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Niding Pole

Forums ► Norse Paganism ► Niding Pole

Niding Pole
Post # 1
The 'Niding Pole' (often called Nidstang or Nidhstong) is an ancient Scandinavian method of cursing another being.

A niding pole is most often made out of wood, traditionally hazel, with a horse's head placed upon the top and relevant runes carved into the pole.

I was discussing the pole with a friend, Personified, and Person informed me that a goat's skull can be used as a substitute, although it is not as effective as the traditional horse's head. In addition, Person also gave me the information that you can carve a horse head out of wood and rub your blood on the teeth to ''wake'' it.

(The horse's head is now more normally replaced with a horse skull or the pole itself is carved with the image of a horse head.)

Why the horse head? On the Niding Pole, the horse skull invokes the horse rune Ehwaz, using the linking and transmissive power of the rune for the magical working. The horse is sacred to Odin, a major deity in Norse mythology and cosmology that represents war/battle, victory and death, however in addition: wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, runes and hunting.

To cast the curse, the pole was traditionally erected, facing the direction to which the curse is to be sent. An incantation is spoken, pronouncing the target of the curse.

With that done the horse head is turned to face the direction of the chosen quarry. Such a curse is intended also to cajole the land wights into working against the victim/s.

The pole channeled the destructive forces of Hel, goddess of death. These forces were carried up the pole and projected through the horse skull. The runes carved on the pole defined the character and target of the destructive forces.

Among others, triple Thorn [Thurisaz] runes and triple Is [Isa] runes, were used to 'smite' the enemy. When used maliciously, these had the effect of disempowering the accursed's will and delivering him or her to the forces of destruction. Here, the Thorn rune invokes the power of Thurs, the demonic earth-giant sometimes called Moldthurs.

An example of this comes from Skirnismal, where the spell used by Skirnir against Freyr's reluctant lover, Gerdhr invokes harm using the Thorn rune. This provides the power for three other runestaves: 'I shall inscribe Thurs for you, and three runestaves: lewdness, and rage and impotence.'

The Niding Pole was intended to disrupt and anger the earth sprites (Landvaettir, Land-Wights or earth spirits) inhabiting the ground where the accursed's house was. These sprites would then vent their anger upon the person, whose livelihood and life would be destroyed.

Niding Poles were also used to desecrate areas of ground. This technique is called alfreka, literally the 'driving away of the elves', by which the earth sprites of a place were banished, said to leave the ground spiritually dead.


Grimner's Nidstang:

''I curse!
I curse all of them
who soil our glorious land
with unworthy actions.

I curse all of them
who borrow sacred symbols
Gungnir, Mjolnir and Sacred Staves -
Odin's spear, Thor's hammer
and runes, given by Odin's hand
and soil them
with unholy deeds.

I curse all of them
who in ugly costumes
and shaven heads
as well as suits
and ties
abuse the wisdom of our ancestors
our ancient ways
and our present faith.

I curse all of them
who want to silent
the mouths of others
for themselves to be heard
with their stupid bellowing.
I curse all of them
who put themselves above others
because of their paleness,
who trample on others
because of the color of their skin,
foreign language,
or a different faith.

Upon the heads of these miscreants
I call all powers!
I call upon the gnomes, and the little people
to scratch their bodies
and disturb their sleep.

I call upon the elf-smiths
to lay an iron ring
around their chests
giving little room for their spirit
little room for breath
to speak of evil.

I call upon the "rimthurses" (frost-giants)
from the depth of Niflheim
That they may freeze to their death
before they get a chance
to freeze others out.

I call Surt and his "fire-thurses"
That they may burn to their death
before others may burn
by their hands.

I call upon Loki
That he may twist their vision
so that they strike each other down
before they strike anyone else down.

I call upon Freya
So that these young men
never may share a woman's bed
and never have sons
or daughters of their own
as long as they want to hinder
others to do just that.

And I call upon Frey
That these young men
have their manhood gelded,
never being able to create anything good
for themselves,
never getting peace
or harvest,
as long as they want to hinder
others to do just that.

I call upon Thor
that he may protect us
from demonic evil
and I call upon his wrath
against the miscreants
who wants to cause pain to others.

I call upon Odin,
He who gave spirit
to man and woman.
He who together with his brothers
Hoenir and Lodur
Gave life to man,
Body and Soul,
Ask and Embla,
Man and Woman.

I call upon Odin
and the "Norns".
Goddesses of destiny,
Urdh, Verdhandi and Skuld,
who together judge
everyone after death
that they may judge
these miscreants hard,
so that they
not even after their deaths
may escape their deeds of evil
against other sons and daughters
of Ask and Embla.

I set this "nid"
until these drooling servants
of evil and ignorance
do penance
and let each and one
stay by their land, their people
and their faith
wherever in our world
they may choose to live.''

by Grimner Bjornklo ("Bearclaw")

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Re: Niding Pole
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2
I like this post.

In the hopes of being informative, I'd like to add a bit to it:

The size of the pole depends upon the person, really, and the purpose for the pole. You can make a giant one, if you feel you are cursing many people or you want it to be extremely powerful. However, for individuals you can make some as small as wands, etc

Then after inscribing the names of the person(s) you intend the pole to be directed to, and the "curse" you place upon them- You then speak the things you have written. This is called nid, or the verbal cursing. You may choose to use specific deities in this: a common one is Hel, as you mentioned: But any and all can be called for this purpose. the verbal part of this does play a big role.

Heres an example from the Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson:

"Here I place this nidstang (curse-pole), and turneth it against King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild - turneth I this against all the gnomes and little people of the land, that they may all be lost, not finding their homes, until they drive King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild out of the country."

More common today is a virtual nid: usually someone will type up a nid and send it attached with a picture of a horses head. I do not think these are effective at all. Perhaps the Nid would be, in calling the Gods or wights or whatnot to take retribution on someone for you. But without the physical presence of the pole- I cannot say

And these should be taken very seriously. As was mentioned, it can drive
out the spirits of nature or land and leave an area "spiritually dead". It could also anger the wights and if you were not very clear or specific they may harm someone you did not intend to harm. And, as with most things, it can backfire on you.

But on the up side, you can use these poles for protection. Carve relevant runes for protection into the wood, leaving the name blank. Place these poles in front of your home facing the road to "ward off unwanted visitors", keep away I welcomed guests, banish negativity from your land, etc.
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 3
Very nice and informative! Thank you.
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 4
Thank you both, and extra thanks to Person for adding more information.
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Re: Niding Pole
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 5
Out of curiosity, have you ever made a nidhing pole for your own personal uses, Pse?
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 6
When I was in my younger days and lacked maturity, yes. Yourself?
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Re: Niding Pole
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 7
It's been a long while since I've had one up. I do make small, wooden ones and place them to guard my land though. But considering most of my workings are with spirits and the wights, I don't like them to be too close to where I work.
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 8
That makes sense- I find small ones are more convenient, especially for handling, as I am not incredibly tall.

I think the last one I made is down in the basement of my apartment here in Sweden. Generally, I used it to keep unwanted visitors away.
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 9
Thank you for clarifying it a little more for me considering I have never heard of some of the names in that spell.
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Re: Niding Pole
Post # 10
No problem, Hempr.
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