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Posts Tagged ‘snorri sturluson’

(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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