Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen is a PhD in History of Religions, researching Brazilian orisha religion. He has lived in a number of countries in Europe, Africa, North and South America. His present work focuses on the rejected animist land connectedness, ecological knowledge, and kinship with the greater community of beings in Northern European traditional knowledge.


During anthropological field work, I filmed and participated in an Afro-Brazilian ritual with remarkable similarities to the phallic ritual play described in a Viking age narrative, the Vǫlsa Þáttr. I will show an 8-minute edition of these recordings, and present a paper reflecting on the comparison. In both rituals, the phallus is passed around in a way that metaphorically implies the participants as sexual recipients. In both rituals, humoristic poetry addressed each participant, who in turn perform their sexual identities in relating to the phallus.

Perhaps the Afro-Brazilian recordings give us an existential feeling of Viking age phallic ritual play with its humor and sexual play tightly coined to deep religious devotion – or of tensions between sexual norms as a natural component in this kind of ritual. May the comparison support or undermine existing theories about the Vǫlsa Þáttr, e.g. the Mǫrnir as transgressive agents “Jǫtun women” (Gro Steinsland, e.a.)? I will also propose that the observation of a ritual with such strong similarities with the vǫlsi ritual might aid us in seeing this carnivalesque ritual in relation to the cosmological structure of the devotees.

Please Note: The conference is free, but registration is required.