A new dawn, a new voyage and adventure draws near now and our past is just that. As we head to this unknown future, we must try to put the past behind us and begin anew? As many of us know, that is much easier said than done? The past will forever follow us, haunt us and even be our guide at times, no matter how hard we try to forget and forgive, to say it does not matter? We carry those memories with us deep inside our minds and our hearts and they shape our destinies whether we would admit it or not… In the past years, there have been many hurts, many betrayals, mistakes and misgivings on all our parts which we must tell ourselves to set aside for a new beginning, a fresh start, and for some of us- a final revenge upon past misdeeds. We know not what tomorrow will bring or what path our fates will lead us upon. We can only hope for the best, pray that our Gods are on our side and choose wisely. We can listen to the Seers, the prophecies, the Volvas and perhaps rely upon them to tell us what the future might hold for us. In the end though, it is us who decide our own destinies, for although the Norns, the spinners of fate, or as Christians believe-God sets our course on life, we are free to choose our path, our way. As some Christians believe, God has given us free will and it is up to us each moment, each day to make the right decisions.
Most of my Norse friends believe that the Norns set us upon our path, our destiny and determine our fate in life? They are with us from the moment of our birth, spinning, weaving and often twisting the threads of our life and as such they determine the outcome of our life.
Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, twining the thread of life. They set up the laws and decided on the lives of the children of men. Their names were Urðr (that which became or happened) related with Wyrd, weird (fate), Verðandi (that which is happening) and Skuld (that which should become, debt, guilt).
In younger legendary sagas, the Norns appear to have been synonymous with witches (Völvas), and they arrive at the birth of the hero to shape his destiny. It seems that originally all of them were Disir, ghosts or deities associated with destruction and destiny. The notion that they were three, their distinction and association with the past, present and future may be due to a late influence from Greek and Roman mythology.
The Valkyries (choosers of the slain), were originally daemons of death. They were female figures who decided who will die in battle, and brought their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain. They were also related with spinning, and one of them was named Skuld (debt, guilt). They may be related to Keres, the daemons of death in Greek mythology, who accompanied the dead to the entrance of Hades. In the scene of Kerostasie Keres are the “lots of death”, and in some cases Ker (destruction) has the same meaning, with Moira interpreted as “destiny of death” (moira thanatoio :μοίρα θανάτοιο) .
In Anglo-Saxon culture Wyrd (Weird) is a concept corresponding to fate or personal destiny (literally: what befalls one). Its Norse cognate is Urðr, and both names are deriven from the PIE root wert, “to turn, wind”, related with “spindle, distaff”. In Old English literature Wyrd goes ever as she shall, and remains wholly inevitable.
For many, the belief that the Norns have already determined our fate or our path and we can not change it is equal to the Christian Monks and church saying that what ever happens to us is God’s will. It is a fatalistic view and one that does not take into account or approve of our thinking for ourselves, for our questioning our circumstances or our station in life… It is a thought that the Gods, or God has willed my life to be this way and I should not attempt to change it. It is a concept or thought that they have chosen us to either suffer or glory for some reason that we should not question.
I myself have seen far too much suffering and pain over the past years to believe fully that it is the choice of Gods, or God! I think that this is often a way for men of power to somehow attempt to absolve themselves of personal responsibility or guilt in such events!
What ever the future holds for us, I will face it knowing and believing that we can steer our course on the voyage of life, make decisions on our own that will guide us through troubled waters… and that we must take responsibility for our each our own decisions and actions. I will go through this life forever more questioning and doubting why the Gods, or God causes us to suffer but I will still hold on to faith that, for everything there is a reason? I will hold faith that in the end, there are fair, just and honorable people with compassion in their hearts whether they be Christians, Northmen, or any other believer. There must be a way for the hatred, the bitterness and the battles of power hungry men to come to some peaceful conclusion. I will also hold faith that someday, the lot, the value and the life of women will see a change for the better. I did see some change in the future, but in many ways, it was becoming as treacherous and difficult as it is now?
As I wait for the next voyage that is so soon upon us now, I have not time to write of everything which happened in our past that leads us to our next moves. I have time only for a few last thoughts of those things that left me with the most heart ache, the most concern and the most puzzlement as to what will happen next?
first of all, I must address the rumors and the accusations upon my good friend, Siggy. She has made some grave mistakes and bad decisions… have not we all at one time or another? But, I will stand for her and deny the claim that she is not a Whore! Siggy is not a Whore… now, that Princess Kwentirith of Mercia- she has most certainly earned and warrented the title of Whore? But, Siggy’s actions of late do not constitute the label of Whore. In my definition and estimation, a Whore is one who is not choosy about their partners, who has few scruples about their actions and does not have care or concern about said actions or activities. Siggy’s situation and her resulting actions were done for only one reason in her mind, and it was not as many think, just for benefit of herself!
