Category Archives: Heathenry
Prayer to Saga from a writer
Mistress of Words,
who lingers over tales that reverberate
off Skvabekk’s walls like
the sound of falling
Lady of Lore,
equal in words to Odin All-Father,
I ask that You bless
my ink and tongue
so that my own words
are ever pleasing to You.
May my pen
in its quest.
to You, I pray.
Thanksgiving to Saga
In adoration I come to You
Lady of Lore and Histories.
You who hordes the words of ages,
texts known and secret,
some written only
in the hearts of man and roots of Yggdrasil.
Thank You for all that You are
and all that You do.
May I ever honor You
in my written and spoken
workings as I sift
through tale and lore and
Praise be to Saga
of Sunken-bench and
heavy tome, of
sweet meed and cool stream.
Hail Saga, be praised!
(both prayers by D.)
For the Lady of Sokkvabekk
by E. Blakely
This singing surge of substance without form
Ever flowing through the Realm of Sokkvabekk.
Warded by Saga Odinsdaughter, Frigga’s Handmaiden.
How deep does it flow?
As deep as the Generations that add their Substance to the Stream.
How clear does it flow?
As clear as Truth given form and served in cups kissed by the Light of Day.
How cool does it taste – refreshingly cool or bitter cold?
Only the taster can judge this.
Truth is what it is and each Generation that feeds Sokkvabekk paid the price for inclusion.
Blessed Saga wards this stream – this Flowing Shrine to Lives Lived.
Lives of countess Generations distilled, rendered into Its purest form, but not horded in a well or kept in casks.
The song of our Ancestors given voice, still active and vital and accessible through Saga of Sokkvabekk.
Thank you to everyone who submitted for this Agon. 🙂 It’s open for two more days, if you were thinking about submitting but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
For Jord, The Filth in My Hands
Every. Damn. Day.
I bear witness to Your body’s defilement.
Litter. Garbage. Filth.
Water bottles, plastic wrappers, coffee cups.
All tossed aside by those who claim to love the
but, by their actions, show just how they feel about
Every day I walk to work, I gather the litter left behind.
I beg You and the Local Spirits to forgive the disrespect shown to You,
the forgiveness I can never give.
One handful, often two.
I offer my labor to You because I don’t know what else I can do.
On the way home, the ritual is repeated:
Water bottles, plastic wrappers, coffee cups.
One handful, often two.
The hummingbirds, bluebirds, and sometimes hawks watch me.
Perhaps the foliage which adorns You watches me as well.
They are often my only witnesses.
At times, a walker along the “green” belt watches, amused or perhaps
disturbed by my actions. After all, isn’t it “someone else’s job” to clean up the waste?
No. No one cleans it. Not the Park Department. Not the landscapers.
If not me, who?
For you Jord. For you Earth. For you Mother.
Filth in My Hands.
But that one day,
an elderly woman, hunched with years lived, sees my hands full of litter,
sees me pick up another item thrown away in an act of sacrilege,
smiles at me and says “Thank You”,
and it’s all worth it.
by P.S. V. L.
O Most Venerable Mother,
Whose bones are of forgotten giants,
Whose flesh is of shattered beings,
Whose blood is of the sweat of ancestors,
Whose arms embrace all life,
Whose hands receive all in death:
May our efforts to undo the blight
upon Your limbs be pleasing to You;
May Your wrath be averted
though we have been children in error;
May Your beauty be restored, recovered
though we have been blind to it;
May our better stewardship of Your other children
Bring you tears of joy in rain and laughter in winds;
and may our time upon Your face not be short!
For You, Jord, Earth in All Your Splendor
I sing a song of praise and sorrow,
and may I never stint in remembering You
with offerings of thanks and good words of honey.
A Springtime Prayer to Jord
by Sarenth Odinsson
Loamy Earth, deep and rich
Full and black
Hela and Nidhogg blessed
The Dead in Your body
The soils’ life
Renewed and resurrected
Seeds dig tendrils and reach up
Mushrooms grow and spores spread
Everywhere is life
Bound up in Your Body and Breath
O holy Jord!
