Jötnar Basics

grrrr_giantThe Jötnar are the first race to have arisen at the creation of the Universe. Just like the Æsir, there is hardly a story or poem that does not contain a run-in with a jötunn … they are the prime antagonists in much of the lore, but they are also the wives, parents, grand-parents, and friends of the Æsir and Vanir gods.

Ýmir was the first of this mighty race, born out of the rivers that formed in Ginnungagap. Snorri describes the event in Gylfaginning:

“Just as from Niflheimr there arose coldness and all things grim, so what was facing close to Muspelheim was hot and bright, but Ginnungagap was as mild as a windless sky. And when the rime and the blowing of the warmth met so that it thawed and dripped, there was a quickening from these flowing drops due to the power of the source of the heat, and it became the form of a man, and he was given the name Ýmir.”

As the first and only being at the time, Ýmir begat children from the pits of his arms and the rubbing together of his legs, and in this way the race of giants was spawned. The children of Ýmir produced many children of their own, and intermingled with the first of the gods to appear – Búri, who’s son married a jötunn named Bestla. There seems to have been a lot of animosity and competition between the races after that, and eventually Ýmir was slain by Bestla’s sons, Óðin, Vili and Vé.

Out of the enormous body of the jötunn the brothers created Miðgarðr. The dome of his skull formed the sky arching over the Earth, and his blood became the seas, rivers, and lakes. Ýmir’s brains became the clouds, his hair the trees, and his bones the mountains and hills. At this point in the lore, the race of Dwarfs also appears, growing into a more human-like form from little worms or maggots, out of the giant’s flesh.

The gods erected a fence of sorts out of Ýmir’s eyelashes, separating the giant’s land of Jötunheimr from what was to become the realm of human kind. It was the duty of the gods, then, to watch over this border and ensure the safety of their new creations from the destructive elemental forces of the jötnar.

Many jötunn villains are described in the lore, and they are all destructive and chaotic forces to be reckoned with. The most famous of them all is Loki, the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and friend and companion to Thor. He is accepted into the tribe as one of the Æsir, but is a duplicitous character who causes as much trouble as he does good. Loki’s stories are very popular, as they are usually filled with humour and suspense, often resulting in magical boons for the gods. Eventually his giant nature wins out, however, and he betrays the gods and helps bring about Ragnarök.

Other antagonistic jötnar include Skaði and her father Þjazi, who kidnapped the goddess Iðunn and held her captive. Thor has a run-in with King Útgarða-Loki, ruler of a great jötunn kingdom who horribly embarrasses the god by cheating at contests of strength and vitality. Thor’s duel with the great Hrungnir is so fierce that he has a piece of the giant’s whetstone permanently lodged in his head, and the wily Þrymr steals Mjölnir and ransoms it for Freya’s hand in marriage.

For every dastardly jötunn in the lore, there is a beautiful giantess who joins the Æsir and works towards the greater good. Many of the gods marry giantesses, and in fact most of the gods have giant’s blood running through their veins. Óðin, Frigga, Váli, Víðarr, and Thor are all directly descended from jötnar (Frigga and Thor even have the same mother, the giantess Jörð) and Sleipnir and Hel are also both children of a giant – Loki. Freyr marries Gerð, with whom he falls in love at first sight, and Njörðr marries the feisty giantess Skaði after the gods kill her father. Mímir, the renowned counselor of Óðin and guardian of the well of wisdom, is also thought to have been a jötunn.

The differences between the giants and the gods are sometimes very distinct and dramatic, and sometimes they are indistinguishable. Some of the jötnar are hideous or horrific in appearance, with claws, fangs, and deformed faces or bodies. They can be enormous in size or normal sized. Some of them are described with many heads, such as Þrívaldi who had nine of them, and still others are not humanoid at all, such as Jörmungandr, Sleipnir, and Fenrir. The relationship between the gods and giants is always a complex one.

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1. Original artwork by unknown artist
2. “Odin in the House of Giants” by Rhineville
3. Surtr by Rowye

Smarbitr

My father-in-law gave me a hatchet as a gift, and I’ve been wanting to get the blade etched or sandblasted ever since (an old friend of mine owns Blasted Art Inc. and I’m saving up some money for an awesome knotted design.) For now, it’s a nice little mini axe, and the handle is leather-wrapped so it doesn’t look too out of place amongst all of our Norse-styled stuff.

