Norse 101, Part 10

TGIF– Thanks Gods it’s Freyja’s Day!  It’s been some time since my last Norse 101 post.  Sorry, everyone.  I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but I’m back.  Last week, I wrote about Hel, the Goddess of the dead.  This week, it’s Jormungandr’s turn.  Jormungandr (YOUR-moon-gand) is also called the Midgard Serpent and is the sibling of Hel and Fenrir.  Xe is genderfluid, but will sometimes present as either gender, neither gender, or both genders, in a humanoid form.  Or xe could present as a snake.  (Remember that the Gods will assume any form They wish!)

Jormungandr is an enormous snake that circles Midgard (Earth) to establish the boundary between our realm and the empty void beyond.  Xe is so massive that xe wraps around Midgard completely and holds xir tail in xir mouth, like an Ouroboros.  Xir presence at the outermost reaches of Midgard protects us from any Cosmic Bad Guys or Not-So-Nice forces that may want to wreak havoc or hurt us.  Yes, Jormungandr does have a role in the story of Ragnarok, which is the “end of all creation” story for the Norse.  In the lore, xe and Thor are said to battle one another.  However, Jormungandr does protect Midgard, which Thor also does.  They just protect us in different ways.  Jormungandr establishes and guards boundaries while Thor uses His hammer.

Time for some of my own experience with Jorm.  The first time I saw xir was in a vision.  Xe appeared as a very large, green boa constrictor.  Xe approached me, but I wasn’t sure who xe was.  The next time I saw xir, xe was in a male humanoid form.  Actually, xe appeared as the now-grown-up actor who played the character of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.  Any of you who happen to be Potter fans will know that the House that Draco belonged to was Slytherin.  I was a little confused until I made the connection: Slytherin, snakes, Jormungandr!  Yes, the Gods can be cheeky.

That’s all for this week.  Next time, I’ll tell you about the Sky deities.  The sun Goddess Sunna and Her brother Mani, the Moon God.  Have a lovely Freyja’s Day and a fabulous weekend!

green_emerald_boa_as_totem_by_ravenari
Green Emerald Boa as Totem by Ravenari, Deviant Art

Norse 101, Part 9

Norse 101, Part 9

Happy Freyja’s Day, everyone!  Yes, it’s been a minute since my last post.  The holiday season was incredibly busy, and I ended up taking a brief, unplanned hiatus.  But I’m back and ready to continue my introductions.  In my last post, I wrote about Fenrir, one of Loki’s sons with Angrboda.  This week, I would like to introduce Hel, the Norse Goddess of the Dead.

Hel is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda, sister of Fenrir and Jormungandr, and ruler of the realm of Helheim.  Although Her name and realm do sound similar to the Christian ‘hell,’ that is where the similarities end.  Hel is by no means evil, nor is Helheim a place of eternal suffering.  It is simply a place for souls who didn’t die in battle to spend their afterlife.  Some people, like myself, see it as a place where we wait for reincarnation.

Hel is a Goddess of Death and the Dead.  She is described as appearing with half of Her body living and half of Her body either mummified or skeletonized.  While some people think of Her as cold and detached, many others encounter Her as direct and to-the-point.  I personally experience Her to be quite matter-of-fact, but very caring nonetheless.  She won’t sugar-coat things or spare feelings.  She will tell you things as they honestly are.  This is why some people believe that She is cold and uncaring.  But telling someone the truth and allowing them to face things as they are is, in fact, quite loving and merciful.  After all, death itself isn’t bright, shiny, and fluffy, is it?  When it comes to facing hard truths about yourself and inspecting what is dead and decaying in your life, Hel is a wonderful Goddess to call upon.  Finding the courage to let go of old ways and laying them to rest is Hel’s domain.

Helheim is described in lore as being dark and cold.  There is some speculation that the realm of the dead was once ruled by someone other than Hel, before She was born and given Her position in the realm.  Some scholars believe that the name Hel may be a title rather than a proper name.  People that have recently astral-traveled to Helheim or have seen it in visions or dreams found that the landscape has changed from the lore description.  These people have described it as more bright, a bit warmer, with quaint villages and orchards where the dead now reside.  Helheim seems a much more pleasant place under Hel’s rule.

