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The Dream Song of Olaf ASteson; a Nordic Initiation through the 12 Holy Nights

kristena briem-west


The Dream Song of Olaf Åsteson
a Nordic Initiation through the 12 Holy Nights

The Dream Song of Olaf Asteson is an ancient Norwegian Folk Song. Olaf the son of earth, experiences secrets of the cosmos whilst he is transported into the macrocosm during the thirteen shortest days; between Christmas and New Year up till January 6th.

Keeping a dream journal through the holy nights is a living contemplative practice. Each of the 12 holy nights are "outside" of time, and lay over the next 12 months of the year. So dreaming on the holy nights may give "glimpses" of the coming year.

 

He falls asleep on Christmas Eve and wakes up on January 6th sleeping through the holy nights. In ancient Mystery Traditions if one was born on January 6th (ephiphany)  one had been initiated in the womb, and was born an initiate. Joan of Arc was born on January 6th. The dream song of Olaf is a riddle of the journey of the soul of man and what he must suffer to become human.

I
Come listen to my song!

The song of a nimble youth.
Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.
II
He laid him down on Christmas Eve
And soon lay deeply sleeping.
Nor could he awaken
Until the people went to church
Upon the thirteenth day.

Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.

He laid him down on Christmas Eve
And he slept long indeed!
He could not awaken
Until the bird was on the wing
Upon the thirteenth day.

Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.
Olaf could not awaken
Until the sun shone o'er the peaks
Upon the thirteenth day.
Then saddled he his nimble horse
And rode in haste to the church.

Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.




The priest was at the altar
Reading holy mass
When Olaf alighted at the gate
To tell the many dreams
That had passed through his soul
When he did sleep so long.
Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.

Then old and young they all gave heed,
To Olaf's words they harkened
That told them of his dreams

Of Olaf Åsteson will I sing,
Who lay and slept so long.

III

‘I laid me down on Christmas Eve
And soon lay deeply sleeping.
Nor could I awaken
Before the people went to church
Upon the thirteenth day.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

I was borne up into the clouds
Thrown down to the ocean's depths,
And whosoever will follow after
Good cheer he will not find.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

I was borne up into the clouds
Then hurled into murky swamps,
And I saw the horrors of hell
And also heaven's light.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

I had to go through deep, dark clefts
Where heaven's rivers rushed and roared.
The power to see them was not mine
Yet I could hear their roaring.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.



My coal-black horse he did not neigh,
Nor did my good hounds bark,
The bird of morning did not sing
For a wonder lay on all.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

I had to travel in spiritland
Through stretch on stretch of thorny heath,
My scarlet mantle was torn to shreds
The nails of my feet likewise.



The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

Then I came to the Gjallar Bridge
Suspended in the windblown heights,
Studded it is with rich red gold
And the nails thereon have sharp points.



The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.
The spirit snake he struck at me
The spirit hound bit me,
And lo! the bull did bar the way.
These are the three beasts of the bridge,
Most wicked are they all.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.
The hound he is a snappish beast
The serpent waits to strike,
The bull is ready to attack!
And no one may pass o'er the bridge
Who will not honour truth!

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.


I passed o'er the Gjallar Bridge
On dizzy heights and narrow.
I who had waded in the swamps . . . .
Behind me now they lie!

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

I had waded in the swamps
There seemed no foothold I could find
As I passed o'er the Gjallar Bridge
Earth did I feel within my mouth
As the dead who lie in their graves.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

To the waters then I came,
’Twas where the icy masses gleamed
Like unto flames of blue. . . .
And God did guide me in my steps
That I did not come close.



The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

So I went on the wintry way
And saw on my right hand:
Like unto paradise it was,
Light shining far and wide.

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.



God's Holy Mother then I saw
Amidst most wondrous glory!
‘Now take thy way to Brooksvalin,
the place where souls are judged!’

The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.

IV

In other worlds I tarried then
Through many nights and long;
And God alone can know
The suffering I saw there —
In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.



