Category Archives: Deities

Politics and Polytheism

This is your occasional reminder that this isn’t just a review dumping ground (although I will have more reviews for you later).

The latest debate raging in the polytheist community is in response to a post on Gods & Radicals entitled “Confronting the New Right”. I recommend giving it a read. I also recommend giving the post “Gods of a Radical” both because of the lovely Prayer to the Goddess of the City and the content of the post proper.

I’m currently inactive in the Pagan blogosphere apart from tumblr, so what I know of the kerfluffle is restricted to what tumblrs I’ve followed have reblogged, and what I’m seeing worries me. I’m seeing a lot of “How DARE he call us fascists!” and “Keep your politics out of my polytheism!” I see folks claiming that polytheists should not be political, because it’s “putting humans before the gods” or somesuch thing.

My polytheism is political.

To claim to be apolitical, to me, is to claim a privileged position, a position that has the luxury of not thinking about how one’s views impact others. I’m also reminded of the old feminist slogan “The personal is political,” and what is more personal than religion? Politics is also not just a human endeavor, deities get involved with politics all the time, whether politicking among themselves, choosing the next monarch, or supporting their favourite country or city. I find myself agreeing with the author of “Gods of a Radical”, Christopher Scott Thompson, when he says:

“But if your god’s lore implies something to you and you choose to ignore it, you can hardly say you’re ‘putting the gods first.’ The lore of my gods implies certain values, I take those values seriously, and I guide my life by them.”

How can I claim to honour Freyja if I don’t give a shit about sex workers, or access to abortion, or such a highly politicized topic as women’s rights? How can I claim to honor the Vanir, who came to live with the Aesir, and not give a shit about immigration? How can I claim to honor deities associated with the land and not give a shit about the environment? All of these issues are political issues, of concern, I believe, to both humans and deities. Heck, my very existence is politicized, I’ll politicize whatever I want.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and march for a cause. I’m not equipped for that sort of activism, but for me personally, it’s impossible to separate my politics from my polytheism, and I suspect that some of the folks who are screaming the loudest about being apolitical are the ones who are happy to support political causes they agree with.

One final note, if you are more concerned about being called a fascist than you are about combating extreme right-wing views in your movement, you’re doing something wrong.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for “Reviews: The Deluge”.

Fire Jewel is Out!

Fire Jewel: A Devotional for Freyja is now officially for sale on Lulu! It comes in three lovely formats!

 

Click here to buy the Paperback

 

Click here to by the ebook version (PDF)

 

Click here to buy the ebook version (ePub)

 

Link to Asphodel Press’ devotionals page

 

Synopsis, from the Lulu page:

 

“Freyja, the ancient Norse Goddess of love, fertility, and sorcery is one of the most popular deities of modern Norse religious traditions, and yet there is a dearth of devotional material dedicated to her. This collection of writings hopes to remedy that problem. Here you will find poems, prayers, rituals, songs, and more in praise of the goddess in her various aspects. To some, she is a goddess of love, others speak of her as sorceress and seidr-worker, some see her as the goddess who mourns for her absent husband, others as a mighty warrior, still others as her father’s daughter shining upon the sea. She is all of these things, and more. She is the Goddess who wears Brisingamen, the Fire Jewel, the most beautiful necklace in the world – and knows that she is worthy of its gift.”

 

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here!

 

I’m so happy that I’ve set a 15% discount on the paperback version if you buy direct from Lulu. The discount will be in effect until Monday, February 3rd.

P.S. To my contributors (you know who you are), DO NOT TOUCH THOSE LINKS! Free copies for you!

Deities, Starting Out, and Fear

I was kicking around several different titles for this post, but it encompasses a couple different topics that I think a more direct and to the point title will suffice. This is probably going to be another one of those unpopular posts, just, fair warning.

This post was–as many of my posts have been lately–inspired by a post on tumblr (my new favourite Internet past-time: checking out the pagan tag) in which a new Pagan remarked that they’d just start honouring Pan because he was a “standard deity”. Now, I don’t know the full story, but what I gathered was that this person, being a former Catholic, seemed a bit flummoxed when it came to this whole polytheism thing.

