Cultic fire and deers
In our part of the world, in the northern hemisphere, it is not mystical that the fire had a crucial function in daily life. The accounts of both the Romans and the Arabs' observations of our people bear the mark of an almost cultic worship of the fire and its function. It is obvious that it has had this function, if not only at a practical and philosophical level. Our personified gods and mythological attributes are directly or indirectly linked to fire - one of three essential elements. The symbolism of the fire is pervasive in the mythology and world view of our ancestors.
The cultic fire was absolutely central to our ancestors. It was regarded as the inherent fire in Yme's bones - the life-giving of all nature, both in basic elements and in stones. In the myth of Thor and Hrugne we can also find traces of this view, where the fire is conveyed through the personified Yme and Hrugne, after the Wetstone Mountains arose. Or when Thor chases Loke, like the thunder chases the lightning, which crashes into the very battery of the sun - the tree, and brings fire to earth. Surt (the primordial fire) gave life to Yme (meaning: sound, the first Ettin, the sound of the creation of the sun and the planets) by setting the land on fire and warming Yme's bones (rocks) - where Thor (electric voltage, gravity) fertilizes Earth by igniting the forests with lightning (which in mythology is personified as Loke). This pattern of Nature is found in many layers, on both micro and macro level – wich is the core basis of all our myths.
Fire plays a crucial role in all of our mythology - where life itself comes to the point of balance between the mythological Muspellheim (of Norse Múspellsheimr, meaning light, fire, the dormant eternity and cosmos outside our solar system) and Nivlheim (of Norse Niflheimr, which means dark, cold, the dormant eternal thought). The life-giving point of balance between them is the mythological Ginnungagap (of Norse Gínungagap, which means the wide and empty dualistic space in between).
The fire was not only vital to physical heat, light, cooking, fertility, the soils ability to give harvest and all other practical things, but also a catalyst from one state to another. The sparks from stone in friction against each other also manifest Yme's energy, the “primordial” energy – from the most lifeless of rock and stone, to the most life-giving fire and sun. Therefore, the personified Ettins and Trolls in our mythology and fairytales are brought back to the most lifeless form of energy when the sun shines on them.
Therefore, our ancestors saw the fire as the equivalent to blood - just as our own blood warms the body and bones, it gives life. Like Ymes personified bones of Surts fire in the myths. Our ancestors called it Aldrnari (meaning: the giver of life), and is meantioned in Völuspá. This spark of life / life-giver lies latent in everything living and dead, but in different states - everything from the most "dead" stone, to the blazing fire and blood in your veins, both of which can take on each other's forms - fire of stone, stone of fire.
Salt melts ice, and salt in our mythology is considered to represent heat. Therefore, it is the personified Audhumla (of Norse Auðhumbla, which means "darkness before light", unused land, dusk, sea) that is nourished by the salt stone (the latent heat) and further transfers it to Yme when life is created by the basic elements of the balance between frost and heat. This is not at all unlike today's current scientific theories and facts.
This view brings us further into the importance and position of deer animals in the teachings of our ancestors. The deer animals are linked to the meaning and symbolism of the trees, which we have discussed earlier.
To keep the fire going, firewood is needed, and the deer antlers follow a direct symbolic link to this, and not least to the bones themselves. Skeletons and antlers were considered "your inner tree", containing vitality similar to trees. The mythological deer are personifications of this. The deer Eiktyrne tells Grímnísmál that from its antlers all rivers flow. The oak tree (of Eik) is related to ancestry, origin and rebirth cycle. The rivers in our mythology represent ancestry and blood memory. The Nature's own pulse, and all its nourishment. Dáinn is also a deer that gnaws on the tree of life. The name means "death", "decay through life". Together, it stands with the deer Duneyrr ("slumbering fire"), Durawurr ("faithful") and Dvalinn ("delay"). The deer are similar to another animal on Valhall's roof (the spirit's roof) by the name of Heidrun (of Norse Heiðrún which means "secret honor"). This deer also gnaws on the branches of the tree named Hlæráðr, meaning "follow your spirit". This tree's name is another name for Yggdrasil, and is the same tree. From Heidrun, mead runs down the well Hvergelme (of Norse Hvergelmir which means past, "last years / life's brew / effort). This is the mead that nourishes Odin's Einherjer (the honorable fallen to be reborn), the intellect and knowledge.
The symbolic deer of our ancestors is hereby fully linked to the processes of nature, fertility, ancestral cult, rebirth and reincarnation in the family of honorable souls.
The deer animals are in our mythology in the sphere of the highest (as on the roof of the spirit), thus personifying the connection between earth, Ymes bones (the basic elements, water, air and fire), through the metaphysical and spiritual. They personify our natural cycle, and the eternal cycle of the water - like Yggdrasil's white dew that falls in all the valleys. Like Yme's blood, of Surt's fire. Like the evaporation of the ocean, rainfall, ponds, streams, rivers and lakes - which flow into the sea, in perpetual cycle.
The deer antlers have been adorned by our ancestors for ages. Every feasting hall with respect for itself was decorated with antlers in the gables. We still decorate with antlers to this day, without any notable symbolism, sadly. The deer antlers were also used inside the burial mounds, and attached to the burial chamber ceilings. Our ancestors' burial mounds represent the "hall of the spirit" (Valhall) - the hall of the elected, the chosen ones, those to be reborn in the family cycle. During the rebirth rites at and inside the burial mounds in ancient times, the antlers were probably the symbolic "key" to access the mound. We also know today that they were also used as shovels prior to the Iron Age.
In this way, our mythological deer and their antlers are fertility attributes. Therefore, Frøy (the symbolic kin's ancestor and the personified god of fertility for allodial heritage, blood and soil) has a deer antler as a weapon. He took the deer antler as a weapon, after he met Gerd in Skírnesmál, which will be discussed in more detail later.
Yme's bones with life-giving and vital fire, is what the deer antlers represent - and through Frøy connects the ancestral cult and family cycle to this.
There are numerous examples of depictions of gods / goddesses and other adornments bearing the antlers, symbolically and for fertility. It is also not without reason that Frøy's weapon is precisely the deer antler, which he fights Surt with during Ragnarok. To combat the flames of Surt, the sword Frøy gave up after meeting Gerd is useless. In the same way that the deer loses its antlers once a year, our ancestral symbolic Frøy and Frøya (the chief couple) would be elected directly democratically on the Norse parlament once a year. As the deer's fervor and fertility, through battle, remained the strongest, wisest, and most dignified. Our myths and heroic poems tell about the same patterns.
Rock carvings from the Stone Age on Synnfjellet.
These ancient traditions and symbolism are still with us. In Western Norway, until recently, there were rituals around burial, which would stimulate "young love". An important part of the burial ritual of the dead relative was "Hindaleik" (the fertility play of the deer) and "a wake". An observance of the animal's pagan symbolism, fervor and fertility, marked as late as into the 19th century in the Norwegian countryside. They youth danced beside the open coffin of the dead ancestor.