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Posts Tagged ‘freyja’

(Catching up on the Pagan Blog Project – it’s been a rough few weeks in the Swamp, so I’m a bit behind. I’ll be trying to get caught up to the G’s this week, so you’ll be seeing several posts, hopefully!)

Since I only have two F entries, I’m combining these two goddesses into one post. They are closely tied in the Anglo-Saxon practice, but generally different (as Freyja and Frigga) in the Scandinavian sources. Whether this is from linguistic changes happening in different places, or simply because their worship shifted strongly, or just because we have so few real sources on Anglo-Saxon paganism (and the names are linguistically similar, making it difficult to discern from place-names), I don’t know. However, I definitely address them as two separate goddesses, and I take from both sources for my personal practice.

Freo is a goddess of war, sexuality, magic, and fertility. As one of the Wanes/Vanir, she is closely tied to the land and its fertility, though she is not a typical “fertility” goddess in the way most Neopagans approach fertility (nor is she a typical “love” goddess either, though approaching her for help with love and sexuality would not be inappropriate by any stretch). She’s a complicated character, who knows her own worth and does powerful magic in support of those she loves. She may also be related to sovereignty (especially as it relates to sacred kingship and the land.) She is said to have taught seidhr to Odin, and to take the first choice of those slain in battle to her hall. In her honor, I have a “feather cloak” – a shawl painted with amber colored wings – that I wear when I’m doing particular kinds of trance journeys, patterned after Freyja’s traveling via her feather cloak to search for her husband Odr.

To quote from The Pagan Grove again:

It is my impression that Fréo is a Goddess of the land, but not as much so as Her mother [Nerthus] or Her brother, Ing Fréa. She is associated with those parts of our lives that are still very much tied to our animal instincts: sexuality, hunger, etc. And yet She also calls us to the mystery that lies behind these seemingly simple pleasures, the mystical experience of otherworldly trance and magic that stems from that which is green and growing.

I don’t have a ton of experience with Freo, though I do honor her regularly as part of my practice. She has not made herself directly known to me, but I hope that by continuing my practice I will deepen that relationship. I am also hoping that my work with the ADF Order of the Dead will coincide nicely with Freo’s role in choosing the slain to go to her hall, at least where it concerns my ancient ancestors.

Frige is the goddess I go to for hearth and home. She is a spinner, wife of Woden and queen of Asgard/Ases, and it is said that she sees all the possibilities and futures before her with her gift of prophecy, but chooses to be silent about them. She is represented on my altar with a drop spindle filled with my own handspun wool. She is queenly, but not distant, and I see in my ancestor practice many women who remind me of qualities of Frige. I honor her specifically on Modranicht, just before Yule, with the rest of the female ancestors, when I do a special cleaning and then put aside all housework in honor of the Idesa and Frige, giving them (and myself) a rest from our domestic duties.

Frige/Frigg is the basis for our English word Friday, and she may be related to Frau Holda in the Germanic folklore tradition as well (which makes for yet another F-entry that I should really write).

The stars we know as “Orion’s Belt” were known to the Norse as Frigga’s Distaff or Spinning Wheel (or possibly Freyja’s, though Freyja usually is not usually associated with spinning). As a spinner and fiber artist (I spin, knit, and sew), she is something of a patron of the arts that I follow, and so I try to make appropriate offerings in that vein.

As with Freo, I haven’t had much direct experience with Frige – I make offerings to her, so I feel like I am building a relationship, but I wouldn’t consider it a particularly deep or expressive one. With both of these goddesses, I am hoping that my connection deepens over time.

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I have always been a fairly avid reader, and I’ve completed my three “required” books for the Dedicant Path, so I’ve moved on to reading other Druidic things (among reading some not-so-Druidic things). ADF encourages study and scholarship, but not all of these books are scholarly – some of them are pagan brain candy, things to keep me interested and maybe make me think a bit, without having to wade through serious scholarly references.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been reading recently, and some thoughts about them!

Recently Read:

Frey, God of the World (Ann Groa Sheffield) – an overview of all the attested sources referencing Ing/Ingvi/Frey/Freyr, organized by sphere of influence. This is a fairly scholarly work, but if you want a solid overview of the mythology and of Frey’s spheres of influence in the days of Northern Paganism, this is a good place to start. It does not contain any “translation” to modern worship, however. For me, this book was about knowledge building – getting a solid mythological basis for my devotions to Freyr, and in what associations he would have influence.

Freyja, Lady, Vanadis (Patricia M Lafayllve) – Similar to Frey, this book contains the attested sources referencing Freya/Freyja to build a picture of her as she would have been seen in the days of her original worship. This book also contains some modern interpretations for building a devotion to Freyja. Similar to Frey, this book was, for me, about building my scholarship base for working with Freyja. The poems and prayers in the back are also quite nice.

Elves, Wights and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry (Kvedulf Gundarsson) – A fairly dense, but still accessible overview of all the OTHER kinds of spirits that enhabited the Northern Pagan world, from different types of wights, to house spirits, to dwarves, to Jotuns and Ettins. Gundarsson puts these all into direct practice in the modern world, from simple instructions on what to do when you meet a Wight, to different rituals to help you find them where you live. The magic is somewhat advanced, especially in its use of runes, but this was a highly practical book. It also includes an essay on the “Earth mother” concept in Norse paganism that I found extremely interesting. Gundarsson sets out a “hierarchy” of spirits, saying that most people would deal with the land spirits and wights on a daily basis (much like neighbors), the Gods for larger and more important needs (like a Chieftain), and a spirit like Jord/The Earthmother only for things of enormous importance.

Sunna’s Journey (Nicholas Egelhoff) An ADF centric book with a Norse focus, Sunna’s Journey is a book primarily of rituals to take a Norse flavored Druid through the Wheel of the Year, with bonus devotionals to Sunna and Mani. It’s a highly practical sort of book, and one I’m reading piecemeal as I go through the year. The rituals are a little more involved than I usually do for my solitary practice, but they’re quite well done, and I find them inspiring as I put together my High Day celebrations.

Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner (Galina Krasskova) This book was recommended to me, but to be honest, I didn’t like it much. I liked the section of prayers a LOT, however, and have made use of several of them. In general, I just don’t think I’m ever going to be a recon, so recon-flavored books (even ones with a lot of UPG in them) aren’t as appealing to me. I will definitely make use of the section on prayers though. I’m not sure what I think about the tables of correspondences, but that’s not something I’ll use a lot either way.

Currently Reading:

Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan (Alaric Albertsson) Recommended on the Dedicants list, this is a different take on Northern Paganism, focusing on the Anglo-Saxon/Saxon pagans and their beliefs. While there is some overlap to the more frequently studied Norse paganism, there are other bits that are distinctly Saxon. I’m about 1/3 of the way through this book, and enjoying it. It’s a quick read, and extremely practically minded. It’s a great “Hearth Culture” book for the Dedicant Path, as its generally introductory in nature. I’m looking forward to reading Albertsson’s other book – Wyrdworking – which is about Saxon magic working.

To Read Soon:

Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World (Philip A Shaw) I’ve not started this one yet, but it looks to be an interesting book. I’ll let you know what I think. It isn’t very long, so hopefully it will be fairly quick read. From the blurb:

This book considers evidence for Germanic goddesses in England and on the Continent, and argues on the basis of linguistic and onomastic evidence that modern scholarship has tended to focus too heavily on the notion of divine functions or spheres of activity, such as fertility or warfare, rather than considering the extent to which goddesses are rooted in localities and social structures. Such local religious manifestations are, it is suggested, more important to Germanic paganisms than is often supposed, and should caution us against assumptions of pan-Germanic traditional beliefs. Linguistic and onomastic evidence is not always well integrated into discussions of historical developments in the early Middle Ages, and this book provides both an introduction to the models and methods employed throughout, and a model for further research into the linguistic evidence for traditional beliefs among the Germanic-speaking communities of early medieval Europe.

The Solitary Druid (Skip Ellison) This one is out of print, but a friend of mine is letting me borrow it. It’s Celtic centric, but I thought I should read it, with all the references to it in the Wheel of the Year book. If nothing else, it’ll get me more familiar with ADF and working as a solitary.

The Prose and Poetic Eddas are definitely on the “to read soon” list as well! I am not sure yet which translations I want to run with, or just borrow them from the library. As well, I’ve purchased e-books of Ian Corrigan’s Book of Nine Moons, Sacred Fire, Holy Well, and Beginning Practical Magic. I know several of those are also Celtic focused, but I’m not against using things that work, and I’m not so tied into the Norse hearth that I don’t want to learn things about other ways of Druiding.

What’s on your bookshelf this week?

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It seems disasters are not far from our communities this year. Yesterday a massive tornado outbreak stormed through Oklahoma and other parts of the midwest, with the worst damage coming in the town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Reports of many dead are already coming in, with predictions of more to be found. The destruction there is terrible – and that was only one of the many tornadoes that spawned yesterday afternoon. Like in previous disasters, it will take some time for the full story to be uncovered, though the worst of these tornadoes seems to be fairly well documented.

