The Lay of Vafthrúthnir: Vafþrúðnismál

Short-short pre-summary: Óthin hears of the wisdom of the giant Vafthrúthnir and goes to see him in his hall against his anxious wife’s wishes. The giant begins to test Óthin’s wisdom before realizing who he is, then urges him to occupy the high-seat to continue their contest with the loser’s head at stake. Óthin asks an unanswerable question and Vafthrúthnir then realizes who he is.


It starts with Óthin announcing to Frigg that he is about to leave to go see Vafthrúthnir. She asks him to stay, but he assures her that he will be alright. Frigg then allows him to leave while wishing for his safe return.

Óthin walks into Vafthrúthnir’s hall and is straightaway told he won’t be allowed to leave alive if his lore skills are lacking. Óthin introduces himself as Gagnráth (= “Giving Good Counsel”) and Vafthrúthnir invites him to sit down. Óthin declines and Vafthrúthnir begins asking him questions.

Vafthrúthnir first asks for the name of the horse that brings the dawn every day. Óthin correctly answers Skínfaxi and adds that the horse’s mane “glisters like gold”.

Óthin is then questioned as to the name of the horse that brings the night, which he correctly answers to be Hrímfaxi.

He is then asked for the name of the flood “which flows between the garth of the gods and the etins”. Óthin answers Ifing and adds that it never has ice on it.

Vafthrúthnir lastly asks for the name of the field where Surt (the god of fire) and the sacred gods will meet as foes. Óthin rightly states that it is called Vígríth, and further mentions that it is a hundred leagues long.

Vafthrúthnir is quite impressed at this point and again invites Óthin to sit on the bench, while their heads will be at stake and the one with the greater wisdom will be the victor.

Óthin then proceeds to ask eighteen questions (I’ll go over those briefly later), the last of which was what he whispered in his son’s ear “ere Baldr on bale was laid” (referring to himself in third person while asking the question).

Vafthrúthnir realizes at this point who his guest is and tells Óthin that no one on earth knows what he said in the ear of his son. He then admits that Óthin is the wisest being ever born. The lay ends here, but we can assume that Óthin cut off his host’s head since that was what was at stake.


Quick Q’s & A’s:

1: Where did the heavens and the earth come from?

From Ymir’s flesh, bones, skull and blood.

2: Where did the moon and sun come from?

Mundilferi is the father of the Moon and Sun. (Kind of…)

3: From where do the day and night come?

Day’s father is one named Delling (= “The Shining”) who was a god who engendered the son Dagr (= “Day”) with Nótt. The Night was born to Nor.

4: In the beginning for the gods, where did winter and summer come from?

Winter’s father is Vindsval (who was born to Vásuth) and Summer is the son of Svásuth. All are giants. Their names in order mean “Wind-Cold”, “the Wet and Cold One”, and “the Mild One”. So Wind-Cold was the offspring of the Wet and Cold One and Summer is the son of the Mild One.

5: In the world’s first days, who was the oldest etin of Ymir’s kin?

Bergelmir was around ages before the earth was made. That thurs’ father was Thrúthgelmir, but the oldest of them all was Aurgelmir.

6: From where did Aurgelmir and his “sib” come?

Élivágar (= “Stormy Rivers”, “imagined as ‘venom-cold’ rivers in the far North”) spurted venom drops which waxed until there was an etin.

7: How did the grim etin beget children when there was no misshapen she-thurs?

A girl and a boy grew under his arms, “one with the other”, and “the wise etin’s shanks begat a six-headed son.”

8: What is or was the oldest “the earth above”?

Bergelmir came to be ages before the earth was made.

9: From where does the wind come?

There is one named Hræsvelg (= “Corpse-Gulper”) which is an etin in the shape of an eagle that sits “at heaven’s end” and beats its wings, creating the wind.

10: From where came the wise Njorth (originally a fertility god, but rules over the wind and sea in Norse mythology, additionally: he “was not begot among gods”)?

Vanir begat him in Vanaheim (= “The Home of the Vanir”) and gave him to the gods as a hostage. The hostage sent in return by the Æsir was Mímir.

11: Where do slain men go to drain goblets together after being slain and faring from battle?

All the einherjar (= “Single Combatants”(?)) drain goblets in Óthin’s garth (open space / garden) after being slain in battle and being gathered by valkyries.

12: What is the fate of the sacred gods?

In short: death.

13: Who will be left after the fimbulvetr (= “Chief of Winters”, said to precede the end of the world and consisting of three winters with no summer between them)?

Líf (= “Life”(?)) and Lífthrásir (= “Longing for Life”(?)) will survive, hiding in the leaves of the tree Hoddmímir (which may be the world-tree Yggdrasil). Their meat will be the morning dews and they will rear the races of men.

14: How will the sun soar on the smooth heavens after being “snatched by Fenrir’s fangs”?

A daughter orb was born to Alfrothul (= “Alf-Beam”, a kenning for the sun) before the latter was snatched by Fenrir’s fangs, and that daughter sun will go on the path of the then-gone sun at the time of the fall of the gods.

