(Fragment of Clay Tablet from Knossos in Linear B, administrative archives)
“Wisdom was my only desire; an eloquent tongue my lifelong love – and so I traveled through many lands and learned the customs of different people.”
(Eirik the Eloquent in Saxo Grammaticus “The History of the Danes”)
Maria Kvilhaug was born in Oslo in 1975. She is a Norwegian historian and author of fiction and non-fiction in the English Language on the subjects of Old Norse pre-Christian history, culture and mythology. She has lived a colorful life, always curious about human cultures both contemporary and historical. She grew up in Norway, where she was introduced early to the myths, poetry and literature of her Norse ancestors. As a young adult, she lived for several years in England, studying art and re-discovering the Edda poems, then for a while in the US, working with disabled people and living among Mexican immigrants, followed by several magical years in mysterious Mexico until she had finished writing her Master dissertation – after which she spent an additional year in Portugal before finally returning to her lovely homeland for good (so far, anyway).
While abroad, she studied and returned regularly to Norway to take exams on the subject of History, Philosophy, World Religions and Old Norse Philology. This was an age when Scandinavian universities still allowed for absolute freedom and independent studies in most humanistic subjects – for as long as you could pass your exams – an independence which suited her perfectly.
The Maiden with the Mead
In 2004, Maria graduated from the University of Oslo with the Master dissertation “The Maiden with the Mead – a Goddess of Initiation Rituals in Old Norse Myths?” The thesis was later published as a book by a German publisher that sadly put up an impossible price!!! But despair not – the Synopsis to this thesis may be read online here, and the full dissertation may be read online here. And it is free!
After her graduation, Maria did not pursue an academic career for various personal reasons, but while working to pay bills she still spent the next six years investigating the deeper meanings of Edda mythology and the Norse pre-Christian culture that created it, working on manuscripts and doing further research.
Hidden Knowledge in Old Norse Myths
In 2010 and well into 2012, urged on by her beloved man, Maria began to release lecture videos where she discussed the poetical metaphors and deeper spiritual and philosophical meanings of Old Norse myths, especially as they appear in their oldest, poetical form in the Elder Edda. She employed a way of presenting her theories and her research that she had learned from growing up in a family that still took the old ways of making entertainig and poetical speeches very seriously, ways that were desiged to convey difficult and complex matters in a fashion that would be easily grasped even by people who never knew anything about the subject matter before. Having studied art, she added some performance art techniques, making the videos visually pleasing and mysterious. The video series “Hidden Knowledge in Old Norse Myths” may be found on her YouTube channel with the username (and alias) “LadyoftheLabyrinth“.
The Lady of the Labyrinth
The alias, Lady of the Labyrinth, was taken from the Minoan concept of “Labyrinthos Potnia“, who was mentioned in ancient Minoa tablets as a goddess who receives honey for sacrifice. According to the archaeologist Rodney Castleden, the Labyrinthos Potnia, the Lady of the Labyrinth, was the goddess or priestess of the initiation rituals that may have taken place in the Knossos labyrinth. Minoan labyrinth designs from the same era have been found all over Scandinavia, accompanied by folklore and rituals that in part survived into modern times. That she is offered honey was interesting to Maria who had written about a Norse goddess associated with honey-mead and initiation rituals.
The Seed of Yggdrasill
Pleased to see such a great international response to her videos, she began releasing articles on her website, Freya Völundarhúsis (“Lady of the Labyrinth” translated to Old Norse). Then she was contacted by Whyte Tracks Publishers, asking her if she wanted to publish a book with them. In 2013, the book that builds on the same research as the video series was released by the title “The Seed of Yggdrasill – Deciphering the Hidden Messages in Old Norse Myths“. The book got a great reception and many excellent reviews.
Blade Honer – The Inspiration
In Snorri Sturlusson´s treaty on Old Norse poetry and poetical metaphors, known to us as “The Prose Edda”, he describes exactly how a poet must be tested to show that he has understood the deeper meanings of the myths that form the basis of the poetry.
In the first part, “Gylfaginning” (The Visions of the Sorcerer), a man called Gylfi must seek the abode of the gods where he must find the right questions to ask. When he has asked and received answer to the entire make-up of the Norse cosmos, he is finally allowed to return to the world of humankind in order to tell the stories that he has heard. This is how the world is created – by the re-telling of the sacred stories.
In the second part, “Skaldskaparmal”(The Speech of the Making of Poets), Bragi the god of poetry must entertain the great world giant Aegir in his hall at the end of the universe, explaining the nature of poetical metaphors and their mythical origin. This is the culmination of the great story of creation – the last initiation.
I, Maria Kvilhaug, believe firmly that what is described in the Prose Edda is not only the origin of poetical metaphors in mythology, and clues as to deciper their deeper meanings, but is also a description of how a skald, a bard, a poet is made.
It is a description of a poet´s initiation. Only when the poet has shown his ability to understand and employ the art of poetry, is he allowed to actually create his own.
Likewise, I found that when I had finally presented my understanding of poetical metaphors and mythology, the inspiration to write these novels came to me like a forceful flow. I had become more than a researcher and a lecturer. I had become a skaldmey – a female bard. All my hard work and research now paid off – the stories just came to me as I wrote, the characters took on a life of their own. The universe and the people of Blade Honer came into being or made themselves known almost as if by themselves, through my writing hands.
I am grateful to be able to tell their stories.
Self-Publishing – and asking for assistance!
Once an author gives over a manuscript to an external publisher, she loses control over the rest – distribution, sales, advertisement – all that is done by the publishers. With my two non-fiction works published, I discovered that I lost a great deal by leaving my work over to other hands – especially when these hands are more self-serving than they should be. With Blade Honer, I published myself through Createspace, and this has been very rewarding, since I am actually receiving my royalties while Createspace takes care of the distribution and printing.
Without a publishing company or money to back me up, however, I have to do the marketing and the promoting myself. So far, I have only done this through social media. If you wish to assist me by suggesting that your local bookstore and library starts stocking the books, or by writing reviews or suggesting people who can make reviews in larger magazines and similar – please do!
Sincerely, Maria Kvilhaug