Some appropriate offerings to Hel would include dried and pressed flowers, sugar skull-themed items, tending graves or cemeteries, or composting.  I also associate snowflake obsidian with Her.  The crystal’s black-and-white appearance reminds me of Her, as do the metaphysical properties it holds.  Snowflake obsidian is great for drawing unnecessary or outgrown things to the surface so they can be let go and transformed.  I keep one on my altar for Her specifically for this reason.  So while some people shy away from Her, I have much love and respect for Her.

That’s all for today, lovelies!  I’ll see you again next Freyja’s Day!  Have a fabulous weekend and New Moon in Capricorn!

Goddess-Hel

Norse 101, Part 8

Norse 101, Part 8

Happy Freyja’s Day again, everyone!  Yes, I missed last week and I’m sorry.  But here we are today.  I’m still introducing some of the Gods and Goddesses to you all, and this week, I’d like to start to introduce you to Loki’s and Angrboda’s children: Fenrir, Hel, and Jormungandr.  Some folks see Them as “monstrous” yet others call Them family.  Obviously, my being a godspouse of both Fenrir and Loki, I’m in the camp that sees Them as family, and I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce Them to you.  They have some very valuable teachings to people who take the time to listen.

As I’ve said, there are many different branches to the Norse path.  Some branches are driven by tradition and lore while other branches are based on personal experience and gnosis.  While I feel that knowing and understanding the lore is important, it isn’t what I base my practice on.  That being said, my views on the Jotnar (Giants), Loki, and His Family don’t quite coincide with mainstream Asatru or Heathenry.  The role that Loki and His Family play in lore may seem antagonistic at first glance, but remember that there’s always more to the story.  There’s always a reason why we need things like natural forces, chaos, change, and destruction.  They clear the way for new things, new ideas, and new ways.  It keeps everything in balance.  If there wasn’t ever any change, we would stagnate.  Just something to keep in mind.

I would like to introduce Fenrir first.  I will do my best to keep it short and simple, although I really could write pages just on Him.  Fenrir is a shapeshifter that takes the form of an enormous black wolf.  The story in the lore is that He grew so large and so powerful so quickly, that the Aesir Gods became concerned.  They put Fenrir in the care of the God Tyr (a God of war and order) so there would be someone to guide Him and care for Him in an Aesir-approved way.  He lived in Asgard with Tyr, and They became close.  The lore tells of a prophecy, Ragnarok, which is the end-of-all-creation story for the Norse.  Fenrir’s role in the prophecy is that He will be the one to swallow everything up, destroying it all.  Because of this foretelling, Odin decides that Fenrir must be bound so He can’t have the opportunity to destroy.  (Up until this point, He’s done nothing to indicate that He would ever do such a thing.)  The Aesir try and try to tie Him up, but each time, He breaks free.  So, They have a special chain created; a magickal one that He couldn’t possibly break.  When the time came to bind Him, the Gods had to trick Him into it.  It was Tyr who ultimately got Fenrir to let Them bind Him up.  Tyr promised that it was simply a game, and that as reassurance, if Fenrir couldn’t break free then He could bite off Tyr’s hand.  This is why Tyr only has one hand.  Because He broke His word to Fenrir.  It’s this one particular story that gives the impression that Fenrir is one of the “bad guys” who is out to destroy everything just because.  But Ragnarok isn’t just a story of everything ending.  It’s a story of the old ways coming to a close to make way for a new world and a new way.  After everything is destroyed, a new world is created and life begins again.  Without adding too many of my own personal views here, I will tell you that there is much more to Fenrir than just rage and destruction.  He knows what it’s like to not be accepted, to be betrayed by someone you love and trust, to feel such pain and anger at being forced into a situation you never would have chosen for yourself.  Some of the more tradition-driven types warn against attempting to contact Him or work with Him.  I’m not one of those types, obviously.  Fenrir’s lesson has been about healing, accepting myself, and learning how to manage my emotions in a healthy way. The most important factor, I believe, in following any path is that your path is your own.  You may choose to follow surviving lore and traditions to the letter, or you may choose to sit and listen to the Gods and what They have to tell you.  Sometimes, it’s very different from the old lore.  And as I’ve discovered, humanity has grown and evolved over the generations, and so have all the Gods from every pantheon.  None of us, human or God alike, are exactly the same as we were hundreds or thousands of years ago.  To me, not recognizing that is doing Them and yourself a great disservice.  Be open-minded and listen to Them.  Even if you can’t hear Their voices, you’ll still “hear” Them speaking to you.  Have a lovely rest of the day and a very happy Yule!

