In non-Njord news, here’s my take on deconstructing how we understand the Brisingamen myth. (Also posted in full at Patheos here.)
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Reposting because it’s that time of year, and because I now work with the Raven as well as the Falcon….
A few years ago, I came across this short story by Seanan McGuire. I had seen it around, and several people strongly suggested that I read it, but when I took a look at it, it seemed mostly to be about football. While I actually have a lot of fond memories of high school football games (I played in the marching band), what I didn’t get was the connection was to Freya. Luckily I made myself reread it, and it’s been one of my favorite short stories ever since.
If you work with a God whose realm includes death or battle, I recommend that you read it. If you work with the Norse gods or the Morrigan, in particular, I recommend that you read it. Who knew mythology had anything to do with football?
(You can find the entire short story here. I’m also posting the entire thing below the cut, because I never trust that links will last.)
So, in the Thrymskvida (that one myth where Thor dresses up as a bride), Thor and Loki’s first thought upon learning that the Hammer had been stolen by a jotun and would only be returned if Freya became his bride was to make Freya marry him. You know, for the good of all and all that. Her response?
Freya snorted with fierce rage,
The hall shook and shuddered about them,
Broken to bits was the Brising Necklace:
‘In the eyes of the gods a whore I should seem,
If I journeyed with you to Gianthome.’ 🙂 That’s my Lady.
And so Thor ended up dressing up as Freya-the-Bride and fooling the jotun instead, which, while uncomfortable for Thor, worked out well for everyone in the end. The point I would like to make here is that Thor and Loki (and all of the rest) did not attempt to figure out a way for Freya to avoid marrying the jotun or otherwise try to protect her from having to deal with this situation. Instead, the dynamic duo that is Thor and Loki demanded that She Do This Thing, and were stumped when She said no. Plan B did not come about until after Freya had shut them down, unequivocally, all on her own. (And, to their credit, none of the Aesir attempted to argue with Her or change Her mind about it. Instead, they brainstormed a new solution.) And anyway, did they honestly think She would have said yes?
It makes me wonder, though. Would the Gods have acted the same way had it been Sif, or Idunna, or Frigga on the line? Or maybe one of Frigga’s handmaidens? Was it just because Freya was (effectively) single that they thought they could demand this of Her? Or maybe it just made for a better story? Who knows. All I know is that this small but key part for this myth is one of the main sources of information that we have about Freya’s personality. So, regardless of the reason that it is included in the story, I’m glad somebody wrote it down.
Friday, Feb. 15th:
I’ll likely be joining in River Devora‘s “Furious Revels” at 5pm. It’s a fun parade that, among other things, helps to cleanse the hotel space.
Saturday, Feb. 14th:
4:30-6:30 Devotional to Hera and Zeus (tutorial-style ritual)–Pandemos/Greek Hospitality Suite–I’m leading this event with Thenea Pantera (Magick from Scratch). (I’ll be a priestess of Zeus! This should be fascinating.)
9:00-10:30PM Dionysus Hestios ritual–San Martin/San Simeon. Put on by Pandemos, our Hellenic group in the Bay Area.
(There’s also a small possibility I’ll be helping ward Coru Cathubodua’s Morrigan ritual–“The Morrigan Speaks: Arise to Battle”–Saturday night, depending on whether they need more warders. We’ll see if they need me or not.)
Sunday, Feb. 15th:
11:00 AM Myth Embodiment, “The Lay of Thrym (aka That One Time When Thor Was a Drag Queen)”– Heathen Hospitality Suite, 2nd floor. I’m running this event
1:00 PM Blot for Freya–Heathen Hospitality Suite. I’m running this event.
11:00 PM “Facets of Freya Devotional Ritual”–San Juan/San Carlos (facing the parking lot). I’m leading this ritual along with a group of Freyaswomen that we’ve named Freyja’s Aett (including EmberVoices) I’ll be posting more about this one later on.
Keeping in mind that in the fourteen years I’ve attended PCon, only once have I ever made it to even most all of the events I’d hoped to attend. And knowing that some events will be canceled or moved; some will not live up to my expectations; some I won’t make because I’ll get pulled off to help somebody out at the last minute; and some I’ll just be too fricking tired to attend. That said, here are some of the events I’d like to attend:
Coru’s Morrigan ritual; Shauna Aura Knight’s “Designing Intensive Rituals”; Discordian.com’s “Lady Gaga Clothing Swap” (long story); Hrafn Skjoldr Kindred’s Blot; Rhyd Wildermuth and Alley Valkyrie‘s “Radical Gods” panel; T. Thorn Coyle (and many others)’s panel on “Nurturing Young Pagan Leaders”; “Warding and Ritual Safety” panel; Jeffrey Arbaugh’s “Archetypes of the Masculine”… which is unfortunately at the same time as the Coru event, sigh (Arbaugh is the presenter from whom I picked up the Myth Embodiment activity); Angela Carlson’s “Modern Heathenry” discussion panel (which, considering it’s at 9AM, is unlikely); Freyja’s Gift’s “A Different Kind of Seidh”; Soli Johnson’s “Juggling the Gods”; Silence Maestas‘ “Exploring Devotional Rituals”; and River’s “Essentials of Polytheism”. And hopefully one of the Pagans in Recovery events.
A green field, stretching as far as the eye can see. Small honey-colored seeds are scattered loosely across the plain, embedded in the ground. She is working on each, as if it were made of the finest metal–drawing it out, braiding, sculpting, and entwining the filaments; growing each into a fine, gently pulsing web. What are they? I ask. What are they for?
Tears, She says, and smiles. A heart connection. A call to action. A connection already sewn that needs time to grow. They are aware but sleeping. When the time comes they will awake. Heart to my heart, love to my love.
Where are they? I ask.
Folkvang, She replies.
Thor got his hammer Mjölnir (and the matching glove), Odin got his arm-ring Draupnir (which drops nice new gold armbands every nine days), and Freyr got his golden boar Gullinbursti–all for free–because Loki played two groups of dwarves off of each other. (He was making up for having cut off all of Sif’s hair, true; but dude–totally double dealing.) Likewise, in that same deal, Odin received his spear Gungnir and Freyr receives his ship Skíðblaðnir (which is the fastest of ships and can be folded up very small, like a piece of cloth), and Sif received actual gold hair.
These symbols, particularly Thor’s hammer and Odin’s spear, are key signifiers for these gods. What did they do to earn them? In classic Norse deity fashion, they did nada. Nothing. Loki pulled the prank and Loki did the work to fix it, and as a side effect the Gods received some pretty cool shit. On the other hand, Freya has Brisignamen as her key symbol, but She was not given the Brising necklace for free. She made the deal, she paid the price. She earned it.
Kinda makes you think. Who’s more badass here–the male deities, or Freya?