(Yes, I’m skipping forward a bit.)
One of the workshops I love doing is an activity called Myth Embodiment. I have an entire section of the blog dedicated to it. Essentially, it involves a group of people “embodying” or re-enacting a myth, with all of the bits being portrayed–the deities, the scenery, the named objects. During the reenactment, we stop and each “character” gets a chance to give their pov of whatever event is taking place. It sparks some great discussions and helps really fill out less-well-known or less documented deities and myths. A few years ago, the Vanic Conspiracy did a myth embodiment for the Skirnismal, (“the Journey of Skirnir/Skirnir’s Story”). At the time, it helped me address some deep-seated issues I was having in working with Freyr, because at surface value this myth shows Freyr’s servant Skirnir forcing Gerd into marriage with Freyr using extremely creatively horrible threats. Our analysis is hosted on my blog here. My longer description and analysis of the myth from several different perspectives is available on Huginn’s Heathen Hof.
Well, work has me run ragged, and we’re still recovering from the move. Also this week, my mother ended up in the hospital for a week (she’s fine now and recovering). So the Fall Equinox has kind of caught me by surprise. Normally I start to notice Freyr going back into the Mound around August 1, once the days start getting noticeably shorter, but it’s Mabon, to use the Wiccan term, and Freyr’s still up and kicking–around here, at least. (We’re in the middle of a week of 90+ temps, so it certainly doesn’t feel like fall yet.) But the cycles are turning, and Freyr will be down soon.
In the honor of His and Gerda’s marriage, I am putting together a short reenactment ritual which honors Their marriage and its connection with the changing of the seasons. It will take place in my favorite secluded glade in my hometown, surrounded by overhanging trees, adjacent to the local public rose garden. We’ll have a picnic dinner after the ritual. If all goes as planned, it will be idyllic 🙂 Wish me luck!
My latest article is up at Patheos. It’s a deconstruction of the Skirnismal, or, How Freyr Won Gerd to be His wife.
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.