Frey and Gerd

I got the SDF liturgy for the February Cross-Quarter, and this time I’m not waiting until the last minute to plan everything out. I learned a few things from the Yule ritual, so this time I know some areas that need improvement.

One place where I think I dropped the ball last time was honoring the deities of the occasion. Since I’m not an ADF member, I’m unfamiliar with their ritual format, and spent so much time figuring out the well/fire/tree stuff that I neglected the gods! When it came to praising Odin and Frigg, I used prayers I hastily found in Essential Asatru instead of writing my own, and it came out clumsily and didn’t really have much “oomph” to it. I hope I’ve already built a good enough relationship with the All-father and All-mother that they were patient with me.

This time the deities of the occasion will be Freyr and Gerd. I like the idea of celebrating their marriage at this time of year. It has nice mythic resonance with the warmth of the fertility god melting the heart of the cold and reserved Jotun goddess. It goes well with the Blessing of the Plow theme. Plowing is, of course, a euphemism for sexual intercourse, and Gerd is an earthy goddess, so there you go.

I don’t know Gerd very well, but Freyr is one of my favorite deities. I often say that if I had it my way, I would have been a Freyswoman, but Odin had other plans. Fortunately I’m a polytheist, and my gods are not jealous gods, so I’m free to form relationships with other gods. While Odin is the god that shows up in my life most often, Freyr would probably be second to that.

Odin also seems more active in the winter, during the Wild Hunt season, when he rides the sky with souls of the dead. Odin is more a god of cold, darkness, and introspection. Freyr is a god of the light half of the year, a god of warmth, fertility, and abundance. He’s a physical rather than a cerebral god, and springtime is the time to get out in the fields and get to work. Then again, some groups honor Freyr during Yule, so it’s different for different people.

Items for an altar to Freyr: a wild boar skull, prayer candle, statue, and shed deer antler

Items for an altar to Freyr: a wild pig skull, prayer candle, statue, and shed deer antler

Back when I was a Wiccan, I seemed to have a much better connection to the Wiccan God than the Wiccan Goddess, which I thought was odd. A lot of Wiccan groups put so much emphasis on Goddess worship that the God is almost an afterthought, but I felt like the opposite. I always invoked both the Goddess and the God at each ritual, because that’s how you’re supposed to do it, but I never could really relate to the Triple Moon Goddess. On the other hand, I loved the Golden God. Later when I discovered Germanic Heathenry, the “feel” of the god Freyr was so similar to the Wiccan God, that I wonder if it was actually him who was answering my invocations the whole time.

H. R. Ellis Davidson, in Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, describes Freyr as a god of marriage. Archaeologists have found lots of these little pieces of gold foil called “gullgubber” in Scandinavia, many of them engraved with two figures embracing, kissing, or dancing. Davidson, among others, believes they are amulets associated with marriage and fertility, and probably pictures of Freyr and Gerd. This fits well with my own experiences of Freyr, especially the most dramatic instance of answered prayer in my life.

A guldgubbe found in Norway in 1747.

A guldgubbe found in Norway in 1747.

It was 2008, and I was in graduate school and trying to get a summer internship, applying to several state parks. I did a ritual to ask Freyr to help. Since he’s associated with prosperity, I figured he’d be a good god to ask for help getting a job. A week or two later I was working on a field project for my wildlife biology class. As I was pushing my way through a thick stand of Texas persimmon trees, pulling a measuring tape behind me to take a vegetation transect, I came across the skull of a buck, missing the end of its snout, but both antlers were still attached. Finding deer bones and shed deer antlers isn’t uncommon around here, but I had never found a skull with antlers before, and I thought it looked cool, so I crammed it into my backpack and went back to work.

I took it home, cleaned it with bleach, and set it on my altar. That’s when I remembered the ritual I had done, and deer are one of Freyr’s sacred animals. I wondered if this was an omen that my request had been received.

Another week or two later I got a call from one of the state parks I had applied to. He wanted to set up an interview! I interviewed for the job, and it wasn’t long before it was offered to me, and I accepted. Only a couple of days after I accepted the job, I got a call for an interview at another state park, one that was actually closer to my home. I regretfully told them that I had already accepted a job at another state park. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I wanted to stick with the job I had already been offered, but I was disappointed that other park hadn’t called me sooner.

After settling into my new job, I noticed that one of the park rangers there seemed to be going out of his way to talk to me, or to “just so happen” to pass by where I was working. At first I told myself he was just being friendly. I was happily single at the time and had no interest in a relationship to complicate my life. I was much too busy with grad school.

Long story short, last spring we were married. I really didn’t have time for a relationship, but he was persistent, and as I got to know him, I realized that he was just about everything I wanted in a husband. I had only been going out with him for a couple of months before it felt like I had known him forever, and like Gerd, I don’t usually warm up to people that easily. If I had gotten the job at the park I preferred, the one that was closer to home, I never would have met him. The internship lasted only over the summer, and never led to a permanent position, just another entry on my resume. The marriage has already lasted much longer and meant much more to me. It’s like Freyr did some sort of bait-and-switch. “Ok, you can have a job, but more importantly, here’s a husband for you.” He even reminds me of Freyr, with his gentle demeanor and love of nature.

I look forward to spending more time with Freyr as we move back to the light half of the year. I haven’t meditated regularly for a long time, but I think I really should go back to doing that, even though I’m out of practice. I tried a couple of weeks ago, just for a few minutes, and got a vision of a wild boar rooting through the soil, turning it up with his tusks. Boars are another one of Freyr’s animals, and their rooting behavior is reminiscent of plowing the soil. In my vision the soil was compacted, cold, and stagnant, and as the boar turned it up, it was warmed, aerated, and became fertile once again. I had a feeling this was a more personal message than just, “it’s almost spring.” I have felt a bit “stuck” lately, and perhaps my life needs to be “plowed up” a bit, so I can plant new seeds in it. I suppose this blog is one of those seeds I’m planting, but I’ve got plans for others too.

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