Before I go any further, though, I’d just like to say that this post is NOT a response to anyone in particular, although as I get into it it might seem that way. This is something I’ve seen all over the place.

Now, I do find this idea of “standard” deities amusing, as if there are deities who naturally come with training wheels and are therefore “safe” for a newbie to work with. (As an aside, I can’t ride two-wheeler bikes, so I have to ride those awesome three-wheelers with the basket on the back.) Aside from the fact that even the gentlest, most forgiving deity has their dark sides, the idea that some deities are “starters” like in Pokemon is just, well, kind of insulting.

I mean, yes, my starter Pokemon usually ends up being the strongest member of my team, but still.

The thing is, there’s kind of a grain of truth to this idea. You could even turn it into a drinking game: go search around for Neo-Pagan/Eclectic Wiccan sites, pick, let’s say, ten of them, and count how many times these deities show up, take a sip for each name on the list: Hecate, Pan, Cernunnos (often paired with Herne), Cerridwen, Gaia (actually, this one’s kind of cheating), Diana (for the love of everything, don’t do this on a Dianic website!), Persephone/Kore (often paired with Demeter), Inanna and/or Ishtar, Sekhmet, Isis (and they’re almost never honouring her in a Hellenic context).

On second thought, don’t do this. You will probably be very drunk by the time you’ve reached the fifth website.

Now, perhaps you could chalk this up to the fact that most of these deities have fairly well-known cults, were popular in their day, or are the sort of deities the average person will hear about in their everyday life (due to the above, or pop culture). Some deities *coughOdincough* also seem to be more aggressive when “recruiting”. Or, it could just be a case of someone saying “Okay, everyone’s honouring so-and-so, I should too.” This is actually how I felt when it seemed like every Wiccan had Cernunnos and Cerridwen as their God/Goddess set, and I just wasn’t feeling a connection to them, but I thought “This is what I’m supposed to do….”

Yeah, I know, I was an idiot.

On the flip side, though, there seem to be deities that many Pagans view as being “Paganism(s) 201” deities. You know which ones I’m talking about, right? Usually the more “warlike”, “fearsome” or “dark” deities: the Morrigan, Kali (at times) Sekhmet, Sutekh, Loki. Actually, pick any deity with a….slightly unsavoury reputation. These are the deities I’ve actually seen people warn newbies away from “Oh, don’t honour the Morrigan, she’s really intense and she’ll kick your ass if you’re not careful.”

This is all a bunch of bullshit.

It’s true that no deity is 100% “safe” but at the same time, no deity takes their MO from the Evil Overlord List, ’cause, you know, then nobody would want anything to do with them. Seriously though, even the “scary” deities have their softer sides. Go look up Ramprasad’s poems to Kali and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s one:

O Mother, who really
Knows Your magic? 

You’re a crazy girl
Driving us all crazy with these tricks. 

No one knows anyone else
In a world of Your illusions.
Kali’s tricks are so deft,
We act on what we see. 

And what suffering-
All because of a crazy girl! 

Who knows
What She truly is? 

Ramprasad says: If She decides
To be kind, this misery will pass.

Not that he never composed poems in which Kali is the more familiar “fierce, skull-wearing, god-crushing, demon-slaying goddess” but just look at this, this isn’t scary Kali, this is playful, trickster-like Kali (who drives a person crazy, nonetheless).

And I think some people do this without even realizing it. They see that someone’s written something about a deity that they love, and perhaps this person sees a lot of things about this deity that tend towards the more, shall we say, wilder aspects of the deity, and perhaps this person who is being poked by this deity starts getting worried, and starts thinking “Man, look at what happened to this person, am I going to end up like that?” and they just don’t respond to this deity, because they have this idea of what the deity will be like in their head, and maybe what the deity really wants from them is something different.

And this is bullshit, too.

Let’s face it, sometimes people need a kick-in-the-pants kind of deity, other times they need a pat on the head and milk and cookies, or a cuddle, some people get kicked in the pants way more often, other times, you go in expecting a kick in the pants and you get a cuddle. Sure, there are people who seem to think that all deities are all about cuddles all the time, but some people need those cuddles, and those cuddles are the right thing for them at that time, and WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO CRAP ON THEIR CUDDLE TIME?!

