For most followers of the Northern Tradition upon learning about this path they read the myths about the Gods, and many tend to also study the Havamal. The Havamal is one of many sagas found in the Poetic Edda, and many of the stanzas are known as being a depository of advice as it applies to wanderers and guests when they travel abroad; it talks about what is proper behavior beyond one’s own homestead, and cautions the traveler to be wary so that he might eventually return to home having suffered no mischief or misfortune.
The Havamal is divided into sections:
- Gestaþattr – guidelines for the traveller, and the guest as it applies to hospitality
- Women – romantic love and the nature of women; it also tells the story of how Odin seduces a giantess to obtain the mead of poetry
- Loddfafnismal – morals, ethics, code of conduct
- Runatal – relays the story of Odin learning the runes
- Ljodatal – references a series of ‘charms’ or ‘spells’ while only one is explicitly connected to the runes, many believe since this follows the Runatal, that all the charms speak of spells one can use with the runes.
But a trend that has been alarming me of late, is that some are taking the Havamal as guidelines on how to religiously honor the Gods, the Ancestors, and the Vaettir. The Havamal was NEVER intended to be used as a religious guideline on how to HONOR these numinous beings. One of the stanzas in particular being misused derives from the Havamal’s Runatal:
“Better ask for too little than offer too much,
like the gift should be the boon;
better not to send than to overspend.”