I have stated previously, many times, that Siggy’s situation was precarious to say the least? She was in fear for her life and that of her daughter, Thyri at first, and you must understand that all women were in some ways dependent on men for their survival. Very few women were of such high state or power that they could completely make their way in life, rule themselves or make their own choices without the backing of men. Siggy knew this, all women knew this! Siggy lost her place in life and society when Earl Haraldson died and had to find her own way. In the beginning she was able to navigate the tides of change and could accept those changes with help from Lagertha, along with some thoughtful guidance from Athelstan. She also had some thought, some assurance and protection from Rollo in that beginning. Rollo, who then had faith and belief that he would be an equal to his brother, Ragnar, offered her protection and the opportunity to regain her station in life as his wife.
After Haraldson’s death, Athelstan helped Siggy make her peace and make a new beginning in Lagertha’s household. This was by no means an easy thing to do for Siggy, but she did it. Siggy is a woman of pride and she had to swallow all of it in going to Lagertha. She begged forgiveness for her husband’s actions and she offered herself as servant to Lagertha’s houselhold. Lagertha showed her compassion and her true judge of character in accepting Siggy into the household, not as a servant- but in the end as a true and valued friend. It was a friendship that would last, would survive through everything.
Siggy and Lagertha formed their bond of friendship and Siggy became a source of great strength and comfort to Lagertha in the worst of times. These two women knew the meaning of friendship, and understood well the importance of women sticking together, supporting each other no matter what each one’s circumstances. It was during this time when the men were off in England that they faced together, one of the most difficult battles that women will ever face… the battle, the fight that men will never quite understand no matter how hard they might try? Men fight their battles and their wars on the field, most often against their enemies. Women fight their greatest battles, and so often lose at them, in attempting to give birth to one they already love and cherish. Their struggle, their fight often ends in the loss of that one they fight so hard to save? And, if they do not lose them in child birth, they lose so many children early in life that often their hearts close against the pain of such loss. They will often become distant and detached, appearing cold hearted towards their children, preparing themselves against another painful loss. Siggy knew well of these feelings, having lost her two sons and almost losing her daughter Thyri, not to death, but to the inevitability of marriage.
What began with fears about Ragnar’s safety across the sea brought hopes and dreams of their own future and then turned to something much more tragic.
While Ragnar was in England thinking of great treasure and of revenge… Lagertha was at home in Kattegat fighting a losing battle for the life of their son.
So, while Ragnar was glorying over his victory in England, he failed to realize that in every reward from the Gods, there is a price to pay?
He returned home to greeted with the sadness that his much precious and prized next son had been lost. After that, there was much doubt in his heart that Lagertha would bear him more healthy sons and he eventually looked at the appearance of a young Aslaug as the Gods’ answers to his doubts? It was while he was off on a journey to aid King Horik that he was faced with the temptation of Aslaug and could not resist that temptation? It was also during this time while he was enjoying himself that the greatest of tragedies beset our village of Kattegat and everyone in it.
I do wonder at times if Siggy does not carry guilt and some kind of unbearable remorse that she can never quite forgive herself for in light of what occurred? It was certainly not her fault in any way, but I know that any one of us in the same situation would feel the same thoughts and wonder if we have caused such death in some way, and if we are then unworthy of forgiving ourselves… No one has ever set blame upon her for it, but in these situations, no one needs blame us- we blame ourselves for eternity and carry some form of unsaid guilt within our hearts forever. It began when she returned from a visit to a cousin who had just lost a child to sudden illness. We thought nothing of it at the time, such things happen all too often in this life.
After Ragnar and the men left on their journey, Lagertha was filled with fear and doubts which she could not shake from her thoughts. Much of it, I am sure had to do with the loss of her baby and her mourning that loss.
She was overcome with some undefinable fear that she felt hovering around her, like shadows in the corners, she called it?
Some of that fear had to do with Ragnar and her conclusion was, “Ragnar is in danger from himself!”
Later, Siggy returned home from her visit to relatives and complained of not feeling well? At first we thought she was just overly tired from her journey, but she quickly became very sick!
Suddenly, our entire village succumbed to the deadly illness. Everyone one us suffered and so many died that we could not keep up with caring for the sick and burying the dead? We suffered the loss of young and old alike, and in the end we lost our loved ones. Sweet innocent young Gyda was taken and so was the much loved Thyri.
With Thyri’s death, Siggy felt that she had now lost everything? It would have been so easy for her to give up completely right then… as she had nothing left to live for in her mind. Lagertha had lost a baby, and now Gyda, but she did still have Bjorn and a husband left. She had reason left to fight but Siggy did not have that. Lagertha summoned her faith and called upon the Gods to help us. In the end, I do think that the only thing which save the few of us left alive and put an end to the sickness was the fact that custom and beliefs required us to burn the dead and their belongings along with them!
