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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11th J Day

As it turns out J day is somewhat short due to a lack of Norse related material. I could throw in some filler here I guess, but I can't really think of anything to say except that my copy of "The Wilderness Alphabet" arrived today. I only had a chance to briefly flip through it, but it looked pretty cool and the binding seemed fine and any other Lulu related problems that I have heard about seemed to be absent. So I guess I may start catching up on some OSR publications now that I don't fear the print-on-demand service. I plan a review of "The Wilderness Alphabet" after the April posting blitz, but I may have time to sneak it in on one of the "Break" days. Oh, it also turns out this will be my 350th post on this blog, so that's pretty cool too I guess, right?

J is for Jarl, the warrior aristocracy/noble class in Norse society, it eventually becomes just a title roughly equivalent to an Earl, Count or Duke. It was from this class that Kings were drawn. They led troops in battle during wartime and administered justice and performed certain public religious rites all the time. Their powers were somewhat limited before the advent of Christianity in Norse lands.

J is for Járnsaxa, a Giantess who is a concubine of Thor. The mother of his prodigiously strong son Magni.

J is for Jörmungand, the proper name of the Midgard Serpent (Miðgarðsormr), another of the monstrous children of Loki and Angrboða. Jörmungand is so large that he encircles the entire earth lying beneath the sea and at Ragnarök he and Thor will kill each other.

J is for Jómsvíkings, a legendary and totally bad-ass Norse warrior society said to live on the south shore of the Baltic sea in a fortress called Jómsborg. They have their own saga, but it is considered to be a "legendary" saga just because no one has ever found their fortress. Full disclosure here, the Saga of the Jomsvikings was the first actual saga I ever read and I loved it, so I don't care if scholars don't think they ever really existed, they exist in my Viking campaigns.

J is for Jörð, the Old Norse word for "Earth", it is also the name of a Goddess, or Giantess that is the mother, depending on who you listen to, of either Thor or Frigg or both. She is also somewhat analogous to the Greco-Roman Gaia, and therefore might be thought of as "Mother Earth" or "Mother Nature" or even the mother of Miðgarð.

J is for Jól or Jul, the holiday known in English as Yule, whose traditions have been largely taken over by Christmas.

J is for Jötunn is the Old Norse word usually translated as Giant, but really there is more to it than that. They are more like another race of Gods really, from which the Aesir are descended; they are kind of like the Greek Titans, both relatives of and implacable foes of the Gods, but sometimes allies as well. Giant doesn't cover it very well because there are other Old Norse words for Giant, and not all Jötnar are in fact huge and giant-like and many can change their size at will. They are immensely old and powerful creatures, often very destructive, like nature can be; sometimes they can be friendly, more often they are not.

J is for Jötunheim, the land of the Jötnar, it borders Asgarð.