The Spirit Tamer
Alone Against The Spiritual World
The Shaman was often surprised that he could hear anything in the outside world over all of the noise that was constantly echoing inside of his head. Land wights, forest spirits, and dead souls, who had become trapped here on Midgard, instead of moving on to either Niflheim, Valhalla, or one of the other heavens, constantly reverberated through his head like a painful memory. He could hear all of them, but he was unable to help many of them however. For he was a Shaman, a Spirit Tamer after all, and not a God !
As Naddoður sat on a tree stump warming his hands over the fire he had made, his thoughts traveled back to his most recent challenges. He had been traveling through Jutland, looking for a ship to take him back to Norway, when a farmer named Halfr, in Lindholm, asked for his help to get rid of an especially vicious spirit that had burned his hay, ruined his crops, and made his farm animals sick. The farmer wanted him to kill, or at the very least vanquish the spirit, but he explained to the farmer that spirits, or Land Wights in this case, could not be killed, and that expelling them usually was ineffective because they most often came back to their ancestral lands no matter what you did to them. Any experienced Shaman knew that their existence was forever tied to the piece of land they called home.
In the end, using a special hallucinogenic drink made from a wild mushroom, he was able to contact the Land Wight in question, and found that the little Wight had a much different story to tell ! It seems that the farmer had cleared a patch of forest where the Land Wight resided which enraged the little creature, and turned it to violence. After chastising Halfr for what he had done, Naddoður explained to him that if he replanted his new field with trees, to repair the damage he had caused, the Land Wight would no longer bother him,.... and if Halfr didn't he told him that he would be plagued forever by the little creature.
" They were here long before we ever laid claim to this land for ourselves ! " Naddoður lectured the farmer.
It was not all bad for Halfr, however, the Land Wight had let it be known that a section of very fertile forest land down by a stream was not inhabited by anyone or anything, dead or alive, and that he could use it as he saw fit without incurring the wrath of any spirits.
The fire dancing before Naddoður's eyes mesmerized him, making him dig deeper into his mind. When you are all alone much of the time your thoughts and memories become your constant companion, and in this respect he was never alone. As he nibbled on a strip of dried meat, and a piece of salted herring for supper, his chest proudly rose as he remembered how he had once helped a man named Ragnar while traveling through Gotaland.
Ragnar had divorced his first wife, the fierce shield warrior named Lagertha, and was now looking to remarry. During his journey through Gotaland Ragnar had met Thora Borgarhjortr, the daughter of Herraudr, the Jarl of Gotaland. He instantly and hopelessly fell in love with her, but he was unable to ask for her hand because she was trapped in her bower by a large serpent that her father had given to her years before when it was just a small Lindworm. Over the years it had grown to tremendous proportions and surrounded her bower. Whether this was to imprison her, or to protect her, was unknown, but only servants were allowed in and out of the bower, and then only to bring Thora and the Lindworm food.
Naddoður had found Ragnar sitting on a rock trying to figure out how he could rescue the fair maiden, and marry her, when he had happened by. As he explained it to him Ragnar made it sound impossible to save the one he loved from a life of solitude.
" Thora's father Herraudr has decreed, during his symbel, that only the man who can free her shall marry his daughter. I have watched as suitor after suitor have been killed in their feeble attempts to free her from the poison spitting Serpent. They have all died painful miserable deaths ! " he told Naddoður before asking for his help.
Naddoður nodded as he patted Ragnar on the shoulder.
" You have asked the right person, " he told Ragnar, " For I am a Shaman and know many ways to kill a full grown Lindworm.
Ragnar had become angry and began to shout at him.
" How can I kill that which I cannot get close enough to strike with a spear, sword, or axe ! ? " All who have tried before me have failed miserably, killed by the poisonous spittle of the great dragon ! " he screamed at the Shaman.
Naddoður calmly nodded his head in agreement, as he gave advice to the famous warrior.
" If the poison of the great Lindworm cannot penetrate your clothes, or your skin, then with a weapon of great length, such as a spear with a long shaft, you will be able to get close enough to kill the great beast. " Naddoður assured him.
Ragnar jumped off of the rock and wagged his finger at him.
" The others wore helmets, coats of mail, and carried large shields ! What more could they do to protect themselves ?! " he asked in a huff.
Once again Naddoður calmly nodded that he understood.
" You must cover your shoes, breeches, shirt, shield, gloves, and helmet with a sticky tar, and then run each item through sand. Together this mixture will protect you from the Lindworm's acidic poison. " he instructed the warrior.
Ragnar laughed !
" And how do I know that this will protect me from the Lindworm's poison ? " he asked suspiciously.
" You do not ! " he told Ragnar.
Then Naddoður added with a smile :
" But the more important question is do you love this woman enough to try what I have told you ? " he asked.
Love is often times stronger than fear and Ragnar was willing to risk his life for the one he loved. Naddoður showed Ragnar how to soak his breeches thoroughly in the tar and how to sprinkle the sand over his clothes, and equipment evenly. When everything was ready he helped Ragnar dress before giving the warrior a final warning.
" Only your eyes are vulnerable. Keep them safely behind the shield as much as possible. To expose them is to risk death ! " he advised Ragnar.
Naddoður could not help but smile as he recalled how Ragnar boldly walked forward carrying his spear in front of him. He had stopped only once, when the Lindworm spat at him, but when he realized that the serpent's poison could not harm him he rushed forward and stabbed the Lindworm through the heart. With Thora in his arms, and the Lindworm's head in a sack, Ragnar went to see the king to demand his daughter's hand in marriage.
King Herraudr was proud of the warrior for freeing his daughter, but he could not help but laugh at Ragnar's appearance. His pants looked as though they had grown hair. The king, however, could not deny his request, and he agreed to a union between his daughter Thora and Ragnar Lodbrok ( Hairy - Breeches ).
When the images faded from Naddoður's mind he lay his head upon his canvas bag, and pulled the blanket up around his neck tightly. He had no beautiful woman to hold, or anyone to sing him to sleep. His only friend this night, as with many nights, would be the warmth and light from his camp fire. Before sleep took hold of his mind, however, Naddoður could not help but chuckle one last time.
" Ragnar Hairy - Breeches ! " he whispered above the cracking of the fire.
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : The Warrior Shaman
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ) © Copyright, 2017.