Life and Death unleashed
Dancing within and across Your Body
Waters fall, rivers swell
Bellies quicken, blood flows
Flesh pales, bones are cleaned
The Lakes yet live
The fish yet swim
The deer yet roam
The trees yet grow
The bees yet harvest
Sun drenched and rain soaked
Buds come forth from the trees
Grasses grow tall in the hills
Fields are carved and planted in the farms
The winds are wild and storms fierce
Spring has come in its riot
Frost and heat and frost and heat
So Kari’s breath finally lifts
All moist in the morning
As Sunna’s Charge drives off the cold
Green spears burst forth from Your ground
Freyr’s Blessings rises tall
Falls beneath Gerda’s knife to rise again
All born in and borne by You
O Holy Jord!
The skies fill with birds’ flight
The ground with ants’ wars and tunneling worms
The gardens and wild places with flowers
The pots and beds with herbs
The heart with renewal
We hail You in Your Spring, O Jord!
Your raiments of green and purple, blacks and reds
Your swollen rivers and swelling fruits
Your cool breezes and warm days
Your blessings that pour, call, and grow all around us
Small Prayers for Jord
by Sarenth Odinsson
Regin whose body is the World
Let me walk well with You
May I listen closely
In the breath of air, the song of rain, the calls of birds
For what You would have me hear
Bless my hands, O Jord
That their work does well to You
Bless my heart, O Jord
That it always keeps You
Bless my head, O Jord
That is always thinks on what is best for You
Bless my feet, O Jord
That they always walk well upon You
Mound of all the Ancestors
Please let Them hear my words
Please let Them receive my gifts
Please let Them speak to me
Please let Them give Their gifts in kind
Mound of all the Ancestors
May my words be heard, my gifts received
Whose Heart is molten
Whose body is the ground
Hear my prayer, Earthmother
Thank you Jord for my life, my family, my Ancestors, the Gods that live in You, on You, and with You.
Hail Jord, Earth Itself! Hail to the wild places and the cities, the deserts of ice and sand, the teeming forests and the irradiated wastes, the deep oceans and the height of Your skies!
Life of Jord
by Dr. E. Kelly
Night reached out her long fingers in the darkness
She touched Another
For the first time, there were two sides
Blood soon followed
Young Gods tore up the old Giant
This is how Jord was born
Seas lapping her long fjord toes
While her hair rippled in the waving grass
“Folded furrows in the field soon to be filled
Gracious graves hold the gravity of the dead
Homes to house all lively beings here!”
Once Jord was ridden by Fury
She hosted the Host riding over and under
From the flash and the clash and deep, long stillness
As Protector of Men , she brought forth her son;
A Song For Jörð
by Amanda Artemisia Forrester
I do not know you, Jörð, new as I am to this Northern Path.
I am accustomed to hailing my deep-breasted Earth Mother as Gaia.
But this strange and shadowy wildman who calls Himself Odin has captured my heart,
And He has drawn me far from the warm and comforting shores of my Grecian home.
I am as adrift (and as frightened, too) as a new-captured thrall on these icy Northern paths, learning a new language and new world with new Gods.
So I cannot claim great knowledge of You, Lady Jörð,
But I have everlasting respect and soul-deep awe of Your Jötunn power.
You are a Queen among Jötunn, the pure Power of fecund earth, which both gives life and devours it.
It was You that Wise Odin the Spear-thrower choose to bear His greatest son,
Thor the Thunderer, Wielder of Mighty Mjolnir, destroyer of monsters and friend to mankind!
Truly, it was only when the Æsir of wisdom joined with the primal and untamed power of the female giantess of Earth, that Asgård’s greatest defender could come forth!
It is the marriage of order and chaos that enables Creation,
Just as when Fire and Ice first met in Ginnungagap, the yawning maw of nothingness at the beginning of Time.
So I do not know You Jörð, not yet.
But I can truthfully say that I hope to, one day, as I have found my way to the path of my ancestors.
In the meantime, I pray You will accept this meager offering of my sincere song, impoverished in knowledge of the lore though it may me.
So I raise this horn of honey-mead in your honor, Great Goddess Jörð, an offering as much as my heartfelt words.
Jord, Lady Mother
I look at your Earth
You’ve cradled your children
So long since their birth
Without your love, would be no growth
The breath of life, would be unknown.
