Wayland the Smith and Whaitiri

FYI: The Old Norse, Old and Middle English, Faroese, and Icelandic letter Ð ð is pronounced like an English DH, and Þ þ is TH.

Wayland the Smith is a master blacksmith who features in Norse, Germanic, and Old English mythology and folklore. Other iterations of his name include Wieland (German), Weland (Old English), Völundr and Velentr (Old Norse), Wiolant (Old High German), and Welandaz (Proto–Germanic).

In Völundarkviða (part of the Old Norse Poetic Edda cycle), Völundr is one of three sons of the King of the Samis (the Far North of Scandinavia, and Russia’s northwest Kola Peninsula). He and his brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr, cohabit with Valkyries for nine years. When the Valkyries leave, Egil and Slagfiðr follow them and never return.

Völundr is captured by King Niðhad of Närke (now part of Sweden), hamstrung, and imprisoned on Sævarstaðir island. Niðhad takes advantage of Völundr’s most exquisite skill as a blacksmith, and forces him to forge many things. He also steals Völundr’s sword and the ring from his Valkyrie lover.

In revenge, Völundr kills the princes, and makes goblets from their skulls, a brooch from their teeth, and jewels from their eyes. He sends the goblets to Niðhad, the jewels to the Queen, and the brooch to Princess Böðvildr. When Böðvildr comes to have “her” ring mended, Völundr takes the ring back, rapes and impregnates her, and laughingly flies away on wings he’s made. He makes sure to tell Niðhad about his gruesome revenge.

In the Velents þáttr smiðs section of Þiðrekssaga, Niðhad is King of Jutland (now part of Denmark) After Niðhad graciously receives master smith Velend as a servant at court, Velend loses Niðhad’s knife and secretly makes another. When Niðhad realises this knife cuts much better than before, he asks Velend about the matter, and Velend pretends court smith Amilias made it.

Niðhad has his suspicions, and puts both smiths to a test. Velend forges a sword, and Amilias armour. Velend must use the sword to try to kill Amilias when he’s in the armour. Velend is about to start to work when he discovers his tools are gone. Suspecting chieftain Regin, Velend makes a lifelike statue of him. Niðhad then realises the truth, and gives the tools back.

Velend has many more adventures in Velents þáttr smiðs, also ending with gruesome revenge and flying away on wings.

As Welund, he appears in the Old English poem Deor. In Beowulf, he’s mentioned as Weland, the smith who made the title character’s mail shirt. He also featured in the story of Franks Casket, a whale’s bone chest with many knife-cut narrative scenes. No written form of this story has survived.

He also features in many other poems and folktales.

Wayland is derived from the Germanic elements wela (skill) and land.

Copyright Fir0002

Whaitiri is the Maori goddess personifying thunder, descended from several deities personifying lightning. She’s not exactly a kind and gentle goddess, particularly since she loves cannibalism. When she heard about a mortal named Kaitangata, she was thrilled. Since Kaitangata means “man-eater,” Whaitiri was convinced he’d be the perfect husband.

Whaitiri was very disappointed when Kaitangata turned out to be a kind, gentle person who didn’t engage in any cannibalism. Trying to prove her devotion, Whaitiri killed her favourite slave, Anonkia, and gave Kaitangata the heart and liver. Kaitangata was horrified.

Copyright Sailko

Kaitangata spent a lot of time fishing to feed his family, but most of the fish got away due to his lack of proper equipment. Whaitiri taught him how to make barbed fishing hooks, and he became much more successful. However, she quickly tired of this pescatarian diet, and caught two of Kaitangata’s relatives in a fishing net for her next meal.

Not suspecting the bones came from his own family, Kaitangata used them to make fishing hooks. Whaitiri likewise didn’t know some of their fish came from those hooks, and started going blind after eating it. The fish was infused with lapa, sacredness, from the humans.

Whaitiri was very offended to overhear Kaitangata describing her heart as cold as snow, with skin like the wind, and complaining about how dirty their kids were. She revealed her true nature, and returned to the heavens.

Whaitiri means “thunder” in Maori.

The many forms of William

William has long been one of the most popular, common male names in the Anglophone world after only John. In the U.S., it’s never fallen out of the Top 20, and has been in the Top 5 during many of the years from 1880 to the present day. Its highest position has been #2, which it’s held many a time. The name is also very popular in Great Britain, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Australia, and Canada.

It’s also one of those great universal names, with equivalents in so many other languages. Here are some of the other forms:

1. Wilhelm is German and Polish.

2. Guillaume is French.

3. Vilhelm is Scandinavian, Finnish, and Hungarian.

4. Viljami is another Finnish form.

5. Vilhelmi is also Finnish. Nicknames for all three Finnish forms include Vili, Vilho, Viljo, Ville, and Jami.

6. Willem is Dutch. Nicknames include Pim, Wim, Willy, Willi, and Jelle.

7. Vilhelms is Latvian. The nickname is Vilis.

8. Vilhjálmur is Icelandic and Faroese.

9. Wöllem is Limburgish.

10. Wullem is another Limburgish form. The nickname is Wum.

11. Vilmos is Hungarian. The base nickname form is Vili.

12. Wilhelmus is the official Dutch form of William, used on birth certificates but typically not in everyday life.

13. Viliam is Slovak.

14. Wilmot is a Medieval English diminutive.

15. Vilhelmo is Esperanto. The nickname is Vilĉjo.

16. Villem is Estonian.

17. Vilhelmas is Lithuanian.

18. Viljem is Slovenian. Nicknames include Vili and Vilko.

19. Guillem is Catalan.

20. Gwilherm is Breton.

21. Guillermo is Spanish.

22. Guilherme is Portuguese.

23. Uilliam is Irish. Nicknames include Ulick, Uilleag, and the super-trendy Liam.

24. Uilleam is Scottish.

25. Gwilym is Welsh.

26. Gwilim is another Welsh form.

27. Gwillym is a third Welsh form.

28. Vilém is Czech.

29. Guglielmo is Italian.

30. Illiam is Manx.

31. Vilim is Croatian. The base nickname is Vilko.

32. Wiremu is Maori.

33. Guildhelm is Medieval Dutch.

34. Guilhem is Occitan and Gascon.

35. Guillen is Gascon, Aragonese, and Medieval Spanish.

36. Guillerme is Galician.

37. Ouiliam is Greek.

38. Uiliam is a rare Brazilian–Portuguese form.

39. Uilyam is Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Turkish.

40. Uiriamu is Japanese.

41. Vilgelm is Russian.

42. Vilhjalmr is Old Norse.

43. Vîliarme is Greenlandic.

44. Viliami is Tongan.

45. Vilius is Lithuanian.

46. Viljam is Swedish and Faroese.

47. Villiam is Scandinavian and Faroese.

48. Viļums is a rare Latvian form.

49. Wella is Cornish.

50. Wëllem is another Limburgish form.

51. Wiliama is Hawaiian.

52. Velvel is Yiddish. Though the name truly means “wolf,” it’s often used as a Yiddish equivalent of William.

Wenceslaus and Wren


King Wenceslaus II of Poland and Bohemia (27 September 1271–21 June 1305), drawn by Aleksander Lesser

Wenceslaus is the English and Latinized form of Veceslav, a Czech and Slovakian name which means “more glory.” The modern, contracted form is Václav, with a variant of Věnceslav. The Polish form is Wacław (older form Więcesław), the Bulgarian form is Ventseslav, the Russian and Ukrainian form is Vyacheslav, the Spanish form is Venceslás, the Italian form is Venceslao, the Romanian form is Veaceslav, the Hungarian form is Vencel, and the German form is Wenzeslaus (older form Wenzel).

Wenceslaus is mentioned in a bad light in Canto VII of Purgatorio, and held up as an example of a crappy king in Canto XIX of Paradiso. He was still alive during Dante’s otherworldly journey in 1300, though had passed on by the time Dante actually began writing his beautiful poem.

Wenceslaus, part of the Přemyslid Dynasty, was the fourth and youngest legitimate child of King Ottokar II, and the only surviving son. His mother was Queen Kunigunda, who was part of Russia’s Ryurikovich Dynasty on her father’s side. Shortly before his seventh birthday, his father passed away. Before Wenceslaus was old enough to rule in his own right, Margate Otto V of Brandenburg–Salzwedel and then his stepfather Záviš of Falkenštejn governed the kingdom.

At age thirteen, on 24 January 1285, Wenceslaus married Judith of Habsburg, daughter of King Rudolf I of Germany, to whom he’d become betrothed in 1276. In 1290, Wenceslaus had his stepfather beheaded for supposed treason and took the throne in his own right.

Under his rule, the empire expanded from the Baltic Sea to the Danube, important cities such as Plzeň were founded, the penny of Prague currency was created, Bohemia became Europe’s largest producer of silver, and the crowns of Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary were won. There was also great urban development, and he planned to build Central Europe’s first university.

Wren is obviously after the English word for the small songbird, derived from the Old English wrenna. I’m quite partial to Nature names, as long as they’re not too outlandish. Bird names as people names are kind of hit-or-miss, but I’ve always really liked the name Wren. It’s so sweet and simple, though perhaps works better as a middle name.

Wulfric and Wafiya


Wulfric is the original Anglo–Saxon form of Ulric, a Medieval name meaning “wolf power.” It can also be spelt Wolfric. I adore all the Wolf names, so this name particularly appeals to me. Famous Wulfrics include Wulfric Spot (d. between 1002–1010), an Anglo–Saxon nobleman whose will is a very important document from the reign of King Æthelred the Unready; Wulfric of Haselbury (ca. 1080–20 February 1154), a popular miracle-worker and hermit who’s venerated as a saint, in spite of not being formally canonised; and the main protagonist of historical novelist Charles W. Whistler’s Wulfric the Weapon Thane.

Wafiya is the feminine form of Wafi, an Arabic name meaning “loyal,” “reliable,” “perfect,” “trustworthy.” It’s hard to find female W names I really like (particularly since there are so relative few of them), so I pay special attention to the rare few which speak to me like this one. Please let me know if you know any famous Wafiyas, either real or fictional. I unfortunately couldn’t find any.

Wolfram and Worknesh


Wolfram is one of my favourite male German names. It’s formed from the elements wulf (wolf) and hramn (raven). Its meaning may possibly be “winged wolf.” Of all the various Wolf names, this one tops my list. I love it so much I used it for a character.

Worknesh is an Amharic (Ethiopian) name meaning “you are like gold.” The male form is Workeneh.