Saturday, October 31, 2009

O Skadi

From her hand hath might the mountains made
on high hills, in caverns' cold forges formed
her fierce and ice-strong heart from hailstorms.
She is the blizzard's daughter, she the elf-kin's amazon,
She the shield-maiden who shakes the fiercest foes!
Yet grace and vigour blend in thighs
whose foot-blades slice the snow,
and sleek, strong, an icy tower to be reckoned,
she glees in skis and chases game.
Huntress, haughty, wild ice-queen
boon for elves and men we seek!
For wealth of the icy fortress is thine,
from whence the rimy monsters push
back across the Elivagar, where they stay
from thy strong hand.
Olga of Elflands,
broad, big, built and woman-girth,
give guidance to the frail : meat, and fatten them
to brave the long winters.
Cowed the husbands
whom thee the wives invoke against,
for Mountain, and Snow, and Hail be thine
against usurpers of the rights
of womenfolk and maidens all.
Hard the hunting, he who crosses thee :
bears and boars be bold against
the one who insults thee, O Skadi,
or any woman that you love,
or man even you care for.
You are the rimefrost's valkyrie,
dyke of drifts,
the butch who never blusters tears.
Speak whole, O maiden, strengths and gifts
for those who dare the cold!
We ask, and praythee.

O Lord of Thunders

O Mighty Hand of Heaven,
O Righteous Rager,
O Wrathful One,
Speed and might and main lend thee
to us, your ever-callers, Lord,
of thunders and the rein of goats.
We kiss and bless, invoke thine hammer,
unconquered fist of the fierce and barren regions
where monsters gnash and threaten.
Torn their towers down ten thousand
times hast thee, O Barrel Laugher,
many deeds over, done, for us,
and Earth, Thy Mother.
When on waves raged the wyrm writhing
you whale-and-ox-bait fishhook caught the creature
and with hammer knocked down, down, ten leagues down
and more to quelling :
release the waters trapped by coiled
Midgard Serpent, O Strong Lord.
Treasures you, O Brave, take back
from those who try to take our frith.
Guard thee, O Mjollnir's Master, all our heirlooms from the foe
and fix inheritance in stone
that we may walk proud in thy strong footsteps
all our days, O Lord of Thunders.

The Gods' Frith Split by Strife

Tensions mounted, strife was spun,
slowly she insinuated
serpentine through kindred's halls.
Wrapped her wrath and spite strong
round the holy hoard's jewels gleaming
whose gleam she envied, greedlust strong,
but not for joy, but out of hate,
deep-snuffed and pounded in lower realms of ice.
Tensions mounted, strife was spun,
the happy harmony slowly faded
at her incantations' touch. Waned the worthy frith,
yet so slowly no one saw.
All-Father saw ; All-Father sought out
the cause. Married into the kindred,
she came cackling, and smiling on surface,
smiling in golden, awe for all,
yet awful indeed. Jealousies bred,
old conflicts stirred, and turned
the strong against their kin,
to squabbles, quarrels, and unsaid smoulder.
Everyone knows, everyone knows this tale.
Look into your kindred's branches
tree wrapped-back in time's mists.
Ask aunts and uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers.
One will tell you true this tale.
Everyone knows, but no one does.
Everyone knows, yet no one solves.
Meek and weak, and mild and tamed,
the sly sorceresses or slicksters slip
into the family ; lay there, lie there,
set their traps and wait for bait to bring
them booty they long to cash in tears.
This kind knows how to twist tensions,
play off old anxiety,
turn one against the other.
None act, none fight,
All are web-caught miserable.
Odin acts, Odin fights,
Odin cares not for consequence
when kindred's health in peril.
He'll pay the price, but pluck
the bud that breeds its gnawing root deep.
Into the hall of halls he beckons,
sets out dish for her to eat,
then makes her answer for her crimes.
Cornered, she off-mask peels now,
no need for cover here, in the hall of the mighty one.
All admits, all expects
to go her way, despite this query,
laughs in laughing, mocks and makes
to make the fool of forthright All-Father.
Wod waves wrathful in Woden's face,
the furious father of all takes spear
in hand, and thrusts and throws it through
the wicked witch's worthless form,
she who wills worthy witchdom ill,
she who turns arts of honor and pleasure rotten.
Yet studded with spears she still cackles!
Laughs and taunts, like a pincushion'd hyena!
So onto the fire they throw her, raging,
that burning she'd feel the burning she's bred.
Once they try, twice they try,
three times they try, and still she rises,
laughing, cursing, calling doom and dread out.
Yet fire burning, her ice-cold heart
is all that soon remains.
Then the echoes of her laughter roil and rumble,
as her daughter's husband
discovers the deed.
And all the family on that side of the clan gather,
and as if in her voice, one voice all they shriek,
and call, condemning All-Father,
as if all the strife by he'd been bred.
The times he stepped out o'er the line,
to save his kin no matter what,
they throw back cold now in his face,
and over and over in rage and wrath,
the accusations come so fast
that reason's ruined in the rage,
no listenings had in the word-melee,
even when "Enough!" he called,
they kept accusing, kept on cursing,
as if her curses captured them all.
He saw it all tumble down before his eyes,
and in grief's disbelief, he raged at her revenge,
and would not bow before its clamor.
Up the spear high o'er the host
he set the stakes now grim.
Feud, family feud, now raged,
and Odin knows how to fight.
Then back! and forth! in terrible war!
and trials and ventures,
and horrible shakings!
The heavens and earth do battle.
Yet Sun and Moon and Earth and Sea
and Love and Lust wrapped tight
soon take the high heaven's citadels
from Odin's Sons, and exiled out,
the world is split, its frith shattered
in the now man-war dust.
Out he ousted her,
Out she ousted him,
yet grim and good his wisdom wiles,
he bides his time and builds his case,
ready to restore the world of men and Gods,
and return things to their place.
All-Father works in mysterious ways,
going down in defeat
to rise up again,
and through unlikely allies, open doors
to win back what's been taken.
Worry not : the fates have good surprises in store.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well Know I Njord Is Near

Forever's secret whispered swordfish spotlight, the moon danced from beneath the waves in the deep. The shark's companions mesmered in the serpent-charmed elvish twinkle. Before I was or could be, this dance of lunar drama luring waves off-white fluoresce in the one-spot spotlight teased as a multi-organed jellyfish love-tryst. Bathed in awe's womb's glow, a mother's sweet fingers of light gently caress the ocean's goose-bumped skin as if sea's fingers solo upright-marked the waves' mouth in ever-shooshing to foamy zen. Well know I Njord is near, riding froth-hooves on the salt-horse.

