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Myths The Myth Concerning The Earliest Period And The Emigrations From The North.

Hadding's Journey To The East Reconciliation Between The Asas And Vans

Halfdan's Character The Weapon-myth

The Significance Of The Conflict From A Religious-ritual Standpoint

Halfdan's Conflicts Interpreted As Myths Of Nature

Borgar-skjold's Son Halfdan The Third Patriarch

Gulveig-heidr Her Identity With Aurboda Angrboda Hyrrokin The Myth Concerning The Sword Guardian And Fjalar

The Creation Of Man The Primeval Country Scef The Bringer Of Culture

Halfdan And Hamal Foster-brothers The Amalians Fight In Behalf Of Halfdan's Son Hadding

Halfdan's Identity With Mannus In Germania

Halfdan's Enmity With Orvandel And Svipdag

Heimdal And The Sun-dis Dis-goddess

Sorcery The Reverse Of The Sacred Runes Gullveig-heidr The Source Of Sorcery The Moral Deterioration Of The Original Man

The War In Midgard Between Halfdan's Sons

Hadding's Defeat Loke In The Council And On The Battle-field

The Teutonic Emigration Saga Found In Tacitus

Scef The Author Of Culture Identical With Heimdal-rig The Original Patriarch

The Position Of The Divine Clans To The Warriors

Halfdan's Birth And The End Of The Age Of Peace The Family Names Ylfing Hilding Budlung

The Sacred Runes Learned From Heimdal

The World War Its Cause The Murder Of Gullveig-heidr

Evidence That Halfdan Is Identical With Helge Hundingsbane

Loke Causes Enmity Between The Gods And The Original Artists

Review Of The Svipdag Myth And Its Points Of Connection With The Myth About Halfdan

The Breach Of Peace Between Asas And Vans Frigg Skade And Ull In The Conflict

Halfdan's Conflicts Interpreted As Myths Of Nature


Source: Teutonic Mythology

In regard to the significance of the conflicts awaiting Halfdan, and
occupying his whole life, when interpreted as myths of nature, we must
remember that he inherits from his father the duty of stopping the
progress southward of the giant-world's wintry agents, the kinsmen of
Thjasse, and of the Skilfing (Yngling) tribes dwelling in the north. The
migration sagas have, as we have seen, shown that Borgar and his people
had to leave the original country and move south to Denmark, Saxland,
and to those regions on the other side of the Baltic in which the Goths
settled. For a time the original country is possessed by the conquerors
who according to Voeluspa, "from Svarin's Mound attacked and took
(sotti) the clayey plains as far as Jaravall." But Halfdan represses
them. That the words quoted from Voeluspa really refer to the same mythic
persons with whom Halfdan afterwards fights is proved by the fact that
Svarin and Svarin's Mound are never named in our documents except in
connection with Halfdan's saga. In Saxo it is Halfdan-Gram who slays
Svarin and his numerous brothers; in the saga of "Helge Hundingsbane" it
is again Halfdan, under the name Helge, who attacks tribes dwelling
around Svarin's Mound, and conquers them. To this may be added, that the
compiler of the first song about Helge Hundingsbane borrowed from the
saga-original, on which the song is based, names which point to the
Voeluspa strophe concerning the attack on the south Scandinavian plains.
In the category of names, or the genealogy of the aggressors, occur, as
has been shown already, the Skilfing names Alf and Yngve. Thus also in
the Helge-song's list of persons with whom the conflict is waged in the
vicinity of Svarin's Mound. In the Voe1uspa's list Moinn is mentioned
among the aggressors (in the variation in the Prose Edda); in the
Helge-song, strophe 46, it is said that Helge-Halfdan fought a
Moinsheimom against his brave foes, whom he afterwards slew in the
battle around Svarin's Mound. In the Voeluspa's list is named among the
aggressors one Haugspori, "the one spying from the mound"; in the
Helge-song is mentioned Sporvitnir, who from Svarin's Mound watches
the forces of Helge-Halfdan advancing. I have already (No. 28B), pointed
out several other names which occur in the Voeluspa list, and whose
connection with the myth concerning the artists, frost-giants, and
Skilfings of antiquity and their attack on the original country, can be

The physical significance of Halfdan's conflicts and adventures is
apparent also from the names of the women, whom the saga makes him
marry. Groa (grow), whom he robs and keeps for some time, is, as her
very name indicates, a goddess of vegetation. Signe-Alveig, whom he
afterwards marries, is the same. Her name signifies "the nourishing
drink." According to Saxo she is the daughter of Sumblus, Latin for
Sumbl, which means feast, ale, mead, and is a synonym for Oelvaldi,
Oelmodr, names which belonged to the father of the Ivalde sons (see No.

According to a well-supported statement in Forspjallsljod (see No. 123),
Ivalde was the father of two groups of children. The mother of one of
these groups is a giantess (see Nos. 113, 114, 115). With her he has
three sons, viz., the three famous artists of antiquity--Ide,
Gang-Urnir, and Thjasse. The mother of the other group is a goddess of
light (see No. 123). With her he has daughters, who are goddesses of
growth, among them Idun and Signe-Alveig. That Idun is the daughter of
Ivalde is clear from Forspjallsljod (6), alfa aettar Ithunni heto
Ivallds ellri yngsta barna.

