The Masks of Odin by Elsa-Brita Titchenell
Copyright © 1985 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.

Chapter 12

Havamal

(The High One's Words)

TEXT

TRANSLATOR'S NOTES

The Song of the High One is something of an enigma. It has three quite distinct and very different styles, each with its internally consistent character. Scholars have been understandably perplexed by the incongruous juxtaposition of the parts of this lengthy poem.

The first and longest portion appears to be a book of elementary etiquette, a sort of rustic Emily Post. It lays down rules of propriety for social intercourse and for maintaining friendships; explains the duties of a host and of a guest at the festive board; outlines some simple home remedies for common ailments, prescribes appropriate drinking habits for maintaining a sane and reasonable outlook (and avoiding a hangover) and gives other pieces of mundane advice and practical wisdom worded to suit a semibarbaric people learning to adapt to community life.

The second division, formally introduced in verse III, is directed to the dwarf Loddfafner. Here the emphasis is on right and honorable action, on consideration for others and kindly conduct. Loddfafner is clearly one step ahead of the populace who need directives for preserving the barest amenities, but he is still a dwarf because as a soul he has not yet developed his humanity to any marked extent. This section would have applicability to most of us and Loddfafner may at this stage be regarded as Everyman. Gradually, by following the precepts of the god, the dwarf nature can evolve into full humanity. A soul that has awakened to some degree and is striving to improve its condition, Loddfafner in the end is addressed as a pupil or disciple in the third and final section which is in a wholly different vein. Its symbolism defies analysis while it orients the inward eve to vistas of inexpressible grandeur. The brief, laconic verses hint at concepts so luminous and insights so vast they may well be the substance pondered by the elect in pursuit of divine wisdom.

Clearly the Song of the High One is intended for three very different audiences: the early part is for the public — a coarse-grained people, responsive only to the simplest advice applying to their daily pursuits; next, the plain ethics of any exoteric school or church, common practices for decent living. The third is the mystical evocation of the reaching soul in a disciple who has dedicated his life to serving the divine purpose; it is directed to those individuals who are capable of emulating the god's commitment and who lend their strength and determination to the divine labor of "raising the runes" (138) by Odin, the inner god of all.

The same three natural divisions may be discerned in any system of thought or religion. There are always large numbers who are uninspired and self-centered, content to make the most of their circumstances and enjoy life. They generally adhere to conventional norms, demanding and presenting an appearance of respectability. There is a second, fairly numerous group who enjoy speculating on the unseen causes of observed phenomena and who may dabble in a variety of superstitious practices. Among them are many who yearn for greater knowledge and recognize that the universe holds mysteries to be discovered, but they often lack the needed insight and perseverance which is achieved by self-discipline.

The third group has little popular appeal. It is composed of those who have penetrated the sanctuary of their soul and at first hand verified some measure of truth. These are the elect, the few who work for spiritual nature, indifferent to praise or blame, and without regard for their own ends, knowing that these are bound up with the larger, universal destiny. There is for them no pandering to personal satisfaction though, paradoxically, their altruism forms the backbone and stamina of the human evolutionary impulse for all mankind, the advancement of which must bring the greatest satisfaction of all.

It has always been necessary for teachers of wisdom to make a distinction among their followers: those who are irrevocably committed to the noble work of the gods receive a greater share of knowledge and, with it, a far more onerous responsibility. Jesus told his disciples this: "To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables" (Mark 4:11). Gautama, the Buddha, also had an esoteric school where worthy Arhats were given advanced instruction and training; so did Pythagoras and numerous other guides and spiritual preceptors through the ages.

The Song of the High One shows the different audiences to whom it is directed both by the manner of address and, even more, by its substance. The portion wherein the teacher is speaking to a general public ends with a parable which tells of Odin's former quest for wisdom. Verses 104-110 relate in somewhat obscure language how with the aid of the squirrel Rate (which can also mean a drill), Odin bored a hole in the giant's mountain and entered in the guise of a serpent. He persuaded the giant's daughter to give him a draught from the well of wisdom secreted there by the giant. Through the story are twined numerous symbols, each with several meanings — a typical example of the method used in myths to relate truths. Rate, the drill or rodent, like the squirrel in the Tree of Life, represents consciousness which gives access to the depths of the matter-world where Odin earns wisdom, as well as to the heights of its crown. Gunnlod, the giant's daughter — unable to ascend to heights of divinity, was left behind in tears, though the "precious mead of Odraerir" — vessel of inspiration — was carried upward one step on the ladder of existence, raised to our own "earth's ancient shrine." The question is asked by the frost giants, whether the god had emerged victorious or been overcome by the giant Suttung (earth's previous imbodiment). Odin was able to give assurance that he had indeed returned unscathed to the realm of the gods.

