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Posts Tagged ‘herne’

(Reposted from Jan 25, when this was originally written.)

Sometimes your deities get on your case to the point where you think you’re going to explode. Today is one of those days. Be warned that this is not fully formed – I’m working through this by writing about it, because today I can’t not write about it, so bear with me.

Let’s talk about Ing. Ing Frea. Yngvi. You may know him better as Freyr. Some have related him to Herne. He is Anglo-Saxon. Germanic. Norse. Maybe English.

When you see statues at Uppsala of the Norse gods, Odin has his spear, Thor has his hammer, and Freyr has a giant penis.

And somehow, over the last millennia, I guess because that’s the original statuary that we have, everyone seems to think that Frey begins and ends with his giant phallus. As a devotee of his, I often get people who are like “yeah, but his dick?” when they find out that I am His. Because I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, people assume that because of that – and because one of the surviving stories we have about Freyr is coercive and uncomfortable – I could never relate to this deity. People try to warn me about Him, especially about His penis. “You know he’s the big-penis god right?”

So let’s look at the lore for a minute, and talk about all the things that Ing has been called. Ann Sheffield, in her Frey: God of the World, summarizes the kennings that are used to describe Frey in the Poetic and Prose Eddas. The kennings that Sheffield quotes include:

  • Most renowned, most glorious among gods
  • Harvest-god, god of prosperity
  • Foremost, best of gods
  • Beli’s bane
  • Bright
  • Sacrifice-priest
  • Freyja’s brother
  • Battle-wise
  • Wealth-giver
  • (one who) guides, governs the people
  • People’s ruler of the gods
  • Fair, beautiful
  • Wise
  • Temple-priest
  • Chieftain
  • Mighty
  • Providing
  • Shining
  • Njordh’s son
  • Vanir-god
  • God of the world
  • Weaponless, unarmed

These kennings and bynames come from the Skirnismal, Gylfaginning, Ynglinga Saga, Grimnismal, Skaldskaparmal sections of the Poetic and Prose Eddas, by Snorri Sturluson, or poets that he quotes. You’ll notice that they are about a warrior god, a priest god, a chieftain, a ruler, a wise god, a giver of wealth and prosperity, a harvest god. And yes, penises throughout history have been associated with prosperity and the harvest and wealth, but there’s more here than just a big dick.

There is Wisdom. Guidance. Providence. Prosperity. This is not a god of carnal, unslaked lust. Of sexual prowess. This is about the land and the people who live there. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem says:

Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes, till, followed by his chariot, he departed eastwards over the waves. So the Heardingas named the hero.

The Ingvaeones were a West Germanic peoples and were the precursors to the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes that settled in England – a tribe of people calling themselves the “children of Ing”. He is a progenitor of kings, an ancestor god, one who cares for the people who follow him. He is old, ancient, and sometimes alien.

I don’t know why I need to say this today. It wasn’t prompted by any conversations I’ve had recently. But the voice behind my head says it’s time for me to start saying this, so here it is. It’s not a fully formed “argument” yet – I know this. I also know that the Frey/Gerd story is problematic on lots of levels. (Cue the “all my faves are problematic” meme.)

But I also know, in a deep and personal and unexplainable way, that there is more here. There is depth, and warmth, and providence, and even maybe love. There is also death, and sacrifice, and the unfathomable service that is priesthood.

This isn’t middle school. Giggle about the big penis statue, sure – if anything, at least it’s calling a spade a spade (as opposed to Odin’s phallic spear and Thor’s phallic hammer). But then look deeper.

There’s way more to this than a dick.

VSLM

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I am not, very often, a dreamer. I’ve tried all the usual things – notebooks by the bedside, intentions before sleep, mugwort tea, valerian capsules, etc. I’d blame it on the medicine I take for neuropathic pain that keeps me in deep stage sleep longer, but I wasn’t a dreamer growing up either, so it’s not like much has changed. (I had night terrors as a child/teen, but I only very rarely remembered what they were about, only that I woke up terrified.)

But then, every once in a great while, I have a DREAM. In this case, an exceptionally vivid one that – three hours later – is only just now starting to fade.

In this dream, I was working with an artisan to create a rosary to Cerridwen (I think) and Herne.

This is interesting for a few reasons, beyond just the fact that I remembered a dream very vividly.

I haven’t worked with Cerridwen and Herne for several years. They have a space on my altar still, of course, as a tiny cauldron and a wooden acorn, but they aren’t Gods I typically associate with my current practice. Herne is not far off my current Anglo-Saxon practice, being an English God, and being that it is Wild Hunt Season, but it was curious to hear from Cerridwen. (On a night just after the full moon, on the eve of Samhain, so maybe not so curious.)

Their names are the names that I used for the God and Goddess in my days as a Wiccan. (I am not an initiated Witch, and I am Quite Sure these names are not the oathbound names that witches are affiliated with.)

Now. I’m not exactly much of a Wiccan anymore. I occasionally do Witchy magic, but my following the wheel of the year has a distinctly Druid flavor, and I’m pretty entrenched in ADF and the Anglo-Saxon hearth culture.

But my practice has been pretty stagnant recently, and when I consulted people who are skilled at divination, the common answer was “you’re doing too much, you need to take care of your own practice, find your big Why, and turn inward for awhile.” They also said not to be tempted by “spiritual squirrel syndrome” – where anything shiny and new seemed exciting and worth pursuing. (I asked three diviners, and got three VERY similar answers, from three completely different systems of divination. I’m inclined to trust that answer.)

So why, suddenly, are these Gods from my past knocking at my door again?

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