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Angerboda - English

What is this blog about?

I usually blog in Swedish and the topic are Norse mythology and spirituality, mainly from a Stav perspective. But since there is not that much information available in English that covers deeper layers of Stav; I decided to write a few articles in English.

My English blog is mainly driven by demand; if you want more posts, please ask me questions.

My English Stav blog…

Uncategorised Posted on Sun, January 12, 2020 02:53:46

Today I have spent many hours to correct the paragraphing after the upgrade I mentioned in my last post, six months ago.

After the upgrade the texts were full of unwanted line breaks and other things that really made a mess of most of my blog articles. I also took the opportunity to add some new headers and other minor editorial adjustments that made the texts easier to follow.

When browsing through all my texts, both English and Swedish, I noticed how much information I have shared over the last five years. This blog is source material to a tradition that has not been described in text format previously. In some cases when I read posts I had not read in a few years, I got the impression that I shared too much information! But I also noticed that I also left a lot of information out, reserved for those who actually commit to study and learn Stav.

There is only so much we can learn from text, any spiritual tradition or Martial Art for that matter, needs to be transmitted from one person to another if one wants to ensure to pass on as much information and knowledge as possible. Too many spiritual practitioners is just enthusiastic book collectors and readers.

Another thing that I realized was how many pictures I share. Perhaps the readers do not realize it, but all these pictures are taken by myself on my travels around Scandinavia. Each runestone and each cult place and each artifact was pictured by me.

Five years of English blog posts.

The first English post was published in the summer of 2015, and since then I have spent countless hours of writing about stav. Mainly because I find the tradition fascinating and feel the need to share information with others.  There is really a need for serious information about this tradition, over the last twenty years there has been so many misunderstandings and uneducated people feeling they have the right to express their flawed and irrelevant perspectives.

Over these years there have been a few people who really expressed their appreciation for the blog and the information within it. The encouraging emails I have received over the years has really made me happy, even though they are few and far in between. To most English speaking people interested in Norse spirituality, and even those within the English speaking Stav community, this blog has been pretty much anonymous. Even to the point where people within the English speaking Stav community was not even aware that the blog existed. In such a small community one would imagine that one of the few resources would not go under the radar?

Lately I were dragged into a few debates on Stav in English speaking “heathen” Facebook groups, and when sharing my blog link I realized that it actually did not make any difference, people did not even bother to read the articles, but they still felt entitled to “criticize” Stav. To be honest it is quite frustrating, I could understand that there were a lot of misunderstandings about Stav 20 years ago. But now when there is information and people are encouraged to read, they do not bother. But still they repeat the same old garbage that has been circling around for two decades. Amazing.

Anyway, since information did not seem to make much difference I made the decision to leave all English speaking heathen groups. There were no reason to bother.

Focus on the local development

I am really passionate about Stav and spreading knowledge about it and teaching it. But I have only so much time and I need to focus where I see progress. Here in Sörmland – Sweden, were I reside, I see a serious progress as the result of my work. We have established a small community with regular training, perhaps the most active and devoted Stav training group in existence?

We train twice every week, and for each year there is progress in both the practical and theoretical and spiritual understanding of Stav. We also celebrate many of the festivals and religious feasts within the Stav calendar together; it is not that complicated for us to be honest, since many of them correlate with Swedish festivities anyhow. But the important thing is that we regard Stav as a spiritual path, and a religious denomination of Norse Spiritualty. Stav is so complex and has so specific views on many aspects of Norse spirituality that it, besides Scandinavian Folklore, probably is the only path that qualifies to be labelled as a denomination in its own right.

English blog will be paused

So, with all the above in mind, I have decided not to write about Stav in English for some time. What I write does not seem to be of interest to enough people to make it worthwhile. I do not have the impression that I have helped the English Stav community to develop new perspectives, nor to gain a deeper understanding of the Scandinavian perspective. I do not feel that I have helped people within the mainstream English heathen community to see and realize that Stav can be a very fruitful way for those who wants to develop a relationship to Norse spirituality. I may reevaluate this standpoint over time, but for now it is the only option that makes sense.

Anyway, the blog will be up and running and the old posts will be left for anyone who may find the articles interesting. There is a lot of information in these articles! You can also google translate my Swedish blog, which some people have done, and from what they tell me the translation is crude but fairly understandable.

You are always free to send me an email if you have serious interest in the topic. However, it may take me time to answer; I do this in my spare time!



Blog moving.

General Posted on Thu, August 22, 2019 12:19:27

My web provider has informed me that they will migrate all the blogs they are hosting to another platform, this will happen in September. There will probably be some downtime at one point or another. According to the service provider the blog will look identical after the move.

To be honest, I am happy to hear about these news, since the blog tool was dated and crude in many ways. I just hope the migration goes well.

Please also notice that I have started to share video´s on Youtube, the links can be found at angerboda.se´s Facebook page.



The non-pedantic joke claiming to be a swordsman!

Stav Posted on Sun, March 24, 2019 01:04:28

Stav has been of great importance to me for around half my life, it has taught me a lot and opened doors to fantastic places I would never have ventured into without Stav. I have spent a lot of time writing about Stav, with the intention of sharing knowledge of this amazing tradition. I also teach weekly with the ambition to establish a new generation of teachers in Sweden. All my engagement has been completely without monetary interest, because I feel that Stav is too important to make profit on, and too valuable to be forgotten.

One of my ambitions with writing has been to address many of the misunderstandings and really ignorant claims that people has posted online for the last decades. In a Swedish context it has worked quite well, and Stav has gained some well-deserved respect in the heathen community.

Out of interest of how the tradition is perceived I occasionally google Stav to see what is out there, it inspires my writing. Most of what is written about Stav does not really give a flattering image of the human nature, however it still teaches a lot of how the flawed mind perceives the world. Too many people are obviously not capable of actually dong research and coming up with a reasonable evaluation of the information. Somehow they also seem to be of the opinion that their flawed image needs to reach others; and those seem to share the same limitations, since they only can evaluate second hand sources.

One article that shows up highly in the results is posted by someone that labels himself as the “pedantic swordsman”, who completely lacks understanding of what stav is, but still feels he has the mandate to label it as a joke. Unfortunately his research seems to be anything but pedantic; and his analyses really makes him look like a joke, at least to anyone who has actually bothered to study the topic he rants about.

The first thing he does, probably out of ignorance, is to present the classic straw man; by claiming that the stav community has claimed that Stav is a Viking age martial art that has frozen in time. No such claims has ever been made. We have claimed that Stav is a living tradition, who´s orally transmitted history puts it far back in time; but we have never claimed the oral history as cold hard facts.

Based on this straw man, he presents the idea that a closed tradition, kept within one family or region, would completely degenerate since it would not be in touch with the unforgiving reality of combat. He also claims that it would degenerate since it would not have been a part of the evolution of warfare that happened all over Europe.

From there he makes a complete illogical leap of thought, and claims another thing to discredit stav; the fact that the classical weapons used in the Viking age context is absent within the tradition. Maybe that should have been a hint if anything? Weapons such as shields and Viking type swords fell out of fashion in Scandinavia shortly after the Viking age. Any tradition that claimed linage that used these weapons; would as a matter of fact come across as anything but a living tradition.

He also misses the fact that Stav works with principles, the two handed staff and the one handed stick is basically a substitute for any bladed weapon. Within the Stav philosophy, the idea is that when you understand the basic principles with the aid of a stick or staff; there are only small adjustments when utilizing bladed weapons. This also fits very well with what is known about martial arts in mediaeval Scandinavia.

From an historical context, most people of Scandinavia during the mediaeval period would probably not train with live weapons, simply because they were too expensive. A sword would probably hold about the same monetary value as a modern tank today. The most common bladed weapons of Scandinavia were the axe and the spear; which by a coincidence happens to be to most important sharp weapons within Stav.

There is no doubt either that the traditional Stav practitioners evolved together with the world around them. The Hafskjold family was a family of statue, traditionally educated at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. Many were also involved in the military. So, the idea that they were not present during the evolution of combat is just a silly claim by someone who has no idea what he is talking about.

There are many similarities between Stav and other Scandinavian martial arts. One good example is traditional Swedish bayonet fencing, which is another living traditional martial art. The strongest parallels to Stav is have seen to date, is what I have found in the 19th century Swedish military manuals of bayonet fencing.

The pathetic swordsman also uses one of the classic arguments to discredit stav; the fact that Ivar Hafskjold has spent many years in Japan training in Japanese martial arts. If you really think about it, what is the problem with someone who has one background of martial arts, seeking out another tradition to compare and to learn? Especially when fate has put him in one of the few places on the planet that still has many living traditions of weapon arts?

Just as his ancestors, Ivar trained in the best martial art he found available; and just as his ancestors he kept the philosophy and concept that was taught within his family. There is nothing in Japan that slightest resembles the philosophy behind stav.

At one point I actually asked Ivar the straight forward question; what is the difference of Stav now compared with before you went to Japan? The answer was that when he was young stav worked great against other stav practitioners, but not always against other styles of martial arts. His experiences in Japan helped him to tweak some details, and now he felt it would not matter what style the opponent came from.

Stav has a unique and highly elaborated philosophy that is intertwined with the martial art. I have seen nothing comparable, this is not something that comes up in a short period, and it takes time for something like this to evolve. The Pathetic swordsman next claim is that the philosophy within Stav has nothing to do with historical sources of Scandinavia, and claims that it is new age. Anyone who has bothered to research all these ideas woven around Stav, will find strong parallels in historical Scandinavia.

One good example is the runic calendar I have described before in this blog, which is encoded in the core of Stav, and therefore it is a good indicator of the age of the system. As I described this cannot have been created after the year 1700 in Norway, because this type of runic calendars died out at the time due to the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. There is no other examples of such an elaborate perpetual living Norse calendar today, neither any recreated ones. We have two options! Either, the calendar and the system around it, was recreated by a genius; or it comes from a living tradition. If you then consider all other aspects of Stav´s curriculum, it is very unlikely that it is anything but a living tradition. But, please bear in mind, I am not putting a date of the age of the tradition; I am simply arguing that it is not a modern construct.

