The Layman's Havamal

Modern Applications of Viking Age Wisdom

by Paul Begadon

the layman's havamal paperback cover

In The Layman’s Havamal, I present my interpretation of the famous Old Norse poem called Havamal and analyze each verse to make the lessons it holds relevant to modern audiences.

The purpose of my book, like the purpose of Havamal itself, is to improve your life so that you can be more successful, more respected, more gracious, more worldly, more adventurous, and more wise using the time-proven strategies of Old Norse culture, which have been poetically codified in the Havamal manuscript.

My goal is that everyone who reads this book will be better equipped to handle the many problems they face in life and to succeed in whatever they pursue.

I’m someone who didn’t get a lot of guidance when I was young, so I had to seek the answers to all the big questions that I couldn’t figure out on my own. To make up for my lack of official mentorship, I began to study old literature and gnomic texts from various cultures around the world.

Eventually, I discovered Havamal and recognized it for what it was: a treasure hoard of valuable principles by which to live.

So I’m presenting my take on that treasure hoard of wisdom to you now in the hope that you too will find the answers to your problems between its lines.

If you want to:

– Master human relationships

– Be more courageous

– Gain the respect of your peers

– Be more successful in romance

– Develop a survivor’s mindset to improve your personal and business processes

Then you’ll find this remarkable work has insights to help you in those areas and many more.


In my commentary, I describe the advice given in Havamal as “fatherly” or “grandfatherly” in tone. It’s the kind of advice you might hear from a kindly older mentor who wants to share some of the lessons he’s learned the hard way, through trial and error.

I find this paternal tone very appealing. It doesn’t come from a god on high, although the speaker of the poem is, in fact, a god who calls himself The High One. But rather than being a list of commandments from heaven, the poem is very much rooted in the mundane world and deals with common problems in a practical and earthy way.

I’m not the only one who rates this poem so highly. Scholars have been studying it for centuries, and many articles and papers have been written that relate to the timeless usefulness of this poem.

You don’t need to be an enthusiast of Viking or Medieval culture to benefit from studying Havamal. This is a work intended for the proverbial layman, the everyman, the person who needs guidance in general.

But if you think you’ve got all the answers already, if you think you know it all and don’t need any help, then you’re not likely to get anything out of this poem until you come back down to earth a little.



The Layman’s Havamal is live now on Amazon and from the WOOKDERN store. Click the button below to find out more.


PS – As a companion piece to this book, I’m giving away a free ebook which contains my interpretation of the poem and a detailed essay which discusses some of it’s key lessons. You can download that ebook for free by clicking this link: