- Brandr af brandi
- brenn, unz brunninn er,
- funi kveikisk af funa;
- maðr af manni
- verðr at máli kuðr,
- en til dælskr af dul.
- Torch from a torch
- burns, until it burns out,
- flame kindles itself from flame;
- man from a man
- knows truth from speaking,
- but folly from the fool.
Like breeds like we might say: just as the flame passes from torch to torch, so the light of learning passes from a wise one to a willing student. It burns brightly as long as there is fuel for it -- an eager mind. It's a constant refrain of the verses, but if you listen to fools you learn nothing but foolishness. Be mindful of where you sit. Better silence than foolishness.
- Ár skal rísa,
- sá er annars vill
- fé eða fjör hafa;
- sjaldan liggjandi ulfr
- lær of getr
- né sofandi maðr sigr.
- He must rise [early]
- who would gladly have
- the wealth or life;
- seldom will the lolling wolf
- get the lamb's thigh
- nor the sleeping man victory.
We know all about the early bird getting the worm; here the advice is the same but with the vivid example of the busy wolf grabbing the lamb's 'ham' or thigh. The sleeping warrior will not get victory any more than the sleeping wolf her dinner.
- Ár skal rísa,
- sá er á yrkjendr fáa,
- ok ganga síns verka á vit;
- margt of dvelr,
- þann er um morgin sefr,
- hálfr er auðr und hvötum.
- He must rise early
- who has few workers,
- and get right to his work;
- many things will delay,
- he who in the morning slumbers,
- yet half the wealth to he who's keen.
In typical Nordic litotes, to have 'few workers' is to have only yourself. Rise up early and don't procrastinate, because there is no one else you can count on. Half delayed is half unpaid! While this may seem more puritan than viking, they have in common a harsh life with a lot of tedious chores to maintain food and comfort.
- Þurra skíða
- ok þakinna næfra,
- þess kann maðr mjöt,
- þess viðar,
- er vinnask megi
- mál ok misseri.
- Of dry sticks
- and bark roofing,
- of this a man ought know the measure;
- of this wood
- which should last
- a quarter or a sixmonths.
This stanza is a little more tricky. The basic sense is clear enough: practical knowledge will save you work. Knowing what kind of wood lasts longest before you use it as roofing is very wise. It plays with the concept of 'measure' both as a way to evaluate knowledge and as actually measuring wood for building. The lengths of time aren't terms we use as often now; some translators just use "short and long" for the seasons, but clearly the difference was more specific and meaningful in this agricultural community.
- See also Meditations on Hávamál, 52-56, Meditations on Hávamál, 48-51, Meditations on Hávamál, 44-47, Meditations on Hávamál, 40-43, Meditations on Hávamál, 35-39, Meditations on Hávamál, 31-34, Meditations on Hávamál, 27-30, Meditations on Hávamál, 23-26, Meditations on Hávamál, 19-22, Meditations on Hávamál, 15-18, etc.
I use the Evans edition of the poem to begin and compare with translations here and here. The original text comes from the Heimskringla site in Norway. I also received a new translation of The Poetic Edda from Hackett Publishing; when I get a chance, I'll review it.
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A Victorian nationalist wrote the lyrics. The king of British folksingers wrote the tune. The father of modern witchcraft made it part of the Book of Shadows. And across the English-speaking world, pagans sing and dance to it every Midsummer's Day.
How good is that?
Poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) first published the poem A Tree Song in his childrens' novel Puck of Pook's Hill in 1906. Folk-singer Peter Bellamy (1944-1991) wrote a musical setting for the poem (you can hear it here), retitled Oak and Ash and Thorn; it was released on the album of the same name in 1970.
Meanwhile, some time in the 1950s, Gardner had written the last verse of the song into the liturgy for Beltane. How did a Midsummer's song (“Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, me love/all of a Midsummer's morn”) end up at Beltane? Well, the cross-quarters were the original sabbats of Gardner's revived “witch-cult,” as in Murray, and the quarter-days (solstices and equinoxes) didn't come in until later. That explains the truncation of the lyrics in the BoS version as well.
Of all life forms, the deciduous tree appears to be the one most in synch with the solar events of the year. Sleeping in winter, budding in spring, resplendent with leaves in the summer, fruiting in the autumn and then back to sleep. There are of course also an assortment of tree calendars (mostly owing to Robert Graves) which put different trees as being prominent at different times. Based on what, exactly, I am seldom sure.
The more time you spend with trees, the less this whole idea of a single wheel of the year narrative for trees holds up. For a start, it only works if you live somewhere that has the kind of climate that delivers summer and winter. You have to have deciduous trees, not pines or cacti. If your seasons are all about wet and dry, the solar year and the tree year are not going to be the same. The solar/tree year is fairly Eurocentric, and will fit anywhere with similar conditions, but not everywhere....
Today, actively feel the aliveness in your cells. Receive the extra energy that follows.
When you've put forth energy and intention toward something miraculous coming into your life, the waiting can be the hardest part.
In the past two weeks, though, something outside my control that I wanted for years has come to pass. Something for which I had given up wishing and let go as impossible. A friend I hadn't heard from in a decade came back into my life.
After a great deal of worry after hearing of his rapid decline in health and then years of nothing, I'd thought him either dead or at the least, that he didn't wish to continue our friendship any longer.
He had been a dear friend and an important part of my life for many years. To lose him to depression and medical issues was a heartbreaking experience, but he's back, and it's all thanks to my precocious toddler.
My son had grabbed my phone while I changed his diaper, and since it distracted him from his usual game of Kick Mama in the Head, I let him play for the duration of the cleaning.
A day later I had a few messages from friends explaining why they did not accept my LinkedIn invitation--one I had no knowledge of sending. After a round of apologies and explanations to everyone, I saw a new email. My lost friend didn't know what LinkedIn was, but he wanted to reconnect. We've been talking by phone and online for more than a week now, and I've been elated to have that connection once more. Whatever one might say about chance, I choose to see this return as a reminder that sometimes the requests we put forth are answered with a "Yes."
At a time when my every endeavor seems up in the air, out of my control, and awaiting word for the feedback of others, having my friend return gives me a little calm amid the storm. It reminds me to trust that once I've done the best work I can, I need to surrender the illusion of control and allow my goals to be realized.
Though I await word from a publisher about a novel, and a grants committee about funds needed for my volunteer work as deadlines loom, I am calmer now. I am trusting in the work I've put forth, and surrendering to flow.
The waiting is hard, but the rewards are worth it.
Remember when New Age discovered the Winter Solstice? Christmas Lite, without the baggage.
As a pagan, I grew to resent this. Not that the sunsteads—solstices—belong to us; they're a common inheritance. But don't be telling me about solstices, now. Some of us have been keeping them since, oh, the end of the last Ice Age or so, thank you very much. If not longer.
Somewhere around the third self-satisfied little sermon, I'd had enough, and started turning people into toads.