Vǫluspá, Gullveig and Heiðr: list of my sources

May 14 at the witching hour.  ha ha.  The list is almost complete, save for one source presently somewhere between Canada and Germany.  I hope to have the first blog-post, which will be a discussion of the sources and their relevance to specific issues with respect to the poem, completed by the end of August.

Aalto, S., Lehtola, V-P. (2017).   ‘The Sami Representations Reflecting the Multi-Ethnic North of the Saga Literature,’ in Journal of Northern Studies, 11(2).  Pages 7-30.  Download for free here:  https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1191573/FULLTEXT02.pdf

Abram, Christopher (2006).   ‘Hell in Early Norse Poetry,’ in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia vol. 2 (2006).  Pages 1-29

Alfsdotter, Clara;  Papmehl-Dufay, Ludvig;  Victor, Helena.  (2018)  ‘A moment frozen in time: evidence of a late fifth-century massacre at Sandby borg,’  in Antiquity / Volume 92 / Issue 362 / April 2018.  Cambridge University Press.  Pages 421 – 436.   Download for free here:


Alfsdotter, Clara;  Kjellström, Anna  (2019).  ‘The Sandby Borg Massacre: Interpersonal Violence and the Demography of the Dead,’ in European Journal of Archaeology 22(2):1-22 · December 2018.  Download for free here:  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Clara_Alfsdotter2/publication/329785918_The_Sandby_Borg_Massacre_Interpersonal_Violence_and_the_Demography_of_the_Dead/links/5c1b6c37458515a4c7eb273a/The-Sandby-Borg-Massacre-Interpersonal-Violence-and-the-Demography-of-the-Dead.pdf


Anonymous Þulur  (12th ? century AD), edited and translated by Elena Gurevich, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages   Vol.  III  Part 2.   Pages 669 – 996.  Brepols 2017

Anonymous  (late Viking or early Medieval periods).  ‘Málsháttakvædi,’  edited and translated by Roberta Frank, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part 2.   Brepols 2017.  Pages  1213 – 1243

Arnold, Martin  (2005).  ‘Hvater tröll nema þat?’ The Cultural History of the Troll,’ in  The Shadow-Walkers:  Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous.  Edited by Tom Shippey.  Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (ASMAR 14).  Brepols 2005.  Pages 111 – 155

Bek-Pedersen, Karen  (2011).   The Norns in Old Norse Mythology.  Dunedin Academic Press 2011

Bennett, JG.  The Dramatic Universe:  Volume I ‘The Foundations of Natural Philosophy.’  Bennett Books, Sante Fe and London, 1997

Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson   (early 13th century).  ‘Jómsvíkingadrápa,’  edited and translated by Emily Lethbridge, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  I  Part 2.   Pages 954 – 1000.  Brepols 2012   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3msv%C3%ADkingadr%C3%A1pa

Boyer, Régis  (1983).  ‘On the Composition of Vǫlospá,’ in in Edda:  A Collection of Essays.  Editors:  R.J.  Glendinning and Haraldur Bessason.  University of Manitoba Press 2nd printing 1985.  Pages 117 – 133

Bragi Boddason inn gamli  (9th century AD).  ‘An exchange of verses between Bragi and a troll-woman,’ edited by Margaret Clunies Ross, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 63 – 65 and 519 – 521 (edited by Clunies Ross & Kari Ellen Gade).  Brepols 2017

Brink, Stefan  (2007).  ‘How Uniform was the Old Norse religion?’ in Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World:  Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross.  Brepols 2007.  Pages 105 – 136

Brown, Nancy Marie  (2012).  Song of the Vikings:  Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths.  St. Martin’s Griffin Edition  2014

Bycock, Jesse.(1995).  ‘The Fornaldarsögur: Stephen Mitchell’s Contribution,’ in Oral Tradition 10/2(1995).  Pages 451—457   Download for free here:


Campbell, Joseph  (1972).  Myths to Live By.  Penguin Press 1993

Campbell, Joseph  (1988).  Power of Myth with Bill Moyers.  Anchor Books 1991

Chadwick, Nora K  (1913).  ‘Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and the trolla þing:  a note on sources,’ in The Early Cultures of North-West Europe (H.M. Chadwick Memorial Studies).  Editors:  Sir Cyril Fox and Bruce Dickins.  Cambridge University Press 1950.  Pages 395 – 417

Clunies Ross, Margaret  (1994).  Prolonged Echoes:  Old Norse Myths in Medieval Northern Society Volume 1:  The Myths.  Odense University Press 1994

Danielsson, Ing-Marie Back (2007).  Masking Moments:  the Transition of Bodies and Beings  in Late Iron Age Scandinavia  (PhD Thesis).  Stockholm Studies in Archaeology 40.  Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, 2007

DeAngelo, Jeremy   (2010).   ‘The North and the Depiction of the Finnar in the Icelandic Sagas,’ in Scandinavian Studies 82 (2010), pages 257–81

Dickerson, Cody  (2016).  The Language of the Corpse:  The Powers of the Cadaver in Germanic and Icelandic Sorcery.  Three Hands Press  2016

Driscoll, Matthew James.  ‘A new edition of the fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda: Some basic questions,’ in On editing Old Scandinavian texts: Problems and perspectives. Ed. M. Bampi & F. Ferrari (Trento, 2009), pp. 71-84   http://www.driscoll.dk/docs/driscoll-new_edition.pdf


Dronke, Ursula  (1988).  ‘The War of the Æsir and Vanir in Völuspá,’ in Myth and Fiction in Early Norse Lands.  Collected Studies, Variorum 1996

Dronke, Ursula.  (1997)  The Poetic Edda:  Volume II Mythological Poems.  Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997

Einarr skálaglamm Helgason  (10th century AD).  ‘Lausavisor,’ edited and translated by Margaret Clunies Ross, in Skaldic Poetry in the Scandinavian Middle Ages, Volume 1:  Poetry From the Kings’ Sagas I Part I.   Pages 330 – 335 and page 278.  Brepols 2012

Ekholst, Christine.  A Punishment for Each Criminal:  Gender and Crime in Swedish Medieval LawThe Northern World, Volume 67, Kirby, Sigurðsson, et al, Editors .  Brill, Leiden/Boston, 2014

Ellis, Helen Roderick  (1968).  The Road to Hel:  A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature.  Greenwood Press, New York, 1968

Ellis Davidson, H.R.  (1973).  ‘Hostile Magic in the Icelandic Sagas,’  in The Witch Figure.  Edited by Venitia Newell.  Pages 20 – 41.  Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.  1973

Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finsson  (10th century AD).  ‘Hákonarmál,’  edited and translated by R.D. Fulk, pages 171–95, in Skaldic Poetry in the Scandinavian Middle Ages, Volume 1:  Poetry From the Kings’ Sagas I Part I. Edited by Diana Whaley, 2012.



Fell, Christine (1975),   ‘Old English Beor’ in Leeds Studies in English, n.s., 8 (1975), 76–95.  Download for free here:   http://digital.library.leeds.ac.uk/132/1/LSE1975_pp76-95_Fell_article.pdf

Gardela, Leszek  (2012).  Entangled Worlds:  Archaeologies of Ambivalence in the Viking Age.  PhD thesis.

Gordon, Stephen   (2020).  Supernatural Encounters: Demons and the Restless Dead in Medieval England, c.1050-1450.  Routledge 2020

Gurevich, A. Ya  (1969).  ‘Space and Time in the Weltmodell of the Old Scandinavian Peoples,’ in Mediaeval Scandinavia 2 (1969).  Odense University Press.  Pages 42 – 53

Hafstein, Valdimar   (2003).  ‘Groaning Dwarfs at Granite Doors Fieldwork in Völuspá,’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologi Vol 118 (2003).   https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/article/view/11663/10348

Hagland, Jan Ragnar  (2018).  ‘The Troll in Old Norwegian – Icelandic Law,’ in ‘Supernatural Encounters in Old Norse Literature and Tradition, Volume 1:  Borders, Boundaries, Landscapes.  Editors, Daniel Sävborg, Karen Bek-Pedersen.  Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium.  Pages 175 – 187

Hallberg, Peter  (1983).  ‘Elements of Imagery in the Poetic Edda,’ in Edda:  A Collection of Essays.  Editors:  R.J.  Glendinning and Haraldur Bessason.  University of Manitoba Press 2nd printing 1985.  Pages 47 – 85

Hallvarðr  háreksblesí  (1016–1035).  ‘Knútsdrápa,’  edited and translated by Matthew Townsend, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages   Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 230 – 240.  Brepols 2017


Hamilton-Giles,  Peter  (2013).   The Afflicted Mirror:  A Study of Ordeals and the Making of Compacts.  Three Hands Press  2013.

Hamilton-Giles,  Peter  (2014).  ‘The Witching Hour,’ in Hands of Apostasy:  Essays on Traditional Witchcraft.  Edited by Michael Howard & Daniel A. Schulke.  Three Hands Press  2014.  Pages 161 – 172

Hamilton-Giles, Peter  (2017).  The Witching Other:  Explorations & Meditations on the Existential Witch.  Atramentous Press 2017.

Hamilton-Giles, Peter  (2018).  Standing at the Crossroads:  Dialectics of the Witching-Other.  Atramentous Press  2018.

Heide, Eldar (2004).  ‘Spinning seiðr’ in Old Norse Religion in Long Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes & Interactions.  Editors, Anders Andrén , Kristina Jennbert.  Nordic Academic Press, 2006.  Pages 164 – 170  Download the article for free here:   http://eldar-heide.net/Publikasjonar%20til%20heimesida/Spinning%20seidr,%20Lund%20conf%20Heide.pdf

Heide, Eldar (2006).  ‘Spirits Through Respiratory Passages,’ in The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature: Preprint Papers of the 13th International Saga Conference, Durham and York 6th-12th August 2006, I-II. Ed. John McKinnell, David Ashurst,  Donata Kick (Durham: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006).  Available as free download here: http://www.sagaconference.org/SC13/SC13.html

Heide, Eldar   (2011).   ‘Holy Islands and the Other World:  Places Beyond Water,’ in in Isolated Islands in Medieval Culture, Nature and Mind.  Edited by Torstein Jørgensen and Gerhard Jaritz.  Pages 57 – 80.  CEU Medievalia 14.  Central  University European Press (2011).   https://www.academia.edu/2401059/Holy_islands_and_the_otherworld_places_beyond_water

Hofgarða – Refr Gestsson   (11th century AD).  ‘Ferðavísur,’  edited and translated by Edith Marold, with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel,  in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 243 – 250.  Brepols 2017

Hofgarða – Refr Gestsson   (11th century AD).  ‘Poem about Gizur gullbrárskáld,’  edited and translated by Edith Marold, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 254 – 258.  Brepols 2017

Holmberg, Per; Gräslund, Bo; Sundqvist, Olof; Williams, Hendrik  (2020)  ‘The Rök Runestone and the End of the World,’ in Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies, Vol. 9-10.  Pages 7-38  http://futhark-journal.com/rok/


Howard, Michael  (2014).  ‘Waking the Dead:  The Ancient Magical Art of Necromancy,’ in Hands of Apostasy:  Essays on Traditional Witchcraft.  Edited by Michael Howard & Daniel A. Schulke.  Three Hands Press 2014.  Pages 135 – 160

Hutton, Ronald (Editor),  (2015).  Physical Evidence for Ritual Acts, Sorcery and Witchcraft in Christian Britain.  Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic.  Palgrave MacMillan 2015

Jakobsdóttir, Svava  (1980).  ‘Gunnlöð and the precious mead,’ translated by Katrina Attwood, in The Poetic Edda:  Essays on Old Norse Mythology.  Edited by Paul Acker and Carolyne Larrington.  Routledge 2016.   Pages 27 – 57

Jakobsson, Ármann   (2012)  ‘The Earliest Legendary Saga Manuscripts,’  in The Legendary Sagas:   Origins and Development.  Editors:  Annette Lassen, Agneta Ney and Ármann Jakobsson.  University of Iceland Press Reykjavík 2012.  Pages 21 – 31

Jakobsson, Sverrir.  (2007)   ‘Hauksbók and Construction of an Icelandic World View,’ in Saga-Book 31 (2007)  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%20XXXI.pdf

Jansson, Sven B.  (1987).  Runes in Sweden.  Translated by Peter Foote, photos by Bengt A. Lundberg.  Gidlunds, 2nd Edition   (1997)

Jørgensen, Lars.  ‘Norse religion and ritual sites in Scandinavia in the 6th-11th century,’ in  Proceedings of the Northern Worlds Conference Copenhagen 2012. Editor, Hans Christian Gulløv.  Pages 129 – 150

Kristjánsson, Jónas  (1988).  Eddas and Sagas:  Iceland’s Medieval Literature.  Transl. by Peter Foote. Reykjavík : Hid Islenska Bokmenntafelag, 1992

Kure, Henning  (2013).  ‘Wading Heavy Currents:  Snorri’s Use of Vǫluspá 39,’ in The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Vǫluspá and Nordic Days of Judgement. Editors, Terry Gunnell and Annette Lassen.  Book series:  Acta Scandinavica, Volume 2.  Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium, 2013.  Pages 79  – 91

Larrington, Carolyne  (2014), translator.  The Poetic Edda’ Revised Edition.  Oxford University Press

Larson, Lawrence M.  (1935).  Translator and commentator.  The Earliest Norwegian Laws: being the  Gulathing law and the Frostathing law.  ( New York : Columbia University Press, 1935)   Lawbook Exchange edition 2nd printing 2011.

Lassen, Annette   (2005).   ‘Óðinn in Old Norse Texts other than The Elder Edda, Snorra Edda and Ynglinga saga,’ in  Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 1, Pages 91 – 108

Lecouteux, Claude  (1996).  The Return of the Dead:  Ghosts, Ancestors and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind.  Translated from the French by Jon E. Graham.  Inner Traditions International  2009

Lindow, John (1997).  Murder and Vengeance Among the Gods: Baldr in Scandinavian Mythology.  FF Communications No. 262.  Suomalainen tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientiarum Fennica (1997)

Lindow, John  (2007).  ‘Poetry, Dwarfs and Gods:  Understanding Alvíssmál,’   in Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World:  Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross.  Brepols 2007.  Pages 285 – 303

Lionarons, Joyce Tally  (2005).  ‘Dísir, Valkyries, Völur and Norns:  The Weise Frauen of the Deutsche Mythologie,’ in The Shadow-Walkers:  Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous.  Edited by Tom Shippey.  Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (ASMAR 14).  Brepols 2005.  Pages 271 – 297

Ljungkvist, John  (2008).  ‘Dating two royal mounds of Old Uppsala: Evaluating the elite of the 6th-7th century in Middle Sweden,’ in Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt · January 2008  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293040815_Dating_two_royal_mounds_of_Old_Uppsala_Evaluating_the_elite_of_the_6th-7th_century_in_Middle_Sweden/link/5829c9dc08ae004f74adf459/download

Ljungkvist, J;  P Frölund; H Göthberg and D Löwenborg (2011).  ‘ Gamla Uppsala – Structural Development of a Centre in Middle Sweden,’ in  Archäologisches Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 41.  Pages 571 – 585.

Ljungkvist, John and Frölund, Per (2015).  ‘Gamla Uppsala – the emergence of a centre and a magnate complex,’ in Journal of Archaeology and Ancient History 2015 Number 16.  Editors: Frands Herschend, Paul Sinclair and Neil Price.  Uppsala Universitet, Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala, Sweden.

Luck, Georg.  (1985, 2006).  Arcana mundi :  magic and the occult in the Greek and Roman worlds : a collection of ancient texts / translated, annotated, and introduced.  2nd Edition.  The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lund, Julie (2005). ‘Thresholds and Passages: The Meanings of Bridges and Crossings in the Viking Age and Early Middle Ages,’ in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 1. Judy Quinn.Stefan Brink & John Hines (ed.).   Pages 109 – 135

Markey, Tom   (1999.)  ‘Studies in Runic Origins 2: From Gods to Men,’ in American Journal of Linguistics & Literatures 11.2.  Pages 131 – 203

McKinnell, John. (1998 – 2001).  ‘On Heiðr,’ in Saga Book XXV, pages 394 – 417.  Download searchable edition for free here:  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%20XXV.pdf

McKinnell, John (2002). ‘Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Hyndluljóð,’ in Mythological Women: Studies in Memory of Lotte Motz (1922-1997).  Ed. Rudolf Simek & Wilhelm Heizmann.  Wien: Fassbaender 2002.  Pages  265 – 290

McKinnell, J. and Simek, R. and Düwel, K. (2004).  Runes, magic and religion : a sourcebook.  Vienna: Fassbaender. Studia Medievalia Septentrionalia ; Bd. 10.

McKinnell, John (2005).  Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend.  D.S. Brewer, Cambridge 2005

McKinnell, John  (2013).  ‘Heathenism in Vǫluspá: A Preliminary Survey,’ in The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Vǫluspá and Nordic Days of Judgement. Editors, Terry Gunnell and Annette Lassen  Book series:  Acta Scandinavica, Volume 2.  Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium, 2013.  Pages  93 – 110

McKinnell, John  (2014a).   ‘Heiðr and Gullveig,’ in  Essays on Eddic Poetry.  Edited by Donata Kick and John D. Shafer.  Toronto Old Norse-Icelandic Series (TONIS).  University of Toronto Press 2014.  Pages 34 – 58

McKinnell, John  (2014b).  ‘Þorgerðr Hǫlgabrúðr and Freyja in Hyndluljóð,’ in Essays on Eddic Poetry.  Edited by Donata Kick and John D. Shafer.  Toronto Old Norse-Icelandic Series (TONIS).  University of Toronto Press 2014.  Pages 268 – 291

Mitchell, Stephen  (1997).  ‘Blåkulla and Its Antecedents: Transvection and Conventicles in Nordic Witchcraft,’ in alvíssmál 7 (1997).  Pages 81 – 100                            http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~alvismal/7sabbat.pdf

Moberg, Lennart.  (1970 – 1973).  ‘The languages of Alvíssmál,’ in Saga-Book 18 (1970-73), pages 299 – 323.   Download a searchable edition for free here:  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%201-22%20searchable/Saga-Book%20XVIII.pdf

Motz, Lotte   (1973). “New Thoughts on Dwarf-Names in Old Icelandic”, in Frühmittelalterliche Studien.  Pages 100–117.

