Tag Archive | Aesir

The Indo-European Trinity and How it Relates to Heathenism

I got into a really interesting conversation with Allen Alderman over in the Asatru and Heathen community in Google+. We discussed the Indo-European trinity. This is a really important metaphysical concept that seems to weave it’s way through all Indo-European based spiritual traditions, including Heathenism. I already covered one aspect of this concept in a previous post:

Allen Alderman: I read your post on the trinity in Heathenism. I would also enjoy discussing your views on Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis – which I, personally, think he just nabbed from much older thinkers – but I should probably save that for a comment on the post itself.

Volmarr Wyrd: *laughs*. Yes already had the discusion with someone who brought up Dumezil. I of course believe that most things end up dividing into 3 but the nature of what each part of that 3 is differs in each circumstance, it is rarely the same set of 3 things. Though I have not studied Dumezil, my understanding is he reduces all 3-fold divisions to the same one, but that is where I disagree with him. Three is metaphysically a natural division for most things in the universe, but there is not a fixed nature of everything being the same 3 things everywhere.

Allen Alderman: I was pointing more in the direction of the theory of guna in Samkhya philosophy. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you haven’t give it a good mulling over before discarding it prematurely (i.e. don’t just read Wikipedia’s treatment). There is a wealth of very old insight stored in that particular theory. You might find parts of it interesting, particularly in connection with what remains of Germanic lore.

Volmarr Wyrd: Yes the tattvas from Hinduism as you pointed out. In astrology they have this same concept with the cardinals, fixed, and mutable signs. In Hinduism there is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In Christianity there is Father, Son, and Holy-Spirit. It is the idea that all things have a creation, solidifying, and releasing aspect. In some ways many thrinities do fall into this division but it seems not all. But I agree with what you wrote elsewhere that studying other things, in particular Hindu stuff since it is an intact older Indo-European spiritual system gains one a much greater understanding of Heathenism. I studied Hinduism a lot as a matter of fact for many years.

Volmarr Wyrd: Even in alchemy is sulfur, salt, and mercury.

Volmarr Wyrd: Also Theosophy, that last 19th century and early 20th century spiritual movement which is the foundation of the modern New Age movement gets into this trinity a lot in their writings.

Volmarr Wyrd: Those Theosophists were heavy into Hinduism. They mixed Hindu Jnana Yoga with with western Spiritualist tradition ideas to come up with the tradition basically.

Allen Alderman: You might already know this – I’m not sure – but the theory of guna reaches a lot deeper than the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – which is a comparatively late development. The part of the theory which interests me most is their function in metaphysics and the theories which that idea later inspired in Hindu practical disciplines – especially medicine. But, essentially, it has to do with the Harmonic, Dynamic and Static principles in nature. I’ve always considered it a nice way to explain the relationship between the Vanir, the Aesir and the Jöttnar. That is to say, whenever someone contrasts the Vanir and the Aesir, there’s a voice in my head which says “You know, the Jöttnar actually belong to that particular trinity.” I usually bit my lip, however. :)

Volmarr Wyrd: I should look deeper into the gunas! Got any books to recommend? So which of the three races of divine beings do you relate to each of these principles?

Allen Alderman: Good books are always hard to find. My introduction to Samkhya philosophy was Nandalal Sinha’s Samkhya Philosophy (1915). Short but generally accurate treatments can be found in the shorter introductions, like M. Hiriyanna’s Essentials of Indian Philosophy (1948). A slightly more materialistic presentation, but valuable nonetheless, can be found in S. Dasgupta’s History of Indian Philosophy (1922). (The latter work, which can be found online at archive.org, is quite good at giving a broad but detailed overview of Hindu philosophy, Vol. I particularly, despite its typically late 19th century, “ancient philosophy can be harmonized with modern science” approach. It’s helpful to view Samkhya in its context, as that allows the reader to smooth over the personal preconceptions of the author.) Other than that, it has taken me years of reading in a variety of sources to recognize how all-pervasive this theory was and continues to be in weird and wonderful ways – several of which you mentioned in your comments above.

