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Valbjörgsnâtt and Gaukdagr

The Valborg Night is not so well known in Norway today. The Swedes are still celebrating this day, similar to what we did in pagan times, but this one too is unfortunately disappearing. This celebration was originally held in much of Europe. Big bonfires are burned, they decorate with birch and green leaves. The bonfire in Sweden is called “Majbrasa” or “Valborgsbål”, and until recently there have been national broadcasts on television from the celebrations - not at all unlike the Swedes' midsummer celebration. The evening fell on the day before Gaukdagr (Cuckoo Day) May 1st.


Valborg night falls in the month of Nóatun (meaning: ship / shipyard) - home to the god Njord. The month is also called the Gaukmánuðr, Sáðtið (meaning: Cuckoo month, Sowing month), with the zodiac sign Griðungr (Taurus). The date of the Valborg Night is the thirteenth, which is mythologically Njord's birthday, just as all the representative gods have a "birthday" on the thirteenth in the respective month.

This evening is at the sun's "quartz point" in the sun wheel, midway between spring equinox and summer solstice. The evening was also by our called ancestors called Seiersblot (sacrifice for victory). The holiday falls 40 days after Austr (Easter), which is equivalent to a 40 week pregnancy.

Njord's significance is "the place where the river meets the sea". The god is a hermaphrodite, and represents both masculine and feminine forces of nature, with his wife Skade (“damage”). Njord represents the sea and time - a fertility force, and belongs in the mythology of the Vanir - mythologically Vanir mean a “beautiful, light, elf”. Njord is the fertile force in all water, towards the coast and land. Njord's feminine side is thus Skade, and she is represented by the rivers that flow from the mountains and mix with the sea. Skade (meaning: damage / destruction / watercourse / moon), the feminine half of this natural force, is the daughter of the Ettin Tjatse. He is a personified primordial force from the time of origin, and the meaning of his name is the primordial water force itself, noisy - like waterfalls, and torrential rain. Skade is the goddess of rivers and the moon, and its gravitational force, including tides. Scandinavia has its name from the goddess Skade:

Skadinawjo (meaning: Skade´s islands).

Valborg night means "night of the mountain for the chosen and fallen."

(- val means death, - borg means mountain/mound (womb)). With this backdrop we celebrate Valborg Night; the evening was filled with ancestral cultivation. This is a day for marriage. The couple who won the competitions during the bridal race on Hvîtatysdagr during Easter week (before Austr) is now officially declared and is taking over the high seats of those who are outcompeted. These are the May King / queen / chieftain pairs - represented as Frøy and Frøya. Marriage was of great importance, and the goddess Frøya represents and is a personification of all married women. That's why we titled married women as "Frue/Frau"

- of Norse Freya. Other tribal members also married on this day. They swore oaths on a rock / hammer or a ring, and the ceremony was probably led by the sitting Queen, or her mother or sister, if last year's Queen had won and was re-elected for the coming year. In a re-election, the couple had to swear new oaths anyway. This seems to have been an annual cycle and seasonal process, as in nature otherwise.

The night's newlywed men naturally look no further for a wife, and this day thus marks that the man in practice went from hunting, to sowing the soil. This was highlighted in both meanings, both in the field of crop and with his newly married wife to have children.

The king / chieftain's attributes are an axe / club / hammer, symbolizing the earth's strength and hardness (gravity), a crown - symbolizing the sun, a sword symbolizing the lightning that carries the sun's power down to earth. This is the backdrop for the king's symbol itself throughout Europe. He can symbolically transmit the sun, which represents all life, with his sword. Later in the Middle Ages he symbolically made men knights or others with high reputation and honor. He could give “grid” (pardon) by placing the sword on his shoulders - until he himself was dead, or was replaced. In the south of Europe, and especially in Germany, we can even find the Maypole standing in squares in small towns. You can often see them in the context of markets at this time of year. It is similar to the Swedes' midsummer pole, and was a symbol of the whole process of choosing and selecting May King and Queen.

The Queen's attributes are a drinking bowl / beverage horn, which she uses symbolically to sacrifice / pour good health and fertility. The tribe drank and sent around during the ceremony. The tradition of women serving cultic beverages, both in daily life and mythological, is obviously related to this.

Together, the re-elected or newly-elected King and Queen represent all essential forces of nature: health, sunlight and rain. They represent the three basic elements: earth, water and fire. We find these in the three most extensive natural forces / gods as well: Odin, Thor and Loke. They all spring from the sky god - the masculine Ty, and the earth goddess the feminine Jord, balanced by the Sun and the Moon.

Before the ceremony, the new King had to symbolically kill the old one. The old power had to be symbolically transferred to the new one. This was done in such a way that a figure/idol was made over the old King, and the new one had to strike the sword in this figure. He had to be able to pull the sword out again. If he did not manage do this, he did not become a new King. Then the second best after the competitions from Hvîtatysdagr in Easter week was to try, and if he succeeded, he became the new King and his wife Queen. This tradition stood strong in much of Europe, among the Germanic tribes. The legend and tale of King Arthur, in which he pulls the sword out of the stone, is directly related to this tradition and symbolism. We all know as Norwegians what it takes to get the princess and half the kingdom. In the same way that nature makes her natural selection, our ancestors also chose their leaders in the same way. Our own Norwegian fairytales are also based on this pagan tradition, where Ashlad's (Askeladdens) struggles for the princess appear as the clearest.

The night of Valborg is a traditional spring festival, where bonfires were burned, and the houses were decorated with newly sprouted leaves for a May celebration of fertility and good crop. They were in a seasonal transition, and the natural force for transitions by the god Njord is represented. On such nights bonfires would be burned, becaue the old would burn up and the new would emerge.

The Catholic Church took advantage of this original pagan festival in their consolidation of power, as well. They dedicated the day to St. Walpurgis. Later they changed the name to Valborg again, to approximate the original pagan designation of the named celebration. They also used it extensively in the genocide of Scandinavian pagans during the forced Christianisation. The night of Valborg was established as a "wich-sabat", where during these processes living pagans were burned alive if they did not obediently bent their necks and kissed the Christian cross. They also used the bonfires to burn books, which were considered heretical. Paradoxically, on the Valborg bonfires, we can claim that the strongest and most honorable of our ancestors were burned alive.

The following day after Valborg night is Cockoo Day. Most of us who are a little versed in the joys of the outdoors have heard about the cuckoo. Maybe you were even told that the cuckoo sound could give you signs and predictions. Birds are manifestations of our ancestors. They were considered messengers. The cuckoo is a migratory bird, which is a sure summer sign when it is returned to our forests and in our nature.

The Cockoo and the calmness of the forest.

The date in today's Gregorian calendar is May 1st. This marked the arrival of the first summer month of the year, where we celebrated the transition the night before - the night of Valborg.

Our ancestors believed that at such transitional times in nature, the physical world for us living was approaching more closely that of the dead [2]. Our ancestors talk to us on this day, through the birds. In Norway, we have listened to the cuckoo for millennia. If you hear the cuckoo from the north, you get a sign that everything can go according to your will. If you hear it from the south, you will be notified that you can harvest in dry weather. If you hear it in the west, you are notified that someone in your kin may be ill or die. If you hear it in the east, it can mean happiness and marriage.

On Gaukdagr, marriage was to be confirmed, both by the King and Queen, and among other married couples. It was also common for symbolic fertility rituals to be held in fields and meadows. Therefore, this day was also called “lille gangdagen” (“the little walking day). “The great walking day” (“store gangdagen”) was just after Austr (Easter). Then, symbolic straw was sacrificed from last year's crop, preferably if the figure/idol of the old and symbolically killed King was made of this.

On Primstaven, the day is marked with a bird, as it was expected to hear the cuckoo on this day if you listened to the forest. The Catholic Church renamed the day after the forced Christianisation and called it Phillippi Jackobi day. It was dedicated to the apostles Philip and Jacob. Then, the mark on Primstaven was changed to a double cross.

[1] It is a common belief that our ancestors conducted extensive forms of human sacrifice. This seems to be a major exaggeration. It is not excluded that it occurred, but it seems more natural that such practices were linked to serious criminal cases. Killing an outcompeted King in this context was of course symbolic.

[2] This is why witches are represented at such transitional times. In our original tradition, they are only a picture of such seasonal transitions, and are related to the worship of ancestors. After the forced Christianisation, this symbol was turned into evil demons, superstition, “black sorcery” and pretext for persecution, often with death sentence.

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