As of lately I have had a few people that has read my blog and found the perspectives given to be quite interesting. Furthermore, these people have set a good example, since there are aspects that they do not recognize; they ask me for the sources and where in the written myths and sagas they can find the information. I wish more people would research the sources when it comes to claims about Norse mythology.
I find it important that people understand where this comes from, so I decided to make a separate post about what this blog is about, and the origin of the information found here.
What I write about has modernly been labeled as “Stav”, if you google it you will find tons of posts about it being a modern constructed martial art. But if you have read my blog you have probably noticed that I have written very little about martial arts, actually only one post in Swedish to be specific.
How I found Stav
I have always had a great fascination of Norse mythology and runes and Scandinavian folklore. I grew up in an area of Sweden where there were traces of Norse mythology and ancient sites and rune stones wherever I looked. I think this sparked my interest and fascination early in life.
My fascination of Norse spirituality, and esoterica in general, evolved over the years. As a teenager it took me on some strange paths, and in a really weird corner I heard the name Stav mentioned for the first time in the mid 1990´s. A few years later a friend of mine searched for indigenous martial arts of Scandinavia, which made me remember Stav; and he started to research it further. In the year 2000 we traveled to England to meet Ivar Hafskjold for the first time. Ivar is the inheritor of the tradition, born in Norway, but now he resides in northern England.
As I already had some knowledge of Norse spirituality at the time, I was fascinating with how well put together Ivar’s teachings were. He was really the only one that I had met that were able to present a coherent version of Norse spirituality. The complexity of the system also made me realize that this was something that must be based on living knowledge of Norse spirituality, one way or another.
What is Stav
Stav is in essence Norse spirituality systemized around sixteen runes, the ancient script language of northern Europe. But it also holds a specific mythology that differentiates from the written sources; and Stav presents a much more coherent version of the myths and the cosmology compared to the sources. Stav also contains herbal lore, and aspects that can be regarded as shamanistic. Stav has ritual aspects, and on top of that it has the martial arts that is also closely tied together with the rest of the philosophy of the system.
Everything is so tightly put together that all aspects feeds and draws from each other. When learning the runes with the traditional method of the system, you will also be taught the martial arts. When doing martial arts, you will develop a deeper understanding of the mythology, when learning the mythology, you will understand the martial arts; and also get a better understanding of the runes.
Even the healing aspects of the system, and the herbal lore and knowledge of the plants can in most cases strengthen the understanding of the spiritual parts and the mythology, and in some cases even connect directly to the martial arts.
Where does Stav come from?
Ivar made Stav public in 1992, which would be the appropriate date for Stav as we know it today. Beyond that there is really no written sources of Stav. But Ivar himself does not take credit for constructing it, he says it is his family’s traditional education system. He learned it as a boy in the 1950´s in Norway, partly from his parents. But also from other relatives, when it comes to the martial art aspects his granduncle, born in the 1890´s, was very important.
The family tradition itself claims longer lineage than this, but the oldest named practitioner we know of by name was born in the 1890´s. He on the other hand is quoted to have said that he had learned it from older relatives, and the family has a very long and documented history in the region.
From an academic perspective it would be quite hard to set a satisfying date on Stav. A system like this has to be researched based on its own integrity. But the first, and most important question, has to be; if the system works and if it works for your needs? If it works it should be good enough for most.
But as an analytic person it is always interesting to reason about the origin of something, which can be done once we have developed a theoretical understanding of the system, and what it contains. Then you need to compare it with the written sources and note the similarities and differences.
Personally I have investigated the structure of Stav, and the mythology, the cosmology and the calendric aspects of the system. I think I can make a very good estimation of the age of these components, and thus the system itself. But I doubt it´s really relevant in the end! The only important thing is what the practitioner is able to learn from the Stav-curriculum. If antiquity is the important thing, this is not what you are looking for!
The source of the blog
So the source of the blog is myself; and my interpretations after hours of conversations with Ivar that has taken place over the last sixteen years. Many of these conversations took place when physically meeting Ivar, both in Sweden and in England. Most of the time we speak in Swedish/Norwegian, which is basically only dialects of the same language; this has given me the opportunity to avoid some of the linguistic and cultural issues that has occurred when Stav has been transferred in English.
My understanding has also been aided by some very valuable contributions from a few Scandinavian academics within relevant fields, that also happens to be Stav practitioners.
This blog is frankly put unique! It is the first time a lot of the information on it has been described in detail in public. The information should be regarded as source material to a tradition that fairly recently was made public. There are no books available, nor any webpages, that describes components of Stav as detailed as I do in this blog. There are also very few that has studied these aspects as deeply as I have, and that would be capable of writing a blog like this.
My understanding of Stav is based on Ivars teaching, but still published out of my personal perspective and understanding of it. Some aspects I have been able to expand compared to what has been preserved of the traditional knowledge, other areas I need to study further. After all, this is a living tradition and every generation will put their mark on it! Within Stav different perspectives and personal interpretations are valued, especially when it is based on serious research.
The information found on this blog is my personal understanding, based on the teachings of Ivar; which comes from the tradition preserved within his family. If you find anything here valuable, it would make me very happy. But do not mistake anything here for mainstream Norse mythology, it is not! This is a living tradition that has kept evolving. In the English speaking world, the written sources have sometimes confused the understanding of Stav more than anything.
If you want to quote anything on the blog, please go ahead. But for your own sake specify the source to avoid any confusion. I would also like to say that text is quite crude; the best way to learn Stav is directly from one person to another, the way it always was taught. There are very few qualified instructors available, even fewer if you want to focus on the spiritual perspective. Stav is not mainstream heathenism.