As for your second question: Well, it’s actually slightly more complex. None of the gunas are found in their pure state in anything manifest. Everything has all three in varying proportion. Thus, all three races are Dynamic, for example, but in varying degrees. For me, the Vanir are, by and large, the prime embodiments of the Harmonic principle, the Aesir embody the Dynamic principle, and the Jöttnar embody the Static principle. “Static” can be a bit misleading, as the original tamas (literally “darkness”) actually refers to a kind of “drawing down” or “drawing away” of energy, a destructive, sometimes lethargic tendency.

Just so you know, I’m not an “archetypal” Heathen, either. I consider myself as close to “hard” polytheism as a rational person can get.

Also, it might help to compare what you read on the gunaswith their analogy in Vedic medicine, the three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. These were directly inspired by the theory of guna, and if you are versed in alchemical tradition, you might find that interesting, as well.

Volmarr Wyrd: Nice! My guess for the 3 races of spiritual beings was the same you mentioned. So static in that sense is like the primordial dark womb of creation? Kabbalah has these three as well. The pillar of mercy is dynamic. The pillar of severity is static. The middle is harmonic. Also we can see this in the creation story. Fire is dynamic. Ice is static. Where they meet in the middle and life is created is harmonic.

Allen Alderman: Exactly. Glad to have found someone on the same wavelength. ;)

Volmarr Wyrd: Indeed is nice! Yimir was very static and sort of taking up a lot of space in the middle of existence and thus is why Odin and his brothers needed to kill him. The material from that which is static is that which is needed to make stuff, thus his body became the Earth. Ever since there is an ongoing cold-war between the dynamic and static forces. The only ones somewhat outside of that tension is the harmonic forces. Notice how in the story of Ragnarok Njord withdraws his forces from the battle before it really begins. By the way the Kabbalah is 3×3+1. That 1 is the result of energies moving through all of the 3×3 in order from most abstract to most formed. I am also as well very much a hard polytheist. I strive to get to know the gods and goddesses of the Vanir and Aesir on as personal of terms as I can, with my biggest focus tending towards the Vanir.

The Norse Viking Concept of Right vs Wrong..

The Norse Viking concept of bad wasn’t so black and white as many people nowadays tend to think. It is more the idea of someone either being in frith with their family/tribe/group, vs going too far and being too wild in their actions and being outlawed and considered dangerous basically. Loki is a good example of this. He isn’t evil really, just sort of one who was all about testing the limits of social order and bringing in new ideas. For a long time he was a mix of both positive and negative in regard to his value to the Aesir, until he eventually went too far and also by this taunted his wyrd to go down a darker path that threw him out of being in frith with the Aesir. Norse concepts of right and wrong and righting wrong are more about balance and restoring balance, than about moral judgment or condemnation, which is a Christian cultural influence and way of thinking. Sadly many Heathens are still far too tainted by Christian thinking and this creates a environment of discord and a general lack of frith in the Heathen scene in general. Generally speaking proper Heathen way of thinking is very open minded and accepting that others outside ones family/tribe/group will have different ways of thinking. The greatest value for historical heathens when it came to actions was to take actions that upheld the frith within their family/tribe/group. Even frith between groups was important as addressed by the codified system of weirguild, and addressing actions with similar counter actions when actions throw out of balance frith. A good example of how what is considered proper differs between each family/tribe/group is that for the Vanir it is considered proper and normal for sisters and brothers to have sex with each other, and even the Aesir do not judge the Vanir for doing so within their own group as they see that as what is proper Vanir behavior, but the Aesir would not allow that kind of behavior by members of the Aesir as that is not proper Aesir behavior. This concept of differences of what is considered proper behavior I feel also applies with regards to those who follow different gods or goddesses as their patron. Like what is proper behavior for an Odin follower, I feel is not the same as what is proper behavior for a Tyr follower, or a Freyja follower. I feel that this concept of proper behavior for each depending on whom they connect with spiritually applies not only in regards to types of actions not allowed or considered taboo, but also in regards to types of behaviors that should be done. For example Odin followers should be into runes and should study magick, and a male follower of Odin having sex with women outside of his marriage (so long as his wife is ok with him doing so) is also acceptable as that is part of honoring the ways of Odin. One who follows a god or goddess that has a more strict code of conduct has to be more strict about their actions and behaviors as this reflects the values of the god/goddess they follow. Acting in ways that respects the value of the god/goddess you follow is the act of staying in frith with your patron and respecting the concepts they stand for. Of course I feel that when you are part of a group you should honor the rules the group has for actions when dealing with the group, it’s members, or doing any activities which represent the group; this is staying in frith with the group. Staying in frith with your group as well as with your patron god/goddess is very important I feel. Actually it would be considered more worse in the Norse concept of morality to harshly judge others as this is harmful to frith. Unless the other person is directly living within your family/tribe/group it would be considered wrong to judge someone else unless that person takes some action which causes harm to your family/tribe/group/friends/allies/gods/goddesses. judging others without cause is actually harmful to the frith of your own family/tribe/group/friends/allies as that invites conflict that often times will have a negative impact on all those you hold troth with. The most important thing for proper actions in all cases is to act in ways that uphold frith, honors your troth connections with others, and upholds any oaths you have made. If you keep in mind these three things then you should be making the best possible actions for all situations.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about frith:

Frith is an Old English word meaning “peace; freedom from molestation, protection; safety, security”.

In terms of Anglo-Saxon and post-Anglo-Saxon culture, the term has a considerably broader scope and meaning. Frith has a great deal to do not only with the state of peace but also with the nature of social relationships conducive to peace. Moreover, it has strong associations with stability and security.

The word friþgeard meaning “asylum, sanctuary” was used for sacrosanct areas. A friþgeard would then be any enclosed area given over to the worship of the gods.

Frith is also used in the context of fealty, as an expression of the relationship between a lord and his people.

Frith is inextricably related to the state of kinship, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of frith. In this respect, the word can be coterminous with another significant Anglo-Saxon root-word, sib (from which the word ‘sibling’ is derived) – indeed the two are frequently interchanged. In this context, frith goes further than expressing blood ties, and encompasses all the concomitant benefits and duties which kinship engenders.

Frith also has a legal significance: peace was effectively maintained in Anglo-Saxon times by the frith-guild, an early manifestation of summary justice.

Wikipedia page about frith

Troth means loyalty to all those you hold relationships with. Loyalty means to stay by them and to maintain a tie with them and to keep any promises you make towards them.

Here is an online defination of troth:

troth
/trôTH/
Noun

1. Faith or loyalty when pledged in a solemn agreement or undertaking.
2. Truth.

Synonyms
fidelity – faith – allegiance – faithfulness – loyalty

This concept of faithfulness does not mean sexual faithfulness _unless_ it has been specifically agreed that this is part of what it means between both parties. For example Odin is marries to Frigga, yet he has many lovers. He would never consider wishing to leave his marriage to Frigga or having a greater overall connection to other women than he does to her. His other sexual interactions are kept in the context of being not something that competes with the unique relationship he holds with Frigga. Many of the Norse gods/goddesses have sex with others outside their marriages. For some of them this is alright as that is part of the agreed or implied arrangement for those relationships. As well some of the gods/goddesses are sexually monogamous. This really depends on what is the agreed relationship.

Merrian-Webster definition of troth
Freedictionary definition of troth

As you see part of troth is also to keep ones word. Most important is to uphold oaths. Oath breakers are the one type of person in the concept of Viking Norse culture that are totally unforgivable; at least those who intentionally break oaths. Those who purposely break oaths with intention to cause harm are called nithlings and are considered to be worth less than dirt. What this means is that it is important you keep your word. Of course if something happens that you cannot keep your word then you need to own up to this and talk about it with the ones you made the promise to and see if another arrangement can be agreed upon. Keeping ones word does not mean being a inhuman robot, sometimes circumstances do come up that don’t allow someone to keep their word, the point is that the person does their best and communicates with the others involved when they cannot and is responsible for their actions in this way.

In modern heathenism there is something called thews, this it a codified set of principles that it is considered good (by some people) to follow. None of the existing modern thews are actually something written down as principles that one should or has to follow, from the Viking times. They are all modern creations. Many of them are good ideas (at least for some people). The most popular thew in current day Heathenism is the Nine Noble Virtues, but this is not the only one. There is others such as the Anglo-Saxon related Heathenism one called the The Twelve Æþeling Þews. There is also a very nice one associated with the Vanir, the Vanic Virtues (the one I personally follow). None of these thews are in any sense required for anyone to follow who is Heathen. Like mentioned earlier the only basic principles that must be followed by everyone is respect for frith, troth, and keeping oaths (ones word). Really as was discussed earlier, if one does or does not follow one of other more than one of these thews or some other thews of guiding principles should be determined by what agreements any groups you have troth with wish, in combination with and most important of all; what your patron gods/goddesses wish you to follow. For those not connected to any Heathen group than following what your patron gods/goddesses wish is the only factor that matters in deciding which, if any, of the lists of thews is right for you to follow.

