30 Days for Njord, Day 9: Generosity

Since this series was inspired not just by Njord but also by his attitudes on generosity and gift-giving, I give to you some wise words on the subject from the Havamal. (TL; DR: Be as generous as you can, otherwise you will have no friends and life will be bad.)

  1. Hail, ye Givers! a guest is come;
    say! where shall he sit within?
    Much pressed is he who fain on the hearth
    would seek for warmth and weal.
  2. He hath need of fire, who now is come,
    numbed with cold to the knee;
    food and clothing the wanderer craves
    who has fared o’er the rimy fell.
  3. I found none so noble or free with his food,
    who was not gladdened with a gift,
    nor one who gave of his gifts such store
    but he loved reward, could he win it.
  4. Let no man stint him and suffer need
    of the wealth he has won in life;
    oft is saved for a foe what was meant for a friend,
    and much goes worse than one weens.
  5. With raiment and arms shall friends gladden each other,
    so has one proved oneself;
    for friends last longest, if fate be fair
    who give and give again.
  6. To his friend a man should bear him as friend,
    and gift for gift bestow,
    laughter for laughter let him exchange,
    but leasing pay for a lie.
  7. Hast thou a friend whom thou trustest well,
    from whom thou cravest good?
    Share thy mind with him, gifts exchange with him,
    fare to find him oft.
  8. My garments once I gave in the field
    to two land-marks made as men;
    heroes they seemed when once they were clothed;
    ’tis the naked who suffer shame!
  9. Not great things alone must one give to another,
    praise oft is earned for nought;
    with half a loaf and a tilted bowl
    I have found me many a friend.

30 Days for Njord, Day 7

A few weeks back, a friend who is running a Trance Class gave the class their first chance to attempt trancing a deity. A few of us had dialed in and were participating online, but most people were there in person. I hadn’t expected to trance Freya–while I have a lot of experience acting as Her medium, She and I haven’t been close in that way for a while. However, apparently She had some people to talk to and messages that needed to be passed on. So that’s what I did.

Money and prosperity is a common theme when speaking with the Vanir, and this was no exception. The lesson I learned that night was that though each of the Vanir have a tie to bringing money and prosperity, each goes about it in a slightly different way.

For Njord–Njord is the one who helps to “bring your ship in”–be it a job, an inheritance, money owed to you, or a good opportunity to make money. He’s like a sale rep. He goes out and brings back leads and contact info. A point that Freya made here was that if He knows specifically what you are looking for, it makes His job considerably easier. Otherwise he’ll keep throwing random things in your path and hope one of them is useful.

For Freyr–Freyr is the banker of the Vanir. He protects your investments and helps them to grow in a steady, safe way. He tends them the same way He tends His fields and He tends his followers. He is the Sacred, Sacrificial King–he will do whatever it takes to make sure his people survive; and he plans ahead for contingencies.

For Freya–Simply put, Freya is the attractor. She literally pulls money and valuables to Her (and you). Freya is all about gifts from out of the blue, with people, both good friends and mere acquaintances, unexpectedly buying you or giving you things. A down side to this energy is that you can end up with an imbalance of power in regards to gift-giving within relationships. Remember, a gift begets a gift. And a gift that you get may actually be something that the giver cannot afford to give away, or will receive a serious repercussion for. Best to make all of these things explicitly clear with the Lady when you ask her for help with the finances.

Hopefully this helps. I find that going to the best deity/power for the job makes everyone’s life a bit easier.

Deep thoughts: Gifting and golddigging

I had two deep thoughts today.

First, Freya gives to herself (and we do, too)

Odin sacrifices “himself to himself” for knowledge of the runes and whatnot; but Freya — Freya is a giver. Working on the Facets of Freya ritual today, I kept getting the message “I am a gift”. (Me, attempting to clarify: “Who is a gift? Me?” Freya: “YES.”  “To who?” YES.” “To you?” “YOU ARE THE GIFT.”)  sigh. So I thought, well, if Odin can sacrifice himself to himself, than I can give myself to myself. I give myself to myself; I am both the giver and the gift. Which fits in perfectly with the facet of Freya that I will be portraying–the Freya of Self-Love. (If you could only see the way She loves us…)

Second, Freya as a golddigger. Literally.

Today’s work also brought up this quote: “I am the daughter of a master navigator. There is no gold I cannot find or treasure I cannot uncover and make shine.” And I thought, Well, of course. She loves gold and beauty in all of its forms. She found the best gold/treasure the dwarves had to offer, and went after it, breaking all kinds of Asgardian rules and thoroughly pissing Odin off (depending on your pov). And She loves and is doted on by Her father, Njord, the god of Fishing,Trade, and Commerce. (Vanic gods, the both of them, so modify anything They do with the adjective “abundantly”.) Who’s to say that Her guidance won’t always bring us to richer and better things? Maybe She is a golddigger, but in a good way. I mean, She is a giver.

Dwarves!

Cinderella’s (soon to be Sleeping Beauty’s) Prince: Yes, but even one prick–it’s my thing about blood–

Rapunzel’s (soon to be Snow White’s) Prince : Well, it’s sick!

CP: It’s no sicker than your thing with dwarfs!

RP: Dwarves!

CP: Dwarfs.

RP: Dwarves are very upsetting….

