Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/415

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Custom and Belief in Icelandic Sagas. 399

the house by mysterious sounds. Nine women in black, with drawn swords, came from the norths and nine in white on white horses from the south. Thidrandi did not return to the house, and at last they went out. It was moonhght and frosty weather. He was found dying, and died next morning, after telling what had happened. He was laid in the howe in the ancient way. Thorkell's ex- planation was, " I think the women were the fylgjur of you and your kindred ; I think a change of faith is coming . . . and that your Disir, who have followed this faith, must have known beforehand of the change, and also that you and your kin will give them up, and they will not be content to have no tribute from you. . . . The better Disir must have wanted to help him." Some time after this incident, Thorkell was heard laughing to himself, and explained that he saw the hillsides opening, " and every living creature great and small flitting, bag and baggage." About this last reference there are several points worthy of notice, (i) The Disir, of whom I shall have to speak again, are here definitely identified with the fylgjur who represent the dead. (2) The divinities who take their flight before the new order, are earth-deities, creatures of the fairy-hill. (3) Thorkell's home is Horgs- land, taking its name from the h'drg, a significant word wherever it occurs in place-names. The hdrg is an open- air altar or cairn, and wherever it occurs, as distinguished from the hof or temple which belongs to the more defined Asgard divinities, it suggests this kind of worship. (4) There may also be significance in the fact that Thorkell was SpamaSr or Seer, which seems reminiscent of the divination commonly practised in connexion with underworld rites in other religions.

There seems then no doubt that the Disabldt or