And then you have the folks who get neither kicks in pants nor cuddles. Actually, that’s probably how it works for most people. A kick every so often, maybe a cuddle here and there, but most of the time it’s somewhere in between.

So, to all the newbies out there, I’m sure you’ve heard that certain deities like to eat newbies for breakfast. My advice to you is just, you know, relax. All you’re doing is sabotaging yourself, and it could just be that that “scary” deity who is poking you….really isn’t all that scary. A little intimidating, perhaps (that comes with the whole “deity” thing, IMHO) but not, I bet, as scary as your mind is making them out to be. I’m telling you this as someone who has done this in the past.

I just want to close by saying that this isn’t the fault of any one person, and some deities are definitely more of the pants-kicking type. But seriously, don’t push the “some deities are definitely 201 material” thing, it baffles everyone who was first contacted by a “scary” deity.

No deity comes with training wheels. There are no deities that you’re free to worship after you’ve been with your “training wheels” for a decade or so, that’s not how it works.

“Gay Gods” and “Lesbian Goddesses”

Or “Why Sexual Orientation Doesn’t Matter”…

So I discovered this wonderful button that lets me look at my site’s stats, and one of the search terms that popped up is “is freya a lesbian goddess?”

Today I received a question from an anonymous asker who hopefully won’t mind if I quote them:

“What are your thoughts about bisexuality in modern heathenism? Are there particular Vanir whom a bisexual heathen may be better able to relate to, than others?”

(BTW, my tumblr is here: http://answersfromvanaheim.tumblr.com/)

So I think it’s time to address this question.

The long and short of it is, the idea of “gay gods” and “lesbian goddesses” is about as silly to me as the idea that there are “straight gods” and “straight goddesses”.

What I mean by this is that deities definitely appear to have their preferences. There are deities who are (at the very least) bisexual as we moderns would understand it, but the thing is, sexual orientation wasn’t really a thing until modern times. In many societies, as long as you “did your duty” and had children, you could have lovers “on the side” and no one would give a fuck.

If you were a man, at least. It’s difficult to find a lot of material on lesbians in pre-modern societies (though depending on where and when you’re looking, you might have better luck). In kyriarchical societies, men just don’t care about what women are doing unless they’re doing something particularly transgressive (like dressing up in men’s clothing). These are just broad brush strokes that obviously don’t account for time and place.

I think there is definitely a misconception among some that the phrase “gay/queer god” somehow means that I think the deity can only be worshiped by gay or bisexual men. Such people usually say “Well, I’m straight and I worship X.”

Seriously, this line of reasoning is just silly.

By the same token, it’s also silly to claim that certain deities can’t be worshiped by queer folks because of something stupid like “deity X is too manly” (as if all gay/bi men are effeminate). This opinion was expressed by a well-known Heathen author who I believe has since retracted those comments.

Deities will choose whoever they want. It doesn’t matter if that person is gay, het, bi, genderqueer, intersex, or any other orientation or gender identity. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t particular deities that LGBT+s might feel an affinity towards (Loki, f0r instance, seems to have a lot of queer followers) but that doesn’t mean you, as an LGBT+ person, is limited to a list of deities the community defines as “queer friendly”.

Your relationship with any deity is between you and that deity.

Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that even the most heteronormative deity is secretly flying a rainbow flag in their bedroom.

Freyja

How should one periphrase Freyja? By calling her the Goddess-Who-Knows-Her-Own-Worth, by calling her Righteous Anger, Warrior, Badass Who takes No Prisoners, Witch Who Dances With Abandon. By calling her the Giver, Lover of Many. By calling her Maker of Choices, Goddess Who Bargains With Her Own Body, She Who Will Not Be Slut-Shamed. By calling her the Goddess Who Can Herd Cats (or at least get two of them to work together) and by many other names.

Do you see what I did there? I is the cleverest, except I probably fucked it up. This is why I’m not a skald.

It’s International Women’s Day (and Friday, which here at this blog is always Freyja’s day…when it’s not Freyr’s day….) so I thought that today would be a great day to devote a whole post to talking about Freyja, because she’s so wonderful, isn’t she?

