At some point in history, in an epoch that is ancient even for the gods, Odin, the wise, esteemed, and all-powerful ruler of Asgard, the Norse pantheon, was exiled by the other gods for having transgressed their laws. In his relentless quest for greater knowledge and power, Odin practiced dark magic and shamanism, practices that were considered unacceptable by the other gods, who exiled him from Asgard for nine years.

During that time, his place on the throne of the gods was occupied by Ullr – one of the most ancient gods, for whom there are very few documented sources. Ullr, Ullero or Ollerus in the Latin version of his name, was a benevolent, luminous, orderly god, closely related to the winter world. His name is connected to the meaning of “splendor” and “glory.” When Odin decided to return, he drove Ullr out, and all traces of him were lost forever…

The cult of Ullr dates back to the period before the splendor of the Viking civilization, in the European Middle Ages between the 9th and 11th centuries. Ullr was very present in the hearts of the peoples of northern Europe, but when his veneration began to spread in the continent and beyond, with journeys to the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America, his traces were very few and his cult was no longer active.

However, there are still many words in Scandinavian languages and place names that contain the sound “ull,” as evidence of the great influence he had in the past.

Ullr is the god of the bow and skis, and he is represented with both these objects in some of the images that depict him. His bow was made of yew wood, considered the best material because of its strength and flexibility, and it made him the best among hunters. His skis were made of bone, and no one knew how to fly on snow as fast as he could – today we call it cross-country skiing, a Nordic specialty. So, his relationship with the forces of winter were fundamental, and inevitable in a region like the one he originated from. It was also inevitable that he was a great warrior, and he had one particular characteristic: those who had to participate in a duel turned to him to receive protection.

According to historians, no one has sought out the voice of Ullr for a long time. No one has asked for inspiration from this wise divinity. It is almost as if Ullr wanted to hide in the folds of “his” winter, and from there, through his infallible bow, send the sign of his power to humans. His great, inestimable power is that of the light that rips through darkness and brings order to the chaos that darkness has created. Ullr represents a solar force who, in the heart of winter, shoots his arrows of light to defeat darkness and make it possible for humans to find the right path. Like his bow, his arrows are made of yew wood, which in Norse culture is the most feared of all demonic and nocturnal entities.

Today, Ullr is a subverter of dark situations, and from another point of view, he is a scout who teaches us to find the way, even when there seems to be no way. Even when we find ourselves in darkness, when there should be light. Ullr, who is both order and the strength of light, gives us the capacity to clearly see a path that we would not see otherwise. He makes simple that which appears difficult. He makes linear that which would otherwise appear contorted, and welcoming that which at first seems inhospitable.

Ullr puts in our hands a flexible wooden bow with which to strike the forces that weaken us, that bring darkness into our hearts. He puts bone skis on our feet with which to glide over all adversity and get closer to the goals we wish to achieve. Ullr has the capacity to help us, and he does so because he loves to do it.

In a world as confused as ours, that which comes from love generates fruits that last forever.