black wolf

This week’s pronunciations:

Angrboda:  Anger-boh-da

Fenrir:  Fen-reer

Hel:  just like the word ‘hell’

Jormungandr:  Yohrm-oon-gand.  I call hir Jorm (Yohrm).

Jotnar: Yoat-nar

Asatru: Ah-sah-troo

Tyr: Teer

Ragnarok: Rag-nuh-rock

Norse 101, Part 7

Norse 101, Part 7

Happy Freyja’s Day again, everybody!  Time for this week’s Norse 101 post!  Many of my previous posts have been somewhat God-heavy, so this week, I decided to give some of the Goddesses a little air time.  Today, I’ll introduce you to three: Frigga, Sif, and Sigyn.

Frigga (sometimes spelled Frigg) is the wife of Odin.  She is the All-Mother, and an Aesir Goddess of maternal and marital love, divination, managing the household, and spinning or weaving. Her name translates to “Beloved” and She is known to be tender and nurturing.  She is a powerful seer, able to know the future.  She once had a vision about her son Baldr’s death, and took every precaution to ensure that no harm would come to Him.  She asked every being, every plant, every rock, every weapon to do Him no harm.  The only plant She didn’t ask was the mistletoe.  Ultimately it was a dart made of mistletoe that killed Him, but I’ll talk about that more when I introduce Baldr.  Some scholars conclude that Frigga and Freyja are different aspects or versions of the same Goddess.  I can see how that might make some sense, since Freyja is a Goddess of love and beauty, and Frigg is a Goddess of marriage, motherhood, and the home.  I see Them as two separate and distinct Goddesses, though.

Frigg-norse-mythology
Frigga, artist unknown

Sif is an Aesir Goddess that’s barely mentioned in mythology.  She’s a wife of Thor and a Goddess of grain, the harvest, and the fertility of the Earth.  Last week I wrote about how Thor has a role in crop abundance.  Well, His marriage to Sif reflects that as well.  The sky married the Earth and together They bring fertility to the land.  Sif is known to have the most beautiful golden hair, and one story in the mythology tells us about how She lost it, but gained something even better.  Her hair was famously gorgeous, but one day, Loki cut it all off while She was sleeping.  Thor was enraged and demanded that Loki fix it.  So, Loki set out to find something to “fix it.”  His solution was to have Dwarves create new hair for Her out of spun gold.  The new hair  was just as beautiful as Her original hair, and as a consolation, Loki also presented Thor with His hammer, Mjolnir.

sif1
Sif, artist unknown

Sigyn is a wife of Loki. Not much is written about Her, although She is considered to be one of the Aesir.  Together, She and Loki have two sons, but Their story takes a tragic turn.  As punishment for His role in Baldr’s death, Loki is bound in a cave with a snake hanging over His head.  (The chain used to restrain Him is made from the entrails of one of His and Sigyn’s sons.  The other son was transformed into a wolf, who then killed his brother to create that entrail-chain.)  The snake drips poison onto Loki’s face, which is incredibly painful.  Sigyn stayed by His side, holding a bowl above His head to catch the dripping venom.  She isn’t officially assigned as a Goddess of compassion and loyalty, but She certainly is seen as one.  She stayed by Her husband’s side and kept Him as comfortable as She could, despite Her own grief.  If that doesn’t show love and loyalty for family, I don’t what would.

sigyn_north_star_color_by_alebireo-d49lvyc
Sigyn, by DragonsLover1 on Deviantart

That’s it for today, lovelies.  As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  And if you’d like for me to write about a God or Goddess in particular, and I haven’t yet, let me know.  Yes, I take requests!  See you next week!