*sighs a little*

Freyja is….hm, I shouldn’t be so pressed for things to say, I am currently editing a Freyja devotional after all–which you will be able to purchase soon-ish, but not yet. Let’s try this again:

Freyja is the goddess who hijacks your dreams; she’ll show up, stark naked, falcon cloak draped over a chair, and give you a hundred watt smile as she assures you that everything will be okay, she’s got this.

And then you’ll wake up and be as confused as fuck (personal experience).

Freyja is the goddess who says “make your choices and OWN THEM” who says “stand up for yourself!” She’s a goddess who says “Desire is okay, and nothing to be ashamed about.” She likes whores–didn’t she barter her own body for a precious object? But don’t try to shame her because of it, her anger causes the very ground to shake and the other deities to quickly exclaim “I said no such thing, of course!”

She’s a goddess who cries tears of gold (or amber, depending on who you ask), a goddess who bestows wealth, of growth, a goddess makes the sea swell.

She’s a wanderer, a warrior, a wonder-worker, teacher of seidr. She gets a portion of those slain in battle (some say she gets first pick, funny how many seem to forget that she gets a portion at all).

She’s also an independent woman who functions perfectly well without a husband, this makes her the bane of viking dudebros who think of women as perpetual sammich makers and mead-bringers. Protip: Even Frigga, that exemplar of “proper” housewifely womanhood, is the Boss Lady of Asgard, especially when Odin’s not around (which is much of the time). I’d pay money to watch the dudebros squirm in her presence. I’d even sell tickets! Goddesses aren’t safe in general, that’s probably why dudebros make up stupid excuses like “only women should honour goddesses”, or they try to reduce her to a sex object. Some downplay her sexuality all together.

She’s a goddess of cats, and butterflies (Freyja’s hens) and sows. She shares the boar with her brother. Apparently she really likes strawberries, flowers (too many kinds to list) and linden trees, flax and hemp, and (although it’s probably the most anachronistic thing on here) my feeling is that she likes chocolate as well.

These are only a few of her aspects, and of the ones I’ve mentioned, you’ll notice I’ve only covered a couple in any depth (excluding other posts I’ve made in the past). Anyways, enjoy the rest of your day, or, however much of the day you have left, if any. (Seriously, stuff kept taking me away from writing this post, so I just finished it now.)

Pieces of the Spirit World

I know some of you are not on tumblr. To encourage you to continue not being on tumblr, I heard this from a friend this morning.

Apparently someone who has never had contact with deities before apparently had a thing with Loki, Thor, Fenris, and Ares, and they were all fighting over who was going to claim her as godspouse. Odin comes in to break up the fight and can’t (why the fuck not?) so her friend had to go in and do it, and then suddenly she’s claiming that she had sex with Thor on the astral plane.

What is this I don’t even

So, yeah, exhibit #1895 in WTF?

I’ll leave unpacking this person’s possible issues to the professionals.

But this post made me think beyond the usual sense of entitlement I’ve seen among Pagans of various stripes to something one of my crazy religious studies professors said in an undergraduate course in Gnosticism. He was talking about the concept of a “spiritual partner” and oblique references to the “bridal chamber” rite (which may or may not have included actual intercourse, although orthodox Christians were of course eager to claim that those gnostics loved their orgies).

And then my prof. said (paraphrased): “I think everyone wants a little piece of spirit that belongs to them.”

I think there’s something to this.

In Sumer, you have people addressing prayers to their personal god or goddess, in Vodou, you have the concept of the met tet (“Master of the Head”), in Catholicism, everyone has a guardian angel. Heathens may have fulltrui (but the fylgia might be a more apt comparison), more generically, people look for patrons and power animals.

The point is not that these things are analogous to each other (because they aren’t) but that they all share the quality of being yours.

They are your little piece of the spirit world.

I don’t mean to imply, of course, that all of these things are uniquely and forever and always yours, because some of them definitely are not. Multiple people have the same patron, or the same power animal (especially in the New Age/Neo-Pagan sense of a power animal, which is tied to an individual rather than a clan or tribe). It’s a bit like a song. My high school vocal music teacher (also a bit crazy) would always tell us “make the song your own” and a bunch of people can sing the same song, and it will be the same song, but each one of the singers puts something of themselves in it. It’s yours, but it’s not just yours.

