Use of medicinal plants by Neanderthals discovered

The Heritage Trust

Reconstruction of a Neanderthal in The Neanderthal Museum, Germany. Source Wikipedia.
Image credit Ökologi
Writing in TG Daily, Emma Woollacott reports that the examination of food particles trapped in the teeth of Neanderthal remains have –
…revealed the human ancestor Australopithecus sediba ate bark – analysis of microscopic bits of food trapped between the teeth – they’ve established that Neanderthals cooked plants, including bitter-tasting ones that have medicinal properties. Until recently, Neanderthals, who disappeared between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago, were thought to be predominantly meat-eaters.

Researchers from Spain, the UK and Australia combined pyrolysis gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry with morphological analysis of plant microfossils to identify material trapped in dental calculus – calcified dental plaque – from five Neanderthals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón.

Full articlehere.

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Hrafnkels saga Freysgodhi

The first page of Hrafnkels saga from the Árni Magnússon Institute ÁM. 156, fol., 17th Century.

Chapter 1
It was in the days of King Harold Fairhair that a man brought his ship to Iceland into Breiðdal, his name being Hallfreðr. Breiðdal is a countryside down below that of Fljótsdalr. On board his ship was his wife and son, who was hight Hrafnkell, who was then fifteen winters old, a hopeful and goodly man.

Hallfreðr set up household. In the course of the winter there died a servant-maid of foreign kin, whose name was Arnthrúðr; hence the name of the place Arnthruðr-staðir. In the spring Hallfreðr moved his house northward over the heath, and set up a home at a place called Geitdalr. One night he dreamt that there came a man to him, and said : “There liest thou, Hallfreðr, and rather unwarily; flit thy house away west across the Lagarfljót, for there all thy good luck awaits thee.” Thereupon he awoke and flitted his belongings down the valley, across Rangá, into the Tongue to a spot, which has since been called Hallfreðr-staðir, and there he dwelt into a good old age.

In breaking up from Geitdalr he had left a goat and a buck behind, and the same day that Hallfreðr left, an earthslip struck the house, and there these two creatures were lost. Hence the name Geitdalr, which this place has borne ever since.
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Ostara – Eostre – Eástre – Austriahenea

Ostara - Eostre - Eástre - Austriahenea

Hail Eostre!
Spring has come to the Southern Hemisphere!

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Biarkamol hin Fornu – “The old Lay of Biarki”


The old lay of Biarki.

1 “Awake, arise, rally, friends!
All ye foremost athelings of Hrólf!
Awake not to wine nor to your wives’ converse,
but rather to Gondul’s game of war.”

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Gylfi comes to Asgard

Gylfi comes to Asgard

Gylfi kom til Ásgarðs

King Gylfi was a wise man and skilled in magic; he was much troubled that the Æsir-people were so cunning that all things went according to their will. He pondered whether this might proceed from their own nature, or whether the divine powers which they worshipped might ordain such things. He set out on his way to Ásgard, going secretly, and- clad himself in the likeness of an old man, with which he dissembled. But the Æsir were wiser in this matter, having second sight; and they saw his journeying before ever he came, and prepared against him deceptions of the eye. When he came into the town, he saw there a hall so high that he could not easily make out the top of it: its thatching was laid with golden shields after the fashion of a shingled roof. So also says Thjódólfr of Hvin, that Valhall was thatched with shields:

On their backs they let beam, | sore battered with stones,
Odin’s hall-shingles, | the shrewd sea-farers.

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Vikings- The Truth

The Consulting Detective

images (9)

Recently on BBC Two a new history series has been airing,it is simply called  Vikings and presented by Neil Oliver. This series tries to look at the truth behind the Vikings. Last week’s programme dealt wonderfully with the origins of the Vikings. The show took us on a tour of Norway and Denmark explaining how the evolution of the Viking culture was very distinct from the rest of Europe which was mostly influenced by the Romans. Apart from showing us where the Vikings came from it also gives us an intriguing idea of what Europe would have been like if Rome has never conquered most of the then known world.  Tonight’s programme deals with the subject of what happened next: where did the Vikings go after they learned to sail the seven seas? If you want to find out tune into BBC Two tonight at 9pm.

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Something silly


I saw this somewhere else and hope no one minds me using it.  It is amusing and true as, historically, berserks in different cultures used little armor.  If you prefer, think of Fire/Rage being far more Aggression than Defense.  Like anything else, there are pros and cons.

