To be a Shieldmaiden

As they drew near Merry saw that the rider was a woman with long braided hair gleaming in the twilight, yet she wore a helm and was clad to the waist like a warrior and girded with a sword. —trotK, “The Muster of Rohan”

I love Lord of the Rings. I love all the different characters in it and their stories of courage, inner struggles, love and friendship. But no character has inspired me as much as Eowyn. I want to be like her, strong and brave. It would be wonderful to be a shieldmaiden and wield a sword (at least an internal one) and in a way it’s strange of me to say that as I am the most worried and fearful person I know.

It’s hard to put into words exactly why I’m so fascinated by her. I remember feeling trapped and cold like she was when I first watched the movies. I was going through some hard times after losing my mom and sister and I also had a father who was ill, and who later passed away. And in Eowyn I saw someone going through something very similar while still staying strong and fearless. And I’m everything but fearless. I’ve been running away from things my whole life, but I want to fight.

Below is one of my favorite scenes of Eowyn.

And shieldmaidens are real! Here is what wikipedia says about them:

“A shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology and they are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri and Marcomanni.[1] The Valkyries might have been based on the shieldmaidens,[1] and they were J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for Éowyn.”

I just find it so fascinating! When speaking about the battles that we face with the inner work, someone once said that we are the heroes of our story. Or something along those lines. If I could choose I would be a shieldmaiden like Eowyn. And I always felt we can find inspiration to keep fighting through different legends, heroes and stories of courage.

Who inspires you?

I will leave you with an excerpt from the book in which Eowyn faces the Witch-King of Angmar. I love the way this is written. The picture is from The House of Healing where Eowyn is recovering from the Witch King’s Black Breath. Hopefully this will remind us to pick up our swords and face our own monster.

A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I shall hinder it, if I may.’
     ‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’
     Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’…
      Very amazement for a moment conquored Merry’s fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy’s eyes….
     Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.
     Still she did not blench: a maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone….
     Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.
     But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry’s sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.
     ‘Éowyn! Éowyn!’ cried Merry. Then tottering, struggling up, with her last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown rolled away with a clang. Éowyn fell forward upon her fallen foe. –trotK, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields”

Autumn Equinox – My Experience

For a long time I’ve been wanting to celebrate the solstices and the equinoxes but never knew how. I was drawn to the idea of being in touch with the earth, the cycles of the sun as well as the stars, the whole universe. It’s hard to put into words. Most of all there was something inside of me that yearned to celebrate these very magical days of the year.

Being born in Norway on June 23, the evening of my birthday was made extra special by the celebration of St Johns day (also called Avatar’s day). Everyone would gather together around a big bon fire and eat good food and play games. I always felt there was something special about this celebration but no one explained to me the meaning or purpose of it. It was just part of tradition, something we did for fun every year.

It’s only now that I’ve had a taste of how meaningful and life changing these celebrations can be. I’m particularly talking about the Autumn Equinox because that was the first time I had the opportunity to be part of a sacred ceremony that shook me to the core.

I got to play the part of the divine mother, and I feel rather ashamed because I felt very weak throughout the whole week before the ceremony, and even during the ceremony itself. I got to face a lot of fears that I’ve been trying to avoid for a long time. I felt there was chaos inside of me, and I sense there is more chaos to come. But I learned a lot more about how important the inner work is, and how lucky I am to be part of a group that fights for the light. I feel so blessed because so many things have been made just right in my life so that I can learn. And I sense my divine mother has had a huge part to play in all of this. I remember crying out to her for help when I was lost and alone in Norway, and even though I forget often, I still go to her for courage and guidance.

During the ceremony of the Autumn Equinox we watched the burning of the wicker man, representing the death of the egos or inner states such as fear, hatred, jealousy etc. Watching the wicker man going up in flames I understood that this is what needs to happen to a part of me that keeps holding me back, that leaves me in misery and causes pain to other people.  There is always that battle inside of us, between light and darkness. I can see it within me very clearly and I know I have to take steps to face the darkness and enter chaos to be free of it. I know that it’s only through the help of my divine mother that I can do this. I need to be aware and still within so I can hear her guidance and then have the faith to follow it.

I can see changes happening in my life and it began with the Autumn Equinox, and I hope that with the help of my divine mother and father I will have the guidance and strength to make them happen.