Thursday, February 2, 2012

Havamal, Part 3

Blessings Darlings!

So, we've gone over some of the rights and responsibilities of host/guest, or neighbors, or business interactions, or politics (for all of them are social situations, thus fundamentally the same).  Now the Havamal moves on to more situational awareness and survival, then 'thrival', strategy.

Who travels widely needs his wits about him,
The stupid should stay at home, 
The ignorant man is often laughed at
When he sits at meat with the sage.

Of his knowledge a man should never boast,
Rather be sparing of speech
When to his house a wiser comes:
Seldom do those who are silent
Make mistakes; mother wit
Is ever a faithful friend.

A guest should be courteous
When he comes to the table
And sit in wary silence,
His ears attentive, his eyes alert:
So he protects himself.

I consider the above verses wisdom on situational awareness, especially when on the road/in a business situation/in ANY social situation.  It's less succinct and ... cutesy than "you have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak".  

They speak about a really basic truth - anyone who is clearly trying to impress others DOES tend to impress them ... negatively.  If you're so hot, those around you won't need you to tell them.  And if you're talking smack about how rich your family is, all that you're going to do is set them up to be raided, especially if you're explaining exactly where your defenses are at the same time!

And if you keep YOUR mouth running, you can't evaluate those around you.  You need to know who is sensible, who bullshits, who sees everything negatively, who sees everything too positively, who talks behind others' backs, etc.  

Fortunate is he who is favored in his lifetime
With praise and words of wisdom;
Evil counsel is often given
By those of evil heart.

Blessed is he who in his own lifetime
Is awarded praise and wit,
For ill counsel is often given 
By mortal men to each other 

Evil counsel and ill counsel are only different in what motivates them.  Their effect, if you follow the counsel, is the same for you.  You'll be sorry.  Always consider the source when folks give you advice, and their motivation.

BTW - you ARE evaluating my words here that way, too, aren't you? What are my motives in posting this, and in my amplifications?  

Better gear than good sense
A traveler cannot carry,
Better than riches for a wretched man,
Far from his own home.

Better gear than good sense
A traveler cannot carry,
A more tedious burden than too much drink
A traveler cannot carry.

Less good than belief would have it
Is mead for the sons of men:
A man knows less the more he drinks,
Becomes a befuddled fool. 

Yes, drinking can cause problems.  I suppose that this advice comes from the time before everyone drank because the water was fouled by human contamination?  It's a bit of a wonder, tho', since in all the Eddas and Sagas you don't hear about people being served fresh cold water to drink, or even herbal teas, and the only time I recall milk being mentioned was when it was poured down a well to drive out poison.  For that matter, the only time I recall Thor drinking water was when he was enchanted and thought he was drinking ale from a big horn .... the other end of the horn was the ocean! So just what WAS one expected to drink if not mead and ale?

On that note, I'm off to make myself another cup of tea.

Frondly, Fern


  1. don't hear much about relieving ones self either;-)So perhaps the commonplace of drinking other than mead is a given and not the stuff of sagas.

  2. What a great explanation and summary of the verses. The Havamal is great wisdom for anyone. I think as I age I'm finally starting to learn and practice the passages about watching what you say and basically you wont look and idiot if you don't speak about what you don't know.

    In my early years of paganism I think I put my foot in my mouth quite a few times, lol

    I'm glad I stumbled upon your blog through twitter. :-)