Actually, they’re not that upsetting at all, just kind of surprising. And happy folk for Freyaspeople to come visit. So, let’s talk dwarves, shall we?

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Love notes from Freya, 8/29/14

Motherhoood is a symptom of kindness, and the greatest form of charity. It is the gift that is given without the expectation that something of equal value will be given in return. Who are you mothering today? Who has mothered you?

Honor those who, in their own way, have shown you kindness and compassion and have passed on the knowledge that they themselves fought dearly to gain. Respect their experience, strength, and hope, for without it, where would you be? Motherhood comes in all shapes and forms; look past your blood kin and out to others whom you respect and love. As you draw your strength from them,  be a comfort to them as their own strength wanes. What is remembered, lives, and gives hope to those who come afterwards. It is a gift; honor it as such. Love, Freya

This month appears to be a month of honoring your ancestors, of blood and spirit. May that which is beneficial remain with us and strengthen us, and that which is harmful fade away.

Polytheist meme, #2

Here’s the second question from Galina Krasskova’s polytheist meme:

2. What does your tradition do to increase the power and flow of blessings?

Heathen/Norse folks have a variety of strategies within our tradition to help community members out. Here are the ones I see most often (not listed in order of importance or frequency):

1. We pray. I.e., we tell the Gods what’s going on and explicitly ask for their help. I’ve always considered myself blessed to be part of a spiritual group that gets to hear the Gods talk back, in one way or another. (Rant warning: It never ceases to amaze me how a certain subset of Heathens have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone mentioning prayer. It’s quite possibly the most ludicrous attitude I’ve seen in Heathenry, and I’ve seen some doozies. Typically it’s the tough-guy, I’m-a-f*cking–Viking, we-don’t-bow-to-nobody types are the ones who have this reaction. Of course we pray, you dolts. What do you think we’re doing at a blot or sumbel when we honor the Gods, tell them what’s going on, and thank them for their help? Get rid of that Christian resentment crap already and get on with the business of being a Heathen. End rant.)

2. We galdr over people. When I think of galdr, I think of it as something we do as a community on someone’s behalf. That’s not the only way it is used, however; in fact, pretty much anything that involves using runes in magical context will likely be augmented with some gadring. Galdr is the ritual chanting of the runes with the express purpose of invoking their power–to heal, lend strength, draw something to you, whatever–also, historically, to cast “battle fetters” upon an enemy. (Isn’t “battle fetters” a cool term? I can just see a bunch of crazy Norse women standing directly behind the battle line, chanting and sending out negative woo against their enemies.)

3. We make bindrunes. Bindrunes are two or more runes, which, when combined, blend the energy of the runes involved. This is a very useful tool, as the runes often need to be used in conjunction with one another to narrow their focus to your specific need. They also concentrate the power of these runes and become a good focal point for your intent. There are a wide variety of theories as to how one should be created; to me, it makes most sense just to combine the runes to tailor them to your specific goal. Other people write out a word in runes and then combine those runes into one bindrune. (I’m not a fan of this approach because it looks messy, and it also seems to me to just be a Norse-ified version of numerology.) They can be drawn on objects or people, and as I stated above, are often combined with galdering. A common bindrune is this:

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 8.39.48 AM

This is Gebo (X) plus Ansuz (the thing that looks like an F with downward-angled diagonal lines). On a literal level, Gebo means “gift” or “exchange”, and Ansuz indicates breath, “the Gods”, or Odin specifically. So, the goal of this bindrune could be to ask the Gods to bestow luck (gifts) on the wearer.

You have to have a very clear intent while making bindrunes, imho. Aside from looking messy, even if you only put two runes into your bindrune, it will likely end up looking like every other bindrune in existence. People who see your bindrune will probably have this type of reaction: “So, er, this is two Raidhos put together, facing each other. You’ll be traveling soon, I take it?  Hmm, no, wait–it’s Othala plus Isa. Way to chill out the family drama over your grandparents’ will. Oh, it’s Tiwaz plus Gebo, you say? You’re going to court soon to get paid back for your share of the damages? My bad.” There’s only so many ways straight lines can combine.

Also, each rune covers a variety of (sometimes completely unrelated) concepts. For example, Uruz (upside-down, angular capital U) in the Icelandic rune poem is all about rain showers and ruined harvests. But the Norwegian Rune poem tells us this about Uruz: “Dross comes from bad iron; the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.” To which you can reasonably respond, WTF? Finally, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem gives us the definition that is the most commonly accepted interpretation nowadays–aurochs (extinct species of giant bovine)–great physical strength and endurance. So, do your research and be very clear about which meaning you’re aiming for. This is not a time to be sloppy with your magic or spell-casting.

4. We ingest the runes. Back in the day, this was done by inscribing the runes on some tree bark and then scraping that bark into your mead or food. Personally, I like to use baked goods for this purpose, inscribing runes into the dough. At feasts, sumbels, or blots, people often draw or galdr runes over food and then imbibe it.

5. We are hospitable. I’m not entirely sure if this fits within the scope of the question, but Old Norse and Germanic cultures (as well as many others) had very strict cultural norms around how to be a good guest and how to be a good host, and the consequences that would befall you if you fail at either. I think the reverse is also true; being the generous, good host will earn you the favor of the Gods, and they will give you blessings accordingly.