Völsa þáttr

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Völsa þáttr is a short story which is only extant in the Flatey Book, where it is found in a chapter of Óláfs saga helga. It is probably from the fourteenth century but takes place in 1029 when Scandinavia was still largely pagan, and it appears to preserve traditions of a pagan phallos cult, the völsi (see also blót).

The worship

It relates that an old man and an old woman lived with their brisk son and intelligent daughter on a promontory far from other people. They also had a male and a female thrall.

When the thrall had butchered a horse and was to throw away the penis, the boy ran past, took it and went to the place where his mother, sister and the slave woman were sitting. There he joked at the slave woman telling her that the organ would not be dull between her legs, whereupon the slave woman laughed. The daughter asked her brother to throw away the disgusting object, but her old mother rose and said that it was a useful thing that should not be thrown away. She wrapped in a cloth of linen together with onions and herbs to conserve it and put it in her coffer.

Every evening in the autumn she took it out of the coffer and prayed to it as to her god and had the rest of the household take part. She recited a verse over it, handed to her husband who did the same and so on until every one had taken part.

Enter king Olaf

One day when king Olaf II of Norway was fleeing king Canute the Great, he came by their promontory. He had heard of their worship and wanted to...
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