From brightest skies to darkest depths,
Through cycles of all births and deaths,
You’ve held us tight within your arms
Helped us survive through any harm.
Lady mother, I look and weep,
Your selfish children fail to see
Your pain that echoes through their greed
As endlessly, they seek to feed.
Lady Mother, help us to learn
To understand while there’s still time,
The people of the earth must earn
A better chance for future life.
To take care of beloved earth
From every branch on every tree
From every tiny thing that crawls
And everything within the seas
Lady Jord, I pray to you
And hope to do my very best
To reduce the impact that I have
On this our world, which you have blessed.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of devotional work, more intently than usual, for Sigyn lately. She is such an under-estimated Goddess and I don’t think She gets anywhere nearly the attention and veneration She deserves within modern Heathenry and for a number of reasons (1). She is one of two Goddesses for Whom I have deep devotion and I’m afraid I’d been ignoring Her myself the past few months. Suddenly, though, when I reach out to Her in my struggles, She is there and I am reminded once again of how powerful Her blessings can be. One of the things that I’ve been meditating on with Her guidance is fidelity.
Now I know it’s one of the nine noble virtues, but that actually isn’t what brought it to my mind and contemplation. Sigyn is prompting me to clear my heart and head, to re-center, refocus, rebalance and to reconsider everything that forms a part of my character. We began with what for me is fairly easy: fidelity. This isn’t something on the surface that I’ve ever struggled with…on the surface, not with my Gods and not with my husband. I consider myself blessed in that surface fidelity has never been an issue, but I want to parse that out here a bit more. A friend had asked me recently to write something on marriage so take this as the first post on the topic (though to be fair, my own reasons for writing about it have to do not with marriage but with my devotional relationships. I think I realized some time ago, however, that the same practices and behaviors can help or hinder both).
Fidelity can best be defined as remaining faithful to one’s commitments. One of the things that Sigyn has gently pointed out to me the past few days is that it’s not enough to remain faithful. There are ways to do that poorly, grudgingly, carelessly or mindfully and well. To embrace fidelity in the best of ways is to do so consciously, as an ongoing practice. That means accepting and embracing [self-directed] curbs on one’s behavior in some cases (perhaps not all) and acting consciously from love and a desire for the other’s happiness and health. How do we embody this practice in our devotional relationships and in our human ones too? Do we even give it a second thought beyond the most obvious?
What got me on the fidelity bandwagon was a book I read recently: “If Nuns Were Wives: A Handbook on Marriage from the Perspective of a Nun.” The nun in question is a Buddhist woman who trained in a very traditional convent in Taiwan for many years before her elders and teachers realized that convent life was not for her and sent her back out into the world. She talks about all the lessons she learned during her spiritual training and how they have helped her nurture her marriage. It came up in my feed on Goodreads, and I was curious (thinking, I’ll admit, that it was from the perspective of a Catholic nun – I was bored and didn’t read the description well). I wanted a quick read after some of the academic reading I’ve been doing lately and so downloaded it and dashed through it. Boy, did I get more than I bargained for! While I don’t agree with everything in the book (her willingness to cry seems a bit manipulative to me, for instance, rather than ‘showing softness’), there are beautiful passages and suggestions and meditations on various virtues. Her focus on the daily mundane, (of cleansing oneself, mind and heart and soul, with every act of physical cleansing of one’s dwelling), the grace of maintaining a home, of keeping balanced and loving space, reminded me so strongly of Sigyn that it brought me back to Her shrine on my knees (2).
In one very brief chapter, the author writes about fidelity and this is what struck me so about this virtue, and this is why I referred to “surface” fidelity above. The author says that “being faithful is a state of mind” (kindle loc. 1443), that it goes far beyond (remember she’s talking about marriage) not “lusting after another person” and “reserving your love and affection for the” one you choose to spend your life with. The way she describes it, fidelity becomes an ongoing [spiritual] process of choosing to engage in those behaviors that nourish one’s relationship, and choosing to avoid situations that might not, to curb one’s behaviors where it could lead to the opposite. She makes it clear that it’s something that she herself chooses to do, no one forcing her, and that it enhances the quality of her marriage. This made me question where I’d fallen short not just in my marriage but more pointedly with my devotional relationships as well (because I’ll be honest, since my adopted mom died in 2010 it’s been rough, hence why Sigyn is spurring a much needed re-evaluation and cleansing).