A Jord Offering

Crooned ochre's lyrics of amor rust-red clay-sing from my tongue's rosy gates. The kaolin crafted bark of scented Sycamore receives my serenade, and what the worthless name weeds I wide-eyed praise, for a man is not a man until the breath borrowed from the wind utters words worthy of the mountains. And years' devotion in majestic crag-chapels hardly suffices to find first syllables of praise for psalms for which hills patiently wait. With polished ore-words and syllables of stone, I will rock-slab sing the subtle shades of brown and blood-red, tawn and Autumn hew of leaf in strong, cooled lava-fingers. I needfire frolic with flocks of words in thrown-down sound-petals to celebrate gnomes and sylphs, for in Hrimfaxi's rider's encrispened air, I find sounds that bite the silence with clang of lingual damascine steel against ice, and I shudder to spill this mouth-sac's seed geyser in great reverence. O plains copper and lincoln-green, O loft castles fastened on stars' wide sea-tethers, I dip and cup mouth-mead and hand it to Mani, that he might ladle-dowse the firmament with my praise, horse mane-sprinkled from Nana's disir-riders as dew of dwarves' booty cast to feed the hungry Earth in feast. This I offer Eire, and Palatine, and all of Tovangar, that Jord's youth ever cycles back on taste of Idunn's apples. This I pray.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Know You Are There, My Friend

O old friend, you cannot hide from me through death, for I know you are there even when I cannot see you. I never can see you these days, ever since you leapt through that door. You leapt through that door inward, into the heart of all things, and now you are irrepressible, an inevitable and always part of this world. To speak and utter your name is to name a now-always property of this cosmos. I speak your name, for your good name shall not perish, and on nights like these, I know that is no vain desperation, but simply the truth of all things. While my mind of doubt and flesh says I should not have such certainty about things I cannot possibly know, the deeper mind knows, and is not troubled by those surface stirrings. Love has never been about space and time and distance. In love, the other is present in the love itself. You are simply without Ymir's flesh ground and grown up organic through trees, given fire and water and breath to move and reach and walk upon this earth. That was but a form to let thy spirit grow and thy soul deepen with rich material of world, for we all yearned for the womb of Mother Earth, to be held by her, to know her, to be one with her, and through that, let our soul take that shape that we might then work for eternity, for it would be ample and broad, and full of good, raw material. No, I know you're here, and I think I will come to know it deeper and deeper as the years go by, and I may come to know you as more present than you have ever been, for bodies are veils, and you are veilless now, able to go whereever the wind is. Able to go wherever the wind is! You may be surprised to find yourself one with all that is and yet your soul in its true form still, and yet I say the scoffers who declare we cannot know have done us all a disservice, for if the good cannot be on the other side, then all that is left are spooks and monsters, fears to chase us round. Ha! We are more than fear, and we ought not be forbidden from knowing this whole, wide world, world upon worlds hanging in the world-tree is our home. The spooks and ghouls and ogres are there, but they occupy a far smaller region than they, with their ill effects in this world, would like to pretend. No, there are some things deeper than fear, and that is knowledge. Unjustified knowledge from the perspective of the primate flesh's doubts and fearful uncertainties, but there is a bedrock it is possible to tap, and in that moment of tapping we will know something far more certain than we know in what we call our more sober moments. Yet what could be more sober than this intoxication? For it is sooth : authentic connection to reality. Thus we ought keep tapping that bedrock, for in moments of fear we will forget, but in time with repeated tapping, it becomes a rhythm of knowledge surrounding and warming even our moments of fear. I know you are there, my friend, more powerful than I can possibly imagine.

In the Thick, Unlit Wilds

In the thick, unlit wilds, you are surrounded by old friends. Didn't you know you knew these trees once? Remember how you used to talk with that bush? Recall the long conversations with the rolling knolls. All these have been friends. How they long for you to remember.

You may say, when do they speak? In dreams, where you may catch a glimpse of some forgotten recollection. In reverie, all becomes deja vu, the strange amnesia of being born folds back, if ye would but trust what your sense and intuition tells you. You've known all along.

And all the doubt piled on by worried and careful skeptics in love with their religion of doubt, their fervent fanaticism to unknow, their eager mallets with which they strike down and censor all who commence to undo the amnesia does not touch that knowing. Your reverie, your odd, uncanny sense will let you remember these friends, who now live as trees, as rocks, as streams. And let the oversnooty laugh at unsophisticated bliss and contentment, for if they wish to feel strangers in their own home, that is their right and call.

But for you, beloved, trees, rocks, and shrubs, birds and crawling things call home. Play with doubt as you will if ye must ; you are, after all, a small primate with the cosmos wrapped inside your neural folds, and, oh, small, precious beast just recent stepped down from trees into vast savannah, I know how shocking to find the Gods living through your animal existence all along, so placing down the burden of this gnosis, you may wish to play in that nursery of not-knowing a bit longer.

But I say you need not ever feel not at home, for you walk through the kitchen, and the garden, and the front hall ; the bedroom, the bathroom, and the dining room of all the old friends your primate brain has filed away in its dream-cabinet in the basement.

Towards Thee and Thine I Awe, and Awe

I am awed by your majesty.
When Night embraces the black deep,
even fish sleep in the vast bowl beneath.
I see the hand of heavenly artists,
their brush-strokes breath-take,
their color and subtlety.
I awe before thy majesty,
O Night, O Ocean.
I feel strong before thee.
So small and so strong,
for all worlds are my Krishna-
body home!
You are my elder kin!
My brethren.
We are intimate
as mother and child.
Even the streetlights shimmering upon you
is poetry I could never grasp
no matter how hard I reached,
no matter how hard I tried,
for I am to be in awe of thee
and thine, O beloved elder kin,
O beloved elder kin.
You make me home
in the large, large world of worlds.
When all are sleeping,
you cradle me. In your arms,
and in the arms of all the Gods
we are all held, all one,
in that large embrace of kindred.
And even those who have passed on
on onto the other side,
within thy wide, generous arms of love,
my loved one are here through thee,
through thee,
the world, world of worlds,
O earth and air, O night and sea,
towards thee and thine I awe, and awe.
Towards thee and thine I awe,
difficult-to-see deep from above
caressing difficult-to-see deep from below,
ye shroud the world in rest.
Towards thee and thine I awe, and awe,
towards thee and thine I awe.
I feel a privileged VIP assigned a backstage pass
in the greatest secret show that is,
for towards thee and thine I awe, and awe,
towards thee and thine I awe,
O beloved elder kin.

kiss earth, touch sky, know love

Drive or walk through a canyon. Now, reach your hands out on either side and feel them joining with the walls of the canyon. Arch your neck back and release into the abandon of full body of world, ages-shaped rock-and-soil vagina, ecstatic loins through which you breathe. Give yourself. Give yourself up and out to that, and ye shall know your home. You have never been separate. This body and mind but a sensual interfolding out unto undulate cascades of geographic self tumbling blue through the stars. Feel your hands melding and melting into the canyon walls, their large thighs your wings, your cross-arms hung upon the tree, your abandon of self to self. Small self, water-droplet, to ocean self, tides, and back again. Do this, and you find true religion. Do this and you become priested by rocks and breeze themselves. Do this, and the All ordains you, with a crown that cannot be taken away by human hands. This is the oldest, the oldest page of that great shamanic faith rolling back to the annals of stone age werman and woman, where we follow in the footsteps of God, the wizard-tripped along wind's suspense for nine nights. Knew all, became all, gave all ; thus, unto him was given the high seat in the heavenly halls. There he sits entranced giving forth self to transformal animal becoming, making love to every creature through deep caress, actually entering into them, and experiencing them from the inside-out, most profound metamorphosis from being to being, wandering through wide world, touching, caressing every aspect of beloved Earth. So follow in the footsteps of Wizard God, and know thy larger self through Earth, arms like wings twirling in the black star-studded void.