Gunnlod, "the good woman," personifies an age when, amid the mountainous materialism of her father — the greater cycle — at least a portion of it welcomed the deity and was able to supply a draught of wisdom. It is suggestive too that "Odraerir now has come up here to earth's ancient shrine" in view of the theosophic teaching that our planet (which furnishes the sacred mead) has itself progressed upward by one stage since its former imbodiment on an inferior, more material, shelf, and that what was then the astral model of the moon is our present, solidly physical, satellite. This implies of course that mankind has progressed upward by one stage. The "ancient shrine" refers to a still earlier phase, on the "downward arc" toward matter.

Among the early divine teachers of humankind are many who have left no trace of their passage; it would seem that Odin was one of this progression, for in The Secret Doctrine H. P. Blavatsky states that

the day when much, if not all, of that which is given here from the archaic records, will be found correct, is not far distant. Then the modern symbologists will acquire the certitude that even Odin, . . . is one of these thirty-five Buddhas; one of the earliest, indeed, for the continent to which he and his race belonged, is also one of the earliest. — II, 423

Whether the final portion of Havamal has been preserved since so great an antiquity or was reconstructed and dispensed in its present form by later teachers is impossible for us now to determine. We may recognize in these verses the very essence of esoteric cosmogony and feel a profound reverence and gratitude as we contemplate the divine sacrifice of the cosmic spirit inherent in the Tree of Life. This divine imbodiment takes place throughout any world's existence as conscious energy impels the world to be and energic consciousness absorbs its draught from the well of wisdom guarded by the giant Mimer, the matter of which the worlds are formed.

Verses 137-42 give a remarkably concise expression to some fundamental tenets of the ancient wisdom, and explain the periodicity of manifested life and the karmic action which on every level of existence leads from each event, word, and deed, to the next. The seventeenth galder (spell) relates also that these instructions are given under a seal of secrecy, while the final verse shows clearly why this must be so: it is not possible to grasp the meaning of the teachings unless the nature is sufficiently matured in understanding. They are "useful to children of men, but useless to sons of giants" (163): only the spiritual intelligence is capable of receiving the inner message; the temporal, uninspired, giant-nature is not, for it lacks the insight to discern it. For this reason very little is known of the Mystery schools of the ancient world — or for that matter of the modern — beyond the bare fact of their existence from very remote times. The knowledge they imparted could not be divulged to any unqualified person due not to actual prohibition but, more effectively, to the need for a developed faculty of understanding; this comprehension (the word literally means embracing) within one's own sphere of sympathy and love must be naturally active before the deeper teachings could be received. It follows that to betray the Mysteries in any significant degree must be as impossible as to explain higher mathematics to a beetle. Nevertheless, a breach of faith is a serious defect in the offender and adds to the adverse karma of the race. Still, as much as may be understood is "brought back" by the enlightened sage and shared with those who are able to profit by what he has to give. King Gylfe as Ganglare performed this task, relating the things he had learned, which subsequently were passed on from one to another (conclusion of Gylfaginning, p. 130).

It will be noted that, like other mystical poems, Havamal in part assumes the form of a love song, reminiscent of the Rubaiyat or the Song of Solomon, perhaps because this form is the nearest expression man can devise for the poignant ecstasy of union with the divine self, the inner god, as there exists nothing comparable in material experience. The full and intimate expansion of human consciousness belongs naturally only to those whose entire nature is subject to, and mirrors the god within, that is, to the One-harriers of Odin, named thus because of being in total control of "one" their own personal ego.


