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Welcome to Fjörn’s Hall, where a friendly skáld recounts the stories and lore of the medieval North! In each episode of this podcast, we gather around the hearthside and explore a new aspect of the ‘Viking’ world by retelling their stories, spicing them up with a bit of academic research, and stimulating lively discussions that are informative, fun, and relevant.

February 14, 2019

‘Viking’ Love Stories

When it comes to love in the medieval North, these are some of the most essential stories to know. We start things off with a fairly detailed discussion of Freyja, the free-spirited goddess of love and war, which includes some coverage of her ferocious cats and her experience with magic (seiðr). But after that, we enjoy the stories of Freyja’s unwanted suitors, the bear-curse love story of Bjorn and Bera, and finally the destructive love triangle between Gudrun, Kjartan, and Bolli. But if all of that isn’t enough, we even discuss a few Icelandic love spells. What’s not to love about this episode?

For a full list of sources, including in-text citations, detailed endnotes, and several useful links, see the forthcoming blog-post version of this podcast episode at fjorns-hall.com. (I’ll update this as soon as it is posted.)

Magical staves (pictures): Stave #1, Stave #2

Want to read the sagas and lore featured in this episode? Use the links below the find them and support the Hall:

  1. The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
  2. Prose Edda
  3. Poetic Edda
  4. The Saga of Hrolf Kraki
  5. The Saga of the People of Laxardal

Voice criticism or enthusiasm by sending a raven to fjorntheskald@gmail.com, leaving a review on iTunes, or by finding Fjörn on social media:

Support Fjörn's Hall:

Music credits:

All music used by this podcast is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

February 8, 2019

Njal’s Saga: A Medieval Best-Seller Most People Haven’t Heard of

Meet Njal's Saga, a medieval best-seller that most people haven't heard of. But despite its relative obscurity today, it stands out as an epic story fused with both archetypal heroes and the tragic social realities of the 'Viking' world, which have become a cage trapping them and plunging them into a endless tide of human violence beyond their control. Join me in the Hall to unpack this saga's historical and social context, where we highlight the scholarly praise, historical inspiration, and contemporary politics that all contributed to the development of this saga's incredible legacy.

For a full list of sources, including in-text citations, detailed endnotes, and several useful links, see the blog-post version of this podcast episode at fjorns-hall.com.

Additional resources for Njal's Saga can be found here.

Voice criticism or enthusiasm by sending a raven to fjorntheskald@gmail.com, leaving a review on iTunes, or by finding Fjörn on social media:

Name drops:

Want to read Njal's Saga? Get your copy here and support the Hall.

Support Fjörn's Hall:

Music credits:

All music used by this podcast is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

January 18, 2019

Feuding, I: What is Feud? Solving Problems with an Axe (ft. Beowulf)

Many of the great sagas and ancient lore from the medieval North recount endless, bloody feuds between generations of prominent families: a conflict ends, peace is made, and two families become one through marriage—but slander, envy, and old wounds spoil the sweet sap of peace, leaving only the smoldering ash of conflict behind. But despite the fact that many sagas seem to be critical of feuding, it was still a sophisticated process with social norms and appropriate procedures imbedded into it. This podcast episode serves as an introduction to the complex world of feuding in the medieval North, which will help everyone to better understand and enjoy its fascinating literature and lore.

For a full list of sources, including detailed endnotes, books, articles, and other resources, please visit the blog-post version of this episode at fjorns-hall.com

If you'd like to voice any criticism or enthusiasm, feel free to send a raven to fjorntheskald@gmail.com---or, you can find me on social media:

Name Drops:

Music Credits:

All music used by this podcast is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

 

October 20, 2018

Landvættir: The Land-Spirits of the Medieval North

Winter Nights is nearly upon us! And what better time is there to chat about spirits? In this gathering, we explore the roles and importance of the land-spirits in Norse culture and society through 16 different primary sources from the medieval period. Along the way, we discuss the heathen holiday known as Winter Nights, some of Iceland’s earliest pagan laws, the reasons why Vikings put dragon-prows on their ships, Iceland’s settlement, dirty poetic slander, whale-wizards, expressions of power, and so much more! If you like elves, spirits, and norse mythology, then you definitely don’t want to miss this episode.