It is perfectly ok for you to fall in love. Do not let scoffers forbid it. Do not let the blind taboo it. Folk such as you and me have fallen in love for ages and ages, and it is a natural thing to do, for we are meant to be transformed by beauty, mysterious, perilous, as this existence offers ; and I wish it for thee, beloved. For belief is but falling in love, and not the caged mind cloistered in slogans. Belief is opening wings and taking flight in love of all that is, kissing the feet of the Earth in thanksgiving that we are beings who can feel all of this. Kiss earth, touch sky, know love.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pride : Coming Into Our Own

Heathenism teaches pride as a positive value of life. It sees no value in self-effacement, but in healthy enjoyment of one's achievements and accomplishments. This is different than arrogance, which flies out of proportion to the weight and worth of the deed or deeds, and loses connection completely to the community's hearty but moderated evaluation.

It's important to feel proud of oneself, for it is a strength, and heathenism is about cultivating and collecting strengths. A good, proportionate, strong sense of self is a good not only for self but for the community as well, because the richness of one's flavor adds new colors of joy and depth to the gathering, and encourages others to be their full and true selves.

Heathenism has no shame in being a human being, but rather encourages us to strive to be the best human being we can be, and to make good as we can on where we have fallen short, knowing our mistakes have as much to teach us (maybe more, at times) than our achievements. The goal is not moral perfection, but full human maturation through progressive moral integrity and pursuit of wholesomeness. Here 'wholesomeness' does not mean blandness but the endeavor to become as whole a human being as one can, true to all the different aspects of that multiplicity that makes up who we are. Achievement of these ultimately human goals is a great cause for pride.

Our goal is not to stay young forever (though Idunn keeps us young at heart), but to enjoy the long fruition into fully cooked elderhood, where our broad and lustily human experiences have been digested into wisdom and warmth that blesses the community. Far better than sainthood, which remains abstract and ascetic, are exemplars whose lives have stayed somewhat rough and wild around the edges and yet have managed to find the point of balance whereby they come into their own, because this full and human example inspires us and brings a sense of proud possibility. We learn from each other.

It is not that we do not have tiered levels of exemplars to progressively challenge us, for we do. Each person who finds their pride (again, pride : good pride, human pride, not arrogance) is an inspiration. Elders who have ripened into their years are a higher level of inspiration. Then there are the heroes of old, whose bold deeds proved beneficiary long into the ages, and set a high mark for which to strive. Beyond this, there are the almost forgotten patriarchs and matriarchs of old : in our tradition, Mannus and his sons, his own father Scyld (and all their matrons, whose songs as late have been too seldom told), and behind them, the god Scef, which brings us to the Gods, who set the standard higher than perhaps many or most of us could reach, and yet which is worthy of the reach for what it may teach, for the Gods are human in the most expansive, full, complete, and ripened way one could imagine.

Even Baldur differs from a saint per se, though he has a saintly quality, because the humanity of his great love, the strength of his kindness, and the warmth of his always fair yet merciful judgements touches something inside every heart that is still alive and sets aflame a strong and fervent yearning to rise to the occasion and follow in his footsteps of old. We know we may not be able to do so fully, for the cracks of the faultlines set in play by the earth-quaker so long ago can be deep, and they reverberate throughout this world and even within ourselves at times. Yet Baldur was a healer, and so we are called, when his bold example inspires us, to also apply warmth and wisdom towards healing of the cracks. And the first gift of healing is to hold the vision clearly of the cracks being healed, and to not lose sight of that for all the faultlines so evident and visible. As it stands, in this world we may have to turn to Tyr more often than Baldur, for our rights are often under assault, and there is honor to be won both in the defense of rights we retain and the active reclamation of those rights still ours yet absconded by those who have righteouslessly usurped them. Yet even in strife, in this strife-strewn world, we keep alive in our deep, deep hearts the someday-healing sure to happen, and this brings us a secret gladness at which many may curious wonder.

The Gods in Council collectively radiate each of those qualities of human being that are a part of our wholeness, demonstrating how those qualities may be perfected and completed, for their divine ond breathes through us as well. There is an exemplar for each of us to craft our roughness, however it may be, into gifts, so the rich wildness within us becomes human, and not inhuman.

So we have multiple levels of exemplars from low to high to goad, inspire, and egg us on to reach for our highest capacity (ies), and this is good, because it feels good as a human being to find our fullness, even in the inevitable risings and fallings of life, and to be surrounded by those who, step by step, proud and hard-earned deed by deed, are striving for the same, and meeting it. Now that is a cause for pride!

A Blot Well Done

When a blot is done well, there is an intimacy that happens. It stops being just symbolic, as through the camaraderie, grounded and whole holiness, and gemutlichkeit, one really begins to feel, in a concrete way, the presence of the ancestors, and of the Gods, and the whole thing takes on an element of a big family reunion, with all the wholesome wights in the cosmos stopping by and having their share of mirth and main. And this is a good thing. A very good thing. It fills up your heart and makes you feel strong and very alive. It gives you laughter and warmth and a sense of fulfillment. One has opened up the Big Home, the Home that includes all of our smaller homes, and one can feel one's world as a sparkling pendant twirling upon the world tree, as an ornament upon the Yule fir. You carry this feeling of wholeness with you all night and into the coming days.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


In Northern lore, the soul is wrapped within a skein that holy old ones called the "hamr". This pulsing fabric of light is sewn within and between the cells of our flesh, and may outward carry in dreams or beyond our soul to other places. Often it was glossed as a kind of skin, a costume within which the soul masquerades, and yet is revealed. To shift its shape and fly free upon the eight winds was called "ham-faring". Read this charm aloud to know the hamr within your skin.

Cocoon wrapped
strong-gauze white
with wyrd, dream's
throng in thread
masking many within
that fabric of fate we are.
Flocks, herds, homelands
rushing, roaring streams
and wind-swept clouds
of storm's swarm of dancing gnats
cicadas buzz and hum the moon
at twilight singing. Being becomes
happening, happenings, journeys
and tests, trials and pleasures,
shrouded mirth at unveiled fruit.
All these fog-thread spun
in shining silk sewn tight :
a home, a ham hemmed close in flesh
by dear disir and norns in nether
lands of loved ones long ago.
So our fate we may fulfill.

How Do You Approach the Mountains?

I don't even know how to approach the mountains, these mountains I love so well. I think you approach them by acknowledging that "they are not mine." By acknowledging that they are not yours, you create an opening for welcome. Then you may realize you are or could be its, but it is not yours.

If your ancestors had been buried in these hills for six generations or more, then you could say the mountains were yours because those kinsmen would have joined with the hills and be one. Through them, not only would you be its but it would also be yours as well.

