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Another Submission to Saga’s Agon

What is the saga of Saga?
by Grant E. Hodel

Saga of Sokkvabek,
She who stores the stories,
The Genealogist of the Gods,
The Lady who records the Legends,
The Lady who IS the Teller of the Tales,
Scheherazade of the north who serenades Odin with tale and ale.

What is Your Story?

We have many tales from times long past,
Past down to this generation from our ancestors,
Divined by poets and prophets, skalds and seers,
Written down for all to see written,
Written down for all to hear spoken.

Of the Gods of the North, we have many stories from the ages past,
That legendary Age of Mythology.
But humanity made a grave error it appears, for your story is not amongst them.

What is Your Story?

I feel an ache in my chest,
And a pain in my soul,
When I realize I do not have the answer to that question.

So I scour all my books,
And I discover again who you are.
But not what your story is.

So I search the internet for answers,
As one does when the present offline materials are unable to provide such.
And I find a website with little miasma within it
– Quite a feat that –
And I find on that website, a story about how you came to be what you are.

The magic of the written word has granted me the power of knowledge.
I now know your story Saga.

Or do I?

This latest question comes forth to my mind,
In all likelihood, from another mind.

As I ponder the possible answers, it hits me,
In a flash of divine inspiration.
I have been thinking too literally and to narrow in scope,
And far too much as the monotheist I once was.

I have been asking the question “What is your story?” incorrectly.
I have been asking a time long past “Where is the saga of Saga?”
And have asked that question with the unconscious understanding that
It refers to a story that has long since concluded.

I should have been asking the Goddess Herself “What is the saga of Saga?”
With the understanding that She lived with the ancestors in the past,
Lives with us in the present, and shall live with the descendents in the future.
For this, I offer a sincere apology to you,
Goddess of genealogies,
Woman of wisdom,
Lady of Legend, Lore, and Learning.
Frigga’s handmaiden of folklore, history, and mythos.

Now I reconsider my distress from when I recognized an omission –
The stories of Saga the ancestors told each other have been lost.
And this is a massive tragedy, and I was right to feel sick from such painful truth.

Even Snorri Sturlson wrote down that
“The goddesses are no less sacred, nor are they less powerful.”
If a christian bishop can see plain as day that truth,
Then why did he not record the lost tales of you, sacred Saga,
Nor very many of your fellow Goddesses counted among Frigga’s handmaidens?

And I must meditate on that important question in the future,
If I am to be of any use to the Goddesses and the Gods,
In rebuilding the lost traditions of the ancestors – how they honored You all.

But I must always keep in mind this lesson I have learned
From seeking your story, Saga of Sokkvabek.
Your story never ended sacred Saga,
Nor did the stories of the other Goddesses end,
Nor did the stories of the Gods.
The stories of the divine are never ending,
And are as immortal as your kind are, Saga of all stories.

Hail Saga, the handmaiden of Frigga!
Hail Saga, the Goddess of the great hall Sokkvabek!
Hail Saga, the teacher of all who truly listen!

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Another Submission to Saga’s Agon :)

We Hail Thee.
by E. Blakely

Joy and merriment fill the Hall.
Brimming beakers raised in salute.
We hail Thee, Dame Adventure.

Through our most courageous moments, we hail Thee.
Through our most grim moments, we hail Thee.
Through our most quiet and peaceful nights, we hail Thee.
Through our longest days under the Sun that extend into the dark of a Harvest Moon, we hail Thee.
Through the journey by sea and the return Home, we hail Thee.
Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.

Our lives were lived with passion and gusto.
Our lives were filled with meaning and purpose.
We provided for our Families.
We defended our Freedom.
We respected our neighbors.
We honored our Gods.
We taught our Traditions to the next generation.
We maintained our identity as a People.
Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.

Beloved Lady, we hail Thee
Our lives distilled to their most pure essence now flow through the Sinking Brook.
In the Hall of Our Ancestors, we hail Thee.
In the Hall of Our Ancestors, we welcome the newest arrival with a brimming beaker.
With eyes filled with awe and voice shaking with emotion, they say ‘I know you. Your life was Legendary. You inspired me. Thank you.’
With eyes filled with tears of joy and voice shaking with emotion, we say ‘Yes, and we watched you. Your life was Legendary. You took what we left behind and grew a greatness that made us proud. Thank you.’

Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.
Our lives preserved in Sokkvabekk.
Our lives served with meaning and purpose to the next generation.
Dame Adventure, Lady of Sokkvabekk, Mistress of the Shrine of the Sinking Brook,
We hail Thee.

For Saga’s Agon

Saga’s cupboard
by Emily Kelly

Saga keeps a tidy house.
Spare and harmonious is Sunken Benches Hall
Saga has a set of cups
Each as different as her many houseguests.

Snotra enjoys her visits there, sipping from cool Sokkvabekk’s source
She places her drinking glass back carefully with the others.

The fine bone-china teacup is for Hela
She comes bubbling up in the frosty streamers Hvergelmir sends here.

Here is a silver bowl beaten into fine filigree
Mani’s lips have touched the rim many times

Shapely and pale is Urd’s mug of fired clay
Made of the loam by Urdbrunnr

All of gold is Odin’s cup
Unmarked and runeless
Odin’s eye can read this cup’s designs
Mimir’s well fills it continually

Frigga and Saga drink together
Their cup is kept elsewhere

Saga keeps a holy house
Home to every kind of wisdom seeker
Hail, Saga

two more for Saga’s agon

Prayer to Saga from a writer

Hail Saga,
Mistress of Words,
who lingers over tales that reverberate
off Skvabekk’s walls like
the sound of falling
water.
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
never falter
in its quest.
Hail Saga,
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
dusty genealogies.
Praise be to Saga
of Sunken-bench and
heavy tome, of
sweet meed and cool stream.
Hail Saga, be praised!

(both prayers by D.)

First Submission to Saga’s Agon

For the Lady of Sokkvabekk
by E. Blakely

How deep
How clear
How cool
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.

And yet one more for Jord

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
by Petros

Every day.
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
“Environment”
but, by their actions, show just how they feel about
Nature,
about You.
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.
Every day.
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.

One More for Jord

To Jord
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.

Hail, Jord!

More for Jord :)

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

O Earthmother

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!

Submissions to Jord’s Agon — yay!

Life of Jord
by Dr. E. Kelly

Night reached out her long fingers in the darkness
She touched Another
Someone else!

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

Jord sang:
“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;
Thunder

 

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.
Skål!

 

Lady Mother
by Lyra

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.

 

Musings on Fidelity

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)

Notes

  1. 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).
  2. “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).
  3. 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.