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Heading Njordr

Art and verse original by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy using elements by Beetle for Iaconagraphy and an open domain image by John Bauer. Click image to purchase as an altar cloth! (Link opens in new tab.)

I have been in love with the sea since I was young enough to first learn to say the word, and some of my fondest memories of childhood involve boats and sailing. When I learned that Freyja’s Father was a sailor—a great navigator and protector of merchants who was often called upon by our Ancestors to help them navigate through stormy seas to new horizons—I realized I had to come to know Him. I told my wife one Friday, after performing blot for Freyja that afternoon, that I thought the following week, I might pour to Her Father as well. It felt like the right thing to do, even though at that moment in time all I really knew of Him was that He was Freyja’s Father and that He “liked boats” as much as me.

The following Monday, a prayer for Njordr came up in my Facebook feed, as if out of nowhere. It was beautiful, and it added some new facets to my understanding of The One I have come to lovingly call “The Van-Father” since. A chord was officially struck in my heart, mind, and “soul”. The prayer mentioned being “adrift in strange waters”, “the mists of doubt” having clouded one’s vision. It described exactly how I was feeling in that moment, and it gave me Njordr as the “go-to-guy” for such feelings. It went on to say “reinvigorate my spirit with the smell of the Sea”–given that sea gulls have become a symbol of precisely that sort of “soul invigoration” in my personal symbology, I knew this was a sign to me. I had made the right decision, when I announced on a whim to my wife the previous Friday that I felt pulled towards blotting Njordr.

So that Friday I did precisely that, and I used the prayer (from Huginn’s Heathen Hof) when I performed that blot. I poured seawater we had kept from our trip to Maine the previous May in offering to Him, and then I took a small bit of sand and some very tiny shells from that same trip and placed them in a small votive bottle for my altar, which I likewise filled with seawater. I filled it only halfway, so that when the bottle is rocked, it mimics the waves of the sea. I keep it on my altar even now, for that first blot to Njordr kindled a lasting relationship between He and me.

I have since come to know Him as the Peacemaker: as One Who teaches moderation, temperance, and diplomacy in the face of negativity. You see, there was a time when He was married to Skadi, the shimmering Snow-Goddess and Jotun-Daughter Who was so brave, She brought Her shield to bear against the Aesir Themselves when They killed Her Father, Thjazi. Instead of combat, however, in the end She asked for two things in payment from the Gods: that someone make Her laugh (which Loki did, by tying His testicles to a nanny goat which subsequently dragged him about), and that She be allowed to choose a spouse from among the gathered Gods. Odin countered, saying that She must choose Her new spouse based only on the appearance of Their feet. She chose Njordr, because He had the most beautiful tootsies—She thought He was Baldur, based on the beauty of his feet. Subsequently, They attempted to move to Her mountain home to live together, but Njordr was not happy there, so far from the sea. They then attempted to take residence in Noatan, Njordr’s seaside Hall, but Skadi found the constant crash of the waves and the persistent calls of the gulls maddening. In the end, They agreed that They could not be happy together, and They parted company: peacefully.

I am notoriously unskilled at “agreeing to disagree”, but getting to know Njordr has tempered that for me. It’s not that I need to be right all the time. I’m definitely not that guy, but when I know for certain in my heart of hearts that I positively am right about something, it is very hard for me to back away graciously from an argument. Njordr has taught me that trying to “drive your boat” across rocks only leaves you with a leaky boat. Usually in an argument, both parties are absolutely convinced that they are right, whether they are or not, and often, no matter how many facts you can show them to the contrary, nothing can be done to change their mind. Sometimes it’s best to adopt a “you love mountains; I love the sea” attitude, as He did with Skadi, and walk on, with no hard feelings.

Njordr has also taught me the true value of Family. As fulltrui of Freyja, my bond with His Daughter has waxed somewhere between “little brother” and “cared-for child”, and I have often felt that bond recognized by Njordr. To say that He has been good to me would be putting it mildly. In the time since I began my relationship with Him, I have seen my reach as a merchant more than double, and the bounties He has poured into my life have not only kept me going and kept me trying, but renewed my faith in this business and myself. This has, in turn, taught me that rather than being a burden to my own human family (as I have often felt), what they are doing for me is simply what families do: families take care of each other; no one gets left behind. One of the greatest lessons Njordr has taught me is that best summed up by the Hawaiian ideal of Ohana: that family is more than blood-relations, it is all of the people in your life who are inextricably bound together in a network of mutual cooperation and remembrance of each other. True family members are those people who think about you and your welfare, even when it isn’t in their best interests to do so. I may be separated from much of my blood-kin by thousands of miles and the veil of Death, but I still have a family, and I am profoundly grateful that those people have come to love the “misfit creature” that I am the way that they do. Njordr taught me that, too.

