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Norse pagan individual, the viking soul

3-minute read

Many of us Westerners are used to dividing the individual into one to three parts, the body, the mind, and the spirit. Throughout history, people have divided the individual into different parts. When reading Norse mythology we can get an idea of which parts created a viking soul and made the individual whole. The norse pagan individual could be divided into eight parts and many modern heathens use to refer to the multi part-soul like the following:

  • Lík [corpse, dead body]
  • ǫnd [breath or spirit]
  • Óð [mind or poetry]
  • Hugr [thought]
  • Minni [memory]
  • Hamr [skin or shape, form]
  • The Fylgja [to accompany, follow]
  • Hammingja [happiness, luck, fortune]
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Lík - The Body

In the Eddas, we can read that Odin was walking along the shoreline with two other gods (In Prose Edda he was walking with his brothers Vili and Vé. In the Poetic Edda he is walking with Hoenir and Lóðurr). The three found two logs from whom they crafted the first humans, Ask and Embla. The old norse word “lík” translates to “corpse, dead body” and it is the right word to use as the logs were dead when the three found them like our bodies are without the other parts. To create the first humans the gods gave them spiritual gifts.

ǫnd - The Breath of Life

The first gift is Odin’s gift. In prose edda, we can read that Odin “gave them (the logs) breath and life”

Óð - The intellect

The second gift is Hoenir’s / Vili’s gift. Óð is our mind, wit, and inspiration. Our intellect. It is associated with the next two parts, hugr and minni, but norse pagans keep these three separated. It could be that Odin’s name originates from the word Óð and as you will read, the following two parts are also associated with Odin.

Hugr - Our personality

This is our thoughts, emotions, conscience, courage, and will. Hugr’s association with Odin is one of his raven, Huginn.

Minni -  Our memory

The norse pagan view on memory is similar to how we view it today. Though our ancestors might have seen the memory extending beyond the individual. Meaning that our ancestor’s memories are part of us too. Minni’s association with Odin is his other raven, Muninn. Every morning Huginn and Muninn are flying all over the world and in the evening they inform Odin of what they have seen.

Hamr - The Form/shape of the Body

The third gift is Lóðurr’s / Vé’s gift. In the myths, we can read about shapeshifting. Odin often appears as an animal or another person. This is Odin manipulating his hamr. We also hear about bersekr and úlfhéðnar. These viking warriors assumed the hamr of a bear and wolf. The hamr allows us to take part of the world with our shape, speech, hearing, and sight.

The Fylgja - The Guardian Spirit

Our essence. The spirit can be in animal form and it reflects the character of the person it accompanies. It says that the fylgja appears, often in dreams, and shows us events to come. The fylgja can act or appear instead of us as an ominous sign.

Hammingja - Luck 

A personification of the good fortune of a person. Like the Fylgja, the hammingja is a spirit that follows us and gives us luck and happiness. This also gives us our natural strengths and skills. Our hammingja is the same as our older generations had. When a family member dies, the hammingja is passed down within the family, it accompanies the family for generations. It causes and is the expression of the wealth and power of a family. It is also possible to lend a friend’s hamingja.

Have you noticed the cause and expression of your family's hammingja? Let me know in the comments!

I knew forging was something I wanted to do the second I grabbed the hammer. My great-grandfather Alfred was also a blacksmith. Who knows, maybe I was lucky to inherit his spirit.

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