Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/430

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414 Ctistoju and Belief in Icelandic Sagas.

vowed one Yule to break open the howe of the Viking Soti before another Yule. Hord succeeded in the attempt, and stole Soti's ring and treasure chests, but the ghost laid a curse on the ring : it should bring death to its possessor.

V. Divination.

This was regularly practised among the Scandin- avians. Men often " sacrificed to learn their fates," and the oracle seems to have been consulted both in special emergencies and at regular seasons. Har'&ar Saga (983) mentions an oracular stone, apparently like those at Sicyon and Megara: " Thorstein went into his blotJms (sacrifice- house), and fell down before the stone to which he sacrificed, and spoke to it"; one who stood outside heard the stone sing in reply.

Divination was also a regular part of the temple- sacrifices. " There was a lot-bowl on the altar, and a lot- twig with which the blood was to be sprinkled out of the bowl when the lot was called" {Eyrbyggj'a, 884). Heimskringla describes a Yule-feast when blood was sprinkled on the temple-walls and the people, and the flesh (of horses and other animals) eaten. That the Yule- tide divination (like that of the Saturnalia) especially concerned the crops and the weather for the ensuing year, is suggested by a passage in Thorfinn Karlsefni's Saga, (looi): there was a feast in the winter-time, at which a wise woman, Thorbjorg, " the Little Sibyl," was present as chief guest. A special seat was prepared for her, with a cushion of hens' feathers, and special food (the hearts of all the animals slain), and she was questioned about the coming seasons. She would not conduct the incantations till she had slept, and must then have another woman to sing the spells for her. There is another example of midwinter divination in the Waterdale Saga {Sjy). Ingjald had a feast in winter. An incantation was prepared in the old