Motz, Lotte   (1977a).  ‘The Craftsman in the Mound,’ in Folklore, Vol. 88, No. 1 (1977).  Pages 46-60

Motz, Lotte   (1993).    ‘Gullveig’s Ordeal: A New Interpretation,’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologi 108 (1993).  Pages 80–92.  https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/article/view/11523/10215

Motz, Lotte   (1998).   ‘The Great Goddess of the North,’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologi 113.  Pages 29–57


Mundal, Else  (2002).  ‘Austra sat in aldna… Giantesses and female powers in Vǫluspá,’ in Mythological Women: Studies in Memory of Lotte Motz.   Ed. Rudolf Simek and Wilhelm Heizmann .  Studia Medievalia Septentrionalia 7.  Fassbaender 2002.   Pages 185 – 195

Nordal, Sigurður, editor.  Voluspá.  (1922 – 23).  Commentary translated into English by Translated by B S Benedikz & John McKinnell. Published by Durham & St Andrew’s Medieval Texts, Durham, 1984  (reprint with corrections from first edition)

Nordal, Sigurður  (1970 – 73).  ’Three Essays on Voluspa,’ in Saga-Book 18 (1970-73), pages 79 – 135  Download a searchable edition for free here:  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%201-22%20searchable/Saga-Book%20XVIII.pdf

Nordberg, Andreas  (2009).  ‘The Grave as a Doorway to the Other World:  Architectural Religious Symbolism in Iron Age Graves in Scandinavia,’ in Temenos Vol. 45 No. 1 (2009).  Pages 35–63.  The Finnish Society for the Study of Religion

Ólason, Vésteinn  (2013).  ‘Vǫluspá and Time,’ in in The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Vǫluspá and Nordic Days of Judgement. Editors, Terry Gunnell and Annette Lassen.  Book series:  Acta Scandinavica, Volume 2.  Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium, 2013.  Pages  25 – 44

Ogden, Daniel  (2001).  Greek and Roman Necromancy.  Princeton University Press, 2001

Pálsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards  (1972).  Editors, translators, preface.  Landnámabók:  The Book of Settlements.  University of Manitoba Press 1972

Pálsson, Hermann   (1996).  Editor, translator, commentator.  Vo̧luspá : the Sibyl’s Prophecy.  Edinburgh Lockharton Press 1996

Pálsson, Hermann.  (1999)  ‘The Sami People in Old Norse Literature,’ in Nordlit 3 (1), pages 29-53.  Download for free here:  https://septentrio.uit.no/index.php/nordlit/article/view/2143/2000

Price, Douglas T.  (2015).  Ancient Scandinavia:  An Archaeological History from the First Humans to the Vikings.  Oxford University Press  2015

Price, Neil  (2012).  ‘Twilight of the gods? The ‘dust veil event’ of AD 536 in critical perspective,’ in Antiquity, 86.  Pages 428 – 443

Price, Neil  (2014a).   ‘Nine paces from Hel: time and motion in Old Norse ritual performance,’ in  World Archaeology, 46:2.  Pages 178 – 91

Price, Neil (2014b).  ‘An Eye for Odin? Divine Role-Playing in the Age of Sutton Hoo,’  in European Journal of Archaeology 17 (3) 2014.  Pages  517 – 538

Price, Neil  (2019).  The Viking Way, Second Edition.  Oxbow Books 2019

Raudvere, Catharina  (2012).  ‘Fictive rituals in Völuspá:  Mythological Narration Between Agency and Structure in the Representation of Reality,’ in More Than Mythology:  Narratives, Ritual Practices and Regional Distribution in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Religions.   Editors:  Catharina Raudvere and Jens Peter Schjødt.   Nordic Academic Press 2012

Riisøy, Ann Irene  (2016).  ‘Eddic Poetry: A Gateway to Late Iron Age Ladies of Law,’ in Debating the Thing in the North: The Assembly Project II:  Journal of the North Atlantic University College of Southeast Norway, Faculty of Humanities, Sports, and Education, Drammen, Norway 2016 Special Volume 8:  157–171

Rösli, Lukas  (2017).  ‘The Myth of Útgarðr: A Toponym as a Basis for an Old Norse System of Values?’ in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 13 (2017).   Pages 211 – 227

Rundkvist, Martin and Henrik Williams   (2008).  ‘A Viking Boat Grave with Amber Gaming Pieces Excavated at Skamby, Östergötland,Sweden,’ in Medieval Archaeology, 52 (2008).  Society for Medieval Archaeology 2008.  Pages 69 – 102

Samplonius, Kees  (1998).  ‘Sibylla Borealis:  Notes on the Structure of Vǫluspá.’ in Germanic Texts and Latin Models – Medieval Reconstructions.   Edited by K.E. Olsen, A. Arbus and T. Hofstra.  Mediaevalia Groningana Vol. 2, Germania Latina Vol. 4.    Peeters, Belgium  2001  http://samplonius.net/pdfs/SibyllaBorealis.pdf

Samplonius, Kees  (2013).  ‘The Background and Scope of Vǫluspá,’ in The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Vǫluspá and Nordic Days of Judgement. Editors, Terry Gunnell and Annette Lassen  Book series:  Acta Scandinavica, Volume 2.  Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium, 2013.  Pages  113 – 145   http://samplonius.net/pdfs/BackgroundAndScopeVoluspa2.pdf

Saxo Grammaticus  (late 12th – early 13th century AD).  The History of the Danes.  Books I – IX translated by Peter Fisher and edited with commentary by Hilda Ellis Davidson.  D.S. Brewer  2008  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxo_Grammaticus

Sayers, William   (1993).  ‘Irish Perspectives on Heimdallr,’ in Alvíssmál 2 (1993).   Pages 3 – 30

Schjødt, Jens Peter   (2007).   ‘Óðinn, Warriors and Death,’ in in Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World:  Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross.  Brepols 2007.  Pages 137 – 151

Schjødt, Jens Peter   (2012).  ‘Wilderness, Liminality, and the Other in Old Norse Myth and Cosmology,’ in Religion and Society: Approaching Religious Spatialities, Cosmologies and Ideas of Wild Nature.  Editor, Laura Feldt.  2012.   Pages 183 – 204

Schulte, Michael (2005). ‘The classical and Christian impact on Volospó – Toward a comparative topomorphical approach,’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologiVol 120 (2005).   Pages 181 – 219  https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/article/view/11739/10419

Sigvatr Þórðarson  (early 11th century).  ‘Erfidrápa Óláfs Helga,’  edited and translated by Judith Jesch, pages 532, and 663 – 697, in Skaldic Poetry in the Scandinavian Middle Ages, Volume 1:  Poetry From the Kings’ Sagas I Part 2. Edited by Diana Whaley.  Brepols 2012.

Sigurðsson, Jón Viðar  (1999).   ‘Chieftains and Power in the Icelandic Commonwealth.’   Translated by Jean Lundskær-Nielsen, Odense : Odense University Press, 1999.  In:  Narrating Law and Laws of Narration in Medieval Scandinavia.  Edited by Roland Scheel.  De Gruyter (January 20, 2020).   Pages 39 – 55

Snorri Sturluson  (mid-13th century AD).  ‘Háttatal,’  edited and translated by Kari Ellen Gade, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part 2.   Pages 1094 – 1210.  Brepols 2017  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A1ttatal


Strid, Jean Paul  (1991).  Rune Stones.  Translated by Lennart Strid, photos by Olof Erikson.  Edition Erikson, Malmö   1991

Ström, Folke  (1942).  On the Sacral Origin of the Germanic Death Penalties.  Lund: Håkan Ohlsson , 1942

Sundqvist, Olof  (2016).  An arena for higher powers : ceremonial buildings and religious strategies for rulership in late Iron Age Scandinavia.  (Numen book series : studies in the history of religions : ISSN 0169-8834 ; Volume 150)  Koninklijke Brill nv, Leiden, The Netherlands.  2016

Tolley, Clive   (1995).  ‘Vǫrðr and Gandr: Helping Spirits in Norse Magic,’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologi Vol. 110 (1995).  Pages  57 – 75  https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/article/view/11542/10231

Vésteinsson, Orri (2007).   ‘A divided society:  Peasants and the aristocracy in medieval Iceland,’ in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 3.   Pages 117–139

Wanner, Kevin J. (2007).  ‘God on the Margins: Dislocation and Transience in the Myths of Óðinn,’ in History of Religions, Vol. 46, No. 4.  Pages 316-350.

Whittaker, Helène.  (2006).   ‘Game Boards and Gaming Pieces in the Northern European Iron Age,’ in Nordlit. Tidskrift for kultur og litteratur, 24.  Pages 103–12  https://www.academia.edu/586270/Game_Boards_and_Gaming-Pieces_in_the_Northern_European_Iron_Age

Winroth, Anders  (2012).  The Conversion of Scandinavia.  Yale University Press 2012

Wollentz, Gustav   (2017).  ‘Prehistoric Violence as Difficult Heritage:  Sandby Borg – A Place of Avoidance and Belonging,’ in Current Swedish Archaeology, Vol 25, 2017.  Pages 199 – 226

Þjóðólfr of Hvinir [Thjodolf] (early 10th century AD).  ‘Haustlǫng,’  edited and translated by Margaret Clunies Ross, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 431 – 463.  Brepols 2017   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9Ej%C3%B3%C3%B0%C3%B3lfr_of_Hvinir

Þjóðólfr of Hvinir [Thjodolf] (early 10th century AD).  ‘Ynglingatal,’ edited and translated by Edith Marold,  pages 3 –59, in Skaldic Poetry in the Scandinavian Middle Ages, Volume 1:  Poetry From the Kings’ Sagas I Part I. Edited by Diana Whaley.  Brepols 2012.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ynglingatal

Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham)   (12th century AD).  ‘Fragment,’ edited and translated by Kari Ellen Gade, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages  Vol.  III  Part I.   Pages 482 – 483.  Brepols 2017


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Hildr and the Eternal Battle of the Hjaddings (Hjaðningavíg)


Who elected to carry off Hild?

Who are forever fighting?

Who will be reconciled at the [very] last?

Who incited the princes [to fight]?

Hedinn elected to carry off Hild;

The Hjaddings are forever fighting;

They will be reconciled at the [very] last;

Hild incited the princes [to fight].

[Gade, Kari, ed. ‘Háttalykill]

(From the mid-12th cent. Old Norse poem ‘Háttalykill,’ composed by the Norwegian Earl Rögnvald of Orkney and the Icelander Hallr Þórarinsson, stanza 45.)  [01]

The 13th century compiler of Old Norse myths, Snorri Sturluson, relates the Old Norse version of the Germanic legend of Hild and the Hjaddings’ battle in this way:  King Hedinn raided King Hogni’s turf while the latter was away, and he also jacked Hogni’s daughter, Hildr.  When Hogni found out, he chased Hedinn all the way to the Isle of Hoy in the Orkney Isles of Scotland.  Hedinn sent Hildr (of all people) to her father, with gold neck-rings as atonement, for her own kidnapping.  [02]

According to Snorri, Hildr tells her father that if he doesn’t accept that peace-offering, then Hedinn is ready to fight.

Hogni doesn’t accept the gold; so Hildr trots back to Hedinn, and the battle begins.  It goes on all day, and then the survivors retire to their camps for the night.  But Hildr goes to the battlefield and revives by sorcery those who had died in battle.  The next day, the revenants join the living in battle again.  The dead turn into stones until they are revived by Hildr’s witchcraft to fight again. And so it will go on, until Ragnarök:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar%C3%B6k

Snorri goes on to quote several stanzas of a poem called Ragnarsdrápa, which he attributes to the earliest known court poet in Old Norse, Bragi Boddason.  You can find those stanzas in English, as well as Snorri’s version of events in:  Snorra Edda transl. by Anthony Faulkes:  http://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/EDDArestr.pdf     pages 122 – 124; but, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the Old Norse system of ‘kennings,’ I’m going to offer you my own paraphrase of Bragi’s stanzas:

And the bloody-minded Valkyrie-like Hildr was out to provoke a fight against her father, when she, the valkyrie filled with malice, carried a warrior’s neck-ring to the ships.

“That valkyrie overseer of bloody wounds did not offer the splendid ruler Hogni a neck ring with the idea that he should accept it and run from battle.  Thus she continually behaved as if she was opposed to a battle, although in reality she was goading the princes onwards to a ghastly death.

 “Hatred swelled in Hogni’s breast and he did not flinch from battle; his sea-warriors attacked Hedinn, rather than accepting the neck-rings of Hildr.

“This attack can be seen on the shield that Ragnar gave me, together with a multitude of stories.

“And on the island, instead of Hogni, that war-booty-destroying wicked witch of a woman took control.  The sea-faring king’s whole army steadily advanced from their ships, under their shields.”

Hildr’s own unexplained immunity from dying is a distinctive feature that she shares with another enigmatic female character in the Old Norse myths, who is also arguably linked to sorcery, namely, ‘Gullveig;’ and Hildr’s connection with sorcery is shared by ‘Heidr,’ who is thought by many scholars to be Gullveig:’

The war I remember, the first in the world,

When the gods with spears had smitten Gullveig,

And in the hall of Hár had burned her,

Three times burned, and three times born,

Oft and again, yet ever she lives.

Heidr they named her who sought their home

The wide-seeing witch, in magic wise;

Minds she bewitched that were moved by her magic,

To evil women a joy she was.

(Trans. by Henry Adams Bellows, stanza 21.  See his translation of the entire poem here:  http://www.voluspa.org/voluspa.htm   )

Gullveig, Heidr and the narrator of the Eddic poem Vǫluspá: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lusp%C3%A1 will be the subjects of my next blog-post.

Although it is nowhere stated specifically in the still-extant fragments of the Old Norse Hildr myth that she too was impervious to death, that imperviousness is nevertheless a corollary of her being able to bring the dead to life night after night until the gods themselves meet their doom.

In this blog-post, I will look at the possible answers to the question:  what was the clearly heathen poet, Bragi Boddason, thinking that Hildr was, what sort of a creature, this mysterious being who was not a god, but who, nevertheless, had a peculiar power over death?  We are never going to know for sure what Bragi thought, but we have the poem attributed to him, as a kind of lens through which we can examine a range of possible models as regards Hildr’s identity, as well as other writings, although the latter must be used warily, as they are mostly dated later than the 9th century in which Bragi wrote his poem.  We also have early Norwegian and Icelandic law codes to set the social context, although, again, the earliest written versions of those laws are dated well after Bragi’s time and well into the Christian period in Scandinavia.

Another issue I will address in this blog-post is the sadly neglected issue of Hildr’s motivation.  Every scholar I have read is given up on this issue, saying that there is not enough information.

Those same archaic laws, however, together with data on social customs, give more than adequate information on at least the human side of the princess Hildr’s motivation.  I am really surprised that none of the eminent scholars whose writings I have studied have ever seriously tackled that issue, to the best of my now-considerable knowledge (as you will see) of the Hildr legend.

The third issue that has never, to the best of my knowledge, been addressed by contemporary scholars, is the question:  how does Hildr do it?  How does she raise dead men back to life, over and over again, until doomsday?  At least, how were Scandinavian heathens like Bragi thinking it was done?  Again, we’ll never know for sure, but there is a range of possibilities, based on what we can know about Old Norse magical practices, and a look at some analogues for the Hildr myth, from both later Norse versions as well as from even later Anglo-Saxon and Celtic analogues.

PICTURE 01  A detail from one of the Viking-Age picture-stones located in Stora Hammars, Lärbro parish, Gotland, Sweden.  Photo by:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Berig , creative attribution, share-alike license.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_stone   …….  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stora_Hammars_stones     ….

The detail shown above from the Stora Hammars 1 stone is thought by a number of scholars to represent the Hjaðningavíg myth. [03]


01.  What Sort of Creature was Hildr thought to have been?

In the paraphrase I gave above of Bragi’s stanzas, I used the word ‘valkyrie.’  The name ‘Hildr’ was a well-known name of one of Odin’s ‘maidens;’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie   and it unquestionably carried the valkyrie connotation for Bragi.  However, he does not use the word to describe Hildr; and I only used it because it was either that, or give you an instant crash course right there in the introduction, in the kennings Bragi does use for Hildr.

That crash course comes now.

01.1 The Kennings, or Epithets, for Hildr, used by the poet of Ragnarsdrápa

Kennings were a short descriptive phrase used by court poets, in place of the actual name for something.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenning   ….

Bragi uses several kennings to describe the being that ignited the legendary eternal battle, and we are going to look at those kennings now.

The first one is ‘ósk-Rán,’ where I used ‘valkyrie.’  http://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Skaldskaparmal.1.unicode.pdf   page 72.  Anthony Faulkes translates this as ‘the Ran who wishes (too great drying of veins) …’  http://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/EDDArestr.pdf   page 123.

In her extensive analysis and translation of Bragi’s Ragnarsdrápa, Margaret Clunies Ross translates ósk-Rán as “the desiring-Ran (of the excessive drying of veins)…”  [Clunies Ross (2), page 39]  In her extensive notes on the stanza, Clunies Ross further states that, through Bragi’s use of the phrase “ósk-Rán ofþerris *æða ‘the desiring- Rán, ie. ‘goddess’ of the excessive drying of veins [VALKYRIE = Hildr]” Bragi “immediately establishes through this kenning Hildr’s destructive and predatory, almost cannibalistic qualities.”  [ibid, page 40]  She goes on to point out that the compound óskamær appears in several Old Norse literary sources as a term for a valkyrie; and she translates that latter compound as “’desire [i.e. ‘desired’ or ‘desiring’] maiden…” and she says that, therefore, “the similarity of the cpd ósk-Rán strongly indicates Hildr’s role as a valkyrie.”  [ibid]

Cleasby and Vigfusson translate óskamær as ‘wish maid;’ and, although it is arguable that the term was intended to refer to the valkyrie Brunhild within the context of her role as a valkyrie, there is precedent for the term as such.  [04]

However, arguing even more strongly than dissident translations in the valkyrie context, against Clunies Ross’s translation of óskamær as referencing ‘desire, desired or desiring,’ is the use of the phrase in reference to the Virgin Mary in a 14th century praise poem, Maríuvísur I:

23 Máttr var móður dróttins

mjög ríkr um frú slíka

sýndr með sætleik reyndum

4 sveit í loganum heita;

þann gaf þessi kvinnu

þrótt óskamey dróttins;

hosk sat brúðr í ‹. . .›

8 baugstalls um dag allan.

“The very great power of the mother of the Lord in relation to this woman in the hot flame, with her proven kindness, was shown to the people; the chosen virgin of the Lord gave that fortitude to this woman; the wise woman sat in . . . of the ring-seat [arm or shield] all day long…”  [Wrightson, page 51, stanza 23]

Now, whatever the court poet who wrote Maríuvísur I was thinking óskamær meant, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t thinking of her as an object of desire, nor would he have used language that implied it, because that would have been blasphemous.

Oh sure, the meaning of a word can change over a period of a few hundred years; but, the use of óskamær in a poem about Mary certainly doesn’t support the translation of its use in Ragnarsdrapa as meaning ‘desired, desiring,’ either.

I’m going to come back to a discussion of ósk, but for the moment I want to examine the validity of Clunies Ross’s interpretation of the compound ósk-Rán in Ragnarsdrapa as being a strong indication of Hildr’s role as a valkyrie.

The two compounds, óskamær and ósk-Rán are certainly not exact synonyms.  ‘r’ means ‘maiden,’ whereas Rán as a common noun means ‘robbery.’  [Quinn 01, page 74]  As a personal name, Rán personified the deadly and treacherous aspects of the sea in the mythical form of the wife of the sea-god.  According to Judy Quinn, Rán personified death by drowning, whereas the valkyrie personified death in battle.  [Quinn 01, pages 74 – 75]  The two types of death are clearly not the same at all, in context or in character.  And it’s interesting that Bragi’s first kenning for Hildr uses the name of the personification of death by drowning, because he also says that the battle took place, not at sea, but on an island.

Quinn conjectures that “Rán’s association with the ruthless killing of men is probably why Bragi Boddason, in the ninth century, chose her as the base-word in his kenning for the valkyrie, Hildr, in Ragnasdrápa 1: “ofþerris æða ósk-Rán” [the desiring- (or desired-)Rán of the excessive drying of veins] (Skm 250).”  [Quinn 01, page 82]  She also points out that Bragi’s use of Rán’s name in a non-seafaring context is not quite the sole one in skaldic poetry:  “When Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson imagined the love-making between the  woman he desired and her husband, he described her as gloomy “dýnu Rán” [Rán of the eiderdown] (Lv 15 V), a depiction which encodes both the intimacy he assumes and the peril he courts.11”  [ibid, page 82 – 83]

However, Quinn also points out that “In Helgakviða Hundingsbana I too, a valkyrie is pitted against Rán in a tussle to control the fate of the hero. In this company, Rán seems to represent the ineluctable tug of mortality, a force that can only be countered by the temporary protection of a valkyrie whose medium is air rather than land or sea.”  [ibid, page 91]  The dyadic representation of Rán and a valkyrie in Helgakviða Hundingsbana I does not readily suggest to me that they were thought of as being essentially the same power or force.

Rudolph Simek concluded that “… Rán is the ruler over the realm of the dead at the bottom of the sea to which people who have drowned go.  Whilst [her husband, the giant named  Ægir] personifies the sea as a friendly power, Rán embodies the sinister side of the sea, at least in the eyes of the late Viking Age Icelandic seafarers…”  [Simek (1), page 260]

PICTURE 02 RAN  Ran and Her Nets, public domain, various.

As a sister to the goddess of death, I can see Rán; the goddess of the drowned at the bottom of the sea has a lot in common with the goddess of the underworld where all the people go who don’t die a warrior’s death.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_(being)    .


PICTURE 03 HEL  ‘Hel’ picture by Zarubina Mkasahara, creative attribution, share-alike license

But, as the next-of-kin to Hildr and her sisters, those who choose who will die in battle:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie  I can’t say that I’m exactly struck by the resemblance.

PICTURE 04 VALKYRIE  ‘Valkyrie’ by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1831–1892), public domain.

To sum up:  Rán catches those who fall into her power;  Hel keeps those who fall into her domain; and the valkyrie calls to a battle that may or may not be doom for those who answer her call.  Those three actions are quite distinct from each other.

