I’ve received a few requests to write about the differences between the Gods in various places (I will get my “reply” issue fixed soon, I promise). Unfortunately I don’t know a lot about how the Gods are worshiped in different parts of the country, and only which Gods are favored in CA, CO, and KY; but I’ll share what I do know. What I know more about is which Gods seem to me to be strongest in different parts of the country, and I’d love to get Ember’s and Heather’s opinion on this as well (sorry for the messy linking, ladies; I don’t know how to tag bloggers within a post yet).
As for God popularity, I know that in the SF Bay Area, Odin is HUGE. It is All Odin, All the Time. I cannot emphasize this enough. You cannot avoid Him or His people, lovely raven cacklers though they may be. Thor, Tyr, and Loki are also popular deities out here (though with very different segments of the population). Frigga had a big following about ten years ago, but I haven’t seen much of her since then except with a few people who are Dedicated to Her. Of the Vanir, you don’t see much emphasis on anyone except for my Lady. She definitely holds her own. I’d says she’s probably the third most popular Norse deity out here, after Odin and Thor. Where you have Freya, you’ll have some Freyrsmen, too. You can also find a few Skadi people around as well, especially near the Sierras.
I had assumed that’s the way it was broken down everywhere, but then I talked with a guy at PantheaCon last year who was from Colorado and has Bragi as his patron. His group came to the Freya Blot I ran, and they looked a bit uncomfortable with all of the Odinishness that seeps its way into everything Heathen our here. He said that very few people in his area work with Odin, but that a lot of people work with the Vanir and Thor. In Kentucky, at my first Kindred, we had a Freyrsman (our gothi), an Odinsman, and a guy dedicated to Sif, of all deities. (Yes, he did have long, very pretty white-blond hair.) Flatland Kentucky generally has a Freyr vibe to it, what with the lush greenery, tobacco, whiskey, and horses. I have no idea who’s popular out on the East Coast or in the Deep South, though.
As to where the deities actually are… I have to admit my whole God Mapping idea is heavily influenced by Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson books. (I will gladly take any and all flack I get from this comment. As a former teacher I can guarantee that an entire generation of almost-adults have been trained on how to be good little polytheists because of his books. Thousands of Greek polytheists, Roman polytheists, and Egyptian polytheists are just waiting to hit college and be introduced to the pagan community. His next series will be Norse!) Uh…full rant regarding Riordan’s books and influence to come later, apparently. In his books, though, while the gods show up wherever they want whenever they want, obviously, they also each have a main base of operations (Zeus and Mt. Olympus are in a high-rise in Manhattan, Poseidon’s off the East Coast in the Atlantic, Hades is someplace underneath LA, etc.) So it got me thinking that maybe the Gods do have areas that they prefer and where they are strongest.
I’m on the West Coast, less that an hour’s drive from the ocean. I always assumed Njord was The Man out here because the ocean and the coast and the fishing industry and the wharves, but honestly I never felt that strong of a connection to him out here. I wanted to, but I never actually felt it. I’ve never had any problems finding Aegir when I was at the beach, or Ran, either, when I sought Her out deep beneath the waves. But Njord–father of Freya and the generous, kindly uncle I never had–Him I didn’t find until I went to Fisherman’s Wharf, where He was quietly hanging out with all of the commercial fishing boats at the end of the dock. There, however, he is practically physically manifested, in a “Here’s a shiny bauble for I brought back for you, honey. Let’s get some whiskey,” kind of way, which I guess makes sense. He’s not necessarily the God of the Sea, but more the God of Fisherman, Sailors, and Maritime Trade.
Then, last year, I got tapped by the Greeks, and it eventually occurred to me as I was driving over a bridge along the coast that, hey, Poseidon might be here too! So while still on the bridge, I opened up my shields and sent him a ping. BAM! Yes indeed, Poseidon is out here in the West Coast, and in a big way. I might even go so far as to say that He owns the entire Pacific–at least the part that touches the West Coast, anyway. Or perhaps he’s just that much more powerful than Njord, Aegir, and Ran combined–which is an interesting topic for another day.
In the Greek pantheon I primarily work with Zeus, though, and since we get earthquakes out here more often than we get thunderstorms (hmm, maybe that’s another reason why Poseidon is so strong out here), I was very excited to go back to the Midwest and experience a real thunderstorm again. I figured, what better place to find Zeus than in a thunderstorm? Since the visit was bookended with T-storms, once I landed, I opened up my shields–expecting to feel some nice ozone-laden airy Zeus-iness somewhere nearby. But no. There is no Zeus in the Midwest. Or if he is there, he’s in Chicago, or perhaps Minneapolis. He’s not in the rural or rural-ish farmland that makes up 95% of the Midwest. So, who’s there instead? THOR. SO MUCH THOR. (Given the sheer amount of Swedes, Germans, and Norskes in the Midwest, this shouldn’t have come as such a big surprise, but I really had my hopes up.) The biggest storm we had while I was there did not have any lightning hitting the ground; instead it went from cloud to cloud, back and forth, with chunks of the sky lighting up and then the windows of the house rattling a few seconds later. Watching the thunderstorm was like watching Thor fighting the Jotuns (or perhaps quarreling with Loki; it was hard to tell); in any event, a lot of bickering was happening with no satisfying resolution. (I might try to post a video of it at the end of the thread.) It was very cool to really feel so much THOR energy; I don’t get him so strongly out here on the coast. I also definitely felt the presence of lots of happy Germanic wights and alfar and such wandering around; if you’re not from the Midwest, you don’t fully understand how thoroughly saturated the area is with Northern European/Germanic influence. I grew up there, but didn’t really notice it until I moved away and came back to visit. There’s probably Freyr and Nerthus there as well, but neither of them tend to smack people upside the head with their energies, so it was a bit hard to tell with all of the THOR THOR THOR going on at the same time. As for my Lady… I had a hard tome connecting with Her in the Midwest. It was very disconcerting.
Where else do you find the Gods? Not “logically”, but actually?