by Dr. E. Kelly
I made a mistake once
And took You for the loser girlfriend of a loser God.
You could sew my lips shut for saying so
Certainly the same thing’s been done before
And that punishment was for insulting a dwarf
Much less a Goddess
You, however, are merciful
You are mercy Herself
Seething grief and rage corrodes like venom
Dribbling, well-earned on Your husband’s forehead
Tit for tat, tit for tat, tit for tat
This is the sound the drops make as they fall
You interrupt that righteous anger of the Aesir
You interpose yourself
Lifting a bowl to catch the drops of liquid pain
You come between crime and punishment
And He can breathe
A moment’s peace
When every bond is broken and all Hel breaks loose
When He comes crazy-eyed and howling at the helm of all that was held down
I’ll be glad You spent so many thousand years at His side
by Fiona Y.
Enfold me again, in white feather warmth
Blossom scented Sigyn,
Delicate, as the slightest breeze
Yet with Audhumlas’ nurturing strength.
You, whose sweet song
Guides me to Ginnungapaps’ balmy heart
Where I find You dancing,
Free as a bird.
Your laughter is joyful.
You are sweetness, my goddesss
You, a young girl,
Rambling through Your garden of herbs.
You, an older girl,
Drawing the heart of the flame haired god.
You nourished me,
When I was most worn
And tho You come gently,
Sigyn, I know that Yours is a will of steel.
For Loki’s wife is strong
She has endured loss and venom and scorn.
by Thomas S.
Thomas S. says: After reading your prompt for the Sigyn Agon, I sat and wrote the following in one sitting. I suppose I would describe it as imagining what it would have been like for Sigyn and Loki exiting the cavern, from Sigyn’s perspective. Please leave a note that this submission is merely a fiction dedicated to Sigyn, not a claim to any visionary experience of Her life. 🙂
And His chest heaves like a ship trapped against the rocks, each wave cracking the hull deeper yet. The eyes swirl in their sockets as blizzard snow, seeing not even horror now, the whites gone crimson, envenomed tears of mucus coursing down. His mouth is Ginnungagap, not screaming.
I will not speak of why We gained Our freedom, not here.
The coils of Our slaughtered Son’s bowel I sling about My shoulders, and the ropes of My filthy hair begin to drip with His blood. As My Husband twitches upon the slab of his incarceration, the serpent hisses, flickers out its tongue at Us from on high. I meet its gaze, and it yawns out fleshy fangs at Me, its Mistress’ wrath still ensorcelled into its soul. But Sigyn has a power unto Her own, and no more does She carry the weight of this thing’s spit. I hold the serpent in My vision, and wrath cannot match Me now. The serpent is still, a moment… then abandons its post, seeking the refuge of some deeper cavern.
Loki cannot stand. His body transformed, His arms and legs like wind-shook branches, He rolls from the stone and spasms, choking, groaning.
And so I lift Him, carry Him, My Husband. Because I cannot do otherwise. I leave the bowl.
Every step towards the mouth of the cave was beyond My endurance, and yet I endure. The weight of My Child’s torn gut, mantle of heartbreak, is heavier than a chain of iron. My Husband hangs scatter-limbed, crying out without words. My knees should shatter. My elbows ought to tear asunder. They do not. I should be shaking from crown to roots with ache. I ought to be screaming with the struggle of it. I do not.
Beyond the mouth of the cave, a forest. It is midnight, but Máni slowly unveils from beyond a cloud. I am washed in silver. I march down the rocky slope into the midst of pines and spruces. I lay My Husband upon the moss, where, in His fever, He whimpers as if it were a bed of jagged stone. His mad-wheeling eyes catch Máni, and for once, they halt, spell-bound by the white light.
I drop Our Son’s last remnant on the ground, and fall to My knees from relief. A sharp rock, then, to saw through the long matted locks heavy with His blood. It takes time, but I bear with it. Loki gazes at Máni, His mouth still hanging vast with Ginnungagap, silent. At last My hair is cut, and I cast the ropes upon My Son’s gut. I grab at chunks of dried dead moss, mass them with the hair and bowel. Then I stumble about Me, reaching for broken twigs and branches, piling them, slowly, slowly. The world spins around Me in the depth of My exhaustion, but I gather debris and build. Máni rides higher and higher, and as He reaches His zenith, I have built a fitting pyre, rude though it may be.
“Loki,” I whisper, My throat so dry that My voice rattles ghostly as His Daughter’s. “Can You conjure a flame?”