I could see a young man

Who in life had killed a child.
Now he must carry him always
And stand in mud to his knee

In Brooksvalin, where souls

World judgment undergo.
Also I saw an old man
Wearing a cloak of lead;
Thus was he punished,
The miser on earth,

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.

And men appeared before me
Wearing apparel of fire;
So does their dishonesty
Weigh on their poor souls
In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.
Children I also saw,
Glowing coals beneath their feet,
In life they did their parents ill,
Now must their spirits feel it

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.

And to a house I had to go
Where witches toiled in blood;
This was the blood of those
Who had enraged them whilst on earth,



In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.

Now there came riding from the North
Wild hordes of evil spooks,
Led by the Prince of Hell,

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.



This horde riding from the North
Was the wickedest ever seen;
And the Prince of Hell rode out in front,
And he rode on his coal-black steed

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.

Yet now came a host from the South
Bringing holy calm,
And at their head rode Saint Michael
At the side of Jesu Christ


In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.

The souls weighed down by sin
Had to tremble in anguish and fear!
Their tears ran down in streams
To hear of their wicked deeds

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.



Michael stood in majesty

And weighed the souls of men
Upon his heavenly scales,
And near him, judging, stood
The Lord of Judgment, Jesu Christ

In Brooksvalin, where souls
World judgment undergo.
 
V
Blessed is he who in earthly life
Gives shoes unto the poor;
He does not need, with naked feet,
To walk on the heath of thorn.
Thus speaks the Balance,
And World truth
Sounds forth in spirit heights.

Blessed is he who in earthly life
Unto the poor gave bread!
For nothing of harm can come to him
From the hounds of spiritland.

Thus speaks the Balance,
And World truth
Sounds forth in spirit heights.
Blessed is he who in earthly life
Gave corn unto the poor!

The horns of the bull are no threat to him
When he crosses the Gjallar Bridge.
Thus speaks the Balance,
And World truth
Sounds forth in spirit heights.

Blessed is he who in earthly life
Unto the poor gives clothes!
He need not fear the freezing wastes
Of ice in Brooksvalin.

Thus speaks the Balance,
And World truth
Sounds forth in spirit heights.
 
VI
And young and old they all gave heed,
To Olaf's words they harkened
That told them of his dreams.
You have slept long indeed. . . .
Awaken now, O Olaf Åsteson!


12 Holy Night paintings 2011  by kristena west

 

These imaginations of undergoing suffering in the earth and elemental realms are found cross-culturally in many traditions. Most notably in Tibetan Buddhism in the realm of the hungry ghosts and Dante's Inferno the nine levels of hell. The crossing of the Gjallar Bridge, found in many tales tells us that Olaf has crossed the Bridge between the worlds into the realm of death, where we go when we die. But Olaf is awake & aware of his lucid dream through the elements of earth, air, fire and water.



 

All our different traditions have "holy" stories or songs of humans traveling with the gods. Many people are touched by catastrophe or apocalyptic dreams, which may show in "picture form" or imaginations as Rudolf Steiner called them. They may or may not be literal, but they show a spiritual picture of the unfolding evolution of humanity. There is this idea running through our traditions that we must suffer with the Earth, or awake to the suffering of our deeds to the earth and others, in order that we may bring harmony back into our lives and deeds, and our relationships with others.

So these next 12 nights, I might suggest that if your dreams trouble you, they are meant too. Becoming aware or lucid to the suffering of our planet is inherent in any indigenous culture, it is for America to take up the spiritual initiative to walk in beauty without bringing intentional harm to the earth and other humans. Bearing the suffering of others, either in dream-time practice or waking, is our sacrifice of our little ego of "I want it" to "Let Me Help you with that."

May all the beings in all the worlds, be happy, this Christmas Eve 2016

Kristena

The Dream Song of Olaf Asteson is deep and riddled with mystery for more information on notes from Rudolf Steiner click Olaf  and view bottom of page.

 



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