Oskmeyjar: Wish Maidens

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Oskmeyjar: Wish Maidens
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Post # 1
Oskmeyjar: The Wish Maidens

"But Brynhild asked the helm | it said,

A wish-maid bright | he said she should be;

For a nobler maid | would never be born

On earth, he said, | if death should spare her- Oddrunargratr

Oskmeyjar "wish maidens" are minor spirits/beings within Norse tradition. As they were also titled Swan Maidens, Svanmeyja, because of cloaks they wore, alftarham , which were adorned with swan feathers. The cloaks similar to that of the Valkryjur, Valkyries, clothed themselves with. In respect to their relations to the Valkyrjur, there is much speculation if Oskmeyjar were Valkyries or vice versa. Originally they had thought to have been separate entities- however over time they have unified as one ethereal being. Folklore analyst, D. L. Ashliman, gives a definitive thought as to why this has become so: the reconstruction of the Heathen age and the alteration of the Valkyries from being "corpse goddesses" to weavers of victory. This due to various sagas depicting Valkyries being vulnerable without the influences of their cloaks- as well as their similarities of being prophetesses, maidens to Odin in Valhalla ( Nafnathulur, Skaldskaparmal ) and often being encountered by/or having human relations.

As the role of a Swan Maiden, these feminine spirits would be able to travel by land, air or sea. Giving them the capabilities to shapeshift from youthful woman to a winged or swan form. Their cloaks giving them such abilities to either fly or swim. It is mentioned in certain sagas from Scandinavia that humans would often hunt or capture these maidens; stripping them of their cloaks and relentlessly begging them for [wishes] -marriage, protection, or to speak of prophecies. It is known that the swan was popularly associated with the concept of augury. For instance, the phrase, es scwant mir , it swans me, was a meaning allocated to the telling of omens.

Oskmeyjar had very close relationships to Odin. One of Odins alternative names was Oski loosely "wish fulfiller". Taking on the roles as Wish Maidens and of Odin, and as individuals, he would assign the maidens in aiding the slain once they reached Valhalla. Taking the duties of recounting their lives on earth, comforting them, and the granting of 'wishes'. These wishes ambiguous- though similarly thought to be related to sibyl work. However, the maidens often went against Odins wishes- the individual form. Taking flight to the realm of humans in relations to carrying out their own duties and the fates of mankind. The most notable account of this being from Volundarkvida , The Lay of Volund . This piece describes three Swan Maidens bathing by a lake and encountering Volund along his brothers.

There are clearly overlapping attributes to each the Valkyries and Wish/Swan Maidens. Along with perhaps other wight, disir, and likewise female entities within the Norse tradition(s). Equally, the sagas and Eddas themselves highlight these similarities and differences. It might be safe to say that the gnosis of these spirits is to largely be determined by practitioners and lore. Nonetheless it has always been my understanding that these maidens were very much different beings and should be acknowledged so.


The Poetic Edda trans. by Carolyne Larrington

Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology by Snorri Sturluson

Goddess of the North by Lynda C. Welch



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Re: Oskmeyjar: Wish Maidens
Post # 2
Very interesting.
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