Heathen God, Goddess and Wight Invocations

Written by Ingeborg Nordén, Volmarr Wyrd, and Amarina

The following are invocations for Norse gods, goddesses, and wights. Many are based on kennings from the Skaldskaparmal in the Prose Edda. Please feel free to copy and use any of these invocations on your own website or in your own rituals!

Odin

Hail Odin! Husband of Frigg. All-father. Father of battle. One-eyed god. Many-shaped. Wanderer. Hanged god. Raven god. Spear-thruster. Wish-bringer. Galdr-father. Graybeard. Deep hood. Thief of Odhroerir. Kinsman of Mimir. Lord of the Wild Hunt. Yule rider. Finder of the Runes. God of the Gautar. Ruler of Valhalla!

Frigg

Hail Frigg! Wife of Odin. Mother of Balder. Silent seeress. Ruler of Fensalir. Distaff goddess. Loyal wife and mother. Weaver of Mists!

Thor

Hail Thor! Son of Odin and Jord. Father of Magni, Modi, and Thrud. Husband of Sif. Stepfather of Ullr. Ruler and owner of Mjollnir, the Girdle of Might, and Bilskirnir. Defender of Asgard and Midgard. Enemy and slayer of giants and troll-wives!

Sif

Hail Sif! Wife of Thor. Golden-haired. Mother of Ullr. Grain goddess!

Balder

Hail Balder! Son of Odin and Frigg. Husband of Nanna. Father of Forseti. Owner of Hringhorni and Draupnir. Enemy of Hodr. Hel’s companion. Most fair of gods!

Njord

Hail Njord! Husband of Skadi. Dweller in Noatun. Seafarers god. Descendant of the Vanir. Father of Freyr and Freyja. Lover of boats. Fairest of feet!

Skadi

Hail Skadi! Unhappy bride of Njord. Ski-goddess and snowshoe-goddess. Daughter and avenger of Thjazi. Bow-goddess. Loki’s cold-hearted foe. Inheritor of Thrymheim!

Freyr

Hail Freyr! Son of Njord. Brother of Freyja. Husband of Gerd. Trusted friend of Skirnir. Descendant of the Vanir. Harvest god and wealth-giver. King of Alfheim. Blot-god of the Swedes. Possessor of Skidbladnir, and the boar known as Gullinbursti. Beli’s slayer. Enemy of Surtr. Wielder of the stag-horn. Fruitful one. Sure giver. Father of the Yngling line. Lord of the Volsi!

Gerd

Hail Gerd! Daughter of Gymir. Shining-armed bride of Freyr. Bearer of the icy mead-goblet!

Freyja

Hail Freyja! Daughter of Njord. Sister of Freyr. Descendant of the Vanir. Possessor of Brisingamen. Od’s wife. Vanir-bride. Teacher of seidh. Love goddess. Gold-thirsty one. Queen of witches!

Heimdall

Hail Heimdall. Son of nine mothers. Guardian of the gods. Enemy of Loki, and recoverer of Freyja’s Brisingamen. Owner of the horse Gulltopp. Bifrost’s watchman. All-hearing one. Father of the three kindreds!

Tyr

Hail Tyr! One-handed god. Feeder of the wolf. Battle god. Sword god. Oathbinder. Lawkeeper. Leader of the Thing. Truest and most steadfast of gods!

Mimir

Hail Mimir! Keeper of the wisdom-spring. Odin’s kinsman!

Bragi

Hail Bragi! Idunn’s husband. Inventor of poetry. The long-bearded god. Son of Odin!

Idunn

Hail Idunn! Wife of Bragi. Keeper of the apples of youth. Captive of Thjazi. Vitality goddess.

