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The legends of Tor Hamre

In Valdres we have an almost endeless source of pagan folklore and stories. Many of them are tainted with later Christian elements, but a lot of them are not. This time we will take a closer look at one of the legends of a person named Tor Hamre.

Tor Hamre is an historical person (several), but he is also something more than that. The name Hamre is from the farm Hamre in Valdres. One of many very old farms, and most (if not all) of the males (father to son) were named Tor with the last name from the farm - Hamre.

The "Hamres" are in the lores always known for knowlegde of medicine plants and sacred water sources. From records as late as the 1950´s the elder generations speak of this with passion, and the farm was known all over the region for being the local "hospital". I argue that this farm was amongst those that held on to the pagan traditions in the purest form the longest. Besides being the stronghold for natural medicine, they were always in conflict with the local Danish priests. They always revolted the instructions from the church, and kept their traditions. They always cracked down on breaking the traditions of allodial rights and naming the children new hebrew names. The mountain over the farm was concidered sacred (hence the name Hamre, (Hammer, Hammr (stone, axe, heart, life-force)). Every spring, they always carried the idol of Þórr out in the meadow, facing the fjord when the ice was about to break up - a ritual they executed far into the 1800´s.

Since all the males had the same name, and were named after eachother - and not at least Þórr himself - the timeline of the legends and the stories are difficult to pinpoint. But, this is not important - because Tor Hamre is the same in the 1800´s as in the 900´s. He is the same person, re-incarnated, in a timeless shape.

"Stein hass Tor i åkeren"

(The stone of Tor in the meadow) with the mountains Grindadn and Bergsfjell in the background).

This is one of the stories of Tor Hamre, written down in the 1950´s;

Tor Hamre had a difficult wife that he argued. Tor left from farm and wife and people believed he was dead. On the winter solstice seven years later a long haired and long bearded wanderer came to the farm Hamre. The housewife told her daughters: “This one also before Yule, girls”. (This, on top of everything else to prepare before Yule). The wanderer was allowed to stay, because it was the winter solstice night, and he got some food there by the fire. When they sang the Yule songs, he joined them with a beautiful voice. The housewife recognized the voice and asked with tears in her eyes: “Dear you, you would never be Tor, would you?”. Then, his finest dress came forward, and Tor was placed in the high seat.

This little story incapsulates it all. It is pagan to the core. It tells that Tor Hamre dies, and returns. He returns as his old self, his ancestor. He is back in the womb, by the fire. He gets food, and he shows his beautiful voice. He is re-born, he is recognized - and he has been away the same lenght as the seven years of reasoning, at the winter solstice - the time of re-birth in the accumulated circles of three.

Relevant article (in Norwegian):

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