Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Nithing-Staff Is A Staff Of Scorn

This image, found on the Internet, depicts a scene described by Poul Anderson:

"When the wind came, [Egil] went onto a rock that jutted toward the mainland. In one hand he bore a tall, stout hazel staff he had cut. In the other was the head of a horse. Standing on the rock while the sea moaned below and a wrack of clouds blew out of a nearing rainstorm, he set the horsehead on the staff and lifted it upright. 'Here I raise a nithing-staff, and I turn its curse against King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild...'"
-Poul Anderson, Mother Of Kings (New York, 2003), Book Two, Chapter XX, p. 177.

The image also presents an alternative translation of the first line of the curse. Egil believes that this curse affects the local land-wights. He carves runes on the head. Gunnhild thinks that there will be two half-verses each taking thrice the number of all the runes won by Odin. She will respond with drum, song, dance, wilderness food and drink, power from the earth and the moon. Seid against runes. Primordial shamanism against Aryan sky gods.

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