January 9th this coming weekend is a special yearly remembrance day for those who choose to honor Raud the Strong, a Scandinavian who refused to give up his beliefs and convert to Christianity at the request of Norwegian King Olaf Tryggvason during the late 10th century. For this Raud was put to death by the king.
In childhood I was sent to bible study where I was steeped with a benevolent version of people converting to Christianity because of personal trial leading to faith, or their love of Jesus or some combination of these. No one ever mentioned that conversions were not always voluntary, and were frequently enough forced via violence or threats thereof on those unwilling to give up their traditional religion.
The Norwegian King Olaf was a Christian and as he traveled his domains he demanded citizenry be baptized, those who refused were tortured and murdered.
The vikings had a pantheon of their own Gods with strongly held beliefs and were reluctant to convert to a foreign savior or God not their own. One of these hold outs was Raud the Strong.
Raud was a successful warrior with many land holdings, and a wealth of gold and silver. He was also a leader or priest of his own native Norse religion. He owned a beautiful long-ship that far surpassed in size and beauty any owned by King Olaf. Raud’s long-ship had a dragon carved at the bow and was called “the Serpent”. Olaf managed to triumph over Raud in a battle at sea, but Raud being a skilled sailor escaped in his dragon ship.
Raud fled to his stead in the Godey isles no doubt to wait until things settled down, but King Olaf quietly arrived while Raud slept one night and had him seized. The King gave Raud the choice of converting to Christianity or death. Raud mocked Olaf and his new God, refusing to renounce his beliefs. This angered King Olaf who declared Raud would die in a horrible fashion as he had him bound and strung up. Using a drinking horn to open Raud’s mouth they prodded a snake with a hot poker, forcing it down inside him. The snake gnawed his way out of Raud, killing him in the process.
Those with Raud were also either force converted or murdered. King Olaf took Raud’s holdings, wealth and most significantly his mighty dragon ship, which Olaf personally sailed with his own hand when they left the Godey isles.
This matter was documented by Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 1241) an Icelandic historian and poet. There is also a poem by Longfellow about Raud’s defiance and death at the hands of King Olaf.
And speaking of seafaring… this New Years we had a delightful repast courtesy of Taylor Shellfish Farm. J drove down early New years eve and procured 2 dozen Olympia, 1 dozen each Kumamoto and Shigoku oysters. We rang in the new year with amazing fresh oysters and a bottle of champagne at 7:00 PM, owing to an early to work New Years day.
And New Years day itself ended in sunset splendor.
In other news we have switched to a new chicken feed via Scratch and Peck feeds made mostly with local PNW organic grown grains, non-GMO and soy free. The cost is just about double the old feed, but supporting people doing the right thing isn’t always the least expensive. We strongly believe in voting with our dollars and buying local, so we’ll go with this as long as we can afford to do so. The chickens really seemed to like it almost at once, and so far we are getting a few more eggs each day than we were before when feeding conventional layer pellet. This feed actually smells like… food! Kind of a sweet pea and grain smell as opposed to smelling like chemicals. We’ll have to keep an eye on egg production and see if it remains higher over time.
Finally we want to wish everyone a happy, healthy New Year filled with abundance and prosperity! You might just raise a horn to honor Raud the Strong this weekend…