Lost Star Constellations
Why did not someone teach me the constellations and make me a home in the starry heavens, which are always overhead and which I don’t half know to this day?
Thomas Carlyle’s Lament
There is a deep vacancy in our starry-imaginations. Much of what we know from the Northern constellations is based on guess work, source material and personal gnosis. But this makes the work fulfilling turning over old tombs and entering the unknown. These constellations have been interpreted with the active imagination and I would encourage you to enhance and develop these further.
1. Thiassi’s Eyes – The two Gemini stars Castor and Pollux, they resemble two eyes as they have a similar brightness in the skies. You can see them very clearly in the month of January. Thiassi was a giant related to winter and to the Apples of Immortality. The trickster Loki was once forced by Thiassi to trick Idunn (the Goddess who carries the basket of apples) out of Asgard. In the form of an eagle, Thiassi snatched Idunn from the wood and takes her to his home. Her absence made the gods to grow old and grey.
Loki had to journey on a great quest to bring the apples back, his disguise as a hawk led him to the chamber where Idun was kept prisoner and through his spell-craft he turned her into a walnut and brought her back to Asgard. Thiassi, finding out he has been outwitted by Loki, takes an eagle shape and chases Loki in the skies, the chase from where all storm winds are born. Seeing the rolling coasting flight overhead, the gods make a fire with high leaping flames and as soon Thiassi crosses their ramparts, his feathers catch fire like “dried grass in summer,” and the gods kill him.
In chapter 56 of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Thiassi’s daughter, Skadi, puts on her helmet and carries “all weapons of war" and travels to Asgard for a bloodied revenge. The Gods incites her and offers her a compensation for the killing that was done. Skadi agrees if she can choose a husband amongst the Gods and if they can make her laugh again. To this the Gods agree, however there is one condition, she must choose her husband by looking only at the God’s feet. Skadi agrees to the game and finds two white feet particularly attractive. The owner of the feet turns out to be Njord; the God of the coastal waters.
Then Loki ties one end of a cord around the beard of a goat and the other end around his testicles. It all goes wrong for Loki and he starts squealing loudly, suddenly Skadi laughs. Finally, in compensation to Skadi, during the wedding ceremony, Odin takes Thiassi’s bright eyes, and creates two stars.
2. Duneyr (drooping-ears) – One of the first deer constellations
“Four harts also
the highest shoots
They gnaw from beneath:
Dáin and Dvalin,
Duneyr and Dýrathrór”
3. Durathror (sluggish beast) – The stars are from the Greek/Roman Perseus constellation as its head and antlers and Auriga constellation is the body.
4. Dvalin (sleeper) – another deer constellation. Consists of some of the same stars as Cepheus.
5. Dain - Dáinn, deer constellation.
Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathror. Dain and Dvalin are described in the Eddas
‘as if they are living in a mist’. Note their position on the roots of Yggdrasil.
Two animals stands on the roof of Valhalla (the abode of the Gods): the goat Heidrun and the deer Eiktyrner, and they feed from the branches and they give back gifts to the Tree. The goat offers mead and the deer pours waters from its antlers into the roots. They are both said to live in balance with the Tree. Some more investigation is needed for this for later publication.
6. Ratatosk (gnaw-tooth) – the squirrel constellation. Consists of the main stars in Cassiopeia.
Prose Edda: The squirrel called Ratatosk runs up and down the ash. He tells slanderous gossip, provoking the eagle and Nidhogg.
7. Hvaergelmur – the eagle constellation is similar to Cygnus the Swan.
He is called Hræsvelg,
who sits at heaven’s end,
a giant, in the shape of an eagle;
from his wings
they say the wind comes over all people.
— Vafþrúðnismál, 37, trans. J. Lindow, 2002.
8. Vedrfolnir (Wind-Parched) – constellation for the hawk upon the eagle's head.
Edda: There is much to be told. An eagle sits at the top of the ash, and it has knowledge of many things. Between its eyes sits the hawk called Vedrfolnir.
9. Hellewagen - “We know that in the very earliest ages the seven stars forming the Bear in the northern sky were thought of as a four-wheeled wagon, its pole being formed by the three stars that hang downwards" (Grimm 2004: 151)
Hellewagen – constellation of the wagon of the dead, that travels upon the Milky Way down to the underworld.
These words were carved on the statue of Thor at Uppsala:
The God Thor was the highest of them,
He sat naked as a child,
Seven stars in his hand and Charles's Wain.
In some part of Northern Europe this was also known as ‘Óðins vagn’ (Odin’s Wagon), a kenning to support this is ‘valdr vagnbrautar’ (ruler of the wagon-road) proposing the “wagon road” as was the heavens, the Allfather - the ruler of the heavens.
The Dutch used Woonswaghen or Woenswaghen, the seven stars of Wotan's Wagon, another clear indicator as Ursa Major has seven stars.
10. Nidhogg (poison biter) – constellation of a serpent at the foot of Yggdrasill’s root.
greater than men know of;
a hart bites it above,
and in its side it rots,
Nidhögg beneath tears it.
11. The Roots of Yggdrasil - The white chalk that
glimmers and stands above heaven and “no-one knows where the roots run to”
- Odin, Poetic Edda
12. Aurvandill’s Toe
Snorri Sturluson records in the Skáldskaparmál:
Thórr went home to Thrúdvangar, and the hone remained sticking in his head. Then came the wise woman who was called Gróa, wife of Aurvandill the Valiant: she sang her spells over Thórr until the hone was loosened. But when Thórr knew that, and thought that there was hope that the hone might be removed, he desired to reward Gróa for her leech-craft and make her glad, and told her these things: that he had waded from the north over the river Élivága (Icy Stream) and had borne Aurvandill in a basket on his back from the north out of Jôtunheim. And he added for a token, that one of Aurvandill's toes had stuck out of the basket, and became frozen; wherefore Thórr broke it off and cast it up into the heavens, and made thereof the star called Aurvandill's Toe. Thórr said that it would not be long ere Aurvandill came home: but Gróa was so rejoiced that she forgot her incantations, and the hone was not loosened, and stands yet in Thórr's head. Therefore it is forbidden to cast a hone across the floor, for then the hone is stirred in Thórr's head.
This constellations is the same as the Corona Borealis which is also the indicator of spring as it is seen during spring and summer in the Northern Hemispheres and it also looks like a toe.
13. Frigga’s Distaff
Friggerock (Frigg’s distaff) – the stars that make up the the belt of Orion. As it has a vertical orientation it can be seen as a spindle In Sweden it is called Friggerock). The constellation is now called Mariärock, Dan. Marirock (Magnusen, gloss. 361. 376), “the Christians having passed the same old idea on to Mary the heavenly mother.” (Grimm 2004: 270) The whole constellation could be a representation of the Goddess herself.
14. Ulf’s Kepr
The giant wolf, Fenrir, together with Hel and the World Serpent, is a child of Loki and giantess Angrboda. Known as Ulf's Keptr (the Mouth of the Wolf). The wolf guards the gates of the underworld and it forms a V shape like the jaws of the wolf.
15. Asar Bardagi
This is actually the constellations on the body of Durathror, named as the battlefield of the Gods. With the Wolf stalking nearby.
16. Freya’s High Seat
The Ursa Minor. The constellations of Freya’s high Seat, where she sits and the polar star adorns her throne.
The brightest star: Sirius. This star was known as the Torch of Loki. When it twinkles it can be said that Loki being active in the world, a time of the trickster.