30 DoA #8: Variations

Ardre Image Stone VIII, 8th-9th c. Sweden

8. Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.). Since stumbling across that Rydberg-inspired article the other day, this topic just potentially became a lot more complicated. However, for sake of simplicity I’m going to stick to instances where Wayland is mentioned specifically by name, rather than putatively more speculative ones.  I’m probably going to be missing some examples, but here’s a brief rundown of of the Master Smith as he appears in various ancient cultures.

Anglo-SaxonWēland. This is some of the most fragmentary evidence, but it lends detail and color to the overall mythos.  In the poem Deor, both Wayland’s and Bodhild’s suffering is described. Meanwhlie, in Waldere and Beowulf tell of some of the Smith’s creations, namely a sword and a maille shirt. And of course, with regard to the archaeological evidence, there is the famous Franks Casket, which shows a number of scenes from the legend (combined with the Adoration of the Magi–kind of a weird combo, in my opinion!).  There are any number of other depictions from Viking Age northern England as well, including Leeds and various sites in Yorkshire.

Old NorseVölundrVelentr. This version of Wayland is the roughest and least apologetic of the ancient sources. His tales can be found in the Völundarkviða  and in Þiðrekssaga. Pictoral representations can be found on the Ardre Image Stone VIII and a possible bronze winged figure from Uppåkra, Sweden.

proto-Germanic*Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. “battle-brave”. A reconstructed name is all we have here, folks. Inspired imagination is a good route for people who want to explore this aspect further.

pre-Anglo-Saxon: The site of Wayland’s Smithy in the Berkshire Downs may have been called so by the Anglo-Saxons because there was already a local being in residence who fit many of Wayland’s characteristics. For quite a while it was believed that if one left coin and a horse at the megalithic burial mound overnight, the horse would be shod in the morning. I’ve also heard tell of motorists with car trouble doing the same thing, and having their cars repaired after a night by the “smithy.”

Assabet River Bioregion: A modern place of Wayland veneration (aka, Where I Live). In my own 21st century experience, Wayland’s character has been that of a mentor or uncle figure. As a practical god, he appreciates hard work and determination. There’s definitely humor lurking beneath the surface, and just a hint of a trickster. He mostly interacts with me in regards to creative processes, and only occasionally on the larger questions of life.

Aspects: Wayland has two primary aspects, at least according to the extant lore. One is the Maker, which is the one with which I have the most experience. The other is the Avenger (ha ha), which I honestly hope that I never have to witness. In either case, Wayland does not do things by halves. He is completely devoted first to his craft, and then to his punishment of Niðhad’s line. May I be as steady in my course as he.

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