Healing hands and magical spells
Long I slept, long was I sleeping
long are the woes of men
Odin brought it about that I could not break
the spell of drowsiness
The valkyrie Sigrdrifa addresses Sigurd Fafnesbani with these words after he
has wakened her from her sleep on Hindarfjell. Sigrdrifa is better known under
another name, Brynhild, and her magic sleep was a punishment of Odin, her
father according to the prose version of the story. She had disobeyed her
father's will and he stung her with a magical thorn, which made her sleep. Odin
put a shield-wall around her and stated that no one who was acquainted with
fear could pass this and wake her up. Sigurd Fafnisbani heard this story from
the deadly wounded dragon and headed towards Hindarfjel for the maiden. His
meeting with the valkyrie is told in Sigrdrfuml, belonging to the Eddic poems
and the cycle of the Vlsungar.
After that she invokes the gods and the mighty fecund earth and beseeches
them of "eloquence and native wit and healing hands", not only for herself but
11th International Saga Conference
also for Sigurd, the one who never was acquainted with fear and whom she now
is expecting to marry. The healing hands are completed with knowledge of
magical power, spells and favourable letters, good charms and joyful runes.
Sigrdrifa furthermore tells that the runes should be cut on the hands and marked
on the nails in order to beguile a wife. Others were victory-runes cut on the
sword, others to calm the sea; there were speech-runes, mind-runes and book-
runes, which at the first glance would have very little to do with healing. Others
are more accurate to this connection, like the helping-runes in childbirth:
Helping-runes you must know if want to assist
and release children from women;
they shall be cut on the palms and clasped on the joints
and then the disir is asked for help.
The knowledge of runes is directly connected with an invocation of the disir.
The disir referred to "coll