But when we are a settler culture and the sons and daughters of colonialists, the first respect we must pay is knowing we are newcome guests, who have the opportunity (but not certainty) to grow into odal relation to the land -- long generations if they will -- but now the land is its, its own, theirs even, and they linger, with we in the outside court, some of us looking in with wonder, and some -- perhaps -- longing. That is how I think you approach the mountains. With respect.

Mallet mithril

Mallet mithril
stone and steel
drawn in dwarvish
silver signs,
lined in light
and golden gleamings.
Cascade crackling
with lightning-, lord's hands
thunder in the grip of Thor :
Mjollnir made
in dwarvish deep
to stop the strong-raged giants.
Ever earth
mother making
safe and sound
the strength of strong-armed
thund'rous Thor!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I Love Baldur

I love Baldur because he never believed in all the pain this age considers "necessary" and "inevitable", and in his age, he made sure it wasn't. Loki thought it was, and out of spite, brought all this about, and has become the god of this age. Oh, he's charming, all right, and fun in his own way, if setting fire to a neighbor's house is your idea of fun, and sociopathy at every level with the extinction of empathy and delight in schadenfreude is your wish for the world. Baldur believed in the deep snow within each being, that cool, regenerate place of innocence, and that the world, for all its roughness, could evolve and unfold in greater and greater expression of that original potential found in the human child held in one's arms. The world's roughness could become a wonderfully wild womb in which delicate and beautiful things could find their own. Was Loki jealous of all those dreams Baldur spoke of? If you doubt and degrade enough, you create the reality affirmed by your doubting, and then assert the world was always that way. What need for moral degeneration and nastier getting nastier until Baldur's children are the ones most difficult to get through this world, and the world, possessed by Loki, declares they ought to go to Hel just as he was sent. A world out of tune with Baldur's dreams, unable to hold that idealism, refusing the chivalry of heartful principles, is too bankrupt to declare itself "realistic". Its realism is nothing but acquiescence to corrosion. Why should I believe that? Why should I love that? Those who call Baldur "milquetoast" are both ignorant and short-sighted. His name means "bold", a reminder it takes not weakness but chutzpah to envision a world beyond cynicism. His days have so long past his great chivalrous deeds have almost been forgotten, when he and his Gemini twin would sail the skies as Sol's escort, alighting upon any region where they saw trouble or oppression, and rescued those in trouble. "Saviours", they were called, in the long ages before anyone had ever heard of the Nazarene. And he was not alone, for he married "Nanna", whose name means "daring", and she was the valkyrie who defended the moon and all the lovely moon nymphs and disir from wolves and trouble. They were the brightest, the boldest, the strongest, and the most inspirational of their days, and we have come so far down the devolution ladder that we cannot even see their glory. Those who love Baldur (and Nanna) hate cruelty, and the suppression of inner strength and beauty, and all who would try to crush the dreamers and bright lights. Note how prevalent the theme of the giants sending wolves after the Sun and Moon, the bright lights, so as to snuff them out. Baldur, his brother Hodur, and Nanna were the warriors there to ensure those bright lights were always protected, as they ought be. When they were sent Helward, the world became a more insecure place. Sol still makes her beautiful pageant each day, as does Mani, but we are never certain they will stay ahead of the wolves. So it is in our hearts and our societies, where the bright lights are often but one step ahead of the wolves, if not being rended in their greedy mouths. This is not worthy of us. This is not worthy of Baldur. Rise up from your cynicism, and make encounter with the Worthiest God and Goddess of all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Freya's Wandering's Skaldic Tale

I have written out, in vaguely Miltonic blank verse, a "skaldic"-style rendering of the story of Freya's wanderings in search of her husband Odr. Notes follow, based on research Carla and I have done over the years. May you drink deeply! May she be honored!

1 Noatun's Lord's
2 Rhine maiden river-run
3 searches for Hnoss's lost
4 sire amongst the plains of
5 Halfdan's fallen son.
6 Freyr-lent gift of Ivaldi's
7 offspring she serpentine sails
8 down the winding, wet
9 Nibelung's stash. The snow-
10 leopard's matron regally
11 skiied the river-reindeer,
12 but eye's fire-of-the-sea
13 ran mightily. The foe of the
14 serpent's mother earned many
15 names those moons. Freyr's
16 Gerd-yearning many a mortal
17 man now knew. Their
18 ring-companions, riled, pyrite
19 to her sea's fire, summoned
20 the flock of old oak's doom seats
21 to call her to answer. Broomed
22 Hrimfaxi's ride-queen they called
23 her, having heard mouth-echoes'
24 harp-plucked wind-gifts by
25 branches' bane in the midst of
26 Norvi's daughter. Her face's
27 scions of Mundilfari misted
28 many a morning's dew, while her
29 blood-drum bared snow's sinless
30 sheen ; that jury cast Leifnir's
31 flames over her bonds that day,
32 whence mast's linen-billows caught
33 wind above the waves again. Groa's
34 eloquent son was nowhere to be
35 found, but she had found scratched
36 tree-limb Rhine-floating singing
37 his famous words, so the sword-elf's
38 bride persevered. Njord's necklace-wielding
39 mermaid sunned herself on the stone of song,
40 singing siren songs to her fallen
41 beloved. Along came a lion
42 of the sea, river-Otter, playful,
43 sad beast with Hamlet's
44 Odin-offering's.
45 Frolicked Brisingamen's love-nixie
46 in the rolling waters joyous with
47 the quinotaur that morn! Held the
48 selkie's seal-soft skin close
49 adoring Groa's fish-eating son with passion;
50 never were man and beast so close and cared for!
51 'Till Halfdan's victorious heir happened
52 upon Njord's strands, his Ullr-art heated
53 with great safari yearning
54 at the sight of the rolling giant's-blood beast.
55 Nerthus' garlanded daughter rested
56 in the Mill's yield's womb,
57 while Borgar's grandson, Angrboda's-breed-
58 blood drunk with megin
59 one blade-tipped ash-shaft thrust
60 and through, the tragic hunt over ;
61 Then, dragging his quarry out from
62 Aegir's daughters upon the milled
63 grains of Ymir's flesh,
64 The selkie's brine-skin shed,
65 uncovering Halfdan's bane and Egil's son.
66 Halfdan's heir was jubilant, legs
67 playing in the salty air,
68 at his father's corpse-maker's corpse lying
69 before him, speared.
70 Then he heard a terrible
71 banshee-shriek no mortal's ears e'er beheld.
72 The valkyrie's mistress wod was wakened,
73 and despair wrath-furied, the panther's mother
74 stalked to pounce her husband's foolish bane;
75 Harsh words, grief-steered and hail-pelting
76 stormed dwarfed Dietrich like Aegir's
77 fury's water-spout,
78 and in the heavens, even Magni's father
79 shuddered at the twin of Freyr's no-holds-barred
80 wrath. Every luck heired by Borgar's son, every
81 sig won in battle's heart she stripped him
82 on Odin's wife's folds or Night's wet son,
83 in All-Father's breath or beneath Mani's
84 sister's bright gaze,
85 unravelled rights, heritage kingly,
86 a wretch she made him, to wander more
87 forlorn than she had, amber-shedding,
88 in search of Ullr's untracked brother.
89 And tight-binding all his luck
90 in Njord-taught sailor's knots taut,
91 Declared their release only upon
92 propitiation of Freedom's Lord, the Harvest King,
93 if at all. Hildebrand's friend wretch-wandered
94 luckless for many a Son of Delling,
95 'till shamed, he atonement-custom set
96 the Yule-boar every year a great oath
97 to Yngvi's freedom. Awhile all this,
98 Ermanerich's Laufey's heir counselor
99 shifted shape selkie upon the singing stone
100 when Alfrik and Sindri's golden ring of the neck
101 lay exposed, glistening beneath Skinfaxi's rider.
102 But Odin's untrustworthy friend,
103 ever-watched by the hearthfire's ward,
104 whose Mimir-pledge could hear a thousand miles,
105 was foiled by the sheep's strong master,
106 river-otter's skin slipped now himself, and before
107 Niflhel's Queen's father could thief
108 the sovereign gold's circle, golden-toothed seal
109 had rightfully returned it. When Thor's half-
110 sister grasped the ring, and Ermanerich's
111 younger brother boar had cast upon the
112 altar, she sow's-mate ham grasped and wrapped
113 the wandering ghost of Ullr's brother,
114 Gullinbursti-riding to the Wolf's mother's barrow,
115 there to reckon up Egil's son's vast hybrid lineage.
116 Widsith's braided travel-log of broad and bright
117 kinship was wider than the vastest, and minni-cup
118 sailing o'er Delling's red hand opened, the trembling
119 bridge up she brought her lost beloved
120 into Folkvang's halls, forever there to dwell,
121 Hermodr and Syritha, in wedded tantric bliss.


