On Being

a Freysgodhi

 

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by Jordsvin

 

When Diana Paxson and I started discussing my doing an article for the Vanir Issue of Idunna, my options were basically a scholarly article, or a more "personal" one focusing on spirituality and my own experiences. I immediately opted for the latter, since there are folks far more qualified than I to do scholarly articles. My own academic background is in a very different field, Spanish literature, and it is Romance languages, not Germanic ones, that I am proficient in. Also, while I appreciate the importance of scholarly research in our religion, I enjoy reading (and writing) spirituality articles much more.

I encourage folks who have worked extensively with and come to know personally our Gods, Goddesses and other Holy Wights to write about their experiences. While there is a fairly large number of qualified (and mostly non-Heathen) scholars able to write about Germanic religion, usually only a Heathen or Pagan can write onthat topic from the personal experience of faith! Our experiences of a God or Goddess will NOT all be the same. That is why it is so important that we hear from many of their worshippers who come from different backgrounds. By comparing notes and noting areas of overlap in their experiences, especially when those areas of overlap are not supported by surviving lore, our understanding of our religion can grow. I' ve noticed at gatherings that men and women dedicated to a specific Deity will often get together informally to compare notes, and have been very impressed with the mutual respect with which this has been carried out. I am confident that this spirit of respect can be continued in the medium of print.

I never set out to become a Freysgodhi. When I was a somewhat unfocused Euro-Pagan, the Deities I tended to feel more of an affinity for were the rather earthy, practical ones. Despite my strong academic background, that has always been something I can do well more than something > at the core of who I am. I do very well with nature, growing things, etc. A harmonious spiritual community has always been important to me. I have never been wealthy, but have always had the farmer's careful hand with resources. Some folks take time to find a patron God or Goddess when they join Asatru. It is a question frequently asked at seidhr sessions. I never had that problem. For one thing, I don't see it as a problem. I don't think every Heathen HAS to have a patron Deity. Most of us do, but it isn't a strict necessity. After all, this IS a polytheistic religion! I believe we could use some good all-around "general practitioners" as well. In any case, I was sure it was going to be Frey pretty much from Day One.

What does a Freysgodhi do? Well, since no job description has come down to us, each of us is reconstructing his/her own godhordh (priesthood or priestesshood, there are now and were in the past Freysgydhias as well) as we go along. I try to embody my understanding of Frey as much as possible. Also, Frey gets more of my time than the Others, although I have good working relationships with several of our Gods and Goddesses and expect to meet and work with others as time goes on. Also, my relationship with Frey serves as a sort of compass in my practice of Heathenism. Obviously, the other Vanir Deities (Njordhr, Freya, and Nerthus, although some include others) are especially near and dear to me. I'm not surprised that being a Freysgodhi, the practice of seidhr seemed very natural when I started learning it and that it has continued to be an important part of my life. Since Frey is Lord of Alfheim and a very important Nature God, I find that I am really enjoying making friends with the Landwights in the park where our Kindred frequently worships. I regard picking up litter in that park as being just as essential a part of my godordh as any research, writing and ritual work I may do.

I see Frey reflected in my life. Sometimes it is in things that have always been a part of me, like love of nature and a rapport with plants and animals. Sometimes I see Frey reflected in areas I have to work especially hard in. I have a fairly mild case of the midwinter blahs, and seek to bring more of the more joyous, "solar" energy of Frey and the Ljosalfar into my life in the wintertime when I'm feeling down. It works just as well as the light treatments I used to take, without the cost! Frey isn't a "sun God," although both he and his sister Freya have notable Solar aspects, as shown in the golden pigs they both ride! Norse Gods and Goddesses tend to be multifunctional with considerable areas of overlap, and I've found that a you can call on "your" God or Goddess for just about anything. I presume that they get help from Others when needed. Sometimes religious insight comes when you least expect it. Steve Wilson, our Kindred leader and I separately had the same revelation while looking at the illustration by Brian Partridge for the rune Ing in the book Anglo-Saxon Mythology, Migration and Magic by Tony Linsell. The lustration was of a Green Man (foliate head or foliate mask to use a more scholarly term) with the Anglo-Saxon rune "Ing" (Ing, Ingvi or Ingunar being alternative names for Frey, "Frey" itself simply meaning "Lord") between and slightly above its eyes. Our reaction was pretty much to hit ourselves in the forehead and exclaim "Of course! How obvious! It was right under our noses all the time!" So, I tend to see Frey as the Green Man. Did our ancestors see him that way? Maybe yes, maybe no. The "Green Man" is probably a lot of things. The only labelled one to come down from the Middle Ages is labelled "Sylvanus", a Roman God not all that different from Frey in some aspects. Of course, I bought a copy of the book in question, and commissioned a wood carving of Frey as the Green Man. It continues to bring me great joy.