Moreover, the ‘Hildr’ in the earliest Norse legends of the Hjaðningavíg does something other than a valkyrie call to battle.  She calls to a battle where the outcome is pre-determined:  where everyone is doomed, nobody wins, and, most chillingly of all, everyone joins the undead.  The fate of the Hjaðningavíg warriors is to spend eternity in a travesty of the destination they would have been hoping for:   Valhalla:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valhalla  .  Their terrible fate is not a parallel to Valhalla; there is no ‘rest’ for them, no convivial drinking and merry-making.  They fight and they die, they turn into stones, and then they  get bewitched back into a kind of ‘half-life’ to fight again, until they die again; and so it goes on until the gods themselves die.

So, I think we should be very careful about drawing casual comparisons of Hildr with Rán and with Hel.  The contexts in which those three beings appear to be operating in the Norse sources are quite distinct.

There is another reason we should be cautious of making quick assumptions that we know why Bragi Boddason used the epithet ósk-Rán to describe Hildr, and that is, the calibre of the poet himself.

Bragi lived in the 9th century, in the twilight of the Viking era, and he has been variously described as having been a court poet to Norse, or Swedish or Danish kings.  Margaret Clunies Ross states that:  “If Bragi’s patron Ragnarr is to be identified with the Viking leader who led an attack on Paris in 845, supposedly died in a snake-pit at the hands of King Ælla of Northumbria, and was the father of the Ingware and Ubba that the F version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claims led raids on England in the 860s and 70s (de Vries 1928a; McTurk 1991a), then their association is just possible chronologically and geographically, as Ragnarr’s connections within Scandinavia were with Norway as well as with Denmark (Smyth 1977, 17 – 20).  [05]

Ursula Dronke argues that the “complex brilliance of the diction of the Ragnarsdrápa,” together with the “less sophisticated use of the dróttkvætt [courtly poetic metre],” and the lack of a saga framework for Bragi all strongly suggest that the Ragnarsdrápa is “an authentic work of Bragi’s, and unless the attributions of poems to scalds [court poets] of identifiable are all to be doubted, it seems safe to assume that Bragi’s verses were earlier than theirs and belonged to the ninth century…”  [Dronke (1), pages 204 – 205]

The next epithet applied to Hildr in the Ragnarsdrápa is hristi-Sif hringa [Faulkes, Skáldskaparmál, 1998, page 72], which Anthony Faulkes translates and interprets to mean “ring – (sword) shaking Sif (Hild)…” [Faulkes, Snorra Edda, page 123].   Clunies Ross translates it as “shaking-Sif (goddess) of rings (VALKYRIE = Hildr)” [Clunies Ross (2), p. 39].  She also states that “The connotations of this kenning are complex…” focusing on the various meanings that ‘ring’ could have in the epithet, and suggesting that “Bragi’s choice of the goddess-name Sif, wife of Þórr, which has the sense ‘kinship, affinity’ as a common noun, may be ironic here, for Hildr is concerned to break the ties of kinship.”  [Clunies Ross (2), page 40]

But, surely the ‘kinship, affinity’ boat would have already sailed, at the same time that Hedinn had kidnapped our girl Hildr.

Richard North translates the epithet as ‘Sif of shaking bracelets’ and interprets it as a kenning for a “marriageable woman:  Hildr” [North, page 131].

The next kenning that the poet Bragi applies to Hildr is:  sú til bleyði boeti-Þrúðr… dre‹y›rug‹r›a benja.  [Faulkes (1), p. 73.

The phrase in between those two phrases, ‘málma mætum hilm‹i›  men,’ belongs to another idea in the poem; Old Norse court poetry was also complex in its structure.)

The translations I have of Ragnarsdrápa, those of:  Clunies Ross, Richard North, Anthony Faulkes and Arthur Brodeur, are fairly similar with respect to this kenning, all something along the lines of:  “This bloody wound-curing Thrud…”  [Faulkes (2), p. 123]

Although Margaret Clunies Ross indicates, correctly, that the epithet means ‘Valkyrie,’ she also interprets it in this context as meaning the same ‘Thrud’ who is said by at least one court poet to be the daughter of Thor.  She bases this interpretation, and understandably so, on the first verse of Ragnarsdrápa, which refers to a giant named Hrungnir by way of the kenning ‘the thief of Þrúðr,’ and Snorri quotes a court poet who used the kenning ‘Thrud’s father’ to refer to the god Thor.  [Faulkes (2), p. 72 – 73]  The kenning ‘thief of Thrud’ refers to a myth that has been lost, unfortunately.  A related kenning, also quoted by Snorri, by the late-tenth century court poet Eilífr Goðrúnarson in his praise poem to the god Thor, Þórsdrápa, calls Thor  ‘the one who strongly misses Þrúðr.’ https://web.archive.org/web/20060923215727/http://www.hi.is/~eybjorn/ugm/thorsd00.html  or ‘the one who longs for Þrúðr  in his heart.’  [Faulkes (2), page 85]

Thrud (Old Norse ‘Þrúðr’) is one of the oldest recorded base-names in kennings, dating back to the 10th century.  Hild (O.N. ‘Hildr’)  is even older, dating back to the 9th century in kennings.  [Price, page 286]

It shows up in a kenning for ‘warrior’ or ‘revenant’ [06] in the only known record on a rune-stone, of a complete verse in the court poetry meter called dróttkvætt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliterative_verse#Dr%C3%B3ttkv%C3%A6tt


The Karlevi runestone in Vickleby Parish, Mörbylånga Municipality, Öland, Sweden.

This is a picture of an archaeological site or a monument in Sweden, number Vickleby 10:1 in the RAÄ Fornsök database.   Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Berig,  Creative attribution, share-alike license


For more on the Karlevi Runestone and the reference to Thrud, see note 06.

The name  ‘Þrúðr’ means ‘power, treader’ [Price, page 283] and, as Thor’s ‘daughter,’ she is, “like Thor’s son, Magni, a personification of her father’s strength. “  [Simek (1), page 329]

The final kenning that Bragi aims Hildr’s way is ‘fengeyðandi fljóða fordæða nam ráða,’ which Anthony Faulkes translates as ‘that victory-preventing witch among women.’  [Faulkes (1) page 73, and Faulkes (2) page 123, respectively]  Faulkes notes in his introduction to the Prose Edda that he went for a very literal translation of the Edda.  In his ‘Glossary’ to Skaldskaparmal, Faulkes gives the following range of meanings for fordæða: f. evil-doer, wicked creature, witch; f. fljóða evil creature among women v254/4 (subj. of nam ráða)

  1. 277, Skáldskaparmál 2. Glossary and Index of Names Edited by Anthony Faulkes, Viking Society for Northern Research http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Edda-2b.pdf

However, Arthur Brodeur’s translation of the same phrase: ‘that baleful witch of women, wasting the fruits of victory,’ [Brodeur, page 132], is the best and most fully accurate, within the context of how the word fordæða would likely have been understood by Bragi in the late 9th century, in terms of its connotations with respect to his stanzas on the Hjaðningavíg.  [07] [08]

Given the legal connotations for the concept as set down in the earliest written Old Norse laws, Margaret Clunies Ross’s 1973 translation of ‘arch-sorceress’ for the word fordæða in Bragi’s stanzas is inaccurate [Clunies Ross (1), page 91]; and her 2017 translation of ‘evil-doer’ for the same is inadequate.  [Clunies Ross (2) pages 43, 44].

And of course, we have Snorri’s characterization of Hildr as being the daughter of a king.  Not that this rules out her having a non-human side to her, by any means.  [See Note 04(ii), for the example of Brynhildr.]  The legendary princess Skuld, who shared her name with one of the Old Norse ‘fates’ called Norns, as well as with a valkyrie, was another epic trouble-maker along the general lines of Hildr in character:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skuld_(princess)   ……

It’s clear that Bragi thought of Hildr of the Hjaðningavíg as being an entity possessed of both supernatural powers and malign intent, who was incarnate in female human form.  In order to maintain the battle of the Hjaddings until the end of the gods themselves, Hildr would have to be effectively immortal herself.

However, she does not start out in the legend of the eternal battle as being manifestly of another world.  She is a princess who apparently gets abducted, and it is from that viewpoint that I would now like to address her motivation for wreaking a truly terrifying revenge on both her abductor’s army and that of her failed protector’s.  I will return later to the question of what Hildr was, when we look at the question of ‘how does she do it, how does she bring stones back to life every night?


02.  What motivation did the princess Hildr have for exacting a gruesome revenge against both her abductors and her would-be protectors?

Margaret Clunies Ross points out that:  “… it was abnormal for an abducted woman to offer compensation to her wronged father, more unusual still for her to bring about her father’s death.  In most cases of abduction recorded in Old Icelandic literature the woman avenges herself on her abductor, as in Ch. 48 of the Ynglingsaga, and not on her own kin; moreover, the settlement of an abduction case was a male affair, the woman’s male kinsfolk being the only ones entitled to avenge her theft.8”  [Clunies Ross (1), page 77]

However, neither Clunies Ross nor any other scholar I consulted appears to have carefully examined the assumption that – drawing on Snorri Sturluson’s phrases for Hildr in Hattatal, such as ‘Hedinn’s darling,’ ‘Hildr prepares a bed for most helmet-damagers,’ and the like – they all seem to have made, which is that, when our girl Hildr sashayed onto her daddy’s ship, she was there as the representative of her lover/default hubby by way of abduction Hedinn, there to make peace between the two men.  That’s the basic assumption that has never really been challenged by any scholar, as far as I know, with respect to Snorri’s writings on the subject and his quotes from Bragi Boddason.  [09]

Given the venom with which Bragi has described her, plus the fact that her appearance at her father’s ship to negotiate over her own kidnapping would been something that was simply never done or even contemplated in Old Norse society, I should think it would behove scholars to look a little deeper into what was happening, at least, from Bragi’s point of view in the late ninth century.

The earliest sources for the myth, Ragnarsdrápa, Háttalykill and Snorri, agree that Hildr was the perpetuator of the eternal battle.  They all agree that Hildr was abducted by Hedinn.  Bragi says that Hildr only pretended to be working for peace.  Snorri says that Hildr went to her father’s ship and offered him her own gold neck-ring as recompense for her own kidnapping.  Snorri also says that, just before the battle first commenced, Hedinn offered Hildr’s father, Hogni, a great deal of gold to settle the matter.  Hogni’s reply?  ‘Should’a thought of that before I drew my sword, boyo.’

From these utterances, we can extrapolate the following idea:  Hedinn was willing to offer Hogni a lot of gold, much more than one neck-ring, to settle the matter, and, Hogni would have been willing to accept the gold.  Therefore, I think that it would be fair to say that our girl Hildr probably neglected to mention any offer of serious treasure to her father to settle the feud.

Well, why not?  It was a king after all, who abducted her.  And she was Hedinn’s ‘beloved,’ according to Snorri:

Hjaldrremmir tekr Hildi

(hringr brestr at gjǫf) festa,

hnígr und Høgna meyjar

hers valdandi tjald;

Heðins mála býr hvílu

hjálmlestanda flestum,

morðaukinn fliggr mæki

mund Hjaðninga sprund.

The battle-strengthener [ruler] engages himself to Hild [a valkyrie], the ring is broken as a gift.  The ruler of the host moves under Hogni’s daughter’s [Hild] tent [his shield].  Hedin’s beloved [Hild] prepares a bed [i.e. selects them for death] for most helmet-harmers [warriors].  The lady of the Hiadnings receives a wedding gift, a sword famous for slaying.”  [Faulkes (2), pages 195 – 196]

As Margaret Clunies Ross pointed out, it was simply not done, for women to negotiate compensation for their own abduction.

So, what would have happened, logically, if a princess who’d been abducted then freely, evidently, walked onto her father’s ship to negotiate that compensation, what would the response have been?

I think the reaction of a 9th century audience, (or, really any audience not composed of people who live in ivory towers) would have been along the lines of the following:

Princess:  ‘Hi, Dad.’

Dad, ‘So, he let you go, did he?’

Princess:  ‘Well, not exactly, Dad.  You see, I promised him I would get you to agree to compensation for my kidnapping.’

(By now, the 9th century Norse audience is rolling in the aisles.)

Dad:  ‘I see.  So, you ran away with him, did you?  Well you can just go back to your lover-boy then, missy; you are not my daughter anymore, as of this very moment.  And you are going to inherit diddly-squat, you hear me girl, zilch!’

More shrieks of laughter from the audience.   Fade to black.


It’s pretty clear, however, that Bragi was not writing a farce, and that nobody was laughing.

So, we need a different lens with which to look at what could have happened, given the context of the earliest recounting of the Hjaðningavíg myth.

The earliest evidence from written sources as to the laws on abduction indicates that the Norse peoples took the kidnapping of their women very seriously:  both the kidnapper and anyone who helped him or harboured him after the fact faced a penalty of full outlawry if the case wasn’t settled between the parties involved.  [10]

Margaret Clunies Ross spent a great deal of effort looking for hidden meanings in Hildr’s offering of her neck-ring to her father as some kind of sneaky gesture to shame him, in order to explain his rage.  [Clunies Ross (1)]

However, her theory is really unnecessary, in my opinion, because, the very fact of Hildr’s showing up to negotiate compensation for her own abduction would have had all kinds of ‘shame’ issues attached to it.

Her father’s natural response upon seeing his daughter sashay up the gangplank would have been anger and suspicion as regards her possible role in her own kidnapping.  Not the best context for a peace talk.

Given this likely scenario, then, why would a warrior who had the nerve to jack a princess in a raid then turn around and hide behind her skirts, as it were, asking her of all people to negotiate the terms for peace?

The answer, from a 9th century Scandinavian society’s perspective, is that he simply wouldn’t.  And a princess would never agree to peace either, for any price, and certainly not for the price of handing over her own gold necklace.  Rudolph Simek enlightens us as to the reason why:

Archaic marriages were based on a legal contract between two families, and the transference of the woman from the control of the previous family member responsible for her to the husband is a central moment in Germanic marriages.  Even in medieval Icelandic texts, which are far advanced from the early Middle Ages, it was not the love between two partners or even the consumption [sic, Simek means ‘consummation,’ of course] of the marriage that mattered, but the contract arranged and sealed by the father when he gave the bride away.

“In Germanic law we can distinguish between at least five different types of marriage, only the first three of which would have been considered lawful marriages, or a matrimonium, namely


friedel-marriage (cf. ON friða) [note *below]


abduction (with consent)

abduction (without consent)

but only the first one was based on a proper contract and made the offspring capable of inheriting[Emphasis mine.]  The bride’s father (or whoever else had jurisdictional power over her) would be addressed and he was in charge of the marriage contract.  This was not valid before a price (ON mundr) was paid to the family (rather than gifts were presented to the girl herself at this stage) and the dowry (heimanfylgja) had been agreed on.  The marriage itself became valid when this contract was valid, when a wedding had been held in the presence of at least six guests serving as witnesses and the bridal couple had publicly entered the bed.  This procedure in pre-Christian and early Christian Iceland was rounded off with the morning gift (linnfé).  However all the first three types of marriage were considered legal, but the third only as a form of co-habitation between a man and a socially inferior woman, and there was no contract, no payment and no compulsory morning gift involved.  This, by the way, is the type of union attempted by Freyr with Gerðr in Skírnismál.”  [Simek (02), page 106]

We can see, therefore, that a marriage by abduction, with or without Hildr’s consent, automatically disinherited her and any children she had.  Oh sure, the kings could write her and the offspring in, but it would be at their pleasure, not automatically given; and if there were other, more ‘legitimate’ heirs, then Hildr’s children could expect to have to fight for their share of any inheritance.  Furthermore, Hildr’s now considered to be ‘married,’ to a guy she probably didn’t choose; so, her life has had a serious dent put in it; but, hey, it’s all okay to those two kings, as long as she’s ‘paid for,’ with gold.  As Snorri says, Hedin tries to negotiate with his “father-in-law” just before battle commences.  [Faulkes (2), page 122]

And scholars say her motivation isn’t clear.  Are they joking?  Hildr’s a princess, she’s high-born and coddled.  Until suddenly, her nice, proper life and reputation get jacked from her, by two barterers, who are now figuring out how much gold they’ll have to trade so that they can move on from the bad state they’ve left her in.  I’d be damn bitter, too.  And looking for revenge.

Clearly, it’s just about the gold, for dear old Dad.  If he gets enough of it, then he really won’t care too much about what happens to her.  Those two kings, her father and her abductor, are just barterers, intent on bartering her life away.

Who the hell do they think they’re trying to buy and sell?  She’ll show them who she is.  She’ll show them who they’ve messed with.

And that’s when she makes her decision, uses the power inherent in her name and what turns out to be her essentially supernatural nature:  ‘Hildr,’ ‘battle.’

Why have the scholars missed this point?  I think it must have been because they’ve all taken  Snorri at face value when he calls Hildr Hedinn’s ‘bed-mate, sweet-talker, lover,’ in Old Norse, ‘mala.’  [12]   It’s really a failure to accord to the scheming, unscrupulous 13th century poet-historian the gift of irony, because Snorri is clearly drawing on early sources most of which we don’t have access to.   He quotes Bragi, who actually says right out that Hildr only pretended to be about peace.  This strongly suggests that Snorri accepts Bragi’s version of the legend as having been the correct one.  It is more reasonable, therefore, to accept that Snorri must have been speaking ironically when he calls Hildr Hedinn’s ‘bed-mate, honey.’  [12] [13]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snorri_Sturluson

We know that the two kings involved were willing to settle the abduction issue with gold, because Snorri says:  “Then Hogni called out to his father-in-law Hedin and offered him atonement and a great deal of gold to make amends.  Then Hogni replied, “You have offered this too late, if you want atonement, for I have now drawn Dainsleif, which the dwarfs made, which has to be the death of someone every time it is unsheathed…”  [Faulkes (2), page 122]

So, if the abductor was willing to give a lot of gold in compensation, and the other was willing to take a lot of gold as compensation, then how did that battle happen?

Snorri says our girl Hild had gone to daddy and – offered him a lot of gold?  No.  She offered him her own neck-ring and then said in the next breath that Hedin was ready to fight if Hogni didn’t accept her neck-ring as compensation.  Hogni answered his daughter “curtly.”  [Faulkes (2), page 122]

So, here’s a model that does make sense of the context:  Hedinn gets suckered in by his little ol’ ‘mala.’  [12]   She tells him how flattered she was that he chose her and went to all that trouble and danger to obtain her.  (Spoiler alert:  she’s not flattered, and she hates him for ruining her life and taking away her choices.  If you don’t believe me, just remember how this story turns out, and who’s responsible for the way it ends.  Hedinn’s ‘honey’ is the honey from Hell.)  [13]

She tells him how she can’t wait to show him a really good time.

But, she’s terrified that Daddy will kill her new hubby if he’s the one to go to the ship to negotiate.  Daddy has a bad temper, you see, and will likely skewer Hedinn or any of his men who go to the ship.  She could tell him stories about Daddy that would help him to understand the truth of what she’s saying, but, there just isn’t time.  Does he want the death of one of his own men on his conscience?  Of course not.  Does he want to kill her, his new bride, with grief by getting killed himself?  Certainly not.  Well, then, there’s only one solution.  She’ll go tell Daddy how rich Hedinn is, and she’ll offer him a lot of gold as compensation.  He finally agrees.

Now Hildr goes to Daddy’s ship.  She talks sweetly, telling her father that she begged Hedinn to let her come to see her dear father, and, out of the goodness of his heart, he agreed to let her bring his offer of compensation.  Her story makes Hogni look good to his men; so, he’ll accept her story at face value, at least for the time being.  Then, Hildr offers him just her very own neck-ring, as compensation, coupled with a threat to challenge his courage, a very important attribute in a Viking chieftain.  [11]

She doesn’t say, ‘Oh, no daddy, you’ve misunderstood.  Hedinn’s going to give you a lot of gold, the necklace was just an example of what he’s going to give you.’  Nope.   She says:  ‘Take it or Hedinn will fight you to the death, daddy dearest,’ knowing darn well what the result will be.

And what is the response?  Her father answers her curtly.  Vesuvius would have looked tame by comparison to papa’s reaction to this affront to his reputation, and, it’s on, now.  [11]

So, she scoots back to Hedinn and tells him she’s really sorry, but she’s just too darn precious to Daddy, and he’d rather fight than take even the (huge, no doubt) amount of gold that her sweet new hubby Hedinn had offered for her.  She’ll cheer on her new hubby in the battle to come, though, and of course she hopes he’ll be coming home victorious to her warm embrace.

And then, Hogni’s warriors attack Hedinn “rather than accepting Hildr’s neck-rings.”

