Initiations, Bears, and Rituals Part 2

We will start with updates. There is a lot on my mind lately. More books forming in my head, and more projects to keep my hands busy. The book I finished recently was based on a similar idea as the Dresden Files and the Kitty Norville books. They will be episodic in nature. I have finished writing the first in the series. I already have the second book forming in my head.

Also, I have been thinking about the trilogy I finished last year. I am thinking about revisiting it, and maybe shifting it from alternative history to full fantasy. I just don’t like it as is.

I have also been playing with the idea of writing some kind of pagan introduction book of some sort. Still not a lot fleshed out in that regard. It might happen, and it might not.

Also, I found out today that my submission for the Walking the Worlds journal was rejected. A little disappointing I’ll admit, but I’ll probably just recycle it into a series of blog entries. Even writing it, I felt there was a great deal more to say.  So it might just appear here with extended commentary.

On to Part 2. Here is skeleton of the relevant narrative from the Völsungasaga;

“Sigurd is the son of Sigmund and Hjordis. After Sigmund’s death, Sigurd is fostered by man called Regin. Regin tells Sigurd that he must kill the dragon Fafnir to acquire wealth and glory as he claims that Sigurd has no independent wealth of his own as it is controlled by the Kings of Denmark.

Regin proceeds to tell Sigurd the story of his family and why he wants Sigurd to kill Fafnir. Sigurd agrees to kill Fafnir for Regin, but only once his father is avenged. Regin makes three swords in preparation for Sigurd. The first two swords break and only the third made with the pieces of Sigurd’s father Sigmund’s sword is sufficient. Once the sword is acquired, Regin leads Sigurd to the lair of Fafnir. Regin runs to hide.

Odin appears to Sigurd and tells him how to kill Fafnir. Sigurd digs trenches to lie in to stab Fafnir from underneath and also for the dragon’s blood to run into. Fafnir is killed with a single stab from Sigurd. However, a brief discussion happens while the dragon dies. Sigurd is granted knowledge of the dragon’s hoarded wealth but also burdens him with a magical curse. Regin rejoins Sigurd and drinks the blood of the dragon, then has Sigurd cook the heart of the dragon for him.

While Sigurd is cooking the heart he tastes some of the blood which gives him supernatural knowledge – the understanding of the speech of birds. He takes the advice of the birds he overhears and eats more of the heart himself to gain supernatural powers, then kills Regin who the birds reveal is going to betray Sigurd. Once Regin is killed, Sigurd takes possession of the hoard of Fafnir including the supernatural Helm of Terror.

After acquiring the wealth of Fafnir, Sigurd travels onwards and meets the valkyrie Brynhildr. After Sigurd has freed her from her bonds Brynhildr grants him supernatural knowledge in the form of runes which she recounts as verse, and then offers further wisdom through normal speech. At the end of the chapter Sigurd and Brynhildr promise to marry each other and then Sigurd leaves.” (Haggerty, pgs 11 – 14)

Once again, we see a slaying of some foe, in this case Fafnir the dragon. Like in the last story, we see the hero gaining knowledge and power from the blood of the dead dragon. Also, at least in material wealth, we see the hero going from no “worth” of his own, as the king has it all, to possessor of a dragon hoard. He also gains supernatural treasure and knowledge along the way. There are interesting parallels between this story and the last. These are discusses more thoroughly in the article itself, and will not be recounted here.

In the next part of this series, we will move a discussion of the Bear Cult, and the sources of Finland and Karelia.

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About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

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