I think the prayer I wrote for those searching for survivors in West, TX is applicable here, so I thought I’d repost it, in light of the ongoing search and rescue operations.

Great Freyja,
Who flew like a falcon over the whole earth in search of your lost husband,
Place your falcon cloak over the shoulders of those who search through destroyed homes and buildings
Bring them peace in their terrible work.

May your sharp eyes and swift wings speed their search
May they find those who yet live.
Strengthen their hearts, which are already full of care for the wounded,
And bless all those who would aid them.

May the dead be at peace, and their families comforted.
May the survivors be at peace, and their recovery swift.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

As well, I’d like to add a prayer here to a less public side of this storm disaster – the farmers who lost crops, cattle, and horses (and are still trying to find those cattle and horses) in the wake of the tornado outbreak.

Mighty Freyr,
Lord of crops and grains and growing things,
Cast your powerful hand toward farmers and ranchers this day.
Bless their search, that they may find the livestock
On which their livelihood depends.
Aid them as they try to recover their crops
In the wake of the destruction that occurred yesterday.

Great Freyr,
Who knows well what it is to care for a great horse
And also the pain of losing him,
Help those who search for their horses
Find them and return them to safety.
Protect those horses from danger, keep them calm.
Speed their safe return.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

And, since a little late is better than never, and the spring tornado season is far from being over (and hurricane season is just around the corner), a prayer to Thor for protection in a storm:

Wielder of the hammer,
red-bearded one,
Thor, protector,
to you I call.
I stand in the midst of a storm
and ask your protection.

Source: “A Book of Pagan Prayer” © 2002 Ceisiwr Serith.

An old folk blessing to help keep a storm from your home also involves squirting holy water out the front and back door in the shape of a holy symbol. I’ve seen this done with holy water used to make crosses and full moon blessed water to make pentagrams, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a Druid sigil (or the Awen symbol, or the Hammer symbol) and some “holy” water – either natural water, water from three natural sources, or just water that you’ve blessed for this purpose. (Water blessed by the sun and moon would work too).

You just put some in a squirty bottle, like a bottle you’d get for liquid dish soap, open each of the doors of your house and squirt the water in your preferred pattern of blessing and protection, while saying a prayer for protection from storms.

It’s simple magic, but sometimes even the simplest magic can be powerful.

Finally, as a reminder to all of us with pets we love dearly, please have your pets microchipped. In the event of a horrible storm or other disaster, a microchip greatly increases the chances that you and your lost pet will be reunited. This is true whether there is a tornado or hurricane, a house fire, or your pet just gets loose from your home/yard.

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To those not from central Texas, West sounds like a direction, not a town. But West, TX is a town about 20 miles north of Waco on Highway 35, a central point of the Czech population and home to a Czech festival, a number of fine bakeries and ethnic food stores and restaurants, and a number of good, hard working people.

Earlier this week, a massive series of explosions at the West Fertilizer Company leveled part of the town of West. The community of responders is still looking for people buried in the rubble.  Ammonium Nitrate is not something to mess with. Some reports say the search should be completed sometime today, but things look pretty grim.

Boston has (understandably) taken center stage this week, but the people of West are hurting as well, and their community will continue to hurt just like the other damaged communities will after this week (My heart goes out to those who are being evacuated for flooding in the midwest as well). The Yellowdog Grannie has some information from the front lines of the rescue work – you should go read her blog if you aren’t familiar with her.

I went to college in Waco, and frequently went to West for pastries. If you’ve never had a handmade kolache, you’re missing out. While I was glad to see that my favorite of the West bakeries – the Czech Stop – survived the blast, I am even more glad to see that they are actively involved in helping get people back on their feet and care for the first responders. My heart hurts for this town – a town that I knew only by association really – and for my inability to do more than donate a little money.

And so, like I did earlier this week (and am still doing) for Boston, I turn to prayer.

Great Freyja,
Who flew like a falcon over the whole earth in search of your lost husband,
Place your falcon cloak over the shoulders of those who search through burned homes and buildings
Bring them peace in their terrible work.

May your sharp eyes and swift wings speed their search
May they find those who yet live.
Strengthen their hearts, which are already full of care for the wounded,
And bless all those who would aid them.

May the dead be at peace, and their families comforted.
May the survivors be at peace, and their recovery swift.

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