"Visitation," St. Vaast Altarpiece, Jacques Darat, 1435, Wikipedia photo.
“Visitation,” St. Vaast Altarpiece, Jacques Darat, 1435, Wikipedia photo.

Amongst meadows and mountains cloud-
Swept, forested land we discovered, trees
Vikings knew well, willows, birches, and
Ash, sunlit outcroppings never branch-
Laced to form meandering treeline, yet
Holy places they became, worshiping
Pagan gods, solemn prayers, protection
Against dangers in hostile lands, beyond
Home fiords and hearth fires.

At foot of rocky cliffs we oft worshiped,
Nordic gods of towering strength, time-
Shrouded granite peaks, where our gods
Resided. On bended knee, homage we
Paid to Odin, dawn deity Ēostre, life-
Guidance in home-forging, fertile wives
And farm animals, prosperity of Norse
Clans, protecting longships navigating
Death-perils of seas ice-cluttered.

"Christ Pantocrator," Saint Catherine's Monastery, circa 6th century, Wikipedia photo.
“Christ Pantocrator,” Saint Catherine’s Monastery, circa 6th century, Wikipedia photo.

For decades we so worshiped, holy groves
And streams, Norse generations, fiord-born
At Brattahlid, never knew homeland of Erik
Red, battle-strife as Christians and Norse
Kinsmen fought for plunder and glory-fame.
For ours was another spirit-path, raising not
Sword or shield, but soul-wealth of sacred
Miracles and mysteries, stirring Viking hearts,
Promised prophesies of Christian god.

Forested groves most sacred, Brithe beheld
Visions, woman of holy light, thoughts
Loud-spoken to maiden’s mind, praise of
Her son, Jesus, who died and rose again at
Glowing sunrise. Whispered sagas we had
Heard, crucified deity who died for us as
Enemies we killed in Odin might. Hearing
Sacred words, we bore true witness to Mary,
Vikings steadfast to Holy Mother of Christ.

Again Mary visited Brithe, visions all-seen
Upon Hvalsey cliffs, divine light and crystal
Thoughts whilst we prayed yet to Odin and
To Ēostre. “Upon these shores, build Christian
Church and farmstead, walls thick and strong.”
From granite field-stones, we constructed
Church, mead-hall, and animal pens, monu-
Ments long-lasting in name of resurrected
Christ Lord and his Holy Mother, Mary.

Southern aspect of Hvalsey Church, granite cliffs in background, Wikipedia photo.
Southern aspect of Hvalsey Church, granite cliffs in background, Wikipedia photo.

Old ways not forgotten, in secret, many still
Heart-clutched to pagan gods, Norse beliefs.
Faithful, we attended Christian church, songs
And prayers, then to forest glens we worshiped
Odin and Ēostre. Over years, our mind-ways
Changed. Godly places and dwellings were
Known as Christian, Norse gods falling from
Favour, worshiping in stone churches, at
Crosses placed in sacred forests.

Small forests existed during Viking Greenland habitation.
During the advent of Christianity into Nordic lands,
Crosses were often placed in pagan holy places, where
emphasis gradually shifted from being pagan wooded
spaces to being Christian. In this poem, large granite
cliffs overlook Hvalsey Church. This poem also refers
to religious parallels of dawn, such as Greek Eos, Norse
Ēostre, a
nd Christian Easter. 

Written whilst listening to “Night Ride Across the Caucasus”
by Loreena McKennit. 

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