There are many components and ideas within Stav that one could date individually, and by considering them in context one would probably be able to estimate a reasonable birth date for the tradition. But to do this properly one would have to spend years studying Stav, and reading up on Norse mythology, history of religions, runology and Scandinavian folklore. Then spend a lot of time putting these finds on paper. But it would still defeat its purpose, because what is the point of putting a date on an esoteric tradition? For the practitioners it makes absolutely no difference.

Next the pathetic swordsman claims that he has checked some videos of Stav, and what he sees is a joke. Well, here I have to partly agree, there a lots of really poor videos of Stav out there. In some cases, the level of the martial art displayed in the video is not the best. In other example´s the filming is not the best. On top of that, a two dimensional video has it limits when it comes to portraying martial arts. To really present a marital art on video in a fair way, one would need a professional production with only high level practitioners; this has not been done to this date when it comes to Stav.

I regularly get requests to do video presentations, but I always decline. I do not feel I have the resources to do it in a way that presents Stav in a good way. Besides, why would I share the practical applications of Stav with random people online?

There is only one way to experience any martial art, and evaluate it, and that is to seek out an instructor and actually train with them. Those who are serious enough will seek out a qualified instructor; there are probably less than ten of us in total. For some reason, very little of the criticism towards Stav actually comes from people who has tried it out.

For me personally Aikido does not appeal to me. I do not really like what I have seen. This is based on me visiting a few Aikido dojos, and also training with several fairly experienced Aikido practitioners who has sought me out to learn Stav. So I do have some personal experience, but still do not feel I am in a position to criticize Aikido as a martial art! I simply know too little about Aikido! Yet, this pathetic swordsman, who has absolutely no experience of stav, believes he are an authority to label it as a joke?

This guy labels a martial art he knows nothing about as a joke, based on random stuff he has seen on Youtube? And perhaps he has read a few articles written by his English speaking countrymen!? Who in most cases has shown a limited understanding of the deeper aspects of Stav, to put it gently!

England is both the savior and curse when it comes to stav! If Ivar Hafskjold would not have moved to Japan and then to the UK; he would most likely never have shared his family tradition. But the English context is a curse, because a lot of people, even highly experienced practitioners; lacks an understanding of fundamental aspects of stav. A lot of bold claims were made that was not really accurate, and a lot of perspectives shared was not the traditional perspective. But still, a poor presentation of something, does not excuse poor criticism.

Just as the pathetic swordsman, I will end by explaining the need for this rant; it is because his flawed and ignorance disrespect the art, and the people who lived and died by it. And the people who diligently practice it today! He also disrespects the keeper of the tradition, who has shared it openly without any personal gain what so ever; on the contrary he has for the last 25 years been discredited by ignorant people just like this one.

The pathetic swordsman accuses stav of fanaticism usually found in cults, which again misrepresent what Stav actually is! A philosophy of the free mind and body, with a lot of thought parallels with Hermeticism. The perspective within the tradition encourages the practitioners to research it and evaluate it and criticize it; which I and other have done with enthusiasm! I have spent countless hours actually researching stav, and the components within it. And I have spent countless hours of writing about Stav

To this date, I have published 33 blog osts in Swedish and 10 in English; this is the most indebt resource on Stav anywhere! This would be the best starting point for anyone that wants to expose Stav. Hack job criticism is not good enough anymore! You need to try harder. So, just as the pathetic swordsman encourages; anyone who’s interested in the subject; read, read, read, and read some more. Please read my articles with a critical perspective, and please point out any flaws you find within them. But even more importantly, never let any random and arrogant prick on the internet decide for you what is worth your time.

The ironic thing to it all, is that this pathetic swordsman seem to have a huge interest in both European martial art and Scandinavian spiritualty; yet he slams the door in his own face to the only system that actually integrates both these aspects into a meaningful product. Which also is a lesson to be learned.

Stav is the only variety of Norse spirituality available today that integrates all aspects into a coherent system, were everything from the mythology to the runes, to the cosmology to the festivals follow the same path. Stav is probably the only variety of Norse heathenism that qualifies to be labelled as a genuine denomination of this religion. One problem is, that parts of the English speaking Stav community has failed to label it as such, and they are guilty of mixing stav up with New Age and all kinds of stuff. But this is a flaw of the practitioners, not the tradition itself.

Since I always aspire to be descent, even though I occasionally fail miserably; I have tried to find an email to the pathetic swordsman, but I failed to find one on his web page! I do not understand why you publish stuff without giving people an ability to contact you! If anyone is in contact please forward this link.

As I see it; he has two options. Either he acknowledges that he had no idea what he was ranting about, and removes his article from the net. Which would make this article redundant.

Another option is of course that he reads through my blog, and follow up on his previous post. Which would be refreshing! I have almost blogged for five years, and up until this date no one has opposed. Going into debate would require a lot on his behalf, and I doubt he has the commitment! It is just so much easier to post bullshit on a topic you know nothing about and never bothered to research.

Link to original post:

https://pedanticswordsman.weebly.com/stav-is-a-joke.html



Stav – runes and martial art

Stav Posted on Mon, January 01, 2018 22:07:14

About two years ago I wrote an article in Swedish about the philosophy and system behind the martial art within Stav. It became a massive article, which I planned to translate to English. But my understanding has somewhat deepened since then. So instead, I decided to write a new article that is more in line with my current perspective. However, if you read Swedish there is nothing wrong with the old article.

I would like to clarify that this article is based on my understanding, and my perspective! I firstly discovered Stav in the 1990´s, and this article is the result of many hours of studies. I have done my best to understand, and stay true to, Stavs core. But still, this is my personal understanding and interpretation; which I hope will benefit both those who are new, and those who has studied Stav for a longer period.

Basic philosophy

Most people who has heard about Stav labels it as a martial art, but Stav is better described as an esoteric educational system. The martial art in Stav are a tool to practically teach the philosophy within Stav. To become proficient in martial arts is one step on the road, but it is not the end goal of the studies.

Stav is highly systemized, even the martial art is systematized, the reason is that Stav is a “cult” devoted to the Norse deity Heimdall. Within the tradition Heimdall is understood as the god of logic; education, systematization, mathematics and so on. If we must relate Heimdall to a deity of another pantheon, the Greek deity Hermes Trismegistus would be a good comparison.

As within many similar traditions geometry plays an important role in the philosophy. But compared with the southern European philosophical schools, Stav has a different perspective. The geometrical understanding is related to the runes, the pre-Christian alphabet of northern Europe.

Within Stav there is a mythological concept that the runes represent essential building blocks of the universe, comparable with the Greek understanding of the Platonic solids. This thought has support in the literary sources of Norse mythology. Odin hung himself on the world tree for nine nights, and sacrificed himself to himself; which enabled him to call out and collect the runes. The knowledge of the runes was later passed down to humanity by Heimdall.

The runes within Stav is a variation of the younger futhark, the alphabet used in Scandinavia during the Viking age and into the medieval period.

The geometry within Stav is not taught with the aid of a pen and a compass as within many other schools, it is taught by the aid of one’s own body and the martial art within the system. Stavs ambition is to teach the student how to apply the principles of the universe as a martial art.

Before the modern standardization, measurements were based on body measures, such as foot, hand, finger or the ancient measure of a cubit; the tip of the middle finger to the bottom of the elbow. Before the standardization, geometry played a very important role, instead of standard measures they relied on proportions when constructing or doing art. The specific measures would differentiate from one project to the other, or between one individual and the next.

Within Stav the seventh rune Hagl is associated with Heimdall, if we stack the seventh rune seven times; we get an image that consists of nine lines. Both seven and nine are very important numbers within Stavs numerology. From this illustration, all the other runes can be extracted. The image also illustrates the web of Urd.; the cosmological web, that connects all humans to each other and the universe. Simplified we can say that the web of Urd contains all our fates.

The illustration of the web is also regarded as a map of the human body, and it shows us cutting lines and points of balance or attack. The martial art is a way to manifest the underlaying philosophy of Stav. The illustration of the web correlates to sacred geometry and classical mysticism, and mathematics in many ways. Anyone who really wants to learn to understand Stav, needs to spend some time working with this geometric composition.

Seven Hagl runes creates an illustration of the web of Urd

The rune stances – the basics of stavs martial art

The first method to internalize the knowledge of the runes within ourselves is the rune stances, simply put we form the runes with our own body. This is done in a ritualized way, and we coordinate our breath and our movements. There are many layers of knowledge transferred through this routine, in its most mundane form it teaches us to read and write runes without pen and paper. The ritual also teaches us the movements and body postures utilized within the martial art of Stav. Furthermore, these postures and movements are regarded as essential in any genuine martial art; a Stav practitioner will systemise whatever martial art he encounters with the aid of these basic components.

Each of the sixteen runes correlate to deities within Stavs variety of the Norse pantheon. In some cases, there is a key understanding of the mythological function of the deity encoded within the specific stance. For instance, the stance of the deity of fishing is a rowing position, and the deity of skiing has a position used in skiing.

The rune stances are constructed in such a way that both our left and right side will be leading, which develops ambidexterity. With the aid of the stances we learn the basics of the martial art within Stav. By performing the ritual daily, we slowly program our body to follow the principles taught by the system, principles encoded within the runes. The runes and our own body are the manual that allows us to teach ourselves.


The classes

There are five varieties of doing the stances, each connected to one of the five classes within Stav. Each version teaches the perspective of the specific class. Some people have misunderstood the five classes, and believe they are some sort of grading system, they are not. It is five different archetypes that has a different spiritual and psychological perspective of the world. All the classes are essential to enable the society to work optimally. Most of us will naturally belong to one of these classes.

I will give a very short and simplified description of the classes, since it is necessary later in this article.

The first class is the trell, a person without knowledge or mental capacity to take responsibility for himself. Few are fixated in this mental state, but all of us can get caught in this state due to situations we encounter in our life. The rune stances of the trell simply teaches us the basic shape of the runes and to breath properly. As a Stav instructor I have noticed that a lot of people find it hard to do deep breathing these days. Correct breathing are essential when learning martial arts, but also within spiritual work.