[Faulkes (2), page 123]

Now, how was that hard to see, as being the logical model of Hildr’s motivation and subsequent response, based on what we’ve been told from the earliest versions of the myth?  Myself, I don’t think that was hard at all.  You just have to think like an abducted valkyrie-princess would have been thinking, and accord Snorri Sturluson of all people the simple respect of considering him capable of irony in his descriptions of the sweet-talker from hell.  [12] [13]

And this brings us to:

03.  How does Hildr do it, how does she bring ‘stones’ back to life every night?

Snorri is the only one of the early sources to refer to the men and their weapons being turned into stones every day, and being revived by Hildr every night, only to fight again.  [Faulkes (02), page 123].

Snorri states:  “Then they began the engagement that is known as the Hiadnings’ battle, and fought all that day, and at night the kings went to their ships.  But during the night Hild went to the slain and woke up by magic all those that were dead.  And the next day the kings went onto the battlefield and fought, and so did all those that had fallen the previous day.  This battle continued day after day, with all those that fell, and all the weapons that lay on the battlefield, as well as shields, turning to stone.  And when day came, all the dead men got up and fought, and all the weapons were useable.  It says in the poems that the Hiadnings must thus await Ragnarok.  Bragi the poet composed a passage based on this story in his drápa for Ragnar Lodbrok:”   [ibid]

Leaving aside for the moment another question that has never been addressed by any scholar except, in passing, Ursula Dronke [14], – namely, how does Hildr keep herself alive long enough to torment everyone around her until Hell breaks loose?  – There is the question of the mechanics of her legendary ability to ‘wake up’ the armies out of death, repeatedly, until the end of time, in fact.

Snorri uses a fairly generic word in Old Norse, fjǫlkyngi, for ‘magic,’ in the above passage,    [Faulkes (01), page 72].  And that, dear readers, is the only word, literally, from the early sources, on the supposed mechanism of resurrection.

“…The word used in Guta saga (GLGS, 64 line 13) to describe Avair Strabain is fielkunnugr skilled in many things, and this word and its equivalents were also used, frequently with a positive connotation, to indicate  skilled in magic arts, especially in OWN sources. The word fordeþskepr and its equivalents were more often used negatively in the sense, witchcraft, black arts…”  [Peel, page 162]

But, saying she did it by ‘magic’ in the heathen Scandinavian period is like us saying we ‘had some weather’ today – it doesn’t even begin to tell the story, because Scandinavian heathens had a fair number of culturally important forms of magic:

Runes:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runes

Seiðr:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sei%C3%B0r

Galdr:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galdr

to name several of the most important categories, other than herbal remedies, which were often mixed with one of the above magical practices to increase their efficacy.

However, Snorri does throw in three more concepts germane to the question of how the early tellers of the legend may have conceived of the ‘resurrection:’ he says Hild ‘woke up’ the dead; he says the dead were ‘woken up’ at night; and he says the dead plus their battle accoutrements turned into stones at the end of each daily battle.  And he gives one final clue:  the supposed location of the battle:  “When King Hogni got to Norway he discovered that Hedin had sailed over the sea to the west.  Then Hogni sailed after him all the way to the Orkneys, and when he got to the place called Hoy, he found Hedin there with his army…”  [Faulkes (2), page 122]

So, now, I want to use those clues to look at one possible context for the mechanics of ‘resurrection’ in the Hjaðningavíg legend; and that is, the idea that Hildr used a supernatural board game, possibly one that had been stolen from the gods themselves.

Not much is known about the group of board games called ‘tafl’ within Old Norse heathen culture. We don’t know for sure how they were played, or what the rules were.  And “tafl may mean any sort of board game” within that culture.  [Tolkien, page 37]

What we have been able to infer from the material and literary data, however, is that tafl games were closely connected with death, magic and the realm of the gods, and burials of warriors in particular.

06   EARLY 11th CENTURY BOARD GAME, TRONDHEIM, NORWAY  ‘Nefltafl’ board, with bone piecesPhoto by:  NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet at https://www.flickr.com/people/38254448@N05

Creative attribution, share-alike license

There is some archaeological evidence that the games had spiritual and cultural dimensions beyond the merely material aspects, one grave even having a game laid out in the center of it as if a game was in progress.  [Hall, page 446].

The best-known and finest of the Viking-era Eddic poems, Völuspá, ‘Prophecy of the Seeress,’ ties a tafl game belonging to the gods with their ‘golden era,’ and the loss of it with the loss of their peace and prosperity:

  1. at tables played at home;

joyous they were;

to them was naught

want of gold,

until three came

thurs- maidens,

all powerful,

from Jötunheim.

[Völuspá (01)]


The game is also tied to the beginning of a new world the seeress predicts will come after Ragnarök, the ‘doom of the gods:’

  1. She sees arise,

a second time,

earth from ocean,

beauteously green,

waterfalls descending;

the eagle flying over,

which in the fell

captures fish.

The Æsir are found

on Ida´s plain,

and of the mighty earth-encircler speak, and of the great-god’s ancient runes.

  1. Then again shall

the wondrous

golden tables

be found in the grass;

those they had owned

in early days.

[Völuspá (01)]

A.G. van Hamel argues that the word Thorpe translates as ‘wondrous,’ ‘undrsamligar,’ has more of the meaning of ‘eerie,’ ‘supernatural,’ ‘supremely magical.’  [van Hamel, pages 221 – 225]

One of the game’s most striking appearances in the Viking sagas, is in the ‘Saga of King Heidrik the  Wise:’

A man named Gestumblindi had seriously pissed off one King Heidrek.  The king sent him a summons to appear, to be reconciled with the king or to die, whichever he cared to choose.  Gestumblindi didn’t like his chances for a judgment by the king’s ‘wise men;’ so he sacrificed to Ódin and asked him for help.  Ódin appeared to him one evening and changed clothes with Gestumblindi, and told him to make himself scarce for a while.

Then, Ódin appeared before King Heidrek in the guise of Gestumblindi, saying he had come to be reconciled with the king.  Rather than submit to the king’s councillors for judgment, the ersatz Gestumblindi opted for Door Number 2:  a riddle contest with the king; and, if the latter failed to answer all the riddles that ‘Gestumblindi’ posed to him, then Gestumblindi was off the hook for any other ‘reconciliation’ trials.  [Paraphrasing Tolkien, page 32]

“… Then said Gestumblindi:

(55)  What thanes are they to the thing riding, all at one5 together; across the lands their liegemen sending seeking a place to settle?  This riddle ponder, O prince Heidrek!”

 “‘Your riddle is good, Gestumblindi,’ said the king; ‘I have guessed it.  These are Ítrek and Andad, 6 sitting at their chequerboard.’

“NOTE  5  If the ‘thanes’ who ride to the ‘thing’ (meeting) are the kings in chess, one would not expect them to be called either sáttir or sextán (sixteen); but in fact it is not clear what the game is (tafl may mean any sort of board-game).

 “NOTE 6   Ítrekr may have been a name for Ódin, and Andaðr or Ǫnduðr is found in a list of giant-names, so that it is just conceivable that the pieces in this game were thought of as representing a conflict between the gods and the giants.  The solution in [manuscript] H is:  þat er tafl Ítreks konungs.” [Tolkien, page 37]  [‘That is the tafl game of King Ítrek’s’.  My translation for that last sentence in English]

[In the saga, Gestumblindi goes on to ask two more riddles connected with tafl games.]

Ursula Dronke points out that in the Þulur (lists of names, synonyms and kennings mentioned in Eddic sources, found in Skaldskaparmal), Ítrek is identified with Odinn and Andaðr is the name of a giant, possibly meaning ‘Dead One.’  [Dronke (2), page 119]

The reference to Odin and Ítrek can be found on page 156 of Faulkes (2).  The reference to Andaðr appears as ‘Ondud’ on page 156 of in Faulkes’ translation of Skaldskaparmal [Faulkes (2)] , and as Anduðr on page 111 of his Icelandic edition of the same [Faulkes (1)].  In his ‘Glossary and Vocabulary’ to Skaldskaparmal, Faulkes confirms on page 444 that Anduðr is a name for a male giant; and on page 235 he confirms that the word ‘andaðr’ means ‘dead.’  [Faulkes (4)]

Dronke argues that in the Old Norse world-view, there was “a symbolic link between tafl and the world’s fortune,” and that “the contending of Ítrekr and Andaðr at tafl and the association of dice with tafl re-enact, as it were, “the element of chance in the world’s fortune.”  [Dronke (2), pages 120 – 121]

The earliest written legal sources indicate that heathen beliefs included “doing things to stones or filling them with magical power.”  [15]

The early 11th century picture- stone GS 19, discovered in the church of Ockelbo, Sweden, displays scenes from the Sigurd legends, as well as a scene of two beings playing a tafl game.



Picture by Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Berig , creative attribution, share-alike license.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_stones#Gs_19

Andreas Nordberg argues that in Iron-Age Scandinavia, “the grave monument can be regarded as a passage or threshold, i.e. a ‘gateway’ between this and the Other World;” [Nordberg, page 36] and, that “the grave also seems to have served as a ‘door’ to the Other World for example on occasions when surviving relatives were trying to summon the dead to the world of the living.”  [ibid, page 37]

In her deeply thoughtful article ‘Doors to the dead. The power of doorways and thresholds in Viking Age Scandinavia,’ Marianne Hem Eriksen makes the same argument for Viking Age graves.  [Eriksen, pages 187-214]

In addition to Snorri’s mention of Orkney, the early 12th century Earl of Orkney, Rögnvaldr, mentions both tafl and runes as being among the nine skills he especially possesses:

Tafl em ek örr at efla;

íþóttir kannk níu;

týnik trauðla rúnum;

tíðs mér bók ok smíðir.

Skríða kannk á skíðum;

skýtk ok roek, svát nýtir;

hvártveggja kannk hyggja:

harpslátt ok bragþáttu.


(I am quick at playing board games; I have

nine skills; I forget runes slowly; the book is

a preoccupation with me and also craftsmanship.

I am able to glide on skis; I shoot and I

row so that it makes a difference; I am able

to understand both: harp-playing and poems.)  [Jesch, page 156]


Snorri references the particular Orkney Island of Hoy in his re-telling of the Hjaðningavíg myth, perhaps because of its peculiar stony landscape:



“Beach at Hoy showing the unusual large pebble shaped stones (around half a meter to a meter long)” by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:F%C3%A6  ; creative attribution, share-alike license

09 OLD MAN OF HOY   “Old Man of Hoy” photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Grinner  ; creative attribution and share-alike license

In my next blog-post, on Gullveig and Heidr, I will come back to the question of the mechanics of ‘raising the dead.’


04.  Other and Later Versions of the Hjaðningavíg Myth.

The Danish writer Saxo Grammaticus probably composed his version of the Hjaðningavíg early in the 13th century.  He clearly had trouble with the motivation aspect of Hildr’s incitement to eternal battle, although he accepted it as being a traditional part of the legend.  He makes Hildr and Hedin lovers, whose marriage was approved at first by Hildr’s father, Hǫgni.  However, “certain slanderers” brought to Hǫgni “a trumped-up charge” that Hedin had “dishonoured” Hildr before marriage [Saxo, page 147 – 149], and this was what led to the battle of the Haddings, which, according to Saxo, took place “on the island of Hiddensee,” the island of the Mecklenberg coast, west of Rügen.   [Saxo, Notes on Text, page 87].   Saxo states that:  “According to popular belief, Hild yearned so ardently for her husband that she conjured up spirits of the dead men at night so that they could renew their fighting.”  [Saxo, page 149]

Sörla þáttr eða Heðins saga ok Högna, ‘The tale of Sörli, with the story of Hedin and Hogni’

This late 14th century version of the Hjaðningavíg myth shows a Christian determination to stamp out once and for all any ideas the people may have had about pagan entities holding power over human lives and deaths.  Short version:  the battle is the fault of those pagan rogues, Odin and Freyja, who get their comeuppance when the Christians, led by the 10th century Norwegian King Olaf Tryggvason, show up on the island of Hoy, to put an end to that ‘eternal battle’ nonsense.   Here’s the longer edition of the story:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B6rla_%C3%BE%C3%A1ttr     and Elizabeth Ashman Rowe does an excellent summary in her article [Rowe].  As Judy Quinn points out:  “… it is hardly surprising that in the context of the accreted narrative tradition surrounding King Óláfr Tryggvason and his work to convert pagans into Christianity preserved in Flateyjarbók and elsewhere, traditions were reconfigured to counter any notions that magic could resurrect mortals, or that valkyries might have control over the timing of a man’s death…”  [Quinn (2), page 811]

10 LOKI STEALS FREYJAS NECKLACE  ‘Loki steals Freyja’s Necklace’  in Sörla þáttr eða Heðins saga ok Högna.  Drawing  by F.W. Heine

11 ODIN  ‘Odin’ by Sir E. Burne-Jones, 1895



A century or so after Sörla þáttr was written, some Icelandic wit responded with Skíðaríma.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sk%C3%AD%C3%B0ar%C3%ADma  Read as a clap-back to the clearly Christian-proselytizing account of the Hjaðningavíg, which bowdlerized and sought to destroy a legendary legacy from pagan times, Skíðaríma is a real scream.

Skíðaríma’ is the title of Theo Homan’s brilliant two-year study into the texts, with a complete Icelandic text, commentaries and English translation.

My paraphrase, along with quotes in italics from Homan’s translation:  Odin drinks Skíði’s health, but cringes when the latter asks God to reward Odin, and then tells Skíði, a sneaky and thieving beggar, that he “must choose a woman.”  He can have anyone except Odin’s “dear Freyja.”  Skíði chooses “dear Hildur the slim,” Hǫgni’s daughter.  Hǫgni is thrilled, and says “I cannot choose any better, for here we are dealing with an honourable man.”  When asked her opinion of the marriage proposal, Hildur says:  “I promised Hedinn that I would wait for him, but if my father asserts himself in this I will not despise  Skíði.”

Skíði stretched out a dirty hand.  Then he was going to be wedded to Hildur.  Odin offered him the land of Asia and all he wanted to choose.  With this the hero acquired the title of king, experienced and swift in battle.  Many gibed at the man:  “Boorish Skíði seems to me.”  Skíði hastily crossed himself, quickly with his paw.  This tiding reached us:  he got a blow on his snout.  Heimdallur dealt him this blow with the fair end of his horn….”  [Homan, pages 354 – 355].

At the end, it all turns out to be a dream; but, you’d have to be really obtuse, not to see the message behind the story of the sneaky and thieving – but Christian –  beggar who dreamt that he was going to get everything he wanted just handed over to him, in the hall of the pagan gods.

I was howling with laughter by the time I’d finished reading the entire tale.


05   Was the myth of the Hjaðningavíg drawn from a foreign source?

There was for sure an older Greek legend of battle going on apparently ‘till the end of time,’ and that was the battle of Marathon, as related by one Pausanias, writing in the 2nd century  A.D. (also known as C.E.)  [16]

However, it would appear that the battle of Marathon was a ghostly one, albeit with ‘daemonic spirits,’ whatever those would happen to be.

Examples of the dead coming back to life to fight on until doomsday, are a lot harder to come by, not that this has stopped scholars from trying to scrounge one up.

One Irish battle often mentioned in connection with the Hjaðningavíg is ‘Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired:’   https://celt.ucc.ie/published/T300010.html   (Also known as the second battle of Moytura or Moytirra.)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cath_Maige_Tuired

Michael Chesnutt quite rightly points out that: “Snorri’s tale [of the Hjaðningavíg] conflates several of the motifs for which Irish parallels have been mentioned.  According to Cath Maige Turedh, the Tuatha Dé Danann  [  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatha_D%C3%A9_Danann ] enjoy three magic advantages:  their wizard can revive the dying; their weapons are “reborn overnight;” and their druidesses can create an army out of stones or other raw material.  In Skáldskaparmál , we are first told that the princess raised the fallen.  Later it is added that the men and weapons on the battlefield were turned to stone, only to regain their former shape next day.  Snorri separates these statements, as though uncertain of their joint meaning.  If the distinct elements found in the Irish version were allusively handled (or already confused) in his poetic sources, we can understand his bewilderment.”

[Chesnutt, page 132]  That seems like a reasonable assessment, especially with respect to Snorri’s interpretation, writing in the 13th century, and it does sound like Snorri may have added a few things to the mix of the legend – something he was certainly not above doing.

However, there’s a problem with concluding from Chesnutt’s remarks, that the Irish legend gave rise to the Norse one in its essential elements, and that is Chesnutt’s own dating of the two legends.  He goes on to say to say that “Cath Maige Turedh cannot be precisely dated, but in its present form it can be no older than the eleventh century.  Most likely it is a product of the Middle Irish literary revival… of the eleventh or twelfth centuries…”  [Chesnutt, pages 132 – 133]

And previously, Chesnutt had made it clear that he did not accept Snorri’s attribution of the Ragnarsdrápa as being from a 9th century poet.  He said:  “Háttalykill  [

http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~alvismal/4list.pdf  ]  and Skáldskaparmál are not our only witnesses to the Everlasting Fight motif in Norse literature, but they are certainly older than any other example.  37”  His note 37 states: “With the exception, that is, of the Hjaðningavíg story in Saxo, which point of chronology stands somewhere between the two…”  [Chesnutt, page 131]

However, more recently, Margaret Clunies Ross has set out a case for dating Ragnarsdrápa to the ninth century:  “Most scholars have accepted that Rdr [Ragnarsdrápa] and Bragi’s poetry generally are of ninth-century date and pointed to such features as the sporadic observance of hendingar, [ cf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliterative_verse#Dr%C3%B3ttkv%C3%A6tt ] especially aðalhending  [  https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a%C3%B0alhending  ] in the even lines, and the relatively straightforward word order, while acknowledging that both diction and metre show the dróttkvætt stanza to be already fully operational by his time (cf. de Vries 1957).  However, Marold (1986b), following the earlier views of Sophus Bugge (1894), has associated Rdr with the reconquest of Northumberland by the Danes 980 – 1015 and thus disputes its early date.”  [Clunies Ross (2), page 28]

With respect to the issue of the dating of the works that Snorri quotes in Skáldskaparmál,  Alan Bernstein remarks:  “The value of Snorri’s work is that he intended it to preserve older poetic (and mythological) traditions that he considered in danger of fading away under the influence of Christianity. Despite the lateness of his record, Snorri explicitly drew on older poems, the Elder, or Poetic Edda, that date, in some cases, from the ninth century. Because so many interpolations have been detected in the Poetic Edda, it is difficult to know how much of the surviving text actually dates back that far. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that these poems are written testimonies of older, oral traditions. Regardless of the precise age of the written sources, it is clear that non-Christians of the Germanic language group attributed identifiable activities to the dead and to groups of the dead.”  [Bernstein, page 124]

However, even if one accepts the later date of late tenth to early eleventh century, a transfer of the eternal-battle motif to the Norse myth from the Second Battle of Moytura would still seem to be highly unlikely, based on Chestnutt’s own dating of the latter legend.

Alan Bernstein considers that the Irish legend of The Death of Muircertach mac Erca  http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/celtic/ctexts/muircertach.html   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muirchertach_mac_Muiredaig_(Mac_Ercae)

parallels that of the Hjaðningavíg.  Although he does not try to date the Irish legend or to assess which of the two legends might have influenced the other one, he concludes:  “…Yet the Germanic and Irish concepts have important features in common….

The parallel between Síd and Hildr is crucial. Both women have the ability to summon dead men in troops.  [Bernstein, page 159]

“…In Irish tales such as The Death of Muichertach mac Erca, as in Old Norse, armies of the dead fight at the behest of women with supernatural powers….”  [ibid]

However, in his own re-telling of the Irish myth, Bernstein states that:

“… At different times, she [Sín] summons more “troops,” who wage imaginary battles that gradually cause Muirchertach to lose his mind. Sín conjures up blue men who fight goat-headed men. Unable to see that they are imaginary, Muirchertach fights them all. Everyone he kills stands up again and continues to fight until he becomes exhausted  (§21). Soon blue men fight headless men. Then Muirchertech fights stones, clods of earth, and bundles of grass (§23). As Muirchertach’s grasp of reality begins to slip, Cleitech’s priests intervene asking, “Why are you striking stones, O Muirchertach, who has lost his mind?” (§25) Seeing in Cleitech the possibility of help, Muirchertach confesses to him and receives communion (§26–28). For her part, Sín derides the priests, because “they sing only what is irrational” (§30). As Muichertach’s madness deepens, he remembers the prophecy that he will die as his grandfather did, not in battle, but in a fire (§35). He imagines himself attacked by the lineage descending from Niall of the Nine Hostages, legendary founder of the rival dynasty that ruled from Tara (§35). It will emerge (§49) that Sín’s loyalty is to this dynasty.