1-2 Noatun's Lord's Rhine maiden : Njord's daughter Freya wandering along the Rhine.

3-4 Hnoss's lost sire : Freya's daughter's father is Odr.

5 Halfdan's fallen son : One of Halfdan's sons was Ermanerich, who fell into wolfishness and tyranny. Ermanerich ruled the Rhineland.

6-7 Freyr-lent gift of Ivaldi's offspring : Ivaldi's Sons crafted for Freyr Skidbladnir, the best of ships. Grimm examines the name "Frene" and analyzes it to be a Dutch version of "Freya", and briefly connects Frene to Saint Verena. Upon archive research, Carla & I found that Saint Verena was closely associated with cats, brothels, and harvest corn, strong Freya-indications, and that she was known to have sailed up and down the Rhine. This fits hand-in-glove with some of the Magdalene stories of her having sailed over to France after her husband had seemingly died, and the Magdalene is said to have stayed in a cave. The Anglo-Saxon poem The Wife's Lament, speaking of a wife whose husband has been lost and exiled, tells of her staying in a cave forlorn for her husband. Snorri tells us that Freya searched all over the world for her lost husband Odr. All of these stories converge.

9 Nibelung's stash : The Nibelung hoard was stashed in the Rhine.

9 - 10 Snow-leopard's matron : Freya's cart is pulled by cats.

11 River-reindeer : the ship.

12 Eye's fire-of-the-sea : Gold of the eye in Freya's case is tears.

13 - 14 The foe of the serpent's mother : The Midgard Serpent's mother is Gullveig-Angrboda, and Freya is her foe.

14 - 15 Earned many names : Snorri tells us that Freya in her wanderings was called by many names.

15 - 16 Freyr's Gerd-yearning : The intensity with which Freyr fell in love with Gerd is notorious.

17 - 18 Ring-companions : The wives of mortal men.

18 - 19 Pyrite to her sea's fire : Fool's gold to gold, as their charms could not compare to those of the Love Goddess walking the earth now.

19 -20 Old oak's doom seats : Courts or Things were held by old oaks, and these wives commenced a trial of Brisingamen's bearer.

21 - 22 Broomed Hrimfaxi's ride-queen : Night-Rider of Broomsticks ; they accused her of being a witch.

23 - 24 Mouth-echoes' harp-plucked wind-gifts : Rumors and gossip.

25 By branches' bane : Around the campfires.

26 Norvi's daughter : by Night.

26 - 27 Face's scions of Mundilfari : The Sun and Moon of her face are her eyes.

29 - 30 Blood-drum ... snow's sinless sheen : Her heart proved to be white and innocent to all who examined her.

30 - 31 Leifnir's flames : A famous spell that unfetters bonds.

32 Mast's linen-billows : Sails.

33 - 34 Groa's eloquent son : Svipdag, well known for his eloquence, one word for which is "Odr".

35 - 36 Scratched tree-limb Rhine-floating: A rune-stave floating in the water. The Husband's Message, an old Anglo-Saxon poem about an exiled husband, speaks of him sending messages via runestick on the waters to his wife.

37 - 38 The sword-elf's bride : Svipdag-Odr was well known to have been the carrier of Weland's sword of revenge, the gambanteinn which fights giants all by itself, and he had strong elvish heritage. His bride, of course, is Freya.

38 - 39 Njord's necklace-wielding mermaid : A kenning for Freya, Njord's daughter and bearer of Brisingamen, as she waited by the Rhineland waters to find Odr.

39 Sunned herself on the stone of song : "Lorelei" means the song or echo of the stones or rocks, and Snorri
mentions "Singastein", the "singing stone" where Freya left Brisingamen at one point. Lorelei is a famous
Rhineland legend about a mermaid/fairy spirit whose beauty lured many a sailor to his peril while she
waited for her lost husband to return. There are parallels in the Lorelei story that converge upon the
Freya tale here with such detail that I have woven several aspects of them in, as we believe they may be
distant folk-memories of the old tale.

41 - 42 Lion of the sea : sea-lion.

43 - 44 Hamlet's Odin-offering's : Odin offered his eye, and Freya saw that the sea lion had the eyes of Hamlet,
whose story in part also reflects Svipdag-Odr's. Like Hamlet's disposition of uncertainty and sorrow, the beast she meets has a forlorn look.

45 Brisingamen's love-nixie : Freya.

47 Quinotaur : The Chronicle of Fredegar speaks of the origins of the Merovingian line where a princess
frolicked in the waves with a strange beast called a "quinotaur". The second half of the word is from
Latin taurus, bull, but the first half is some Teutonic word Fredegar or his oral folk-forebears tacked on.
It is probably related to the Scandinavian word "Kvenna", which can refer to the Kvens, a Finnish
sub-group. In this regard, the Finns were always a kenning for Elves in the lore, and thus we are in the midst of a kind of elvish-bull, something we do encounter occasionally in Teutonic lore, although more often in Celtic lore, and it is clearly presented as a bull of the sea. But kvenna can also mean "queen" or "woman", and the bull-of-the-woman is clearly a kenning for a woman's husband. The poet who preceded Fredegar would have well-named this kenning for Odr, Freya's lost husband. They met upon the Rhine and fathered forth a kingly line. Da Vinci Code may have been off : it wasn't Magdalene and Jesus who were the basis of the Merovingian line, but Freya and her husband Odr. Freya would easily have been "sainted" (as many old heathen Gods were) as Magdalene, the famous sexually-free saint, and the memory of her famous demigod-but-mortal husband could easily have syncretized with Jesus, the man who was also God.