The next class is the karl class, this is the free person who provides for himself, traditionally a farmer or a fisherman who worked with his hands. The bulk of the society are made up of this class. The karl version of the stances are a bit more advanced compared to the version of the trell, this is the first “galder” form of the stances, were we use our voice to enhance the effect.

The third class is the herse, or the warrior. The warrior can be either an intellectual or spiritual warrior, a soldier or a guardian. The herse version of the stances focus on martial art, and breathing patterns needed in a combat situation. This version also develops a mental capacity for combat, and it is highly efficient; not suitable to do too often.

The fourth class is the jarl, which is the priest or the philosopher, the thinker or the healer. The jarl version of the stances teaches a meditative and spiritual perspective. This version of the stances could be regarded as a sort of prayer.

The fifth class is the king, but this is not the same concept as the modern monarchy. This is a person who is achieved and has insights that most of us lacks. The variety of these stances basically goes full circle and returns to the beginning, the trell and the king are in many ways regarded as each other’s flipsides.

Practicing the rune stances correlates to concepts such as mindfulness and meditation, with a focus on here and now. When doing the stances, we enter a mental place that is free of the stress of everyday life. The stances help us to focus ourselves and connect with the world around us on a spiritual level.

Meditation and mindfulness may not sound as martial art to some, but in war and conflict a focused mind will be most helpful.


The cuts and the weapons

Even though the rune stances teach us movements, they are somewhat two-dimensional, what we strive to get is a three-dimensional understanding of ourselves in relation to the universe. To achieve this, we do our basic cuts with the weapons used within Stav. Simply described we move from one of the basic runic positions to the next, the cut happens in the transition. The difference compared to the rune stances is that when we move; the body are forced to adapt in relation to the weapon and the foot work. The more we practice the cuts, the more precise they will become.

When we move from one position to the other we will also learn the guards automatically, we move from one safe position to the next, trying to be covered as much as possible. The attack, or defence, happens in the transition.

There are basically two main weapons within Stav, the staff and the stick. The staff represent any two-handed weapon, such as a spear or an axe or a two-handed sword. The stick represents any weapon with a one-handed grip, such as a walking stick, or a one-handed sword. Stav works with principles, when we understand the basic principle of one-handed or two-handed weapons we can adapt to the specifics of various weapons. As I wrote before, Stav is highly systemized, and the smallest common dominator between different weapons is their length and grip.

It is also more practical to train with wooden weapons compared to sharp weapons, if you can handle a walking stick or a staff, you can handle a bladed weapon. The attacking weapon in Stav was traditionally an axe, which up until modern times was a common practical tool in Scandinavia, that most people had access to and experience of using. I was personally a young boy when I was taught to use an axe to cut wood, an axe was a completely natural thing for a kid to learn to use.

Initially I always teach the new student how to do the cuts with the two-handed staff, because it is so obvious how these cuts relate to the postures of the rune stances. Once the student is comfortable with those he will learn the cuts with one-handed stick. The practical difference is that the student will have to perform the one-handed cuts with both left and right arm, just
as the rune stances are done with both the left and the fight hand leading.

Within Stav we strive to develop a degree of ambidexterity; that will make sure that we are not incapacitated if our dominant side is injured during combat.


The two man drills

When we know the stances and the cuts it is time to work on the two man drills. One person will attack, and the other one will defend himself. Each weapon and class has a prepared and unprepared response to the attack; the difference is if we attack into, and defend from, a guard or not. This enhances our understanding of personal web in relation to other people.

The first class is the trell, his only objective is to survive, and he has no obligations nor any honour. Usually he will retreat to gain distance which messes up the attack, so the trell may counterattack.

The karl has an obligation to his family, in his applications he will not retreat nor forcefully attack. He simply holds his ground and goes for a safe counterattack once the attacker commits. The karl utilizes small changes in position and balance to gain the advantage. The third class is the herse; he is a skilled martial artist, that will simply go in and dominate the opponent and take control over him. Sometimes his ambition is to kill his opponent, sometimes his ambition is to incapacitate him; it depends if his objective is as a soldier or if he is upholding the law. The Herse often directs his response to weak areas such as the groin or the kidneys, and the herse attacks come from angles not expected.

The fourth class is the jarl. He understands that he does not have to be reactive just because someone goes after him with force. He reads the situation and the opponent and moves in such ways that he controls time and distances. This is a unique perspective for a martial art, I have not seen it anywhere else; it really takes someone comfortable in this mindset to pull it off. Most of us will react when attacked, even if it is just during a training season. The jarl is not reactive, he is proactive and uses psychology to control the situation. If the jarl kills or hurts the attacker it is not done with aggression, it is done with precision and a relaxed mindset.

The king acts brutal and proactive, he simply crushes his opponent before he has even committed to an attack, he breaks down the lines of the attacker. It is hard to train these applications, because they are often somewhat on the edge of safety.

There are prepared and unprepared drills for all five classes with both two-handed and one-handed weapons. Each drill teaches us techniques and tactics that we can apply in a martial situation. But the important thing is to learn to understand different mindsets. The same movement can be done with completely different objectives.

The aim with these drills is to learn to “take the line” and control the balance point of the opponent, which again is a geometrical understanding of martial arts. We work with three-dimensional lines, and by understanding both our own lines and the opponent’s lines we can control and manipulate the situation in our favour. Stav as a martial art is not just about hitting our opponent with brute force, it is about finesse.

Simply described; the stances are the perspective of the trell, we know nothing and starts to learn the absolute basics. The cuts are the perspective of the karl, we learn to practically use the weapons. The two man drills are the perspective of the herse, now we are learning martial arts and tactics of war. The two man drills also teach us the different perspectives of the classes through martial arts.

The nineteen deities

At this level, the student is taught to manifest the deities within the system, which also gives a mythological and spiritual understanding of their character. This can be described as the perspective of the jarl class. It is still two man drills, but beyond the classes. Each deity is associated with a drill that consists of several attacks and counter attacks, that emphasis the use of the specific rune connected with each deity.

There are versions for both the one-handed stick and the two-handed staff. This is on a quite advanced level of weapon based martial arts, and there are very few Stav practitioners that fully knows the forms of the nineteen deities.

The work with the deities is the closest thing we come to sparring within Stav, but this is not free sparring, but sparring within controlled premises. The philosophy within Stav is that free sparring teaches us bad habits, while controlled drills will teach us to read the opponent and react appropriately to his intentions.

There are fencing techniques and footwork and tactics encoded within the drills of the nineteen deities. But most importantly, it is a practical way to use martial art to learn the essence of the Norse deities. The knowledge transferred through Stavs system just flows over so many layers, the runic postures in its simplest form teaches us how to read and write runes, but the more advanced aspects teaches us philosophy and martial arts. The martial arts on the other hand is a bridge between the spiritual world and our own reality.

The perspective of the king

When we have internalized the stances, the cuts, the drills and the deities, we have learned martial art through the perspectives of the first four classes. By learning to know which class we belong to, we will learn how to do the best of our given potential. By learning to know all the other classes we will also learn how to use their tactics against them. We will also be able to emulate the other classes and use them as tactics both in martial situations and in our daily life. The teachings elevate us to the level of a king within our own realm and class. At this level, the Stav practitioner has gained knowledge to see the lines of the web, and understands the underlaying principles of the human conditions in our world.

But the genuine king has a perspective completely beyond the classes, he moves naturally to where he needs to be. He can read the intentions of the opponent to such a degree that it may almost come across as he is attacking, when he actually is defending himself. Just as the highest deity of the Norse pantheon, Odin, the king can meet an armed opponent with just a staff. And just as Odin, he will be able to mess up the mind of the opponent to such a degree that the opponent loses the battle before it has even started.

Just as the trell, few are fixed in the mental state of the king, but most of us can experience this perspective if we find ourselves extreme situations. A couple of the soldiers I have trained has described their experience of being in this mental state.

The unarmed martial arts of Stav

Stav are primarily a weapon based martial art, and the philosophy states that if you are unarmed you are in a disadvantage. Unarmed combat is almost regarded as primitive, yet Stav is realistic and acknowledges that unarmed combat is a reality we may have to face.

Using weapons is regarded as the foundation that also develops an understanding of how to do hand-to-hand combat efficiently. Within
Stav´s toolbox there are punches and kicks, locks and throws and even headbutts; they are all taught through the rune stances, and refined by practicing with weapons.

As with the armed attacks, any unarmed attack goes for the balance point of the attacker. It is not enough to hit him with brute force, we want to break his balance and take control of his lines. The throws are not dependant on the garments, instead we take control of the opponent’s balance points, to achieve this we can amongst other things go for their head, their waist or their legs.

Similarities to other schools of martial arts?

Stav is a martial art, it is not a sport and it is not about aesthetics, Stav has no concept similar to Bushido. Stav is combat and about winning, or at least doing the best of the fate you have been given.

Even though this text is just a brief introduction, I hope it is obvious that Stav has a unique perspective and philosophy regarding martial art. Stav has its own terminology to describe martial art. Primarily Stav does not work with techniques, but principles.

The concept within Stav is so different that it is quite clear to me that Stav has been separated from other schools over a long period of time. Still the traditional practitioners were in the military, and they were obviously taught traditional fencing and martial arts during their military training.

One of my students is a Swedish military instructor, who quickly noticed similarities between Stav and the Swedish bayonet fencing tradition. Just as Stav, Swedish bayonet fencing is a living tradition. Perhaps Stav and the Swedish weapon tradition are sprung from the same roots? Or perhaps Stav got influenced by Scandinavian military teachings?

Some people have claimed that Stav is HEMA, Historical European martial arts that are based on preserved manuals. But even though there are similarities, Stav is just too different to be regarded as a part of the HEMA family. HEMA is based on written manuals, while Stav is a living tradition, and the manual is encoded in its core. The foundation of Stav is the rune stances, which can be taught in a day; but then the student has enough to work with for himself for a long time. The rune stances are the only Stav manual needed. It does not matter what background a practitioner has; when we start to understand what we are doing based on the rune stances, we are doing Stav.