I’ve used the hatchet out camping, and it’s a great throwing axe, too. Next to Frostbitr, however, it’s always looked a bit … wee. Ha.

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I put together a wall mount similar to the one for my bearded axe, and up on the wall, they look amazing. They also sit above the television, so when I’m playing endless hours of Skyrim, they’re right there, inspiring me to hack things to pieces on-screen.

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Welcome to the family, Smarbitr! (Which simply means “Little Bite.”)

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The smaller block is basically the same as the larger one, except that the regular axe could conceivably fall out of the mount. When I designed the wall mount for Frostbitr, a bearded axe, I cut the hole so that there was enough space for the axe to slip into it – so instead of falling out of the mount for whatever reason, the axe slips deeper inside the wooden block and hangs there by its beard.

Smarbitr would simply fall out and probably make a nice dent in the floor. I mean, it’s not gonna happen unless the house shakes like we’re in L.A. or turns upside down, but it’s a design flaw none-the-less.

Finished with pyrography and tung oil!

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Kinship Holidays

andhrimnir_sarmatiWhen it comes to Heathen Holidays, there is a wide variety of them out there to choose from, ranging from the traditional to the local and regional … to the entirely made up. Which ones is a Norse Pagan to observe?

Looking around, I found that the large American kinships agree on very few. The AFA just adopts the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, and changes the names of the eight sabbats. The Troth, on the other hand, took every holiday known to Heathendom, and then made up a bunch more for good measure. You can blót nearly every other day on their calendar (though, honestly, I do appreciate the way that they’ve tried to give Heathens cultural hero holidays to celebrate. That kicks ass.)

Looking to Iceland, that glittering repository for our ancient culture sitting in the sheltered North Atlantic, you find a lot of local traditions and cultural practices specific to the island – and it’s sometimes hard to distinguish what is specifically Icelandic and what came from the Norse of Europe.

Then there are the cultural traditions and holidays of Europe itself: Scandinavia, the Slavic countries, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Filtering these through a Norse Pagan lens is pretty exciting (well, I’m a book nerd, so there you go) and challenging at the same time. It becomes obvious just how wide-ranging the Norse culture (more properly, cultures) were and how different local landscapes, people, and language influenced the times of year that were singled out by communities as times to whoop it up.

The holidays we observe in Norðanverðulfr are a collection curated from all of these, plus our own personal needs. I really feel that there should be at least a few holidays that most Heathens agree on and celebrate together as a larger, world community. Other important holidays can be specific to your kinship, since the needs of each local community will vary greatly. The oldies seem to have done it this way – and so I feel no guilt or shame in following suit.

We are a new kinship, so I fully expect that these may change, depending on how we change and grow.

Surprise!

The Norðanverðulfr Holidays

Threttándi – 1 January

Happy New Year! Also called Thirteenth Night (or Twelfth Night in some circles) this is the night that Sól rises on the first day of the new year. Make sure you stay up all night and welcome the dawn with a toast to the sun and a prosperous new year.

Thorrablót – 17-25 January

Thorrablót is an Icelandic festival, named for the month of Þorri, and now celebrated as a festival honouring Thor. We hold a large blót and feast on the first night. There are many feasts, dances, and performances to participate in throughout the week, as well as sampling some – er, interesting traditional Icelandic foods. All in honour of mankind’s best mate in Asgard.

Disablót – 2 February

Frigga reigns over this holiday, which honours all the dísir (the female ancestors and the Valkyrjur), and we put up an altar to all of our lost grandmas on this day. This holiday has traditionally been celebrated at various times during the year, depending on the location, but February works well for us, as it’s usually a quiet, contemplative month, and personal female ancestors have been very influential and important in the lives of our kinship members.

Sigrblót – 20 March

Also called Sumarsdag. In the Ynglinga saga, this holiday was celebrated in honour of Óðin, to ensure success in the coming raids and battles. Before this, Sigrblót was the Norse equivalent to Ostara, the first stirrings of Summer, and was an agricultural celebration for the coming growing season. The two are now combined, and my kinship blóts to Óðin as well as to the deities of Spring. We usually forgo the human sacrifices, however. Usually.

