Understanding the Úlfhé∂nar
The number of writings and “informational resources” about the Pre-Christian era of northern Europe has become so over-inflated that there is suspicion that the Norse themselves wouldn’t recognize the writings… assuming they could understand the modern language. While they all attempt to convince us that they have received some “new” information about these early peoples of Scandanavia, the information presented has become convoluted and polluted, sometimes even the most devout become delirious, and this doesn’t include those who have attempted to contort the truth for their own gain and producing a message fundamentally contrary to those who actually lived the history.
So too is the ideas surrounding the shaman-warriors of the north, the Berserkir, and Úlfhé∂nar. While most writings speak to these shamans only being able to enter trance-like states to enter the battle, where they could not be injured by fire or iron, even though they only wore bear or wolf skins, disregarding their shields and mail coats, and kill with one strike. Many also include the skill of hamrammir (shapeshifting) when describing these ancient warriors designated as Ó∂inn’s men. While the majority of “mystic powers” manipulation and control has always been centered around the feminine, many forget that there were two gods of the Norse that embraced these powers, including Ó∂inn himself.
The Úlfhé∂nar called out in the legends of the Old Norse continue their traditions up to the modern-day, and while not engaged in closed-in combat much anymore, they still practice the age-old practice of realm traveling in addition to different forms of ancient magic. Originating within the northern migrating Germanic tribes migrating from their Celtic clans in the south, these men connected to the animal spirits of Germany, to become the ultimate predators and decimate opponents or foes in short order. As a form of early special forces, they were typically used as “shock troops” and typically fought well ahead of the forward warriors. Both our brethren, the Berserkir (of the bear), and my ancestors had the ability to communicate with their token animals to assume their power and prowess in battle. However, the Úlfhé∂nar had a special understanding of the Landvættir (Land Spirits), which could be communicated with to assist in destroying the enemy, as well as assisting our community members. Having the ability to traverse between the physical and spiritual realms, as knowledge can be obtained beyond what is possible in one of the other realms, therefore it is this gift from Ó∂inn that I choose to help my community to understand the connection to the spiritual realm around them.
While a very small fraction of those published facts may actually have a seed of reality, there was so much more to these shaman warriors of the pre-Christian North. As we may, or may not, be aware, the general population of the time was still struggling to get a grasp on the mysteries of the natural world. So natural phenomenon of the time would have produced a societal need for someone to explain these events, and just as importantly, ensure the population that they were still safe from the gods. This was the other side of these shaman warriors, when not in a war trance, they advised the chieftains or Kings as to the potential of a repeated natural, or unnatural event as well as presiding over spiritual matters of the clan in addition to the traveling “Shamans” (individuals practicing the Sei∂r magic).
In the earliest (what would become) indigenous people’s history before they traversed the Beringia Land Bridge, we find that most groups sought out an individual who would have a higher level connection with the gods and spirits around to ensure safety and overall group success. These individuals would be referred to as shamans, and their function primarily focused on the spiritual growth and balance of the group as a whole. Identically, these shaman warriors of the north would have performed similar functions for the groups within those communities. With the ability to translate the desires of the gods and spirits, they provided guidance and wisdom to whoever needed it. As dedicated men of Ó∂inn, they were given the ability to traverse the BiFrost to discover new knowledge and wisdom from the nine realms.
Their token animal (either the bear or the wolf) was much more than just an expression of their connection, but also able to assist in their travels across the BiFrost, regardless of whether the Shaman chose his human form or the form of his token animal. As the shamans were traversing the nine realms, the many spirits who interacted with them provided them with the knowledge that couldn’t be obtained on Midgard, they brought back the ideas that would stand the test of time, like the Nobel Virtues, or shipbuilding, or navigation.
As these Shamans evolved, they shifted their focus to spiritual well-being of the clan, although they were constantly training and preparing for the battlefield. Their skills and their association with Ó∂inn became increasingly interwoven as they sought to understand the evolutionary path of the humans around them. They were constantly on their guard for the homes of their token animals and looked for ways to help them evolve with the humans. This led to the domestication of the canines we have come to know today, and although not nearly as wild and vicious as their counterparts, remain ever vigilant for the needs to protect their shaman, with their lives if necessary.
Following in the footsteps of my ancestors, I have sought out and found the support of the gods to translate the “mystical powers” to the rest of the clan. By being given the gift of being a sworn Úlfhé∂nar, I have visited the nine realms and returned with the wisdom of Kvasir. I have been given the gift of eternal sight and the ability to communicate with the Landvætti in a quest to navigate through a physical lifetime dictated by luck and the fates.
