ÁR VAR ALDA: THE ANCIENT GERMANIC STUDIES SOCIETY AT UGA
Ár Var Alda: The Ancient Germanic Studies Society at UGA (ÁVA) was a reading circle and interdisciplinary student group active from January 2012 until March 2015. ÁVA met the second week of every month, generally in Joseph "Joe" E. Brown Hall at the University of Georgia's campus in Athens, Georgia. From the totally new and curious to the seasoned philologist, ÁVA welcomed all. ÁVA held all meetings in English and provided all necessary materials.
At ÁVA meetings, members read aloud and discussed a variety of texts originally composed in Old English, Old Norse, Old High German, and an array of related languages. While AVÁ primarily focused on ancient texts, the group was not limited to the old. For example, ÁVA discussion frequently involved folklore from the modern period.
Joseph S. Hopkins and Geoffrey Adams, at the time both students at UGA, founded ÁVA in January 2012. The group was sponsored by Dr. Alexander Sager, then-Associate Professor of German at the Department of Germanic Slavic Studies at the University of Georgia.
Recorded in the 13th century, Ár Var Alda is an Old Norse phrase found early in the poem Vǫluspá. In modern English, the phrase may be roughly translated to 'in days of yore'. As the phrase has cognates (words that are 'born from the same mother') in a few other ancient Germanic texts, the phrase appears to have played a role in an early Germanic cosmological formula.
In Vǫluspá, an undead vǫlva (a pagan Norse seeress) tells the wisdom-seeking god Odin what has been and what will be, including the primordial dissection of the enormous being Ymir, the endless reach of the cosmic tree Yggdrasill, and the creation of mankind from driftwood by three gods.