Guest Piece by Raven Kaldera
I have loved Njord since I first had the intense UPG (shared by others too) that He adopted Sigyn and raised Her with love and care. Understanding that about Her was the key to developing a relationship with Him for me. When Raven shared this piece with me this last week, I wept like a child and then went and made offerings to Njord and asked permission from Raven to share this piece here. fortunately, he was willing. –GK
Learning from Goodfather Njord
by Raven Kaldera
Many years ago I took an intensive astrology course that gave me a number of really good tools for introspection. During some of the classes, we did long guided meditations in which we were encouraged to personify ten planets and five asteroids in our astrological chart. For those who don’t know or care about astrology, think of it as a meditation where you are encouraged to imagine, meet, and talk to fifteen different aspects of yourself, sorted by titles like “the part that does romantic relationships”, “the disciplinarian”, “the wounded part”, and so forth. As I went through the meditation, each aspect of myself congealed into a face, a body, and an environment. (Astrologically, their “home” was reflected in the “house” where that planet was located in the chart.) Some were male, some female, some shifted back and forth. Some were strong and powerful, others weak and hurting. I journaled heavily about this system of self-discovery, and over the years I found myself revisiting it again and again, checking in on my various aspects. It allowed me to figure out what parts of myself were complaining and in need of attention.
Probably the most pathetic one of all was the face that appeared when the meditation took me to “visit” the asteroid Ceres in my chart. For the non-astrologers, think “the part of yourself that nurtures others”. Mine is in Cancer, unaspected, retrograde, and in the twelfth house; think “hard to access, and hidden most of the time.” She appeared as a young woman, not even out of her teens, half-starved with dark circles around her eyes, living her life in a dark basement. I fled from the image, and besides writing about it in my journal, didn’t look at it for a long time. Nurturing had never come easily or naturally to me, even when I was co-parenting a child. I did my best to be a kind and reasonable parent, and to remember to be affectionate even when it felt forced, but I constantly felt like I was moving blindly through a role I didn’t feel, even as I loved my kid. My partners all knew that I’d willingly do things for them if asked, but caregiving just wasn’t my thing.
I should backtrack and recount that I come from an extremely dysfunctional childhood with ill and violently physically abusive parents. As the oldest child, I was expected to take on adult duties at a very young age, including caring for my younger sibling and sometimes even my parents themselves, and I hated it. I was forced to take over the cleaning of the house, even before I reached puberty; I deliberately screwed up and burned all attempts to force me to cook anything more complicated than toast, so that I couldn’t be made to take that on as well. When I failed in my adult duties, which was often, I was brutally beaten. Caretaking, to me, was a painful prison. It was no surprise that my Ceres, my nurturing part, was hungry and shut up in the dark. I just didn’t know what to do about it, because I couldn’t seem to break those associations.
Nothing changed for decades until this year, when suddenly Njord showed up. I’d had visionary encounters with Him before, but I’d always been the one who approached respectfully and asked for advice or aid. This time He showed up while I was lying in bed, just barely awoken in the morning. “So,” He said cheerfully. “It’s time to do something about that poor abused Ceres of yours.”
Earlier in the week, I’d been checking in on my various astrological “self-aspects” (with the exception of Ceres whom I’d ceased to visit because it was too depressing), and it had occurred to me that I’m a polytheist; were my different aspects drawn to my different Gods? Might they each be sort of henotheistic with one of the various deities in my personal Peanut Gallery? I visualized each aspect and asked the question. Some did, some didn’t. My Saturn has always belonged to Hela; my Pluto was enamored of Shiva; my Neptune is devoted to Fenrir; my Venus reacts to Frey like a schoolgirl with a rock star; my Uranus tends to prefer elemental or plant or animals spirits. Some didn’t have a deity-of-choice at all. But now here was Njord, speaking up for the imprisoned and least loved part. “I know all about astrology, you know,” He said. “We sailors spend a lot of time staring at the sky. It was one of the few things Skadi and I bonded over – she stared at a lot of stars out on those frozen fields. Give me your Ceres,” He said, “and I’ll do some healing on those old wounds. Let him make me his God and I’ll do right by him.”
“Him?” I said. “I thought she was a girl.”
“At the moment,” He said, “but you notice that she’s not a grown woman, some Earth Mother-type with huge tits who pushes out babies? The sort of woman you’d expect a nurturer to be? No, she was pushed into the job too young, without adequate feeding herself, which is why she’s so ineffective. I think she’d do better as a man. He’d have more confidence. And we have to get him out of that dark basement.”
“The twelfth house symbolizes places of confinement,” I said. “I’m just going with the symbolism here.”
Njord rolled His blue eyes. “Yes, it’s confinement, and dark basements, and hospitals, and prisons … but it’s also dream, and fantasy, and the wellspring of poetry. You came up with that image, in your pain. I’ve got a better one. How about a ship, for example? You can’t exactly leave a ship without drowning, once it’s at sea, but it’s a lot more comfortable than being locked in the basement. At least my ship is. There are stars, and sunset over the ocean, and camaraderie. Let me have him for my crew. He can sail off when you’re not enacting that part of you, and come back to dock when someone in your life needs him.” He paused. “And if he stays with me, I’ll teach him how to be a good father, in a way you never got to understand.”
I remembered how Njord is, in spite of His wanderings, very much a family man. He loves and is proud of His twin children, He dandles Freya’s daughters on His knee, He cares about His wife at home and is honestly glad She has other consorts to keep Her company while He is away. He is the Goodfather in a very real sense, with experience in frith-making that is honed on a ship, where people can’t leave and have to learn how to get along. Very much like a family, in its own way. What else could I do but agree? I needed some breakfast, because my blood sugar was falling, but I resolved to visit my poor incarcerated Ceres later in the day, and get her opinion of the matter.
It’s funny how parts of one’s self respond dramatically to the presence of Gods in ways that one’s own personal efforts can’t achieve. When I went down into that basement, my nurturing aspect had already shifted shape and was waiting expectantly. He was a bearded man in a knitted sweater and rubber boots, no longer young, but still thin and hollow-eyed. “I’m going to be the ship’s cook,” he told me. “Njord says if I work in the kitchen I’ll never go hungry.”
“Um, I don’t really know how to cook,” I said.
“You don’t,” he said. “Did you ever ask me about it?”
Later that week, I went into trance and formally brought this personified aspect of myself to Njord. I envisioned that the dark basement was in a shack within walking distance of the beach, and I brought him out and walked him to where Njord’s ship was anchored – not a Viking ship, but a full-rigged Victorian number with mast after mast of billowing sails. He got into the rowboat and was brought to the ship, where Njord pierced his ear with a gold ring and showed him to the kitchen cauldrons. The surge of joy from deep inside me was so intense it made me cry. It still does, when I picture him standing on the deck of the ship, hair blowing, well-fed, handing out bowls of food to a laughing crew with a twinkle in his eye that he’s recently learned from a certain old blue-eyed sailor.
The external-world manifestation of this internal shift was that I suddenly started cooking. Like, seriously cooking. OK, some of what I made wasn’t exactly great, but you have to start somewhere, right? I’ve always been lucky to have partners who were decent-to-good cooks, so I never really had to learn how to do more than a few token dishes, but now the Goodfather had that part of me working the pots and cauldrons. I eventually surprised myself by making more elaborate dishes like chicken korma – I wonder what port they pulled into in order to inspire that? – including grinding all the spices for it. And, just today, baba ganoush! My partners were told about Njord’s rescuing of my hesitant and newly-fledged nurturing self, and when I made a special snack for one of them and he said, “My compliments to the ship’s chef,” I got the feeling that he blushed and scuffed the deck with his boot.
Njord’s rescue is just in time. My adult daughter is working on having a baby, and I’ll be Grandpa. Maybe, the second generation around, I’ll feel something besides confusion and resentment. Maybe Goodfather Njord will show me the way. After all, His children are the most beautiful ones in the Nine Worlds. With a resumé like that, how could we lose?
(excerpted with permission of the author from a forthcoming devotional to Njord. Folks, i believe there are still a few days left to submit pieces –end of april if i’m not wrong. If you have something for Njord, please consider sending it as a submission to the devotional to cauldronfarm at hotmail.com).
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