Social Media Links:

Blog
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Name Drops:

Saga Thing (John and Andy)

Primary Sources Used/Mentioned:

  1. Gisli’s Saga
  2. Killer-Glum’s Saga
  3. The Book of Icelanders
  4. The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s Leg
  5. The Book of Settlements
  6. Heimskringla
    1. The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason
    2. The Saga of Hakon the Good
    3. The Saga of the Ynglings
  7. Njal’s Saga
  8. The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord
  9. The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and of Killer-Skuta
  10. The Saga of the People of Eyri
  11. Hen-Thorir’s Saga
  12. The Saga of the People of Floi
  13. Egil’s Saga 
  14. Gulathing Law Code (quoted here from Mundal, see below)
  15. Hauksbók Sermon (quoted here from Mundal, see below)
  16. The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled

Secondary Sources Used/Mentioned:

  1. Else Mundal, “Remnants of Old Norse Heathendom in Popular Religion in Christian Times.” (From Medieval Christianity in the North: New Studies)
  2. Margaret Clunies Ross, “Land-Taking and Text-Making in Medieval Iceland.” (From Text and Territory: Geographical Imagination in the European Middle Ages.)
  3. Jesse Byock, Viking Age Iceland.

Music Credits:

♪ Intro/Outro: “Celtic Impulse” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
♪ Interludes: “Firesong” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
♪ All Music Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Acknowledgements:

My sincerest thanks go to Fjörn’s Fellowship (on Patreon) for their gracious support. Without your companionship, this Hall would be nothing. Here are the names (taken from Patreon) of those who supported me while I wrote this post: Anasasia Haysler, Froggy, Jonas Lau Markussen, Kathleen Phillips, Patch, and Sarah Dunn. Þakka ykkur kærlega fyrir!

September 12, 2018

Rímur: Reciting Part I of Gisli Sursson’s Epic

Behold! a modern Viking’s poem! Hear a skald recite the first part of an epic poem inspired by Gisli Sursson’s Saga, a work of medieval Icelandic literature written during the 13th century. This part of the poem recounts the first chapter of that saga, which takes place in Norway just a few generations before Gisli’s time. Quick to get bloody, it involves two duels and two men who struggle to the death over a precious sword. And did I mention a berserk named Bjorn? Who will prevail? How will these bloody duels end? Find out in this performance of Gisli Sursson’s Epic!

📖 For more information and resources, visit fjorns-hall.com!

🍻 Follow and support Fjörn elsewhere in the great virtual Midgard: Twitter, InstagramFacebook, and Patreon!

♪ All music is original and owned by the creator of this podcast.

☞ Read this poem here!

September 3, 2018

A Viking Gift: A Beautiful Polar Bear for Feuding Kings

A bear is a Viking's best friend, so why not make it a fancy one? In this tale, we follow the journey of a humble Icelandic farmer named Audun, an attractive polar bear with rosy red cheeks, and two salty Norse kings who are at war with one another. Audun's goal is to deliver this bear as a gift to King Svein of Denmark, but will King Harald Hardradi of Norway allow Audun safe passage to his enemy? Will Audun always be running out of money? Could Audun's humility manage to bring these two kings together? And will our attractive polar bear companion ever be recognized for anything beyond its devastatingly good looks? Find out in this gathering at Fjörn's Hall!

📖 For more information and resources, visit fjorns-hall.com!

🍻 Follow and support Fjörn elsewhere in the great virtual Midgard: Twitter, InstagramFacebook, and Patreon!

♪ All music is original and owned by the creator of this podcast.

September 3, 2018

Unn or Aud? The Saga(s) of a Remarkable Woman

In this gathering we talk about the remarkable Aud the Deep-minded, an impressive woman from medieval Iceland who boldly saved her family from destruction and became one of Iceland's most famous settlers. But there's a catch: she hasn't always been remembered in quite the same way. In the sagas recounting her deeds, she has been called both Unn and Aud; and although they each refer to the same person, those names reflect alternative versions of both her story and her identity. And so, the aim of this gathering is not only to enjoy her impressive saga(s), but also to unravel the different ways that she has been remembered by the authors who retold her story throughout the medieval period.

📖 For more information and resources, visit fjorns-hall.com!

🍻 Follow and support Fjörn elsewhere in the great virtual Midgard: TwitterInstagram, Facebook, and Patreon!

♪ All music is original and owned by the creator of this podcast.

September 3, 2018

Legendary Swords: Gramr, Sköfnungr, and Grásíða

In this gathering by the hearthside, we’re sharing the stories of three legendary swords from the sagas of the medieval North: Gramr, Sköfnungr, and Grásíða! And while we do, we’re going to find them plunged into trees by a strange old man, stolen from burial mounds by Icelandic Vikings, and manhandled by a headstrong poet. But if that’s not interesting enough, we’re also going to slay a dragon, cut off someone’s back end, introduce ourselves to a sword-dwelling snake, and fix a broken blade with some sorcery. By the end, we’ll not only have cool stories to tell our friends, but also learn a thing or two about what these swords meant for the people telling their tales. Honestly, what’s not to like? It’s a great deal! So tune in to Fjörn’s Hall, if you’d like to hear more!

📖 For more information and resources, visit fjorns-hall.com!

🍻 Follow and support Fjörn elsewhere in the great virtual Midgard: Twitter, InstagramFacebook, and Patreon!

♪ All music is original and owned by the creator of this podcast.