Grounding and Centering

Lady Beltane asked if I could write a piece about chakras, grounding, and centering.  Since this is something I do on a daily basis, I’ll share with you my little personal technique.  I do this exercise every time I meditate, and I also will do it if I’m feeling worn out, stressed out, or frazzled.  I even do a quick run-through while I’m waiting for my daughter’s school bus to bring her home.  I tend to be a very distractable person and prone to bouts of flightiness, so this helps me recenter and refocus whenever I need it.

First, I’ll describe the technique I use before meditation.  I get comfortable, but not so comfy that I might fall asleep.  I envision my root, or base, chakra.  It’s the red one at the base of your spine.  I see it being bright and healthy, with tree roots shooting down into the Earth.  I send the ‘tap root’ all the way down to the center of the Earth the core.  I then visualize that good Earthy energy flowing up that root and into my root chakra.  The energy then flows up into my sacral, my solar plexus, my heart, my throat, my third eye, and to my crown.  Feel the energy moving up through each chakra.  Envision that energy cleansing and balancing the chakras as it ascends your spinal column.  See each chakra spinning or blossoming like a flower and glowing in its specific color.  When the energy makes it to my crown chakra, I envision beautiful tree branches reaching up into the Universe.  On these branches, I see healthy green leaves and beautiful blossoms like a cherry tree in the springtime.  The leaves absorb the loving Universal energy and draw it back down into my crown chakra.  That energy flows down through each chakra in the opposite direction of the Earth energy.  Then, it flows all the way back down my roots and into the core of the Earth.  I see the energy flowing in both directions, up from Earth and down from the Universe, along my spine as if it were moving through two garden hoses or pipes.  I feel that I am acting as a conduit for both energies.  I am drawing nourishment from Earth and passing it up into the Universe, and I am also drawing nourishment from the Universe and sending it down into Mother Earth.  I am grounded to Earth and suspended from the Universe, anchored into place as the energies flow through me.  At this time, I clear my mind of extra clutter and random thoughts so I can begin my meditation.

I do this exercise so often that I am able to visualize it happening quickly when I need that fast burst of focus.  I really enjoy doing this outdoors where my feet are on the ground and I’m within the field of Earth’s energy.  But with winter approaching and the temperatures starting to become rather uncomfortable outside, more often than not, I’m doing this exercise inside my warm house.  In this case, I like to have a little bit of the outdoors present around me.  Sitting next to a fire or small indoor water fountain helps, as does holding some stones or crystals.  I also have some woodsy-scented incense that helps me focus, too.  There are also videos, audio files, and smartphone apps available that feature music or sounds with special rhythms to help with grounding, balancing, and meditation.  Many are free of cost and I’ve found them by searching for “binaural beats.” Not everyone responds to them, but I find them relaxing and helpful sometimes.  I would recommend trying it at least once to see if it helps you.  The worst that can happen is that you listen to some pretty and relaxing music.  (I especially enjoy hearing the Tibetan singing bowls.  Those are lovely!)

So, this is my own little brand of cleansing, balancing, and grounding.  Feel free to try it and tweak it if you feel the want or need to do so.  Do what works for you.  🙂

~LLHW

Chakra-tree-240x300

Norse 101, Part 6

Norse 101, Part 6

Here we are for the sixth part of Norse 101.  I hope that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful one!  This week, we’ll talk about two more deities: Freyr and Freyja.  They’re brother and sister, and of the Vanir.  Their father is Njord, a God of the Sea.  And though Their mother is never named, it’s suspected that she is Nerthus, a Goddess of the Earth.  There was once a war between the Aesir and the Vanir, and part of the peace treaty between them was that some of the Vanir would come live in Asgard while some of the Aesir would move to Vanaheim.  Freyja and Freyr were part of that treaty.