My Husband does not respond.
A sob gasps out, and it is a moment before I realize it is Mine. Perhaps Ginnungagap has swallowed the whole of Him, left Me only this scarecrow. I do not know. I am lost.
Máni steps out of the sky, His mighty mane of hair shining behind Him. Great strides He is taking down a stair that I cannot see, and He glows so mightily that I cannot yet see His face. He is singing, a great throbbing voice that is impossible, thunderously quiet, deafeningly gentle. Loki quakes at His advance.
“I greet You, Sigyn, and You, Loki,” the heavenly God calls. Now He is close, and His light fades–or My eyes strengthen–so that I can see the beauty of His face, somehow boy and youth and aged man, all ages of life there. He smiles. He is in tears. His tears turn to moonstones as they hit the earth. He advances, until His feet are on the earth beside Us.
“And I you, Máni,” I manage through My parched mouth. I cannot muster fine words now. “We are free.”
“Your Husband’s soul is wandering the Void.” Another moonstone forms upon the moss. “He drifts on the waters of oblivion. It is a relief from His madness.”
“How shall We call him back?” Something in Me holds back against a black howl of despair. I will not collapse into the lethargy of fatalism. I cannot endure it, and yet I endure.
“Sing with Me.”
Our voices rise, His deep and ancient, pulling on the world with all the strength of tide, Mine keening and broken, piercing even into Ginnungagap. We weave together, wife’s love and stranger’s compassion, twirling, skirling, calling, falling, flying, sighing. Yes, We sing. The trees’ souls shiver and weep, and, without the touch of wind, their branches sway and churn.
Loki twitches. He blinks, staring at Máni still. His eyes flick towards Me. Then to the pile of Our Son’s desecrated gut. Then to the forest around us. He sucks a breath deeper than a bellows.
His scream cracks through My soul like the thrust of a sword, and Máni presses a shining hand to His eyes, weeping silently.
Loki jerks upright, panting, gasping. His skin roils and twitches, incipient with mutation, His shapeshifter power rising. His eyes bulge and the pupils turn to slits, fangs jut from his jaw–
Máni puts a hand upon Loki’s cheek. “You know Me, Loki,” He murmurs, gazing into the tiger eyes. He leans in, fearless, and kisses the Mad-God on the lips.
Loki sits motionless as a statue.
Máni turns to Me and nods. “Yours is the power, Blessed One,” He says to Me. Then He steps into the sky. “I am missed from My post. I must return. I wish You both joy.” He walks heavenwards, His song slowly fading, His form reassuming the nature of a sphere.
How I have the strength to dance now will ever be a Mystery. But now I leap into motion about My Husband, My limbs shaking off the weight of accursed subterranean ages, as He gazes at me in still and silent wonder. I call to the pyre, and the spirit of Fire moves through Me, sparks dancing down My arms and legs, leaping into the moss and branches. Smoke begins to unfurl. Warmth awakens.
“You know this dance!” I cry in My ragged voice to Loki, and something almost like a smile steals across that wasted visage.
The trees’ souls cry out to Me in ecstasy. I begin to move through forms of Myself. A girl is before Loki, still crowned in flowers. His newly-wed is here, Her locks braided and tied into a golden crown upon her brow. I am a mother, with tears of joy in My eyes. I am the Bowl-Bearer, face in unbreakable resolve. I am an aged woman as yet unreached. I dance through a witch’s hame, a warrioress’, a queen’s. I manifest forms as mortals cannot comprehend.
Now He leaps to His feet, reels, lurches, but I dance about Him, My hands at His waist, holding Him steady. A curious, blood-chilling laugh sounds from His mouth, but it is Loki, and the Void does not silent-roar from between his teeth.
The fire rises, consuming the defilement of My poor Narvi, releasing that desecration into the purity of smoke and cinder. His holy blood is released, as well, My hair burning but the smell somehow not bitter, instead sweet as juniper incense. Loki begins to dance with Me, around Me. He laughs again, louder, and the trees shout to Him. He roars and He kisses Me fiercely. He sobs and weeps and moans and laughs yet again. I wrap My arms about Him in a close embrace, hold Him again. He howls in adoration.
“Will you help Him?” I cry to the trees.
Their assent comes in a susurrus of shivering limbs. They consent to the offering.
