Friday, March 04, 2011


I'm feeling a little more connected to Frey today, which makes me happy. I love his simple, joyful energy, his clear, sparkling mirth like a bubbling wine, and his deep trust in play and inherent faith in life itself. He knows this season's falling stalk will be next season's rising grain.

When I am close to Frey, I feel and know in my heart of hearts that we came here to experience joy. In my intuitive meditations, Frey has let me know there is an important kind of work called "joywork". It sounds contradictory, but there can be so many things in life pulling away from joy, and we can get so caught up in them, that we need to demonstrate to ourselves, to others, and to the cosmos that joy is a priority for us. I want to make sure I make room for that in my life. There are so many things to enjoy, so much beauty to drink up, simple pleasures like warm baths and cool breezes, waving palm fronds, the sounds of children playing, seeing lovers kiss as one takes a walk, enjoying the sun. Ironically, given how easily pain, stress, and drama preoccupy our attentions, it can be a discipline to remember joy and make room for it in our lives.

Sometimes I need to remember that lesson even creatively. There should be joy and play in creation, with the process of fun permeating the product and contributing to its value. I've been working so hard lately to craft excellent poetry about our epic myths that at times I've forgotten the joy. That was Weland's flaw. Gifts should be made for joy, not glory. Any glory that comes is simply another joy, but it cannot be the only joy. He forgot that. He lost that. He cared only for it being thought the best, rather than loving creation itself. He lost the tree of action for the fruit of action, as the Hindus somewhat say. It's good to strive for excellence, but not to lose one's joy in the process, because after all, no matter how hard you work, and no matter how good your product, there's no guarantee how it will be received. That's something an artist has to learn, and something this myth is trying to teach us, I think. Grandiosity should not be the goal of art. Art that tries to be great often overstrains, and loses its naturalness, that elegance that comes from the artist being totally involved in the passion, warmth, and élan vital of the creative process. The myth as much tells us art is to be made for joy. For joy (Frey), for strength and gusto (Thor), and for wisdom (Odin).*

Joy is the essential process of creation. Crops are in love with the sun, and that is why they rise towards her. In her love, and the fresh rain and good weather Frey lends, they blossom, and come to fullness. That full joy is their fruit, wherein are the seeds of the next cycle of wonder and pleasure in growth. I am not speaking poetically here, but literally ; it is the reality that is poetic, and my language simply follows. Poetry is a way of expressing deeper truths. This doesn't negate the biology of all this, but gives insight into the lived quality or soul of that biological process.

Laughter is Frey's, as are good jokes, and even playful (but not malicious) teasing aiming at getting a grin. The joys of the hall are Frey's. He provides the occasion by giving the provisions of the feast, the fruit and fat of the land. That, however, is just the beginning. A feast is not just food, but fellowship, and mirth, and music, and dancing, and games, and all those activities we associate with the quality "festivity". Look at the meanings associated with "free" in Anglo-Saxon in your Bosworth and Toller's dictionary. They are all connected to holiday cheer, festivity, and the letting down of one's guard and strictness that characterizes the special days of the calendar. We let go our worries and raise the strong cheer. We chase Grendel out if need be, sometimes in mumming with silly antics and mock-serious pageantry, and make the hall a sacred place for its merriment. Frey is literally the Life of the Party, which is itself the fruit of the fruit of the land.

This is no idealization. People with hard lives living close to the land know the value of joy, know the importance and even centrality of raising celebration in the midst of a difficult life. The joy is what makes the struggle worthwhile. Or to introduce a term that came to me in my intuitive meditations with Frey, the joy is a measure of the "workwhileness" of the work we do. It is its aim and crown.

* I refer here to the Contest of Artists between the elven Sons of Ivaldi (Weland, Egil, and Giuki) and the dwarves Sindri and Brokk, where Sindri won the prize, and the Sons of Ivaldi, insulted, abandoned the world to frost. Before this time, they had been the fosterers of Frey in Alfheim.


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