15: What wise maidens swiftly fare over the wide sea?

There are three throngs of norns of etins’ kin who assist at childbirth who “throw themselves” over “Mogthrásir’s thorp” (“Mogthrásir” meaning “Desirous of Sons” being a symbolic designation for mankind, “Mogthrásir’s thorp” = the world).

16: “Who will wield the sway when Surt’s fire is slaked?”

Víthar and Váli. Mjolnir will be inherited by Thor’s sons Móthi and Magni (“the Courageous” and “the Strong” respectively). “Other divinities inhabit Itha Field.”

17: Who will kill Óthin?

The Fenris-Wolf (a.k.a. Fenrir) will swallow Óthin. He will be avenged by Víthar.

18: What did Óthin whisper in his son’s ear “ere Baldr on bale was laid”?

No one knows. I even checked the end of Hávamál just to be sure (unless this is like that time with the Norwegian record store when I somehow managed to miss the totally obvious answer to my own question… Never mind that, though. It was only one time. We’ll just assume no one knows). 🙂

Fluoridation Notes

In this post I will be heavily quoting a book called The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connet, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil. For those who would like to look for this book, the ISBN number is 9781603582872. It’s got a lot of good information.

For additional viewing, I have written down the sources the authors used in the quotes I have below and will be dropping those sources throughout this post in an orderly fashion so you can all see what the authors were referencing if you desire to do so.

Note: I have only put minimal effort into checking the afore-mentioned sources.

P.S. I claim fair use to the material used here both for commentary and for educational purposes.


pg. 118-119: “With the aluminum ion (Al3+) the fluoride ion can form the ion AlF4, an ion that has about the same size and shape as the phosphate ion (PO43-), an ion of huge biological significance.” The latter ion is used for: synthesizing RNA and DNA, the processes of storing and using energy in the body, and controlling some “biological switching devices”. It is because of this that “[i]t is not unreasonable to think that AlF4 might do damage to biological systems, and much more attention needs to be paid to this possibility.”

pg. 124: Dr. Lennart Krook, “[o]ne of the pioneers in researching the impacts of fluoride on farmyard animals”, before dying in April 2010 was investigating something thought to be a mysterious illness affecting the quarter horses on Cathy and Wayne Justus’s farm located in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.34 The extent of the affects of this so-called “mysterious illness” was so great that it resulted in the deaths of some of the animals. The symptoms in the surviving animals only cleared up after their water supply was changed. “Dr. Krook was able to show that the likely cause of the horses’ ailments was fluoride. This event led to the halting of fluoridation in Pagosa Springs. A very disturbing videotape of these horses can be viewed online.35 The Justus and Krook study was published in the journal Fluoride in 2006.”36

34: C. Justus and L. P. Krook, “Allergy in Horses from Artificially Fluoridated Water,” Fluoride 39, no. 2 (2006): 89-94,

35: David Kennedy, DDS, produced the DVD Poisoned Horses for the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, 2008. Excerpts are available at

36: C. Justus and L. P. Krook, “Allergy in Horses from Artificially Fluoridated Water” (n. 34 above)

pg. 127: There is something Dr. George Waldbott called “chronic fluoride toxicity syndrome7“, the symptoms of which include “various skin rashes, gastrointestinal symptoms, urinary problems, bone and joint pain, neurological symptoms (headaches, depression, etc.), and excessive tiredness not relieved by sleep.” While it could be argued that a small minority of patients with the symptoms of this syndrome could simply be imagining their symptoms, this cannot apply to all of them since so many patients had no prior knowledge of the negative effects of fluoridated water before they began to receive or consume it.

7: B. Spittle, Fluoride Fatigue: Is Fluoride in Your Drinking Water – and from Other Sources – Making You Sick? (Dunedin, New Zealand: Paua Press, 2008),

pg.127-128: “Some commentators have wondered how one substance could cause so many problems. However, since fluoride interferes with many biochemical processes (see chapter 12), we should not be surprised to see a wide range of symptoms. We should also remember that there is some indication that fluoride interferes with thyroid function, and we know that those suffering from hypothyroidism also have many symptoms that overlap with the symptoms in Waldbott’s list (see chapter 16).” Rather than remaining contained in groups with a sensitivity to fluoride, these symptoms also appear in populations given high doses of fluoride or that have high naturally-occurring amounts of fluoride in their water.

pg. 130: “There have been many reports of skin problems (rashes, ulcers, pimples, etc., in the area of the mouth) associated with the use of fluoridated toothpaste.18-23 As early as 1957, Thomas Douglas, MD, of Seattle, Washington, described the lesions caused by fluoridated toothpaste in 133 patients he had treated.” Among other details, he described the lesions that were both the worst and earliest as being in the areas “which come into contact with the teeth.” And further saying, “[o]f the 133 patients who had the lesions, 94 had gums that bled easily and 99 complained of soreness.24” I prefer studies with a larger number of subjects, but I suppose I can at least keep this one in the back of my mind until similar, larger-scale studies come to light.