“Having charmed Muirchertach to sleep after a premonitory nightmare that accurately predicted that what she would cause him to believe would happen, Sín arranges the lances and spears of armies in battle at the doors and windows of the house, all pointing inward. Then, she formed a host of men around the fortress. She set fire to the house and came to bed with the king. He awoke and exclaimed correctly: “A phantom army has appeared to me burning the house on my head and massacring my people right up to the door.” Sín replied soothingly, and accurately, “No harm will come from that except that it has appeared.” (§§38–39). As the fire seems more menacing, Muirchertach (losing track of the fact that this is all appearance) asks, “Who is that all around the house”? (§40). Sín replies with the list of Muirchertach’s Tara-based enemies from his earlier nightmare (§35) and she adds that their leader has come “to avenge himself on you for the battle of Granar” (where, we learn later—§49—Muirchertach had killed Sín’s father). The text states objectively: “He did not know that it was not true and that there was no flesh-and-blood army surrounding the house” (§40). This is the final illusion. Believing himself surrounded by his enemies, his house ablaze, fated to die in a fire as his grandfather did before him, Muirchertach takes refuge in a wine barrel he believed to be empty and drowns. The house falls in on him (§42). Duaibsech dies of grief for Muirchertach (§46). After the funeral, Sín appears magically alongside the proceedings. It is clear she is of the sídhe, and the priests realize who she is. She bargains with them, a confession in return for paradise. In her confession she admits that she has exacted revenge for Muirchertach’s victory over her father and all his clan, for having exterminated the ancient tribes of Tara (§49). Then, Sín, too, dies of grief for Muirchertach (§49). Cairnech prays Muirchertach out of hell and into paradise (§51).”  [Bernstein, page 157]

Sín’s character fits the description in William of Auvergne. A beautiful woman discovered during a hunt when separated from his attendants attracts a man to his destruction. Sín’s ability to conjure up troops of combatants exemplifies the theme of the Ghostly Troop…”  [Bernstein, page 158]

So we can see from Bernstein’s own remarks that the fairy Sín’s conjurations are the conjuring up of ghosts; she is most emphatically not said to be bringing men back to life; her conjurations are illusions.  Until she tries to burn her victim up in a very real fire that she’s convinced him to think is just another delusion, of course.

It seems to me that, if anything, the Irish legend of The Death of Muircertach mac Erca is yet another attempt by medieval Christian propagandists to do away altogether with the valkyries as a legendary power.  The Hjaðningavíg has become an illusory conjuration of ghosts, and if you believe in the legend, it can kill you.

More on Hildr and the Hjaðningavíg in my next blog-post.



[01]   Gade, Kari, ed. ‘Háttalykill, p. 1001 – 1093,’ in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages III Part  2 Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. p. 1001.  Brepols, 2017

[02]  Clunies Ross (1), page 77:  “Although the story of Hildr had a long history in Germanic legend before the Viking Age, the extant Norse accounts were coloured by the social climate of that age, particularly in their depiction of Hildr herself who took on many of the aggressive, destructive, masculine characteristics of the dis. 7  This aspect of her character is most prominent in the earliest source, the ninth-century Ragnarsdrápa, and it is possible that the weakening of her hostile role in the later accounts came about through an acknowledged discrepancy between her aggressive part in the legend and the social norms which bore on abduction.  From the latter point of view it was abnormal for an abducted woman to offer compensation to her wronged father, more unusual still for her to bring about her father’s death.  In most cases of abduction recorded in Old Icelandic literature the woman avenges herself on her abductor, as in Ch. 48 of the Ynglingasaga, and not on her own kin;  moreover, the settlement of an abduction case was a male affair, the woman’s male kinsfolk being the only ones entitled to avenge her theft.

[03]  For example, Judy Quinn in Women in the Viking Age, pages 128 – 30

[04] (i)  From ‘An Icelandic Dictionary,’ page 473:  “Ósk… ‘a wish…’ ‘óska-barn, n. a chosen, adopted child… óska-sonr, m. an adopted son… óska-steinn, m. a ‘wish-stone…’   óska-mær, f.  the chosen maid, the name of the Valkyriur, who were the chosen maids of Odin, Og. 18; = eskimær, Fas. i. 118.”

(ii)  From ‘Corpus Poeticum Boreale V1.  Eddic Poetry,’ pages 311 – 312, in a translated passage from Oddrunar-gratr:  “Then the sorrow-stricken maid [Ordrun] sat her down and began to tell over the tale of her wrongs and woes.  ‘I was bred up in a king’s hall with every bliss, as men say.  I enjoyed my life and the wealth of my father for five winters, as long as my father was alive.  It was the last word he spoke, that stern king, ere he sunk in death.  He bade them endow me with red gold, and send me south as wife to Grimhild’s son [Gunnar], and build a castle for Brunhild, saying she should be a wish maid [to be wooed for], for he said that no maid more renowned than she should ever be brought up on earth, save the Judge [Fate] cut her life short.  Brunhild wrought at the broidery in the bower, she had [a wall of flame] about her, the earth quaked and the heavens above when Fafni’s slayer sought out the stronghold…”  [Gudbrand Vigfusson (2)]

(iii)   Judy Quinn also translates  óska-mær as ‘wish-maid [valkyrie]’ and notes a provenance for the phrase as a term for valkyries in her note to that stanza:  “29 The word “óskmær” to refer to a valkyrie is also found in Vlsunga saga ch. 2 and in the Upsaliensis text of Vluspá 25; see also Finnur JÓNSSON, Lexicon poeticum, s.v.”  [Quinn (4), page 317 and Note 29]

[05]   Quote by Clunies Ross is taken from page 26, Clunies Ross (2).  The references she cites in that quote are listed in (2B):

Vries, Jan de.  ‘Die westnordische Tradition der Sage von Ragnarr Loðbrók,’ ZDP [Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie], 257 – 302.

McTurk, Rory.  Studies in Ragnars saga loðbrókar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues.  Medium Ævum Monographs new ser.  Oxford:  Society for the Study of Mediæval Languages and Literature.

Smyth, Alfred P.  1977.  Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles 850 – 880.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press.

[06]  Sven B. Jansson gives a “relatively literal” translation of the Karlevi runestone stanza as:  “Hidden lies the man whom the greatest virtues accompanied – most men knew that – executor of the goddess of battles – in this mound.  A more honest battle-strong god of the wagon of the mighty ground of the sea-king will not rule over land in Denmark.”  [Jansson, page 134]  He argues that the “whole expression dólga Þrúðrar draugar’ “means something like “executor, performer of the goddess of battles,” i.e. warrior or war-lord.”  [ibid, page 136]

Olof Erikson gives the same translation, prefaced with the dedication:  “This stone is set in memory of Sibbe the priest, Foldar’s son.  And his retinue set…”  [Erikson, page 44].  Erikson gives a fascinating background to the stone, on pages 46 – 47 of his book, in support of his theory that the Karlevi runestone is a “Norwegian stone standing on Swedish territory bearing Norwegian or Icelandic texts and Danish runes…  [It] does not fit into the same social milieu as the majority of our runestones.  It was not raised by a mourning family but by a retinue and in the retinues of kings and chieftains there were people of all quarters.

John McKinnell et al, however, translate side A of the runestone as:  “‘This stone was set in memory of Sibbe … the good, son of Foldar, and his followers set on this island this (memorial to the?) dead.

“Hidden lies the man whom the greatest deeds followed – many know that –, the warrior / battle-revenant, in this mound. A strife-strong warrior will not rule in Denmark (who is a) more just man, over the land.”’  They interpret the expression draugr dolga Þrúðar  as meaning “‘tree of the battle-Þrúðr’ = ‘warrior’ (Þrúðr is a valkyrie-name; kennings for men often compare them to trees;  and further states that “…but draugr is also the term used for one of the walking dead, so the kenning also conjures up a picture of the dead man still ‘living’ in his mound.”  [McKinnell (2), page 125]

[07]  “Most of the provincial and national legal codes of Iceland, Norway and Sweden begin with so-called Christian or church laws… in the West Norse area – that is, in Iceland and Norway, whose legal systems were historically intertwined by heritage and politics – witchcraft, sorcery and magic play a major role in the Christian laws.  By contrast, in East Scandinavia, witchcraft and related topics have only a minor part in the Danish church laws, and none to speak of in the church laws of the earliest Swedish provincial laws, appearing only after circa 1300.  Typical of the earliest church laws in the West Norse area is the passage from Grágás that calls on citizens to trust in God and his saints and not to worship heathen spirits.  It goes on to state that if one employs witchcraft, sorcery or magic (galldra eᚦa gørningar.  ea fiolkýngi), lesser outlawry is the sentence.  The law then carefully specifies what it means by this sort of witchcraft (fiolkýngi):   “if he says it, or teaches it, or causes it to be said for himself or his property (alt., livestock).”  From the wording, the reference is apparently to a form of apotropaic charm magic, and thus the censure associated with it, motivated by belief in superstition.  The law further defines the typology in effect:  if by contrast, one uses a harmful form of witchcraft (fordæs skap), then full outlawry is called for.  It is this kind of witchcraft, the law specifies, if through one’s words or magic illness or death is visited on people or livestock.  In both cases, prosecution requires a twelve-man jury.”   [Mitchell, page 159 – 160]

“…In legal writings the word [fordæða] was applied to those women, or more rarely men, who brought about the deaths of animals or humans by magical means. 50   In other contexts the word fordæða is associated with women whose magical powers are directed towards the destruction or debilitation of men…”  [Clunies Ross (1) page 91].

[08]   “N. 95   “In the Icelandic Commonwealth, two forms of outlawry were common:  lesser outlawry (fjǫrbaugsgarðr), which was punishable by a three-year exile from Iceland and the confiscation of property, and full outlawry (skóggangr), punishable by permanent exile, the loss of property, the denial of inheritance rights to children, disqualification for burial in hallowed ground, and the deprivation of the law’s protection, that is, he could be killed anywhere by anyone.”  [Mitchell, page 278]

There were two forms of outlawry recognized in Old Norwegian law.  Sometimes a sentence of outlawry would mean something like involuntary exile from which one might return on the payment of a series of heavy fines.  This payment was called skógarkaup, or money paid for the right to return from the forest.  The second form was final and irrevocable and was reserved for persons whose crimes were particularly odious and atrocious.  The sentence extended, moreover, to the outlawed man’s property, which was immediately seized in the interest of the complainant and the higher authorities, which in the twelfth century meant the king.” [Larson, page 17]

[09]   For example, Judy Quinn, who has made one of the most extensive investigations into the legend of the Hjaðningavíg:  “Hildr’s motivation in fanning animosity between her male kin is not fully explained:  she is described as acting duplicitously, offering her father atonement on her husband’s behalf and in the same breath declaring her husband ready and indeed, intent on fighting him…”  [Quinn (05), page 112].  “Apart from the headstrong exercise of her own power over men, and over death, the verse gives little indication of Hildr’s motivation; Snorri’s prose account elaborates her situation to the extent that her abduction by Heðinn as war booty turns against both husband and father in as much as she wishes to draw them into open conflict…”  [ibid, page 113]

A.H. Krappe states that the motivation of Hogni’s and Hedinn’s “quarrel” is “nowhere really convincing, and the sources do not agree.”  [Krappe, page 142]  He looks to one Karl Müllenhoff’s “hypothesis, according to which Hedinn and Hogni were originally twin brothers and a pair of Teutonic Dioscuri…” to explain “the sinister character of Hild in several of the sources…”  [Krappe, page 143]

[10]  From the ‘Betrothals’ section of the Grágás laws of early Iceland  “K159:  If a man takes a woman away under compulsion and means to marry her, his penalty for that is full outlawry, and so is theirs who are in the plot with him.  His penalty is the same even if some other man abducts the woman for him and at his instigation, and so is theirs who went on the raid…”  [Dennis et al, Laws of Early Iceland:  Grágás II, page 78]

From ‘Gutalag, the Law of the Gotlanders:’

21/15–20. Abduction, without the finesse of seduction, was usually regarded as a serious crime, not a normal precursor to marriage, and the punishment was frequently outlawry (cf. UL, VmL, and HL Äb 1 pr). The penalty imposed in GL for abduction of a Gotlandic woman was either the life or the wergild of the offender (vereldi hans), i.e. twenty-four marks of silver (three marks of gold) if the man were Gotlandic, otherwise ten marks of silver. The principle was usually, however, that the wergild of the victim applied, as in the following clause: if the woman were non-Gotlandic, the sum was ten marks of silver (her wergild), whatever the status of the man (cf. Delin 1926, 268 note 1). The sum payable to the general assembly from each fine was twelve marks, presumably in coin, although this is not explicit (cf. Delin 1926, 269 note 2). The abduction of a Gotlandic woman by a Gotlandic man was thus compensated much more generously than the three other possible cases. For other instances of compensation or punishment to some extent depending upon the status of the perpetrator of the crime, see Chapters 22/26–28, 38/6–9, 51/3–4 and 59/6. Whether the general assembly received anything if the family of the woman chose the abductors life is not recorded. The form of execution was probably beheading, but GL does not state this (cf. Notes to 21/9–12, 63/11–13).”  [Peel, pages 130 – 131]

[11]   Clunies Ross on  the importance of showing courage in Old Norse society:  “… The acceptance of compensation , even compensation as a valuable as a neck-ring12, was always a matter of some emotional and moral delicacy for the recipient.   According to the ethic expressed in Germanic heroic literature, to accept material compensation from one’s enemy, however valid in law, was an inferior and less manly course of action than to take blood-vengeance.  thus there was always the possibility that he took compensation from his enemy might lay hmself open to damaging insult.  Such insults nearly always came from the party that offered the wergild [compensation] and their purpose was to arouse the wronged man to fight by implying that it was his lack of manly courage that led him to accept the compensation…”  [Clunies Ross (1), page 78]

[12]   mála  f. female friend, confidante, one with whom one talks 108/5  [Faulkes (4), page 351]

[13]  Quinn says the legend of the  Hjaðningavíg is “mirroring the mythological fighting” between the warriors in Valhalla https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valhalla  “which was to last until the final battle between  Óðinn (supported by his divine and human forces) and the giants….”  [Quinn (5), page 112] However, the  Hjaðningavíg legend is not a mirror of the Valhalla myth; it’s a travesty.  There is no chummy feasting after the fight, no valkyries bringing the fighters food and drink, no keeping company with the gods.  Moreover, the warriors are clearly in some kind of limbo, neither really dead nor really alive, kind of like draugar,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draugr  except that the awakening of the men in the day instead of the night even turns the legends of draugar upside down.

[14]  Ursula Donke comparing Gullveig and Heidr in passing in her notes to the stanzas 20 and 21.  More on this in my next blog-post

[15]  Legal sources re power to stones and other heathen beliefs.  “People are not to do things with stones or fill them with magic power with the idea of tying them on people or livestock.”  [page 39, Grágás I]   Grágás (Grey Goose Laws), earliest Icelandic written law code.

“The Christian Laws Section was compiled and approved in the same Lawspeaker’s time [Guðmundr Þorgeirsson 1123 – 34], with the outside dates of 1122 and 1133 (cf. p. 50 and n. 95).”  [page 05, Grágás I]

[16]  “5. In the mid-second century, Pausanias evokes the dead of Marathon as he describes the grave of Miltiades. “Here every night you can hear the noise of whinnying horses and of men fighting. It has never done any man good to wait there and observe this closely, but if it happens against a man’s will the anger of the daemonic spirits will not follow him.”16   16 Pausanias, Guide to Greece. 1.32.1 (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1971), vol. 1, p. 93.”  [Bernstein, page 119]


Outstanding online sites:



ANF Archives:  https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/issue/archive

Bernstein, Alan E.  ‘The Ghostly Troop and the Battle Over Death:  William of Auvergne (d. 1245) Connects Christian, Old Norse and Irish Views,’ in Mu-chou Poo, ed.   Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions.  Numen Book Series (Book 123).  Brill, 2009, pages 115 – 161

Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist, Editor and Translator.  The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson.  The American Scandinavian Foundation, 1916.  https://archive.org/details/proseedda01brodgoog/page/n8

https://archive.org/download/proseedda01brodgoog/proseedda01brodgoog.pdf      ..

Cleasby, Richard and Gudbrand Vigfusson (1), with supplement by Craigie, Sir William A.   An Icelandic-English Dictionary.  Oxford University Press; 2nd Edition (December 31, 1957), reprinted 1962.

Clunies Ross, Margaret (1), ‘Hildr’s ring: a problem in the Ragnarsdrápa, strophes 8-12,’ in Mediaeval Scandinavia Bd. 6  (1973)  pages 75-92

Clunies Ross, Margaret (2), ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason,’ pages 26 – 65, in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages III Part 1:  Poetry from Treatises on Poetics.  (Karie Ellen Gade and Edith Marold, editors).  Brepols, 2017.

Clunies Ros, Margaret (2B).  Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages III Part 2:  Poetry from Treatises on Poetics.  (Karie Ellen Gade and Edith Marold, editors).  Brepols, 2017

Dennis, Andrew; Foote, Peter; and Perkins, Richard, editors and translators.  Laws of Early Iceland:  Grágás I.   Laws of Early Iceland:  Grágás II.  University of Manitoba Icelandic Studies Vols. III and V, respectively. University of Manitoba Press, 1980, reprinted 2012, paperback, and 2000, paperback, respectively.

Dronke, Ursula (1), Editor and TranslatorThe Poetic Edda:  Volume 1  Heroic Poems.  Oxford University Press, 2004 reprint

Dronke, Ursula (2), Editor and TranslatorThe Poetic Edda:  Volume II  Mythological Poems.  Oxford University Press, 1997

Einarsson, Stefán.  ‘The value of initial h in Primitive Norse Runic inscriptions’ in Arkiv för nordisk filologi  Vol 50 (1934), p. 134 – 147  (Available online as a free download:   https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/issue/view/1806/130

Eriksen.  Marianne Hem Eriksen (2013). ‘Doors to the dead. The power of doorways and thresholds’ in Viking Age Scandinavia. Archaeological Dialogues, 20, pp 187-214 doi:10.1017/S1380203813000238


Erikson, Olof, text, and Jan Paul Strid, photos, translated from Swedish by Lennart Strid.  Rune Stones.  Edition Erikson, Malmö, Sweden.  1991,

Faulkes, Anthony.  http://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/

Faulkes, Anthony (1) Editor.   Skáldskaparmálhttp://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Skaldskaparmal.1.unicode.pdf

Faulkes, Anthony (2) Editor, Translator.  Snorri Sturluson Edda   http://vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/EDDArestr.pdf

Faulkes, Anthony (3) Editor.  Háttatal, 2nd edition.  2007   http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Edda-3.pdf

Faulkes, Anthony (4) Skáldskaparmál 2:  Glossary and Index of Names.  Viking Society for Northern Research, University College, 1998    http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Edda-2b.pdf

Gade, Kari, ed. ‘Háttalykill, p. 1001 – 1093,’ in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages III Part  2 Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. p. 1001.  Brepols, 2017

Gardela, Leszek (1).  ‘Warrior Women in Viking Age Scandinavia’ pages 273 – 339, in Analecta Archareologica Reassoviensia, Volume 8:  Funerary Archaeology.  Editor, Sławomir Kadrow.  Rzeszów, 2013 https://www.academia.edu/4054519/Garde%C5%82a_L._2013_Warrior-women_in_Viking_Age_Scandinavia_A_preliminary_archaeological_study_Analecta_Archaeologica_Ressoviensia_8_273-339

Gudbrand Vigfusson (2) and Frederick York Powell.  Corpus Poeticum Boreale V1.  Eddic Poetry.  Oxford Clarendon Press 1883, reprinted by Kessinger Legacy Reprints, September 2010.  Paperback edition.

