Birgir talked to us about Faroese culture and history with a focus on the language and historic ties to Denmark, WW11 connections to Britton and linguistic context to old Norse and Gaelic.
Tóta’s talk was focused on myths, ballads and storytelling in Faroese culture. What was very interesting in her talk was the relationship of the Faroese chain dance to the ongoing survival of the language and the culture. It was also fascinating to learn about some of the Faroese fairy tales and myths – particularly the Huldufólk, the Seal Woman (Kópakonan or Selkie) and stories of trolls and giants.
I was interested to learn more about Faroese fairy tales and connections to Norse culture, in particular the Norse cosmology. Given my interest in the Runes, I was particularly interested in seeing if the Norns were part of Faroese culture.
It was really exciting to discover that indeed the Norns were a part of Faroese culture and a number of contemporary interpretations of this story in the Faroes. For example, the Norns have featured as the subject of recent Faroese stamps in 2003 and 2006.
On the Faroe Islands, the traditions of the Norns seem to have lasted for a long time after the introduction of Christianity. Several words and terms, which refer to Norns, have survived in the language until recently.
In the book “Dictionarium Færoense” from late eighteenth century, the author J. C. Svabo tells, that Norns were small, human-like beings, even smaller than vaettras. Svabo tells that on the island of Suðuroy, a special meal called “Norna-greytur” (Norn-porridge) was prepared for the mother, just after she had given birth to the child.
The Norns also created the Runes and are also connected to prophecy and fate, with the three most important norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld, standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate). They draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.
Speaking of islands, we are heading off today to the island of Suðuroy to start the sea journey part of our residency aboard the beautiful old ship the Johanna.