To the Hearth

Your path winds between great trees as you step upon twigs and leaves of seasons past. The air is cool, smelling of pine and warm earth. Thin fog waits ahead, a veil of air and water hovering between earth and sky. You enter the mist and the forest silence is broken by a single chime, a bell far away. With a careful pace, you follow the path as it flows down a gentle grade to a sunken shore and wide marsh. Your path forks in opposite directions along the banks and you pause. Suddenly, weeds rustle as a bird takes flight. A great blue heron spreads his wide wings and climbs to the sky. He flies along the water's edge, leaving behind its fading cry, a beckoning. So summoned, you choose to follow and your path becomes narrow, but the way is clearly marked by stepping stones bordered by greenery. On the land side, flax plants grow. Their slim stems are bedecked with five petaled flowers, pale blue blossoms that shine from the foliage. On the other side, cattails and water lilies flank your way. An arrow of geese honk overhead and your eyes follow their flight above your path. The birds disappear over a stone building, a hall, in the distance. A line of smoke rises from the chimney. There is a hearth within...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Not for Vikings Only

It may be a common habit to associate the Northern gods and goddesses, Northern Mysteries, and Web Working with the Vikings.  If asked to name the Father of the Northern Gods, many people would quickly reply, "Odin."  But it is just as correct to say, "Wodan" for the Dutch, "Woden" for the English, "Wotan" in Germany and "Wodanaz" from the old Germanic. (Aswynn 176)  We are blessed with rich stories written down and about Scandinavians.  These tales are full of mythic and historic importance that provide insights into the Northern gods and an idea of what life was like for the Vikings and their families.  It is an unfortunate turn of Wyrd that left much less documentation of the other Germanic versions of the Norse Myths.

With the gods worshipped in so many areas across Northern Europe, it is a fair question to wonder if the Father of the Vikings' Northern gods was the same as the one for the early tribes along the Rhine.  I believe the answer is yes and no.  Allfather is still the Allfather.  Yet, as there were different names for the gods, the gods were viewed differently region by region and from one century to the next.  These differences must be remembered whenever working with the Mysteries and you should be careful which aspect you invite into your workings.  Do you want Odin or Wodan?  As Aswynn warns, "It could be said that Odin is Wodan in a bad mood!" (Aswynn 177)

Just as the Northern Gods are not just of the Vikings, they are not just for the Vikings and their descendants.  There are indications in the Sagas that point to the adoption and practice of the Northern Mysteries by those from outside.  Gundarsson says that in the Helgi lays of the Elder Edda, “It seems to be the ritual action, rather than the actual bloodline, which transmits the soul, memory and might [of an individual].” (Gundarsson 51).  Fosterage is cited as a way to pass on the might of a clan to an individual when a man presented a boy with weapons for the first time (Gundarsson 53).  Finally, the author says there is a rite to claim ancestry in Hyndluljoth.  He says that through this rite an individual can tie “himself into the might of the heroes of history and legend, and ultimately claims his kinship with the god/desses.”  Gundarsson goes on to say, “This rite may be carried out by anyone, regardless of his/her actual clan-lineage; and the one who carries it out must then be recognized as partaking in the might of the holy clans of the North.” (page 54)

Therefore, Germanic Gods and Ancestry are not determined by blood alone and the gods and goddesses of the Northern tribes are accessible to all those who hear their call.  The Vikings cannot hold a monoply on the Northern Pantheon.  Anyone, with due respect, can embrace the Northern Mysteries and Web Working.

Aswynn, Freya. Runes and Feminine Powers; Northern Mysteries and Magick. 2nd Ed. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2002. Print.

Gundarrson, Kveldulf, comp. Our Troth; Living the Troth. 2nd Ed. Vol. 2. North Charleston: BookSurge, 2007. Print.