Gunnar W. Knutsen & Anne Irene Riisøy.  ‘Trolls and Witches,’ in ARV:  Nordic Yearbook of Folklore 63 (2007). p. 31 – 69.  [Downloadable for free with a (free) Academia account:  https://www.academia.edu/20230170/Trolls_and_witches   ]

Hall, Mark A.  (2016)  ‘Board Games in Boat Burials:  Play in the Performance of Migration and Viking Age Mortuary Practice,’ in European Journal of Archaeology, 19:3, pages 439-455  http://idavoll.e-monsite.com/medias/files/board-games-in-boat-burials-play-in-the-performance-of-migration-and-viking-age-mortuary-practice.pdf

or:   http://krc.orient.ox.ac.uk/wellcomegames/images/documents/hall_vikings_games.pdf

van Hamel, A.G.  ‘The Game of the Gods,’ pages 218 – 242, in ‘Arkiv för nordisk filologi, 1934’  https://journals.lub.lu.se/anf/issue/view/1806

Homan, Theo.  Skidarima: An Inquiry into the Written and Printed Texts, References and Commentaries: With an Edition and an English Translation. Amsterdam : Rodopi N.V.. 1975

Jansson, Sven B., text, Bengt Al. Lundberg, photographer, translated by Peter Foote.  Runes in Sweden.  Gidlunds, first edition, second printing, 1997

Jesch, Judith.  ‘Earl Rögnvaldr of Orkney, a Poet of the Viking Diaspora,’ in Across the Sólundarhaf: Connections between Scotland and the Nordic World:  Selected Papers from the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference 2011, Journal of the North Atlantic,  Special Volume 4:154–160.   Centre for the Study of the Viking Age, School of English, University of Nottingham, Nottingham 2013 https://www.academia.edu/7186160/Earl_R%C3%B6gnvaldr_of_Orkney_a_poet_of_the_Viking_Diaspora

Larson, Lawrence, translator.  The Earliest Norwegian Laws: Being the Gulathing Law and the Frostathing Law. Translated from the Old Norwegian.  Columbia University Press, 1935.  Lawbooks Exchange authorized reprint, 2011.  Hardcover.

McKinnell, John (1).   Essays on Eddic Poetry.  University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2014.

McKinnell, John (2) McKinnell, John; Simek, Rudolf; Düwel, Klaus ‘Gods and Mythological Beings in the Younger Futhark,’ in  Runes, Magic and Religion: A Sourcebook. Vienna: Fassbaender, 2004, pp. 116–133   http://dro.dur.ac.uk/1053/1/1053.pdf

Mitchell, Stephen A.   Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages.  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Nordberg, Andreas.  ‘The Grave as a Doorway to the Other World:  Architectural and Religious Symbolism in Iron Age Graves in Scandinavia,’ in Temenos Vol. 45 No. 1 (2009), 35–63


North, Richard; Allard, Joe; Gillies, Patricia, Editors and Translators.  The Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures.  Routledge, 2011

Peele, Christine, translator. and editor.  Gutenlag:  the Law of the Gotlanders.   Viking Society for Northern Research, 2009.  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Text%20Series/Guta%20lag.pdf

Poole, R.G.  Viking Poems on War and Peace:  A Study in Skaldic Narrative.  Toronto Medieval Texts and Translations 8.  University of Toronto Press, 2016.

Price, Neil.  The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia.  Oxbow Books; 2nd edition, Hardback (May 30 2019)

Quinn, Judy (1).  ‘Mythologizing the sea: the Nordic sea-deity Rán’, in Nordic Mythologies: Interpretations, Institutions, Intersections, ed. Tim Tangherlini, The Wildcat Canyon Advanced Seminars: Mythology 1.   Berkeley and Los Angeles: North Pinehurst Press, 2014).  pp. 71–97  downloadable here:  https://www.academia.edu/8992488/Mythologizing_the_Sea_The_Nordic_Sea-deity_R%C3%A1n_in_Nordic_Mythologies_Interpretations_Institutions_Intersections_ed._Tim_Tangherlini_The_Wildcat_Canyon_Advanced_Seminars_Mythology_1_Berkeley_and_Los_Angeles_North_Pinehurst_Press_pp._71-97

Quinn, Judy (2).  ‘The end of a fantasy: Sǫrla þáttr and the rewriting of the revivification myth,’ in The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature: Preprint Papers of the 13th International Saga Conference, Durham and York 6th-12th August 2006, I-II.  ed. John McKinnell, David Ashurst and Donata Kick (Durham: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006.  All of the pre-print papers from the saga conference are available online as free downloads in PDF format:   http://www.sagaconference.org/SC13/SC13.html

Quinn, Judy (3).  Women in the Viking Age.  The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 3rd printing 2001.  Paperback

Quinn, Judy (4).  ‘The Endless Triangles of Eddic Tragedy: Reading Oddrúnargrátr (The Lament of Oddrún)’ in Studi anglo-norreni in onore di John S. McKinnell.  Edited by Maria Elena Ruggerini (Cagliari, CUEC, 2009), pp. 304–326, 2009 https://www.academia.edu/36311061/The_Endless_Triangles_of_Eddic_Tragedy_Reading_Oddr%C3%BAnargr%C3%A1tr_The_Lament_of_Oddr%C3%BAn_

Quinn, Judy (5).  ‘Hildr Prepares a Bed For Most Helmet-Damagers,’ in Reflections On Old Norse Myths. Edited by Pernille Hermann, Jens Peter Schjødt and Rasmus Tranum Kristensen.  (Studies in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia: I)   BREPOLS, 2007Pages 95 – 118.

Ratke, Sharon and Simek, Rudolph.  Goldgrubber:  ‘Relics of Pre-Christian Law Rituals?,’ pages 259 – 264  in Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes & Interactions.  (Anders Andrén and Kristina Jennbert, editors)  Nordic Academic Press, 2006

Rowe, Elizabeth Ashman.  ‘Sörla þáttr:  the Literary Adaptation of Myth and Legend,’ in Saga Book Vol. XXVI.  Viking Society for Northern Research, 2002  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%20XXVI.pdf

Saxo Grammaticus.  The History of the Danes Books  I – IX.  Ellis Davidson, Hilda, Editor and Commentary, Peter Fisher, translator.  D.S. Brewer, 2008

Simek, Rudolph.  (1)  Dictionary of Northern Mythology.  Translated by Angela Hall.  D.S. Brewer, 2007

Simek, Rudolph. (2)  ‘Goddesses, Mothers, Dísir:  Iconography and interpretation of the female deity in Scandinavia in the first millennium (with Plates 19 – 24),’ pages 93 – 123 in Mythological women : studies in memory of Lotte Motz, 1922-1997.  ( Rudolf Simek, Wilhelm Heizmann, editors).  Studio Medievalia Septentrionalia 7.  Fassbender, 2002

Simpson, H.F. Morland.   ‘Of Two Rune Prime-Staves and Three Wooden Almanacs from Norway,’ in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 26.  pub. May 09, 1892 in Vol. II – Third Series 1891 – 1892 [Available as a free e-book from google]

Tolkien, Christopher, Editor and Translator.  The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise.  Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.  1960.

Tolley, Clive.  [1] Shamanism in Norse Myth and Magic, Volume One (FF Communications, vol. cxliv2, no 297) Paperback – 2009, Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2009.

Tolley, Clive.  [2] Shamanism in Norse Myth and Magic, Volume Two: Reference Materials (FF communications, vol. cxliv, no 296) Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2009.

Ulriksen, Jens. (2018). Ulriksen 2018 A Völva´s grave Offa 71 72-07-. 71/71  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323989708_Ulriksen_2018_A_Volvas_grave_Offa_71_72-07-

Wrightson, Kellinde, Editor.  Fourteenth-century Icelandic Verse on the Virgin Mary.  Viking Society for Northern Research, University College, London, 2001  http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Text%20Series/Marian%20poems.pdf   …..

Völuspá:  Two excellent, free online editions, together with facing-page English translations:

(1)  Thorpe, Benjamin.  http://www.germanicmythology.com/works/codexregiusvoluspa.html

(2)  Bellows, Henry Adams.  http://www.voluspa.org/voluspa.htm

plus, an edition from Hauksbók:  http://www.germanicmythology.com/works/hauksbokvoluspa.html

…  A comparison of the extant manuscripts:



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Why the B.C. seizure of Hells Angels club-houses is a really bad idea

UPDATE June 12 at 1657 EDM:  The Hells Angels have just won the court battle with respect to the seizures of their clubhouses:   https://theprovince.com/news/hells-angels-win-13-year-court-battle-against-b-c-government/wcm/d0a243f2-aa42-4bb4-8c47-bd2460a239e1 in the B.C. Supreme Court.

Dollars to donuts says the Crown appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada.  After all, what’s tax-payer dollars for, if not to spend?


The government of B.C. is poised to seize three Hells Angels club-houses, based on its allegation that “each clubhouse was an “instrument of unlawful activity” because “in future, they were likely to be used to engage in unlawful activity that may result in the acquisition of an interest in property and/or cause serious bodily harm to persons.” https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/hells-angels-lose-bid-to-derail-clubhouse-forfeiture/wcm/29cf4ccc-d2c9-439f-b69c-d4860cfd6896  To see more clearly what the Director of Civil Forfeiture is doing here, let’s look at a theoretical case of forfeiture that we can all get behind:  A scammer defrauds people out of monies selling fake securities.  He gets caught, charged and convicted.   An order for seizure of the assets he purchased with the proceeds of his crimes is made out, with the lawful purpose of redress for his victims.

None of those critical elements appear to me to have been made out in the process to seize those club-houses.  The B.C. government is relying on the testimony of cops who claim the Angels are a criminal organization, but the government has repeatedly failed to get the Angels to be declared a criminal organization in the courts.  It would appear that it has also not been established that the club-houses were purchased with the proceeds of crime.  So, the seizure has not been a civil result of specific criminal convictions, unlike that of our theoretical scammer.

The purpose of the club-house seizures is not redress for any Club victims, either.  The purpose is control, based on allegations that have not themselves been established in any court.  Controlling citizens’ behavior, based on unproven allegations, is not a proper purpose in any democratic society.

The standard of proof that the Director of Civil Forfeiture is using, to deprive the Angels of their own property and of their constitutional right to peacefully convene, is improper, and also shows the weakness of the Director’s case:  “likely to be used” shows the Director is using the civil standard of proof:  on the balance of probabilities.  The civil standard is not properly used to take away people’s constitutional rights; it is properly used to restore those rights, for redress of wrongs.  And “may result in” highlights the weakness of the Director’s case:  ‘may’ is not even acceptable in the civil standard.

It does not help society to jack the club-houses:  where are they supposed to go?  Would you like them to be riding their bikes past your house at midnight?  Dumping the Angels among the rest of us will increase the likelihood of confrontations between them and the rest of us.  If the purpose is the furtherance of public security, it seems unlikely to be the result.

There is this also:  it is a really bad idea to further alienate people who are already living on the edges of society by harassing them and treating them unfairly.  That just teaches them that they can expect nothing positive from the rest of society, and it encourages them to ignore or to transgress social codes and laws.

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Sonny Barger, George Christie, Arizona and the Hells Angels

From November 25, 2019  [posted here on December 11, 2019 at 11:25 AM EDM]:

I don’t think the Hells Angels were responsible overall for Altamont.  I don’t think they intended to start a brawl.  Certainly, I hear the ring of truth in the voice of Hells Angel Gordon Gary Grow aka ‘Flash,’ in the video below, when he says “the crowd was not our enemy, it was the people that were nuts in the crowd.”

David Crosby is just running his mouth in the video, making absurd, ignorant and downright defamatory statements about the Hells Angels:  “they don’t do security.”  Yeah they do, actually, often with their own security companies.  “Hells Angels are big guys who just like to get drunk and fight, mostly, stoned and drunk and fight.”  This shows Crosby’s complete ignorance about the lives of Hells Angels.  He says he had a number of friends in the club.  Hard to believe.  And I’d bet he doesn’t have any now.

I find Gordon Grow to be the most compelling and persuasive of the interviews, both in the degree of his first-hand knowledge and his evident sincerity, which rings through in his voice.





Every day I was preparing this blog-post I asked myself, what would Hersh Wolch do?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hersh_Wolch

Early one morning, the answer was in front of me: 

“Let the facts speak for themselves.” 

That’s what he would have done.  So that’s what I did.

Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Creed

[01]   Still handsome and charismatic at near-eighty, Ralph Hubert “Sonny” Barger Jr. was the main mover in transforming the Hells Angels, who have always attracted a significant number of misfits and criminals,  [‘Hells Angel,’ p. 03, 87 – 91; p. 124 “Most of us [in 1965] were card-carrying felons.”]  https://youtu.be/BICum4v2-uE  , from a California nuisance into a world-wide menace.


https://www.dw.com/en/hells-angel-member-keeps-silent-at-police-murder-trial/a-6003263     https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/blood-and-honour-84554.html

[02]   Embedded into the very soul of the club is the personal creed of Sonny, the most iconic Hells Angel for all time:  “There is nobody lower in this world than someone who rats on your club…”  [‘Hells Angel,’ p. 229]

So, serial killers, child rapists…   they’re all better than an informer, according to Sonny’s world view.    https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/803/499/2133128/   ]

“If you treat me good, I’ll treat you better.  If you treat me bad, I’ll treat you worse.”  [‘Freedom, Credos from the Road,’ p. 15]  “I treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I treat them the way they treat me. If they treat me good, I’ll treat them better. If they treat me bad, I’ll fuck ’em. And they gotta realize that.”  http://www.nypress.com/hells-angel-an-interview-with-sonny-barger/

It’s an anthem of vindictiveness, and it has nothing to do with being fair.  In that same article, Sonny claims to be “one of the fairest people you’ll ever meet.”

Sonny Barger has no clue as to what ‘fair’ means.  ‘Fair’ is to requite measure for measure.  Behaving “worse” to someone you think has wronged you, is not ‘fair,’ it’s vindictive – and it’s the creed of a punk, of a gangster.  It’s a license for viciousness, and the Hells Angels clearly took it to heart.  [cf. para. 05]

And,  “It’s okay to lie to the cops, because they lie to us:  http://www.nypress.com/hells-angel-an-interview-with-sonny-barger/

[03]   And the response from the Angels:  ““On one wall, a red-and-white Hell’s Angels winged skull hangs over the fireplace. On another wall, there’s a plaque that the Angels gave Barger on his 40th anniversary in the club: “You have led us and given us the Hell’s Angels way and the Hell’s Angels beliefs to fight for, to live for and to die for . . . .”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2000/08/09/hells-aged-angel/4489a3e6-70e1-4d97-8024-775e3159de17/?utm_term=.7ac4910eb485

[04]   Three early victims of the Hells Angels’ creed were Margo Compton and her twin daughters.  https://www.apnews.com/7daf7344b73f9f9377d409c92c6d9845


“Witnesses will include many of the same prison inmates affiliated with the Hells Angels or the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang who testified against McClure.

The inmates said they heard McClure brag about the 1977 killings of Compton, her daughters and a friend, and describe how the children’s heads were shattered by his bullets.

The witnesses said they decided to talk at McClure’s trial because he broke a cardinal rule among biker and prison gangs: “snitches” should be killed, but their innocent children should not be harmed.”

They said McClure was following Garrett’s orders.


According to the blog ‘Aging Rebel,’ Sonny Barger had this to say in 2015 about the deaths:  “  Yes. Margo Compton (who was found dead in Hillsboro, Oregon in 1977) was a very bad scene. One guy got six months. The other guy would have got the same if someone hadn’t killed her. The case went unsolved for years until a RAT told a story to keep from going to prison. To this day, I’m not sure it’s Buck (Odis ‘Buck’ Garrett) who belongs in prison. But the Rat who had all the evidence to convict him.”  https://www.agingrebel.com/13404/comment-page-1

Here is a detailed background on the story behind the murders:  https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/hells-angels-masters-of-menace-84148/

And in 1972, according to the NY Times, two boiler-makers were viciously attacked by two Hells Angels, James Neal, then 26, and William Starkey, then 28, for the ‘crime’ of double-parking while they moved stuff into a building.  Civilized people either wait patiently or call a tow truck.  Hells Angels held in vicious beatings of father and son

[05]   More recently, three Alberta Hells Angels, https://gangstersout.blogspot.com/2016/10/verdict-coming-in-greece-murder-trial.html were convicted in Greece in 2016, for murdering a man who simply wanted to go home from a bar on his own motor-bike, according to witnesses:





[06]   And in May of this year, notorious ex- Hells Angel chief Maurice Boucher pleaded guilty in Quebec to plotting the death of a former rival:  https://globalnews.ca/news/4150401/maurice-mom-boucher-pleads-guilty-to-murder-conspiracy-charge-involving-rival/

and was sentenced to yet another ten years:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/hells-angels-mom-boucher-sentenced-1.4658737   I would tabulate the number of murders and attempted murders Maurice Boucher was responsible for, together with the number of years in prison they’ve earned him – but I can’t count that high.  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/biker-boss-flaunted-his-notoriety/article25296296/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Boucher

[07]   Earlier this year, Manitoba Hells Angels Nomads president Dale Kelland incited hundreds of Support 81 followers to leave false reviews online targeting a bar that does not allow what it considers to be ‘gang colors’ inside the bar:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/hells-angels-no-gang-colours-policy-1.4616713


April was a turbulent month for the Hells Angels in Canada:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/raids-targeting-hells-angels-yield-dozens-of-arrests-in-quebec-1.4632884

[08]   2015 was another banner year for the Quebec Hells Angels:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/14-hells-angels-plead-guilty-to-conspiracy-to-commit-murder-1.3064814

[09]   But, I digress.  Back to Sonny Barger.  He has married four times.  His first wife, Elsie Mae George: http://suzid.tripod.com/FGS-10374.html   died on February 01, 1967, trying to give herself an abortion.  In his auto-biography, Sonny states that he and his wife had agreed they wouldn’t have any children.  Then, he left town.  And then, she died.  [Hells Angel, ‘Collector’s edition and paperback editon, p. 102 – 103] Barger says he was “devastated” by Elsie’s death [ibid]; but, see the next three paragraphs, on Sonny’s only “regrets” in life.

[10]   In August of 2009, a Washington Post reporter asked Sonny if he had any regrets about his life:

“Yeah,” he says. “Smoking. Too much cocaine.   And losing my right to own a gun. I don’t think I’d change anything other than that.”  (Well.  Good to know.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2000/08/09/hells-aged-angel/4489a3e6-70e1-4d97-8024-775e3159de17/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.415bdb3de381

[11]  The BBC persisted farther than the Post did on the subject of regrets, and got an even more revealing answer:  “Barger claims that if he had his life to live again the only things that he would change would be his smoking and drug taking. When he was diagnosed with cancer and given just two weeks to live over twenty years ago, did he really have no regrets?

[12]   His answer:  “’I certainly did. I was working out how I could go get a gun and go and kill everybody I didn’t like before I died. It didn’t happen and I didn’t die, so I really lucked out… there are a lot of people in this world who need to be killed.’”   (I can’t help wondering how many people he gave that memo to.)   http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/highlights/000824_hell.shtml

[13]    Also in 2000, the NY Press asked him in an interview:  “Is there anything you would do to change the public image of the club?”

His answer:  “Absolutely not. We are what we are. In the book I thanked everybody for making the club what it is today, whatever you think it is. I don’t care what you think it is, ’cause I’m happy with it.”  http://www.nypress.com/hells-angel-an-interview-with-sonny-barger/   (Well, as long as Sonny’s happy, eh.)

[14]   From The Independent, again in 2000:  “Do you believe in God?”

His answer:  “Absolutely not.”  https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/an-angel-at-my-table-697297.html

I’m not surprised.  For a man who lives by his stated code of ethics, belief in a deity who insisted on an eventual accounting would be awkward, wouldn’t it.

[15]    Sonny gave a number of interviews in 2000 because he was promoting his book, the first edition of ‘Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and The Hell’s Angel Motorcycle Club.

[16]    After 2000, Sonny appears to have talked a lot less to the press – until 2003, when he and his third wife gave a startling series of interviews to Arizona writer Terry Greene Sterling, which were published in one article in June of that year.  The article is no longer readily available online.  Many thanks to Dennis Watson for somehow getting ahold of a copy and posting it: https://gangstersout.blogspot.com/2016/08/sonny-barger-and-george-christie.html   where you can download it in PDF format off of OneDrive:   https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=60C146B96A72FCC3&id=60C146B96A72FCC3%21212&parId=60C146B96A72FCC3%21168&o=OneUp    Be aware, it’s a Big file, 175 MB.  If you’re not familiar with PDF files, the acronym stands for ‘Portable Document File,’ and it’s mostly used to transfer large files.  You can download a free PDF Reader from ADOBE Acrobat that works quite well:  https://get.adobe.com/reader/

[17]    It’s not clear to me from the court record:  http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/FamilyCourtCases/caseInfo.asp?caseNumber=FN2003-001694    when Noel and Sonny’s divorce was signed off on by the judge and the court clerk:   although the decree was filed on June 22, 2005, it appears it was still on the docket to be finalized on June 27, 2005.