Early on in the book, the author describes marriage thusly:
Marriage is not the easiest of institutions. It requires mindfulness, heart, compassion, unconditional acceptance and often the kind of wisdom that comes with true maturity. It also requires something even bigger and more spiritual than what most people have to offer their mate – reverence.(kindle loc. 152. Italics in the original).
To be blunt, no shit! If people realized how difficult, they’d never do either! Marriage is fucking hard and let me tell you, so is devotion. We come to both with so many unconscious expectations and unacknowledged needs, with baggage: hurts, scars, damage and the space of the relationship becomes the arena in which those things are dredged up and worked on or out. For me, fidelity becomes a commitment to stay the course through the barren times, through the difficult times, through the struggles.
It’s more than that though, it’s a committed willingness to tend the relationship as though it were a living, fragile thing requiring constant care – because it is (and again, this holds true in marriage AND devotional relationships). We’re all self-centered in our hurts, in our needs, in our moments of vulnerability and it’s easy to forget to step away from ourselves and prioritize our partners (or Gods) but I think the practice of fidelity is what allows for that perspective, what allows for one to approach the other in gratitude, in love, with deep compassion, with an awareness of the love the other bears for us. In one section of the book (which I did not mark, so this is my paraphrase), the author talks about a terrible fight she had with her husband. She went to cool off and while she was, she began to consciously think about all the small things he did out of love for her, little things that might otherwise pass unremarked. She found that by calling up the kindnesses, the moments of him tending their relationship, of him expressing love in small ways and acts, she was able to move from anger to appreciation and a more open head and heart space in which to talk. I think it works that way with devotion too.
If we continue with the metaphor of tending a relationship like one would tend a garden (which I like because the word for cultus in Latin also means to tend or till a field), then that also means weeding that garden, not letting things build up, not bottling up needs and vexations but being willing to talk them though with your other to reach accord. Tending a garden means not hiding, not allowing weeds to sprout and grow, strangling the good. That means attentiveness, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to be uncomfortable.
Fidelity also means loving someone just the way they are. We don’t (or shouldn’t) enter into relationships to change the Other/other. We love those people in our lives just the way they are, and hopefully they love us the same. Fidelity grants the amazing gift of being able to be oneself, and allowing one’s partner likewise to be the same. I don’t think two people in a relationship set out to hurt each other, but hurt happens and it’s the same in devotional relationships. Cultivating a practice of fidelity, I think, means consciously returning to a place of love and kindness before acting, before speaking, space in which each party can breathe. I particularly liked the section where the author noted (for her, with respect to her husband, but this is something I want to carry with me in my devotional relationships with my Gods too):
In my marriage, I thought about all those times I resented my husband for not saying or doing something I wanted: for not demonstrating love as I wished. “Why don’t you care about me?” I would silently ask myself. “Why don’t you come talk to me? Love me?” But rarely had I asked, “What more can I do for you?” or “How do I show you I care?” My mentality had been so wrapped up around myself. But compassion is a sentiment that requires one to let go of selfish thinking and to ask, “How can others’pain be alleviated? Are they lonely or sad? How can others be happy?” (loc. 2217)
And that is damned difficult. We’re selfish creatures and our hurts all too often define us. It’s really, really hard to see beyond the sting (or punch in the gut) of pain. But a relationship is like a dance and for it to flow smoothly, both people must be committed to doing just that. I wish, oh dear Gods I wish that I’d realized this when I started building my devotional relationships. I am ashamed to think of the times that I have been (and probably will be again, let’s be honest) peevish, selfish, and just spiteful and mean with my Gods (and probably with my husband too!). Taking those times of failure though, when we are less than what we know we should be, can help us hone our practice of fidelity, can help us to re-evaluate and make it better. (No wonder both atheism and divorce are up – who the hell wants to go through the constant trouble! Lol). Acting with love is exhausting! Except that it’s not, it keeps a relationship vital and charged and constantly renewing itself.
