What follows is a journal account of a highly personal experience at the Kungshögarna (Burial Mounds) at Gamla Uppsala.
A man without a hamingja is a mere mortal, as good as cattle they say in the Sagas. For a man to seek the Gods, he must enter the mound, and commune with that which never truly dies. The legend of our religion, it’s heroes and heroines lies buried but not forgotten. The last stronghold of this heathen faith was at the cultic center at Gamla Uppsala, where every nine years, the Ting of all Swedes (allra Svía þing) was held, and nine of every head were sacrificed in a special grove. The Vikings would also seek favor from the Gods and Goddesses in return for these sacrifices. This ancient paradigm mirrors the ur-ritual of Óðinn, giving his self, to a more improved and updated version of his Self, and his Tribe. On the mounds there is an ancient dead ash, with tree rings numbering in the hundreds. At the time of it’s growth, the sea in Östra Aros (Gamla Uppsala) was higher, and there were many natural reservoirs of water here. I believe this could have been the ancient ash. ‘Next the tree roots were the Rabenbrot mushrooms, said to grow where a man had been hung. Strange and convincing dreams came to me, as I lay in my tent on the first night next to the mounds in a nearby nature reserve. Dreams of wandering the barrows in a haze, making etchings of the stones with charcoal and moss, rubbing them on every surface, onto vellum paper, and revealing a lyndworm of runes, and barely legible but clear runic staves, as well as the pictures of men in procession, beast heads, and Christian symbols. This happened in the subconscious, and the next day after examining the stones, which appeared to be nothing more than rock deposits left from the last ice age, did actually show these runes, animals and men! Confirmation for the curators at the museum grounds confirmed this for me, and I was told there were several of these stones in the vicinity that were not studied, or moved that were unknown to the public. The grey blue mosses lining the shallow trenches of the stones effaced :Runes: not gone but barely readable.
The mounds grew in obsession as I strolled patiently around them, and something kept me off them, an ancient code of respect and honor, the sun was still high. These menhirs that obfuscate the secrets of the never dead were of deep intrigue. The plaques erected near the base of the mounds spoke of Kings and Women found within, but was it instead the Gods images themselves? I would have to find this out for myself, for this was Valhöll itself, the hall of the slain. The sacrificial tree grew on the dolmen, with it’s roots growing into the well of Urðr, from the river of Fyris. I knew from the Ravens of my mind, that it had been time. 9 years since I had become conscious of the existence of Uppsala, thousands of miles on this heathen pilgrimage, and I now stood at the central axis of our heathen religion! I needed a heiti, and hamingja. I sought to be marked by the Gods on this night, given a weave in the eternal tapestry of the Norns. I knew I would lie in utiseta on these hills this night, and I would either be cast back to Miðgarðr a mere man, or given the honor of a name and a purpose.
Dusk fell, and Thor’s rain pettered the dark heath, Skaði’s winds bent the grass in uniform, and the clouds took on a shade the skin on Hel, but a calm resisted the night, and I sat at my tent, waiting to be informed by the Runes. A man must visit the mounds to learn from the Norns, impersonating the God of Death, he must separate his Lík from his Sál and ride the wooden stead down to Hel. He must carry a taufr of his own, in this case, a braid of my longest hair wrapped in the grass of the mound. Then sit in silence, until he is let in…
Taking courage from the solitude, I ingested the five or six grams of Icelandic psilocybin mushrooms I had left, and waited for the effects to take course. Making my way to the mound in patient stride, I approached and entered.
hard by the Well of Honor,
I saw and was silent, I saw and pondered,
I listened to the speech of men’There are the Maidens, all things knowing
three in the hall which stands beneath the tree
One is named for Honor, the Second the Coming,
The Third, who engraves on tablets
They lay down the law, they choose out life
they speak the fate of the sons of men’
No turning back now, the mushroom works it’s way into my body and I feel a disconnection from the reasoning mind. The lamp lights swagger with shadows on cow fields, and the birch trees sway in a melancholic dance. I meet a Dís in my intoxication, and I remember. ‘He must pass their tests, he must answer their riddles, understand their secrets, and know the true meaning of their sacred verses. He must be chosen by them in order to be reborn again’. The hamingja must be earned, here and now, rightfully claimed from the judgement of the Norns, earned from the rites of Honor in the world of men. The valuables of the burial mound are mine to know, and I remember…
the frozen forests and fallen leaves,
and the hollow hill under the sky.
I remember the complex cold caverns,
the long tranquil tunnels
and the large underground lakes.
I remember the dim depths of the Earth,
the lucid lady in the light
and her sacred stanza.
I remember the bright beast in her boat,
the tall troll telling her tales,
and the honey in the haunted hollow.
I remember the protected password,
the secret soothing symbol
and the old Oðal objects.
I remember the red runes on the rock,
the spell of seeing being sung,
and the bold opening up of the beautiful burrow.I remember the coming of man reborn,
the birth of Baldur the bright,
the return of a world that was woefully lost.
Where do your roots go? and where do your branches grow?
May I continue to sit with Saga in her hall of stories, and sing to my own mythology…
Hail the Old Gods! Her ék em Gróa.