May Day – 1 May

This is our proper Spring celebration! All of the Spring and early Summer gods get toasts today, including Iðunn, NannaBaldr, and Freya. The altar gets dressed in bright colours and lots of flowers, and extra candles in “light”-themed yellows. May Day has been adopted from the Celtic year (you may recognize it within a Wiccan context) but similar celebrations happen all over Europe at this time of year.

Midsummer – 21 June

Midsummer is also adopted from the Wheel of the Year, and we use it to specifically honour Baldr (one of our personal gods) and Sól, the gods of light and the sun. This is the longest day of Summer, and a very important mid-point on the calendar for farmers. Break out the cool, crisp, summery beverages!

Freyfaxi – 21 August

This major holiday centred around the very important agricultural god Freyr is also called Hlæfmæsse, which is related to the Celtic Lammas and Lughnasadh. Freyfaxi happens just as the first harvest is ready, and you should definitely not skimp on the feast after you blót! Pile on the early harvest foods, and make sure you have a number of pork-related dishes, as Freyr is famous for his love of boar. Though the original intent is different, this holiday is a lot like the Thanksgiving of today. Make sure you bring your extra stomach.

Fylleth – 22 September

Fylleth is also called Winter Finding, and it is a minor blót for the entire Vanir family, the gods who are responsible for the cultivation of the land and continued abundance of the earth. Toast to the Vanir, and ask for their continued custodianship and protection through the coming Winter. We celebrate Winter Finding as the end of Freyfaxi, and along with Freyr, his family are added to the altar, including FreyaNjörðr, and Nerthus.

Vetmaettr – first full moon after Fylleth in October

After Winter Finding, comes Winter Nights. The transition between the two heralds the arrival of Winter, and we blót to all of the Winter gods on this night, including Ullr, Skaði, Sif, Bragi, and Máni. You may also wish to mention the Jötnar, the frost giants who run rampant in the coming months, as well as Ýmir (the first being, and ancestor of the giants) and Búri (ancestor of the gods licked from the primordial ice). We here at Norðanverðulfr particularly enjoy Winter!

Samhain – 31 October

A blend of Samhain and an observance of the Wild Hunt (or Oskurreia, “The Ride of Asgard”) we spend this night honouring our ancestors and the spirits of the dead who have passed in the last year. We set a place at our table for visiting dead friends and family, and carve pumpkins in their likeness. We toast The Wild Hunt, chasing trolls across the landscape, and the leaders of this marauding army of spirits – Óðin and Ullr.

Hunter’s Day – 25 November

This holiday comes directly from The Troth, intended as a replacement for American Thanksgiving that honours Norse gods, and which removes the celebration of Imperialism which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of our cherished First Nations. On this day we celebrate Ullr and Skaði, two important Winter gods who are famous for their hunting skills, and we fill our table with wild foods inspired by these two providers in a harsher time of the year.

Yule Eve and Yule – 20 and 21 December

All of the gods are honoured during Yule! As a celebration of the coming end of Winter, the rebirth of light, and the highly anticipated Summer stirrings, we blót, feast, and exchange gifts. Yule lasts until Threttándi, when the cycle starts all over again.

Surprise!

Full Moons

Since one of the personal gods within our home is Máni, every full moon is an opportunity to do a small blót in his honour. Any and all of the thirteen moons of the year are dedicated to him, and Vetmaettr, which is a major blót and happens specifically on a full moon, is also his night. Máni, as god of the moon, is a time-keeping god, and so the transitional celebration of Vetmaettr is entirely appropriate, as are the other full moons, which tick away the months of the year, and measure out our lives.

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1. Artwork by sarmati
2. Original artwork by moulinbleu

Working with Hel

hel_hannahbIn putting together my page on Hel, I learned a lot about her various aspects, her domain, and the way history has taken some of her ideas and run with them.

I had just finished the page, gone to work, and was returning home late at night. I work in a bit of a sketchy neighbourhood, and one of the resident homeless guys was out, bopping from person to person, asking for change. I recognized him as one of the men who typically hang around outside the bars, asking for change for drinks.

