Freya is the daughter of Njord (and likely Nerthus), the twin sister of Frey, and one of three Vanir who were sent to Asgard as hostages following the Aesir-Vanir war. Like her brother, she is connected with fertility, and portrayed in lore as being extremely sexual. However she is also a warrior and a mistress of magic, and a very complex figure.
How should one periphrase Freya? Thus: by calling her Daughter of Njordr, Sister of Frey, Wife of Odr, Mother of Hnoss, Possessor of the Slain, of Sessrumnir, of the Gib-Cats, and of Brisingamen; Goddess of the Vanir, Lady of the Vanir, Goddess Beautiful in Tears, Goddess of Love. -Skaldskaparsmal 20
In 2001, I moved to a house where I could get internet access at home. I had been using the net at the public library, but the time rationing system meant I never had time to learn much. Search engines like Google didn't exist yet, but there was a search capability within the MSN Groups website, and one of the first things I did with my home net connection was join MSN ASATRU.
It was exciting to be able to connect with other heathens, and for the first time I encountered other heathens who lived outside of the USA. An Icelandic Asatruar joined the group and told us we were using Icelandic words wrong and we sounded ridiculous. American Asatruars had been greeting each other with "hailsa" for as long as I'd known any other Asatruars, but now we learned it was grammatically incorrect. Although it was hard to break a habit of using a word I'd been using for over a decade, I started using terms in my own language instead, and adopted the traditional "hail and well met."
Among my other early internet experiences was encountering the word Vanatru for the first time. I considered using it myself because of my dedication to Freya, but ultimately decided to stick with the word Asatru to describe my path because I consider all the gods who live in Asgard to be my gods. I'm very happy with that decision, as since then Vanatru has become its own sect very different from Asatru, and I have broadened and deepened my relationships with the gods of Asgard and have remained firmly committed to Asatru.
In the eight years that I've been actively involved with the Vanatru movement, I've met a number of Vanatruar, and in talking with other Vanatruar, I've found we have a lot of diversity of experience and practice - what Vanatru is, will differ from practitioner to practitioner. With that said, one of the things that does seem fairly common amongst the Vanatruar I've met (though this certainly does NOT apply to all of us) is a lack of formality. The Powers of Nature, Gods of the World tend to attract... well, practical, pragmatic followers. We tend to be very down-to-earth people, even those of us who are creative and eccentric in some way (as many of us are, myself included).
Over the last few years devotional polytheism has become more common, and I myself identify as a devotional polytheist. However, there has been an expectation over the last while that the "proper" way to honor the gods is to be on your knees praying several times a day, with flowery adorations. I don't do this. I know very few Vanatruar who do this. I do know a few Vanatruar who do not do formal devotion and have expressed guilt and the feeling that they're "doing it wrong" because this has been presented as the standard for polytheistic practice by a number of people, including some from the Northern Tradition.
This post is for The Pagan Experience: "Deity and the Divine- This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you."
Nerthus is the twin and consort of Njord. She lives alone on an island in Vanaheim that none are allowed to visit except Njord, sometimes her children, and her priest; she leaves the island once a year, to travel throughout Vanaheim and Midgard and bless the land with her presence, a time of merry-making and letting go of grudges and regrets, celebrating abundance and family.
This post is for Week 1 of February's The Pagan Experience: "What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions?"
I was told by my Vanic spirit companions and other Vanic contacts that initially, elves and giants used to be the same species, and there was a split, mainly disagreeing over how to deal with humanity – those who became "Jotnar" saw the humans as prey, those who became "Vanir" (the "ur-elves", from which the Ljossalfar and Dokkalfar are both descended) saw the humans as kin and felt compelled to help them. Following the split, energy modifications were made in both species, which is why (as one example) elves tend to be allergic to iron/steel (with exceptions) and giants regard it as a power source (i.e. the Iron Wood). There are a few Eshnahai (Vanic) tribes which have counterparts in the giants’ Otherworld, such as the Wolf, Raven, Eagle and Serpent tribes, and serve as a reminder of when they were one people, even if the tribes have differing customs (and perspectives) now. A couple of the Vanic tribes, such as the Serpents and Ravens, have cordial relations and an exchange with their Iron Wood counterparts.