So when I see people going on about trying to find their patron, or power animal, or what have you, I can’t help but think of this religious impulse. I suspect I could go on about human psychology and rugged individualism and ‘speshul snowflake’ stuff, but I expect I’d come up with something like “Humans, especially white, middle class, North American ones, raised in a culture that values the individual, want their pieces of the spirit world.”

Hence, you have people who search far and wide for their patrons, or convince themselves that having a patron/ness is the only legit way to be a Pagan.

In short, there are a lot of people who get hung up on this idea of “specialness”, everyone and their brother wants to be a godspouse (which doesn’t mean that there are no genuine godspouses, they just tend to be quieter about it because of all the crap that goes on), because so-and-so is and they have such intense experiences, and that makes it so much better than every other relationship and everyone wants a deity to pay that kind of special attention to them, don’t they?

No, no no no, because having that kind of attention paid to you means a ton of responsibility, and right now, I don’t need it, right now, there are a bunch of things I could be doing that I’m not doing right now.

Yeah, I really should go do things.

 

Ways of Devotion

Rambly post ahead.

I was originally going to write another post that was more depressing, but I decided to scrap it, because it was very depressing, so now we have a happy times post.

I’ve always been fascinated by devotional traditions. My birth religion is Catholicism, which has a very strong devotional tradition. Besides going to church, you have a metric ton of optional devotions that you can perform. Some pray the rosary, others have special relationships with particular saints. Precious Blood, First Fridays, Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, Chaplets of St. Such-and-Such, litanies (included as part of a larger devotion or separate). Marian devotions alone will keep you occupied for a long time. There’s even one that (amusingly, for me) promises that you will be her…*ahem*….slave. St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary reads like a collaring ceremony like a long and involved oathing process. For those of you who are interested, you can find the whole thing here.

/seeingkinkineverything

Anyways, Catholicism isn’t the only tradition who has this strong emphasis on devotion, of course, but it’s the tradition I grew up with, so it’s the one I know best.

However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I was never really comfortable performing devotional acts.

I could sit in church and say all the required phrases day in and day out, but I didn’t have a very active prayer life. In fact, I found it kind of embarrassing, and never, ever would I be caught dead expressing my devotion in public (and here, “public” also means in the company of family members). So. Awkward.

So it’s actually kind of mystifying that I actually *want* to do more devotional work. More on this later.

There seems to be this fear of devotional work among certain groups. The fear begins with words. Do I honour, worship, or work with my deities? I’ve seen shitstorms crop up over the use of these terms.

Personally, I use every term interchangeably. I like honour the best, because it carries none of the baggage of “worship” (which has none of the connotations of grovelling), although worship is derived from the Old English “worth-ship” sp it’s not entirely inappropriate for Heathens and the like to use. I also don’t mind “work with” (though some people take this to mean that deity and devotee are equals).

I also don’t mind saying that I love my deities. I will half-jokingly refer to myself as a “fangirl” of certain deities. This form of love, I would say, is a bit more affectionate and swoony. Other people may relate to deities as spouses, or parents, none of these are better than the other, they’re just different.

Correct ritual postures How many times have you heard it said “Heathens don’t kneel to their deities?” A lot, I bet, I’ve said it several times on this blog, and, as I’ve said, kneeling also carries a lot of negative connotations. I think our deities understand this. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to assume a more respectful pose (and standing for someone also denotes a certain degree of respect in many cases) out of love for that deity (of course, other pantheons will be a bit stricter with this).

And, you know, sometimes you can’t help it.

On this subject, while I have felt that urge, multiple times, still awkward to do in public.

I said “ways” of devotion in the post title because there’s really no one right way to do it. It’s, I’ve found, one of those very personal things, and I don’t think you can force it either. I find it very difficult to keep a regular devotional practice, so I do so when I get the urge, and I don’t do very much. You know, I think some people think they need to turn it into this big production with costumes and props and trumpets going off, but it’s really not that complicated. Prayer, study, writing, making offerings (note that offerings don’t necessarily have to be physical objects), doing work in your community, these can all be devotional acts, and there are a whole bunch more, I’m just too tired to make long lists right now.

