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  • Forfatterens bildeOdelsarven

The wife of Greiðhamarr is descended to the underworld

Local lores are pure treasures, and this time we will take a closer look at another local one, namely Gridhamars-kjerringi er nerkøne åt dei underjordiske (the wife of Greiðhamarr is midwife for the underworld).

This tale was told by our relative Anne Torsteinsdotter Hermundstad in oral tradition, and was written down by Norsk Folkeminnelag in the 1950´s.

First, we will tell the tale in the local Norwegian dialect of Valdres with English translations. Then, we will comment the names, patterns and the real meaning of this short but beautiful tale.

Gridhamars-kjerringi er nerkøne åt dei underjordiske

(The wife of Greiðhamarr is midwife for the underworld)

No skal du få høyre ei skilleg god haugafolk-regle eg er komi på!

Now, you will hear a good riddle from the underworld that I have got!

Det var ein gong ei haugafolk-kjerring på Gridhamar som skulde te ha småfolk. I dei dagar ho venta seg, kom ho te kjerringi på Gridhamar og sa: "Du vil kji vera so indele snille o vera hjå me mè e får lit'n. Me e so lite hjølpa!" Og Gridhamars-kjerringi vart med.

There was once a wife from the burial mounds on Gridhamar that was pregnant. At the time she expected, she came to the wife of Gridhamar and said: "Would you please stay with me when I get the little one. We are so little self-helped!" and the Gridhamar-wife went along.

Det var nok like under dørahella på Gridhamar ho hadde heimen sin. Kjerringi vart trast klen og fekk ungen. Men då var det kje lenge før ho høyrde det tok te rusle i grytor. Dei skulde te koke rjomegraut,

kann du vita. Snart var grauten både kokt, stampa og reidd, so fløtet flaut.

It was just below the doorstep of Gridhamar she lived. The wife was often sick and had the child. But, it was not long before she heard the sound of pots. They were about to cook sour cream porridge, you know. Soon, the porridge was both cooked and prepared, so the cream floated.

Då kjerringi som klen var, hadde fått ein smurd bite, skulde ho som hadde vore nerkøne, ogso smaka. Men so hadde ho høyrt at ein ikkje skulde eta noko inne hjå dei underjordiske. Ein skulde ikkje sleppe utatt då. Ho vilde difor ingen ting ha. Men det likte dei nok ikkje. Dei smurde rjomegrautfløt like burti munnen hennar! Då det leid um ei rid, og alt var godt og vel med henne som låg i barseng, vilde Gridhamars-kjerringi heimatt.

When the wife, that sick was, got a bite, the decended wife should also taste. But she had heard that one should not eat anything amongst those in the underworld. You would not get out and back again. She thus wanted nothing. But, they did not like this. They smeared the fat just by her mouth! When it went through a contraction, and everything was well with her who was lying in maternity bed, the Gridhamar-wife returned home.

Men dei underjordiske vilde naudleg sleppa henne frå seg. "Du ska anti få bu unde dørahellun dine ell uti Kjellarbakka," sa dei. Men kjerringi vilde heimatt, ho. Ho vilde kje høyre tale um noko anna. Då spurde mannen åt henne som hadde fått liten:

"Ko ska du ha før hjølpe?" "Å e ska kji ha noko, e. De va berre ei venetenist," svara Gridhamars-kjerringi.

But, those of the underworld would not let her go easy. "You will either live below your doorstep or in the hill of the springs", they said. But, the wife wanted to go home. She wanted no speach of other things. Then the husband of the one that had given birth asked;

"What do you want in return for the help?"

"Oh, I want nothing. It was just a favour amongst friends," answered the Gridhamar-wife.

Då rak han burti handi hennar noko som likna på ein fliseneve. Snart var ho heime hjå seg sjølv. Då kasta ho flisi som ho meinte ho hadde fått, burt i peisen. Men um morgonen, då ho såg burti peisen, låg det eit fint sylvbelte der. Og dette ska vera på Gridhamar endå. Denne regla fortalde ho "gomo Øye".

Then, he gave her something that resembled a wooden chip. As soon as she was home, she threw the chip she thought she had recieved in the fireplace. But, in the morning, when she looked in the fireplace, there was a beautiful silver belt there. This silver belt is still on Gridhamar.

This riddle was told by the God-Mother Øye.


The name Gridhamar

Gridhamar, from Norse Greiðhamarr, means "Troll/Ettin-Hammer". It is a name of one of the oldest farms in upper Valdres, and the farm is named after the mountain just above it. This mountain was sacred, and carries - just as several other mountains here - the second syllable "hamarr/hammr/hammer". The hammer is a well known symbol of the life force, the heart - "the pounder" that always returns to the honorable (re-birth). Just as the hammer of Þórr - Mjǫllnir, after crushing the Ettins, that always returns to his hand in eternal honorable circle.

"Haugafolket" - the people of the underworld

Haug means mound, or more specific - the burial mound. There are several of them around Gridhamar. "Haugafolket" are the dead ancestors. They are dwelling in the mounds and in springs (connected to water, and the ancestral wisdom of Mimír).

The Gridhamar-wife, the midwife

The wife on the farm, the Gridhamar-wife, she goes to the underworld. Yes, she is dead, and again finds herself in the "world in between". The wife named as the "Haugafolk-kjerring" is the dead ancestor, being "pregnant" ready to "give new birth". The Gridhamar-wife is a midwife, and midwifes were recognized as women connecting the realms, the worlds in between. They both assisted physical birth, but not least spiritual births as well. They were in fact recognized as sorceresses, and they were divine. Just as the old saying from Valdres; "a warrior and a midwife live forever".

She can not eat in the underworld

The Gridhamar-wife in the "world in between" can not eat. No one can eat in the realm of the womb (the burial mound).

She went home during a conratction

The Gridhamar-wife returned home during the contraction, just as any child does. She is re-born. She is back from the underworld, "the world in between" and decends Ásgarðr! (the world of the Gods, the honrable re-born, the world of the breathing).

The wooden chip in the fire

A piece of the sacred tree, given from the male-ancestor, relates to this wooden chip, of course. It is the same symbol as Yggdrasíll, "the terrible horse", the placenta etc. It is tossed into the fire/blood (slain), and in return from the fertile ashes - the Gridhamar-wife recieves the ancestral memory. She recieves the symbol of ancestral memory itself - the eternal metal that reflects the sun in the form of a belt. It still exists on the farm, because the Greiðhamarr ancestral memory is intact and changes bodies (Lík) at every honorable re-birth in the kin, in eternal circle.

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