• Jess

Aesir + Vanir: Meeting the Norse Gods

I'm sitting down to write this after studying the sagas and pouring out some Guinness to Thor, Midgard's protector, destroyer of giants and the chaos they bring. Earlier this week, I entered into trance to meet Frigg, the All-Mother, who knows much, but says little, and Her handmaiden, Eir, the physician of Asgard.

The menu for my Midsummer blot is ready and the prayers for it are works in progress. This weekend, I'll continue my gift cycles and make offerings to the ancestors and land and house spirits. It feels as though I'm finding my rhythm with these old gods who are still new to me.

Between the fire festivals of my Irish Pagan practice and the solstices and equinoxes, it feels like there's always something to honour or celebrate. One of the many things I love about the Heathen path is its focus on the home, community and the potential to practice devotion through creative works like brewing ale, spinning wool and cooking.

It's been a joy to expand my skill set to include making mead, learning to make new types of bread, creating perfumes and devotional candles and to finally begin experimenting with plant dyes and learning how to spin. My study of the runes continues to deepen and while they still hold deep mystery, these keys to other realms, they are becoming more familiar and I appreciate their straightforward revelations.

Hearthcraft is central-- our home is where we honour our ancestors and hausvaettir, where we feast and share stories and where we practice our religion by offering hospitality to others. In both Norse and Irish Paganism, one of the worst insults which could be levied against you was stinginess or poor hospitality. There is an understanding that we are connected, that we give what we can when we can, and remembering that we may need the generosity of others in the future.

One of the most rewarding parts of this journey has been celebrating ritual with my community. I've been surprised at the impact and connection that have been possible through rituals and study nights via Zoom. We've celebrated each other's victories and supported each other through disappointments and loss, sharing everything from academic papers and ritual technologies to photos of of our gardens and pets.

I've been lucky to walk this path alongside Heathens who take an anti-racist and decolonial approach to our faith, being led in ritual by compassionate and knowledgeable queer and trans ritual leaders. As a queer femme, it means so much to me to be part of a majority queer and trans community. To sit in a circle where everyone has something to learn and something to teach, where each person is given a chance to speak and truly be heard is something which means a great deal to me.

As I'm preparing to make the transition from urban life to a rural life governed by the agricultural cycles of turning the soil, planting seeds, tending and protecting seedlings, then harvesting and preserving the crops, the Heathen cycle of festivals strikes a chord with me. To have my spiritual and material realities reflect each other feels like a rare gift, a chance to move closer to ancestral ways informed by modern wisdom.

One of the many fascinating things about the Norse Gods is that they didn't start out as one people, but as two warring tribes: the Aesir (shapers of the cosmos and social order) and the Vanir (fertility and nature deities). In time, through alliances secured by marriage, they united as one people sharing power and prosperity. In Voluspa, we hear the words of the seeress recalling the creation of the world and the first war in the world.

At the end of their war, they came together to create a wise being, the one who would become known as Kvasir. We see the creation of harmony not by denying difference, but by working together toward a shared goal, valuing the knowledge and skills each group brings. I think

What would you like to know about the Norse Gods and Heathenry?

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