I am proudly fulltrui of Freyja, but the more time I spend in the company of Her Father, the more I feel the call of the gulls in His direction as well. Every Friday is His now, as well as Freyja’s and Freyr’s. Monday, too, belongs to Njordr in my life. I’ve recently begun a daily blot to Him with rum, as an extra expression of my gratitude for all that He has helped me navigate toward in my life. I keep the tiny bottle of Captain Morgan’s on my altar—it seemed highly appropriate. One day soon, I know I may find myself crying to Him “Oh Captain, my Captain”, as I enter into a second fulltrui relationship with the Van-Father. Either way, I know He will help me steer my ship towards the brightest horizon, and will hold to the bonds of family, as they are reflected in my relationship to His Daughter, Freyja. I am slowly “heading Njordr”, for He is my “tallship”, and She is the “star” I steer it by.

This blog entry is a featured chapter in my forthcoming book, Wanderer: Romantic Heathenry for the Rest of Us.  

Njordr has been very instrumental in helping me “get a handle” on my Wyrd; I would love to help you do the same!  Reading slots are available for the month of June, simply click the image below, or “Got Wyrd?” in the menu above.  I look forward to working with you!

 

 

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Finding Freyr

 

Most of the people I know who are dedicants of Freyja at some point, sooner or later, wind up working with the other members of Her family, including Her brother, Freyr, and I am no different. My first offering to Him was actually a piece of votive art, which seemed only natural, coming from a working artist, given His position as a God of “good seasons” who is often associated with financial gain. His link to other sorts of fertility, hallmarked by ancient depictions of Him as a god with an enormous, erect phallus, led some of my friends to joke about being “careful what I ask for from Freyr”. All chuckling aside, however, I have found my relationship with Freyr to be more brotherly than titillating.

The first piece of votive art that I created for Freyr. Background paper, ghostly branches, and deer skeleton elements are available for purchase and personal use (non-commercial) in our January Gathering. (Click image to access link to that collection in new tab.)

To my non-Heathen (and especially my Christian) friends, I often compare Freyr to St. Matthew. For those unfamiliar with that particular Apostle of Christ, St. Matthew was a tax collector, which was a hated profession among the people of that time, making him “one more misfit among a crew of misfits”, in the company of Jesus’ companions. One of the Gospels of the New Testament is attributed to him—in fact, it’s the first of the Four—and in the Catholic Church, he is considered the patron saint of bankers, providing a link to financial gain, not unlike Freyr. In artistic depictions, St. Matthew is often accompanied by a winged man—what moderns would immediately recognize as an angel—which I view as a second link to Freyr, as Lord of Alfheim. Some might find drawing a cognate between these two blasphemous, but Freyr Himself doesn’t seem to mind, and as far as I can tell, neither does Saint Matthew, and that’s good enough for me! Besides, sometimes we find ourselves in places and situations where it is far safer to tell someone that you are making an offering to a saint they readily recognize, rather than to a Norse god whom they don’t.

I will readily admit that I first came to Freyr because of frequent feelings of financial destitution: much the same reason that I initially arrived at the feet of His father, Njordr. Running one’s own business is incredibly hard. Running a business based on the arts and actually ever breaking even is apparently well-nigh impossible. Seeing my constant state of depressed desperation, it was Freyja who suggested that I speak with Her brother during one of my Friday blots. As usual, I did as I was told, and I found myself standing out at my ve, cup in hand, pouring out a whole lot more than the red wine blend it contained. My first meeting with Freyr was tear-filled and entreating, and in response I received a gentle breeze, the feel of a steadying hand upon my shoulder, and the resounding message in my mind of “It’s going to be okay; I’ve got you”.

