Thursday, September 29, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 2

Hail to the Host!
A guest has arrived.
Are you prepared
to give him a place to rest?
A weary traveler may be impatient
for warmth and kindness

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Modernized Havamal - Verse 1

As promised here is the first verse of the Havamal in slightly more modern language.

Before passing through any door,
observe carefully, and consider what may be ahead.
Always be mindful of your surroundings,
be vigilant in unfamiliar places.
You can never be sure where a foe
or other danger resides.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern Lore available on iTunes

I finally finished converting Northern Lore, and it's available on iTunes.

This version has many photographs in full color.


Modernized Havamal

Some consider the Havamal the “Tao of the North” – the Northern way if you will. The Havamal ("Sayings of the high one") is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, largely present’s advice for living and survival composed around the central figure of Odin. Havamal is both practical and metaphysical in content; this is particularly apparent towards the end of the poem, as the poem shifts into an account of Odin's obtaining of the runic alphabet and obscure text relating to various charms and spells Odin knows.

The only surviving source for the Havamal is contained within the 13th century Icelandic Codex Regius, and is thought to be no older than from around the year 800 AD (though derived from an earlier oral tradition).

The translations of the Havamal that I have read, including those by Bellows, Bray, Hollander and Chisholm, are excellent, but all suffer from one thing – the language used is often archaic. It’s not that these translations are incomprehensible, just that for each one, there is a bias towards the culture and speech patterns at the time of translation, which is completely understandable.

(NOTE: there are versions with slightly more modern language, but they are under copyright, and therefore can't be re-posted and re-used without permission.)

I remember reading one of the translations to my son when he was young and I had to spend allot of time explaining the meaning of each verse due to the use of language. This may be completely acceptable to many, but it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a version that could be read more easily, and understood with a little less decoding. And so began my modernization project.

I created a group on the social networking site Facebook, shared several versions of the Havamal with interested parties, and began discussing ways to modernize them. After completing several verses, it seemed that given the contrast between different translations, that in addition to the archaic language, there was perhaps some additional meaning injected into the verses by the translator. And so I progressed to modernization stage 2 - my own translation.

The approach I’m taking now is that I translate each verse and then post it for the group to view, and then I come up with a modernized version of my translation for comment. When doing the translation, I’m trying to be as literal as possible, and map the words to the six lines that correspond to the Old Icelandic version I have.

I’m not sure that this project will produce a result any better than previous translators, but the group is enjoying the activity, and in the process we are all getting to know the Havamal much more intimately.

Please feel free to re-use the modernized version as long as it’s not for profit. This project was started to provide the community a version of the Havamal that was accessible, and legally available to use on personal websites, as a source for further development and more. If you use it, credit and a link back to my website would be appreciated.

Tomorrow I'll post the first installment, and will post a new verse every few days, as we complete them. Please subscribe to my BLOG so you don't miss anything! Select FOLLOW BY EMAIL to the right.
Here are links to the versions of the Havamal we are using:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 – An Immigrant’s Experience

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Today, I would honor those that fell on 9/11 by sharing my memories of that time with you, my friends and family.

I think everyone has 9/11 burned into their memory; like Pearl Harbor was for our Grandparents. But like so many experiences in life, many of us weren’t actually there, so we remember through news reports, pictures, and of course share grief for the fallen. For me, this tragedy is a bit more vivid. Although I wasn’t at ground zero in New York, I was quite close to the Pentagon, having just moved eleven months earlier from Ottawa to Washington D.C., where I had a new job.

At 9:30 am, on September 11’th, 2001, I was at home, getting a late start to the day and catching up on CNN while I had my coffee and got ready for my commute into the office outside the beltway. That’s when the unthinkable began to unfold live on TV, as my wife and I watched, horrified; one plane hit the Pentagon, which was just a short drive from our house.

I stayed home that day and the following, but on the third day following 9/11 I had to drive into the office.

There was not a single plane in the sky.

That may not seem dramatic, but near Dulles airport, there is a constant flurry of airplanes coming in and leaving the airport. To see the sky empty was like watching some post apocalyptic movie, but I was there. Highway 66 was my main route to work, and it was nearly empty, and like the sky around Dulles, highway 66 is never empty….not even in the middle of the night. As I approached an overpass there was a tattered American flag hanging down from the railing above me, defiant, shouting, “We Are Still Here!” It felt good to see that.

Everyone at my office was on edge as you might expect, but we had a business to run and so, got on to our tasks at hand. Three of us were sitting in a large conference room, with one wall being glass, a window from ceiling to floor. As we sat in the conference room and spoke to colleagues just across the river from Ground Zero in New Jersey, I saw something massive flying toward the window out of the corner of my eye. Instinctively I dove under the table, waiting for the worst to happen. It was only a crane. There was construction going on at the building next door.

I had just been to London a few months before 9/11, and so could not donate blood (some restriction where you have to be back in country a certain length of time), but my wife and I wanted to do something; our new home had just been attacked and we felt helpless. She was a quilter, and so decided to make, and raffle off an American Flag Quilt – the proceeds were to be donated to a fund for the victim’s families. She stayed awake 72 hours to make it, and when it was done, it was large enough to cover an entire King size bed. We held the raffle and made hundreds of dollars for the victim’s fund. Ironically, our next door neighbor Pam, also Mayor, and a friend of my wife, won the quilt. I was very proud of my wife, it may not have made a huge impact on the victim’s fund, but it’s the combined momentum of countless little acts like this that change history. The newspaper thought so too, and featured her in a story the following week.

A couple of weeks after 9/11 I took the train up to New Jersey for a series of meetings, and would be there for the week. When I looked over across the river to New York City, the smoke billowed from Ground Zero, like a surrogate for the fallen trade towers, marking their place. I worked in New Jersey Monday to Friday for a couple of months, and the smoke never seemed to abate. I couldn’t fathom how that could be. But there it was.

After 9/11 we also went through the Anthrax scare, which affected our mail depot, and then the following year the Beltway Sniper, who killed people at gas stations we frequented. It was definitely a traumatic first couple of years in America for us as new immigrants, but we loved her none the less for it.

Our family moved back to Canada last year, but we cherished every day of the ten years we spent living there; today I remember the fallen, their families, friends, and the country I called home.

I remember.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Video Trailer for Northern Lore to Feature Music from the Symphony "Eddan - The Invincible Sword of the Elf Smith" from Composer Mats Wendt.

Northern Lore recently won in the Global eBook Awards, and to build on that momentum, I'm having a video trailer for my book produced.

Mats Wendt, the composer of the symphony "Eddan - The Invincible Sword of the Elf Smith", has given me permission to use his music in my trailer. It's all based on the Norse Eddas, and is absolutely brilliant.


  • A symphonic suite in 158 parts spanning the complete pre-christian scandinavian mythology.
  • Based upon an academic recreation of the old world myth.
  • Play time: 16 hours and 37 sec.

Check out a link to his music at my website:

...and stay tuned for the video trailer!