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  • Writer's pictureErik Lugnet

Hávamál 44

“If you find a friend in whom you trust,

And wish for his goodwill, 

Share gifts, share thoughts,

Go often to his house”

- Hávamál, Stanza 44

When I was a young Asatruar, I studied the Hávamál and the Voluspa nearly every day, going over the stanzas again and again. I sought to glean all the meaning I could from every word, cracking open their bones, like Thialfi, to get at the marrow inside. It was an exciting time in my life, reading the major pieces of the lore for the first time.

As tends to happen with such engrossing study, some parts stuck in my brain and I find myself going back to them throughout my life since, perhaps because their lessons are the ones that I need to remember and apply most in my life, or simply because they resonate with me. To that end, I want to share my favorite stanzas from the Hávamál and speak on my thoughts regarding each one. For this month, I’ll begin with the first one to really jump off the page at me, stanza 44.

But let’s back up a bit first. The Hávamál itself is divided into sections, with the first section being commonly known as the gestaþáttr, or ‘guest rules.’ Even though all the sections contain mountains of information on the lore and copious amounts of cultural inspiration, I find that the first section is where most of us should “live” in the Hávamál, in our daily lives.

This particular section, from 41-47, speaks directly about how we should treat our friends. Lord Odin is teaching us in these stanzas how to take measure of a man, how to treat friend and foe alike, and how to know the difference between the two. This is nothing new to us here in the 21st century, but it does bear repeating. So often we find ourselves searching for answers to life’s little problems or just advice in general, and for us, the Hávamál stands ready to give us a basic blueprint on how to conduct ourselves out in Midgard.

The reason that Stanza 44 stands out for me is because it reminds me of what I feel is one of the greatest joys in life: spending time with friends. And I mean true friends, not just acquaintances or coworkers, but people I truly care about and with whom I share a history. That is the message of this stanza, that sharing your thoughts, giving gifts, and being present in each other’s lives are the foundational pillars of friendship. These are the building blocks upon which noble folk rise above the instability and nastiness of the world. We forge bonds through our own version of the gift cycle, mirroring the Aesir as best we can with true words and right actions.

So go forth this month and forge new bonds of friendship, strengthen old ones, and repair the ones that have fallen into disrepair. These are, after all, the Sayings of the High One, and we would do well to remember them.

Gothi Bodi Mayo

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