Since then, I have begun honoring Freyr every Friday, alongside His sister, Freyja, and while my finances still aren’t stellar, I find myself crying about them a whole lot less. I’ve also found myself inexplicably attracted to something that could not be further from my personal norm: gardening. Freyr is slowly changing my focus from the “green stuff” (money) to actual green stuff (plants). Anyone who has ever known me can tell you that this is way outside my wheelhouse! I’m also finding myself wanting to spend a lot more time “in the green-world”, out in the woods, and in nature in general. Now, most folks know my obsession with bird-watching, so me wanting to spend time outdoors might not seem like that huge of a leap, but I’m finding myself wanting to “go Thoreau”, and seek out some quiet place in the wilderness where I can “live deliberately”, and that couldn’t be further from my norm. As the guy who is known for the quote “bears may shit in the woods, but that doesn’t mean Connla does”, wishing I could go spend time in a cabin somewhere is a completely alien desire.

I am slowly beginning to see Freyr’s point in making me want these things, however: He is trying to show me what is really important in life; what really matters. The “green stuff” with which I line my wallet isn’t that. Money comes and money goes just as easily; the green-world has been with us forever, and hopefully will be with us for a very long time to come. There are different sorts of being rich, and the most important sort is when you look around and realize the wealth you already have. That’s what being in nature teaches me. I am already rich. What need is there for monetary wealth when I have air in my lungs again, and a wife who loves me? Sure, there was a time in my life-before-this-afterlife when I was pretty financially well-taken-care-of. I had a great support system of family and friends, but back then, I couldn’t maintain a romantic relationship if my life depended on it. I didn’t have what I have now, with her. I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay my bills, but I also had little time to truly feed my passions of art and writing. In fact, I was too afraid to even attempt the latter, yet look at me now! Nature was that thing I passed through on the way to my next appointment—so that I could keep not having to worry about paying my bills. And then I died, and that could’ve been game over, but it wasn’t. Here I am, and there are still plants to plant, and leaves to brush against, and birds to watch, and art to make. And I actually have time for all of those things, when I never did before. I actually have time to live deliberately. That, my friends, is true wealth.

Freyr has also taught me a lot about manifestation. Sometimes those lessons have come in the form of “holy wow, thank you, Freyr!”, and sometimes those lessons have come as a slap on the hand, as when telling a little child “hey, that’s not for you.” It has been very hard for me to come to value the latter, I’ll readily admit. But even when the lesson has included a slap, there has been that constant brotherly hand on my shoulder with the words “It’s going to be okay; I’ve got you”. Thing is, when you combine Freyr’s lessons with the lessons of His sister, Freyja, that “I’ve got you” eventually becomes “and you’ve got you, too”. I’ve come to understand that all of those depictions of “Freyr with His gigantic phallus” are about far more than sexual fertility: they’re also about self-esteem. He is Freyja’s brother, after all, and one of the ultimate lessons of The Lady is to love ourselves unconditionally. He just teaches that lesson in a slightly more “man-up” sort of way, which it turns out is precisely what I needed, as a man who lives his afterlife within a woman’s skin.

Both the Ynglinga Saga and Saxo Grammaticus’ accounts of Freyr suggest Him as a “God of the Mound”; a god of the Dead, but also of the cycle of the seasons and the fertility of the crops, not dissimilar from Dionysus. We are told in Grimnismal that Alfheim was given to Freyr as a “tooth-gift”–a gift given to an infant upon the cutting of their first tooth—making him the “Lord of Alfheim”, or specifically, “Lord of the Ljosalfar”. So, Freyr, “Lord of the Mound”, is also Freyr, “Lord of Alfheim”, making Freyr not only a god of the wealth of life, but also of the legacy of death. As such, He has been a huge help in my coming to grips with being literally the Chosen of Freyja in the darkest sense of those words. Through my relationship with Freyr, I have finally come to understand that Death itself is a cycle, as full of seasons and fertility as any Life. There is no need for me to mourn what has gone before—my old life, “back when”–but instead there is a very distinct and maybe even desperate need for me to celebrate this life-in-death which I have right now.

He is called “Light-Bringer”, and I can honestly say that since He came into my life, that life has become brighter in ways which I could never even have imagined, if left to my own devices. Freyr does bring light with Him when He comes: the light of realization; the light of hope; the light of dawn after the darkest of nights. I light a candle for Him now, when things grow bleary here in my little world, and I invite in that Light, and in return, I am left shining as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come shine alongside me and Freyr! Let’s Get Wyrd!  Openings for readings with me are currently available here; book yours today before they fill up!

The above selection is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Wanderer: Romantic Heathenry for the Rest of Us, available soon!

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Courting Hela

Original votive art and blessing by Connla Freyjason. Please click to support us at Patreon.