Stav – an esoteric educational system

Many martial artists talk about the philosophy within their schools, but when it comes to Stav the philosophy is really woven together with the practical applications. The more you understand Stavs philosophy, the more you will understand the martial art. The Stav philosophy does not encourage or disapprove of the use of violence, but it gives us capacity to know when it is called for and when it is better to avoid it. Studying the philosophy also develops us into responsible human beings.

The concept of the classes will allow the Stav student to start to explore his own style very soon. The student does not have to spend decades with a master trying to figure out the master’s style, before he can try to understand his own. The concept of the classes will also teach us the value of different perspectives, which develops a tolerance for others.

Stav is an education system, martial art is one of the courses within the coherent curriculum. Many seem to get hung up on the question of the age of the system, which really is irrelevant as a student. There is only one relevant question, do you believe that Stav will give you the knowledge you are looking for? I hope this text can help you to make a qualified choice. But Stav is not for everyone, so I cannot answer if Stav is the best path for you.

This text is just a brief introduction to things that needs to be practically explored and experienced. The strength of stav is that it is a living tradition, and I hope it will remain that way. If you decide that you want to learn Stav, you really need to find a qualified instructor. Make sure that the teacher is connected to the official lineage of stav. The international Stav community is not big, any qualified instructor will be known by the rest of the community.

The problem is that the qualified instructors are few and far between. It is very unlikely that you can drop in at the local “Stav dojo” and get weekly training. You will probably have to travel to meet an instructor, and most of your training will be done in solitary by yourself. But this forces you to move away from the trell state were someone else is responsible for your development. Another reward is that you are a pioneer that will learn something very exclusive.



An interview about Stav and heathenism

Stav Posted on Fri, January 27, 2017 17:34:33

I was contacted in early 2016 by a scholar at a university who were eager to conduct an interview with myself, the purpose was to get source material to publish a research thesis about the modern heathen environment. I was a bit reluctant to be a part of it, but after some persuasion I decided to participate even though I still had my doubts. My ambition was to show the academic world a new side of Stav, compared to the way that Stav usually has been described. As always when I commit to something I take it seriously and spend a lot of time on it. Some of the question and answers gave a very unique perspective into the world of Stav.

The thesis has now been published, and to my amazement the description of Stav did not bring anything new to the table. My answers to the questions had not really been taken into consideration even in the cases when they were highly relevant. My impression is basically that the researcher wanted to be able to write in the references section that there were informants from the Stav environment.

I felt that a lot of important perspectives about both stav and heathenism in general came forward in this interview, but the final result did not allow people to get access to it. Therefor I have decided to publish the interview myself on this blog. I have shortened a few answers since they were too long to fit this format. I have also removed a few questions since they were only relevant to this specific research project. I will keep the scholar and the institution he is connected to anonymous.

The interview was conducted in Mars and April of 2016.

Q) Organisation (if any)

It is not easy to give a straightforward yes/no answer to this one. Stav originates from a closed family tradition, where the knowledge was passed down informally between family members. In many ways the stav community still works as an informal network, a sort of extended spiritual family

Q) How do you refer to yourself in religious terms?

I am religiously a Norse heathen, but the modern concept of religion in terms of dogma is not applicable on what I do. I do what I do for my own benefit, not because someone/something stipulate that I have to do it.

Q) How long have you identified yourself by your current religion?

I have regarded myself as a heathen for about 20 years or more, I cannot really remember. I came in contact with stav 18 years ago.


Q) Are there are any other members of your family that are part of your organisation, or attend your rituals?

Yes, my family are involved in the stav activities we arrange, and they are obviously involved in celebrating our festivals. I occasionally do the runestances together with my kids, usually when they ask for it. It is nothing that I dictate that they have to do, but they seem to enjoy it; perhaps because it is relaxing and somewhat meditative.

Q) How long have you participated in your organisation?

I have been a part of the international stav community for about 16 years, at points I been more active and at other points I have hardly been visible. Pretty much in the same fashion it works in most modern extended families.

Q) Do you have any administrative roles in your organisation?

I do not know if it can be qualified as an organization, but I am responsible for Sörmlands stavhov. I have the function of a “gode”, I both arrange activities and instruct and teach.

Q) Are you in communication with Heathens in other countries?

I am constantly in contact with stav practitioners worldwide. I also have contact with people interested to learn about stav from all over the world, some of them define themselves as heathens. They are often drawn towards stav because they feel that whatever they are doing at the moment lacks something that they are in the need for.

Q) What is your impression of Heathens in general?

I find it hard to generalize the heathens- they are quite eclectic. But coming from a structured and systemized tradition gives me the impression that many are a bit unsorted. They pick up on ideas that they instinctively like, but they are not too concerned with the origin of the idea, or if it really fits with the Norse philosophy.

When looking into a lot of the runic practices today you will see that a lot of it is actually Kabbalistic, and quite heavily influenced by Crowley’s way of working with Tarot. All of that is fine- but not when you label it as genuine Norse traditions. Another problem is that people let their heathenism being influenced by their preexisting and modern political world view; which they project upon the Norse mythology. Personally I do not appreciate that- I would rather see that they let the long term and deep esoteric Norse perspective influence how they view the world today.

But I am quite optimistic, and I believe that the heathen scene is going in the right direction- but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Q) Are there any experiences with certain Heathens (or Pagans, or Stav practitioners?) that have been significant for you, or that have created a strong reaction in you?

The person that has had the biggest influence on my heathenism and been most significant is obviously Ivar Hafskjold. The reason is quite simple, I was already familiar with Norse mythology and already labeled myself, at least partly, as a pagan when I met him. He quickly made sense to me, and he had a deep understanding in areas where others gave very vague descriptions or had very little understanding.

I also noticed that Ivars teachings were coherent, the mythology, cosmology, runes and elements and classes etc. were incorporated within the same structure, and all the layers were interconnected. I quickly realized how unique this was in a contemporary context.

Q) Could you tell me a little about your thoughts and feelings -your relationship- with the Norse gods and/or spirits?

The relationship is what it is, it is hard to label. Sometimes the relationship feels stronger, sometimes not as strong.

Q) How often do you think about the gods and spirits?

Most of the time in one way or another. The Norse gods are a part of my daily life. Stav is very structured- the gods are connected with runes, trees, herbs, plants, domains and animals, elements and more. If I see an animal, I will probably start to think about the deity it represents. If I move in a domain or an environment where a god is represented I will notice, the same if I move through a vegetation associated with a deity. If I visit any ancient cult places I will quickly start to look at the surroundings and the vegetation to try to figure out which gods the place may represent.

Within stav the gods are also associated with handicrafts or other activities such as skiing, hunting, sailing, fishing etc. when doing any of these activities I will also relate to the gods. Some gods also represent aspects of society, so I will be reminded of them in some situations.

All the runes equal the deities to me- show me a rune and I will see a god!

Even the martial arts applications within stav connects with the deities and the philosophy in a very profound way- so even when I train I will be reminded of the gods. Out of an esoteric perspective the martial art within stav could be regarded as a manifestation of the gods in our reality.

Q) How often do you conduct rituals or communicate with the gods or spirits?

I try to conduct rituals daily, but too often the modern hectic life prevents me. Some other rituals are performed on weekly basis. Other rituals are connected with the festivals of the year. Some rituals are connected with initiations; I only perform those when they are relevant to someone. Other rituals are personal and performed when one feels the need. A few rituals are connected with the healing aspects of stav, and again they are not conducted that often. But the purpose of most of these rituals is to communicate, or at least keep the door open, to the spirits and the gods.

Q) Do you think that the way you relate to -and experience the gods- is different from other Norse Pagans, say in Iceland, Scandinavia or the USA?

The way stav associates the deities with different attributes will help the practitioner to develop a very clear image of the gods. This image will be clearer in many aspects compared with the image given by the Eddas. So in some aspects I believe that my experience differs from that of other heathens.

Q) Have you ever had an experience that you would term specifically religious or spiritual? If so would you be willing to tell me more about it?

Yes, on several occasions. These experiences are private and not easy to put into words so I think I will leave it for now.

Q) Has this experience affected your dedication to your religion or your relationship with the gods/spirits?

Yes, the dedication becomes stronger since it all felt even more relevant. It has also affected my relation with the individual deities, especially in the cases where they have “introduced” themselves – which has given me a deeper understanding of their character and personality.


Q) Has this experience affected your relationship with other Heathens?

For sure- it has made me more alienated with those who does not seem to take it too seriously or those who reenact. I also have issues with the post-modernistic and relativistic interpretations of Norse spiritualism.


Q) Has this experience affected your relationship with society in general?

All esoteric and spiritual work will affect your relationship to society. In some ways it has given me a deeper understanding of different types of people that operates within the society; which has made it easier for me to interact with society in general. In other ways it has made it harder for me to relate to the way that modern society views the world.

A lot of people today seems to regard the world as a backdrop that they move in front of; while the perspective learned through stav and genuine Norse heathenism is that the world is alive- and interacts with you. When you move around the world around you will be affected by your presence and you will be affected too. There are things around you that exists but that are not visible- so we shall not act like buffoons! Which a lot of people seem to do in the modern society; even within the so called neo-heathen community.

Q) From what I understand of Stav, there is some use of a hierarchy similar to the grading system in other martial arts, it appears to be based on some aspects of Norse mythology such as Heimdall. Can you tell me more about this?

This is a common misconception about stav- there is no grading within the system comparable with that of other martial arts. Stav is an esoteric system that is designed to help the student to gain certain knowledge; martial art is one of the tools- but martial art is not the final goal.

Heimdall is essential within stav, and there is an understanding of the classes similar to the one described in the Norse poem of Rigstula. The difference is that Rigstula mainly describes three classes- the träl the karl and the jarl, while stav incorporates five main classes- träl, karl, herse, jarl and kung. These other classes are mentioned in Rigstula but not described, and it is not entirely clear that they are referred to as genuine classes either.

Another thing is that Rigstula is written out of a socio-economic perspective, while stavs classes are personal, spiritual and psychological. My personal interpretation is that stav and Rigstula are two tree stems that has grown from the same root.