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The Difference Between Here and There: Some Thoughts on How American Ásatrú Differs from Swedish Asatro

An Ásatrú Blog

Personal Journal Entry from April 25, 2012:

I recently read an article from a Swedish Heathen’s blog about how they refer to themselves and how very different it is from how American Ásatrúar refer to ourselves and the differences in our practices. Needless to say, I found this very interesting and I have a few thoughts on the matter. The two major points was that the use of Ásatrú is often taken to have a racist connotation by the Left in Sweden and that the most common term is “pagan.” Secondly, American Ásatrú is far more a devotional religion than Scandinavian practices.

As you might imagine, I was a good bit shocked by this first part. I’d say the author did a very good job of pointing out that “pagan” means something completely different in the States than it does in Scandinavia, where Wicca is all but nonexistent. There is…

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A Quick Look at Ásatrú as a Folk Religion

An Ásatrú Blog

One of the things that I have found hardest to explain to people who are still part of “mainstream” religious organizations is the idea that we do not, have not, and most likely never will have a central organization that defines our religious beliefs and practices. This is because we are a folk religion. This means that our faith, customs, and practices are derived from the people who practice it. Ásatrú varies from place to place and from community to community. A good example of this is how American and Icelandic versions differ. While Americans are more focused on the gods, the Icelanders are more focused on the land wights. Americans make a far bigger deal of ancestor veneration than just about anyone.

These differences exist because they meet the needs of the people practicing Ásatrú in these differing cultural areas. This gets to the hear of what it means…

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Baldrs Draumar

Baldrs Draumar

1. Once were the gods | together met,
And the goddesses came | and council held,
And the far-famed ones | the truth would find,
Why baleful dreams | to Baldr had come.

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The Inclution of Good and Evil into the Norse world View Through Christian Influence

heathen Theory

Let me start by clearly expressing my general views on Norse cosmology.  I am neither Asatru, nor Rokkatru.  I’m not even Vanatru, quite simply I am Heathen.  I believe that all gods of the three races are just that, gods.  And I am a mortal.  A creation of my gods, and it is not for me to judge them.  The more I have studied and immersed myself in this religion the more I’ve felt that to pick an chose which gods were “worthy” of my worship and respect  and which were found lacking is rather arrogant.  Now, that doesn’t mean I like all of the gods my religion has to offer, and it most certainly doesn’t mean that all of the gods have my best interests at heart.  But whether or not I love a god, it is my responsibility to respect and learn from them.  And regardless of how…

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Barbarian Combat (Germanic Style)

Germanic fighting at the time of the Romans
(also where the Germanic warriors fight on horseback as well as paint themselves pitch-black for night attacks)


VRAE EN ANTWOORDE: Wat is Asetrou / Heidenisme in elk geval?

Wat is Asetrou / Heidenisme in elk geval?  Is ‘n Heiden nie ‘n goddelose barbaar nie?

Heiden, beteken nie “goddeloos” soos was ons ou onderwysers altyd vir ons geleer het nie, en is afkomstig van die ou Engelse term hæðen – beteken “’n nie-Christelike/Joodse mens”. Histories was die term beïnvloed deur die Gotiese haiþi; “wonend op heinde en verre”. Dit word ook voorgestel dat die Gotiese haiþi nie total verwant is aan “heide” nie, maar eerder ‘n leenwoord is van die Armeense hethanos, self afkomstig uit die Griekse; ἔθνος (ethnos). Ongelukkig is die betekenis so verdraai en oorgedra om oor die algemeen ge-interpriteer te word as ‘n “goddelose barbaar”.

Asatru (letterlik “geloof in die gode”) of te wel; Asetrou is ‘n moderne herlewing van die geloof wat die Germaanse stamme van Noord-en Sentraal-Europa beoefen het. Die geloofstelsel wat hul beoefen het voordat hulle gedwonge tot die Christendom bekeer het.

Ons gebruik die woord “heiden” met die doel om ons te onderskei van meer hoofstroom “pagans” wat op die New Age trein gespring het. As heidene fokus ons meer op die historiese werklikheid as op ‘n moderne fantasie waaraan ander “pagan” gelowe vasklou. Die terme, Asatru / Odinisme/ Wotanisme / Forn Sidh / Germanische Heidentum – is almal intrinsiek verskillend, maar vir die doel van hierdie berug, deel hul genoeg ooreenkomste met mekaar om saam onder een dekmantel bespreek te word.

