Saying's of the High One considered by many to be the most important manuscript in all of Northern European Ancestral religion, it is actually in the form of a very long poem (over 5,000 words). Part of a larger manuscript known as the Codex Regius (common name: Poetic Edda), Havamal has received more attention than most other Eddas (except for possibly Voluspa). Within Havamal Odin (the co-Progenitor of the European Race and gods) speaks to us about many things from the mundane aspects of material life, to the spiritual realities of sacrifice... from always being prepared to defend oneself, to the importance of friendship Havamal states it bluntly, directly, and without compromise. Selected passages follow.
Have thy eyes about thee when thou enterest
be wary alway,
be watchful alway;
for one never knoweth when need will be
to meet hidden foe in the hall.
From his weapons away no one should ever
stir one step on the field;
for no one knows when need might have
on a sudden a man of his sword.
All hail to the givers! A guest hath come
say where shall he sit?
In haste is he to the hall who cometh,
to find a place by the fire.
Not great things needs give to a man:
bringeth thanks oft a little thing;
with half a loaf and a half-drained cup
I won me oft worthy friend.
Humility and shrewdness:
To be bright of brain let no man boast,
but take good heed of his tongue:
the sage and silent come seldom to grief
as they fare among folk in the hall.
More faithful friend findest thou never
than shrewd head on thy shoulders.
Better burden bearest thou nowise
than shrewd head on thy shoulders;
in good stead will it stand among stranger folk,
and shield when unsheltered thou art.
To false friend ay a far way 'tis,
though his roof be reared by the road;
to stanch friend ay a straight way leads,
though far he have fared from thee.
With his friend a man should be friends ever,
with him and the friend of his friend;
but foeman's friend befriend thou never,
and keep thee aloof from his kin.
Middling wise every man should be:
beware of being too wise;
for wise man's heart is happy seldom,
if too great the wisdom he won.
A little lake hath but little sand:
but small the mind of man;
not all men are equally wise,
each wight wanteth somewhat.
May the halt ride a horse, and the handless be herdsman
the deaf man may doughtily fight,
a blind man is better than a burned one, ay:
of what gain is a good man dead?
To have a son is good, late-got though he be,
and born when buried his father;
stones see'st thou seldom set by the roadside
but by kith raised over kinsmen.
A full-stocked farm had some farmer's sons.
Now they stoop at the beggar's staff;
in a twinkling fleeth trothless wealth,
it is the ficklest of friends.
Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself eke soon wilt die;
but fair fame will fade never,
I ween, for him who wins it.
All undone is no one though at death's door he lie:
some with good sons are blessed,
and some with kinsmen, or with coffers full,
and some with deeds well-done.
I wot that I hung on the wind-tossed tree
all of nights nine,
wounded by spear, bespoken to Óthin,
bespoken myself to myself,
upon that tree of which none telleth
from what roots it doth rise.
Neither horn they upheld nor handed me bread;
I looked below me—
aloud I cried—
caught up the runes, caught them up wailing,
thence to the ground fell again.
This is a small sampling. See the book section of our Catalog (click here)
for the complete Havamal in book form.