The only remaining comfort and solace for Siggy and Lagertha came in the knowledge that their daughters would travel together to the other side? And, in some way, I think that may have even strengthened the bond between them in this life, that thought that Gyda and Thyri would ever be together waiting on the other side and watching over them.
Our village and our people were decimated and nearly destroyed by this plague but there was little time to mourn the loss before even more chaos and destruction hit us. Ragnar and his men returned only to tell of Rollo’s betrayal and of a new battle for King Horik against Jarl Borg. Rollo was so filled with doubts about his own self worth and about Ragnar’s treatment of him that he chose to side with Jarl Borg in this war. The saddest part in all of it was the fact as Lagertha put it, it was not any war of our concern until Ragnar chose to involve us in it! For the life of me, I still do not quite understand all of the reasonings and motives behind all of it? It started as a land dispute between King Horik and Jarl Borg. Ragnar offered his services to King Horik in negotiating some form of agreement or settlement of the dispute. For all practical purposes, Jarl Borg was most probably in the right in his refusal to settle the matter! But, as it is done and over now, that is of little consequence and will not heal the hurts caused or bring back the dead. After a deadly and vicious battle in which Rollo lost all reason, gave in to bloodlust, killed those who had once been friends and very nearly killed Floki, the battle was ended when Rollo regained some semblance of sanity and admitted that he could not kill his own brother. For all of this death and carnage, the battle did not even result in a victory for either side! They set their differences aside and decided that it would be far better choice to join forces and raid England together than to kill each other! The only one who really lost in this matter was Rollo.
The group returned home with Rollo as prisoner, now disgraced and dishonored, waiting for death. Rollo was really the only person, the only thing that had kept Siggy going on after the death of Thyri. When they brought him back, she did not desert him or give up on him even though he had given up on himself!
Siggy did not give up on Rollo even though he kept telling her to leave him be and let him accept his fate.
Eventually there was a judgement and the Lawgiver made the judgement to spare Rollo’s life but that did little to ease his mind or his heart? Rollo had lost all faith in himself and deemed himself unworthy of care or concern. He said it would have been better if he had died than to now live in such disgrace and dishonor. The one person to pull him through this deepest inner battle was Siggy! She refuse to give up on him and forced him to face his demons. Now, at this time, Rollo was at such rock bottom that one could not really say that Siggy was doing this for any benefit to herself. Because, really what use or benefit was a drunken, has been warrior to anyone? Rollo did not have useful connections or grand wealth that would benefit her in the long run… he had nothing and he bluntly told her of this many times! Why would anyone choose to align themselves with him during this time other than out of true care and deep feelings for such a person?
At his lowest point, she had to revive him from having passed out in a snowbank! She most likely saved his life that night and did he care or thank her for it? No, he did not! He wanted to wallow in his self pity and destruction but she would not let him.
He finally sobered up and decided that he would leave Kattegat. He thought to sneak out of the village without even telling her of his leaving but she caught him and finally lost her temper with him! She bares her heart to him and tells him, “I have lost everything, my sons, my husband, my daughter, my own worth, I will not lose you as well!”
Determined to reach him, she uses the force of the Gods on him, “The Gods have offered you a second chance at life and you would throw it away!”
Her final push to his limits is to hand him a seering hot knife and tell him to go and speak to Ragnar or else just end his life right now and be done with it once and for all!
He could not do it, proving that there was still some spark of hope within his soul. Siggy saved his life and his soul on that night! She did not do it for her own gain, for any great rewards, she did it because she cared so deeply for him!
Rollo did go to Ragnar begging for forgiveness and some second chance at life with his brother. Ragnar was loathe to trust him again but did accept him once more as brother. He refused to allow Rollo to raid with them though… which in the long run was probably a good thing because Rollo eventually saved Ragnar’s family from the revenge of Jarl Borg!
Rollo was relegated to remaining at home while the others planned another raid to England. It was previously decided and agreed upon that King Horik, Ragnar, and Jarl Borg would raid together? But, King Horik changed his mind at the last minute and decided that he did want to include Jarl Borg in the raid. This decision would have disasterous consequences for all later on? King Horik was a devious and manipulative man who would use any means to ensure he got what he wanted?
I will not go into all of the details of his manipulations but it was during this time that Siggy began her own desperate attempts to fight for Rollo’s causes. She entered into the most dangerous of games at this time, taking great risks to herself and her own self worth. After having lived with Earl Haraldson, Siggy was well versed in the ways of dangerous political and power games that men will play and she entered into this world with the only assets she had available, her body… Yes, some would say that this makes her a whore, a prostitute and an ultimate betrayer of Rollo. But, in reality, this was much the way of the world back then, and is even now though we are loathe to admit it! The difference between Siggy’s motives and actions, and those of one such as that Princess Kwentirith is that Siggy did feel guilt, remorse, even disgust with herself at times. And, she did what she did for one sole purpose, Rollo! Siggy entered into a dangerous game, one which she could not back out of in the middle of it. It was one of those situations that you put yourself in, knowing full well the possible consequences and one that you know you must follow through on even when it turns far uglier than you ever imagine?
It was also during this time that Aslaug made her appearance in Kattegat and forever changed many lives… and not in a good way! This was a mess of Ragnar’s own making but the rest of us had to suffer it’s consequences! I have no love for Aslaug, and neither does Siggy. The woman was basically good for one thing- making sons for Ragnar. He fell for her wiles and temptations, and in the end lost Lagertha and his son Bjorn because of it. Lagertha chose to leave rather than be degraded and humiliated by Ragnar’s lust for this woman. I do not blame her in the least, but it was heartbreaking to see her go and be left with the haughty and useless Aslaug as leader of the household! We made attempts to get along with her… what other choice did we have?
From the moment of her arrival, she flaunted her pregnant self in front of Lagertha and assumed such an air of superiority over everyone that it was difficult to feel any fondness for this woman!
Siggy’s heart was with her friend Lagertha and she tried to console her in this matter but knew that Lagertha would not content herself with staying in this situation.
Lagertha made her choice to leave and our hearts broke for her! It was a wretched and tear filled goodbye between friends.
Lagertha’s parting words for her husband were filled with contempt and disgust, “You insult and humiliate me, I have no choice but to leave!”
Bjorn chose to leave with his Mother… so Ragnar had traded one loving wife and son for another younger one who might produce more sons for him?
And then what did he do? Why, he immediately left her with us to deal with as he went off to raid England again! He also left Rollo behind…
Aslaug did make half hearted attmepts at friendship with Siggy and Siggy forced herself to put up with the woman. No one was fooled and all knew that it was a friendship in name only!
As I mentioned, it was fortunate that Rollo did stay behind because it only his skills and his thinking that saved us when Jarl Borg chose to seek revenge upon Ragnar. He attacked the village and took it over while Ragnar was in England raiding with King Horik. and we were relegated to surviving up in the hills with the wining and useless Aslaug and her sons. It was truly one of the worst times of my life, having to listen to her constantly!
To make a very long story shorter, Jarl Borg maintained control of Kattegat for a great length of time but we all managed to survive and eventually the village was taken back. Some years had passed and then to our great relief and pleasure, Lagertha returned to us for a time with Bjorn. He was now grown, a fine young man he was too! He and Lagertha returned to help fight for Kattegat and they did stay for a time. Lagertha eventually said she must leave and go back to her husband… a different sort of mess that we were unaware of at the time. But, she left Bjorn with us. He wanted to stay with his Father now.
There was still much intrigue and political maneuvering during this time and Siggy still played her dangerous game. She was greatly troubled though by her circumstances and her feelings. At one point, she visited the Seer and admitted her bitterness and resentments over the way her life had turned out. She wants to know if the Gods will ever smile upon her again.
The Seer’s answer to her is that the Gods always smile upon brave women like the sirens whom men desire and yet fear so much?
Siggy took his words as some indication that she should continue to follow the path she had chosen no matter how dangerous, treacherous and disgusting it would become. At a meeting of the men after their return from another disasterous trip to England, Rollo and Siggy listen closely to King Horik’s plans for revenge and to his plans of once more joining forces with Jarl Borg? Rollo is suddenly in a much higher and more valued position…
At what cost was this to Siggy though? Siggy had firmly entrenched herself in these games of politics and could not back out evenly when the cost became higher than she could stomach. She was visited by Horik and his son and at first thought it was a simple meeting, one which would just assure Horik of her willingness to help him in his cause and ensure some better circumstance for Rollo. She did not imagine what far more devious, deceptive and degrading game he played? She assumed that he would not involve his son in such actions, but that was where she was so very wrong!
Horik does involve his son! “I want my son to undertand the games we play, you and I play, and Ragnar tries to play.”
Siggy suddenly realized just how far Horik was willing to drag her down to have complete control over her in her desperate attempts to ensure Rollo’s rise…But, she also did realize that she could not quit in the middle of such a treacherous game. For fear of her life and that of Rollo, now she must carry through with this because this act showed just how merciless and soulless Horik was. He would have no qualms about seeing her and Rollo done away with should she not comply with his wishes now. Especially now that she had admitted her feelings for Rollo and that she would do anything to ensure his rise in life.
Siggy may have played the whore because she felt desperate enough for Rollo’s future that she would have done anything for him, but that did not mean that she did it willingly or because she enjoyed it. Her disgust in herself was evident and she would never forgive Horik for putting her in such a position. There in lies the difference between Siggy and the ones such as Kwentirith!