Die Wilde Jag

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I am related the the Great Viking X – PROOF OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN (also; why it really doesn’t matter).

I am greatly annoyed at the gall of some people – let me relate to you a simple story.

Once there was a heathen, he had been a student of science for many years and had a working knowledge of genetics. Our heathen then met many other heathens once he discovered the wonders of Heathenry and Asatru, but he was quite dumbfounded you see, as many of his new acquaintances claimed that they were directly descended from one or another great Viking-Age hero like Egil Skallagrimson, Olaf the Lawbreaker and Svein Forkbeard to name but a few. Our heathen cried “What absolute tosh!” To which was replied “How dare you! We know this as fact!” Our heathen replied “Proof – where is it?” The answer mumbled back was “Eeeerrrrrmmmmm… my mommy told me”.

But you see, this is not a heathen-specific issue. I have seen this happen amongst other Pagans as well – all talk and no proof (genetic or otherwise) to back up their grandiose claims of extreme and in their eyes, important, heritage. What annoys me even more, is that people just blindly accept the claims that these individuals make, to which I say “Tosh! Question everything or fall for anything!” – a sad state of affairs that commonly happens to those who can basically be referred to as pagan/heathen-sheople.

It is a conundrum, that is for sure, that so many people can claim their direct inheritance as far back as the Viking Age (+- 750 – 1000 A.C.E.) or to the pagans of pre-Christian Europe (+- 350 A.C.E.) considering that the most trustworthy of written genealogical records in Europe only go as far back as the early 16th century – 400 years after the Christianization of Iceland and a millennia after the conversion of mainland Europe. Even the genealogies in the Norse sagas, most notably Ynglingasaga, (see for a dissertation on why it is an invalid genealogical account) are not entirely trustworthy and present many a problem for one researching their possible past. The only existing Viking-related genealogy that can prove of some help is that of Rollo of Normandy (see for a modern project to determine his living ancestors).

“But Karl, how can you say this? I know in my heart-of-hearts that I am related to X, Y and Z” you may scream whilst cradling yourself in the fetal position. Nay, not all hope is lost my friend, but the sword cuts both ways and indiscriminately.

Let us use that great pagan-murdering zealot Charlemagne (Charles the Great) as an example, as it turns out, dear reader (especially after reading ) that you may be related to that famous person from the past, but it does not matter half as much as you think it does – since given that the average generation is 30(2) years, if you go back to the year 800, that leaves about 40 generations. Potentially you have 2(to the power of 40) ancestors. That’s more than 1 trillion POTENTIAL ancestors alive in 800 ( not counting a phenomenon called “pedigree collapse”) – meaning you may be related to Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, Genghis Kahn, a boatload of Vikings, Celts, Jutes, Lombards, etc. – LIKE EVERYONE ELSE WITH EU ANCESTRY. The population of Europe in 800 was about 25 million so it’s not surprising that you are related to many famous figures who struggled to control their libido or decided to force their libido’s on the spoils of war, mainly through unintentional interbreeding (also see and to make sense of the mind-numbing mathematics involved, as well as an explanation of “pedigree collapse”).

Pedigree Collapse

So the sad part is yes, you may be directly related to X, Y and Z (mainly through interbreeding on a massive scale), but so are the rest of us – and that makes you a special and unique snowflake how?

So if you want to be truly unique, then the mathematical distinction would be to not have any specific people, here stated as X, Y or Z as direct ancestors. You would actually be the luckiest guy in the room if you can say “Guess what? You can shake my family tree till everybody falls out, and I’m the only one here who is NOT RELATED to X, Y and Z” – after which everyone cheers and then go on with their lives.

The ONLY way that you can claim any special kind of relation to any historic figure, is to have a genetic test done if that ancestors DNA is actually still extant (extremely unlikely) so you’ll have to settle for genetic anthropology (general area where your ancestors originated from) even that won’t give you a straight answer half of the time but it is a good start.

See the following three articles for more information on genetic testing for ancestry…

If you don’t have concrete proof, then it didn’t happen – as simple as that!

This begs a far more important question;

Why would you want to be distantly related to someone from the far past?

To be better than your fellow Heathen / Pagan?

To show some kind of misguided superiority over your kin?

What do you have to gain?

I will leave you to ponder these.