Mountains in Fog

Hávamál is a collection of Old Norse poems which form a single entity and body of advice and knowledge. Comprised of numerous shorter poems, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom, it is considered an important source of Viking-era Philosophy, and gives a great moral training ground for the martial concepts of Glima, and how we should use our skills and knowledge for the betterment of ourselves and our family and community.

A few short excerpts are below. Given the time of collation and writing down of the poems (about mid 13th century), the text appears very masculine-oriented but the meanings and tales apply equally across all genders. We would recommend that you seek out a copy for yourself and look into these words of advice that, while well over 1200 years old, are still as apt and relatable today. as they were in their original time.

Image by Kristijan Arsov

On Wisdom

Stance 5 - Translation by Jackson Crawford from 'The Wanderer's Hávamál'

Vits er þǫrf þeim er víða ratar; dælt er heima hvat. At augabragði verðr sá er ekki kann ok með snotrum sitr.

A man needs wisdom if he plans to wander widely; life is easier at home. He’ll be laughed at if he sits among the wise and has nothing to say.

Stance 6 - Translation by Jackson Crawford from 'The Wanderer's Hávamál'

At hyggjandi sinni skyli-t maðr hrǿsinn vera, heldr gætinn at geði, þá er horskr ok þǫgull kømr heimisgarða til. Sjaldan verðr víti vǫrum, því at óbrigðra vin fær ψ aldregi en mannvit mikit.

A wise man is not showy about his wisdom; he guards it carefully. He is silent when he comes to a stranger’s home. Harm seldom befalls the watchful man, for you can never have a more faithful friend than a good supply of wisdom.

Girl in ethnic scandinavian costume in t

On Self-Worth and Value

Stance 71 - Translation by Jackson Crawford from 'The Wanderer's Hávamál'

Haltr ríðr hrossi, hjǫrð rekr handarvanr, daufr vegr ok dugir. Blindr er betri en brenndr sé; nýtr manngi nás.

A limping man can ride a horse, a handless man can herd, a deaf man can fight and win. It’s better even to be blind than fuel for the funeral pyre; what can a dead man do?

Seafront on the sunset with Viking ship.

On Family and Friends

Stance 50 - Translation by Jackson Crawford from 'The Wanderer's Hávamál'

Hrørnar þǫll, sú er stendr þorpi á, hlýr-at henni bǫrkr né barr. Svá er ψ sá er manngi ann; hvat skal hann lengi lifa? 51. Eldi heitari brennr með illum vinum friðr fimm daga, en þá sloknar.

A fir-tree decays, standing over a farm, no longer protected by bark and needles. A person is the same way if nobody loves him; how will he live much longer?