Freyr is a God of fertility, both of land and body.  He was a pretty popular God back in the old times, and it’s said that He was “hated by none.”  He even had priests and priestesses that traveled around the countryside with a chariot, carrying a statue of Him around from village to village in processions.  He has a golden boar named Gullinbursti, and a ship that He can fold up and fit into His pocket.  Pretty handy, right?  He also had a sword that could fight on its own, but He gave it up to show His future wife, Gerda, that He was serious about wanting to marry Her.  She is a jotun, very gifted in knowledge of herbs and healing.  (See?  Not all jotnar are bad news!)  Freyr is a very kind and warm God.  It’s nearly impossible to be in a bad mood when He’s around.  As a God of fertility, He isn’t limited to just fertile land and bodies.  Creativity and a fertile mind are also in His realm!

Freyja is a Goddess of love, beauty, and war.  Yes, war.  Remember how Odin takes His pick of the best fallen warriors?  Well, He does that after Freyja has taken Her pick!  She takes them to her hall, Sessrumnir, to be reunited with their families and lovers to spend eternity in loving embraces instead of endless training and sparring in Valhalla.  Freyja is also adept in the art of seidhr, which a form of magick and shamanism.  It is said that She taught this art to the Gods and also brought it to humanity.  She rides a chariot pulled by two cats.  Some say that these cats are the Norwegian Forest cat breed, which are large, long-haired cats equipped to live in the cold climates of the North.  Freyja is very much a Goddess of love and beauty, including self-love.  She isn’t just about outer beauty.  She teaches you to embrace your inner beauty and see the beauty and light in others.  And, as you all know, we get the word for ‘Friday’ from Her name!

freyr_and_freyja_by_richardpace-d7aafxn
Freyr and Freyja by Richard Pace

This week’s pronunciations:

Freyr:  Fray

Freyja:  Fray-uh

Njord: Nee-ord

Nerthus: Nurth-us

Gullinbursti:  Goo-lin-burst-ee

Sessrunmir:  Sess-room-near

Seidhr:  Seether

Norse 101, Part 5

Norse 101, Part 5

Here we are again on Freyja’s Day for our fifth post in Norse 101.  This week, I’m going to begin introducing you to some of the more well-known Gods and Goddesses.

Odin is the All-Father and king of Asgard.  He’s a God of war, poetry, shamanism, wisdom, and even the dead.  As a God of war, He concerns himself with the worthiest of warriors and the berserkers.  When these warriors fall in a blaze of glory on the battlefield, He may choose them to become one of the Einherjar in Valhalla, hence the partial association as a death god.  He stole the Mead of Poetry by having an affair with a giantess named Gunnlod, which bestowed the gift of verse upon Him, the Gods, and even mankind.  As a God of shamanism, Odin hung for nine days and nights from Yggdrasil to learn the runes.  He gave an eye in His search for wisdom and knowledge.  He learned the art of seidhr, or magick, from Freyja.  Some describe Odin as a cunning trickster as well.  

Thor, the God of Thunder, is a son of Odin and a giantess named Jord.  He possesses a hammer called Mjolnir that He uses to bring lightning and thunder.  Thor is the protector of Asgard and humanity, using His hammer against the enemy giants.  (Remember that not all giants, or jotnar, are seen as enemies.)  His wife, Sif, is a Goddess of the harvest and grain, but He also has a giantess as a wife or consort named Jarnsaxa with whom He has two sons.  The Old Norse associated Thor with storms, of course.  But they also saw Him as a God of agriculture, since His storms and rain nurtured the crops.  He was even called upon to bless weddings!  As a protector, many Heathens perform the Hammer Rite to establish ritual space.  I’d like to add a small personal note that Thor is a very good God to know.  I experience Him to be very kind, encouraging, protective, and most times, in a good mood.  I will say that YMMV (your mileage may vary) in the case of any deity, so if you’re interested in getting to know Him, offering a nice beer is a good start.