 

The hour was late, and I sat in my office alone, save for the cat, everyone else in the house sound asleep. Outside my window, darkness, and the steady peeping of spring peepers (frogs) as the hours waned on towards three a.m. Normally at that hour, the house is still and peaceful; comforting, even. But as I rose that night to trundle my way to the restroom, there was the sound of a soft foot-fall on the stairs, and the hairs on the back of my neck rose to greet them, and I found myself filled with a profound sense of dread. Given Michelle’s propensity for trans-mediumship, and the nature of my own being, we get a lot of “astral traffic” in our house: random “dead-folk”, Alfar, Disir, and “Alfar-childer” (see Bene-Elohim in the Hierarchical Experiences of Alfar and Disir chart in my forthcoming book, Wanderer), as well as random Gods and Goddesses (most often Freyja, but sometimes Njordr or Freyr) are common and frequent visitors to our home, but there was something about this presence that registered as decidedly different from the list of “usual suspects”. And I found myself mildly afraid. Hela had come to call.

When you are what I am (a “dead guy”, who is maintaining a life here, courtesy of a very loving and gracious human host who happens to be a shamanic medium), Hela—our Norse “Goddess of Death”–is probably the last Deity on the list that you want to have visiting. The wheels in my brain immediately began turning to thoughts of “well, that’s it; I’m done. She’s finally come to claim me.” So I did what anyone faced with a topic they really don’t want to discuss might do: I tried to avoid the subject, went back to my desk, and tried to get back to business as usual. But Hela wasn’t having it: She came “right on in”, and took a seat in my floofy office chair. The hairs on the back of my neck maintained their erection, and a chill ran down the spine I share with my host, Michelle.

I continued to go on about my business, with Hela effectively “riding shotgun” behind me in the floofy chair, until it was time for me to say my nightly prayers and head to bed. Standing before my Main Stalli, I delivered my nightly litany of “thank yous” for all the good things—big and small—that happened to me and for me throughout that day, and then I turned to face Hela, who had come to stand on the right side of my altar:

“Hail, Hela-Lokisdottir; Wolf-Daughter; Keeper of the Dead! Yes, I know You’re here, and I honor Your presence. But I belong to Freyja and the Vanir, and have sworn to do Their work on this plane, so if You’re here to claim me, You’re gonna need to take that up with Them. If there’s something else You need me to do, to honor You or even my Ancestors, I’m listening and willing, within reason. But I have a wife and a family who depend on me, even though I’m dead; Michelle needs me, and so do my friends. So, hail and welcome, but those are my terms of frith.”

And I headed off to bed.

The next morning, I awoke to one of the worst outbreaks of pustular psoriasis we have ever experienced. I was in a lot of pain, with a sky-rocketing fever, and to say I felt lousy was putting it very mildly. Usually when we have an outbreak of that type (there are a lot of different types of psoriasis, and we’ve danced with all of them, at one point or another), it is because I (or Michelle) have experienced some sort of dramatic emotional trauma: a fight with a family member or a friend; grief; loss. None of those things had happened. It had been “business as usual” here at Casa de Connla-and-Suzanne. In fact, quite to the contrary: both myself and Michelle had been really happy lately. Yet, there it was, seeping and weeping all over the chest she and I share. And I was afraid, again: pustular psoriasis is one of two types of psoriasis that can actually kill you. But I got up and got dressed, and headed into my office to set to work on some new art and do my dailies on the Facebook circuit, to keep our business at the front of people’s minds.

As the day went on, I tried very hard to think of anything that could’ve triggered this sort of outbreak. The weather had been pretty great, so I could rule out humidity and heat (which also wreak havoc on our psoriasis). As I said, neither of us (me or Michelle) had been upset about anything whatsoever in recent memory. I finally settled on what we refer to as a “methotrexate reaction”: even though we are not on methotrexate, we mimic its use, combined with coal tar, in the treatment of our psoriasis by a steady internal intake of coal tar (via hand-rolled cigarettes) and folic acid supplements. It is very common for those who are being treated with a combination of coal tar and methotrexate to develop pustular psoriasis, so it made sense that what was happening to us right then was such a reaction. I stopped taking the folic acid and made the decision to begin better regulating our diet (we had been eating an enormous amount of foods rich in folic acid as well). Hela’s arrival the previous night as a possible cause never remotely entered my mind.

