#90DaysforOdin, Day 36: The Many Names of Odin

“A single name have I never had since first among men I fared”. (Grimnismal)

Freya has many facets, to be sure, but Odin…. well, Odin has Facets. (I figure this will help me catch up with my #90DaysofOdin posts.) I actually named one of my cats “Harbarth” (Graybeard), because he was a wandering gray tabby tomcat. The day after I gave him this name, he got an infection in one eye which had him squinting at the world for about two weeks. You do the math.

Aldaföðr………”Father of Men”
Aldagautr………”Gautr of Men”
Aldingautr………”The Ancient Gautr”
Alfaðir, Alföðr………”All-Father”
Angan Friggjar………”Delight of Frigg”
Arnhöfði………”Eagle-headed One”
Atriði, Atriðr………”Attacking Rider” or “Attacker by Horse”
Auðun………”Wealth Friend”
Bági ulfs ………”Enemy of the Wolf ”

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A swan maiden?

*Edited to add: And in a somewhat confounding journey a month ago, I was given the heart of a swan. Again, *headdesk**

Eswan maiden valkyrie

Of course I have a pair of white wings. Duh. I’m a swan maiden. *headdesk* An older version of a swan maiden, not the märchen (Grimm’s fairy tales) version, granted, but still–a swan maiden. The kind that overlap in form and function with the early version of the Norn-esque valkyries. There is, ironically, even a swan maiden/valkyrie in the Lore who who has my name:

In Hromundars saga Greipssonar, the valkyrie Kara appears in swan shape flying above a battle, shapechanged by the wearing of a alftarham (swan-shift). (Viking Answer Lady, “Valkyries, Wish-Maidens, and Swan-Maids”)

(Note: The VAL’s article here is relatively useful, but I disagree with her on Freya being “the first Valkyrie”–an etymological distinction that, honestly, she should have been aware of. Also, she’s not up to date on the recent re-analyses of burial mounds which contain women with full fighting accouterment.) In any event, this would help explain my fascination with selkie and swan maiden tales, and the white winged aspect of my journeying and interactions with Freya recently.

Love notes from Freya, 4/19/15

A marriage is what you make of it. It can be a marriage of convenience; a marriage of romantic love; a marriage for children; a marriage for career advancement. A marriage for society; a marriage for you, personally. There are many reasons to get married. Choose which one you like best, and follow your heart. It matters not which one you choose; only that you choose.

Relationship advice, from Freya. My sense is that her version of “Marriage” and our modern American one is different. I got the sense for channeling her note today that she was talking about something not entirely unlike a business venture–two people entering into an intimate, long-term partnership which is mutually beneficial;”romance” not being the central concept, in many cases.

Though Freya is a goddess of love, and I will never present her as not having that essential quality, it’s good to note that what “love” meant back in the time that she was most actively worshiped is not the red-hearted Valentine’s-Day love of today. (Perhaps that kind of cheesy romantic love didn’t exist in any ancient cultures; perhaps it’s a modern invention.) I don’t think that lessens the power or meaningfulness or usefulness of “love”. I think it just makes the “love” that does exist more likely to pass the test of time.

(And yes, I know this one is aimed at me, too, Lady. :P)

Why I blog… (reason #1)

(EDITED: On a somewhat related note, I just ran across a pretty cool site dedicated to Freya on Tumblr: http://rosesandlovewithfreyja.tumblr.com/, which has great pics and poetry. I’ve successfully avoided Tumblr up until this point, but I may need to actually start poking around and see what’s there.)

But unfortunately, there’s also bad, inaccurate, and poorly researched data about Freya readily available on the internet. Case in point: http://www.valkyrietower.com/freyja.html. If I was a newbie who knew nothing of Freya or Heathenry or Norse scholarship, I would look at this site and go, “Whoa! She quotes stuff. With page numbers and everything. From a variety of sources. This must be legit!” It should be mentioned that I of all people recently (given my Facets of Freya ritual) know that She’s a complex Goddess with a lot going on. But at some point, you have to call “bullshit”.

Why is this site bad? Look at who she’s quoting. Ed Fitch is not a great resource on Norse mythology (or runes, for that matter.) Nor does a book called Magical Pantheons have well-researched info (Freya is a triple goddess, did ya know?) Or the Rune Vision Card Deck, which tells us that the first aett in the Elder Futhark is Freyaj’s Aett (does Freyr know this, I wonder.) And, according to Silver Ravenwolf (The Rune Mysteries), Freya is associated with the extinct Caspian tiger and “wanders at night accompanied by silver-gray hares”. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe does seem to have good information, but the only other source on this website that even looks vaguely familiar is Freya Aswynn’s Northern Mysteries, and Aswynn’s stuff needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a good dose of knowledge of the myths and how modern people have experienced Her.

There is probably good info in all of these sources if I look hard enough, but if I didn’t have a firm foundation in the source material and the Heathen community as a whole, I would have no idea who Freya actually was based on these sources. There probably is a goddess who runs with silver-gray hares, but unless She has laid down some pretty idiosyncratic UPG, that’s not actually Freya with whom you are talking. Also, there are goddesses who can legitimately be called “Triple Goddesses”; Freya is not one of them. Freya has facets; Freya took many names as She traveled; and it can be argued that several of the other Goddesses/characters are actually Freya (Gullveig; Horn, Mardoll, etc)–but an actual tripartite goddess She is not.