One of the most essential initiations within the system is to try to find out which class one belongs to. This is not something that the teacher will tell you- he will just guide you and interpret the result. At this stage the student usually do not have the knowledge to manipulate the result. This is the first step to actually learn to know and understand oneself out of stavs psychological and spiritual definition- and I am still very amazed of how well it works.

Q) In what ways are the runes of especial value? For many people they appear to have various mystical and magical connotations.

Stav is highly systemized and constructed around the sixteen runes of the younger futhark. The runes are mainly a method of loci- or a memory palace; each rune represents many layers of information and knowledge. If we remove the runes out of stav the system will fall apart.

Within stav the runes are not intuitional as it seems to be in the neo pagan environment; where people regularly are recommended to “meditate on the runes so their character will be revealed so they may make a personal interpretation”. Within stav the associations of the runes are set, once people have that knowledge it will help them to make their own personal interpretations of the mythology trough the runes.

Q) Are there any other Gods that are incorporated into the Stav system? Do any of these ‘communications’ resemble ritual or meditation? (Feel free to wax lyrical!)

The essence of stav consists of three deities, two masculine and one feminine. Heimdall is one of these three and he is probably the most important of them; stav could be categorized as a Heimdall cult. The principle of 2 males and one female deity seems to have been a fairly common way to structure the mythology. There are quite a few myths revolving around two males and one female deity- the Vanirs are one example amongst many.

But altogether there is nineteen gods within the stav system, they are all connected with one of the sixteen runes; a few of the deities are seen in groups and therefor they share the same rune. The nineteen gods/goddesses are connected to the nineteen-year moon cycle, the so called metonic cycle; which means that each deity will represent one year of the cycle. For instance, this year is the year of Loki. The amazing thing is that the knowledge on how to fixate this calendar is preserved.

The main practice of the system is the so called runestances- traditionally referred to as “sette staver”. Easily described the practitioner forms the runes with the body and this has both meditative and martial art aspects to it. The ritual flows over many layers, I will not go into too many details about it. But the information that each rune has a mythological association with a deity, or a group of deities, would perhaps give some indication of one of the layers.

The stances are the fundamental ritual practice within stav- but on top of that there are several other rituals. The intention of these other rituals is also to interact with spirits or deities, or in some cases ancestors. But these rituals are private and family oriented and not a spectacular blot-feast comparable with the blots of the mainstream heathens.

Q) Wow. This is great material. One interesting aspect of the Stav – Heathen relationship is that mainstream Heathens talk of concepts such as fylgja, meginn, ande, hamingja etc but seldom give any real time to it. Stav on the other hand seems to deal precisely with maximising and exploiting these powers. Could you tell me more about these aspects of Norse mysticism?

The “Fylgjor” is called “Följor” in stav, and your observations are correct. Mainstream heathens seem to have quite a vague conception of what it is- and a lot of their ideas seems to be borrowed from other shamanistic traditions. The Fylgja does not seem to be essential to most of them, it is just a novelty or something. Stav on the other hand has a very well defined understanding of the Fylgjas.

I will not go into practical details – as I already mentioned people are keen on “borrowing” things, but they tend to forget where it came from and to give credit when credit is due. For me the integrity of stav is very important.

There are mainly two types of “följor” within stav- one that is manifested as an animal and one that is a manifestation of a feminine entity.

If we start with the animal type, these would be labeled as familiars by the terminology of history of religions. Stav has the most comprehensive set of associations available anywhere, far more than within the literary sources. There is also a key understanding of the function of these familiars, which is something neither the neo-heathens nor the academics seems to have clear understanding of.

I will not go into details about the purpose or use of the animal följa. But everyone has an animal Följa, it is just a matter of finding it. Once this connection is established it is not all that much to it- it is just there.

The feminine följa is something else though- to be able to uphold that bond demands dedication and commitment. She is not connected to one single person as with the animal- she follows the family line. She is a guardian of the family and she also provide luck- hamingja- that is why some people seem to mix these concepts together.

Hamingja is the fortune, luck or happiness or success of the family. A family with a poor Hamingja will pass it on to their children, a family with good Hamingja will also pass that on. But Hamingja is not just a concept of wealth or success, it is also a spiritual concept, a good Hamingja also means spiritual wealth. Every generation is responsible for the Hamingja of the family, they should not drain it, instead it is their task to strengthen it. One way of strengthen the hamingja is to be dedicated and do the ritual work directed towards the deities and the följa- those actions will be returned. Another thing is to act like responsible humans within society and towards other people. Perhaps there is a reminiscence of karma associated with this concept?

Megin is strength or life force- comparable with the Asian concepts of prana or chi. This could very well be a later understanding of megin specifically within the tradition. I have not been able to investigate megin out of a general perspective; since I have not found any academic investigations about the subject. So if you are aware of any I would appreciate it. With that said- every time I have labeled something as a later infusion within stav I have had to back off from that when I eventually have been able to research it deeper.

When it comes to “ande”, what I will write is more or less a fusion between stav and the literary sources.

Ask and Embla did not possess ande- “önd gaf Óðinn”. Önd is basically dependent of breath- I believe that there is a linguistic relationship in Swedish; ande/andas. I think the relationship between breathing and “ande” is acknowledged by some scholars. Within stav Odin is associated with the element of air or directed wind. The first thing a student will be taught is correct breathing! It is amazing how many people today who are not able to breath properly. It does not matter if it is martial arts or spiritual work- correct breathing is essential. A person who cannot breathe properly is out of a stav perspective to be regarded as a träl; Loke- the main representative of the träl class, are associated with unfocused or uncontrolled wind. I have written about the misconception of Loke being associated with fire on my Swedish blog.

Breathing techniques is a major part of the tradition- the three most common classes has their own galder form of the rune stances. The basic version of the stances just teaches basic breathing. The karl galder develops this aspect further. The herse galder teaches an extreme form of breathing pattern and technique that is perhaps only suitable on the battle field- it also affects the mind heavily towards a confrontational psychological mode. The jarl galder is meditative and spiritually oriented, and relaxes and slows down the mind.

Q) Excellent. I think this really shows how Stav shines, and as some other Heathens recommended for me- that Stav can really be a valuable aspect of Heathen Religion. What do you think, or rather- what do you say to the people that criticise Stav for being a hoax or a derivative of Aikido and other eastern martial-spiritual practices? This must be a key question of conflict with Heathens.

I really do not say anything to them- they have made up their mind and decided that stav has nothing to offer them. I only feel responsible for those who actually could benefit from stav and develop trough stav- and by doing so helping the tradition to prosper.

Statements “like Aikido in Norwegian clothing” shows a complete lack of insights into both stav and Aikido. Over the years I have trained with a fair amount of people with a background in Aikido or other Japanese martial arts- there are huge differences. They usually get a bit shaken up when they encounter stav; the way they move their body in relation to the weapon and their footwork really causes them concerns, and if they have trained a style for 10-20 years it is not easy to shake off.

The way martial arts are perceived within stav are so unique that it is very unlikely that it is a derivate from any other source. I have not seen anything that the slightest resembles stavs philosophy about martial arts anywhere. The rest of the practices within the tradition speaks for themselves; they can only be paralleled within the deepest layers of Norse spirituality and philosophy.

I do not know if stavs authenticity are a key question of conflict, we have actually instructed several prominent members of the neo-heathen community in Sweden over the years. A few of them has praised stav publicly- so it is not a general conflict as such.

Those who loudly has criticized stav never had any personal experiences with it. They seem to be bothered because stav has lineage; which they find threatening to their own agenda. If the only references to stav would have been found in a dusty old notebook they would have been all over it. But with lineage the first step to learn has to be to curb the ego and acknowledging that someone else has more knowledge about the subject. Their ego has already branded them as accomplished rune masters, so it will not allow that; which will work to stavs favor in the long run.


Q) In what ways do you feel connected and in agreement with other Heathens?

I feel a strong connection to those who are genuine and tries to understand Norse heathenism through itself; no matter if they are stav practitioners or connected to “mainstream” heathenism. I do not feel any agreement with those who claim to be heathens but rather should be defined as post-modernistic new agers.

Q) Do you think most Heathens feel connected to each other as part of a religion distinct from other religions?

If we talk about the mainstream heathens, I would not know- their practices are quite syncretic and many of the practitioners seems to have engagements in other traditions and practices too. When it comes to stav practitioners; most seems to feel distinct from mainstream heathenism.

Q) Do you think there are any major divisions or denominations within the Heathen community?

I believe I look upon the heathen community a bit from the outside, and I do feel that there are two major directions within it; a left or liberal group and another group that is more nationalistically oriented- I am in disagreement with both. Not because their political standpoints as such, but because they project their 20th century ideological garbage upon heathenism; that has roots that goes back thousands of years.

Q) What do your friends and family think about your religion?

I do not talk about it too much in social contexts. But I do have a couple of really old friends that follows my blog, they have expressed appreciation. They find it different and they say they would not have learned about the subject otherwise.


Q) How do you think society sees you and your religion?

To be honest I do not have a clue and I am not the slightest bothered. I think it is a problem that many neo-pagans are too concerned about how society may perceive them; so they define themselves in contrast to a stereotypical image they imagine people may hold.

Q) How do you think society sees Heathen religion in general?

Again I have no clue- I think society generally lacks an understanding of what heathen religion actually is. Which is not so strange since a lot of those who publicly has promoted heathenism over the last decades seems to lack a sincere understanding themselves. The way that they generally represent heathenism makes it hard for people to perceive it as the powerful spiritual path it actually can be.

Q) Does your religion affect the way you interact with other people in society- or maybe affect the way you see society in general?

I used to be at odds with society and really felt alienated from it and the people in it. The stav philosophy has taught me an understanding of society and how it works in a practical and spiritual context. I am still quite critical towards the modern society, since it is nothing organic or natural about it; but I still feel more comfortable about it compared with before I started with stav.

The five archetypes/classes/personalities within stav- which actually are nineteen personalities in reality; also has taught me how to interact with different types of people. I know how to differentiate between a karl and a jarl, and I know how to make things work smoothly with the different personalities, or how to work around them.