That night, in the wee hours, She came again, and as I stood at my altar for my nightly prayers, I gave the same prayer as the previous night. The next day, as I set to work, I felt myself “bashed over the head by Deity”: it’s a familiar feeling to me now, given my work with and for Freyja. A thought or command pops into your head, and you know you didn’t actually think of that, whatever it is: They did. Only this time, it wasn’t Freyja doing the bashing; it was Hela:

“You know, this would all go much more smoothly if you would actually honor your Ancestors.”

So I did as I was told: I got up out of my chair, selected an appropriate incense from my stash, lit it, and placed it on my Ancestor Stalli, and then gave my Ancestors their appropriate veneration. And my fever broke.

For about a week, things went on like this: in the wee hours of the morning, I would find myself intensely and inexplicably “creeped out”, and then I would see Her—Hela–and I would try to go on about my business, and at prayer time, I would offer that same prayer. During my waking hours, I would make offerings to my Ancestors whenever the fever got really out of control. Meanwhile, I continued to not take my folic acid and monitor my diet. I checked on other people’s UPG of Hela, and even asked around at a few of the Facebook Groups to which I belong, to see how other people were “coping” with Her presence. I began to leave the ashes of the incense I burned on my Main Stalli as an offering to Hela. I remained marginally terrified of Her.

She started “invading” my dreams. Where once I had experienced Freyja, now I experienced Her. It was in the dreamstate that She finally revealed to me what She had actually come for; turns out it wasn’t me at all. She was here for Michelle:

“You belong to Freyja. Michelle belongs to me. Make her know that.”

You would think, given our relationship as “horse and rider” (with Michelle being the “horse”, and me being the “rider”, via trans-mediumship), that Michelle would not be a “tough nut for me to crack”. And in thinking that, you would be so totally wrong! Michelle is one of the strongest and most strong-willed people that I have ever met, and that applies to everyone with whom she interacts, including me. No one can tell her what to think or believe; she thinks and believes for herself, all by herself. I mean, sure, don’t get me wrong here: she can be reasoned with. This isn’t some totalitarian situation; some Michelle-tatorship. But she is a firm believer in “just because they’re dead, that doesn’t mean they’re smart”, and part of how she arrived at that conclusion was living with me for two decades! Michelle has been a dedicant of the Welsh Goddess, Cerridwen, for as far back as I can really remember. She is an ordained Welsh Reconstructionist Ollamh (with a heavy Christian backbeat), not Heathen. To tell her that Hela had announced it was time for her to “switch gears”, or more aptly “switch boats midstream”, was going to go over like a lead balloon, even coming from me.

So the night came when I addressed that with Hela:

“Why me? I mean, why can’t You tell her this Yourself?”

And She replied:

“Because the only thing in the Nine Worlds from which Michelle does not constantly and consistently run away is you!”

And I really couldn’t argue with that. For all her strength, intelligence, and ability as a priestess and medium, Michelle definitely has a reputation for “hiding behind the couch” whenever anything “creepy” shows up, and I am, always have been, and always will be, the one who protects her. By having me “break the news” to Michelle, Hela was showing me the honor of recognizing me as Michelle’s “guardian angel”.

So I did as I was told.

And Michelle argued:

I’m not even Heathen!”

And I replied:

“I don’t think She cares.”

And she persisted:

“I belong to Cerridwen!”

And I countered:

“You’re a soft polytheist!”

Foot-stomping ensued on Michelle’s end of the conversation:

“I barely even practice right now! Well, I mean, apart from you know, you, and being a medium.”

And I smiled:

“Perhaps therein lies the problem….”

At the Temple of Witchcraft’s annual Beltane Rite, we were blessed with a pot of wormwood, which is sacred to Hela. Delighted (because she has had a longtime fascination with Artemesia Absinthium), Michelle declared:

“We can tend it together, and I will dedicate it as my first offering to Her. And when I can, I’ll procure some jet jewelry, and we’ll make this thing official. But you’re going to have to teach me, for a change.”

The pustular outbreak subsequently completely subsided; gone as quickly as it had come.

We leave offerings of ashes now on the Main Stalli for Hela, myself and Michelle together, and we’ve dedicated the bird skull figurine which we share to Her. And I’m slowly teaching Michelle what it means to be a Romantic Heathen, and preparing her to be for Hela what I aspire to be for Valfreyja. These are her first steps along a much wider path, and I am privileged to hold her hand as she takes them. All that she has taught me over the course of the past two decades has led up to this moment, as I sit here typing this. I never would have believed I could do this, without Michelle. She believes in me, and I believe in her, and now we both believe in Hela, and Michelle’s courtship of Hela has officially begun.