And with that, I need to go to bed, and pray (silently, WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR ME BE AWKWARD) and sleep.

Promise you won’t judge me?

THWAP!

I had a weird dream last night, two weird dreams, actually.

So I asked some friends for advice, and a friend offered to do a bit of divination for me. This is a friend that I trust.

The result of it, the whole result of it….is embarrassing to discuss….but what it basically amounts to is “WRITE MOAR!”

And, TBH, I’m not sure if it’s something I can do.

Okay, yes, I’m juggling more than a few projects right now, and surely I can handle doing something since a deity asked so politely, even though the request was definitely not something I expected.

The thing is, this shit isn’t supposed to happen to me. I’m nobody special, my writing’s not even that good. Aren’t they reading my stuff? They must have internet access in Asgard. Have they missed those posts where I’ve said “I’m not ______?”

After a long involved conversation with said friend involving certain work that apparently needs to be done, by me, I have worked out a deal of sorts (as insurance of sorts before I make a bigger Deal) involving Signs, not just “OMFGs IT’S A SIGN!” but actual Signs. They wanted a time frame, so I said “Eh, how about nine days?” The deity in question is being very patient and understanding, all things considered.

So, here we are, the clock is ticking, and I’m trying to suppress my inner skeptic.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “Dude, seriously, you’re a fucking idiot! Just do what the nice goddess tells you!” I know, I know, it sounds so stupid, but this doesn’t happen to me, and I’m finding it difficult to do the Work when I still don’t have a job, or a love life, or any of those other human needs humans have.

And where the fuck was this Deal three years ago?

So, I guess we’ll see in nine days (March 12th) and if nothing comes of it, well, I’m an idiot.

I don’t know, it feels like I’ve been offered a million bucks, and I can take the million bucks and trust that the person offering the money isn’t scamming me, or I can not take it and never know if they actually did have a million bucks, and I’d be back at square one.

Njord

Today is not my birthday. My birthdays happen when I’m not sick and can go places.

Therefore, it’s business as usual, and since Maris Pai posted this wonderful post on the nature of the Vanir, I decided to get off my butt and post something I’ve been meaning to post for a long time. (Seriously, go read Maris’ post, it is awesome.)

So, Njord….

Njord doesn’t get a lot of exposure on the interwebs, IMHO. I only know of one blog run by a Njordsman, and last I checked, it had been taken down. I’m sure there are more Njordspeople out there, but he just doesn’t seem like one of those deities who is particularly eager to snatch people up the way some other deities (Hi, Loki and Odin!) do.I’m starting to think that there might be this perception (which I once had myself) that Njord is really just the “Norse Poseidon” the way Balder is “Norse Jesus” and Loki is “Norse Satan”.

It’s a shame, to put it mildly, because out of the “big four” Vanir, I’d say that Njord is easily the most approachable, friendly deity of the bunch.

And yet, so few are dedicated to him.

So, what do we know about Njord? He is probably best known for fathering Freyja and Freyr by his unnamed sister-wife (thought to be Nerthus by some) and for his divorce/separation from Skadi (more on this later). He has a hall in Noatun (“ship-enclosure” or shipyard) and fights with an axe (which he buries in the gate of Asgard. He is generous, freely bestowing his immeasurable wealth on one and all, and people pray to him to, well, spread the wealth around.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of material on Njord in the Eddas, save that most famous myth regarding his courting of Skadi. Skadi, seeking to avenge her father’s death, storms Asgard. The gods are scared shitless, so they negotiate a deal with her: she won’t pursue her vendetta if they can make her laugh, and if she’s allowed to choose a husband from their numbers. Loki makes her laugh by tying his balls to a goat (taking one for the team), and letting himself be yanked around (‘jerking off’ LOL) but the second comes with a catch: Skadi can only pick a husband by looking at his feet. Skadi, naturally, figures that the god with the nicest feet would belong to Balder, but she’s wrong, and the feet actually belong to Njord (seawater is good for the skin, apparently).

Unfortunately, things only go downhill from there when the newlyweds are trying to figure out where they’re going to be living. They try staying at Skadi’s hall for nine nights (previously belonging to her father) but Njord can’t stand the sound of the wolves howling at night. They do the same thing at Njord’s hall, but Skadi can’t stand the crying of the gulls.

