Sacred Oath-ring of Thor The bride’s ring was offered to her on the hilt of the groom’s new sword, and his tendered to him in the same fashion: this juxtaposition of sword and rings further “emphasizes the sacredness of the compact between man and wife and the binding nature of the oath which they take together, so that the sword is not a threat to the woman only, but to either should the oath be broken” (Ellis-Davidson, Sword at the Wedding, p. 95).
With the rings upon their hands, and their hands joined upon the sword-hilt, the couple then spoke their vows. D.
The Wedding Feast After the conclusion of the wedding ceremony came the brudh-hlaup or “bride-running,” which may have also been connected with the brudh gumareid or “bride-groom’s-ride” (Williams, p. 97).
In the Christian period, this consisted of separate, dignified processions by the parties of the bride and the groom to the hall for the wedding feast, however the term “bride-running” may indicate that in pagan times this procession consisted of an actual race as is the case today in certain parts of rural Scandinavia.
Whichever group arrived last at the hall had to serve the ale that night to the members of the other party.
Of course, if the groom’s party was mounted for the “bride-groom’s-ride,” it was a foregone conclusion that they would win the contest every time. When the bride arrived at the door of the hall, she was met by the groom, who blocked her entrance into the house with his bared sword laid across the entry-way (Ellis-Davidson, Sword at the Wedding, p. 96).
This allowed the groom to lead his new bride into the hall, ensuring that she would not stumble over the threshold. Medieval homes, unlike those of the modern day, often had a raised lip at the bottom of a doorway in order to stop low, cold drafts, and which had to be stepped over in order to pass the door.
Superstition concerning the bride’s passage over the doorstep was wide-spread throughout the pagan world, for a doorway was a portal between worlds.
Stepping over the threshold represented the bride’s literal translation from her life as a maiden to her life as a wife.
Spirits were thought to gather around a doorway, and there are hints of a tradition in pagan Scandinavia for the threshold of the home to be the actual grave of the founder of the homestead, who guarded the door against evil influences.
Thus it was of great importance that the bride should not fall as she passed the door, for that would be an omen of extreme misfortune. Once within the hall, the groom would plunge his sword into the rooftree or a supporting pillar of the house, “to test the luck of the marriage by the depth of the scar he made” (Ibid., p. 97).
This tradition was connected with the concept of the *barnstokkr* or ancestral tree of the family, the “child-tree” which was “clasped by women of the family at the time of childbirth” (Ibid., p. 98).
Thus this custom reflected the demonstration of the virility of the groom, with the “luck” of the family being the children produced by the union (Ibid., p. 99). These preliminaries over, the feast began.
The most important part of the feast was the ceremonial drinking of the bridal ale, another of the legal requirements set forth by Gragas for the marriage to be considered valid (Frank, pp. 476-477).
Here the new wife would first assume the foremost of her official duties as a housewife, the ceremonial serving of drink.
She might present the mead to her husband in the kasa, a bowl-like vessel provided with handles on either side in the form of animal heads, or the heads and tails of birds: a variant of the kasa is still used today for trophies and known as a “loving-cup.” Upon presenting this cup of mead to her husband, the bride might recite a formal verse in oder to confer health and strength to the drinker, such as this one recorded in Sigrdrifumal: Ale I bring thee, thou oak-of-battle, With strength blended and brightest honor; ‘Tis mized with magic and mighty songs, With goodly spells, wish-speeding runes. (Hollander, Poetic Edda, p. 109) When he received the cup, the groom might consecrate the drink to Thor, perhaps by making the sign of the Hammer over it, moving the hand in a T-shaped pattern (Ellis-Davidson, Thor’s Hammer, p. 123).
Before drinking, the groom would make a toast to Odhinn, then sip and pass the cup to his new wife, who would make a toast to Freyja before drinking (Herman Palsson and Paul Edwards, trans.
Seven Viking Romances.
NY: Penguin. 1985.
By drinking together, the bride and groom were made one in the eyes of the law and the gods, symbolically affirming their new kinship.
A drop or two of the blood from the morning’s sacrifice may also have been blended into the mead, further strengthening the notion that the couple were now related.
The couple would continue to formally drink mead together for a full four weeks, for the honey in the beverage and the bees that produced the honey were both associated with fertility and healing in pagan Scandinavia. Once the couple were seated together, the couple’s fertility was agin insured by hallowing the bride with Thorr’s Hammer.
This may have been performed by the husband, or by a godhi, but in any case the procedure was to lay the Hammer in the bride’s lap, blessing her reproductive organs, and Frigga, goddess of childbearing, was invoked as in the ritual enacted in Thrymskvida: Bring the Hammer the bride to bless: On the maiden’s lap lay ye Mjolnir; In Vor’s name [Frigga] then our wedlock hallow! (Hollander, Poetic Edda, p. 109) — For the prefix Vil- see above.
For the suffix -gerðr see above. GB pp. 16; FJ pp. 349; CV pp. 197, 705 s.v.
Gerðr, vil Y Name Meaning Notes Source Ynghildr, Yngvildr Freyr battle The prefix Yng- or Yngv- is probably related to the name Yngvi-Freyr, the founder of the Yngling line (Ynglingasaga), and may be related to names for the god Freyr.
For the suffix -hildr see above.
The suffix -hildr appears frequently in women’s names, sometimes without the aspirate h see above.
Yngvildr, a descendant of Karlsefni and mother of Bishop Brandr is mentioned in Eiríks saga rauða, c.
Late 1100’s, and in Grænlendinga saga (1382-1395). GB pp. 16; FJ pp. 349; CV pp. 261, 726 s.v. hildr, Yngvi, Yngvi-Freyr Yngvöldr Freyr ? For the prefix Yng- see above. Yngvöldr appears as a woman’s name in Landnámabók. CV pp. 726 s.v.
Yngvi, Yngvi-Freyr Yrsa, Ýri, Ýrr yew tree, bow GB pp. 16 Name Meaning Notes Source Þjóðbjörg, Þiúðborg deliverance of the people Found in Old West Norse as Þjóðbjörg or Þióðbiörg. The prefix Þjóð-, Þiúð- is from OW.Norse þjóð “folk, people”.
For the suffix -björg see above.
Runic examples include the nominative form þiuþburh and the accusative form [þiauburi-]. GB pp. 16; FJ pp. 347; CV pp. 66, 739 s.v.
Björg, þjóð; NR s.v. Þiúðborg, Þiúð-, -biörg/-borg
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