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The cult of the Norns

Since only about two generations ago, there was a fully pagan tradition in the valley of Valdres (Vang). Amongst many such traditions, this one in particular is related to the Norns and the birth of a child. This very old tradition is in fact related to the first poem in the poetic Edda - Vǫluspá;

Tefldu í túni,

teitir váru,

var þeim vettergis

vant ór gulli,

uns þrjár kvámu

þursa meyjar

ámáttkar mjök

ór Jötunheimum.

The Gods played happily in the field, until three mighty women came from Jötunheimr. These are not only related to, but in fact are, the Norns - ruling and predicting above time. They are said to visit all newborns and are weaving the threads of destiny for their life on earth. Their Norse names mean past, present and future.

The local women in Valdres immitated the Norns by upholding the ancient old tradition by visiting the mother and the newborn child with a "birth porridge". This porridge was given to the mother, and the visit and the gift itself would bring good destiny and golden threads for the earthly life of the child. The women did this consistently, for rich and poor - regardless of status.

Visiting women from Vang.

The day after the visit from the "immitating Norns" all the neighboring women visited. They always had to bring foods and cakes. The household with the newborn that had recieved the childs destiny always offered food in abundance for the guests - several dishes of dinner, desserts, beer, cakes (at least seven (1) different types) and wine. It allways had to be "too much" and this is rooted in the Norwegian Folk tradition and heritage. Kindness and hospitality were signs of cultural formation and honour.

(1) Seven types of cakes represent the seven years of a child until the age of reasoning is reached. The same way we always bake seven types of cakes for Yule, the time of re-birth. The same symbolism is found in most of our fairytales - like Snow White and the seven dwarfs, The seventh father in the house etc....

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1 Comment

Sep 08, 2023

Great article, thank you!

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