A commitment to fidelity is a commitment to constant renewal. It means that one doesn’t allow oneself to become comfortable within a relationship, to take it for granted, to become dismissive, to rest on any laurels, as the saying goes. And yes, it’s being faithful and choosing not to do that which would compromise one’s faithfulness. There was a prayer offered in the book that screams to me of Sigyn-wisdom: I pray that my heart be as vast as the sky. (loc. 229). So here is my prayer lifted from that:
I pray that my heart be as vast as the sky,
that I may always remember to ground myself
in a place of love, of gratitude,
in a willingness to see, to hear, to care.
May I never fear the vulnerability these things bring,
but embrace the ever-changing, ever-renewing maelstrom
that is devotion…
with my Gods, in my marriage, with my friends.
May my heart open
and may it be as vast as the sky.
I place myself at the feet of my Goddess,
Sigyn, Lady of the Staying Power.
May I learn, oh Sweet Goddess. May I learn.
Hail to You, Sigyn, Goddess of constancy,
Hail to You, Goddess of Devotion.(3)
- I think there are a couple of reasons that Sigyn gets short shrift in our community (not across the board. She has significant cultus in some denominations, but in the more mainstream denominations She’s too often overlooked); partly She is Loki’s wife and remains with Him when He is bound in the cave. Loki is incredibly controversial in the continuum of communities that make up the modern Northern Tradition. Some love Him, some hate Him, some fear Him. He polarizes and this is themajor denominational fault line within our traditions. Because Sigyn doesn’t repudiate Him, She’s often dismissed as a doormat, an abused wife—all because She made a conscious choice to honor Her commitments to a Husband Who loved and cherished Her, a choice that many in our community might not like. I suspect, She’s also often looked at as a ‘doormat’ because Her locus is the home. She tends the home and creates sacred, nourishing space. Her world is the domestic sphere and for all that Heathenry honors the traditional roles of women, I think because Sigyn is not flashy, not overly sexualized in modern narrative, not given a role as a warrior or queen, because She is a hausfrau, She’s often sadly dismissed as weak (which is foolish to anyone who knows the respect with which wives were held in ON homes).
- “A nun told me that when they sweep, they imagine they are sweeping away the negativity of their minds: impatience, irritability, greed, anger and the like. Cleaning the floor becomes a process of inner purification.” (kindle loc. 279).
- In addition to Sigyn as a Goddess of devotion and constancy, we have the also overlooked Goddess Nanna, wife of Baldr. If there is ever a Goddess of fidelity it is Nanna, who chose to follow Her husband into Helheim rather than remain without Him.
“Synir Bors drápu Ymi jötun, en er hann féll, þá hljóp svá mikit blóð ór sárum hans, at með því drekkðu þeir allri ætt hrímþursa…” (Gylfaginning, 7) (1)
Yesterday in the Hudson valley we had such a great storm that it seemed as though the end of the world were here. Trees came crashing down, property was destroyed, live electrical wires lay crackling in the streets. There are tremendous power outages and coming home, it took me five hours to go less than eight miles. One news report said it was a tornado, but I’m not sure I believe that (I think the damage would be worse). That leaves us today being the only house in the neighborhood with power (thanks to my mother and her foresight in gifting me with a generator as a housewarming present) and since it really isn’t all that safe to go out and about, it also gives me plenty of time to catch up on some of my writing. Thanks to something my husband was watching when I came downstairs this morning, I was inspired, with almost a creative frenzy, to write about our creation story. I’ve written about this before, so now I’m just going to dive in.
Oðinn with his two brothers Vili and Vé slew the first being, the proto-giant Ymir and from his corpse fashioned not only the world of man, Midgard, but the scaffolding of the cosmos. From the very beginning, the Aesir defined the boundaries of their worlds by violence. It’s a compelling moment in our mythology. These three Gods (Oðinn, Vili (Hoenir), and Vé (Loður/Loki) (2) slaughtered, violently hacking to bits, their eldest ancestor. The narrative in the Gylfaginning tells us this in only one or two lines and then moves on to the structure of the cosmos, why we have seasons, the movements of the Sun and Moon, and other cosmological structures. I think, however, that this one moment defines our cosmology and repeats itself again and again throughout the corpus of our cosmological stories. It is the defining moment, the defining act within our cosmology, itself re-enacting the dynamic of Muspelheim and Niflheim coming together in the moment of creation. It’s a synergy that is repeated again and again and again throughout our mythology, one in which we too participate as we work to restore our traditions. Likewise, given that the entire scaffolding of our world and in fact all the worlds was created from Ymir, their very being-ness partakes of the primordial potentiality.
