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Bjõrnvaka

Not many people today know about Bjørnevaka, the day when the bear comes out and exits togehter with their cubs after a long winter. This was naturally an important day for our ancestors.


The day falls in the month of Glítnír (meaning: sparkling / shiny - home to the god Ty / Forseti). The month is also called Stekktíð, Eggtíð (Egg and Lamb month), with the zodiac sign Tvíburar (Twins). The 8th of the month is a very important pagan day, which we also find on Primstaven, marked with a bear foot.


As mentioned, our Norse tradition and mythology follows the bear´s cycle. Our ancestral burial rituals, symbolism, and the view of life, death, rebirth and the soul's "hibernation" are strongly linked to bears. It goes into hibernation around Hâlogiaptann (Halloween) at the same time our ancestors had these ceremonies, which were the very beginning of Jól and the Winter Solstice accumulated re-incarnating high festival.



The she-Bear selects her embryos [1] and gives birth to these in the cave around Yule Night (solstice). The bear cubs get their first gleam of light on the on the day our ancestors called Helhestr (Helhesten). This time is around February 1-2 at the new moon, and is 40 days after the Winter Solstice, as long as the woman's pregnancy cycle in the number of weeks. Around the 8th of Glítnír, the bear exits with their bear cubs.


In our tradition, the bear is a winter animal, and mythologically this means that the winter spirits (winter) arise after Ragnarok, the end of the year, where the winter spirits are killed in our mythology and in nature. The winter spirits are represented and personified in our mythology as Fenris, the Midgard serpent etc., will now gradually grow stronger, until winter is killed again. Balder (the sun) will therefore soon embark on his travel to Hel once again, after the summer solstice. Mythologically, this describes that the sun turns / becomes weaker after the summer solstice, and that it "dies" on the autumn equinox, which mythologically is Balder's death.


The month Bjørnevaka falls in is, as previously mentioned, Ty and Forsetis, and this is not without significance. Forseti is the force of justice. Therefore, the Allting (pagan assembly) was normally held at this time, where all tribal members of free men and women gathered to vote and decide on important matters, criminal cases etc. Just as the bear cubs exit the cave and are taking the step into the “real world”, the young worthy tribe members got their voting rights this day.


Bjørnevaka is set on 22. of May on Primstaven. Our pagan ancestors used the day to welcome the summer, hold the Allting (pagan assembly), and give their hopeful and worthy voting rights.

After the forced Christianisation, the new Christian power apparatus took over this ancient pagan festival, and dedicated it to St. Bernhard of Sienna.




[1] The she-Bear has "delayed" fetal development. This means that the fertilized eggs from Midsummer lie still, until the she goes into hibernation in the cave late in the fall (Halloween).

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