People would shake their heads, keep their eyes forward, and try to shuffle away from him as fast as possible. If you work in this neighbourhood, the homeless tend to remember you as a local, and avoid you, targeting the tourists instead. However, this man saw me and headed my way, when he usually would have passed me by.

“Hold on a sec, man! I’m not asking for money!” he said, walking alongside me. I stopped to listen, bracing myself for the 20 minute spiel that would invariably end in … asking for money.

“People hate when you ask for money, I know, and I’m not asking for money, I promise!” he said, shaking his head. I agreed that people get really nervous about giving out money, and asked what else I could do for him. He pointed to the nearby Popeye’s and his eyes got all big and excited as he explained to me that they had the best mashed potatoes in the whole city. Would I come in with him and buy him a cup of mashed potatoes?

“It’s like, two dollars, tops!” he says, pointing into the restaurant.

I don’t usually say no to anyone asking for food. Change, yes – but not food. We head in and I gesture for the guy to put his order in. The staff looks a bit nervous, but they ring him in, and it is indeed around two dollars.

“Why don’t you get two?” I ask. Then I think about what I would want if I was ordering, and we both get more and more excited as the order grows and grows … until pretty soon, his tray comes out with the deluxe mashed potatoes with gravy, bacon bits, a soda, and what looks like half a Thanksgiving day spread. The guy is thrilled, I’m kinda jealous, and the staff is still looking at us like we’re both nuts.

In total, I spent around eight dollars. Totally worth it. I apologized for not being able to sit and eat with him, but shook the guy’s hand and wished him a pleasant evening.

It wasn’t until later that it dawned on me that I’d been working with Hel all day, and this had manifested in a wonderful chance to do something nice for another person. In Hel’s write-up, there is this passage:

“Hel is also perceived as a goddess who helps those who in life are pushed to and live at the margins of society. Working with those who are marginalized, anyone dealing with mental illness, chronic illness or impacted by poverty, are believed to be ways to connect with and earn her respect.”

So, thank you, Hel, for the opportunity to share my good fortune with another human being, and make his night a little more enjoyable.

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1. Hel by Hannah B
2. Hel by Relotixke
3. Hel by Feralkin

Freya Basics

freya_rosythornsFreya Basics

Freya is attested to in the Poetic and Prose Eddas, in Hemskingla, various Icelandic Sagas, in the story Sörla þáttr, in skaldic poems, and throughout folklore. Her name means “Lady” and the day of the week, Friday is named after her.  She is the famed Vanir goddess of love, sex, beauty, and gold in Northern Tradition.

She is also the goddess of witchcraft (called seiðr) and a goddess of battle and of death. Freya famously teaches Óðin women’s magic, and the two besties split the spoils of the battlefield. Freya’s pick of the fallen warriors go to Fólkvangr, her realm in Asgard, and her hall Sessrúmnir is located there. As a war goddess, she is often considered the leader of the valkyrjur, the angel-like women who choose the heroic warriors from battlefields. These women also serve mead to the Einherjar, and often appear in stories as lovers to mortals and heroes.

Her twin brother is Freyr, the god of masculinity and male sexuality. Freya is his feminine half and counterpart. Her father is Njörð, by his un-named sister (generally considered to be Nerthus), and her husband is Óðr, with whom she has two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. She drives a chariot pulled by a team of cats. Most seem to agree they were either lynxes, or skogkatts (a breed of felines about the size of lynxes, larger than felis domesticus), both of which are native to Northern Europe. In Freya’s honour, kittens were commonly given to brides as wedding gifts in the Viking era.

Like her brother, who is equal in might and power to Óðin, Freya is considered equal in power to Frigga, the two being the most important and powerful goddesses of the north. Some scholars have suggested that the two are one and the same, as they have some striking similarities, but both are distinctly described in the Eddas and interact with one another. Since none of the male deities (who all also seem to have striking similarities and overlaps) are combined in this way, it seems rather reductive (and sexist) to combine the two great women in this way.

Like Frigg, Freya owns a mantle of falcon feathers (It seems that the elite goddesses whore such a feathers like rich women might wear fur coats!) and she flies all over Midgard, looking for her husband Óðr, who has left her to go wandering where she can never find him. In the story, Óðr is ashamed of her greed in the acquisition of her most prized possession, the celebrated golden necklace Brísingamen, and he regularly leaves her. Freya is forever searching for him, and weeps golden tears, which we find in Midgard as the precious stone amber, or as veins of gold within stone.