A bit of comparison might be useful here. In Genesis, Yahweh moves over the waters, creates and sees that it is ‘good.’ Our Gods, however, look out across the primordial landscape of meta-creation and see potentiality and then They bring that potentiality into concrete being by violently smashing the old paradigm. (3) It is Ragnarok in microcosm: destruction of old structures in order to bring about renewal and restoration, to restart, reorient, re-create. (4) In Genesis, creation stops once Yahweh pronounces everything to be ‘good.’ In our creation story, it is forever ongoing and we are constantly participating in it.
At that moment when the three Brothers destroy Ymir, we have a moment of chaotic potential (a world filled with Ymir and hrímþursar and not much else) reshaped, brought into order by means of tri-partite divine will, that will made manifest through violent action. Oðinn with His brothers becomes an ‘agent of choice confronting an infinite landscape of potential’ and by this act of conscious will, They elevate Themselves, separate Themselves from the other þursar and become Aesir.(5) They become divinity, lifting Themselves out of the primordial chaos of undifferentiated being. They make Themselves something more through the conscious enacting of their will yoked to mindful forethought, yoked to an awareness of the inherent potential in chaos (and a ruthlessness to bring it into being).(6) This means, by extension, that chaos is important. Order cannot exist save in relationship with something. It must, by its very nature, be defined by its purpose: transforming chaos into something else. Quite often in contemporary Heathenry, we find chaos being viewed as something inherently negative, and moreover, ranked in opposition to divine order. In reality, divine order is formed from chaos and cannot exist without it. That chaos is a necessary building block for all the work that the Gods then do. It is Their primary tool that allows itself to be transformed into anything that can be imagined and willed. It is the chaos that gives order meaning.(7)
Likewise, we see frenzy, will, and holiness (the etymological meanings of Oðinn, Vili, and Vé respectively) working together. The capacity to transform chaos into meaning is a sacred act, but will or frenzy unyoked to holiness (which for humans includes devotion, humility before the Gods, piety) is dangerous and damaging. The three must work together for something ‘Good’ to result. It’s a type of divine homeostasis and where that balance is lacking, ultimately destructive chaos ensues.(8)
Oðinn is the driving force behind this creation through destruction. Immediately before the slaughter of Ymir is discussed, the Gylfaginning notes that “ok þat er mín trúa, at sá Óðinn ok hans bræðr munu vera stýrandi himins ok jarðar.”(9) [And this is my belief, that he Oðinn and his brothers must be ruler/controller of heaven and earth]. Oðinn mentioned first and specifically is given sovereignty over everything that is created. His will to order holds the parsed bits of chaos together in a complex, functioning whole. This is why He cannot afford entropy and is constantly, throughout the mythic cycle, pursuing greater knowledge, greater power, greater ability to transform and transmute reality.
Our creation story contains within itself the underlying telos of our entire mythology. It is a complex and coherent system, re-enacted again and again by our Gods and heroes. I’ll be revisiting this again over the next few months, because not only does this provide insight into our creation story, but also into Oðinn’s nature as well. We can learn a lot about our Gods, Their natures, and the cohesive nature of our cosmology through ongoing examination of these stories.
1. “The sons of Bor slew Ymir the jotun; and where he fell there spurted forth so much blood from out of his wounds, that by means of it they drowned all the tribe of the Rim-thurs…”(translations mine unless otherwise noted).
2. While the identification of Loki as Loður is not universally accepted, there is skaldic evidence for this attribution both in Völuspá 18 and Þrymlur I-III 21. See this site and his article on “Loki’s Roads” for more information.
3. I’m quoting a phrase from Jordan Peterson’s interview (my husband was watching this interview when I came downstairs this morning and agree or disagree with him, Peterson is brilliant and I rather admire the way he can think through an idea or argument, even when I seriously disagree with some of his conclusions).