Of the names of their father Sumbl, Oelvaldi, Oelmodr, it may be
said that, as nature-symbols, "oel" (ale) and "mjoed" (mead), are in the
Teutonic mythology identical with soma and somamadhu in Rigveda and
haoma in Avesta, that is, they are the strength-developing, nourishing
saps in nature. Mimer's subterranean well, from which the world-tree
draws its nourishment, is a mead-fountain. In the poem "Haustlaung" Idun
is called Oelgefn; in the same poem Groa is called Oelgefion. Both
appellations refer to goddesses who give the drink of growth and
regeneration to nature and to the gods. Thus we here have a family, the
names and epithets of whose members characterise them as forces, active
in the service of nature and of the god of harvests. Their names and
epithets also point to the family bond which unites them. We have the
group of names, Idvaldi, Idi, Idunn, and the group, Oelvaldi
(Oelmodr), Oelgefn, and Oelgefion, both indicating members of the
same family. Further on (see Nos. 113, 114, 115), proof shall be
presented that Groa's first husband, Orvandel the brave, is one of
Thjasse's brothers, and thus that Groa, too, was closely connected with
this family.

As we know, it is the enmity caused by Loke between the Asa-gods and the
lower serving, yet powerful, divinities of nature belonging to the
Ivalde group, which produces the terrible winter with its awful
consequences for man, and particularly for the Teutonic tribes. These
hitherto beneficent agents of growth have ceased to serve the gods, and
have allied themselves with the frost-giants. The war waged by Halfdan
must be regarded from this standpoint. Midgard's chief hero, the real
Teutonic patriarch, tries to reconquer for the Teutons the country of
which winter has robbed them. To be able to do this, he is the son of
Thor, the divine foe of the frost-giants, and performs on the border of
Midgard a work corresponding to that which Thor has to do in space and
in Jotunheim. And in the same manner as Heimdal before secured
favourable conditions of nature to the original country, by uniting the
sun-goddess with himself through bonds of love, his grandson Halfdan now
seeks to do the same for the Teutonic country, by robbing a hostile son
of Ivalde, Orvandel, of his wife Groa, the growth-giver, and thereupon
also of Alveig, the giver of the nourishing sap. A symbol of nature may
also be found in Saxo's statement, that the king of Svithiod, Sigtrygg,
Groa's father, could not be conquered unless Halfdan fastened a golden
ball to his club (Hist., 31). The purpose of Halfdan's conflicts, the
object which the norns particularly gave to his life, that of
reconquering from the powers of frost the northernmost regions of the
Teutonic territory and of permanently securing them for culture, and the
difficulty of this task is indicated, it seems to me, in the strophes
above quoted, which tell us that the norns fastened the woof of his
power in the east and west, and that he from the beginning, and
undisputed, extended the sceptre of his rule over these latitudes,
while in regard to the northern latitudes, it is said that Nere's
kinswoman, the chief of the norns (see Nos. 57-64, 85), cast a single
thread in this direction and prayed that it might hold for ever:

ther austr oc vestr
enda falo,
thar atti lofdungr
land a milli;
bra nipt Nera
a nordrvega
einni festi,
ey bath hon halda.

The norns' prayer was heard. That the myth made Halfdan proceed
victoriously to the north, even to the very starting-point of the
emigration to the south caused by the fimbul-winter, that is to say, to
Svarin's Mound, is proved by the statements that he slays Svarin and his
brothers, and wins in the vicinity of Svarin's Mound the victory over
his opponents, which was for a time decisive. His penetration into the
north, when regarded as a nature-myth, means the restoration of the
proper change of seasons, and the rendering of the original country and
of Svithiod inhabitable. As far as the hero, who secured the "giver of
growth" and the "giver of nourishing sap," succeeds with the aid of his
father Thor to carry his weapons into the Teutonic lands destroyed by
frost, so far spring and summer again extend the sceptre of their reign.
The songs about Helge Hundingsbane have also preserved from the myth the

idea that Halfdan and his forces penetrating northward by land and by
sea are accompanied in the air by "valkyries," "goddesses from the
south," armed with helmets, coats of mail, and shining spears, who fight
the forces of nature that are hostile to Halfdan, and these valkyries
are in their very nature goddesses of growth, from the manes of whose
horses falls the dew which gives the power of growth back to the earth
and harvests to men. (Cp. Helg. Hund., i. 15, 30; ii., the prose to v.
5, 12, 13, with Helg. Hjoerv., 28.) On this account the Swedes, too, have
celebrated Halfdan in their songs as their patriarch and benefactor, and
according to Saxo they have worshipped him as a divinity, although it
was his task to check the advance of the Skilfings to the south.

Doubtless it is after this successful war that Halfdan performs the
great sacrifice mentioned in Skaldskaparmal, ch. 64, in order that he
may retain his royal power for three hundred years. The statement should
be compared with what the German poems of the middle ages tell about the
longevity of Berchtung-Borgar and other heroes of antiquity. They live
for several centuries. But the response Halfdan gets from the powers to
whom he sacrificed is that he shall live simply to the age of an old
man, and that in his family there shall not for three hundred years be
born a woman or a fameless man.

Next: Review Of The Svipdag Myth And Its Points Of Connection With The Myth About Halfdan

Previous: Halfdan's Character The Weapon-myth

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