Vidar

Hail Vidar! Silent god. Possessor of iron shoes. Enemy and slayer of Fenriswolf. Avenger of gods. Son of Odin!

Vali

Hail Vali! Son of Odin and Rind. Stepson of Frigg. Balder’s avenger. Enemy and slayer of Hodr!

Hodr

Hail Hodr! Blind god. Balder’s slayer. Shooter of mistletoe. Son of Odin. Hel’s companion. Vali’s enemy!

Forseti

Hail Forseti! Fair-minded. Baldr’s son. Settler of strife. Even-handed lawgiver. Warder of the holy spring. God of the golden axe. Dweller in Glitnir. Help of the Frisians!

Ullr

Hail Ullr! Son of Sif. Stepson of Thor. Ski god. Bow god. Hunting god. Shield god!

Loki

Hail Loki! Odin’s blood-kin. Son of Farbauti and Laufey. Father of Fenriswolf, and Jormungand. Comrade and table-companion of Odin and the Aesir. Thief of Brisingamen, and Idunn’s Apples. Relative of Sleipnir. Husband of Sigyn. Enemy of gods. Sif’s hair-harmer. Maker of mischief. Cunning god. Accuser and tricker of the gods. Contriver of Balder’s death!

Aegir

Hail Aegir! Husband of Ran. Ale-brewer. Gatherer of sea-gold. Father of the nine waves. Feast-friend of the Aesir and the drowned. Keeper of the great kettle!

Hel

Hail Hel! Keeper of the dead. Hostess of Baldr and Hodr. Half-living one. Garm’s mistress. Dweller in Eljudnir!

Eir

Hail Eir! Dweller on Lyfjaberg. Best of healers!

Holda

Hail Holda! Dweller in Venusberg. Guardian of unborn children. Maker of snow. Giver of flax. Keeper of the waters of fertility. White goddess. Lady of the wild hunt. Overseer of the distaff at Mothers’ Night!

Lofn

Hail Lofn! Helper of lovers unable to wed!

Var

Hail Var! Witness to all oaths. Foe to all who break them!

Saga

Hail Saga! Benchmate of Odin. Lady of Sokkvabekk. Seer of the times. Talespinner!

Nerthus

Hail Nerthus! Sister of Njord. Mother of Freyr and Freyja. Eldest Mother. Bearer of the Harvest. Hidden Goddess!

The Norns

Hail the Norns! Choosers of lives. Writers of Orlog’s runes. Lawspeakers at the Well!

Jord

Hail Jord! Mother of Thor. First Wife of Odin. Daughter of Nott. Goddess of earth!

Sunna

Hail Sunna! Daughter of Glen. Bright rider in the heavens by day. Driver of Alsvin and Arvak. Wearer of Svalin. Day-star. Ever-glow. All-bright. Wolf-chased. Fair-wheel. Grace-shine. Ensnarer of Trolls!

Mani

Hail Mani! Son of Glen. Bright rider in the heavens by night. Fosterer of Hjuki and Bil. Waxer and waner. Year-counter. Wolf-chased. Gleamer. Marker of time. Whirling Wheel!

Disir

Hail the Disir! Ghosts of our kinswomen. Warders at birth and death!

Alfar

Hail the Alfar! Ghosts of our kinsmen. Freyr’s bright followers. Friends of the Aesir!

Dark Elves and Dwarves

Hail the Dark Elves! Dwellers in the hill and barrow. Dvalin’s kin. Brewers of Odhroerir. Upholders of Ymir’s skull. Shapers of the gods’ gifts!

House Wights

Hail the House Wights! Unseen keepers of home. The small ones. The goodfolk!

Einherjar

Hail the Einherjar! Chosen of Odin. Shield-brothers of Valhalla. Warriors at Ragnarok!

Valkyries

Hail the Valkyries! Shield-maidens. Choosers of the slain. Weavers of the battle-web. Riders of storm-wolves. Victory-givers. Wish-maidens of Odin and Freyja!

Nehalennia

Hail Nehalennia! Beautiful goddess of the hounds, trade, and sea! Lost lady of the Vanir! Ancestor of Njord, Freyja, and Freyr!

Feel free to copy and use this so long as you acknowledge the source.

Download this as a OpenOffice Doc – Heathen God, Goddess and Wight Invocations