Drinking deep

Most heathens have a horn or two lying around somewhere; Even those with no interest in reenacting, whose Viking history starts and ends with knowing that they didn’t wear horns on their heads, will probably have used one at some point. It’s become a part of the culture, as much as a love of mead, (which is usually what the horns are filled with.)

There’s a romance to drinking from a horn that calls to mind images of medieval halls, feasting on chunks of roasted meat, toasting the gods around an open fire. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a tangible link to the past, something the ancestors used that you can hold in your hand.

I always liked the idea of the filled horn representing wyrd; oaths and boasts made over the horn are words laid down in the well of time, a way of using ritual to weave your own stories into the web.

That’s mixing metaphors a bit – is fate better expressed as a well, or a web? Should we drink from it, or spin it?

I also like to think of living as a creative act, where everything you do goes into forming the you of the future, I like to think of time as a flowing stream, a growing tree, an ocean of unending waves.  Far better writers have attempted to put wyrd into words and failed. Whatever it is, it’s big – cosmic big – and we’re all in it, living in it and building with it and adding to it with words and deeds and intentions and mead.

This quote from Karen Bek-Pedersen’s ‘The Norns in Old Norse Mythology’ cuts through the metaphorical confusion, to the heart of the thing:

“…Fate… is not something in the face of which people admit defeat or to which they meekly submit, yet neither do they believe themselves capable of escaping or overcoming it… indeed, it seems to have been regarded as an invitation to action, a potential to fulfil, even a chance for the hero or heroine to show what he or she was truly made of.”

Whether you’re spinning, sipping, weaving or planting, a portion of what’s in your horns might be offered to the powers, to the ancestors, to the wights, to the land. At home we simply pour a little out by the god – posts in the garden. For me, that’s about giving thanks, a way of forging a positive contract, a friendship between us and the earth – a joining of fates.

Horns are for sharing. Get a good fire going and pass one round. You might discover a love of history. You might bind your wyrd to someone else’s. You might get drunk – You will definitely have fun.

Hearth mother, peace weaver

Babies are ordinary. Most people will come across one, sooner or later. But they don’t  feel ordinary, not when they’re yours. I’m quite convinced that mine is perfect; Too many night feeds may have dissolved my capacity for rational thought.

Frigg can be seen as a kind of role model. Smart, independent, a valued wife, she is hearth- mother and peace- weaver, a figure to thank for our fertility and prosperity.  A focus on Frigg can help us to see the home itself as something more than ordinary, a sacred space as important as any grave-mound or temple.

The home is where you take care of your family, where you take care of  your guests.

It is the heart of hospitality. Everything we do, friendships, work, it all comes back to the home. To honour Frigg is to acknowledge its importance.  

I sing nursery rhymes to the baby, when she’s tired, and I’m tired, and there’s magic in that small act, in doing a thing that every mother has done to a child since our especially developed species of ape learnt to sing.

I will pass on all the little songs that my parents sang to me. I will pass on the stories of Frigg.

I will remain convinced that every ordinary thing the baby does is somehow amazing, even when I’ve had some some sleep.

A random heathen thought for the week (written about two months ago)

The rain is stopping now, and a few drops still tip-tap off the roof, leaving wet trails on the windows. The air is full of leftover winter and the smell of damp earth, but there are glimpses of blue sky, and the edges of the clouds are golden. It’s Frey weather.

To me, he’s the personification of peace and good harvests, the watered and fertile ground, the animals rutting in the woods.

Frey’s powers of fecundity seem more animalistic than Thor’s; Most popular images have him stroking his beard with his cock out, or riding into battle with a golden boar and no sword. Sometimes he is shown wielding an antler instead of a weapon- no magical forged hammer for Frey, but an animal part picked from the forest floor.

The loss of the sword gained him a wife, who was hopefully worth it, as it’s a decision that gets him killed in the end. Some suggest that the tale has echoes of a yearly cycle, that the giantess Gerth represents the soil- sterile, until coupled with the sunshine  and the rain.

Here, it feels like he’s paid us a visit; the ground, soaked, is already starting to warm, and the garden looks awake and ready for spring.

Random heathen thought for the week

Thor’s hammer

My Mjollnir is an ordinary thing; a small piece of silver, a simple design, hung on a thin chain. It’s so popular with heathens that in the UK we often wear it as a mark of identity, a symbol of heathenry as a whole. There’s a moment, when you see one on a stranger, and they see yours, of recognition and embarrassment and awkward friendly nodding, when you remember that this little thing is an advertisement for something bigger and older than you are, a badge of eccentricity, spirituality, tradition, and culture.

I forget it’s there, and feel odd when it isn’t.

They say that in Northern Europe the hammer was used to bless marriages, the short handle-shape apparently some kind of innuendo; It’s the mojo of the thunder god.  It’s the lightning in the storm, wielded by the earth’s son. It’s growth in summer fields. It’s nature, awesome and thriving and generous, full of strength and movement, the rain clashing and drumming on your tent as you snuggle down deep into blankets, safe, half- asleep, listening to the battle in the clouds.