Freya is the most sought-after goddess by the Jötnar, and many tales tell of desperate barters on behalf of the mighty nature spirits to win Freya for a bride. When Thor’s mighty hammer goes missing, it is the giant Þrymr who has taken it, and he demands Freya as his bride in exchange for its return. Freya is also the price (along with the Sun and Moon) for the construction of the wall around Asgard. In both cases, the jötnar are tricked, and Freya’s honour is preserved.

The goddess isn’t a prude, however. In true Norse style, her marriage would seem rather unusual to modern eyes. She travels with a constant companion, a boar named Hildisvíni, who is her human lover Ottar in disguise. As payment for Brísingamen, she sleeps with several dwarfs (less honourable than sleeping with giants, even) and in Lokasenna she is even accused of sleeping with her brother, Freyr, by Loki in front of the other gods at a party.

Long after Christianisation,  Freya continued to be honoured and named by rural Scandinavians, in folklore and folk magic well into the 19th century. As attested in several sources, due to Freya’s fame, women of rank could become known by her name frúvor (“lady”), and a woman who was the mistress of her property was often referred to as freya, and húsfreyja (“lady of the house”).

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1. Freya by Rosythorns
2. Freya by Art by Manon
3. Freya by Pokaz Obrazek

Extended Freyr

freyr_gullinburstiExtended Freyr

Freyr was such an important deity that it was common to find his likeness beside that of Óðin’s and Thor’s on altars in the Viking Age. As a Vanir, he reigns over all things earthly and of the body, and of most concern to ancient communities the agriculture of plants, and husbandry of livestock they depended on for survival. He is a God of the earth and of the sacred in the world (and the body), rather than transcendent of it.

The story of his defeat at the hand of Surtr is a metaphor for the decimation of all fertile growing things, under the wrath of the fires of Ragnarök. Freyr can be thought of as the God who, at the end of all things, lived his life for the good things in life. He represents the valiant thrusting of life, even in the face of it’s own demise.

Freyr appears as a jolly, warm personality, and his energy is comforting and steady – like a big, burly bear hug. He is easy-going and promotes enjoyment of the good life and the peace and satisfaction that comes after all the work is done. Call on Freyr to help increase your work ethic, mindful of the rewards that follows a hard week’s labours. He commonly appears in visions as a golden-haired farm boy, alternately youthful or in his prime, exuding manly swagger and relaxed playfulness.

You can honour Freyr by cultivating plants – especially edible herbs and vegetables – either in a garden or in pots on a balcony.  Think of them like little abundance battery packs that get stronger the larger they grow! You can also honour him by caring for animals – especially livestock and farm animals. Pay him tribute him by purchasing free-range eggs and ethically sourced meat.

Freyr’s most powerful season is the end of Summer through to the Autumn harvest (August through September in the Northern Hemisphere). He is happy to bring sunshine and rain in good measure to help support any gardening endeavors. Like Baldr, he is associated with the sun, without being a sun god per se. Freyr manifests in Miðgarðr as all fair and enjoyable weather which helps the crops grow. Call on him to help brighten up your days, whether literally or figuratively. He is a god of merry-making and earthly pleasure, and he’d be happy to add more fun to your life – in general, or to a festive occasion in particular. Working along with Freyr is bound to nudge you towards living your life to the fullest!

Hand-in-hand with abundance comes fertility, and I’ve never had a god so eager to answer any and all of my prayers involving sexuality! The sexual metaphors never end in his stories – from a sword with a mind of its own, to plowing the fields (Gerð’s name actually means “field” even.) The Norse loved their sexy-time myths, and Freyr was king of them all! Honour him by developing fun, healthy sexuality. Having sex on a plot of earth is a traditional way to honour him.

Like Óðin, many heterosexual and more dominant gay men see him as a spiritual role-model and wing-man. Many heterosexual women, and more submissive gay men, relate to him as a divine lover, similar to Rumi’s conception of the divine. Also like Óðin, and while his primary spouse is female, Freyr is commonly acknowledged by modern Heathens as a god of all male sexuality, including homosexuality and bisexuality. Freyr is a god of masculinity and maleness. Working with him can help you develop your own healthy masculinity, and connect with masculine friends and companions.

