Ivar and the Silver bear Myth in Freelands | World Anvil

Ivar and the Silver bear

Ivar and the Silver bear is a story from Auregelmir originally recounting the real events of Ivarr Sølvbjørn getting lost in the woods, and how he returned a wiser man. Through centuries of mistranslations and storytellers' embellishments, the tale gradually changed from a drug fueled horror story into a children's lecture on greed and right versus wrong. It is now a popular Freelander bonfire story, despite its lessons conforming more to the aure worldview.

It goes something like this:

Once upon a time there was an old village in the shadow of an enormous mountain. Everyone here knew the story of the Silver bear, a wise creature living at the very peak of the mountain. It was said that the bear could separate right from wrong in any context, and it did so better than anyone else in the whole wide world. In the village lived a young boy named Ivar, known for possessing an impatience as great as his curiosity. One day, struck with boredom, he decided to find the Silver bear so that he could teach him right from wrong.

Ivar set out on his journey, and climbed the mountain, where he eventually came upon three glens. The first glen was filled with beautiful flowers and sweet berries. A sign stood in the middle of the glen, which read: "These fruits are endangered. If you do not pick them now they shall grow back tenfold next year." But Ivar was tired and hungry from his hike, and ate the berries until he was full, and rolled around in the flowers to rest.

The second glen was filled with glittering rocks and precious gems. A sign stood in the middle of the glen, which read: "Take only what you need, so that more may benefit from the riches of this land." But Ivar, entranced by the stones shining in the sun, filled his pockets until they overflowed, spilling the riches as he continued onward.

The third glen was covered in dusk, but a life sized golden statue of a man provided light in the darkness. A sign stood in the middle of the glen, right next to the statue, which simply read: "Do not touch!" Being the curious boy that he was, Ivar touched the statue regardless. When nothing happened, he shrugged, and proceeded towards the mountaintop.

He finally reached the peak, and there stood the Silver bear as if he was expecting the boy. Ivar called out: "Dear Silver bear, I have come to learn the difference between right and wrong!"

The Silver bear answered: "You need only look back on your journey. In each of my three glens you made the wrong choice. In the first glen you picked excessively from the berry bushes. In the second glen you took more than you could carry, even spilling some of the riches from your pockets. In the third glen you ignored the warning and touched the statue."

Ivar, ashamed of his own actions spoke: "Now I know what wrong is. Is right all about following rules?"

The Silver bear answered: "Separating right from wrong is not about following rules, but understanding their purpose. Not respecting the rules of nature will lead to its destruction. Succumbing to greed will leave less for others. Ignoring the boundaries of your fellow man sows nothing but bad will among us. Not all that glitters is meant for us, young man. Respect nature, moderate yourself, and resist temptation, or the consequences may be dire.

Ivar thanked the Silver bear for his wisdom and returned to his village. Having learned from his mistakes, he left the statue alone in the third glen, emptied his pockets in the second glen, and carefully planted some berries in the first glen. From that day forward, the young boy always sought to do the right thing, to understand why we have rules, and to recognize that all actions have consequences. Thus ends the story of Ivar the wise, who told this story to teach others right from wrong.

Cover image: by Midjourney


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Aug 10, 2023 17:14 by Sapha Burnell

I like both versions of this story's ending. Haha!

Aug 11, 2023 11:36

I'm glad you even noticed the alternative ending! Thanks for checking it out!

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