Home Æ - panel (The Lid)

The automatic translation is necessarily imprecise. This translation does not replace the reading of German or English original texts.

Of Valhalla and the Final Battle
Or: Even gods can fight in vain ...

The Lid

A-Rune (Æsc) biþ oferheah, eldum dyre
stiþ on staþule, stede rihte hylt,
ðeah him feohtan on firas monige.

A-Rune (the ash-tree) is exceedingly high and precious to men
With its sturdy trunk it offers stubborn resistance,
though attacked by many a man.

With the help of pictures and inscriptions on four panels the rune master has provided a perfect life from birth to death for his (as we may assume) royal protegee. His death in battle qualifies him for Valhall, where he takes his seat among Woden's warriors.1There he is preparing himself for the final battle (O.N. Ragnarök), a fight against the Frost Giants on the side of the gods, the aesir. And that is what this piture is about.2 If we see a parallel between the top of the casket and Heaven, the lid may be the proper place for this spell.


1 In Norse religion the einherjar or einheriar were spirits of warriors who had died bravely in battle. The name is Old Norse for "one-army-ers". It is often interpreted as "outstanding fighter", but might also signify "those who are all [now] in one army", because when alive on earth they were in many armies and bands, but now they are all in the Army of the Dead. After they die, the valkyries escort half of the slain from the battlefield to Valhalla (these are the "einherjar"), which is part of Asgard (commonly described as the "Norse Heaven"); the other half went to Fólkvangr (Freyja's hall). The Grímnismál describes Valhalla as having five hundred and forty doors, and through each of them, eight hundred could march abreast (a hundred, hundrað, in Old Norse could mean either 100 or 120), indicating the size of the hall and the numbers of the einherjar.
Every day the Einherjar are awakened by Gullinkambi, a rooster, and march out to the great field of Idavoll in the heart of Asgard to fight against each other in merry (and mortal) combat. At dusk, when they are all cut to pieces, save perchance a few, they are miraculously healed, and march back into Valhalla, where Andhrímnir, the cook of the gods, has prepared a meal for them from the pork of Sæhrímnir, a boar that is reborn every day, and the mead milked from Heiðrún, a goat feeding on the leaves of the Læraðr tree. The einherjar then spend the evening and night in feast, served by lovely valkyries, until they all fall asleep, solidly drunk. The einherjar will stand with the forces of the Æsir at Ragnarök, when Odin will call them up to fight the forces of Hel and the giants.
(Source: Wikipedia)

2 A number of older articles [Worsaae (um 1900), J. Sephton (1896), E. Schultz (1941)] interpret this picture in the same way, inspired by the three valknutr. See Alfred Becker: Franks Casket (Regensburg, 1973), p.86.

 

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