Freyr has a healthy appetite, and working with him is bound to increase your appreciation for good, wholesome food. Like Ullr, overly processed food displeases Freyr, and like all Vanir, any involvement in environmentalism greatly honours and pleases him. He shares some poignant overlap with Ullr, both being gods of food production and masculine potency: Freyr within a domestic, farming context; Ullr within the hunter-wilderness realm.  Worship Freyr by switching to organic food, growing your own food, supporting local farmers, and supporting global food security efforts.

As the ruler of the Alfar, Freyr serves an important roll in communicating with our ancestors, and entreating them properly. He can help you connect with your ancient ancestors, whether those personal to your lineage or homeland, or to spiritual and cultural heroes. Call on Freyr for help with all aspects of connecting with and relating to family, both living and dead.

In providing food for us to eat, and sexuality to keep the species going, Freyr takes on a fatherly aspect in respect to the human race. He’s like the father many of us never had – the cool dad who teaches us practical life skills and wants us to go out and get laid.

A mighty god, Freyr has appeared to many different peoples around the world: Priapus to the Romans, Pan to the Greeks, and Min to the Egyptians. He has strong parallels with Cernnunos in Celtic lore, and by extension, the inspiration behind Oberon, king of the fairies in medieval literature. In Ireland, he was worshiped as the Dagda, the jovial phallic god of plenty and joy.

Signs and symbols: Boars, pigs, farms, fields, crops and harvest symbols. Seeds, pollen and semen. Magic swords, antlers, and phallic symbols. Stags, bulls, stallions and all virile male animals. Feasts, festivals, and bawdy humour. The day Friday. The colours green, brown and gold. The rune Yngvi. Freyfaxi (August 21), and Lammas (August 1-2.). Bells and simple percussion instruments.

Associated names: Frey, Yngvi, Yngvi-Freyr, Ingui, Ing, Frawjaz, Fricco, Frø, Freo, Ingawz.

 

Surprise!

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1. Freyr riding Gullinbursti, unknown artist.
2. Freyr riding Gullinbursti, by Darantha
3. Original artwork by Art of Just a Man

Frostbitr

I attended the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in August this year, and although I told myself I wouldn’t be spending any money … I was just going to look around, enjoy the fest, eat good food, and visit with my friends and family … of course I spent tons of money.

I mean, really, what was I thinking? I was only fooling myself. No one walks out of a Fest with their wallet intact. Aside from several drinking horns, various bits and pieces, and copious amounts of local mead, I came home with a new bearded axe!

Welcome to the collection, Frostbitr!

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Since he won’t be killing anyone, the most he can hope for is to snip off a few fingers and toes, and so I named him Frostbite. This is also in honour of my favourite god, Ullr, and his traditional season, as well as the Northern state that I hail from – Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 (Frozen) Lakes.

The axe was hand-forged by the wonderful smiths at Legacy Forge, who were great to work with and talk to at the fest. Everyone seemed to be looking at every axe but this one (Fools!) … and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Frostbitr came with a hand-made leather blade sheath, but I couldn’t just stash this lovely little axe away, never to be seen. No, I needed to devise a way to display my new axe in my home, where everyone could see it! The better to intimidate little children – and possibly the squirrels on the balcony who don’t seem to fear or respect anything. The bastards (the squirrels, not the children.)

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And so, I made a wall mount for Frostbitr, and he is now hanging lovingly – er, I mean menacingly, in the loungeroom. My camera is shitty, so all apologies for the horrible Photoshopping that had to happen for these pictures to be acceptable for public display.

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Welcome home, Frostbitr!

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Support Declaration 127

The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) has been in the news a lot recently, and it’s no surprise to those who have been watching them for some time that they have been exposed as a discriminatory group passing themselves off as true Heathens.

Huginn’s Heathen Hof has a lovely way for even the smallest of us to add our voices to the larger pool of Heathens who want absolutely nothing to do with the AFA and their shitty principles. They have put together a page for us all to express our disdain and denunciation of the AFA.

