it represents symbolically the need for the forces of civilization and humanity, if you will, to sometimes cooperate and draw strength from the chaotic forces of nature.  That sometimes the ‘children’ of these paring represent both sides of that equation such as Loki pairings with the giantess that produced Fenrir, Hel,  and Jormungandr.  All of these Children have their chaotic element but there is also the ability to think and speak beyond the base animal that they represent in the case of Fenrir and Jormungandr. Hel herself is human like but represents that primal force of Death, but also her realm is orderly and well thought out.

It is why in Norse mythology all of the gods and giants are the product of a an original giant.  That out of the primal forces of nature came the forces of order and chaos. Both are necessary and both can be in conflict or in love (lust) for each other.  To me it speaks of how the Norse people could recognize that; in all things, some necessary things were present. Fire is a primal natural force that is dangerous; but without it, civilization and technology is simply not possible. The earth and hills can be wild and dangerous places; but without the earth we mine and the trees we cut down, we would not have tools or shelter. The mythology reflects this idea of necessary harmony, even tough at times those forces are a threat to each other.

See the source image

In our world the giants represent much the same.  Large chaotic forces that must be fought and overcome. The show up in a lot of places in fantasy mythology.  But the idea of being primal natural forces is pretty interesting and we see that too.  For me though I prefer if the giants remain as the larger than life humanoids. It just makes the battles more epic. Courage is a necessary thing when facing them. Every movie or book that uses them reflects this.  Or on rare occasions we find a giant that is actually gentle who desires to help but his great power can unintentionally cause harm.  Thus even when we bend such forces to our will, there is still a danger because of their nature.

All important lessons taught to us through the giants.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Races and Creatures – Dökkálfar (Dark Elves)

Happy Saturn’s Day

Dark elves in Norse mythology are the elves that live under the earth. The are called Dökkálfar in the Scandinavian tongue. They dwell in Svartalfheim which is realm just under Midgard.  It is one of those realms that is debatable as this is not one of the nine worlds in some people’s’ minds.  But it a realm that is perhaps part of another.

All elves are kind of demi-god in status and the Dark Elves are no different.  They have incredible powers and the dark elves had powers that as time went by became more malevolent in nature than benevolent like the light elves that dwell in the realm above Midgard. The dark elves are described initially as swarthy. But as time goes by you get the pale red-eyed version that is common today in most people’s minds.  They were also connected to the realm of Helheim and the dead.

These dark elves were often connected to wrong things happening.  From tangled hair to strokes, they were the cause of these things.  They had a dark and strange magic to them. As Christianity became more prevalent they became associated with the underworld.  Mostly this is what causes confusion about the dark elves. because they are not always seen as malevolent. but often are cast as the outcast role as well.  A cursed but powerful race is a common theme.

In modern times this plays out in probably the two best known examples of dark elves – The Drow in the Dungeons and Dragons universe which are malevolent worshipers of the Spider Queen and the Dunmer in the Elder Scrolls universe which are more of a changed and cursed race.  Outcasts and mistrusted though is a common theme for both because both races have some unique and at times troubled morality.

The inspiration for both these and other incarnations of the dark elves stretches back into Norse mythology with the Dökkálfar. When you read about Drizzt in Forgotten Realms or are playing your Dunmer character in Skyrim, you are part of a tradition of a race of beings that stretches back to the middle ages.

From a writing standpoint, I have used dark elves very infrequently. I hesitate because this race is often complex and more that the simple black and white most races have with morality.  Is there hatred of the surface dwellers justifiable?  Is the curse placed on them of being mistrusted justified?  It becomes a complex riddle when developing characters especially when you are trying to create a main protagonist that is a dark elf. I am looking to my first novel for publication and I am thinking of a dark elf character as the main protagonist.

Contrary wise, next to the Nords, my favorite Skyrim Race is the Dunmer. I play dark elf characters quite a bit.  Mostly because they can be very Chaotic and freedom loving and also remain completely flexible as far as goods and evil, so they can do good and evil quests with equal rational reasons for their character development.

I find them fascinating and as protagonists and antagonists the one thing you can say is they are formidable advisories. I don’t imagine that they will part from the realm of fiction anytime soon. For that I am very glad.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Why Norse Mythology?

Happy Saturn’s Day

I became interested in Norse mythology as a teenager.  It was a combination of two factors.