[18]   Sonny married his fourth wife, Zorana, on June 25, 2005:    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0054554/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm


There is an illuminating interview with Zorana in the last part of this video:  https://youtu.be/hSwIPdQ4Kk0  starting at about 24:30.

Daniel Leroy “Hoover” Seybert

[19]   Hoover had been president of the Hells Angels Cave Creek, Arizona chapter for years, when he was gunned down outside of the Phoenix Bar Brigett’s Last Laugh: https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/location/brigetts-last-laugh-6483401     early on Saturday morning, March 22, 2003:  https://www.bikernet.com/pages/April_3_2003_Part_2.aspx


[20]   He left behind two daughters, one of them still in primary school:    http://www.genlookups.com/mi/webbbs_config.pl/read/40    https://azdailysun.com/born-to-be-mild/article_3882f044-a2ee-52d7-bdfb-d767d38d5fb5.html

There is an excellent picture taken in 2002 of Hoover and Sonny by a Hells Angel from Paris, who calls himself ‘Filo Loco,’ and who is a very gifted photographer:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/deadlicious-gallery/840080374  as well as several others, also taken by ‘Filo,’  which include Sonny’s third wife, Noel, here:  http://seriouspublishing.blogspot.com/2008/10/ralph-sonny-barger.html

Issues surrounding Hoover’s murder are addressed later on in this blog-post.

George Christie

[21]    George was a Hells Angels member for many years, until he either:  quit (his version of what happened):  http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ALtoqPidhy8J:www.history.com/shows/outlaw-chronicles-hells-angels/articles/about-george-christie-jr+&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

or, left before he got kicked out (the Hells Angels version of what happened):   https://www.agingrebel.com/13396

It would be a massive understatement to say that Christie’s credibility is an issue with the Hells Angels, and it’s addressed in detail later on this blog-post.  For now, in this introduction to the people frequently mentioned in this post, I will briefly relate my own personal experience of the man (by email only), and how that stacks up with claims made in his book, ‘Exile on Front Street,’ which will also be a focus of this blog-post.

[22]   In ‘Exile,’ George makes repeated claims to have been a “peace-maker” in the Hells Angels. [“I’m easygoing [sic]” p. 29; “It was the first time I realized that I was meant to be a peacemaker, not an assassin.  That set me apart from many Hells Angels.  It was an identity I would come to embrace, at no small cost.”  p. 110; “Sonny was the figurehead.  Irish was the brawler.  Animal was the crazy one.  I would be the peacemaker.  And it would cause me no end to [sic] grief and trouble.”  p. 106]

However, my personal experience of George Christie is that he is quite willing to re-write history, even when the benefit to him in doing so seems obscure to me.

[23]   In late August, after repeated failures to obtain a copy of the 2003 Phoenix Magazine article [cf para. 16], I sent George Christie an email asking him if I could obtain a copy from him.  He said he would try to get a copy to me but that he was “not well versed in computers.
After I finally obtained a copy, thanks to Dennis Watson’s link, I sent the link to George Christie, since he’d promised to try to get a copy to me:

[PIC 01].

I also sent him P.S. with instructions for reading PDF files since he’d said he wasn’t well versed in computers.  Christie has never thanked me for the link or even acknowledged that he received it.  Instead, replying to the postscript I sent and not to the email with the links I sent to the article, he tells me that he’s going to take the article to the business center in his town and have them send it to me.

[PIC 02]    I replied saying “that’s not necessary” and “didn’t you get the email with the links I sent you?” But he just carries on with his re-write, saying:  “You did receive the copy from the Ojai Business Center, correct.”  

[PIC 03]

No, I replied, and what’s more, I couldn’t have done so, because the file is too big for my server (Shaw, for the account I was using.)  But he insisted that the Ojai Business Center had promised to send me a copy and that they had sent one to his email, which he had received, no problem.   

[PIC 04]

Now, the Ojai Business Center operates on gmail:   https://www.ojaibusinesscenter.com/   and Christie’s email to me was also by gmail.

Although I hadn’t used a gmail account to correspond with Christie, I do have one, as it happens.  The Phoenix Magazine file is far too big for my Shaw account to handle.  I was curious to see what the gmail account would do, so I tried to upload it into my gmail account, and then ‘send’ it to my Shaw account.

As you can see from the screenshots I took, however, gmail refused to send that file anywhere except into my ‘google drive’ link, from where, all I could do was to send a link to the file to someone, and first, I had to give the recipient permission to ‘access’ the file:   

    [PICS 05, 06]   from my google drive – not something any savvy business is likely to be willing to do with a random stranger from Canada, or even, I would say, with George himself, unless he owns the business center.

[24]   Of course, I have never heard from the Ojai Business Center, and I have not troubled them with an inquiry, either.  I am satisfied from my personal experience that George Christie was quite willing to re-write history, in order to be able to say that he sent me the article and not the other way around.  Moreover, he was willing to do so even in a situation where the ‘benefit’ to him to do so seems obscure to me (just so he didn’t have to thank me for sending him the link? or, to show he wasn’t rattled by the request for the article?).

Let’s look at what George Christie did in that brief exchange of emails:  he failed to acknowledge that I had sent him links to the article itself as well as to the blog post by Dennis Watson that contained the link.

He then makes out the Ojai Business center to be promise breakers.

He makes a patently false statement about having received the article from them to his gmail account.  He fails to give credit where it was due and he sets up an innocent third party to take heat for a false claim he’d made about what they had supposedly promised to do.  And for what reward??

A man who will behave treacherously in a situation where the stakes would appear to be negligible to a reasonable person, will certainly behave treacherously in every situation where the stakes are higher.


[25]   Sonny Barger moved from Oakland, California to Cave Creek, Arizona in October of 1998 [‘Hells Angel, p. 250; ‘Sonny 60 Years,’ p. 264].   He was there for seventeen years before returning to Oakland in August of 2016 [Sonny 60 Years,’ p. 270]   In ’60 Years,‘ the only actual vignette Sonny tells from the Arizona period concerns the funeral of Hells Angel Patrick Eberhardt, [p. 269], who was the Cave Creek treasurer before he was gunned down in February of 2015:  http://www.agingrebel.com/11246

The only thing he has to say about Hoover in ’60 Years’ is that he joined him in Cave Creek in 1998 [p. 264].  As far as I can tell, the only time and place he has publicly discussed Hoover’s death is in that June 2003 Phoenix Magazine article [cf para. 16], which is evidently also the only place he has ever discussed his third wife, Noel.

[26]   It’s an odd thing, that interview series with Terry Greene Sterling.  [cf para. 16]  Odd, because it involves two Hells Angels – not known for airing their troubles to the general public, if they can possibly avoid it.  For Dennis Watson, and for myself, it reads like a human tragedy.  One is greatly tempted to come away from reading it, feeling sorry for all of them and especially for Sonny, weighed down emotionally and financially by an unstable wife and daughter.  A wife who admitted in that same article to getting money from the FBI and to signing papers saying she was an informant.

[27]   And there’s “the rub of it.”  Noel is no ordinary wife.  She is married to the Hells Angel who has drummed it into the Angels that the lowest thing on earth is a rat.  Then–President of the Cave Creek chapter, Hoover, is also interviewed in that Phoenix Magazine article, and he’s clearly not feeling any sympathy for Noel, although he quite possibly does for Sonny.

[28]   George Christie, then–President of the Hells Angels Ventura chapter, wasn’t feeling sympathy for any of them, Sonny, Noel or Hoover.  And Christie’s claims in ‘Exile’ concerning Sonny,  Noel and Hoover form the main focus of this blog-post.

[29]    As I write, this is the profile picture on a myspace account set up in Noel’s name:  https://a3-images.myspacecdn.com/images03/25/1ef7f8337c5840c6b4f3ac212c52cf78/full.jpg      [PIC 07]


It is the only picture that has ever been added to that profile:  https://myspace.com/crazedbiotch666/mixes/profilemix-20466

[30]   The other pictures associated with the account:  https://myspace.com/crazedbiotch666/mixes

were transferred to that account from ‘Classic’ myspace on February 22, 2014.  Only one of them is explicitly identified as being of Sarrah:  https://myspace.com/crazedbiotch666/mixes/classic-my-photos-412063/photo/139740712

Another picture features a then-young man who is now an Arizona Hells Angel:  https://myspace.com/crazedbiotch666/mixes/classic-my-photos-412063/photo/139740691

and a young woman who is not Sarrah.  I know this because the man, whom I decline to identify (in order to protect his and his family’s privacy*), is now at least sixteen years older than he was when that picture was taken, which means that the picture is at least sixteen years old.  Therefore, that young woman in the picture, who must have been at least sixteen years old when the photo was taken, would now be at least thirty-two years old.  Sarrah Barger, however – who was only thirteen years old as of June 2003 [cf. Phoenix Magazine article, link in para. 16] – would now be at most twenty-twenty-nine and possibly only twenty-eight, depending on her birth date.  Three or four years may not seem like much, and yet, the math cannot be explained away.

*There is no evidence he has done anything wrong and he may not even be aware that an old picture of his had been posted on the Noel Barger account.

[31]   Back to George Christie.  In ‘Exile,’ he claims to have had two significant conversations with Hoover, the second of which concerned Noel and took place “less than a month” before Hoover was gunned down.  Before I can address that alleged conversation, however, I need to discuss the first one, because it has all kinds of relevance with respect to the second one.

The first alleged conversation between George Christie and Hoover

[32]   On page 209 of ‘Exile,’ Christie states that, as president of the Ventura chapter, he gave the Bandidos a ‘safe conduct’ to travel through Arizona to a meet-up in California – and didn’t inform the Arizona Hells Angels in advance.  It was an “admittedly petty” act on his part, he says, not to tell the Arizona Angels.  This happened, he says, when “Sonny was building a nice life for himself in Cave Creek,” [p. 209], and when Christie [had arranged a sit-down in Ventura with the Bandidos” where George “assured George Wegers safe passage for his group to come from Texas and ride through Arizona.  In an admittedly petty move [Christie] “didn’t alert the Arizona charters.  When Sonny  realized what was going on, he had Hoover call [Christie].  Not only was he opposed to hashing out peace with other clubs, [George had] broken protocol.  [Christie] could hear Sonny’s rasp in the background, almost dictating to Hoover.”  [p. 209]

[33]  “Look, Hoover,’ George alleges he said, ‘I’ll do anything that I think is appropriate to end this war.  If you’re having a problem with that, I don’t know what to tell you.  If you’re upset that they rode through Arizona and you weren’t notified, I apologize.”  [p. 210]  Hoover allegedly replied, “We should have gotten a call, out of respect.”  George claims he answered that with:  “I’m trying to stop the war in Europe from bleeding over into the States.  I’m sure you can understand that.”  “I can.”  “Okay, ‘ George reportedly says, “Anything else Sonny wants you to tell me?”  And with that, he hung up, he says.  [p. 210]  So that summarizes the alleged first phone call with Hoover and the alleged context.  Now it’s time to analyze the claims George has made about that first alleged phone call with Hoover.

[34]  The only date he gives in that same section for the phone call is when:  (i) “Sonny was building a nice life for himself in Cave Junction; ” (ii) Christie “had a arranged a sit-down in Ventura with the Bandidos; and (iii)  when the Nordic Wars were still going on in Europe.

[35]  Earlier on in ‘Exile,’ Christie had made the claim that he had been instrumental in ending the war with the Bandidos “in 1997.”  [p. 167]  And the sit-down with Bandidos President George Wegers must have happened well before then, because he says that the truce reached in 1997 took “a long time, and a lot of effort.  [p. 167]  Therefore, the phone call with Hoover could not have happened later than 1997.

[36]  Christie also states that the first call with Hoover happened when “Sonny was building a nice life for himself in Cave Creek.  He had partnered with Daniel “Hoover” Seybert, the president of the Cave Creek charter, in a North Phoenix motorcycle shop called Sonny Barger’s Cave Creek Cycles.  By all accounts, Sonny considered Hoover a protégé and treated him like one… Hoover became Sonny’s cutout [sic] anytime Sonny wanted to send a message to me.  The first time he was stuck in that position was after I had arranged a sit-down with the Bandidos…”  [p. 209]  So, Christie is making these claims about Hoover and Sonny and the first phone call; and, according to what he stated earlier in his book about the timing of the Bandidos truce, Hoover would have had to have become Sonny’s shop partner and “cutout [sic] – by 1997 at the latest.

[37]  However, although Sonny had requested a transfer to Cave Creek in August of 1997, he didn’t actually move there until October of 1998.   https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0054554/bio  [and cf para. 25]].   Therefore, that phone call between Hoover and Christie, with Sonny in the background, could not possibly have happened, and that’s a fact.

[38]    Additionally, Christie’s description of Hoover as living in Sonny’s “dark shadow” comes immediately after Christie has described what appears to be a comfortable and profitable relationship between Hoover and Sonny:  “By all accounts, Sonny considered  Hoover a protégé and treated him like a son.“  [p. 209]  Christie’s innuendo regarding ‘the darkest part of Sonny’s shadow’ is without any basis given for it in the context of Hoover’s relationship with Sonny.  It suggests to me that Christie was really talking about himself in that sentence, that he felt himself to be standing in “the darkest part of Sonny’s shadow;’ in other words, that Sonny overshadowed George, had the power, the status and the limelight that George Christie claimed for himself.

I just want to say at this point that I am no friend of the Hells Angels.  I became absolutely averse to their very existence as a “club” during the murderous rampage in Quebec led by Maurice Boucher and his thugs:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Boucher

When Boucher  had two innocent adults killed, and the Quebec Angels allowed an innocent eleven-year-old bystander to die as ‘collateral damage’ in a biker war, then I understood in my heart that the Angels don’t give a rat’s ass about any of the rest of us.  They really don’t.

And one of the things I find most irritating about George Christie is that his dissembling tempts me to want to feel sorry for them.  He doesn’t just shade Sonny in ‘Exile;’ he shades pretty much almost everyone else too, excepting only:  his lawyers, his autistic son, his second wife and his daughter the lawyer.  And a couple of dead Hells Angels.

Especially, he slams his first wife, the mother of most of his kids, every chance he gets in that book.  He gives her credit for nothing, and he blames himself for nothing.  And the poor thing can’t even defend herself, because she’s dead now.  It’s not ol’ George’s fault that, breaking club rules to bring George Junior into the club at age 17, –  over the (quite understandable)  protests of some of the members – didn’t work out for Junior.  It’s not because maybe, there’s a good reason for that ‘must be 21’ rule, that things don’t work out, no, no; according to George, it’s all because his first wife turned Junior into a mama’s boy.  [p. 202, p. 227] [see also para. 41]

I can just see how it must have been for the Hells Angels for years, sensing there was something wrong with Christie’s versions of reality, never quite being able to catch him out in an outright lie, afraid to call out a club officer, afraid even to talk about Christie behind his back [cf. para. 44].  It grates me, being compelled to  feel a smidgen of pity for their predicament:  like any good con man, he could out-talk them.  He’s fooled people who really should know better, too.

I say all this because I want readers to know that I wanted to believe George Christie was credible.  But, I had to go where the facts led me;  and the facts did not lead me to believe that George Christie is remotely credible on any subject – except for what he unwittingly reveals about himself in his own statements.

[39]   Back to George Christie’s claims regarding the truce with the Bandidos and his first phone call with Hoover:  What that passage does reliably reveal, in my opinion is something about George Christie:  that he was willing, by his own account, to betray his “good friend” George Wegers, then-president of the Bandidos [p. 167], even to the possibility of the latter’s death at the hands of the Arizona Hells Angels.  He calls it his deliberate refusal to inform the Arizona Hells Angels about his promise to the Bandidos a “petty” move.  I would say that a more accurate description of promising someone – a “good friend,” yet!  –   safe conduct when you know damn well they’re not going to have it – that’s an act of unbounded treachery.

The only thing George could have been secretly hoping for, in my opinion, is that somebody on Sonny’s turf would attack the friend who’s been promised safe conduct; and then, he could  denounce Sonny, claim he gave the safe conduct and then the third party, Sonny, broke it.  See, even if it didn’t actually happen that way, his account of it shows, nevertheless,  what George Christie was willing to do, in my opinion.

[40]  Christie claims he’s maintained a good relationship with George Wegers “until this day.”  [p. 167]  In that case, Wegers must not have heard the story of how Christie claims he screwed Wegers over regarding that ‘safe conduct.’

[41]  Moreover, it’s clear from ‘Exile’ that George is willing to break the rules when it suits him and just over-ride any objections:

“A year later [c. 1993**], Georgie [Christie’s son] got his patch and became the youngest Hells Angel in the world.  It was a violation of the club rules.  Prospects have to prove they are at least twenty-one to become a member.  Georgie had grown up around the club.  Everyone knew he was seventeen.  At the first officers’ meeting after Georgie was voted in, more than one old-timer let me know that several members weren’t at all pleased about the move.  [p. 166]

** http://www.agingrebel.com/13268

The Second Alleged Conversation between George Christie and Hoover

[42]   Now, on to the second conversation George alleges he had with Hoover, “less than a month” before Hoover was murdered.  Christie claims they “ran into each other at a West Coast Officer’s meeting in 2003,” [page 210], at which time Hoover allegedly tried to get Ventura HA President Christie’s  sanction to “eighty-six” Noel Barger, on account of her having allegedly been an “informant.”   In that Phoenix Magazine article, Noel outlines exactly what it means to be ‘eighty-sixed.’  [cf. para. 16 for link to article]  It’s the Hells Angels version of being ‘sent to Coventry,’ which includes becoming “a walking target.”

[43]   So, what does George Christie say his reply was to Hoover?  “Do what you know is the right thing to do.”  And what is Hoover’s response?  “Yeah, okay.”  I think it’s safe to say that Hoover would have taken Christie’s response as an assent to ‘eighty-sixing’ Noel, because, what Christie doesn’t say, is that that Hoover argued with him about Christie’s answer.

[44]   It’s also clear that Christie is trying to protect himself in his book from any accusation that he gave Hoover the go-ahead to kill Noel.  But, what was George actually willing to see happen to Noel at that point?

[45]   Earlier in his book, George makes it clear he was willing to kill fellow Ventura Angel Jim Clark on hearsay from another Angel that Clark had gone “on a smear campaign” against Christie [p. 135 – 36].  Oh, and Clark was “sarcastic and condescending” on the phone to Christie, [p. 36]:  “The first thing I did once I was back was to straighten out Jim Clark.  David and I took Jim for a walk five blocks down to the Ventura River, on the other side of the Ojai Freeway.  It was a desolate location.  We didn’t say a word until we got to the edge of the river.  “You know, Jim, I don’t think this charter is big enough for both of us.  I don’t want you here anymore.”  “I’m not going anywhere.”  “Well, let me tell you something.  See the river?  At the bottom of that river is an eternity.  And if you don’t leave Ventura, that’s where you’re going to be.”  [p. 141]

So, he was willing to kill a fellow Angel for what most people outside of a gang would consider to be very small grounds for killing someone:  namely, for being someone whom George had a grudge against and who was living in the same city as he was.  (And again, not the perspective of a true peacemaker, I think most would agree.)

[46]   Moreover, according to Christie himself, he was number one on the cop’s suspect list in the murder of Hoover “less than a month” after that second alleged conversation with Hoover.  In ‘Exile,’ he says:  “The word among law enforcement was that I put a hit on Hoover in retaliation for Josh’s murder.*  Some Hells Angels thought the same thing.  But even if I had the power, I wouldn’t have used it.  Hoover was headed in the right direction.**   He wanted to be a peacemaker and the club badly needed someone besides me to step up to fill that role.***  But I also believe that the murder will never be solved because too many people don’t want it to be.  As always, law enforcement didn’t care.  A dead Hells Angel was just one less problem as far as the cops were concerned.****

* Joshua William Harber:    http://articles.latimes.com/2002/jun/12/local/me-angel12

As of June 23, 2017, a Mongols member has been charged with Josh’s killing:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-mongols-hells-angels-murder-charges-20170623-story.html  But, note how Christie tries to implicate the Cave Creek Angels in the hit on Josh.