Loki is a God that can be somewhat controversial in some circles of Heathenry.  He has people that love Him, but there are others who will not tolerate even the mention of His name.  It is important to note that Loki and Odin are blood-brothers.  In the lore, Odin once said that if anyone offers Him a drink that they are to offer one for Loki as well.  He is a God of mischief, a trickster, and very clever.  He is a master of magick and shapeshifting, and is gifted with a silver tongue.  He does cause a ruckus from time to time, but without Loki, the Gods wouldn’t have many of Their tools.  It’s because of Loki that Thor has Mjolnir.  He brought the hammer to Thor, and He helped Thor get it back after it was stolen.  That story is one of my favorite myths.  A giant stole Mjolnir and refused to return it unless he was given Freyja as a bride.  Well, Freyja had no wish to marry this brute of a giant, so Thor was out of luck.  Or was He?  To get the hammer back, Thor dressed as Freyja and Loki dressed as a bridesmaid.  Thor presented Himself as Freyja to trick the giant into showing Him the hammer.  Once the hammer was presented to Him, He proceeded to ‘bring the thunder’ down onto the giant.  Again, time for a personal note.  Being a godspouse of Loki’s, I obviously love Him dearly.  Some people warn against asking Him for help with magick, and I will also, sort of.  His style isn’t for everyone, but He can teach you a lot, if you’re prepared not to take yourself too seriously.

That’s all for today, lovelies.  Next week, I’ll continue the introductions.  And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  Hope those of you in the U.S. have a lovely Thanksgiving on Thor’s Day Thursday!  I’ll leave you with a fabulous rendering of Thor and Loki by captbexx on DeviantArt!

 

thor__most_beautiful_bride_ever__by_captbexx-d769e8d
Thor: Most Beautiful Bride Ever by captbexx, Deviantart.

This week’s pronunciations:

Einherjar:  Ine-her-yar

Gunnlod:  Goon-loth

Seidhr:  Seether

Jord: Yord

Mjolnir: Myool-neer

Jarnsaxa: Yarn-saxa

Norse 101, Part 3

Norse 101, Part 3

Happy Friday again!  Time for another Norse 101 post.  Ready?  This week, I’ll talk a little bit about the different realms in the Norse universe, as well as some of these realms’ more famous residents.  The words in bold are listed below for pronunciation.  Let’s begin.

There are Nine Realms in Norse mythology.  Each of these worlds has a place on the world tree, Yggdrasil.  At the top, among the branches, is Asgard.  This is the home of the Aesir Gods and Goddesses, like Thor, Odin, and Frigg. The Aesir are associated with the concepts of culture and civilization.  Also located in Asgard is Valhalla, where Odin’s pick of the warriors who died gloriously in battle will spend their afterlife.  These folks are called Einherjar, and spend their days sparring, training, and feasting.  

Next is Vanaheim, where the Vanic Gods and Goddesses live.  Freyr, Freyja, and Njord are Vanic deities.  They’re mostly associated with magic and agriculture, and the domesticated side of nature.  Vanaheim is said to be naturally beautiful, with forests and nature spirits abound.

Alfheim is the realm of the Light-Elves.  There’s a story that Alfheim was given to Freyr to rule when He was a little baby.  He was gifted a realm to rule because He was teething!  Alfheim is home to the elves and fae, and they are seen as lesser-known or minor gods of nature that help us with magick, arts, or musical inspiration.

Svartalfheim is home to the Dark Elves.  It’s said that the Light Elves and Dark Elves were once the same, but the Dark Elves split away.  Some folks say that they’re the troublemakers, the goblins, and not exactly friendly.

