Last week my main Heathen group, which is focused on the Vanir, did a myth embodiment of the Skirnismal, aka how Freyr won his jotun wife Gerd. This exercise is one that we’d done twice previously–first with the myth describing the Marriage of Njord and Skadi, and second with the myth of how Freya won Brisingamen. Both times the activity yielded up some great insights into the Gods involved as well as a lot of hilarity. (And how often does one activity give you both of these things, I ask?)
One of the things that I think this type of exercise does best is to fully flesh out the characters–in our case last week, the Gods Freyr and Skadi; the Jotun (Godddess-to-be?) Gerd; and the eponymous Skirnir, who, as we found out, is neither Aesir nor Vanir nor jotun nor alf. (Actually, nobody knows quite what he is; though we do know he’s one of Freyr’s oldest friends, and also his servant). This myth showcases Freyr at his youngest, most immature self–moody, passionate, and self-centered. Not being that close to Freyr myself, I hadn’t had much reason to work through my own issues with this myth. My biggest issue with the Skirnismal, and the reason that I had put off doing this myth as long as we did, had always been that in the myth, it really does look like Freyr (through Skirnir) is threatening Gerd with some bodily and psychological harm should she decide not to marry him, and what is up with that? (The threats are both cruel and highly creative.) It’s coercion at the very least, and, personally, I didn’t see any way around dealing with that aspect of the myth.
However, this coercion aspect is actually what makes it the perfect fodder for myth embodiment. The whole point, in fact, is to try to understand the motivations and point of views of all concerned. (This technique is also successfully used to help families and communities heal themselves after tragedy or trauma. It’s amazing what putting yourself in another’s shoes will do for healing a relationship.) So, I did some research, had some great discussions around it with a few Freyrspeople, and went boldly on with the embodiment.