Wisdom of the North:
The majority of people today have never heard of the Havamal. I have spent many, many hours researching wisdom from different parts of the world only to find that, for the most part, wisdom is wisdom, whether it comes from Lao Tzu and his writings or whether it comes from Native American teachings. True wisdom is universal for the human race. This point brings me to a little book (poem) call the Havamal.
The Havamal is a Viking poem, but we could call it a little book of wisdom. The Havamal, written in AD 700-900, is one of the most popular of the Eddaic poems. The Eddas held the same value to the Vikings as the Vedas did/do to the Indian culture. You could say that the Havamal is a mixture of Latin proverbs and heathen wisdom. Too many people today are under the impression that they can only get true wisdom from their own culture or their own religion, and they miss out on the fact that there is universal wisdom that applies to all humans across the board.
Also called, the Wisdom of the North, the Havamal gives us insight into the pagan world of the Vikings. Some of the sayings are a bit hard to grasp for people today and some of the sayings go straight to the heart of the matter. I have tried to include only ones which are straightforward in this post.
Why have I decided to write about the Havamal in my blog which is mainly concerned with warrior values? The answer is simple, the Vikings were warriors and the ethics of the Havamal are above all rooted in the belief of the value of the individual. They believed that each individual was responsible for his own life, shaped his own fortune, and created the life that he wanted to live.
So, for all of my pagan readers, which I know that I have many, and all of my other readers who are open to true wisdom, no matter what the source, lean back in your comfy desk chair, couch, or bed, and enjoy the ancient wisdom of the Vikings…
1) A sage visitor is a silent guest. The cautious evades evil. Never a friend more faithful, nor great wealth, than wisdom.
2) The cautious guest who comes to the table speaks sparingly. Listen with ears, learns with eyes. Such is the seeker of knowledge.
3) It is dire luck to be dependent on the feelings of a fellow man.
4) Advice given by others is often ill counsel.
5) A clear head is good company. Drink is a dangerous friend.
6) At a feast the fool chatters or he stares and stammers. Just as soon as his jug is full, ale unveils his mind.
7) A man should drink in moderation…be sensible or silent.
8 ) A man of lean wisdom will never learn what his stomach can store.
9) He is unhappy and ill-tempered who meets all with mockery.
10) The unwise man is awake all night…worries over and again. When morning rises he is restless still, his burden as before.
11) The unwise man imagines a smiling face, a friend. Surprised to find how little support he musters at a meeting.
12) Often it’s best for the unwise man to sit in silence. His ignorance goes unnoticed unless he tells too much.
13) Much nonsense a man utters who talks without tiring.
14) They pass for wise who pass unnoticed.
15) Go you must. No guest shall stay in one place for ever. Love will be lost if you sit too long at a friends’s fire.
16) Never walk away from home ahead of your axe and sword. You can’t feel a battle in your bones or foresee a fight.
17) Be your friend’s true friend. Return gift for gift.
18) Beware of befriending an enemy’s friend.
19) A true friend whom you trust well and wish for his good will: Go to him often, exchange gifts and keep him company.
20) The brave and the generous have the best lives. They’re seldom sorry. The unwise man is always worried.
21) The best of lives is led by those who know the measure of many things.
22) A man listens thus he learns.
23) Wake early if you want another man’s life or land. No lamb for the lazy wolf. No battle’s won in bed.
24) One may know your secret, never a second. If three, a thousand will know.
25) A prudent man wields his power in modest measure.
26) Money often makes an ape of many a good man.
27) To give and take is a guarentee of lasting love.
28) Better a humble house than none. A man is master at home.
29) He is truly wise who’s traveled far and knows the ways of the world. He who has travelled can tell what spirit governs the men he meets.
30) Cattle die, kinsmen die, all men are mortal. Words of praise will never perish nor a noble name.
Cattle die, kinsmen die, all men die at some point and time,
but a noble name built on character and honor is eternal.
Live with honor my warrior friends…