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Wuldor in the Ancient Texts

DOY Blog - Chapter Preview - Wuldor

Wuldor, also known as Ull/Ullr is one of the Gods of Northern Europe. His name means “Glory” or “Splendor”, which means he was held in high esteem during the times he was worshipped by the people. Learning about Wuldor, there is not a lot to go on – so in this post, I will present what is known about him from the ancient texts of Scandinavia called the Eddas. The Eddas are stories that tell us much about how the people in ancient times lived and more importantly about their dealings with the Gods and Goddesses. Here are some quotes about Wuldor from these poetic works.

Ullr heitir einn, sonr Sifjar, stjúpsonr Þórs. Hann er bogmaðr svá góðr ok skíðfœrr svá at engi má við hann keppask. Hann er ok fagr álitum ok hefir hermanns atgervi. Á hann er ok gott at heita í einvígi.
Ull is the name of one. The son of Sif, he is the stepson of Thor. He is so skillful a bowman and skier that no one can compete with him. He is beautiful to look at, and is an accomplished warrior. He is also a good person to pray to when in single combat. ~Prose Edda, Gylfaginning

This is a good general description of Wuldor. We know he is the son of Sif, but there is no mention of his natural father (we will go into some speculation on that in another post). Sif is married to the god Thor, making Thor his step-father. He is well known to be associated with the hunt, but also with skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. Many modern ski festivals are named for him and he is known as the “patron saint” of skiing for modern people. Wuldor/Ullr amulets are often worn by skiiers as well as those who work as ski patrol. We also see from this quote that he is a warrior, especially when it comes to single combat – giving one the idea that he is well skilled in hand-to-hand combat and is an accomplished fighter. It is also interesting in this quote that he is described as a person. This has to do with the fact that the peoples of Northern Europe who had dealings with these gods believed them to have human-like qualities and that there was much interaction between the people and their deities.

Ullar hylli
hefr ok allra goða
hverr er tekr fyrstr á funa,
því at opnir heimar
verða of ása sonum,
þá er hefja af hvera.
Ullr’s and all the gods’
favour shall have,
whoever first shall look to the fire;
for open will the dwelling be,
to the Æsir’s sons,
when the kettles are lifted off.
~ Grímnismál, Poetic Edda

This quote shows the importance of Wuldor in that he is named before all the other gods, showing his significance. The rest of the quote sounds like some kind of ritual.

Svá gangi þér, Atli,
sem þú við Gunnar áttir
eiða oft of svarða
ok ár of nefnda,
at sól inni suðrhöllu
ok at Sigtýs bergi,
hölkvi hvílbeðjar
ok at hringi Ullar.
So be it with thee, Atli!
as toward Gunnar thou hast held
the oft-sworn oaths,
formerly taken –
by the southward verging sun,
and by Sigtý’s hill,
the secluded bed of rest,
and by Ullr’s ring.
~ Atlakviða, Poetic Edda

This quote shows the importance of Wuldor in the swearing of oaths. There is a shrine to Wuldor that was excavated in Sweden, called Lilla Ullevi (“little shrine of Ullr”) where archaeologists found 65 amulet rings. In the time of the Norse, oaths were sworn on rings.

Ýdalir heita
þar er Ullr hefir
sér of görva sali.
Ydalir it is called,
where Ullr has
himself a dwelling made. ~ Grímnismál, Poetic Edda

The Yew Dales – Ýdalir is the home of Wuldor. Yew was a common wood in the use of making bows, this is one of the connections we have to Wuldor being a bow-god, or god of the hunt.

There are many places named for him in Sweden and Norway, which shows he was of greater significance than these few references to him in the texts show. If is of note that Grímnismál and Atlakviða are considered to be among the oldest of the Eddic poems and they are the only ones that refer to Wuldor, showing that he was of greatest significance farther back in time.

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