48 Selkie : Legends almost exclusively in Norse-dominated areas of Scotland and the Orknies speak of
elvish spirits who live inside seal-skins. We have studied these closely, and their core characteristics match
strongly with the story of Svipdag having been shapeshifted into a water beast.

49 Groa's fish-eating son : Groa's son is Svipdag, and as a water-beast, he is here eating fish.

51 Halfdan's victorious heir : Halfdan's son, known variously as Dietrich and Hadding, was finally victorious over his tyrannical brother Ermanerich.

52 Njord's strands : the shores of the Rhine.

52 Ullr-art heated : His desire to hunt, as Ullr was one of the best of hunters.

53 Giant's blood beast : Giant's-blood is the sea, and thus a sea-beast.

56 Mill's yield's womb : The Mill's yield is gold, and the "womb of gold" is here used as a kenning for the seas, specifically the Rhine where the Nibelung hoard is stashed.

57 Borgar's grandson : Borgar-Scyld, the first Jarl of Rigsthula, had a son, Kon, also known as Halfdan, and here Halfdan's son refers to Dietrich.

57 - 58 Angrboda's breed-blood drunk with megin : Angrboda breeds wolves, and Saxo tells a story of Hadding-Dietrich being advised by Odin to drink wolves' blood during an episode when Dietrich was captured by Loki (whom Saxo called Lokerus). The drinking of this blood brought him great, renowned strength.

59 Blade-tipped ash-shaft : a spear.

62 Aegir's daughters : Dietrich dragged the seal-body of Svipdag-Odr out from the waves.

62 - 63 Milled grains of Ymir's flesh : Ymir's flesh was put on the World Mill to produce sand.

64 - 65 Selkie's brine-skin ... Egil's son : The seal-elf's skin shed. Shapeshifters often are portrayed as losing their shifted form upon injury or dying. Svipdag killed Halfdan, Dietrich's father, and Svipdag was the famous arrow-elf Egil's son.

68 Father's corpse-maker's corpse : The dead body of Halfdan's killer, Svipdag, lay before him.

72 Valkyrie's mistress : Freya.

73 Panther's mother : Freya.

74 Husband's foolish bane : Dietrich, who has just speared her husband Odr in his seal-form.

75 Harsh words : The curse that Freya utters is recorded by Saxo in Book One of his History of the Danes.

76 - 77 Aegir's fury's water-spout : Hurricanes of the ocean.

78 Magni's father : Thor.

79 Twin of Freyr : Freya. Her wrath is well-known, as presented in Thrymskvida.

82 Odin's wife's folds ... Night's wet son ... Odin's wife is Jord, the Earth, and Snorri tells us that Night gave birth to one named Udr or Unnr, which means the Waves or the Sea, who in this genealogy is Jord's brother. Jord is Nerthus, and Nerthus' brother is Njord. Here we are referring to the sea.

83 All-father's breath : the winds, the heavens.

83 - 84 Mani's sister : Sol, the sun.

88 Ullr was also Egil's son, and therefore Svipdag's half-brother. (Svipdag's mother was Groa, while Ullr's brother was Sif.) Ullr was well-known for his tracking skills, and thus if his brother was "untracked", he was lost indeed.

92 Freedom's Lord ... Harvest King : Freyr. Saxo records that Hadding-Dietrich made a sacrifice to Freyr of
dark animals, to ward off the curse, and that this became an annual custom. Boars are well known for their
dark fur, and we know that the Sonarblot was an annual Yule custom of sacrificing the best of boars, speaking
an oath on his head, and dedicating the boar to Freyr. Ham is still a Christmas favorite.

93 Hildebrand's friend : Dietrich.

94 Son of Delling : Day.

95 Atonement-custom : One of the meanings of sonarblot is a sacrifice of atonement.

97 Yngvi : Freyr. But Freyr's foster-brother Svipdag can also carry the title, so Yngvi's freedom has a double meaning here.

98 Ermanerich's Laufey's heir counselor : Ermanerich was said to have a very shifty counselor named Sifka, and Laufey's heir is Loki. By his characterization, Sifka is thoroughly the bad-minded friend of Odin.

99 Shifted shape selkie upon the singing stone : The tale of Loki trying to steal Brisingamen at Singastein is told by Snorri.

100 Alfrik and Sindri's golden ring of the neck : Sorla Thattr tells how Alfrik, Sindri, and other elves crafted Brisingamen.

101 Skinfaxi's rider : Sol, the sun.

102 Odin's untrustworthy friend : Loki.

103 Hearthfire's ward : Heimdall.

104 Mimir-pledge : his hearing.

105 Sheep's strong master : Heimdali can mean a "ram".

107 Niflhel's Queen's father : The Queen of Niflhel (but not all of Hel, the Underworld) is Hela-Leikn, and her father is Loki.

108 Sovereign gold's circle : Sorla Thattr makes it clear that Brisingamen has a connection to the sovereignty of kings, and who shall rule.

109 Golden-toothed seal : One of Heimdall's names is "Golden-Toothed".

109 - 110 Thor's half-sister : Thor's mother is Jord-Nerthus, and Freya's mother is Jord-Nerthus. They are half-siblings.

110 - 111 Ermanerich's younger brother : Dietrich.

112 - 113 Sow's mate ham ... Ullr's brother : Wrapped Svipdag-Odr in the ham or astral form of the sow's mate or boar. The tale of Freya taking Ottar in boar-form to hear his genealogy told is found in Hyndluljod.

114 Gullinbursti-riding : Freyr had a famous boar who could ride through the air, and here Freya rides Svipdag wrapped in the boar's hamr.

115 Egil's son's vast hybrid lineage : Svipdag-Odr came from a family line of elves who had interbred with giants, and his mother Groa was half-human. He himself was raised amongst humans as a boy and an
adolescent, while as a baby, his father Egil had fostered Freyr. Thus, Svipdag had elvish, human, Vanir, and giantish heritage, truly a hybrid being. That this is the one who wins Freya's hand tells us a lot ... and something the strictly folkish ought consider.

116 Widsith : Widely-travelled. This poem is clearly about Odr's wanderings amongst men.

118 Delling's red hand : Delling is the rosy elf of dawn.

118 - 119 Trembling bridge : a literal translation of Bifrost.

120 Folkvang's halls : Freya's dwellings, where she gets to choose half the slain. The story of Svipdag-Erikr coming to Valhall is retold in a skaldic praise-poem given to a later king Eric to flatter him.