I try to reflect Frey back into the Heathen community. One of his obvious aspects is fertility, and I have one of those phallic Freys carved from a slightly modified natural piece of wood, rather like the one shown in the book The Bog People by Glob. There is a drawing of one of these Frey Images on page 93 of Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson. As a nearly 40 gay man I have not and do not expect to reproduce biologically (although I wouldn't mind being a sperm donor and expect that the resultant offspring would be pretty impressive!), I seek to bring fertility, happiness, and well- being (all characteristics strongly associated with Frey) into Heathendom. Frey is also known as Peace-Frodhi, and I do try especially hard to get along with my fellow Heathens. While no one has a perfect track record, I do feel I have done well overall in this. I see Frey as involved in a more "earthern spirituality," and feel he can add a great deal to our community's frith.

<Live and learn note from Jordsvin: I actually got asked to consider sperm donation by a Heathen lady who read this article.  Not a bad sort but considering legal liabilities,  on second thought not a real good idea either.  Anyway, as of late July 2004 I'll be 45.  Best to consider my sperm as off the shelf as slightly expired, given the risks associated with the offspring of older fathers as well as older mothers.  However, my brother's children will be reproducing in a few years so my lineage will continue, howbeit indirectly.>

Frey, to me, greatly enhances healthy spirituality. When I do a Freysblot, no edged weapons are allowed in the area. This goes back to "the old days," when Frey is recorded as having taken great offense when human blood was spilled in his Ve. Our Kindred practices this faithfully, even though some of our Wiccan friends were a bit peeved they couldn't bring their athames! Hey, it was our show so we called the shots! I think this is a good rule of thumb to remember. I have found that Frey likes pine and other woodsy incenses. Like all our divine Friends, he's partial to mead! Last Freyfaxi/Loaf-fest I offered a beautiful little gray horse statue (gray stallions were often dedicated to Frey) which I had found about six months before and had on my altar all that time. I charged it and buried it in a bog, and found it was truly a sacrifice to give it up, but at the same time a pleasure to do so! A pig (especially one painted gold) or deer image would have been equally appropriate.

I am not especially into the phallic aspects of Frey worship. This seems to surprise some folks. I suppose circumstance has to do with that. I' m not a farmer and do not expect to father childen. Plus, I'm sexually secure enough not to need religion as an "excuse" for having sex! No excuse is needed! What objects do I use to worship Frey? I have a ritual Freysgodhi robe, done in linen and died green. It has nine bells around the base, hearkening back to ancient traditions of tinkling bells in Frey's worship. I believe that was reported by Saxo Grammaticus. When I do a Freysblot, I use a deer's antler to hallow the sacred space. I got that idea from Steve McNallen's blotar. While I greatly enjoy these "props" and find that they enhance my worship experience, I see them as optional "extras;" not as being strictly necessary.

I feel that I have done reasonably well so far in my godordh. Folks seem to like my blotar. I've been told things like my backrubs show that I possess "Vanic hands" and one gentleman told me I was the most Vanic man he'd ever met! I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that but took it as a compliment! Still, I feel I have a lot more to accomplish in my spiritual life, but having found a good niche for myself after prolonged searching, I look forward to what is to come. When I formally professed as a Heathen and a Freysgodhi, something I did only after years of preparation, I prepared in advance by having a large green Anglo-Saxon Ing rune (resonates a lot better with me than the Elder Futhark form) tattooed on my left upper arm and unveiled it at the profession to have it blessed. I suppose that I am now "addressed for delivery" when I die! I expect at that time to go to Vanaheim, or maybe to Alfheim, or even to Frey's dwelling in Asgard. As a seidhmadhr, I have personal experience of the life beyond the grave, but focus on striving to live well in the here and now. I tend to see Ragnarok as a modified seasonal myth, and am not looking for its literal fulfillment. I expect I'll eventually evolve into something I wouldn't even recognize as me, or be recycled when my Wyrd is finished. While I don't rule out the possibility of "Eternal Life," like Joseph Campbell I see Eternity as being beyond Time rather than merely an endless extension of Time. Whatever happens, I trust in Frey's guidance. It's worked well so far.

 

Jordsvin

Created by Chandonn and Jordsvin

all works used by permission of the authors

last modified 04/23/2004