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Norse Sagas

These oral histories, written down from two to four centuries later, offer a window into an otherwise dark period; most of the reliable dream-records I've found between 800 and 1200 AD are from the sagas. The Norse, especially Icelanders, told and discussed their dreams, expecting to get useful information from them; they were matter-of-fact about predictive, clairvoyant and telepathic dreams.

How true are these accounts? Well, the verifiable aspects (dates and genealogy) appear to be very accurate, indeed persnickety. The sagas crawl with petty details the tellers found significant, even if interpretation across the gulfs of time and culture isn't always easy. But in the rest of Europe at this time, dream accounts are mostly dateless, nameless, placeless, sourceless, generic morality tales (the Norwegian tale Ragnhild's Tree and Halfdan's Curls is tinged with this, though the quirky source material shines through). The brutal, precise realism of the Icelandic sagas is an icewater shock.

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BRUSHWOOD BELLY: by An the Black; Easter 1003, a bizarre predictive dream.
An dreams a scary woman pulls his guts out and fills him up with brush! He wakes, gets gutted in a feud, and then...
CAUTION: BLOODY VIKINGS!
DON'T TREAD ON ME: by Herdis Bollisdotter; c.1040, a psychic dream of a ghost with an agenda
A ghost complains Herdis's grandma has a bothersome aura. Herdis wakes, tells Grandma, and they dig up the floor to find...
EAGLES IN LOVE WITH A SWAN: by Thorstein Egilson; c. 982 AD, a twenty-year predictive dream
Before his daughter's even born, Thorstein dreams two eagles in love with a swan kill one another in rivalry over her...
CAUTION: PATRIARCHAL BARBARIANS
THE GIANTESS OF THVERA: by Viga-Glum Eijolfsson of Iceland; early 940s?, a very public clairvoyant dream.
Viga-Glum dreamt a giant spirit asked to enter his home. "She must be the spirit-guide of my grandfather in Norway. He is dead...
GISLI THE OUTLAW: by Gisli the Outlaw of Iceland; 966-973, a series of at least ten life-saving dreams.
Gisli had two spirit-wives who told him in dreams how to evade the bounty-hunters after him... for 13 years!
GUDRUN'S FOUR HUSBANDS: by Gudrun Osvifsdotter; summer 988, 4 childhood dreams predicting Gudrun's life; plus a dream by her husband Thorkell Eyjolfson, spring 1026.
Gudrun dreams of four treasures lost: a hood, a bracelet, a ring, and a jeweled helm. Her cousin sees these as 4 marriages...
GUNNHILDR'S BIRTH DREAM: by Gunnhildr; c. 1150, a surreal predictive dream.
I dreamt I gave birth to a white-hot stone shedding sparks. Most folk would find my son strange...
RAGNHILD'S TREE and HALFDAN'S CURLS: by Queen Ragnhild and King Halfdan of Norway; c. 850 AD, twin dreams predicting their children and nation will prosper.
Ragnhild sees a lovely tree rooted in her pain and blood; Halfdan sleeps with pigs and dreams he has a great head of hair...
CAUTION: KIDNAPPING, ARSON, AND GENERAL BARBARISM (look at the date!)
WOLVES IN THE BOOTH: by Thordhr "the Terror"; c.1000, a warning dream
Thordhr dreams a pack of wolves attack him in a trade-booth! He wakes sure the trade-fair will be trouble...


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