4. Perhaps this is one of the real cosmological meanings behind Ragnarok before Christians got their hands on it. This conception of Ragnarok also allows for the Gods to recreate and restore Themselves.
5. Again, I am taking a phrase from Peterson here, for my own purposes. His video actually annoyed me a bit. In it, Peterson talks about working toward the Good, and ascribes this to Christianity when in reality what he was saying was very basic Platonism. Let’s give credit where credit is due. This idea of the Gods as Good and reaching/returning to the Good was not something invented by Christians. Polytheistic philosophers developed it long before Jesus was a blip on the historical map.
6. Of course, the question of the difference between a Jotun and a God is a curious one. The Jötnar were the primal divine race. Until the moment Odin and His brothers decided to create the worlds, the beings that sprang from Ymir’s body were Jötnar. At no point in the surviving creation story is there a single moment where suddenly some of them are transformed from Jotun to Ás,’ unless it be the moment that Odin and His brothers decided to slaughter Their ancient kinsman Ymir to create the worlds. That is the only defining period in the creation epic where differentiation occurs. Suddenly these three Gods Odin (frenzy), Vili (conscious will or desire) and Vé (the numinous, the holy) decide to act in a way that transforms everything that comes after. If ‘Aesir’ refers specifically to a clan of Powers focused in some way on creating and maintaining cosmic order, and there is enough in the surviving myths that scholars like Dumézil certainly thought so, then membership into this clan might be somewhat mutable, all Aesir having begun as Jötnar perhaps? We likewise know that there are other clans of Gods like the Vanir, whose cosmological focus is different. Perhaps it is such cosmological foci, however enduring or transitory, that ultimately determine membership in these divine clans.(quoted from my forthcoming paper “The Demonization of Loki in Modern Norse Paganism” which will be appearing in the Summer 2018 issue of Walking the Worlds).
7. This of course makes the Jötnar in general and Loki (whom scholar Dumézil, in his work Loki, describes as the ‘unquiet thought,’) in particular absolutely essential to the proper functioning of divine order. And if we accept, as the skalds did, that Loki and Loður are the same being, then it is Loki who forms the bridge between these two states of being: undifferentiated potentiality/chaos and divinely crafted order. Perhaps this is why it is Loður who gives good hue…which implies a healthy circulatory system, the pumping of the heart, the flow of blood, warmth, and what the Greeks would call βίος. It is from the God who is able to move between both states that we are invested with potentiality (i.e. chaos), carefully contained in ordered flesh. Unordered bodily chaos for us, brings death. Like Ymir, we bleed out, but contained within the order the Gods have decreed, it brings health and ongoing life and the potential to affect our world and to remake it at times according to our will.
8. Just as excluding Loki may lead to entropy and rigidity.
9. Gylfaginning, 6.
by C. Greene
Fire licks across Her, scouring clean the land and laying down fertile ashes.
Wind blows across Her, carving ice, shaping plants.
Sea waters crash upon Her, from which all life rises up to Her lands.
Bones of the Old One lay beneath Her, clad with soil by Her hands.
Her name is holy Jord, fecund and mighty, child of the night, born in the flood tide of Ymir’s slaying, and without Her all would be not but seabed and lifeless strand.
Hail to the dark one, the shadow behind the primal powers of the three kings, the power behind many thrones but bound to none.
Mani’s agon is officially closed, but I had a bit of a cold over the weekend and was therefore late posting the final two entries. Here they are below. I”ll be announcing the winner in a day or so.
The Agon for April is open, for one’s patron Deity. So feel free to submit for any Deity you love and honor. I’ll post about prizes in a few days — i’m still catching up!
Under Your Gaze
by C. Greene
Under Your silver light the hounds bay.
Under Your sad eyes small feet fly.
Under Your wrathful glance monsters pass, bearing the children away.
Under Your guiding hand hunters run with the glint of moon dogs in their eyes.
May the great hounds of Your wain run with us.
In Your name may we triumph.
Under Your gaze may the children be freed.
In honor of Mani and his human hounds in Child Abduction Response Teams everywhere, whether they know who aids them or not.
A portable shrine to Mani
by Vanessa M.