Heathenry combines such a beautiful and diverse group of people from all over the world, and it would be a shame for anyone to think that we are all assholes based on any group’s severe disconnect from the reality of our religion.

As such, Norðanverðulfr has added our name to the list:

Norðanverðulfr is a small kinship based in Toronto, Canada, one of the most diverse cities in the world.

The AFA’s views do not represent our communities. Norðanverðulfr hereby declare that we do not condone hatred or discrimination carried out in the name of our religion, and will not associate with those who do. We will not grant the tacit approval of silence in the name of frið, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.

The AFA is free to stand for whatever principles it sees fit.

They are free to stand alone.

Norðanverðulfr

I encourage all of you out there to add your voices to the stream, as it becomes a mighty river that washes this type of thinking out of the world.

middle_finger

Freyr Pyrography 2

Finished Freyr Pyrography Board

After my milk paint fiasco, I was really worried about lasting damage to the Freyr image I was working on (you can see the progression in my original Freyr Pyrography post.)

Well, a little sand paper and some re-burning sanded-off lines, and the milk paint pigments were gone. I got myself some acrylics (a medium that I know I won’t fuck up) and finished Freyr once and for all. No more fluffing about!

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The final image is still playful and sexy, bright, clean, and still manages to have an older “craft” feel to it. I used tung oil to seal and protect it, so it has a silky smooth feel and a nice lustre, and I love how the basswood grain is still visible throughout the whole thing.

Eventually I’ll have it scanned and make prints. For now, it sits on a shelf above my desk and makes me grin like an idiot whenever I look up.

On to the next panel!

Freyfaxi Altar 2016

Freyfaxi is the late Summer harvest festival in honour of Freyr, and it’s one of my favourites!

Full of good food, lots of mead, and … er, sexy time “sacrifices” to one of my favourite gods … Freyfaxi is a good time, and a great reward for a hard farming season. It is also called Hlæfmæsse, which is related to the Celtic Lammas and Lughnasadh. Freyr is one of the highest gods of Northern Tradition – and a particular favorite of the Swedes, whose royal family, the Ynglings, claimed to be descended from him (another name for Freyr is Yngvi.)

I forego the traditional horse sacrifice to Freyr (you’re welcome, horses) but still prepare a feast that includes a variety of meats (mostly pork) and harvest vegetables. This year, I slow-cooked a pulled pork roast, slathered in BBQ sauce and beer – I nearly ate the whole thing myself it was so good.

But let’s take a look at the altar!

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The altar for Freyfaxi has a grass-green cloth, and the offering bowl sits in the centre. I chose one made of marble so it can handle anything we throw into it. In front of the bowl, there is a strip of leather embossed with Gratitude in Elder Futhark runes (though I now use the Younger runes for writing, it’s too late for this piece!) The altar is set within an enormous, carved bookcase that sits in the centre of our home, which gives it a rather grand appearance regardless of the drape.

In the centre sits a basswood panel with an image of Freyr – one of the art projects that I’ve finally finished! (see Freyr Pyrography for the progression.)

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On the Left

Sitting prominently on the left is our new drinking horn – our first! It was a gift from some amazing Heathen mates across the world, in Australia. We’re still deciding what to have it engraved with, but this is the horn’s first appearance in a blót, and it was consecrated as part of our Freyfaxi celebrations.

Freyr’s candle holders sit on a slate tile so we don’t burn the place down. The left side is flanked by Lake Superior agates, honouring the land I come from and their role in the lore of the area (they are medicine stones and their rings represented growth and abundance.)

A cast-iron Yngvi rune hangs behind the horn.

Surprise!

On the Right

On the right side of the altar sits our Freyr statue, which is normally on a shelf altar in another room. You can clearly see all of his traditional elements, from his faithful boar, Gullinbursti, to his very happy privates.

A little quartz crystal penis sits next to the candle. One can never have too many penises on an altar to Freyr. Ha!

Our altars usually stay up several weeks, or until the next holiday celebration, so they slowly collect more and more objects as time goes by. After these photos, our Freyr altar has acquired a pack of cigars, a photo, some prayer beads, and several offerings of food and drink have come and gone.

That’s it! Anyone else do anything special for Freyfaxi? Leave a description or some photos in the comments!