Havamal

1. Scrutinize an entrance before passing through;
Uncertain it is where foes may be seated.

2. Hail, generous ones! A guest has arrived. Show him a seat.
He has haste who must prove himself at the fire.

3. Warmth is needed by one who comes in from the cold;
Food and drink needs the man who comes in from the mountains.

4. Water needs he who comes to his host, a towel and greeting;
A kindly reception for one who seeks words and a friendly hearing.

5. Wit needs the wanderer in foreign lands. At home all is easy.
Boast not your deeds among those who are wise.

6. Display not your cleverness; have a care; the wise man is silent
On another's ground, and arouses no anger. Better friend has no man than good sense.

7. The wary guest at the feast keeps silent when there is whispering;
He heeds with his ears, seeks with his eyes; so the wise man observes.

8. Happy the man who gains honor and esteem;
But uncertain the gain borne in another's breast.

9. Happy is he who has himself honor and wisdom in living;
Others' advice is often bad counsel.

10. No better burden can a man bear than good sense and manners;
Better than gold it serves, a strong support in need.

11. No better burden can a man bear than good sense and manners;
And no worse provender is borne than an excess of ale.

12. Ale is not so good as they say for the race of men;
The more a man drinks the less he knows how to keep his wits about him.

13. In raving delirium is one who noises in his cups; it steals his senses;
By that bird's feathers was I fettered in Gunnlod's court.

14. Drunk was I, senseless drunk, in the hall of peaceful Fjalar;
Best is that ale feast when each goes home retaining sense and reason.

15. Agreeable and cheerful shall be a son of man, and valiant in battle;
Gay and friendly a man shall be as he awaits his bane.

16. A coward thinks he may live forever if he avoids the fight;
Yet old age will not spare him, though he be spared by spears.

17. A fool at a feast sits staring and mumbling to himself;
But if he takes a drink his mind stands stark revealed.

18. He who is well traveled
Expresses each thought well.

19. Keep not the tankard long, (1) drink moderately, speak sense or hold your peace;
None will hold you uncivil if you retire early to bed.

20. A greedy man without manners will make himself ill;
A boor's stomach becomes the butt of jokes in clever company.

21. Cattle know when to leave the pasture and go home;
But a fool knows not the measure of his stomach.

22. The wretch of mean disposition derides everything;
He knows not, as he should, that he lacks not faults himself.

23. A fool lies awake nights worrying over many things;
Feeble is he when morning breaks, and matters are still as before.

24. The fool believes all who smile at him are his friends;
He knows not how they speak about him.

25. The fool believes all who smile at him are his friends;
He finds out only in court, when few will speak for him.

26. A fool thinks himself all-wise in a sheltered corner;
He knows not what to say when tested by strong men.

27. A fool among the elders should hold his peace;
No one knows how little he understands if he keeps silent.

28. He seems wise who makes questions and answers;
But no fault on earth can be hidden.

29. He who speaks much says ill-chosen words;
A tongue unreined speaks its own undoing.

30. Mock not another who comes among your kin;
Many feel wise on their own mountain.

31. He thinks himself smart when leaving, the guest who has mocked another;
Who pokes fun at table sees not the anger around him.

32. Often friends will bicker and tease at the board;
This may rouse contention of guest against guest.

33. One should eat each meal at due time and not go hungry as guest;
Else he may sit choking, with no question to ask.

34. It's a long detour to a faithless friend, though he live by the road;
But to a good friend, however distant, there are many shortcuts.

35. A guest shall leave betimes and not stay too long;
Pleasure palls if he lingers too long at another's board.

36. Better your own home where each is his own master;
Two goats and a thatch are better than begging abroad.

37. Better your own home where each is his own master;
The heart bleeds in one who must beg for his food at each meal.

38. Weapons should never be left more than a step away on the field;
Uncertain it is how soon a man may have need of his spear.

39. I saw none so lavish that he declined what was offered;
Nor any so generous that wage was unwanted when earned.

40. He who has money does not suffer need;
But saving is a virtue that can be carried to a fault.

41. With weapons and garments friends please one another;
Gifts to and fro help a friendship endure.

42. To a friend be a friend and give gift for gift;
Jest should be taken with jest, wile with wile.

43. To a friend be a friend, both to him and his friend;
But to enemy's friend, be not bound by friendship.

44. If you know a friend, believe in him and desire his goodwill,
Go share his tastes, and gifts exchange; go often seek him out.

