Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Walking Dead Draugr And Aptrgangr In Old Norse Literature

The Walking Dead Draugr And Aptrgangr In Old Norse Literature Cover

Book: The Walking Dead Draugr And Aptrgangr In Old Norse Literature by Anonymous

For the Vikings, the concept of the afterlife was often much more immediate than glorious skaldic tales of Valholl or the Christian's Heaven: once the dead body was placed within the grave, it was believed to become "animated with a strange life and power" (Hilda Ellis-Davidson. The Road to Hel. Westport CT, Greenwood P., 1943. p. 96). The dead person continued a sort of pseudo-life within the grave, not as a spirit or ghost, but as an actual undead corpse similar in many respects to the "nosferatu" or central European vampire (Ellis-Davidspn, Road to Hel, p. 92).

Much like the ancient Greeks, the Vikings had neither a positive or negative view of the afterlife. They believed for the most part, the dead, if they had lived an unexceptional life, would travel to a place called "Hel" (which is where the modern word "hell" comes from) which lies far to the north and under ground. It was a thought of as being a cold and damp place where the spirits of the dead continued in a dreamlike form of existence. It was not particularly happy, but it was not torturous and was viewed as a long sleep. There were other ideas of an afterlife that were believed as well. There was another realm beneath Hel, where people who had lived bad lives were gnawed upon by a serpent called "Nidhoggr". They slept in a hall that was made of snakes and dripped poison. This place, called "Nastrond", was located on the shore of an ice cold subterranean sea. Those who lived exceptional lives in a positive way could expect to travel to "Asgard", the home of the Gods. They would spend the afterlife in happiness. The exact dwelling that was given to these people depended upon their lives. For example: hero's who died in battle would go to "Vahalla" the "Hall of the slain", and live with Odin the king of the Gods. Here they spent all day fighting each other, only to rise from the battlefield in the evening healed of their wounds and then spent the rest of the night feasting. The main theme of the afterlife seems to have been repetition. It was not however, believed to be eternal. They believed that the world of both the living and dead, gods and monsters would one day be destroyed and the universe would begin anew.

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Sunday, September 3, 2006

Shamanism Defined

Shamanism Defined Cover Shamans are the keepers of ancient techniques used in healing. They are often referred to as ‘witch doctors’ by societies that don’t understand them. Shamanism requires the desire to lift all restrictions from oneself, time, space, and fear, are a few of the restriction that usually hold humans to this Earth and Existence.

It is important to mention that Shamans don’t refer to themselves as such; the title is a label attached to them by others. Shamans are healers, energy workers, elders, and guides among other things. Labeling oneself as a Shaman would be to assume a title and thus separateness from the oneness that is everything; that would go against the basic philosophy of their beliefs.

Shapeshifting is a practice used by Shamans for many things including healing, it is knowing and acknowledging your oneness with everything else. It is not easily learned and definitely requires a teacher and supervised guidance. It also requires much dedication and years of work.

Shamanism and shapeshifting is about recognizing our true oneness with everything else. Separateness is an illusion. When one shapeshifts into what we call "the other", one is manifesting that philosophy of oneness on a physical plane. Along with that, one has to surpass and forgive hopelessness, bitterness, cynicism, anger, denial, and fear in order to find ones true soul and its connection with the oneness.

From the shamanic perspective there is no differentiation between body, mind, and spirit. Illness can be brought about by thought, unresolved emotional duress, and lowering one’s life force with the constant use of alcohol, drugs, or other poisonous substances. These intrusions that bring about illness are not evil since they don’t have their own personality; they simply believe they are at home within us and don’t like to leave. We allow these intrusions to transform us and thus to make ourselves ill. When removing intrusions one does not kill, destroy or damage them, one simply asks that they be neutralized and their power used in a more constructive way. Then one fills the voids that remain with positive Universal Energy and continues with what Shamans call “soul retrieval”. Soul retrieval is when the shaman leaves ordinary consciousness, journeying to the spirit world, and retrieves the lost soul particles.

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