As i left December writing about Skadi the goddess of winter, it seems proper to start the year, writing about Ullr, the god of winter, since we are still very much into the winter season.
Ullr is the northern god of Winter, Hunting, Archery, Skating and Skiing. The sound of the snow falling and the cold winter wind that follows it, along with the sound of the ice breaking and moving in the mountains or beneath your feet in any frozen lake or river, the silent atmosphere in the woods after a snowstorm and the scent of wet trees, it all has the magic touch of Ullr.
Ullr is a very old god, he has been in the northern tales far beyond memory, when the world was still in the Iron Age, the northern peoples start to write the myths about Ullr and his powers were already the stuff of legend back then. All over Scandinavia, his name can be heard in many places still, regions andsites, so he must have been a very important god. He was associated with skiing, a very important way to move from one place to an other in the snow, because the snow is very thick and with the weight of our body, we are buried under the snow and its too hard to move, it can take days and people often died. So skiing was a safer and faster way to move and also to hunt. Ullr was also associated with the shield, maybe because shields were used as a ski board or because when winter comes, it involves the world as a shield.
Ullr’s name comes from the word wuldor, the Old Hight German word for “glory”. It was once pronounced “Ool”, and to the Anglo-Saxons, his name was Vulder and in some places in Germany, he was known as Holler, and some say that he was the husband of the Germanic goddess Holda.
Ullr is seen as an Aesir because he is the son of Sif and his stepfather is Thor, but als may be seen as a Vanir because of his nature for being an hunter.
Ullr lives in Ydalir, meaning, Yew-grove, for the yew wood has always been good for the making of bows.
Odin was once exiled and Ullr was chosen to seet in the throne of Valhalla and lead in his place until Odin returned. Since then, Ullr seets in that same throne every time Odin isn’t around, the shows the importance this god may had over the northern peoples in ancient times.
As you may guess, Ullr is the god of winter and winter sports, and as such, he can be called upon those who need safety when dealing with such matters, climbing a mountain, hunting in the woods, even winning a contest of skiing, fishing on ice and he is also a god of oaths, when making an oath, he will watch over it and make sure that your oath or the oaths others made to you under Ullr’s watchful eyes, won’t break.