Friday, 20 February 2015

Hrossharsgrani > Nordische Götter- und Heldensagen

Title: Nordische Götter- und Heldensagen (Nordic Gods and Heroes)
Format: It's a book, originally published in `961 and authored by Professor Dr. Edmund Mudrak.  Written in German, it has particular relevance to the Hrossharsgrani band name....

A footnote in the history of one of Hugin's enduring bands, Hrossharsgrani.

The unusual name - as detailed in previous posts - derives from the name Odin used when he accompanied Starkad, a great warrior who performed many heroic deeds but also many crimes in Norse legends. A cognate of the many, bloody Starkad legends can be found in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf and a ripping read it is too.

This particular ripping read, however, was authored by Edmund Mudrak (1894-1965), who was an Austrian ethnologist and editor of several collections of folk tales, legends, and myths for young people, some of which are still in print.  At the University of Vienna Mudrak wrote his dissertation on the Wieland legend. His nationalism led him to become a professor of ethnology at the University of Posen in occupied Poland.

Why this is relevant to anything remotely Hugin related you may have deduced already: it was in this very book - indeed, this very volume that is pictured here today, that Hugin came across the name of Hrossharsgrani and decided that it was a name worth taking for his fledgling Viking-infused battle-metal project.

And from a historical note, that pretty much is all there is to todays post.  However, as you'll doubtless be chomping at the bit now to learn more of the Hrossharsgrani story, Nazgul has researched a summary version of events from various online accounts: enjoy....

"One day King Vikar sailed to Hordaland with his large army. Off of a small group of islands the winds suddenly went against him and he could make no headway. Through divination King Vikar discovered that Odin required a human sacrifice if he was to proceed. King Vikar decided that the warrior was to be chosen by lot. Everyone in the army was shocked when King Vikar's lot was the one chosen. They decided to have a meeting the next day to discuss this turn of events.  

Just before midnight Grani Horsehair (Starkad's foster father) woke up Starkad and asked him to come with him. They rowed a small boat over to an adjacent island, and after beaching their craft, they walked along a path in the woods until they reached a clearing where a large group of warriors had gathered for a meeting. Starkad counted eleven men sitting in chairs, but noticed the 12th chair was empty. Starkad and Grani Horsehair joined the assembly, and Grani sat down in the 12th chair. Every person seated in the assembly introduced themselves as Odin, and they each declared that they were there to decide Starkad's fate.

Then Thor spoke out against Starkad: " Since Starkad's grandmother, Alfhild, preferred a clever giant to Thor himself as the father of her son, I ordain that Starkad himself shall never have a son nor a daughter, and his family will end with him. "

Odin hearing Thor's curse upon his favoured warrior then answered back : " I ordain that he shall have three life spans. "
Thor : " He shall commit a most foul deed in each one of them. "
Odin : " I ordain that he shall have the best of weapons and clothing. "
Thor : " I ordain that he shall have neither land or estates. "
Odin : " I give him this, that he shall have great riches. "
Thor : " I lay this curse upon him, that he shall never be satisfied with what he has. "
Odin : " I give him victory and fame in battle. "
Thor : " I lay this curse upon him, that in every battle he will be badly wounded. "    
Odin : " I give him the art of poetry, so that he shall compose verses as fast as he can speak. "
Thor : " He shall never remember afterwards what he composes. "
Odin : " I ordain that he shall be most highly regarded by all the noblest and best of men. "
Thor : " I curse him that every common person will hate him . "

The judges, all named Odin, decreed that all that had been declared should come to pass. Then the assembly disappeared, and Grani Horsehair and Starkad went back to their boat. On the way Grani Horsehair turned to his foster son and said : " You owe me foster-son for all the help that I have given you. " Starkad replied : " I will repay you. " Then Grani said: " You must sent King Vikar to me son. I will tell you how to bring him. " Starkad agreed to bring him King Vikar, and then Grani Horsehair gave Starkad a spear that to others would look like a reed stalk.  

They reached the rest of the army at daybreak and the king's counsellors held a meeting to discuss what they should do. They agreed that they would have to hold a mock sacrifice, and Starkad told them how to go about it. During breakfast a calf had been slaughtered and its entrails lay on the ground. Starkad asked for them and threw them over a low branch on a pine tree. He then turned to King Vikar and said : " I have prepared your gallows my king, and they do not seem too dangerous. " The king replied : " If this gallow is no more dangerous than it appears then it can do me no harm. If however it turns out to be more than it appears then I leave my life to fate. "

A stump lay under the branch and the king stepped up on it and Starkad pulled down the branch and placed the makeshift noose around the king' s neck. With the spear, that looked like a reed stalk to everyone else, he stabbed the king before saying : " I give you now to Odin ! " Then everything changed into its real shape ! The reed stalk turned into a spear, and the calf guts turned into strong rope. Starkad let go of the branch and King Vikar shot up into the foliage wher he died. This place is now sacred and is called Vikarsholmar.    

As was pre-ordained by Thor this made Starkad a much hated man among the common folk, and he was banished from Hordaland and eventually had to flee from Norway and live in Sweden."

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