121 Hermodr and Syritha : Hermodr is Odr's name after he has been "resurrected" in Folkvang, while Freya is called "Syrra" (The Sow, an apt name being the bride of a boar (Odr)), a name Saxo Latinizes as "Syritha", when he tells the story of Freya's rescue from the giants by Otherus, Odr.

copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow, with special research help from Carla O'Harris

Out At Sea (Freya & Svipdag)

Out at sea, pounding waves with fists on the surf, she wept and wailed, feeling forsaken, and had, in all her searching, not found him yet. Whence, some lion of the sea, brown and flippered, with long, tawny tusks, surfaced and nuzzled her, seeking to give comfort. Holding on in the deep, despairing of ever finding, water from waves logged and sloshing from her breath-seeking lips, she grasped the dark creature holding on for dear life, whilst wondering at her own fate, tossed at sea, unable to feel the full weight of her mother earth's supports, thrown into the tempest of her father's briny washes. This playful beast seemed to favor her, full of bright eyes that held hidden joys beneath their surface sadness. Bittersweet the briny beauty's laughter at thoughts of what sadness a beast of the billows might carry compared to hers and the long exile of her love. Yet eyes familiar-seeming seemed to stare back at her in unfamiliar form, as if in this flesh-bound fish-of-the-waves she saw her own soulmate's eyes from long ago. Embrace bursting with brazen tears, she amber gifted the billows with her own eye's tides, and grasping, lay head on welcome flesh, letting tides tow the way back to shores of sand and rocky salt, arms spurning not this oddly timed rescue.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Welcome, Beloved Lady of Love's Longing Light

Our Lady of Blossoms,
She Who Rides Lynxes On Starry Paths,
Mistress Adorned with the Sun's Sparkling Pendants,
Enchantress of the Spirit's Spells,
Lady of Love's Longing Light,
Sacred Sultress of Serenades,
Selkie-Seeker, Seal-Lover,
Beast's Beauty, Bosom's Fullness,
Dear to the Dwarves in the Deep,
Maiden of Moonlit Rondelays,
Friend of Fertile Fairies,
She who Showers Blessings on Nuptials,
Wondrous Worker of Women's Secrets,
Sailor through the Silent Night's Seas,
Earth and Ocean's Only Daughter,
Holy Warder of Hormone's Heat,
Regal Ripener of Roses and Kisses,
Welcome Witch of Love's Wisdom,
Come, Maiden of Melons' Succulence,
Come, Rose-Water Gasping and Gushing Out Petals,
Come, She Who All Wights Wish and Want,
We welcome thee, we welcome thee, we welcome thee.
We welcome thee, we welcome thee, we welcome thee.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pacts with Spirits

"Pacts with devils." This so concerned the medieval Church they were downright hysterical about it. Any contract with a spirit was seen as diabolical and contrary to the divine will. Whence such paranoia against free contracts?

It probably stems from Genesis 1 : 28, where the command to fill the earth, subdue it, and dominate is given. Despite attempts to whitewash this, it's undeniable that mankind is told in this verse to kabash, "dominate, tread down, bring into bondage, violate" and radah, "subjugate, dominate, scrape down" all living things on the planet. No wonder Psalm 8:5, answering the question "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" answers, me'at chacer 'elohiym, "lacking little of the Gods" (literally), and usually translated "a little lower than the angels". Certainly if man is placed at the top of the pyramid, with only the Gods above him, and moreover, that all living things are to be not just stewarded, but actually violated, brought into bondage, and subjugated, it essentially enthrones man as a kind of God, and a pretty ruthless one at that too. It creates an anthropocentric mandate, and given humankind's ever all-too-prevalent hubris, it doesn't take much for humans to think they are at the center of all things, especially if given a theological mandate.

But that's not how it worked in the heathen systems. Mankind has an important place, and has been given some important gifts by the Gods. But Midgard is, after all, only one world amongst nine. And since "nine" often is a mystic stand-in word for "multitudes", we are just one of many beings on one world of many worlds, in a very large and broad cosmos. We are surrounded by physical and spiritual beings of all kinds.

In the anthropocentric worldview, the entire creation exists to serve us. Making pacts with devils is an insult to the dignity of man and the God who has given us such a high place in the world when, as is written in Psalm 91 : 11, mal'ak tsavah shamar derek, "he has appointed angels to guard you on your paths". One can get the impression that the entire creation stands at the beck and call of humans.

Well, beings in all the nine worlds are not solely concerned with the welfare of human beings. They have their own concerns, their own economy of energy, their own challenges and pleasures. The Gods do not command an entire army of thralls whose only purpose is to watch over human beings. There are guardians, to be sure, but they are not thralls who have no other purposes. The nine worlds work on the principle of mutual aid. And that means a gift calls for a gift. And it means, "Can you help me out? If you've got the time, if you can give a little, if you can afford it. And is there something I can do to make it worth your while?"

Note this is not conceiving a mercenary universe, but a universe, rather, of reciprocity. How many times when people have come to you with the plights of humans on the other side of the planet have you really gone out of your way to help them? Probably not often unless you are a really generous and benevolent person, and even then, you have your limits to how far you can stretch yourself. How much more so for beings of a different order in different worlds in this world-tree! But if this advocate for other people had asked for a very small contribution, and collected it from many, or, if he or she had proposed a good and fair trade, why, you might be much more willing to help out. A bargain in which both sides can receive benefit is always preferable to charity, as it supports dignity, self-reliance, and the principle of mutuality. In this regard, one's personal fylgia as well as one's larger circle of disir can act as brokers and advocates, striking bargains with various powers to enhance one's store of soulful wealth and power, and enrich one's luck.

But this requires stepping out of the beck-and-call mentality, treating all the wights of the world-tree, including the Gods, as some kind of cosmic "room service" whom all you need do is buzz and ask for your wishes, and they shall be granted on hand and foot. There are few beings in all the worlds who have the time, energy, or inclination for such service, and while the Gods have plenty of strengths, tools, luck, and all the time in the world, they have much larger concerns to attend to than every single petty problem that may arise. Do you write to Congress or the President every time you stub your toe? Even if someone close to you was in need, would you really expect a letter to the President to accomplish much? We may expect more from our Gods than we do our human leaders, but the federalist principle here is much the same : we expect the higher-order leaders to be concerned with meta-issues and high-order business, while local issues ought be handled by those closer to the scene. These local leaders can then intervene in higher-up councils if need be.

Do anthropocentric believers imagine the universe never tires of hearing one's plaints and pleas? Do they suppose all beings in all worlds have not simply turned off to those who obsessively expect handouts? How often does a human, one being amongst many in many worlds, actually put out an offer for a fair deal and a good bargain?

Much has been made, in bad faith, of the absurd spectacle of men grovelling to bargain with the universe. While it is certainly possible to approach anything from a thrall's perspective, to assume every one who bargains is a thrall is a straw-man argument that slanders in order to win the debate --- through unexamined ridicule. What is so ridiculous, in the attitude and approach at the very least, of offering a fair bargain?

The ridiculers ask rhetorically, but never seriously, "What could a human possibly have to offer that a spirit would want?". They never bother to actually ask. And then of course there is the dread specter of thursish spirits who only want blood and gore and all the rest of our negative fantasies.