45. If you know one who evil thinks but you desire his goodwill,
Speak him fair though you falsely feel; repay lies with cunning.

46. This also applies to one you distrust, whose mind is uncertain;
Meet him with smiles, choose your words well; repay gifts in kind.

47. When I was young I traveled alone and wandered away from the road;
I thought myself rich when I met with a man, for a man is good company.

48. Noble, courageous men live best; they seldom harbor sorrow.
A foolish man fears many things and begrudges every gift.

49. I gave of my clothes to two wooden men in a field;
They felt in fine fettle, robed in rags; naked, a man suffers shame.

50. The fir tree withers on a dry knoll without shelter of bark or needles;
So too does a man whom no one loves; why should he live for long?

51. Hotter than fire may be the love of a peaceful man for his faithless friend
For five days; but on the sixth his friendship dies.

52. Not much it takes to give a man, oft praise is bought with little;
With half a bread, a draught from the stein, I won a faithful comrade.

53. Small piles of sand and tiny streams, small are the minds of men;
All are not equally strong in wisdom; each age is of two kinds.

54. Wise in moderation should each one be — not overwise;
Life smiles the fairest on him who well knows what he knows.

55. Wise in moderation should each one be — not overwise;
For a wise man's heart loses gladness if he thinks himself all-wise.

56. Wise in moderation should each one be — not overwise;
His fate beforehand no one knows; the soul is thus carefree.

57. Fire is lit by fire till it dies, and flame is lit by flame;
Man knows man by his speech, the speechless by his silence.

58. Early to rise is one who seeks another's life or possessions;
The sleeping wolf rarely gets a bone or a sleeping man victory.

59. Early to rise is one who has few laborers and himself goes to work;
Much is neglected by one who sleeps late; the prompt is half rich.

60. Of kindling and roofbark a man knows the measure;
Likewise of firewood how much suffices for a whole or half a season.

61. Clean and fed shall he ride to the Ting, (2) even though poorly clad;
None need feel shame over patches on shoes nor over inferior mount.

62. Question and answer were made with forethought by one who would be called wise;
Take one only into your confidence; what three know the world knows.

63. He studies and stares when he wanders the wave, an ern on the ancient sea;
So too does the man who comes into a crowd where few will speak for him.

64. A wise man keeps within proper bounds his right and authority;
In concourse of warriors he will find none the most valiant.

65. For every word he speaks
A man will pay in kind.

66. To many a place I came too soon, to others much too late;
The ale was drunk, or not yet brewed; ill guest comes ill-timed.

67. In some places I would have been invited if I needed no food;
If two hams hung at my friend's where I had just eaten.

68. Among children of men, fire is the best and the shining sun,
If man may have the gift of health, and live without vice.

69. No man is unhappy in all things though his health be poor: one is blessed with sons,
Another with friends, a third with full barns, a fourth with good deeds.

70. Better to live and live happy; a good man can get a cow;
I saw the fire die out in a rich man's house; death stood at the door.

71. A lame man can ride; a handless herd cattle, a deaf may be a fine warrior;
Better blind than burn on the pyre; no one needs a corpse.

72. A son is better even though born late when his father's life is ended;
Memorials are seldom raised unless by kin.

73. The two are companions-in-arms, but the tongue is the bane of the head;
Beneath each fur I expect a fist.

74. One night may you trust to your provender but short are ship's biscuits, and quickly changes an autumn night;
The weather shifts much in the course of five days, much more in a month.

75. He knows not who little knows that many are fools to others;
One may be rich, another poor. No blame attaches to this.

76. Cattle die; kinsmen die; you likewise must die;
But the voice of honor never dies for him who has earned a good name.

77. Cattle die; kinsmen die; you must likewise die;
One thing I know that never dies: a dead man's reputation.

78. Full sheepfolds I saw at the rich man's sons; they now bear the beggar's staff;
Riches are like the wink of an eye, the most fickle of friends.

79. When a fool gains goods or a woman's favor, his pride grows but not his sense;
He walks in a fool's blindness.

80. This then is known: when you ask for runes known but to the ruling powers;
About those that were scribed by the bard of secret wisdom he had better be silent.

