Hrafnagaldur (Ravens’ Spell) is a problem-child in the family of the olden surviving poems in Icelandic. It was even omitted from editions of Edda-poems for a long time. It is in Icelandic OK; we understand every word, name, heiti, and kenning, but somehow a heilabrjótur (brain-cracker), as we seem to find no story or message in it as whole. Even the very name, Hrafnagaldur Óðins is misleading, as it seems not to be in any context with the many little dramatic and interesting events compiled herein.
A CHARMING COMPOSITION, OR COLLAGE
The author refers to many stories known from elsewhere, from here and there, which are used dramatically in the poem he/she was creating here. Some scholars suggested Hrafnagaldur Óðins to be a part of something (now lost), a part of a lost whole poem, or even a prologue (for-spjalls-ljóð) to something. The poem could be an art-piece in itself put forth mindfully and seriously for fun. Compiling dramatic situations from old myths/stories.
BHAGAVAD GITA REFERENCE POINTED OUR FOR THE FIRST TIME:
One interesting fact the scholars have not hit upon – in spite of their thorough search to trace the ideas compiled in Hrafnagaldur and estimate dating, i.e. in which time, which century, it was composed: They probably never heard the Mahabharata, nor even thought of anything in forni siður to be related to the Bhagavad Gita part of it. But here is something that I see to be strikingly related: (On one hand) from Hrafnagaldur: Dofna þá dáðir detta hendur svífr of svimi sverð Áss hvíta (note the name Arjuna “the silver-white one”), and (on the other hand): siidantri mama gaatraani (Bhagavad Gita Chapter I stanzas 29 and 30): My limbs fail and my mouth is parched, my body quivers and my hair stands on end; Gandiva (which is Arjuna’s bow) slips from my hand and even my skin burns all over; I am unable to stand and my mind seems to whirl (end quote). Here Arjuna’s heart/love and his mind/duty were in utter conflict to the extent to make him unable to act according to his ksatriya dharma. This dilemma is paralyzing, yet kali-yuga has to end and sat-yuga to begin.
SCHOLARS NO-WHERE LEARNED WHY WE ARE BORN;
THEY LACK BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROFUNDITY OF LIFE.
Scholars tend not to understand when it comes to the spiritual profundity and origin of forni siður. They only hear Roman theocracy dogma. True spirituality is, therefore, rather an obscure topic of understanding in their field of research. Or, not their subject of interest in their research. Some, ignorantly, tend to look upon Heathenry as “primitive” (some scholars’ term, as opposed to theocratic domination-systems being evolved religions), and allow that disabling disdain-attitude to rule some kind of a narrow-minded approach. It, actually, blocks open-minded understanding, as if brain-washed by the Roman Churchianity’s massive, obviously partly successful propaganda/attempt to erase Heathenry, suffocate it, make it look stupid, or devilish, replace it with their theocratic dominance (theo-cracy, an invented mono-god used as a dominating tool).
THEOSOPHY FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THEOCRACY
Note that Heathenry does not have a Devil, only Laws of Nature, and our self-made karma. Note that our hidden enemy — of which we should know — is the danger of stagnation on our evolutionary path – hrímþursar, our own ignorance of not seeing Truth. There is no capricious, wrathful, said-to-be-good-god (named God) to obey. Man’s responsibility only. We should gain understanding of the purpose of life.
THE PROFUNDITY OF FORNI SIÐUR HAS ALWAYS BEEN UNDERSTOOD BY SOME
The Theosophical Society in Iceland (in years 1945-47 about) explained the pure theosophy contained in Heathenry. Open-minded and understanding they are.
HRAFNAGALDUR AS A MUSICAL PIECE
Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson composed a marvellous musical piece for Hrafnagaldur, which was performed by Sigur Rós band and our good singer Steindór Andersen.
MY VERSION HERE
Here, Hrafnagaldur is chanted in the old tradition of kveða rímur and þulur and kvæði (ríma, þula, kvæði). I composed a stemma to go with Hrafnagaldur. This art was still a living folk entertainment when I was a kid. I loved to stay on farms in the country-side during summer. Old people there, were willing to teach all the olden customs to a curious little city-girl. That is why I know how to hand-milk cows and spin a thread from sheep-wool. Those poems (–long as some of them are–) were recited learned by heart. I have Hrafnagaldur for you (typed in Latin alphabet letters) if you would, so, be able to make something really substantial out of it.