Stanza 1 from Havamal: Vibe to Kick Off A Year

Posted by Ms Elly on

Stanza 1 from Havamal: Vibe to Kick Off A Year

So it has been quite an end of January and this is the first blog post about motivational stanza from Havamal to kick off your new year. It means it's quite late to talk about new year resolution and motivation, but better late than never. 

For those who are a newbie to the Vikings and Norse cosmos, Havamal (Hávamál ) is a collection of Norse poems and the name means "the Saying of the High One". At the very first line of the collection is an advice for all of us. For centuries, it has always stayed the same value for everyone. 

Havamal 1

Havamal stanza 1 reads

Auden and Taylor's translation:
The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?
Chisholm's translation:
Watch out and check all gates before faring forth.
One should spy around,
one should pry around.
Hard to know what foe
sits before you in the next room

Well, the translation of stanza 1 seems quite straight-forward and concise. Simply, it advises to take caution before we enter a house. Because the danger is everywhere, better get prepared and cautious than not at all. If you don't care about what is coming for you, then who will? It's just you who should take the responsibilities of your life. 

The reason why I think this stanza is suitable for anyone to kick off a year is that its value remains no matter what context you apply it to. 


It's not simply a piece of advice to tell us to look around before entering a hall. It tells us to do everything with caution and thoughts. 

In a modern context, the stanza works literally. When you join a party, a social gathering, or any events that many other people also attend, keep your eyes on all the people around. Is everyone there people you wanna be with? Is anyone drunken and can cause trouble for you? What is the general air of the party? etc. Trust your vibes and if you don't wanna be there, leave. Your vibes will never lie to you. 

In a less literal sense, when you are entering into a new journey of your life, a business venture, a new job, or any other new situation...what are the hidden dangers? 
Have you really thought about it with your eyes wide open to the possible problems and pitfalls? Is everyone involved trustworthy, and do they all have your best interests at heart?  Are they fair and honorable?  Have you left yourself unnecessarily vulnerable? Those questions should never be sorted out. 

Another point that I want to make it clear is that, this stanza never wants to discourage us to enter a "strange door" by scaring us off. It never wants to do so. It's not a warning about entering something totally new to you. It's simply a piece of advice to watch out for dangers that may come to your life. 

An interesting is that it is the first stanza and a "doorway" to Havamal as well. 

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