Loki explodes into the nature of Fire. Trees burst as He seethes outwards in all directions, wrapping tongue-limbs around the trees and boiling their sap. He sucks the life out of them. Their bark incandesces into red-hot coals, their limbs into a crackling wave of fire. He races in every direction, sucking the forest into His famished form, and bathing My body in blissful warmth.
When Sunna rises, the earth smokes. We are surrounded by the barest black husks of the sacrifices. Loki’s limbs are full and strong, His eyes steady and clear. His hair flows down in a beautiful mane of red and gold. My own is washed clean, My skin luminous and flushed from My Husband’s touch.
And We stand bright and strong, raising Our hands in grim salute to Sunna, in blessed thanks to Máni as He disappears below the horizon.
We walk in freedom, all the worlds before Us.
This isn’t a submission for Sigyn’s Agon. I don’t submit pieces for consideration to my own Agons! This is, however, something to get the ball rolling. Her agon runs through January 31, 9pm EST.
Five for Sigyn
We praise You, Lady of Constancy, Whose heart never wavers in Her devotion.
We praise You, Victory Woman, Whose strength is that of unending endurance.
We praise You, North Star, Whose virtue will never be diminished.
We praise You, Wife of Loki, beloved Jewel of His hall, cherished beyond measure.
We praise You, Incantation Fetter, Whose touch brings healing and liberation.
We praise You, Mother of Two clever Sons, loss and glory and love everlasting.
Oh, Lady Strong as the Mountain!
Oh, Love Longer Lasting than the Stars!
Oh, Sweet and Ferocious Devotion!
Oh, Never-swerving Power!
Oh, Heart of Loki’s Hall!
Ever and always shall You be praised, Sigyn.
(by G. Krasskova)
by S. Stockton
Howl, Hangi, and hear my prayer.
Flee not from my feeble flesh, but dance in my dead heart;
Your devouring dervish demands devotion, and the damnation of decadent desires.
Madness unmakes the mightiest of men, but all mad minds are yours, Yggr.
Guide and goad me, Sigtyr; stain my soul all shades sacred.
Cruel yet kind, my blood crusted at the creases of Your wry smile, scream Thy song into my every sinew.
There is release in the languishing laughter let forth in labor for You.
Evermore may my adoration endure, Odin.
Ode to Odin
by Grant Emile Hodel
The one-eyed wonderer,
the cyclopean voyager,
the fury of warfare,
the father of the slain.
Father of the thunderer,
rider of the gallows horse,
walks across the nine worlds,
seeking wisdom to save his son,
so that Ragnarök may never come.
May he find what he seeks,
so that order reigns over chaos,
for all time.
For Óðrerir’s Brewer
You kindled in me a love for brewing
Water, honey, yeast
Sacred magic, old magic
Kvasir’s brood, your spit
Relaxing and maddening
Teasing out the ties
Growling forth from each sip, each gulp
May each brew be a worthy working
Each bottle a sacred vessel
Each glass a welcome offering
Alliterative Poem to Odin
Wind and wound
Scream and spell
Health and harm
Scar and sense
Wrath and release
Power and purpose
Grey and gold
Eye and iron
Hanged and hale
When the Sons of Borr took up the spear
No ravens flew or wolves roamed
Nifelheim was far too cold
Muspelheim far too hot
They dreamed of more than ice and mist, fire and smoke
A World teaming with life, with warmth and with cold
A World full of flowing waters and rain
A World between the the Worlds
So when They slew Ymir
The Sons of Borr took up the best of all Worlds to make Midgard
Fire from Muspelheim gifted by Surtr
Ice from Nifelheim taken from Ymir
Fertility from Vanaheim gifted by Freya, Freyr, and Njordr
Wildness from Jotunheim made by the Jotnar
Riches from Svartalfheim dug deep by the Dvergar
Liminality from Alfaheim made by the Alfar
Death from Helheim overseen by Hela
Potential from the Ginnungagap woven by the Nornir
Within the Middle Yard each World was woven to the others
Crafted with care by the Sons of Borr
This is a new translation of the ‘Havamal,’ that takes into account the varying metrical structure in the original. Because it is so long, and because WordPress won’t allow me to maintain the spacing, i’ve uploaded it here as a PDF. It is by C.L.T.