18: J. J. Shea, S. M. Gillespie, and G. L. Waldbott, “Allergy to Fluoride,” Annals of Allergy 25 (1967): 388-91

19: T. E. Douglas, “Fluoride Dentifrice and Stomatitis,” Northwest Medicine 56, no. 9 (1957): 1037-39

20: M. A. Saunders, “Fluoride Toothpaste: A Cause of Acne-Like Eruptions” (letter), Archives of Dermatology 111 (1975): 793

21: M. A. Saunders, “Fluoride Toothpaste as a Cause of Acne-Like Eruptions” (letter in reply to Ervin Epstein’s letter), Archives of Dermatology 112 (1976): 1033-34

22: J. R. Mellette, J. L. Aeling, and D. D. Nuss, “Fluoride Tooth Paste A Cause of Perioral Dermatitis” (letter), Archives of Dermatology 112 (1976): 730-31

23: J. R. Mellette, J. L. Aeling, and D. D. Nuss, “Perioral Dermatitis,” Journal of the Association of Military Dermatologists 9 (1983): 3-8

24: T. E. Douglas, “Fluoride Dentifrice and Stomatitis” (n. 19 above)

pg. 130: Sodium fluoride (as in the type added to water sources) has also been known to cause muscle, joint, and bone pain, stiffness in the back and legs, pain most commonly occurring in the spine and knee joints(26), gastrointestinal symptoms including severe nausea, vomiting, peptic ulcers or blood-loss anemia(25), headaches, weakness(29), and effects on brain tissue have been observed by Polish researchers Czechowicz, Osada, and Slesak(31), although that last detail was observed in “high-dose experiments with guinea pigs” rather than with human subjects ingesting more common dosages.* Because of these observations, Waldbott had suggested that, “[i]f such a direct action of fluoride upon nerve tissue should be confirmed by further studies, it would explain some of the diverse neurological complaints in arms and legs, such as numbness, muscle spasms and pains, and the frequent headaches… that I and others have encountered in the early stage of fluoride poisoning before bone changes occur.”32 I’d like to add that I am more concerned with the difference in species than I am with the difference in dosage since a small amount of fluoride or, in this case, sodium fluoride will have the same effect over a longer time as a larger dosage would have in a shorter time (it follows a formula devised by Fritz Haber known as Haber’s Rule, C×t=k, except the exposure in this case is to a non-gas chemical. This rule states that “a low exposure to gas over a long period will have the same result as a high exposure over a short period.” Quote from page 77 of Erik Larson’s In The Garden of Beasts. I guess it’s an okay book, but it’s more narrative than information so I wouldn’t bother re-reading it unless I had a lot of time to kill.)

25: B. L. Riggs, E. Seeman, S. F. Hodgson, et al., “Effect of the Fluoride/Calcium Regimen on Vertebral Fracture Occurrence in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Comparison with Conventional Therapy,” New England Journal of Medicine 306, no. 8 (1982): 446-50

26: A. Singh, S. S. Jolly, and B. C. Bansal, “Skeletal Fluorosis and Its Neurological Complications,” The Lancet 1 (1961): 197-200

29: Y. Wang, Y. Yin, L. A. Gilula, and A. J. Wilson, “Endemic Fluorosis of the Skeleton: Radiographic Features in 127 Patients,” American Journal of Roentgenology 162, no. 1 (1994): 93-98

31: K. Czechowicz, A. Osada, and B. Slesak, “Histochemical Studies on the Effect of Sodium Fluoride on Metabolism in Purkinje’s Cells,” Folia Histochemica et Cytochemica 12, no. 1 (1974): 37-44

32: G. L. Waldbott, A. W. Burgstahler, and H. L. McKinney, Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma (Lawrence, Kansas: Coronado Press, 1978)

pg. 228: Fluoridation has been called one of the “ten great public health achievements” of the last century3 by people who support it, but if those people “spent a little time reading the supporting document,4 they would be surprised to find how little substance there is behind that lofty declaration.”5

3: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Ten Great Public Health Achievements: United States, 1900-1999,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48, no. 12 (April 2, 1999): 241-43,

4: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review 48, no. 41 (October 22, 1999): 933-40, Note: The authors of this report were Scott Tomar and Susan Griffin, as cited in Tomar’s curriculum vitae, paper number 27 on page 27 (a link was originally given here in the citations, but the link is now dead)

5: P. Connett and M. Connett, “The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Critique of the CDC’s Promotion of Fluoridation,” Waste Not, no. 468, September 2000 (revised October 3). Published by Work on Waste, USA, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617, (the link originally given here is also dead)


21: The journal Fluoride is published by the International Society for Fluoride Research (ISFR). Back issues available at


pg.247: As to whether fluoride is a nutrient: “[I]n order to establish that a substance is an essential nutrient, a researcher has to remove to substance from the diet and demonstrate that disease results. This has not been shown to occur with a lack of fluoride, nor is fluoride known to contribute to any normal metabolic process.” In other words: it isn’t a nutrient.