Sunday, 13 April 2014

Havamal Snippets 137: A window into the Viking pharmacy

This verse deals with practical advice that Vikings used for physiological and psychological maladies.  (If you have any stomach complaints then please speak to a respectable qualified professional first.  The Havamal shouldn't be your first port of call for medical advice!)

One of the lines in the verse refers to a belly that is over-filled with acidic beer should be treated with alkali soil.  This makes sense when you remember that in the tropical rain forests, both humans and animals that live on a diet of acidic plants quite often eat mud to counteract the toxic effects of the plants.  People living in industrialised countries suffering from stomach acid also consume soil but soil in a bottle, that has been carefully prepared by a chemist, e.g. milk of magnesia.

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
hvars þú öl drekkr
kjós þú þér jarðar megin
því at jörð tekr við ölðri
en eldr við sóttum
eik við abbindi
ax við fjölkynngi
höll við hýrógi
heiptum skal mána kveðja
beiti við bitsóttum
en við bölvi rúnar
fold skal við flóð taka       
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
when you drink ale,
choose for yourself the might of the earth,
because earth fights against beer,
and fire against sickness,
oak against constipation,
an ear of corn against sorcery,
the hall-tree against domestic strife,
-- one must invoke the moon against wrathful deeds --
alum against bite-sickness
and runes against misfortune;
the earth must contend against the sea.


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