Firstly, I played Dungeon’s and Dragons – 2nd edition.  One of the realms I created as a Dungeon Master at the time was a Norse like realm with the Norse Pantheon in full power.   My character from that realm was what would now be considered a Tempest Priest of Thor named Thane True-Blade.  He had a brother Karic True-Blade who was a devoted follower of Tyr and a fighter.  There was a female thief named Sylvia who was more or less devoted to Loki. You get the idea.

Secondly, there was the Marvel Comic world with Thor the comic book.  No, I haven’t seen the movies.  Reason? Because while the comics and D&D were instrumental in getting me involved in Norse mythology, I soon fell in far greater love with the actual mythology, than how it has been used or inspired other things.

I start each post on The Grey Wayfarer with “Happy Thor’s Day” or “Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day”  This is an example of one of those inspirations.  Our days of the week have four of them that are direct references to Norse gods and goddesses.  It could be argued that Sunday and Monday are as well, but they are also generic references to the Sun and Moon. So we could be dealing with Apollo as much as Sunna/Sol and Luna as much as Mani, depending on which mythology you want to credit. But Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all have direct reference to Norse mythology.

It is these references along with many others in the western world that draw me to Norse Mythology,  Christianity didn’t erase them all and in fact sometimes embraced them and made them their own.  Our recent celebration to Christmas; for instance, is full of things that are borrowed and plan out stolen from Norse Yuletide.  Those symbols had other meanings but Christianity has taken them and repackaged them for their own use.  I find it however interesting what has survived and why.

Much of western culture and heritage is Norse and no, I don’t find that anything to be ashamed of. In fact, there is a lot to be said for the lessons that Norse Mythology were teaching to its people. Religion shows what cultures value and try to pass on and so studying Norse mythology can help us see what those values were and how they were taught generation after generation.

Unlike the atheist who does not see any value to religion, I don’t take that course.  Religions develop for reasons and not all of them are about manipulation or control.  Part of paganism for me is that there are ‘universal’ truths and principles that religion guards and promotes which benefit society and often at some point they are turned into religion or become part of a religion mostly in an effort to preserve them. Religion for years was also the place where science at a low-level and philosophy was created and preserved and part of that is mythology.  Stories that illustrate those principles and truths. Stories that teach are the stock in trade of mythology and that is not always a bad thing.

There is also the simple fact the Norse Mythology has had tremendous impact on modern culture particularly pop culture involving fantasy writing and movies.  Elves, dwarves, giants, etc. all owe their inspiration to Norse mythology. Comics, movies, art and many other things draw on Norse Mythology.  My writing is definitely influenced by it and has for a long time.  But I am not alone there – Tolkien, CS Lewis, Robert Jordan, and many others join me in that regard.

There is also the fact that  I simply find the Vikings bad ass warriors and a lot of why they did what they did was their mythology.  It is a mythology formed in the harsh realities of the ice, snow and cold of the North.  I understand how these relate all to well having lived in the North of North America all my life.  So I suppose there is a natural resonance with such mythology for me as that mythology of the Norseman provides a common ground. A spiritual connection based on a commonly understood environment, if you will.

My methods of approaching this are much less systematic as those of say Odin’s Eye or Of Wolves and Ravens.  What I think I will find more beneficial is a topical rather than chronological methodology in Crossing Bifrost.  Topic Headings will include, but are not limited to, the following.

The Norse World – Yggdrasil (The World Tree) and Its Realms – Asgard, Midgard, Hel, etc.

Norse Races and Creatures – Elves, Dwarves, Giants, etc.

Norse Gods and Goddesses – Odin, Freya, Thor, Frigg, Loki, etc. This would also include god monsters like Fenrir the Great Wolf and the World Serpent Jörmungandr.

Norse Symbols and Objects – Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir, The Valknut Symbol ,etc.

Norse Culture and History – Probably a little more difficult to define  but topics here might involve how the Norse Mythology influence Viking Culture and History.

Basically I will probably have a sub page under Crossing Bifrost for each of these where appropriate and them probably follow an alphabetical listing on each sub page itself.   The one requirement basically is that it has to relate in some way to Norse Mythology to be posted here.

Hope you enjoy my journey of discover on this subject. If you learn something along the way – well that is good too.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!