81. Day may be praised by night, a woman on her pyre, sword's edge when tested;
Maiden when wed, ice when the crossing is over, ale when it has been drunk.

82. Trees should be felled when the wind blows, sail when the breeze is fair;
In darkness daily with maiden, for many eyes see by day;
You need speed from a ship, protection from a shield, blows from a blade, kiss from a maid.

83. By fire drink ale, on ice score with skates, buy a horse when it's lean, and a blade when it's rusty.
The horse you fatten and the hound you train.

84. Trust not a maid's words, nor a wife's,
For on a whirling wheel were born their hearts and fickleness fixed in their breast.

85. Trust not breaking bow, flaring flame, gaping wolf, carping crow,
Bellowing boar, rootless willow, waxing wave, bubbling caldron.

86. Airborn arrow, breaking wave, night-old ice, coiled snake,
Bride's words in bed, broken sword or playful bear, nor the children of a king;

87. Sick calf, stubborn thrall, sibyl's fair words, newly killed whale, (3)
Such may no man trust to appearances.

88. Depend not on a new-sown field, nor too soon on a son;
Nor on a brother's bane, even on a wide road;

89. Nor on a house half burnt, a horse swift as the wind (he would be useless with a broken leg);
No man is so confident he trusts in these.

90. So is the love of women, fickle ones, like riding on slippery ice with uncleated horse,
A lively two-year-old, ill trained, or rudderless sailing in violent storm, or like a lame man's reindeer chase on bare slippery rock.

91. Openly I declare, for I know both, how treacherous is man's mind toward women;
When we speak most fair we think most false; this traps even the cunning.

92. You shall speak fair and offer gifts if you desire maid's love;
Devote praise to the fair one's beauty, a young wooer shall get his wish.

93. For his love shall no man blame another!
Often a wise man, not a fool, is beguiled by a pretty face.

94. Nor shall one man censure another for what befalls many a man;
A sage is often made a fool by overwhelming desire.

95. Mind only knows what lies near the heart, it alone sees the depth of the soul;
No worse ill assails the wise than to live without inner peace.

96. This I learned, crouched in the reeds, waiting for my love,
My body and my soul seemed wise to me. Yet I have her not.

97. Billing's maid (4) was found by me, white as the sun, asleep;
All princely seemed naught to me beside life with her beauty.

98. "Toward evening, Odin, shall you come, if you would win the maid;
It would be unfitting if we alone knew not of this."

99. Back I ran and deemed myself lucky, went to learn the wise one's wish;
I had hoped to have her tenderness and joy.

100. When I returned all the gallant warrior band was awake;
With blazing torches and high borne lights, the road was perilous to me.

101. I returned in the morning, the watchers were asleep;
I found a dog bound by the holy woman's bed.

102. Many a sweet maid, if you seek, is unfaithful;
This I learned when the clever maiden I had hoped to lure with wile made a mockery of me; I gained not the lovely wife.

103. A man glad in his home, gay among guests, shall always take a wise stand;
Of good memory and easy speech, if he would be wise and speak sagely;
An idiot has naught to say, this is the sign of a fool.

104. I sought the old giant, now am I returned; little did I there gain by silence;
Many words won me success in Suttung's halls.

105. Gunnlod on the golden throne gave me a draught of the precious mead;
Ill did I repay her for her pains.

106. Rate's mouth made room for me, gnawed through the rock;
Over and under me ran giants' roads. Great was my peril.

107. A well-earned draught I enjoyed; the wise lack little;
Odraerir now has come up here to earth's ancient shrine.

108. I doubt I had even yet escaped from the giants' dwelling
Had I not Gunnlod, the good woman, held in my arms.

109. The following day, frost giants went to hear Odin's counsel in the High Hall;
They asked after Bolverk,
Whether he had begged his freedom, or been vanquished by Suttung.
Odin, I mind, gave oath on a ring that he had overcome.

110. How may his troth be trusted?
Suttung bereft of his mead, Gunnlod in tears!

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111. It is time to speak
From the speaker's chair
By the well of Urd;
I saw and kept silent,
I watched and I thought,
I listened to what was said;
I heard runes discussed,
There was no lack of knowledge
In the High Hall.
In the High Hall
I heard it said.

112. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
You will gain if you keep it, benefit if you follow it.
Do not rise in the night unless something occurs
Or you must visit the outhouse!

113. I tell you, Loddfafner, obey you the counsel:
Do not sleep locked in the limbs of a sorceress;
She can contrive that you do not go to the Ting or assembly;
Food will not please you, nor human company; you will go sadly to sleep.

114. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Never lure another's wife with soft words.

115. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
If you expect danger on mountain or fjord, supply yourself well with provisions.

116. I tell you, Loddfafner, obey you the counsel:
Let no evil man see your misfortunes; from a man of ill will you receive no thanks for your trust.

117. I saw a man hurt by a treacherous woman's words;
Her poisonous tongue wounded him to death and without truth.

118. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
If you know a friend you trust, go often seek him out;
Brambles and grass grow high on untrodden paths.

119. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Attract good-natured men to you with happy runes, sing songs of joy while you live.

120. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Be not quick to break the bond of love for your friend;
Sorrow will rend the heart
If you dare not tell another your whole mind.

121. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Exchange not words with a fool,

122. For from ill-minded man you will have no good return,
But a noble man may honor you with his nobility.

123. A friendship is firm when each can speak his mind to the other;
All is better than broken bonds; no friend is he who flatters.

124. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Waste not three words in quarrel with a villain:
Oft the better man cedes
While the worse deals blows.

125. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Make your own shoes and the shaft of your spear.
A shoe may be ill formed, a spear may be warped
If the maker wills you ill.

126. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
When you meet anger take it as meant for you;
Give your foe no peace.

127. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Never rejoice over evil revealed, but always rejoice over good.

128. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Gaze not in the air during battle — humans may walk like boars —
Lest you lose your wits.

129. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
If you wish to bind a good woman in wedlock and win her favor,
You must promise handsomely and keep your word;
None wearies of a good gift.

130. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
I bid you be wary; be most careful with ale,
With other man's wife and, third,
Be on guard against thieves.

131. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Never mock a wandering man or a guest.

132. They who are seated often know not what manner of man enters;
None is so good he lacks all fault, none so wretched he lacks all virtue.

133. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Smile not at the graying storyteller;
Often is good what the old ones sing;
Wrinkled lips may speak choice words
From him whose head droops, whose skin sags, and who limps between canes.

134. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
Abuse no guest nor turn any away; the poor do you well receive.

135. It takes a strong hinge to keep the door open to all;
Yet give of your alms lest one wish you ill.

136. I tell you, Loddfafner, heed you the counsel:
When you drink ale, seek the aid of earth's force,
Because earth counteracts it, as fire does disease;
Oak is a laxative, grains against sorcery,
The home against bickering, the moon against hate,
Biting helps snakebite, runes against ill designs,
Field of dirt makes flood abate.

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137. I know that I hung in the windtorn tree
Nine whole nights, spear-pierced,
Consecrated to Odin, myself to my Self above me in the tree,
Whose root no one knows whence it sprang.

138. None brought me bread, none served me drink;
I searched the depths, spied runes of wisdom;
Raised them with song, and fell once more thence.

139. Nine powerful chants I learned
From the wise son of Boltorn, Bestla's father;
A draught I drank of precious mead
Ladled from Odraerir. (5)

140. I began to thrive, to grow wise,
To grow greater, and enjoy;
For me words led from words to new words;
For me deeds led from deeds to new deeds.

141. Runes shall you know and rightly read staves,
Very great staves, powerful staves,
Drawn by the mighty one who speaks,
Made by wise Vaner, carved by the highest rulers.

142. Odin among Aesir, Dvalin (6) among elves,
Dain (7) among dwarfs,
Allvitter (8) among giants.
I myself have also carved some.

143. Know you how to write?
Know you how to interpret?
Know you how to understand?
Know you how to test?
Know you how to pray?
Know you how to sacrifice?
Know you how to transmit?
Know you how to atone?

144. Better not to pray than to sacrifice in excess, gift always tends to return.
Better send naught than waste too much.
Thus wrote Tund (9) for the passage of years,
Where he arose,
Where he came again.

