Norse Settlement in Cumbria

Over the next few months I intend to research the origins of my surname, Nielsen, in Cumbria. For obvious reasons family lore believes it is due to a Scandinavian settler some time ago. Not surprising given Cumbria’s ‘Viking’ settlement, as well as more recent settlers from Scandinavia who may have arrived via major ports like Liverpool and Newcastle, and then resettled further into England.

If anyone has any information on Nielsens in that part of the country, please contact me.

A Dream Before Yule of the Wild Hunt

This morning at 7:15am, 20th December 2018, I was awoken from an incredibly vivid, visceral dream. It is very rare that I remember my dreams, and even rarer that they have the feeling of something truly deep and meaningful. The last profound dream I had was about five years ago and involved swans. When the routine screams of my young daughter awoke me this morning (she is by nature not a very peaceful soul) I took the opportunity to write down what I’d dreamt. It was one of thoseĀ  dreams that feels as real as life, and is as follows:

I was with my family – wife, children and mother – in the grounds of a nearby Secondary School where we often walk the dog. It was day time; a mix of blue sky and cloud. Out of nowhere, snow started to fall; not normal snow however – each snowflake was the size of a melon yet fell gracefully. Some were in the form of beautiful snowflakes and some were simple hollow orbs. Myself and my children played at catching each snowflake and then compacting it into a small snowball. The snow only lasted a few minutes and then normal, mild weather resumed.

I then sat alone, away from the rest of my family, and looked into the sky. Against the blue, and just behind a cloud I saw – as clear as anything – a procession of detailed, solid figures appearing from behind a cloud. First were dark horses, then white horses, then what looked like ancient warriors, then SS soldiers, and lastly, Hindu Gods (with blue skin). They moved in an orderly, steady fashion and then disappeared behind another cloud.

My heart was pounding and I was trembling. I knew from the moment I had seen this heavenly sight that it was a sign, and I panicked to tell my family (my mother first, for some reason). As I struggled to gather enough of my faculties to speak, I was awoken from the dream. I woke up shaking and with heart racing.

Tonight is Mother’s Night, at which point begin the Twelve Nights of Yule. It is said that dreams during this period should be paid extra-special attention to, for each night represents a month in the coming year where the dream of that night will play out in the corresponding month of waking life. This dream occured the night before the Twelve Nights begin, and I don’t know what (if any) significance that holds, but I’ll certainly be paying close attention to any dreams I have over the Yuletide.

The Origin of Ur

As with many of the Runes, I’m not convinced that the majority of scholars have properly interpreted Ur. Depending on the Rune Poem, Ur either refers to an archaic breed of cattle or to drizzle. For various reasons I have lately had cause to meditate upon the fullness of Ur‘s meaning and here are my thoughts…

In Stephen Pollington’s ‘Rudiments of Runelore’ he features and discusses several Anglo-Saxon poems which include Runes. Generally, wherever Ur appears, he translates it to mean “our”. This seems such a simple likeness – “Ur” and “our” – but I sense it may be legitimate and it had me thinking about other etymological connections.

The French word “origin” ultimately derives from the Latin stem oriri”, whose definition is given by as:

“arise, rise, get up; appear above the horizon, become visible; be born, be descended, receive life;” figuratively “come forth, take origin, proceed, start”

Furthermore, Proto Indo-European “heri” means “to rise”, and Sanskrit iyarti means “to set in motion, move,”.

“Ur”, also, was the name of a Sumerian city, dating to around 3800BC. Whether the Sumerians were truly an Aryan people or not is still debated, but we have to take into consideration the significance of this city’s name in relation to the topic of Germanic lore, as a direct lineage between the two is not beyond the realms of possibility.

All of this considered, we have the Rune which appears in second position within all of the Futharks and Futhorc (which we can be sure is no coincidence), referring to “our” (we, us), related etymologically to the Latin word “origin” and to one of the oldest known cities of civilised man, Ur. Via the same etymological trail, “Ur” could mean “to rise”, “be born” or “set in motion”. This may be where the drizzle connection comes in, as drizzle would always be seen among agrarian man as something which precipitates crop growth or, indeed, increasingly strong rain and thus flow.

As for the Aurochs connection, I would postulate that this signifies the origin of farming. For a Hunter-Gatherer tribe to make the transition to static settlement and farming, it is reasonable to assume that wild cattle would not to be caught, wrestled and domesticated in order for this new order of society to come into being. In fact, in writing this I have reason to suspect that one of the overriding stories told by the Runes could be the rise of agrarian society, or more generally the evolution of human social structures; but this I’ll have to reserve for another article.

Ur, I believe, is the Rune of origin. It signifies the establishment of settled living and culture; of something stable. If what precedes Ur is moveable wealth (Feoh), and what follows it is protection (Thorn), then this only affirms the possibility that Ur is the establishment of an Innangard and the origin of a stable system of culture and law.

Guido Von List agrees, describing Ur with such words and phrases as “primal”, “primordial”, “permanent”, “original cause”, “root of all material and cosmic phenomena“. He also calls it the Creative Mother Principle, which ties in with the home-making nature of permanent settlement and stability. I will write in another article about how Feoh is the force of will and creation in a more masculine sense.