Ivar once told me that his family used to teach aspects of the tradition outside their family; but never the system as a whole. There was one aspect though that they never taught anyone; the classes. The reason was that the classes gave them such advantages when dealing with other people.

Q) Do you think your country sees Heathens differently than other nations’ societies where Heathens are active?

Society will base their impressions of heathens on how mainstream heathens project themselves towards society- and I believe that they project themselves quite similar in most places.

Q) You have been a Heathen for many years, in your experience are things changing for Heathens?

Out of a heathen perspective- things will change when the time is right- and when heathens make sure that it changes. The time feels right- but I still have doubts about the heathens committing on a larger scale.


Q) Is Heathen religion itself changing its qualities, values, aesthetics or the people drawn to it?

Most certainly, today there are a few people who genuinely interpret the myths and internalizes the philosophy, then they teach others their understanding. These people do not seem to be driven by their ego; but by their passion for Norse spirituality. Genuine passion will affect other people- the most influential spiritual leaders have been extremely passionate.

Q) People say that Heathen Religion has boomed recently, and that it is possibly one of the fastest growing religions in western countries. Do you think this is true? If so, why do you think it is growing so much?

It could very well be true- a heathen band from Norway entered the billboard chart last week. In Europe quite famous music acts proclaim their heathen affection. There are hovs being established all around the Nordic countries. There are two facilities established that are dedicated to stav- one in Sweden and one in the UK. It is quite impressive how things have developed in just a few years.

I think people are in the need for genuine spirituality at this time. They feel how stressed the society is and they have lost touch with a natural way of life. The modern science and atheism are killing the spirituality- or magic if you so will – that people have such a need for. People feel that they are mere production units in a gross economy which they cannot grasp. They feel alienated from their traditional culture and spiritual heritage.

Q) Do you think things are getting easier or harder for heathens, – or to live as a Heathen in the world today?

I believe that it is getting harder for everyone to live in this world today- it is unnatural, it is stressed both on a physical level and on a spiritual level. The wheels constantly spin faster. The civilization is not developing organically- it is super charged and artificial.

The ideal is constant growth- which again is based on a linear way to view the world; or perhaps out of viewing the global society in form of a pyramid. Out of a heathen cyclic perspective it is impossible with a never ending growth. The longer this doctrine is the standard the harder will we fall when we revolve back to the starting point.

Q) Is there anything specific you think that could make things better for Heathens in society in the future?

The question has some sort of external perspective and presumes that something undefined would assist heathens to prosper in society; it is somewhat a non-heathen way to perceive things. Society will be better for heathens when they start to take responsibility for their own situation; and becomes a force that cannot be ignored or overseen in the society. If this happens heathens will be a major contributor to defining the future society; and the heathen philosophy has so many valuable perspectives that would gain society as a whole.



The sources to the blog?

Stav Posted on Thu, December 08, 2016 10:24:28

As of lately I have had a few people that has read my blog and found the perspectives given to be quite interesting. Furthermore, these people have set a good example, since there are aspects that they do not recognize; they ask me for the sources and where in the written myths and sagas they can find the information. I wish more people would research the sources when it comes to claims about Norse mythology.

I find it important that people understand where this comes from, so I decided to make a separate post about what this blog is about, and the origin of the information found here.

What I write about has modernly been labeled as “Stav”, if you google it you will find tons of posts about it being a modern constructed martial art. But if you have read my blog you have probably noticed that I have written very little about martial arts, actually only one post in Swedish to be specific.

How I found Stav

I have always had a great fascination of Norse mythology and runes and Scandinavian folklore. I grew up in an area of Sweden where there were traces of Norse mythology and ancient sites and rune stones wherever I looked. I think this sparked my interest and fascination early in life.

My fascination of Norse spirituality, and esoterica in general, evolved over the years. As a teenager it took me on some strange paths, and in a really weird corner I heard the name Stav mentioned for the first time in the mid 1990´s. A few years later a friend of mine searched for indigenous martial arts of Scandinavia, which made me remember Stav; and he started to research it further. In the year 2000 we traveled to England to meet Ivar Hafskjold for the first time. Ivar is the inheritor of the tradition, born in Norway, but now he resides in northern England.

As I already had some knowledge of Norse spirituality at the time, I was fascinating with how well put together Ivar’s teachings were. He was really the only one that I had met that were able to present a coherent version of Norse spirituality. The complexity of the system also made me realize that this was something that must be based on living knowledge of Norse spirituality, one way or another.

What is Stav

Stav is in essence Norse spirituality systemized around sixteen runes, the ancient script language of northern Europe. But it also holds a specific mythology that differentiates from the written sources; and Stav presents a much more coherent version of the myths and the cosmology compared to the sources. Stav also contains herbal lore, and aspects that can be regarded as shamanistic. Stav has ritual aspects, and on top of that it has the martial arts that is also closely tied together with the rest of the philosophy of the system.

Everything is so tightly put together that all aspects feeds and draws from each other. When learning the runes with the traditional method of the system, you will also be taught the martial arts. When doing martial arts, you will develop a deeper understanding of the mythology, when learning the mythology, you will understand the martial arts; and also get a better understanding of the runes.

Even the healing aspects of the system, and the herbal lore and knowledge of the plants can in most cases strengthen the understanding of the spiritual parts and the mythology, and in some cases even connect directly to the martial arts.

Where does Stav come from?

Ivar made Stav public in 1992, which would be the appropriate date for Stav as we know it today. Beyond that there is really no written sources of Stav. But Ivar himself does not take credit for constructing it, he says it is his family’s traditional education system. He learned it as a boy in the 1950´s in Norway, partly from his parents. But also from other relatives, when it comes to the martial art aspects his granduncle, born in the 1890´s, was very important.

The family tradition itself claims longer lineage than this, but the oldest named practitioner we know of by name was born in the 1890´s. He on the other hand is quoted to have said that he had learned it from older relatives, and the family has a very long and documented history in the region.

From an academic perspective it would be quite hard to set a satisfying date on Stav. A system like this has to be researched based on its own integrity. But the first, and most important question, has to be; if the system works and if it works for your needs? If it works it should be good enough for most.

But as an analytic person it is always interesting to reason about the origin of something, which can be done once we have developed a theoretical understanding of the system, and what it contains. Then you need to compare it with the written sources and note the similarities and differences.

Personally I have investigated the structure of Stav, and the mythology, the cosmology and the calendric aspects of the system. I think I can make a very good estimation of the age of these components, and thus the system itself. But I doubt it´s really relevant in the end! The only important thing is what the practitioner is able to learn from the Stav-curriculum. If antiquity is the important thing, this is not what you are looking for!

The source of the blog

So the source of the blog is myself; and my interpretations after hours of conversations with Ivar that has taken place over the last sixteen years. Many of these conversations took place when physically meeting Ivar, both in Sweden and in England. Most of the time we speak in Swedish/Norwegian, which is basically only dialects of the same language; this has given me the opportunity to avoid some of the linguistic and cultural issues that has occurred when Stav has been transferred in English.

My understanding has also been aided by some very valuable contributions from a few Scandinavian academics within relevant fields, that also happens to be Stav practitioners.

This blog is frankly put unique! It is the first time a lot of the information on it has been described in detail in public. The information should be regarded as source material to a tradition that fairly recently was made public. There are no books available, nor any webpages, that describes components of Stav as detailed as I do in this blog. There are also very few that has studied these aspects as deeply as I have, and that would be capable of writing a blog like this.

My understanding of Stav is based on Ivars teaching, but still published out of my personal perspective and understanding of it. Some aspects I have been able to expand compared to what has been preserved of the traditional knowledge, other areas I need to study further. After all, this is a living tradition and every generation will put their mark on it! Within Stav different perspectives and personal interpretations are valued, especially when it is based on serious research.

Summary

The information found on this blog is my personal understanding, based on the teachings of Ivar; which comes from the tradition preserved within his family. If you find anything here valuable, it would make me very happy. But do not mistake anything here for mainstream Norse mythology, it is not! This is a living tradition that has kept evolving. In the English speaking world, the written sources have sometimes confused the understanding of Stav more than anything.

If you want to quote anything on the blog, please go ahead. But for your own sake specify the source to avoid any confusion. I would also like to say that text is quite crude; the best way to learn Stav is directly from one person to another, the way it always was taught. There are very few qualified instructors available, even fewer if you want to focus on the spiritual perspective. Stav is not mainstream heathenism.



The ancient and magical roads of Scandinavia

General Posted on Sat, October 01, 2016 18:53:08

Sweden has a fully modern road network. It has been designed by engineers to be the most efficient and straightforward paths between cities and regions. Not much thought has been given to the local environments the roads crosses trough. Neither have they cared about the animals or spiritual values when constructing these roads; if there is an obstacle they just remove it or tunnel through it. There are cases were a modern highway are built right through ancient sacrificial grooves, which is really upsetting! The only positive thing is that the Swedish law demands that they excavate the site thoroughly before they devastate it.

Above; what remains of the holy grove besides one of Sweden’s most trafficked roads.

The road system is sometimes too efficient, one can travel through Sweden without actually seeing much of it at all. The main roads are always outside the cities and villages, and at all the exit points are the same gasoline stations and fast-food restaurants. Finding a decent meal on the road is almost impossible.

The obsession of an effective road system probably started in the 1950´s; when ordinary people were able to get their own cars. Modern logistics probably had an impact too; since people these days are in demand of goods that is transported a long way, instead of buying stuff that is manufactured locally. These modern roads are like scars in the landscape, and the landscape will never be able to recuperate from the intervention.

The biggest and most trafficked road in Sweden is the European route E4, it passes all the way from the south up to the northern border and crosses into Finland. In the 1980´s they were modernizing a small portion of the E4 in mid Sweden. The locals were very upset and said that the road would disturb all the invisible entities living in the forest were the new stretch would be built. The authorities even got angry letters with threats. According to the local lore the forest had lots of different entities living in it, such as; vittror, tomtar and trolls. Even ancestral spirits have been mentioned. As you could imagine, no one really took these worries seriously, business went on as usual and the road was constructed. Perhaps they were right? It was probably just superstition.

