Special individuals capable of understanding the language of birds are spread throughout the medieval Icelandic literary corpus.This phenomenon has received surprisingly little academic attention and is deserving of detailed, extensive, and interdisciplinary study.Capable of flight and song, birds universally hold a special place in human experience. Their effective communication to people in Old Norse lore offers another example of their unique role in humanity’s sociocosmic reality.
Birds consistently offer important information to individuals associated with kingship and wisdom. The wide chronological and geographical range of this motif will be explored as well as the fascinating theoretical questions regarding why birds are nature’s purveyors of wisdom. With their capacity to fly and sing, birds universally hold a special place in human experience as symbols of transcendence and numinous knowledge; Old Norse tradition reflects this reality. – Timothy Bourns 1987
For the full article by Timothy Bourns, which also discusses this phenomenon in other ancient cultures see the pdf file, downloadable from http://hdl.handle.net/1946/12869