As a part of being the generational representation of the Úlfhé∂nar, who were the “special forces” of their day. Used by the kings of antiquity to unify Norway, the Úlfhé∂nar were physical warriors, only slightly superior to our brethren, the Berserkir (or the bear). By biting our shields before battle, and avoiding the mail coats, we were able to alter our shapes and employ the Landvætti to engage our enemies. During our “battle rage” we could not be harmed by Iron and could decimate our enemies with one strike.
History of the Úlfhé∂nar
Those intrepid heroes, how are they treated, Those who wade out into battle? Wolf-skinned they are called. In battle, they bear bloody shields. Red with blood is their spears when they come to fight. They form a closed group. The prince in his wisdom puts trust in such men. Who hack through enemy shields.” – Haraldskvæði saga
Úlfhéðnar is sometimes described as Odin’s special warriors:
“His [Odin’s] men went without their mail coats and were mad as hounds or wolves, bit their shields… they slew men, but neither fire nor iron had an effect upon them.” Heimskringla
Ulfr, a retired berserker, is mentioned in Egils saga Skallagrímsonar
“But every day, as it drew towards evening, he would grow so ill-tempered that no-one could speak to him, and it wasn’t long before he would go to bed. There was talk about his being a shape-changer, and people called him Kveld-Ulfr [“Evening Wolf”] – Egil’s Saga, p.21.
The Germanic Lombards (who are believed to have been Norsemen from Scania) was once known as the Hundings, meaning “the hound-clan” or the “sons of a hound”. The Lombards terrorize their neighbors by spreading the word that they had dog-headed warriors, possibly a reference to Úlfhé∂nar.
The Lombards or Langobards (Latin: Langobardi) were Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774, with origins near the Elbe in northern Germany and Scania in southern Sweden before the Migration Period.
The medieval Lombard historian Paul the Deacon wrote in the History of the Lombards (written between 787 and 796) that the Lombards descended from a small tribe called the Winnili, who dwelt in southern Scandinavia (Scadanan) before migrating to seek new lands. However, Roman-era authors wrote of the Lombards in the 1st century AD, as one of the Suebian peoples, in what is now northern Germany, near the Elbe river.
According to their own legends, the Lombards originated in southern Scandinavia. The Northern European origins of the Lombards are supported by genetic, anthropological, archaeological, and earlier literary evidence.
A legendary account of Lombard origins, history, and practices is the Historia Langobardorum (History of the Lombards) of Paul the Deacon, written in the 8th century. Paul’s chief source for Lombard origins, however, is the 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum (Origin of the Lombard People).
The Origo Gentis Langobardorum tells the story of a small tribe called the Winnili dwelling in southern Scandinavia (Scadanan) (the Codex Gothanus writes that the Winnili first dwelt near a river called Vindilicus on the extreme boundary of Gaul). The Winnili were split into three groups and one part left their native land to seek foreign fields. The reason for the exodus was probably overpopulation. The departing people were led by Gambara and her sons Ybor and Aio and arrived in the lands of Scoringa, perhaps the Baltic coast or the Bardengau on the banks of the Elbe. Scoringa was ruled by the Vandals and their chieftains, the brothers Ambri and Assi, who granted the Winnili a choice between tribute or war.
The Winnili were young and brave and refused to pay tribute, saying “It is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the payment of tribute.” The Vandals prepared for war and consulted Godan (the god Odin), who answered that he would give the victory to those whom he would see first at sunrise. The Winnili were fewer in number and Gambara sought help from Frea (the goddess Frigg), who advised that all Winnili women should tie their hair in front of their faces like beards and march in line with their husbands. At sunrise, Frea turned her husband’s bed so that he was facing east, and woke him. So Godan spotted the Winnili first and asked, “Who are these long-beards?,” and Frea replied, “My lord, thou hast given them the name, now give them also the victory.” From that moment onwards, the Winnili were known as the Longbeards (Latinised as Langobardi, Italianised as Longobardi, and Anglicized as Langobards or Lombards).
When Paul the Deacon wrote the Historia between 787 and 796 he was a Catholic monk and devoted Christian. He thought the pagan stories of his people “silly” and “laughable”. Paul explained that the name “Langobard” came from the length of their beards. A modern theory suggests that the name “Langobard” comes from Langbarðr, a name of Odin. Priester states that when the Winnili changed their name to “Lombards“, they also changed their old agricultural fertility cult to a cult of Odin, thus creating a conscious tribal tradition. Fröhlich inverts the order of events in Priester and states that with the Odin cult, the Lombards grew their beards in resemblance of the Odin of tradition and their new name reflected this. Bruckner remarks that the name of the Lombards stands in close relation to the worship of Odin, whose many names include “the Long-bearded” or “the Grey-bearded”, and that the Lombard given name Ansegranus (“he with the beard of the gods”) shows that the Lombards had this idea of their chief deity. The same Old Norse root Barth or Barði, meaning “beard”, is shared with the Heaðobards mentioned in both Beowulf and in Widsith, where they are in conflict with the Danes. They were possibly a branch of the Langobards.