145. I know songs unknown to the wife of the king or to any son of man;
Aid is one, and it can help you
In sadness and sorrow and difficult trouble.

146. A second I know that should be known
By those who would be healers.

147. A third I know, if need be,
That can fetter any foe.
I can dull their blades so that sword
Or deceit cannot harm.

148. A fourth I know: if warriors place links of chain on my limbs;
I can sing a charm that will make me free.
Fetters fall from my feet and the hasp from my hands.

149. A fifth I know: if I see hurled
Arrows hard at my horde;
Though rapid their flight I arrest them in air
If I see them clearly.

150. A sixth song I sing: if a man does me harm
With the roots of wild weeds,
Or a Hel-man hates me, he brings harm to himself,
Not to me.

151. The seventh I sing: if a fearsome fire
Flames in the hall where the warriors sit;
So broad burns he not that I cannot quench him;
This charm is one I can chant.

152. The eighth I sing is for every one
The most fortunate lore he can learn:
When hatred is harbored by children of chiefs,
This I can hastily heal.

153. The ninth that I know, if need there should be
To save my boat on the billow,
The wind I can lay to rest on the wave,
And still the stormiest sea.

154. A tenth I am able, when witches do ride
High aloft in the air;
I can lead them astray, out of their forms,
Out of their minds.

155. Eleventh I can, if forth into war,
Old friends into battle I lead:
I sing below shields so that they draw with force
Whole into the fight,
Whole out of the fight,
Whole wheresoever they go.

156. Twelfth I am able, if I see a tree
With a hanged man hovering high,
I can carve and draw runes, so that he that is hanged,
Hastens to speak to me.

157. Thirteenth I know, if they wish me to sluice
With water a citizen's son,
He shall not fall, though outnumbered he be,
He shall not fall by a sword.

158. Fourteenth I can name to the warriors' horde
The names of beneficent gods;
The Aesir and elves, I can all distinguish
As an unwise man cannot.

159. Fifteenth I know what the Setter-in-motion
Sang at the doors of Dawn;
He sang power to Aesir, progress to elves,
Mind-force to the god of the gods.

160. Sixteenth I can chant, if I desire
The wise maid's joy and favor,
The white-armed woman's love I can win,
And turn her mind to me.

161. Seventeenth I sing that not soon may be parted
From me the beloved maid.
For a long, long time shall you, Loddfafner,
Be lacking these lays.
It were good that you keep them concealed,
You are fortunate to learn them,
It were useful to heed them well.

162. The eighteenth I sing as I never have sung
To a maid, or to any man's mate.
All that is best is known only to One,
She who embraced me as a sister.
This is the end of the song.

163. Now is sung the High One's song in the High One's Hall:
Useful to children of men; useless to sons of giants.
Hall Him who sang! Hall Him who knows!
Happy is he who receives it!

(Conclusion of Gylfaginning)

[King Gylfe, calling himself Ganglare, heard all these things.]

At length the High One spoke: "If you can ask still further, I know not whence you find the questions, for I never heard further forward the destinies of ages told. Enjoy therefore what you have learned."

Ganglare then heard a powerful thunder from all sides and looked out through the door; and as he looked about him he found himself on a level plain with no court or hall in sight.

So he returned to his country and told these tidings he had heard and seen. And after him, these sayings were passed on from one to another.


Chapter 13

Contents


FOOTNOTES:

1. The tankard was often a cows or rams horn, and it was passed round the table from one to another. Such a horn could not be put down until empty. (return to text)

2. Ting, or Thing, the governing assembly — parliament — in which all must participate. (return to text)

3. Walrus? (return to text)

4. Billing's maiden: the white snow-covered earth, also named Rind. (return to text)

5. Boltorn is apparently the Trudgalmer, sustaining life force, of a previous cycle of life; Bestla is sister of Bargalmer, wife of Bur, and is the female counterpart of the karmic seeds of the previous life and of the initial impetus of the present one; Odraerir is the well of Mimer, source of the wisdom sought by the gods in manifestation. (return to text)

6. Sleeper. (return to text)

7. Dead. (return to text)

8. Allknowing. (return to text)

9. A cycle of time. (return to text)