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The Island of Hlesey

I came across this passage today:

Thor spake:
37. “In Hlesey the brides | of the Berserkers slew I;
Most evil they were, | and all they betrayed.”

According to Bellows this is the island that belongs to Ægir; and has been identified as the Danish island Läsö, in the Kattegat.

This would seem to be in a way connected to the place name naming which is often associated to land regions rather than islands.  With such holy places upon Midgard it leaves one to wonder if at sometime if there was also a Vé or Hóf located upon the island at one time. Since there is little information available to the locations of the Vés` or Hófs` from our ancestors time; a lot of speculation remains on the role the island would have played in the local customs.

Coming from a region that depends upon the ocean for travel and making a living as well as for food; there is still to this day a ritual done to this day to “Bless the fleet”; although it has been greatly perverted to suit Christian terms and purposes; it is clearly a ritual that is not Christian in nature. This should not be surprising seeing that Christianity has stolen many rituals, objects, symbols and many other things from our ancestors it is possible that such a ritual may have been done by our ancestors to their ships; regardless to class [war, trade, fishing]. This would lend to the possibility that such a ritual could have occurred on the island of Hlesey.

Another interesting look on this island is the issue of the brides that were slain by Thor. We know that Ægir and Rán have many daughters collectively known as the waves. So why say they were the brides of Berserkers? This could be a very cleaver kenning to suggest the island is in  treacherous water; if the Berserkers were using the island as a burg; one could suggest the waves were their brides and thus betrayal of all who attempted to land on the island via the sea led to their shipwrecking in the treacherous waters. The statement of Thor saying he killed the brides could be a way of saying he successfully made land fall to the island when no one else could.

Normally the Berserker class with in the Norse ranks were not men who would be of the normal marrying type. Sure there are some instances where the Berserkers did marry; however look at the Jomsvikings; not exactly the same class of men; but illustrates the point of bands of warriors with strict codes of conduct.

One more thing; in the geographical terms of regions within the worlds; one should wonder how close the island is to Njörðr’s home in Nöatun and his residence within Asgard as we know he resides near the beach. I have heard the argument that suggests Njörðr’s residence in Asgard is Nöatun. However I disagree with this view; as the Völuspá states Njörðr returns Nöatun just before Ragnarök. As well there is another sea side location of Hymir’s hall, where we know Thor has been. And then there are the coral caves of Ægir and Rán where the mighty feast is held.

Anyone got any ideas they want to share?


Posted in Forn Seðr.

One Response

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  1. Hrafnmann says

    I think those few stanzas refer to a lost tale. Not sure how to interpret it though. We could take it that these women of the berserk had taken up residence on the island and terrorized the folk living there. We have a few accounts of how berserkers used their fierce ability and reputation to work their will on the average folk of a society. Perhaps Thorr and Thjalfi went there to deal with the situation? After all look at the context of the lay. . .Thorr vs. Odin. . . and who is considered the patron of the berserker?

    As for the kenning you allude to, that kind of works as well for Thorr as ‘master’ of the storm and mundane weather in general, can quell the waves if need be.

    Just a few points off the cuff.


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