Egil Skallagrimsson was born in 904CE in Iceland to Skalla-Grimr Kveldulfsson and Bera Yngvarsdottir. He was a renowned poet, warrior, and simple farmer, forever immortalized within the words of Egil’s Saga, a narration of his ancestors all the way to his descendants. From a young age, he exhibited talents for poetry and violence. Egil wrote his first poem at the age of three. He was prone to anger and violence, leading to claims of berserker behavior. This is evident when at the age of seven, Egil, having been cheated at a game, took an ax and split the skull of the boy who had cheated him.
His fury and skill in battle only grew with age. When severely insulted and nearly poisoned by Queen Gunnhildr’s kin, Bardr, he killed the man. This angered King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr, who ordered Egil to be killed. But Egil bested his assassins and set up a nidpole against King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr, vowing that the people of their land would not know peace until the King and Queen had been expunged from the land. Egil was also a renowned poet. When shipwrecked in Northumbria, he found that King Eirik and Queen Gunnhildr had fled there and been installed as the monarchs of the land. Imprisoned by the King, Egil wrote a poem (called a drapa) overnight that so moved the King, he offered Egil his freedom.
But Egil was not just known for his fighting prowess and skill with words. He was also skilled in rune magic. When Bardr had attempted to poison him, Egil carved a rune into the horn, causing the horn to shatter, proving his suspicions that it was an attempt on his life. But he also used the runes to heal others. When love runes had been written wrong, causing a woman to fall terribly ill, Egil burned the offending runes and carved new ones for healing. The woman immediately recovered and Egil warned not to use runes if you could not read them properly.
Egil was a skilled man in many areas of life, and always strove to seek justice and do good for others. During this coming Yule season, we should all strive to improve ourselves for the good of others and to seek out ways to help our kin and folk. One does not need renowned battle prowess to seek justice nor mighty rune magic to heal others. We should all focus on the love and support we can give to our folk, to be the person our ancestors hope for us and the one our descendants will speak of one day. We are our deeds!