The Havamal: Ancient Viking philosophical and spiritual text

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posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 04:24 AM
"Havamal" translates to "sayings of the high one," and is passed down to us from an Icelandic manuscript dating back to the 1270s, but the Havamal itself dates back much further.

From Wikipedia:

Hávamál ("Sayings of the high one") is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, largely presents advice for living and survival composed around the central figure of Odin. Composed in the metre Ljóðaháttr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Hávamál is both practical and metaphysical in content. This is particularly apparent towards the end of the poem, as the poem shifts into an account of Odin's obtaining of the runic alphabet and obscure text relating to various charms and spells Odin knows.[1]

The only surviving source for Hávamál is contained within the 13th century Codex Regius, and is thought to be no older than from around the year 800 AD (though derived from an earlier oral tradition). An early reference to the poem is by Eyvindr skáldaspillir, found in Hákonarmál from around the year 960 AD.

The complete Havamal can be found online here, .

Here are some selections from it:

The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?

Greetings to the host,
The guest has arrived,
In which seat shall he sit?
Rash is he who at unknown doors
Relies on his good luck...

Better gear than good sense
A traveler cannot carry,
A more tedious burden than too much drink
A traveler cannot carry...

An ill tempered, unhappy man
Ridicules all he hears,
Makes fun of others, refusing always
To see the faults in himself...

A small hut of one's own is better,
A man is his master at home:
His heart bleeds in the beggar who must
Ask at each meal for meat.

A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand:
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road. ...

The following day the Frost Giants came,
Walked into Har's hall To ask for Har's advice:
Had Bolverk they asked, come back to his friends,
Or had he been slain by Suttung?...

Never lift your eyes and look up in battle,
Lest the heroes enchant you,
who can change warriors
Suddenly into hogs...

Be not over wary, but wary enough,
First, of the foaming ale,
Second, of a woman wed to another,
Third, of the tricks of thieves.

Mock not the traveler met On the road,
Nor maliciously laugh at the guest:

The sitters in the hall seldom know
The kin of the new-comer:
The best man is marred by faults,
The worst is not without worth.

I thought this was interesting. This is the most explicit thing I have seen in terms of ancient Icelandic philosophy.

Here is a website that hosts the above text and more like it:

Also check out the Voluspa, which is mythological, and the information on runes.

posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 06:39 AM
I found a website that had much of the old wisdom on it.

The Havamal proves that the "barbarians" of the north weren't such barbarians after all. I wish I could find a good translation of this and the Volsunga saga.

I thought Snori Snurlson was attributed to "saving" the Eddas?

posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 06:57 AM
It is the best piece of wisom ever in my opinion. I have pages of notes from it but the translations are different from yours.

If you see it in Old Norse they are very short lines so they can not translate as good as you have written... it is a lot more simplistic.

And it is attributed to Odin but a lot of scholars say it is just so that he well seem even better, but have to wonder because it ccomes from around 600AD and must have been written by someone(s) very experienced with everything. Advice about friends, camping, loose women, lol. Psychologists dream.

Yes Snorri Sturlussen was the one who wrote it all down, other than he it was all oral. And he also compiled from all over Scandinavia to get various versions, to write the best version.

posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 02:13 PM
Here is a website with a different translation that includes some non-English version beside it for comparison (though probably not the original language):

Here are still other translations:

This whole text reminds me of a Viking version of the ancient Chinese Tao te Ching, which imo also is much deeper in its insights, addressing duality and the illusory and relative nature of reality. The Tao te Ching is also much simpler in the original Chinese, and is hard to translate and retain the full range of meaning, as the characters are few and have several meanings each, just like runes I would imagine. And so there are many translations of that text as well.

posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 03:02 PM
Excellent thread!

Kind of related, anyone interested should check out the book _Masks of Odin_. It goes through many of the Lays and derives some great deep meaning.

Masks of Odin by Elsa-Brita Titichenell: (free!)

posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 06:16 PM
Kinsmen! Thanks to you all for the great links!

posted on Dec, 10 2009 @ 08:50 PM

Originally posted by Adaven
Masks of Odin by Elsa-Brita Titichenell: (free!)

Wow, thanks for posting that.

I only recently discovered the Havamal, and this link contains that text along with a good number of others from the same culture. I'll be reading through this link.

posted on Dec, 11 2009 @ 12:05 AM
Im planning on doing a thread series on the Norsemen, I think you would be interested, but I keep promising threads yet have barely started any of them! But when I get some more time Ill have a bunch up.

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