**  And also with, presumably, his plan to ‘eighty-six’ Noel Barger, with whatever that might have entailed.

***  No doubt, eh.

 ****  That’s rich, coming from George Christie, who allowed Hells Angel prospect Thomas Heath and Angel Brett Eaton to get away with the murder of an innocent fifteen-year-old that Christie alleges they committed:  “Tom Heath walked a flat motorcycle tire into the Frame-Up.  Brett Eaton had rigged a bomb inside the tire, so that it would detonate when the tire valve was unscrewed…. The bomb  contacts came together, and Mongol and teenager were instantly killed in a blast that blew the windows out of the buildings on either side of the shop… It was a joke to [Heath].  For days, he went on about the explosion.”  [p. 75 – 76]

Christie goes on to claim that “Justice would be served decades later when Heath was sentenced thirty-five to life for a domestic dispute beef that bought him a “third strike” conviction.”  [p. 76]

No, George, justice wasn’t really served  – in the murder of Raymond Hernandez.

[47]  Back to Noel Barger.  For the record, I don’t think, gauging from the Phoenix Magazine account, that Noel Barger was an “informant” in any real sense of the word, and I think Sonny understood that.  That’s why he did the article, I am inclined to think, to show that he stood by her in a sense, even if he was going to divorce her.

When she signed whatever papers the FBI agent put in front of her, she was in the hospital, most likely whacked out on pain-killers, and very, very pissed off, no doubt, since it was her husband who had put her there.  She needed to be separate from him for at least awhile,  until things cooled down, and she needed some money to do that.  Most probably, the FBI agent had to have a rationale for giving her the money she needed, and perhaps the option of simply labelling her a ‘material witness’ in the assault was not enough to open up the public purse.

Once she had somewhat recovered, she (and Sonny) realized the enormity of what she’d inadvertently done:  labelled herself as an FBI informant.  I think he was most likely trying to keep her from getting killed.  Sarrah, according to that article, had “run away.”  I really doubt that.  I think Noel sent her away, to try to keep her from getting killed, too, in the manner that Margo Compton and her daughters had been murdered.  [cf. para. 04]

[48]   Noel was bi-polar; and that was a condition still poorly understood in 2002.  Hoover was clearly fed up with dealing with her, and, to be frank, he seems to me to have been kind of a slow boat:**  not really capable of dealing with the nuances of Noel’s situation.  It didn’t help that he was single, and therefore probably  not really capable of empathizing with the sometimes stormy waters that every marriage sails through occasionally.  So, who Hoover chooses to vent to, of all people, is a Phoenix Magazine reporter.  And now every Hells Angel and every ‘Club 81’ supporter in all of Arizona knows that the President of Cave Creek would really, really like to see the back of Noel Barger, who is now officially labelled as an “FBI informant.”  Gee, what could go wrong with that?

**  In the interview with ‘The Independent’ in August of 2000, https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/an-angel-at-my-table-697297.html   the interviewer says:  “I later ask Hoover if he’s read Sonny’s book. “I tried, but my eyes just kept closing.”  (Really??  Sonny’s book is not rocket science; moreover,  it’s quite well written and the stories are very interesting.  I hate to shade the dead, but Hoover’s reply sounds to me like he was a bit of a slow boat.)

[49]   Back to the question of what exactly George Christie was probably willing to see happen to Noel Barger.   Let’s go back for a moment to what he said about Hoover’s death.  “The word among law enforcement was that I put a hit on Hoover in retaliation for Josh’s murder…. But even if I had that power, I wouldn’t have used it.  Hoover was headed in the right direction…”  [p. 211]   So, why wouldn’t he have put a hit on Hoover?  Because murdering people is a wrong thing to do?  Nope.  That’s not the reason.  The reason he wouldn’t have put a hit on Hoover was, “because Hoover was headed in the right direction.”

Now, what that suggests to me right there is, that George Christie was perfectly willing to put a hit out on someone, even another Hells Angel,  – if he thought they were headed in the ‘wrong’ direction.  And we have already seen [para. 45] that George’s own account of himself is that he was perfectly willing to kill even a Hells Angel if he thought that man was in his way.

Moreover, if Hoover comes across as a bit ‘slow’ in that August 2000 ‘Independent’ article:  https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/an-angel-at-my-table-697297.html   he also comes across as being highly respectful, even deferential, to Sonny.  It’s hard to believe that he would have gone behind Sonny’s back to consult with George Christie on any matter at all, much less one that involved the Cave Creek charter and Sonny’s wife.

[50]  For much of 2002 through 2004, ATF agents were conducting an undercover operation in Arizona concerning a deadly shoot-out between Hells Angels and Mongols in Laughlin, Nevada:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Dobyns#Hells_Angels_infiltration:_%22Operation_Black_Biscuit%22

[51]  Black Biscuit eventually resulted in a number of murder and assault  convictions, both in the Laughlin shoot-out:  https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.true-crime/5A4PVayrAaw








as well as in the 2001 vicious murder of Cynthia Yvonne Garcia, a mother of five children, by three Hells Angels in the Mesa, Arizona Hells Angels club-house.

The Angels sang their standard song when one of their own gets busted:  “He didn’t do it; it was the rat who informed on him who did it.”  [cf. para. 04]  But, innocent people don’t run away.  Especially not innocent people who can afford good lawyers, as stock-broker/Hells Angel prospect Paul Eischeid certainly could.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/07/25/stockbroker-by-day-alleged-violent-hells-angel-by-night-15-years-after-his-arrest-fugitive-biker-back-for-murder-case/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1b5a7f619762   In March of 2012, Hells Angel Kevin Augustiniak, who had previously pled guilty to the murder of Cynthia Yvonne Garcia in Phoenix in October 2001, was convicted:    http://www.agingrebel.com/5411

[52]  Hells Angels have slammed Jay Dobyns, both for the job he did and for “betraying his brothers,” meaning them.  However, the judge who presided over ‘Black Biscuit’ evidentiary hearings clearly did not agree at all that Dobyns and his team had done a bad job:    https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-azd-2_03-cr-01167/pdf/USCOURTS-azd-2_03-cr-01167-10.pdf     and you’ll note that clearly, there was evidence, because that’s what the defendants,  Robert J. “Bad Bob” Johnston Jr, 48, then-President of the HA Mesa chapter, and Hells Angels Calvin Schaefer, 34, and Donald Smith, 53 were trying to get suppressed.  And as for their complaint that Jay ‘betrayed’ them, this just goes to show how successful he was at infiltrating them; they still don’t really ‘get’ that he was never their friend; he was a cop who was doing his job.

[53]  Jay Dobyns in 2015 on threats received concerning him and his family:  https://youtu.be/qFaHmoaRgbk

“These guys, [the Hells Angels] they have their PhD’s in violence and intimidation.” [at 10:14]

A judge agreed that Dobyns had been harassed and intimidated by the Hells Angels:


[54]  My point about Jay Dobyns and his credible claims of being harassed even to the point of having his house fire-bombed, is that, Angels who would be willing to kill an ATF agent for having done his job, would certainly be willing, in my opinion, to kill the “paid FBI informant wife” of a Hells Angel.

[55]  There is also a facebook page in the married name of Noel Barger:  https://www.facebook.com/noel.barger

Like myspace, it’s very easy to set up a FB account in any name you want, using a gmail address under any name that pleases you.  It’s easy to fake a timeline, too, by creating ‘events’ on myspace.  Two of the pictures in the Noel Barger photo album are anomalous.  Although they a part of a series intended to portray several moments in the same sequence of time, the marks on the cheeks don’t match up, and neither does the silver in the hair:    [PIC 08]   There is also a smaller version of the myspace profile picture in the facebook profile pictures.  The profile is completely unresponsive, as far as I could tell, to anything posted by any of its discernible contacts.

The State of California and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation

[56]  Any organization claiming non-profit status should be forced to post a copy of their bylaws – and the penalties that will be applied for members who fail to obey or enforce those bylaws – at every site where the non-profit operates, as well as online at the state and federal levels, freely accessible to the public.  The bylaws must conform to all statutes and democratic principles.  If board members are found to have turned a blind eye to egregious violations of those bylaws, then the non-profit status should be put in jeopardy.

[57]  Sonny Barger taught his step-daughter that “it’s okay to the lie to the cops, because they lie to us:”  By the same kind of reasoning, it should be okay to strip the tax-free status from groups who want to cash in on democratic rights and freedoms – but flout the principles on which those rights and freedoms have their standing.

[58]  Furthermore, the tax laws need to be changed on the federal level, to lock it down that non-profits need to obey all applicable state laws in order to retain their tax-free status.

What kind of organization it is, shouldn’t enter into that equation.  A self-proclaimed ‘religious’ organization like Scientology should not have special carte blanche to violate state laws on libel and harassment, just because it Calls itself a religion.

[59]  I find it astounding that these changes to the laws were not enacted years ago.  Law enforcement agencies should consider class action lawsuits against the state of California, for harboring so many rogue groups.  If I had a problem with one of them, I would certainly be looking at suing the state of California for having enabled the group to operate illegally with tax-exempt status, for so many decades.

[60]  The Hells Angels are the very first to cry [para. 07] when they think their democratic rights are being stepped on.   As this blog-post has made abundantly clear, however, they don’t really think the rest of us have any rights – not if we cross any of them to even the smallest degree.  [cf. para. 05]  The murder convictions of three Alberta Hells Angels in Greece who killed a man who just wanted his bike back make it very clear what the Hells Angels are all about.  They’re not ‘out in bad standings,’ either.  They’re still Hells Angels.

[61]It’s time to make them live up to the democratic principles those rights were founded upon, or make them pay.  Their fines should go straight into the coffers of the law enforcement agency that had to deal with them.

Recommended further reading:

Hell’s Angel, the Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club by Sonny Barger, [and yes he does spell it that way].  First edition, 2001.  Collector’s edition, undated.  The book is well written, with a great many interesting stories.  The collector’s edition, available from Sonny’s web-site:  http://sonnybarger.com/ is signed, numbered and nicely bound.  I think it represents a good value for book collectors.

No Angel by Jay Dobyns with Nils Johnson-Shelton, paperback edition, 2009.  A riveting and detailed account of the ATF ‘Black Biscuit Operation in Arizona to investigate the Laughlin shoot-out as well as the murder of Cynthia Garcia.  Catching Hell:  A True Story of Abandonment and Betrayal, hard-cover edition, 2018, makes for fairly grim reading, but there are moments of light, hope and humor as well.

Angels of Death by William Marsden and Julian Sher, hardcover edition, 2006, has a good chapter on the Arizona undercover operation.

Sonny:  60 Years Hells Angels is published by Serious Publishing in Paris, France.  It consists of a great many photos from the archives of the Oakland Hells Angels, and a rather sparse text by Sonny Barger.  The photos have been expertly re-produced.

Exile On Front Street by George Christie, hardcover edition, 2016, has photos and is well-written.  Best read with an eye to what George Christie is saying about himself, in my opinion.

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The Hatfield – McCoy feud of George Christie and Sonny Barger…

and what it says about them and the Hells Angels as an organization…

I’ve sat through all of the George Christie interviews for the television program ‘Outlaw Chronicles.’  They’re readily available on youtube; you won’t have trouble finding them.

I’m no fan of the Hells Angels, but after thinking about what Christie had to say and doing a little research, I believe I have something worth saying on the matter of that 911 call at the core of their ongoing sniping at each other.

Here’s an excerpt from the program, which deals with the infamous 911 call Sonny Barger made after he clobbered his ex-wife so bad she evidently needed an ambulance:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdt4ANaAgFc  Now, as an avowed unfriendly to the Hells Angels, you’d think I’d be favoring Christie’s version of the story, and frankly, it’s come as a shock to me too that I don’t.

Here’s why:

One.  Christie has said at various times that it’s against Hells Angels rules to call 911 for any reason.  In the tape excerpt above, he backtracks on that claim somewhat and says that Barger “should have called 911 and said his ex-wife needs an ambulance and then left it at that” without mentioning a pistol in her car.  But if you listen to the tape recording, it’s clear that once Barger had called 911 on behalf of his ex-wife, he was then immediately forced by the 911 operator to answer the question “Do either of you have any weapons?”  So, Christie was in essence calling out Barger for not having lied to the 911 operator.  Which, if he had been caught, would have put him in prison for sure.  As Christie must have known.

Two.  I don’t subscribe to the Hells Angel ‘code,’ and the rule, if it exists, that one must never call 911 is just plain stupid, but, even I can see that by any standard, Christie’s acquisition of the transcript and of the tape and using it to confront Barger was a Judas move.  What happened to never ratting out one’s fellow bikers?  There is no objectively good reason for ratting out someone for calling 911 to save a life.  What that says to me is that Christie most likely tried to use that 911 call to grab power away from Barger.

According to this article and in other online sources as well:   http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/ex-hells-angels-boss-sonny-barger-wife-beating-fraud-new-book-article-1.2796293  Christie has also repeatedly attacked Barger for not having been “violent” enough.  George Christie strikes me, after considerable thought on this subject, as being a classic ‘Judas’ figure:  enraged at the ‘failure’ of his leader to ‘live up’ to a code that he, Christie, had swallowed whole, and itching to take the Hells Angels helm away from Barger, convinced he could do it so much better than the latter.

I think there is a code that involves violence, embedded in the very being of the Hells Angels as an organization.  If there wasn’t, then Sonny Barger wouldn’t have ever felt the need to boast, as he evidently has, that he forced Keith Richards to play music at gunpoint:  https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/shidoobeewithstonesdoug/sonny-barger-put-a-gun-to-keith-at-altamont-t20269.htmlit    nor would Barger have felt the need to wear a ‘filthy few’ patch:

Photo courtesy of George Christie to accompany story about his new book (September 2016)

which allegedly means someone has killed for the Hells Angels:  https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2010/11/16/hells_angels_testimony_takes_jury_inside_clubhouse.html   mmm  Whether he actually has killed anyone or not, whether he really did threaten Keith Richards or not, the point is that he clearly felt that saying he did those things would increase his stock with the Hells Angels.  And that tells me there is a code, an attitude, that fosters violence and defends it.

Given the difficulties that law enforcement has often had in trying to prove the Angels are a criminal organization, it might profit them to focus more on the shared state of mind and what that entails in terms of fostering criminal activities.  This perspective would also be useful, I think, in getting a legal handle on other groups that tend to operate as ‘cellular’ units,  such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, other outlaw biker groups.  It’s a critical element in ‘outlaw’ groups, and it should be made an element that can have validity in attempts to portray a portion of a group as being a criminal enterprise.

As for George Christie and Sonny Barger:  I don’t know the latter and I can’t read him.  I can’t read everybody, there are exceptions and he’s one of them.  But Christie I believe I can read:  He has no soul.  Oh, he has a personality, and he’s very articulate, but, there’s nothing on the inside in terms of objective values.  In my opinion, his attitude towards that 911 call, his attacks on Barger for not having been ‘violent enough,’ and his own violence-related conviction for firebombing tattoo parlours:  https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/qbnk85/george-christie-leaving-hells-angels   say to me that, given a choice as to which of the two men I would prefer to encounter in a dark alley, I’d choose Sonny Barger any day.

Well, that’s my take on it anyway, and I don’t have a dog in the hunt.

A section of the flood wall along the Tug Fork in Matewan, West Virginia, constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, depicts the Hatfield–McCoy feud.  photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, photographer not specified or unknown – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library, public domain, courtesy of wikipedia.com

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Teflon Don and the Hells Angels

Back in August of 2017, when I challenged Toronto Hells Angel Donny Petersen:  https://www.facebook.com/kitty.grimnirs/posts/700912220118938 as regards his Facebook rant on how cops had it all wrong when they used the term “one-percenter:” https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1150546161755747&id=100004011235909  he stayed cool, he didn’t scream like a little girl or anything. 🙂  In fact, ‘cool’ and ‘polite’ are probably watchwords of his, if his Facebook page, which is entirely open to the general public, is anything to go by.  He didn’t respond directly to me, but, a short time later, he posted an excerpt from a book that was then in the last stages of pre-publication, called Biker 101:  The Life of Don:  http://www.donnypetersen.com/shop/biker-101-the-life-of-don/  It was clear that the only honorable option open to me was to put my money where my mouth was and buy a copy forthwith, which I did.  This here is by way of a brief review, which I may expand upon at a later date.

Donny put a lot of work into the book; he writes well, and the book is designed to accommodate those with brief attention spans:  it’s broken up into many short chapters, all of which are carefully titled.  Of course, it’s kind of like eating Pringles:  hard to stop with just one story.  In a sense I kind of feel privileged, because the book is a window into a world that someone like myself, unswervingly hostile to the very existence of the Hells Angels, would normally never have access to.  It’s the best kind of writing in a sense, as if the reader is sitting in a living room just listening to an acquaintance tell stories about his life as an ‘outlaw’ biker.

Donny’s tried hard to tell his stories without giving the impression he’s doing an exposé on the Angels, understandably so.  Yet the result is an admixture of fairly riveting and often seamy stories, glossed over at times with excuses a high-schooler wouldn’t buy.  The boys are sometimes too busy with their own fun to hear a woman screaming at them to stop the gang-banging?  Yeah, sure,  Donny.  The Angels frown on rape and punish their own?  Yeah sure they do, just as soon as they can get their heads around that ‘no ratting out other members’ thing.

I thought I would at least learn what Don’s definition of a “one percenter is,” but in the end he pulled his punches even on that issue, saying that everybody had his own definition.  Where I’m learning what the term really means is by paying attention to his perspective in the book, such as his view of cops.  And in his strategies, how he broaches issues touching on the issue of criminality, and then dances away from them, promising to return later to the subject, and then never doing so, as far as I could determine.  He always comes out looking good in his stories.  It’s hard not to like the guy at least a little, but it’s also hard to see anything deeper than the appearance he maintains of intelligent civility.  ‘Teflon Don’ would be a good nickname for him, in my opinion.  Stuff just bounces off the guy and nothing sticks to him.  He could fall into a tar pit and climb out the other side snow white.

But don’t be looking for deep psychological insights into what makes him or the Angels tick, because those aren’t there, in the book or in the man himself, in my estimation.

Nevertheless, ‘Biker 101’ offers a searing bird’s-eye view into the life of ‘one-percenters,’ as well as into corruption in some of the places he’s familiar with, such as the Dominican Republic.

I think his book should be required reading for anyone interested in the world of the Hells Angels.  Women who are thinking of getting involved with an Angel should pay especial attention to the recurrent theme of violence in life with the Angels.

The books are shipped promptly, via Priority Post.  I should be so lucky to get service like that from some of the other sellers I’ve dealt with in the past few months.

Personal favorite quote from the book:

“The mountain**  does many things, but kidding is not one of them.”

** Everest



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Borderline Personality help sources

As I write this (at 21:45 EDM on September 24, 2017), Patrick Fox of Burnaby, BC is awaiting sentencing for his conviction of having criminally harassed his ex-wife:  https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/warning-dont-get-involved-in-any-way-with-patrick-fox-of-burnaby-b-c/  Although I’ve never met Mr. Fox, he would appear to me to be suffering from borderline personality on the face of it.  He’s not remorseful at all for having made his ex-wife’s life hell, to say nothing of his own young son’s life by persecuting the boy’s mother, as you can see from my own exchanges with him in the comments section on that post (above), and from reading the news reports of his trial.

He will probably go to prison, and it’s easy to say ‘good riddance.’  But what will happen to him in prison?  Will he get effective therapy there?  Probably not.  Borderline-personality sufferers are notoriously difficult to treat effectively.

Now, one of my own Facebook contacts, a Toronto hypnotherapist by the name of Allan Clews, has just posted a series of videos on a treatment for borderline personality, called ‘Dialectical Behavior Therapy,’ or DBT, which he says is “the only thing that has been scientifically proven to help those suffering from Borderline Personality;” and he has kindly given me permission to re-post his post here on wordpress:  https://www.facebook.com/allan.clews/posts/10215792177023764


Now I think you might need a Facebook profile to view that post, and not everybody has facebook, of course; so I am also going to take the liberty of embedding the first of his short videos here directly from youtube, so that anyone who can’t see the facebook post can hopefully link to the videos from youtube:  

So that’s one point of reference that may be helpful, and for those who are suffering from the sufferers of borderline personality and who may have decided that enough is enough, here is a useful book on divorcing a spouse who’s borderline.  Wordpress doesn’t like it when I link to Amazon here, but the book is readily available there.  It’s called ‘Splitting:  Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder,’ written by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger, and published in 2011.  I’ve read it and it’s loaded with useful tips on dealing with people with those disorders, even if you’re not married to one of them.

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