So, why do I blog? This is why I blog.  I do it because I care about my Goddess and want other people to have a chance to learn about Her, not some hybridized neo-Celtic mishmash of goddess attributes. Freya has Her own identity. She deserves to be known and honored as such.

Beowulf, misc notes on meter

I’ve organized a group of Freyaswomen to present a Freya-led ritual at Pantheacon for this year, and in the course of one of our planning sessions the topic of poetic meter in Old Norse (and Anglo Saxon) poetry came up. It’s very distinctive–think Beowulf, when read/spoken as a epic poem rather than prose:

He was well regarded              and ruled the Danes
for a long time after                  his father took leave
of his life on earth.                   And then his heir,
the mighty Halfdane,               held sway
for as long as he lived,            their elder and warlord.
He was four times a father,     this fighter prince:
Heorogar, Hrothgar,                the good Halga
and a daughter, I have heard, who was Onela’s queen
a balm in bed to the                battle scared Swede.   

In other words, boom de boom …..  de boom de boom. Kind of like listening to a blacksmith hammering repetitively, drilling the story into your subconscious. It’s a great meter to utilize for inducing trance or otherwise altered states. You can get a feel for it Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf (audio version found here), and in parts of Benjamin Bagby’s performance of Beowulf. The poetry does, in fact, weave a spell, and consciously so.

Heaney wrote at length about his translation of Beowulf, and it’s pretty amazing stuff. It’s fascinating to read a poet uncovering the genius of another poet’s work; what poets get right (and why I love them so much) is that good ones can nail the underlying essence of whatever is going on and are able to clarify that gleaming truth for the rest of us. Hail to the skálds, and to those who come after!

On Beauty, Sex, Sexuality, and Romance in Old Norse society

I was digging through some old files the other day and came across a presentation I had created for a Runes ‘n Lore class my old kindred used to run. I had chosen Sex, Beauty, and Romance because, well, I’m a Freyaswoman and it seemed the kind of thing that I should be know about. I’ve revised it and added more information. Most of the material here is drawn from  Women in Old Norse Society, by Jenny Jochens. Dr. Jochens draws her data from the Eddas, the Sagas, and contemporary laws. She takes an interdisciplinary approach and processes this information through the lens of linguistics, history, and modern gender analysis. Together with her book Old Norse Images of Women, and Women in the Viking Age, by Judith Jesch, we now know quite a bit about what it was like to be a woman in the Viking Age. I highly recommend all three books.

The article also contains all of the euphemisms you could ever want to know for sex and otherwise getting it on in Old Norse. 😉


Vardlokkur – The Song of the Völva, by Pollyanna Jones

A friend just passed me the link for an absolutely solid article describing the practice of seidh. (Let me point out that this is an article for a popular audience, not an academic one. Kind of a 101 overview of aspects of seidh.) Seidh is the magical practice that Freya specializes in, which She taught to Odin at his behest. It’s a specifically Vanic art that is only practiced only by women, or by men who are willing to take on the “ergi” role–that is, the “receptive” and feminine role. (Odin will do pretty much anything to obtain more knowledge.)

“Seidh” actually covers a variety of magical and divinatory practices, including, as Pollyanna says, the ability to “make prophecies, read omens, speak with the dead, and petition the powers behind wyrd or fortune to improve a person’s chances of increasing their wealth and reputation”. While the role of a seidhkona (or volva) is mentioned throughout the lore, we know very little of what these women actually did, and even less about the songs they sang, music they used, or rhythms that they pounded out to help get them into the trance-like state that was needed to perform these divinations or magics. Modern practitioners drawn on traditional folk music traditions from the Saami (indigenous tribes in Finland) and Norway, but we’re just taking an educated guess at best. This is why modern Heathens have also drawn so heavily from the Afro-Carribean traditions and other living magical traditions to fill in the gaps in our lore. (This is probably most notably seen in Diana Paxon’s work on recreating seidh–The way of the Oracle, Trance-Portation, and her upcoming book on trance possession.)

The article is a great introduction and overview of seidh and the challenges we’ve faced in bringing this lore-attested practice into the modern day. I’ll post a link to the article under my Online Resources section of the blog as well.)

Hamingja: Essence of Luck and Resiliency

Great post on one of the key parts of the Old Norse worldview: “luck”.

Wandering Woman Wondering

Luck, often called hamingja, is an important Heathen concept, one that encompasses ancestral aid, as well as a person’s ability to be in the right place at the right time, the whole constellation of a person’s skills and talents, and a person’s ability to rally the support and confidence of others. From my perspective the above mentioned aspects are the bright-side of one’s hamingja. They are the manifestation of one’s luck when one is “winning”, when things are going right and well. But what of luck’s shadow? With what does luck gift us in times of unavoidable darkness and struggle? Are we to assume that times of trouble come when luck has left us?

Luck isn’t gone when trouble comes our way. It’s when things get rough that our luck is tested. Most folks are made of fancy stuff when times are good. It’s when times are bad that we see most fully what destiny…

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