About Runic Texts Shown on the Left Menu (200 BCE to 720 CE)

(Feb 1, 2023) Central Europe map showing the find locations of the Germanic style of runic writing called "Elder Futhark." They are all north of Switzerland which are home of their predecessor Alpine Celtic (Lepontic) texts. Image by Berig via Wikimedia Commons at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elder_futhark_inscriptions.png. Map is based on information in Jansson (1987). Runes in Sweden, p. 186

Comprehensive Germanic Elder Futhark rune site put together by Arild Hauge so many thanks to him!: https://www.arild-hauge.com/eindex.htm

Norwegian Uni-Museum which is an online joint collection site for the university museums of cultural history in Tromsø, Trondheim, Stavanger, Bergen and Oslo: https://www.unimus.no/portal/#/

Swedish Rune Map: https://runkartan.se/english/

Reconstructed torq from the treasure of Pietroassa as scanned from book by Henric Trenk (1875). The ring is part of a hord found in Romanian Wallachia and has a diameter of 16 centimeters (6 1/2 inches). Inscription was mostly destroyed by thieves who were cutting down the torq to melt. The text can no longer be read. What is in this image is a "restored" text which cannot be trusted for a translation. Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pietroassa_ring_1875.jpg

For Reference: Gold Ring (Torq) of Pietroassa (400-450 CE)

Photo of Ring (Torq) of Pietroassa as it appeared in April 1994 at the exhibition at  Schirn Kunsthalle at Frankfurt am Main, where the object was part of the exhibition Goldhelm in the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte. 
Found on page 97 of the thesis entitled "Runes around the North Sea and on the Continent AD 150-700; texts & contexts" by Looijenga, Jantina Helena. Online at: https://pure.rug.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/3230061/thesis.pdf

Norse Constellations

(August 3, 2023) We do not really know many of the Old Norse names for the heavenly bodies and constellations which they used despite their many Pagan texts. This is because even these texts tended to use Latin and Greek names. Yet they must have used stars to navigate across the various seas.

The existence of a Norse calendar is mentioned in the Icelandic chronicle “Íslendingabók” (c 1000 CE) regarding the Icelander's adoption of the Roman Julian calendar between 700 and 1000 CE. This text indicates that the Icelanders were aware that the motions of the sun to define the year did not perfectly match the 12 periods of the moon which divided up the year. 

In Völuspa in the Eddas the origin of the stars and planets are mentioned, as well as their end at Ragnarök. The world was created from the body of the giant Ymer (Akkadian IMu-er = "emotion-maker"). His skull forms the firmament and is held in place by four dwarves, where sparks from Muspellheim (Akkadian MS.PL-realm = "realm of the night.rulers") form the stars. Their place in the sky was determined by the gods and some were given paths they will roam.

In prosaic Edda, which is a textbook on writing poetry, we find more stories where stars are mentioned. As in the Greek mythology, stories explain how they ended up in the sky.

In Skáldskaparmál, the story of Tjatse is told. Tjatse managed, with the assistance of Loki, to kidnap Idun, the keeper of the apples of youth, from Asgard. Loki managed to save her but was pursued by Tjatse who got killed. Tjatse's daughter Skade came and demanded compensation for her father. The compensation included among other things a husband. In addition Odin or Thor placed Tjatse's eyes in the sky.

  • Tjatse (Akkadian T.IT.S = Astronomy-magic.Omens.Su or "Astrological-omens from Su" where Su is the dark new moon god surround by the celestial light goddess Selene). So the eyes of Tjatse were the bright and new moons.

The other story where a star or constellation is mentioned is in the epilogue of the fight between Thor and the giant Hrungne. Thor was injured in the fight, and a small piece of stone got stuck in his head. In order to get it out, he sought help from a Vala, a type of oracle, named Groa. When Thor felt that the stone were coming out, he told Groa that he helped her husband Aurvandil, to escape from the land of the giants. During the escape Aurvandil froze his big toe, which Thor broke off and threw into the sky to become a star or a constellation, Aurvandil's toe. This made Groa so happy that she forgot her magic, and Thor still has that piece of stone in his head.

”Aurvandil's toe” is most likely the Corona Borealis, partly because of the likeness with a toe. But there are also other indications making this identification the most likely. Corona Borealis is a spring constellation, which is of importance. In ”Gesta danorum" written by Saxo Grammaticus [4], one finds a story of a King, Horwendil, who is fighting a duel with a Norwegian king, Koller (cold). The duel ends with Horwendil cutting off Koller's foot and thus killing him. This story is probably based on an old myth of the fight between seasons, making Koller's foot or “Aurvandil's toe” a sign of spring or summers victory over the cold winter. 

While not a constellation the rainbow is related. In the Eddas the rainbow is called "Bifrost" In the north-western European traditions the rainbow is the road of the dead. This road in Norse mythology called the road to Hel. But the rainbow is also the road to the “other” world. The name Bifrost originates from two Indo-European words, bif, meaning "shimmering" or "trembling," and rost meaning "road." In the poetic Edda, Bifrost is described as the shimmering road and as the road to Asgard. The spirit Heimdall  (Akkadian ""Realm-DaLu" meaning "realm of water-transport") is the guardian of Bifrost. He lives in a house ”high up in the sky.”  This indicates Bifrost is the rainbow.  


Jonas Persson (2003-2023) Norse Constellations. Online at: https://www.digitaliseducation.com/resources-norse.html

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