The Winili (Lombards) were able to migrate north to the Saxony area of (what is today) Germany, and Jutland (what is today) Denmark because of the migration of two (2) primary tribes that held the area of the time. The Teutoni and Cimbri who migrated out of the area in the 1st and 2nd century (BCE). With the Celts to the south, the Lombards would rule most of Scandanavia, and most of (what is today) northern Germany. It is to the Lombards the lore of the Úlfhé∂nar owes its history to, as it was the Lombards who first called upon Ó∂inn to provide special troops who could fight on multiple realms, and decimate the enemy. We find the Lombards controlling lands as far as south as Italy, as late as the late 500’s of the current era.
I am a Úlfhé∂inn
In old norse text, the Úlfhé∂nar were the Shaman-Warriors, or special forces called out in the Sagas. Úlfhéðnar are beyond Berserkir. They are Óðinn’s special warriors and elite Viking forces. They are metaphorically associated with wolf pelts (in contrast to Berserkir who are associated with bear pelts), as they are known to be inhabited by the spirit of wolves. Úlfhéðnar are capable of performing feats far beyond the abilities of other warriors, including Berserkir. Úlfhéðnar are hamrammir (shapeshifters). They don’t wear a helmet or a mailcoat, bite their shield in a rage prior to each battle, kill enemies with just one blow, and are immune to fire or iron. Úlfhéðnar are also known for having reached exceptional levels of spirituality, self-control, and cohesion. Without Berserkir and Úlfhéðnar as shock troops, King Haraldr hárfagri would have been unsuccessful in his quest to unify Nóregr (Norway). After all, Úlfhéðnar were not only the best warriors of the time, they were also the most feared.
The Church has always had an unholy fixation on both Víkingar and wolves. So the clergy quickly claimed Úlfhéðnar (and Berserkir in general) were “Heathen Devils“. When Eric Hákonarson decided to embrace Christianity, he, therefore, outlawed Berserkir and thus, Úlfhéðnar. With the Christianization of Iceland, Grágás (medieval Icelandic law code which contained a Christian law section) also sentenced Berserkir and Úlfhéðnar to outlawry (to this day, the Church still harasses Úlfhéðnar, still trying to control how they live their life).
The Úlfhé∂nar from the legends of the Norse. Originating within the northern migrating Germanic tribes from Roman rule, these men connected to the spirits and became the ultimate predators to decimate opponents and foes in short order. As a form of early special forces, they were typically used as “shock troops” and typically fought well ahead of the forward warriors. Both our brethren the Berserkir (of the bear), and my ancestors had the ability to communicate with their token animals to assume their power and prowess in battle. However, the Úlfhé∂nar had a special understanding of the Landvættir (Land Spirits), which could be communicated with to assist in destroying the enemy, as well as assisting our community members. Having the ability to traverse between the physical and spiritual worlds, knowledge can be obtained beyond what is possible in one of the other realms, therefore it is the gift from Ó∂inn that I can help my community to understand their connection to the spiritual world.
There are two parts to the Norse Úlfhé∂nar, the first is to be skilled in combat. In the days of my ancestors of Germany and Denmark, this meant being skilled with swords, axes, speaks, and hammers. Defined by many as the special forces of the Viking Age, these men could enter into a Berserkir state and engage the enemy with aggressive tactics designed to strike fear, and put their enemies off guard. While combat has evolved to a much longer range field of combat with a different set of skills, but closed-in combat remains a necessary skill to maintain and master. Learning the fine art of ax throwing, sword fighting, archery, and several others, to ensure the health and safety of one’s loved ones.
The second, and more frightening part (for the enemies) was the Shaman part. Dressed in traditional wolf pelts they would terrify their enemies long before actually engaging in combat. Like there have been in almost every group of warriors, there has been a smaller group who understood the need for war to achieve peace and harmony. This speaks to the spiritual or shamanistic part. Provided as a divine gift from Ó∂inn himself, the spiritual connections and understandings allowed the Úlfhé∂nar to attack their foes with the spirits of the lands, the seas, and the skies.
I am a Úlfhé∂inn! Hail Ó∂inn!
What is the Message here?
Throughout 30 years of spiritual discovery and spiritual academics, I have determined that many of the cornerstone values held by the mainstream monotheistic churches were implemented in such a way to create a successful form of population control, whether they intended it that way or not. This “brain-washing” that has occurred over thousands of years now, instituted a tactic of “conform or perish” which forced many to convert, at least superficially to protect themselves and their families. The alignment with the early royalty fostered a method of societal control, and a powerful source of revenue by these monarchies of the time, furthering the “conform or perish” type of implementation.