Today this short stretch has an unpropitious amount of incidents on it, it is one of the portions of the over 1500 kilometers long road that really stands out. There are often standstills at this place, and there are many accidents. There are incidents were cars have started to burn for no apparent reason, and there are lots of flat tires and technical malfunctions. A few people have all of a sudden become very ill while driving on the road. When researching for this article, I found out that just during the last few months there has been several cars that started to burn there and some serious accidents. The latest incident happened yesterday. Who can tell for sure if the invisible entities are to blame? but sometimes people have a good reason to be superstitious!

Above: Nothing but a small and modest sign reveals that a murderer was executed on this spot in 1785, he was decapitated after murdering a nineteen-year-old maid.

I am very skeptical about these modern roads that are constructed by omnipotent bureaucrats equipped only with a map, a ruler and a pen. Things used to be different! Hidden beyond these tarmacked roads there is a completely different set of roads; which people almost has forgotten. These are the ancient roads and trails of Scandinavia.

These roads started as small tracks in the forests, initially they were perhaps not even man made. They can just as well have been trampled up by animals; which made them a natural and convenient path for humans to follow. When people started to use them they gradually expanded until someone decided to lay gravel on top of them to make them more stable and able to carry weight. Sometimes the roads kept growing, and in some cases they were infused in the modern road system. I have seen many runestones that are erected just beside a fully modern road, and the runestone still stands at the same place as it did a thousand years ago. The road has naturally evolved over a long period.

A runestone in western Sweden, in front of it you see the old road; behind it you see the modern road.

These ancient roads were not planned by any engineer, they simply emerged were people traveled. They were the bloodstream of the old society, and they often pass right through old settlements and farms. Often the living house is on one side of the road and the old stables on the other. This was highly efficient since you could trade with anyone that passed by that had goods, or simply catch the latest news. It also created a natural mail system since it was easy just to ask those who passed by to bring messages or goods to the next farm. But these days it can be bit problematic to have the road right through your yard though, especially if the road has grown and there is a lot of traffic on it. In some cases, it has practically meant that parts of the old homestead have been abandoned.

But many of these ancient roads are still tucked away off the beaten path, only relevant for the few who lives in the area; some of these roads are hardly used anymore. These seemingly insignificant roads move graciously trough the landscape and sometimes two cars will hardly be able to pass each other. I once mentioned the bad condition of an old road to an elderly man who lived on a farm close to us; he was the fifth generation inhabitant of the farm, and the last of his line to keep it. He told me that in the 1950´s the bus to the village used that road, and the road was not in any better condition back then.

Above: the road the bus used in the 1950´s.

These roads are a good example of all that which has organically grown and been used for centuries or more; which has been discarded during the last decades.

Since these old roads follow the landscape, they often pass the type of places were invisible entities would thrive. Perhaps some of the roads were initially theirs? Due to the longevity of these roads, they are no longer only for the living; they are the roads of those who has been here many generations before us! Perhaps their spirits still use them? When walking, or driving, on these old roads it is appropriate to act respectfully towards those who has used them before us and those who we cannot see. Too many times have I encountered that the modern corrupted mind have found it convenient to use these old roads to drive out in the woods to dump their garbage. This could be very bad idea, remember the incidents on the modernized stretch of the E4…

Have you ever wondered what Helvegen looks like? The road to the realm of the dead, made famous by the Norwegian band Wardruna. I bet you it is a seemingly insignificant trampled old dirt road of Scandinavian fashion; but within Norse spirituality it is perhaps seen as the most important road you will ever walk upon.


Scandinavian folklore and folk-magic knows the significance of the ancient roads. There is a lot of spiritual practices in relation to old roads, especially during the lightest part of the summer, around Balders vigil; or midsummer in modern terminology. At this time of the year it is hardly dark at all in most parts of Scandinavia, and according to the folklore this period is accredited extra potential for magic.

A modern road would be totally useless for magical work; because it simply scares all invisible things away. Not even the wildlife is able to cross a modern and fenced road, so I doubt the invisible entities are able to do it. I would even imagine that they simply stay clear of it, just like most entities flees cities when they become too crowded. The modern roads are efficient, but when it comes to both the living and the non-living in their proximity; they work as a wall that keeps things apart.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Scandinavia during the summer, you could find yourself an old desolated road with no regular traffic on it. Look for an intersection with another old road, and spend the night there by yourself. Something very interesting may happen to you during that night! But I am not guaranteeing anything but mosquito bites and birdsong. On the other hand, I am not giving any guarantees when it comes to your safety either. Spiritual work is not to be taken lightly, especially not by the urbanized and modern human being! There are examples of people who have come to Scandinavia to search out the spirits, and their quest literally ruined their life. An unbalanced mind may not be equipped to handle what it might be exposed to.

All pictures were taken by myself, during the summer of 2016.



The esoteric rune calendar of Stav

Stav Posted on Sun, September 25, 2016 00:51:12

Those who have been following my blog knows by now that Stav originates from a family tradition that has been passed down within a family in southern Norway. Stav has been labeled as a martial art; but Stav is in its essence Norse spirituality structured around the runes of the younger futhark.

Within the tradition there is a runic calendar, but as with many aspects of Stav there has not been that much written about it. Stav is practically still an oral tradition. I believe this is the first time an in-depth article about the calendar is published in English; but I will still leave a couple of things untold.

For many years I did not really pay too much attention to the Stav calendar, I could not really relate to it. The concept was perhaps too alien to my modern imprint. About a year ago I decided to investigate the Stav calendar further. I read up on what some of the most notable scholars in the field has to say about early medieval and pre-Christian calendric practices of Scandinavia. After I had studied for a while I was totally blown away by the Stav calendar, it´s integrity is fascinating, and it is clearly of respectable age.

This could quickly become a very long and complicated text about the calendric aspects within Stav, but I am afraid that would defeat its purpose; since very few would read it. So I have tried to stick to the basics and not make things overcomplicated. But there still has to be some terminology within the text. I will start with a short introduction of calendric systems to make this text relevant.

Introduction

There is so much we take for granted today based on our modern perspective of time, just a few hundred years ago things were very different. People were dependent that someone in their proximity could calculate time based on the movements of the sun and the moon. Calendric calculations were probably an important factor that contributed to developing the mathematical understanding that laid the foundation of our civilization. In most old cultures the highest priesthood was responsible for these calculations, and there was really no difference between spirituality and science; the separation of the two is just a few hundred years old.

Our modern calendar is called the Christian calendar, or the Gregorian calendar; after the pope who was responsible for introducing it. This calendar system is basically just an improvement of an older calendric system called the Julian calendar; the name comes from the fact that the Roman dictator Julius Caesar was responsible for introducing it in 45 BC.

Both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars are based on 365 days, the practical problem is that the number of days do not exactly match the so called tropical year, or solar year. The Julian calendar will therefore have a discrepancy in relation to the solar year that increases over time. The concern out of a Christian perspective is the drift in relation to the March equinox; which is used to calculate the Easter celebrations, the most important celebration within Christianity. The Gregorian calendar has addressed the drift with a more precise system of leap years and leap days.

In the early history of the church it was the responsibility of the local priest to calculate the date of the Easter celebration. Some of the priests were not competent enough to handle the task, which meant that the celebrations could differ between parishes. Within the Catholic church someone realized around year 800 AD that they could implement something called the Metonic cycle, named after a Greek mathematician and Astronomer who lived in Athens in the 5th century BC.

The Metonic cycle defines that 235 lunar months almost precisely equals 19 solar years, but there is some discrepancy which we will come back to. The practical calendric use of the Metonic cycle is that; if you define a nineteen-year cycle the moon and the sun will relate to each other in a specific pattern each year of that cycle. The Metonic cycle has a very long history in calendric systems and was implemented for the first time by the Babylonians. By utilizing the Metonic cycle the clergy only had to calculate Easter for each year within the cycle, the Easter Sunday will be the first Sunday after the so called Paschal full moon. Then they applied so called golden numbers from 1-19 to each year of the cycle.

In essence, our modern calendar is a Roman-Christian way of calculating time, based on a Christian way to view the world; we count time in a linear fashion from year zero, the presumed birth year of Jesus, and the progression will just continue until the end of time.

The Norse calendar

Let’s move over to the pre-Christian Norse and heathen calendric aspects. The preserved information is quite fragmented, but we still have a pretty good idea.

The Norse probably celebrated six festivals each year, and a couple of these festivals were dependent on the sun. On the contrary to common beliefs they did not celebrate the spring and autumn equinoxes; instead those celebrations seem to have been delayed with about four weeks. The pre-Christian ritual year only had two seasons; summer and winter. The summer started sometime in April, and the festival is still celebrated in Scandinavia. The summer ended, and winter started, at the so called Alvablot; which would be around the same time as the modern Halloween celebrations.

In pre-Christian Scandinavia they seem to have followed an eight-year lunar cycle, called the Octaeteris in astronomical terms. This cycle is less accurate compared to the Metonic cycle of nineteen years. The historical sources tell that big sacrificial festivals were held every ninth year in Uppsala, Sweden. These festivals were held in relations with the yearly big winter thing- called Disting in Uppsala, and every ninth year they had extra big festivities. But in reality it was most likely every eight years, and based on the eight-year lunar cycle.To make an easy description, the way they calculated time back then was different, the ninth year and the next first year of the cycle will be calculated as the same.


They held the festivities in Uppsala for nine days, the opening day they held thing and the sacrifices started during the evening. Then they held the sacrifices for the next seven evenings. The ninth day they held a thing again, and ended the festivities. Which meant that they only sacrificed during eight nights, and each night probably represented a deity and a year in the eight-year cycle. It is unfortunately beyond this article to describe this in further detail.

The important thing to notice is that this way of calculating time is in essence heathen, it is cyclic; a 24 hours’ day is a cyclic period going from dark to light and back. A Scandinavian year is also very obviously cyclic, passing from winter to summer and back. Scandinavian heathenism is in many ways a nature religion and a lot of the philosophical aspects follows natures cyclic perspective.

