31 Days of Devotion: Dagr, Norse God of the Day
Several years ago, I did this 31 Days of Devotion to Odin and then to Mani. I found it very fruitful and personally fulfilling, so I’ve decided to do it for a third time. This time, I plan to focus on the Norse God of the Day: Dagr. Now, by rights, I should just wait and post question one on August 1st, but I don’t want to wait. So, I’m going to do the thirty-one days, starting today, July 11. Lol. If any of you decide to join me, please post links to your own blogs in the comments section. I encourage everyone to do this for the Deity of your choice. I have found it to be a lovely and low pressure way of learning more about one of our Gods, and of edging more deeply into devotion. You may find the full set of questions here.
Now, to begin…
1 – A basic introduction of the Deity
Not much is known about this God, though His name opens one of the most famous of Heathen prayers—stanza two of the Sigdrifumal begins what we call “Sigdrifa’s Prayer,” with the line “Hail to the Day! Hail Sons of Day!”(1). While we may not know Who His Sons are, we do know that Dagr is the Norse God of the day and His name is the Old Norse word for “day.” He’s part of the House of Mundilfari, being the Herald of the Sun Goddess Sunna (2). Actually, He belongs to the House of Mundilfari twice over: His father is Dellingr, a God of the dawn and husband either of Jorð or one of the Husbands of Nott, Goddess of the night and the Aunt of Mani, Sunna, and presumably Sinthgunt (3).
As the Herald of Sunna, Dagr rides a horse with a mane of fire (well, the name Skinfaxi actually translates as “shining-maned” or “bright-maned” but I’m being poetic here. I have this image in my head with Dagr riding this shining horse with its mane an orange stream of fire that trails out wildly as They run, setting the sky ablaze with light). In the Vafþruðnismal, stanza 12, Skinfaxi is said to draw day over the sky for mankind (4). In the cycle of day and night, Nott rides Her own horse Hrimfaxi (Frost Mane) before Dagr, and foam from his bit falls upon the earth as dew.
Dagr isn’t mentioned very much in the surviving lore. He turns up in Vafþruðnismal stanzas 12 (well, His horse does), 24-25, Sigdrifumal, stanza 2, Gylfaginning, stanza 10, Skaldskaparmal, chapter 24 and 64, the latter of which notes He fathered a line of mortal kings. He‘s also mentioned in the Hrafnagaldr Oðins, stanza 24. In this latter stanza, we learn that Dagr makes sure Skinfaxi is “well adorned with precious jewels” (5). Later, this same stanza refers to Dagr riding in a chariot, rather than astride His horse. The Gylfaginningalso mentions a chariot, Dagr having been given horse and chariot by Odin. We know likewise from this lay that Dagr is beautiful and fair, as was His father (6). Finally, the Hyndluljoð, stanza 18 notes that the hero Ottar is descended from a line of kings that includes Dagr and a human woman Thora, mother of heroes. This also lists several of her children, all noted as “the bravest of fighters.”
To the best of my knowledge, that’s pretty much all we know based on surviving sources. Everything else must be discovered through devotion, prayer, and contemplative engagement of this God.
- Heil dagr. Heilir dags synir…Hail Day, Hail the Sons of Day
- The House of Mundilfari is called so because of the God of Time, Mundilfari, Who is the Father of the Moon God Mani and the Sun Goddess Sunna, as well as the Goddess Sinthgunt. In modern practice, it may be said to be comprised of these Deities and Nott, Dellingr, Dagr, Hjuki and Bil, and Sunna’s husband Glenr, at the very least. Their areas of specialization, such as Gods often have, all have to do in some way with cosmic cycles, turning of seasons, and time.
- The Goddess Nott has three husbands: The first was Nagilfari and they had a son named Auð This makes Auðr the uncle of Thor! Nothing more is known about Nagilfari than His name. Zoega’s Old Norse dictionary gives ‘empty, void, desolate, uninhabited’ as a possible meaning for the adjective auðr, so perhaps this gives some indication of what this God’s sphere of influence might be. Nott’s second husband was to Annar, and They had a daughter: the Goddess Jorð, the Goddess of the earth. Annar/Ónarr may also mean “gaping’ or ‘void.” It’s also the name of one of the duergar listed in the Voluspa, but whether this is the same Annar as the God Nott wed is unclear. Finally, Her third husband was Dellingr, one of the Aesir. At least one manuscript changes Dagr’s genealogy somewhat, presenting Him as the child of Dellingr and Jorð, making Him the grandson of Nott. I’ve also known several spiritworkers today who believe Dellingr and by extension His Son Dagr, are Ljossalfar rather than Aesir, or part Aesir. I actually have no opinion on the matter, but linguistically, I think an argument could be made for Dagr being part Ljossalfar, via some of the vocabulary used to describe him.
- Skinfaxi heitir, er inn skíra dregr
dag of dróttmögu; „Shining Mane“ he is called, who through the sky draws the day over mankind;
- Dýrum settan|Dellings mögur | jó fram keyrði | jarknasteinum; – Delling’s son drove forward his horse, having adorned it with precious jewels. (Now, my Old Norse is not great. I find poetry in any of the languages other than English that I have very vexing to translate, and I only had a semester of Old Norse. I’m reading this as the horse having been adorned with jewels, not Dellingr’s son. The adornment is emphasized, the stanza beginning with Dýrum – precious and concluding with jarknasteinum-jewels, a rather elegant little bracketing there.
- Gylfaginning, stanza 10. Var hann ljóss ok fagr eftir faðerni sínu. He was bright and fair after his father.
(image of Dagr by Grace Palmer, available as a prayer card here.)
Posted on July 11, 2020, in devotional work, Heathenry, Uncategorized and tagged 31 days of devotion, Asatru, Dagr, devotion, Heathenry, House of Mundilfari, Northern tradition. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on 31 Days of Devotion: Dagr, Norse God of the Day.