My message is very simple, don’t follow blindly. If you find that this monotheistic practice works for you, then, by all means, keep it going. However, do not feel like a failure for not “converting” me. Do not think or promote the idea that because we believe differently, that one of us is evil, and one is not. This fact alone has created more separation than anything else in the history of humankind. For my friends, I ask that you not subscribe to the “glory to god, and guilt to the individual” mentality these mainstream churches produce. Do not feel as if those actions you committed during the war were a sin because you either killed, or you were killed. There is no sin there.
The time has come. The time has come for me to stand, and speak of the blindness that has covered the eyes of many. From its infancy, the Seior has woven into the modern-day culture, the language, the very fibers of our society. The methods of separation and division that have driven wedges between members of our clans, sometimes between the members of our own family. The sick, perverted disguise used to stealthily ensure obedience, left a trail of death that has crossed oceans, and generations. Like an infestation it has seeped into every nook and cranny of the world, smiting anything that stood in its path.
But the canon shells that destroyed lives from within their own minds by shredding away self-confidence while discouraging coexistence at every turn, remain. Allowing only guilt to flourish in the hearts of men, while the fat cats behind the curtain only got richer. The eternal punishment of men and women alike, torn apart by the undercurrents of behavior manipulation and control. Unpredictable in the application of its laws and rules, it has arbitrarily doomed many to lives outside the clan and took no pity on the downtrodden. It has turned rotten the taste of happiness, forgiveness, and brotherhood, leaving only distrust and distaste for differences.
Although the chains of the modern society I currently call home prevent me from inflicting the carnage that my ancestors brought you, I will be silent no more. I will use my tongue like a sword, my lips as axes to cut through this deafening blindness and reveal the cats behind the curtains. I hope to show the world who you really are, and the travesties you have caused throughout your history. You have no power here. I and my lands shall be protected from your magic by my hands, my magic, and my gods. I fear not your trials, for I am the Úlfhé∂nar. I am of Ó∂inn’s clan.
I pray that the invisible cloth that has covered the eyes of many be removed so that all the people of the world can see this horrible beast for what it truly is. While I realize that many will resist the thought of being fooled by this beast, and choose to stay blind. Others will choose to see my gods while others may seek only one clan or another, ultimately the truth shall break the chains that bind us apart.
Moving forward as a Úlfhé∂nar
In the weak-minded, spiritless, modern world we live in there is very little need for the crazed, blood-thirsty, ultra-warriors of my ancestor’s times. While this may seem contradictory, there was/is a whole different level to the Úlfhé∂nar mentioned in the historical Sagas and legends. This is the spirit side. This side of the Úlfhé∂nar terrified the early church as it invaded the lands of the Norse. The side that tightly bound the Úlfhé∂nar with the spiritual world of the Landvætti. While there was a good reason to fear the Landvætti, throughout the history of the Úlfhé∂nar we find the tales of them working with Landvætti to bring torrents of rain to wash away bridges, or avalanches to destroy villages, or armies. The association between the Úlfhé∂nar and the Landvætti are as strong today as they were in the times of my ancestors.
If you have completed any amount of studies about spirituality around the world, especially in the dawn of human evolution, you may recognize the idea behind what my ancestors called the Landvætti from the tales of early indigenous tribes. The understanding that all living beings on Midgard possess within them, a spirit. This spirit can be either dark or light, depending on the individual who possesses it. In addition, there are other life-forces that surround us every day, typically guided by the gods at work. Whether it be the air, the seas, or the many parts within the land, we know that the spirits of these forces also interact with us daily. Finally, we have the remaining spirits of past individuals who have become lost or disorientated after leaving their physical self and wander across Midgard in search of answers and/or directions. Some may have left things incomplete during their physical lifetimes and simply are looking for someone who can complete these tasks for them. This entire collection of spirits is what comprises what my ancestors called the Landvætti or land spirits.
During my studies before my anointment as a Úlfhé∂nar, I was instructed that my ancestors could communicate and command the Landvætti to assist them in their Midgard attacks. By summoning the Landvætti, the Úlfhé∂nar could avoid being struck during battle, the fire could not consume them, and many other tasks could be accomplished with the help of the spirits.
Today I use my connection with the Landvætti to help those who want it, in untangling the contorted truth of the life we have led. From decoupling the over-inflated idea of sin to recognizing the power of honor, I use the wisdom of the Landvætti to help gather the information that my friends may not know, to help them get past their self-imposed punishments and break the cycle of guilt/shame, to live productive, happy, and successful lives.