Medieval Scandinavia

In the early medieval period Scandinavia went through a major turmoil when Christianity were introduced. The change of religion was in many ways a very painful process and it took hundreds of years to fulfill, if it ever was really completely done. Around 1150 the church introduced the Julian calendar, which became the official calendar in Scandinavia.

Since Scandinavia is quite desolated people still had a need to keep track of their own time, so they knew when they needed to go to church to celebrate the Christian holidays. Shortly after the introduction of the Julian calendar the so called runic calendar staves emerged. They were often made on a big wooden plank or a stave, which had a lot of runes carved into them. They were constructed in relation to the Metonic cycle amongst other things; but instead of having golden numbers representing the years of the cycle, they used runes.

One problem was that the Runic script of the Viking age and early medieval times consisted of sixteen runes; so three additional runes were made up, so they got nineteen runes which they could correspond to the Metonic cycle. Seven runes also corresponded to the days of the week. The runic calendars had various symbols that marked the Christian festivals during the year.

The medieval runic calendars were most likely syncretic; based on old Scandinavian ways of calculating time, but adopted to fit the newly introduced Julian-Christian calendar. The epicenter of the Runic calendars was in Sweden, but they are found throughout Scandinavia and Finland, even in the Baltic countries.

As previously mentioned; the Metonic cycle are not flawless, and there were several improvements made. One important contribution was made by Hipparchus of Nicaea, who is regarded as the greatest of the Greek astronomers. He calculated that 3760 lunar months, or 16 Metonic cycles, will be equal to 304 solar years. But there is a small discrepancy of minus one day.

In medieval Scandinavia the common people seem to have been aware of the Hipparchic cycle of 304 years. In Uppsala in Sweden they hold the Disting market in February each year. The market was initially held together with the sacrifices that I mentioned before, when Christianity took over the sacrifices were abandoned; but the market is still held to this day! The difference is that the market now is held in accordance to our modern calendar; in medieval times the moon stipulated when the market would be held.

The medieval rule for calculating the Disting market is still known; “the market starts at the first full moon that follows the first new moon after the day of three holy kings” (I.E. Epiphany). I have translated this rule from the earliest notation of it, published in 1555.

At the Disting market in 1689, a famous Swedish scholar met a 90-year-old man with a runic calendar that he had inherited from his great grandfather. The scholar talked with the old man about the calendar in relation to the Disting. The old man told him that the market had followed a nineteen-year cycle for the past period of a little more than 300 years; but it had just passed an “Auni” and it would follow a new cycle of 19 years for the coming period of a little more than three hundred years. Which meant that the market would be held on slightly different dates than those who used to occur during the previous cycle.

The scholar was intrigued and wanted to know how the old man knew this; he said that his great grandfather had marked out Auni on his runic calendar stick. When asked further about what an Auni was the old man said it was a period of a little more than 300 years. The name came from the old king of Uppsala, Aun the old, that became 300 years old. Aun is mentioned by Snorri, but in his texts the calendric aspects are not so apparent. It is not likely that the old man in the 17th century would have been exposed to Snorris work either, so this is most likely a reminiscence of eastern Scandinavian mythology where Aun personalizes the Lunar cycle of 304 years. There is also accounts in the story of Aun that indicates that incidents in his life corresponds to the Metonic cycle of nineteen years.

Around year 1700 the more exact Gregorian calendar was introduced in Norway. Sweden was the longest protestant stronghold in western Europe to oppose the reform; and did not reform the calendar until 1753. One practical result of the reform was that the runic calendars died out, since they did not work in relation to the new calendar. Some tried to adopt the runic staves to the Gregorian calendar, but time had simply moved on and they were out of fashion.

The calendric aspects of Stav

Stav is structured around the sixteen runes of the so called younger futhark, the runic alphabet that probably was introduced around year 800 AD. Writing is just one aspect of the runes according to the Stav perspective, there are many other aspects. Everything within Stav, from mythology to herbal medicine; is systemized around the runes

Amongst many other things, there are nineteen deities of the Norse pantheon associated with the sixteen runes. Some runes have several deities associated with them; and in these cases the deities have a close mythological relationship. Each deity is connected to a specific year of the Metonic cycle! The amazing thing is that this system is totally independent of modern calendars; there is a method within the tradition that describes how to set this system based on the moon. The deities associated with each year gives this calendric system a ritual and mythological aspect that the medieval calendars totally lack. Since the core of Stav is structured around the nineteen deities of the calendar; this aspect is something that must have been taken into consideration when Stav was systemized; it is very unlikely that this would be a later adaptation.


I used to have some issues with the fact that there were nineteen deities but only sixteen runes; why not expand the amount of runes as they did on the medieval runic calendars? I realized how it all fits together when I investigated Stavs calendar; if you multiply the nineteen gods with the sixteen runes you will incorporate the Hipparchic cycle. 16 Metonic cycles adds up to 304! (16 x 19 = 304) It can simply not be a coincidence that 19 deities representing the Metonic cycle are structured on the sixteen runes. Hipparchus defined the 304-year cycle when he tried to improve calendric cycles that was based on the Metonic cycle. As stated previously, the medieval Scandinavians were aware of this cycle.

Since there no longer are any practical use of the Hipparchic cycle in Stav, the modern Stav community were not aware of this aspect. But since Stav is so highly systemized it was still preserved in the core of the structure, just waiting to be found. This is one of the cautions I want to address when it comes to the derivatives that has come off of Stav during the last decades; the encoded “secrets” within the coherent structure will be lost in the copies. Those who create the derivatives will deny their students to be able to uncover what they have not yet discovered themselves.

The festivals of Stav

Unlike the medieval runic calendars, the yearly festivals of Stav is not based on Christian celebrations but on heathen feasts. There are six festivals, Yule, Winter-thing, summers day, Balders vaki, Summer-thing and Winters night. As everything within stav, these festivals are structured around the Hagl rune, where the runes of the deities representing the festival has been placed in a particular order. Each festival has two runes that represents it, which in total gives 13 deities, since one rune has two connections. I have the impression that these 13 deities represent the pre-Christian months of
Scandinavia, but as far as I know there is nothing preserved in the system that clearly says so. Six deities are not associated with specific festivals; since they represent the function of ritual leaders, and therefor are relevant for all festivals.

The deities relations to the festivals follows what is known about the pre-Christian gods and the festivals; but as often within Stav the knowledge goes beyond and fills in the blank spots. The festival year is also woven, which means that the festivals that oppose each other will also have deities connected to them that has a relation. The festival year is at the same time regarded as cyclic. There is nothing random about the festivals of the Stav calendar. I have described some of this previously on this blog. Another unique aspect is that there is knowledge on how to fixate the festivals independent of the modern calendar; something that I myself was not aware of until recently when corresponding with the inheritor of the tradition, Ivar Hafskjold, about the calendar.

The week of Stav

Within Stav all weekdays have specific runic relations, and thus associations with deities. It is common knowledge that the week as we know it has Norse origin. Tuesday is associated with Tyr, Wednesday with Odin and Thursday with Thor. The relations of the other weekdays are not quite clear, but within Stav these days have clear associations with deities too. The ritual week of Stav is dependent on this knowledge. Sunday is the last and first day of the week; and in accordance the rune associated with the day is connected to two deities. One representing death, and the other one continuation. There are several rituals that marks each week.

How old is the Stav calendar?

In the core of Stav we have a cyclic calendric system that not only measures time over 19 and 304 years, it also relates to the yearly festivals and weekdays. This system has a strong relationship to what is known about medieval and pre-Christian Scandinavian calendric tradition; but it goes beyond the known historical systems out of an esoteric and spiritual perspective. The Stav calendar is in essence independent of the modern calendar.

Since the calendric aspect are encoded in the core of Stav, it gives a good foundation to discuss at what time period Stav, as a system, could have been structured. As already mentioned, the runic calendric systems died out when the Gregorian calendar was introduced, this happened around year 1700 in Norway. After that there were no practical use, and probably no knowledge, to structure a runic calendric system dependent on the Metonic cycle. So clearly Stavs calendar must predate the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in Scandinavia.

The absolute earliest point something like this could have been created are at the time that the younger futhark was introduced, which many believe are around 800 AD. These two events give us the timespan we have to relate to. Another key question is; would the Scandinavians have been utilizing the Metonic cycle prior to the official introduction of the Julian calendar? If the answer is no, then the timespan is 1150-1700. For the time being it is reasonable not to go beyond this time span, even though the Norse sources indicates an awareness of the Metonic cycle.

When comparing the information of Stavs calendar with the medieval runic calendars, I am personally prone to believe that Stavs calendar has to be early in this span. The oldest notation I am aware of in Norwegian archives that mentions the family that has kept the tradition, are from 1348. So I do not feel that I am the slightest preposterous to claim an early medieval origin. But in essence it does not matter when the system was structured; those who did it knew more about Norse mythology in relation to heathen calendric aspects than anyone alive today.

What is the practical use of this calendar?

The calendric aspects of Stav is something totally unique! As far as I know there is no other comparable living calendric tradition left in Scandinavia. Stav is the only contemporary form of Norse spiritualism that includes a complete calendric system. Each year has a mythological association which sets the tone of the year. All the festivals that are celebrated are genuine Norse festivals, that has a clear connection with specific deities; which gives a good understanding of the nature of the festival. The actual dates of the festivals will not be dependent on the modern Christian calendar. Each day of the week also has specific connection with Norse deities; which gives a spiritual meaning to the weekdays.

This article only describes one aspect of the use of the runes within the Stav tradition; there are many other aspects that could be expanded and explained in the same fashion. I find Stav utterly fascinating, and it is something that really needs to be preserved for the future. There are still so many aspects of Stav that needs further investigation, but it takes a lot of time and devotion to do it properly. At this time there are not enough people that really studies the deeper layers of Stav in relation to historical sources; which is a shame.

Thor spake:

13. “Answer me, Alvis! Thou knowest
all, Dwarf, of the doom of men;
What call they the moon, that men behold,
In each and every world?”

Alvis spake:

14. “Moon with men, Flame the gods
among, the Wheel in the house of hell;
The Goer the giants, The Gleamer the dwarfs,
The elves The Teller of Time.”

Alvíssmál – The Ballad of Alvis.



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