I’ve been seeing a lot of push back lately on the nine noble virtues including dismissals that they are Nazi-ish, racist, homophobic, etc. etc (insert buzzword of the year). I remain confused by the pushback. (There are blogs both pro and con here). It’s as though having any ethical guidelines at all offends some people. Note, they’re not trying to replace them with a different set of values, but rather to negate any values that might in any way constrain or shape their character.(1)
For my readers who aren’t familiar with them, here is the list of the commonly accepted NNV:
Shocking, aren’t they?
These are very Protestant virtues, but examples of them can easily be found in the Havamal and Sagas too. I think they are fitting exemplars for a society in which existence was a constant struggle. If you think that isn’t applicable today, try living below the poverty line. These guidelines are meant to develop a strong character. None of these virtues are objectionable to a reasonable person. Do you really want to be the kind of person without honor? Without courage? Who is incapable of hospitality or personal discipline? The kind of person who lacks fidelity in relationships, or who is incapable of telling the truth or holding to his or her word? The NNV may be simplistic, but they are meant as touchstones to aid in the development of character. Note that they do not tell you how to be courageous, or how to be truthful but one is encouraged to be introspective in discovering this for oneself. I rather like that. It’s not the end of the conversation, but the very beginning. What is truth? What does it mean to me as a devotee of Deity X? How can I cultivate that in my life? Yet, those throwing out these virtues without consideration or without providing an alternative don’t want to have that conversation. To hell with the Socratic method. We don’t need no stinkin’ philosophy here. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Everybody needs philosophy).
Of course, given how pervasive the NNV are within Heathen traditions, it is inevitable that someone holding alt right views will subscribe to them. So do many people holding the opposite. To say that they are racist, is to say that there is something inherently racist about the concept, the abstract ideal of truth or fidelity or hospitality, etc. It also implies that people who are not white, are incapable of upholding these ideals, which is utter nonsense.
Yes, they were created by (depending on your source) the AFA or Odinic Rite. So what? We have space travel because of the work of Nazi scientists. I remember when I found out as a seventh grader, that the US imported Nazi scientists to work on its Manhattan project and later the space program and I was ashamed, horrified, and appalled. I still wrestle with the ethics involved in such a thing. Can good come from evil? Is necessity motivation and justification enough? And that opens up a whole other ethical can of worms. We still use Volkswagens though, and they were made by Nazis too. Same with Hugo Boss and Ford, who was a rampant anti-Semite. By the standards of some of these people, we should be eschewing birth control too because Margaret Sanger was pro eugenics. Strange how the same logic that allows for the dismissal of fairly common virtues doesn’t apply to our technologies. Yet I’ll bet more blood was spilled with the latter.(2) Hell, the internet was made by the US military. Are you cool with the hundreds of thousands of people who have died because of the military industrial complex? If this is a problem, why are you online? Oh wait, I guess one only objects when such things are inconvenient. Convenience allows for a great deal of overlooking I suppose.
I’ve also often seen the NNV condemned as ablest. As someone with physical disability, let me tell you, you need a metric fuck-ton of courage to get through life. Those disabled in some way can fulfill every one of these virtues, otherwise what the detractors of the NNV are actually saying is that disabled people are disabled not only in body but in mind, heart, and character. That’s pretty foul. It’s infantilizing and really quite disrespectful to the struggle of differently abled people in our communities.
We should be encouraged to define the NNV for ourselves in our own lives, with respect to our own relationships with the powers. Or we should be encouraged to come up with our own system and values sustainably within and coherent with our traditions. Either way, character matters and it’s often difficult for people coming from monotheisms where they’re told what to believe and how to act, to encounter a system of ethics that encourages self-reflection and independence. I’d love to see discussions of other philosophies and ethical guidelines but it’s a whole lot easier to criticize and condemn than to create something positive. The NNV are situational guidelines and principles. I would love to see discussions on what it means to have courage in the modern world, what it means with respect to each person’s individual circumstances, what it means to have hospitality, to show hospitality, especially when one is impoverished or in the midst of scarcity. How does the hospitality shown to one’s Gods differ from what one shows to one’s friends or to strangers? Where are those philosophical conversations? Maybe we should all go back to Plato.(3)
- What amuses me the most is the people protesting the NNV often do so on the grounds (in part) that’s not ancient and yet, these are often pop culture pagans. So either antiquity is a valid criterion across the board, or this particular objection is bullshit.
- Not that I expect logical coherence from the pop culture crowd.
- Ironically, I’ve never been a fan of the NNV, because they are simplistic. One has to start somewhere though and it was only after reading The Six Questions of Socrates, that I began to look at them as more than formulaic.