Welcome to Midgard, home to humans, and located right smack dab in the middle of the Tree.  Midgard literally means ‘middle-earth,’ and is connected to Asgard by the rainbow bridge called Bifrost.  Completely encircling Midgard is the Midgard Serpent named Jormungandr, who is so big that He completely circles the Earth and holds His tail in His mouth.  Jorm is a child of Loki and Angrboda, so some people aren’t too keen on Him.  But His presence around Earth protects us here.  That’s one reason why Odin placed Jorm there.  The other reason is just that He’s so darn big!  Where else would He fit?

Jotunheim is the realm of the Giants, or Jotnar.  Typically, the Jotnar are viewed as the bad guys.  The enemies of the Aesir in the lore.  The Jotnar are the untamed forces of nature that can sometimes be destructive to civilization.  Fire can warm your home, but it can also burn down a forest, right?  Right.  Some of the Jotnar are accepted by the Aesir, like Loki, Skadi, and Sunna and Mani (the sun and moon deities).  Some of the Gods even take lovers who are giantesses.  Thor had two sons with Jarnsaxa, and Odin had a fling with a lovely giantess named Gunnlod.  And this is where He procured the Mead of Poetry to share with mankind.  There is also a special place in Jotunheim called the Iron Wood, or Jarnvidr.  This is where Loki, Angrboda, Fenrir, Hel, and Jormungandr are from.  The residents of Iron Wood are powerful in magick and shape-shifting.  

Nidavellir is home to the Dwarves.  They’re the master craftsmen of the Nine Worlds.  They made many of the tools used by the Gods.  Thor’s hammer, his wife Sif’s golden hair, Odin’s spear, and Freyr’s ship were all made by the dwarves.

Helheim, ruled by Loki’s daughter Hel, is the realm of the dead, human and deity alike, who didn’t die in battle.  These are people who died of old age or natural causes.  Helheim isn’t a bad place, like the Biblical Hell is.  It’s just a realm for the non-heroes of the world.  One resident of Helheim is the God, Baldr.  He’s one of Odin’s sons, beloved by all, but murdered.  There are a few different versions of the story, one involving Loki, another not mentioning Him at all.  But, Baldr is in Helheim, according to the lore.

Niflheim, if you recall from last week’s post, is the land of fog, mist, and ice.  It’s one of the realms where creation started.  It’s also a home to the dishonored dead.  The truly bad people, like murderers, thieves, and the like will spend a little “time-out” here in Niflheim to reflect on their deeds.

Last is Muspelheim, the land of fire.  Remember from last week that this is also a realm from the creation.  It’s where the sun sparked to life.  Muspelheim is the land of fire-giants and ruled by Surt.  In lore, He’s the uber-enemy of the Gods who is to bring all creation to a fiery end.  Not to fret, though.  After everything is destroyed, there are survivors, and creation begins anew.

This week’s pronunciations:

Yggdrasil: IG-druh-sill

Einherjar: INE-her-yar

Bifrost: BEE-frost

Freyr: Fray

Freyja: FRAY-yah

Njord: Nee-yord

Jormungandr: YOR-mun-gand

Jotunheim: YOHT-un-hime

Jotnar: YOHT-nar

Skadi: SKA-dee

Sunna: SOO-nah

Mani: MAH-nee

Jarnsaxa: YARN-sax-ah

Gunnlod: GOON-lod

Jarnvidr: YARN-vithur

Nidavellir: NEED-ah-VELL-ear

Helheim: HEL-hime

Baldr: BALL-dur

There are other areas in Yggdrasil, like springs and wells, as well as other beings that reside in its branches.  I’ll discuss them in my next post where I give a brief introduction to the more well-known beings in the Norse cosmology.  So, I’ll see you again next Freyja’s Day, my lovelies!

yggdrasil2

Norse 101, Part 2

Norse 101, Part 2

Happy Friday!  Ready for the Norse creation story?  Sure you are!  I’ll warn you, it’s a bit weird.  So, pop some popcorn, grab a drink, and get comfy.  