As a prolegomena to such a question, we might suppose that given the hubris of humankind, and the particular anthropocentricity of the modern world, that the first thing spirits might appreciate is simply the acknowledgement implicit in the willingness-to-bargain that they are not thralls whose only purpose is to hand out charity, but actual beings with their own concerns. Think about your own life. Who are you more likely to help out? Someone with no respect for your own time who harps upon you constantly to hand them out charity, without ever asking about how you are doing or whether you need help, or someone who respectfully gives regard for your time, and in asking for a helping hand, asks if there is anything they can do to help you? The answer is obvious. Sometimes one doesn't even need the repayment if the task is modest and the help has been willingly offered.

But heathenism is about the acknowledgement of worth, and beings who hold power know how to measure the value of the valuable. They are certainly not going to throw pearls to swine, nor bankrupt precious treasures that took great feats and lengths of time to win, most certainly not for those who do not appreciate the value of anything. One way to demonstrate one's appreciation of the value of another's service is to offer a bargain that does that service justice. Those who know the true value of things do not even take notice of those who don't. They've turned down the volume on the constant bleating. That's why worship in its original context was worthship. It wasn't about "bowing down" (a thrall's vision of worship). It was about demonstrating one's worth so that those with value to trade might take notice, and one way to do this is to demonstrate that one knows, or is at least trying to know, the value of things. Medicine men in native cultures are not expected to give away their hard-earned power for free. They expect some work if they are to share secrets, for fruits of great value ought not be treated as if they were acorns freely at hand. Rare and precious things require effort. Every grail hero and protagonist of fairy tales know they must quest and labor for their magic. Those who live only on the free dole may or may not get by as they can, but it those who demonstrate true worth through deeds well dared and well done who earn admiration and better wealth.

Now the fact is that in the heathen worldview, each person has been assigned guardians, recruited from amongst one's ancestors. These are called disir. They are giving, dedicated spirits who engage in negotiations with other wights, including the disir of other clans, as well as elves, dwarves, Gods, etc., to help out their kin. But this by no means makes them into thralls to be treated contemptuously as some sort of on-call servant class. They are, in fact, the Great Mothers and Grandmothers, whose wisdom, witchery, and good will are awesome and far-reaching. They have an entire clan to attend to, and they do have their own concerns in the ancestral halls, and they do, just like you, have their off-hours to enjoy themselves.

And in the modern world especially, even the Disir, warded over by the Hamingja, the Great Clan-Matriarch Ancestress, appeal mainly to the principle of self-help, and ask, have you even cultivated your own personal genius who so painstakingly follows you? Have you bothered to listen to the fylgia who watches over you? Have you done your work to tap into your own genius, and if you have not, why do you expect the rest of the world to do your work for you? The Disir are there as helpers, not as crutches to change your diapers and tie your shoes for you. You are expected to be diligently applying yourself to an ongoing program of self-reliance.

Everything here is in the approach. It's not a matter of replacing an anthropocentric charity model with a mercenary model that treats the universe as a vending machine that only requires the right coinage. It's the approach of remembering that in this wide universe, while there is help to be had, it is help to be spared amongst beings with their own lives, their own challenges, and their own demand-schedules and priorities. Even the destitute know, if they are wise, to ask, "Can you spare some change?" In other words, if you can afford it and it's not too much trouble, can you give a little? They don't demand you give up your whole day just to help them out. And in general, we like people to offer something in exchange for something they want. Not because we're mercenary, but because reciprocity is an important universal value.

"Pacting with spirits" means taking the approach of drawing out agreeable contractual relations that benefit all parties. Why not? The Christians divided the universe into two sets of beings : one, benevolent, who are God's thralls and thus have been commanded to wait hand and foot on humans, and secondly, everyone else, who is unmitigatedly evil, and thus with whom it would be perilous to pact. There are some beings it's better to not contract with, because they are double-crossers, aggressive, and exploitative. That's why contracting with thursish jotnar was so rare in the old days. But the Christians tried to claim that every being that wasn't Jehovah's thrall was a Giant. Absurd.

I think it gives dignity to humankind and our earth to suppose that we do have something to offer spirits in the other worlds, that we have minds and hearts full of creativity and skill that can discover and craft objects, emotions, and deeds of beauty that can be alluring and pleasant to beings in many places. For those spirits who are ancestors, they may merely love to vicariously experience something simple that was once of great pleasure for them : a certain scent found in a remote canyon, or the sight of an early morning sunset glowing upon the waves, and so forth. We have much to give, and shouldn't discount the wealth we may share. Some of that is the dignity of acknowledgement. The progressive movements to empower and enfranchise minorities amongst humans have begun to teach us all how insulting it can be to be marginalized and not have our existence and concerns acknowledged with any importance. How much more so for beings who in a secular and materialist age are invisible and thus not even granted dignity of being? Some of them may simply want for us to tell others that they are real. If we cannot risk even a little ridicule as the cost for help rendered across the divides of worlds, why ought they risk anything for us?

Once one has built up some intuitive savvy (and since Odin calls street smarts or common sense man-wits, perhaps I can coin the term aelf-wits for such savvy), one can simply ask what another being might like and listen. The reason intuitive savvy is recommended as a prereq is the fact that those inexperienced with listening to themselves and to the world may be unable to distinguish from their own projections, particularly shadow projections, which can result in those unfortunate schizophrenic echoes of "God told me to leap off a cliff". Odin does tell us to freista, to test the mysteries to determine their truth, and this applies to the spirits as well. We apply a good dose of common sense as well as diplomacy to what we hear. Why would God tell us to leap off a cliff? What would be the possible benefit? True, we ought to imagine this from the perspective of the particular being's world, values, and situation, but some sort of common sense test still ought apply. Just as one applies common sense with any human being with whom one bargains, so does one with spirits. Outrageous demands require rigorous proofs and demonstrations, as well as cost-benefit analyses. The bargain goes both ways, and if a being demands too high a price for the benefit to be rendered, it might be cost-effective to do some comparative shopping. I know this kind of language can sound a little silly when approaching spiritual matters, but it's an excellent way to graduate from superstitious dread as well as gullibility into an approach that is both pragmatic and respectful.

In a sense, this is approaching the universe as a free market rather than a tyrannical monopoly. There are coins of varous mint in this vast realm, some of earth, some of air, some of fire, some of water, and the Gods then are not monopolistic oligarchs but particularly wealthy patrons who have built up a lot of luck over the long years and distribute it freely as they will. This is approaching the universe from a voluntaristic, libertarian perspective, rather than assuming the universe is a tyranny ruled by a monarch or a council of oligarchs. There are a diversity of beings with whom to interact and exchange, and the Gods protect the market from marauders and those who would violently interfere in the free exchanges of others.

So next time you reach out to the multiverse and ask for help, ask respectfully, and humbly, and offer your own strengths and powers in exchange. You need neither grovel, nor offer all your stores. Show a fair heart willing to strike a good bargain, and see what good you may get. You may be surprised by the results.