So they separate, no doubt citing irreconcilable differences. There’s no cheating, no nasty custody battle, and neither partner ends up dying, just two deities deciding that it would be better if they just lived apart. Some like to end the story by saying that Skadi found a more compatible match in Ullr, but to my knowledge, this isn’t stated anywhere, but is based more on a shared affinity for snow, hunting, and winter sports (okay, maybe not winter sports).

Another source of information about Njord are a couple stanzas in the Lokasenna, where Loki insults Njord by bringing up a humiliating episode involving Hymir’s daughters (who, according to the notes in Larrington’s translation of the Poetic Edda, are rivers, not to be confused with Aegir’s nine daughters) who used him as a “pisspot” (in his mouth, in case you’re wondering) he refers to this as a “reward” when he was sent as a hostage, and is probably meant to be read as sarcasm. Later, in the same text, he defends his daughter when Loki accuses her of sleeping with everyone in the hall, by saying that a woman having a lover in addition to her husband is “a harmless thing”.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Someone accuses your daughter (assuming you have a daughter, if not, use your imagination) of sleeping around…a lot…do you get angry? Defensive? Want to punch the asshat who said it in the face?

Njord does none of these things. In fact, his response could pretty much be summed up as: “Meh.”

Njord: sex-positive proto-feminist? Eh, maybe not, but it’s interesting.

Moving away from Loreland into the uncharted territory of UPG, it’s interesting to me how writings from those who have encountered Njord tend to emphasize his tranquil side. The calm in the eye of the storm, , calm seas and clear skies. This Njord, in my mind, is the kind of person who speaks little and says much.

But, and this is based on my own experiences with Njord (which basically amounts to a few dreams) there’s this whole other side to him. I call him “Njord-the-Sailor”. Njord-the-Sailor is a bit of a prankster, he also drinks and swears and wasn’t shy about copping a feel when Skadi wandered by (she seemed kind of cross when he did it, though I wonder if she wasn’t amused). He called me ‘girl’ and ‘girlie’ but in less of a patronizing and more of an affectionate way, unabashedly sexual as well, but not in an overly aggressive way, more teasingly, almost in an over-the-top bawdy humour kind of way.

Njord is the quintessential father-figure, in my mind. He strikes me as the kind of person who likes kids and who wants a bunch of them (and, IMHO, he has very, very good genes). There’s UPG floating around that he adopted Sigyn, and that strikes me as something he would do, of course, being adopted myself, my bias is probably showing.

So yeah, Njord is basically the “Cool Dad”, as in “Why isn’t my dad this cool?” He’s the kind of parent who lets his kids have chocolate cake for breakfast (Skadi strikes me as more of the disciplinrian) but he’s also a patient teacher,(Someone had to teach Freyr how to sail.) and a shrewd negotiator.

Beware the Nice Ones, as the trope puts it though, because he is apparently no slouch in combat (as you would have to be to bury your axe at your enemy’s gates) and while I wouldn’t say he has quite the temper of, say, Thor, I would not want to see him angry. Well, I like my deities as happy as possible, you know? But Njord, I get the impression that you need to really fuck up to piss him off.

As far as offerings, things that would make him very happy, and such, I’d definitely say that he calls us to look at fishing practices and our consumption of seafood and other products that come from the sea (pearls, for instance) and how our actions affect the sea and its creatures. Support local fisherman, teach someone how to sail or fish (responsibly, of course), help out a sailor. If you’re really stuck, why not learn to build a ship in a bottle  as an offering? (As a side benefit, new research suggests that learning a new skill is good for your brain cells.) He strikes me as a deity who would really appreciate that someone took the time to craft an awesome ship in a bottle. As far as food offerings, I’ve heard good things about ale, lemonade, and jelly doughnuts (yes, seriously). Altar/shrine decorations might include nets, representations of ships and other nautical things, lanterns, spyglasses, I’d save more “pirate” themed stuff for someone like Ran, though.

tl;dr version: Njord, he is awesome. Give him more love.

Hail the giving god! Hail Njord!