Before the world was created, there was a void called Ginnungagap.  To the north of this void was a land of ice called Niflheim, and to the south was a land of fire called Muspelheim.  The two lands expanded and grew closer and closer until the flames from Muspelheim began to melt the ice from Niflheim.  The drops of melting ice ran together and formed the first giant, called Ymir.  When Ymir would sweat, he would reproduce more giants.  Yes, from his sweaty armpits came the giants.  But wait, it gets weirder.

As the ice continued to melt, it eventually freed a cow named Audhumla.  She fed Ymir with her milk, and fed herself by licking the salt from the ice.  As she licked, she freed another being named Buri.  He was the first of the Aesir, which is the race of the Gods who live in Asgard.  Buri had a son named Bor, who married a giantess named Bestla.  They had three sons: Odin, Vili, and Ve.  The three brothers killed Ymir, and from his body, they created the world.  Ymir’s blood became rivers and oceans.  His skin and tissue became the soil.  His hair became the plants, his teeth became the rocks, and the clouds were once his brains.  The dome of the sky is the inside of his skull.  Gruesome, isn’t it?  The next time you’re at the beach, swimming in the ocean, think about what you’re doing according to the Norse myths.  You’re bathing in the blood of the first giant!  Yikes!

There are a few different versions of the story about the creation of the first humans.  One translation says that it was Odin, Ve, and Vili, three brothers, who made them.  Another version names Odin, Lodhur, and Hoenir as the brothers and creators of humanity.  At any rate, the story goes that the three brothers were walking on a beach and came upon two logs of driftwood.  They shaped the logs into the first man and woman, and named them Ask and Embla.  But Ask and Embla had no spirit, no breath.  The version of the story that I like best says that Odin gave them breath and spirit, Hoenir gave them senses, and Lodhur gave them blood and healthy color.  Some scholars believe that Lodhur is an earlier name for Loki, and I’m inclined to agree.  If you’re particularly interested in that speculation, I’ll be happy to direct you to some sources.  

Ancient creation stories like this one do sound incredibly strange to our modern ears.  Nowadays, we have myriad theories about our universe, how it works, and how it all came about.  Our ancestors did not.  They had absolutely nothing to relate it to.  Can you imagine the first time that the Norse were told this story?  I often wonder how it went down.  Did the Gods try to relay this information through a volva (a seeress or shamaness)?  Did someone back then “horse” or allow a God to skinride them to tell the tale of creation?  Did They zap Themselves down to Midgard and tell us?  I had this scenario playing out in the back of my mind while I was preparing to write this article, and I felt inspired to draw it out as a short comic strip.  I am by no means artistically inclined, and you’ll see the obvious influence of the “Cyanide and Happiness” comics.  But this is how I imagine it might have gone when the Gods tried to explain the universe to the Norse.  Yes, it’s tongue-in-cheek, yes it’s a bit tacky.  What can I say?  I’m a Lokean, and Loki lends a lot of inspiration to me.  Enjoy my artistic rendition, and I’ll see you here again next Freyja’s Day for the third installment of Norse 101.

Norse Creation Story

Norse Pronunciations

Hi everybody!  Lady Beltane asked me to post a quick guide to pronouncing some of the Norse names.  They can be quite a mouthful, I’ll admit.  Here’s a short list of the names you’ll see in the Norse 101 Part 2 post tomorrow:

  • Aesir: eye-seer
  • Asgard: az-guard
  • Ask: ask
  • Audhumla: ow-DOOM-la
  • Bestla: BEST-la
  • Bor: bore
  • Buri: BOO-ree
  • Embla: EM-blar
  • Freyja: FREY-ya
  • Ginnungagap: Gin-oon-guh-gap (the G’s are hard, like in the word ‘go.’)
  • Hoenir: HUR-near
  • Lodhur: LO-thur
  • Midgard: MEED-guard
  • Muspelheim: MOO-spell-hime
  • Niflheim: NIFFLE-hime
  • Odin: OH-din
  • Ve: vay
  • Vili: VEE-lee
  • Ymir: ee-MEER
  • Volva: VOOL-vuh

I’ll post a pronunciation guide for each week’s lesson.  See you tomorrow!

Norse Volva