Aside from Loki and Hela, there are other gods I feel strongly drawn towards, gods whose influence on my day-to-day life is noticeable and profound. First are the earth gods. I am very fond of Frey and Gerda, whose love is a beacon of hope for all lovers, and whose generosity, blessings, and sacrifices have inspired me and enriched my life. I am also very fond of Nerthus, Frey’s mother, for entirely different reasons; to me, She is the face of the great Earth Mother, the featureless, fecund being depicted by figurines like the Willendorf ”Venus” who is both fruitful and terrible. I am not implying that Nerthus is the Wiccan Great Goddess, or that early Stone Age people were worshiping Her, per se, when they carved those figurines, or that I wish to negate the influence of other earth deities. I only mean to say that for me, when I think of the earth, and Earth, I conceive of those powers as being under Nerthus’s domain, as well as immanent in the natural world around me. I hope that makes sense.
Then there are the sea-etins. Having no familiarity whatsoever with ships, fishing, or sailing, Njord is not the sea deity who calls to me, though I respect and honor Him as the father of Frey and lover of Nerthus. Instead, it is Ran, the great robber of lives, and Her consort, Aegir the ale-brewer, in whose halls the Aesir and Vanir have feasted, who speak to me of the sea. They are the Queen and King of the oceans: majestic, wise, awesome, and scary. Even scarier are Their daughters, those whom I and some of my friends variously refer to as the Nine Waves, the Nine Undines, the Nine Mermaids, the Ladies, or occasionally, the Bitches. Their names are Kolga, Duva, Blodugghada, Hevring, Hronn, Bylgja, Bara, Unn, and Himinglava, and each of Them rules a particular aspect of the sea, and a portion of its creatures.
Finally, there are the sky-etins, also called the “House of Mundilfari” by those who honor Them. They are Mundilfari, the great ancestor of the rest, and Sunna and Mani, the Sun and Moon deities. Sithgunt, the Lady of Twilight, is Their sister. Sunna’s herald is Daeg, and Mani’s is Nott. They are beautiful, glorious, radiant, and ever-present in the skies above us, even when shielded by cloud. I have lately begun to wonder if the mysterious Ostara/Eostre, often named as goddess of the dawn, is or was one of Mundilfari’s get, as there would be a nice symmetry there with Sithgunt…but that is mere speculation on my part, based on vague UPG and nothing else. At any rate, the sky-etins are always with us, night and day and at all times in between.
I found it odd, and a little confusing, when I first realized that the gods to which I am most strongly drawn, outside of my fulltrui and His daughter, are all “nature” deities, rather than other members of the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotnar. It didn’t make sense, and for a while I thought I was Doing It Wrong, failing to let go of my Neo-Pagan roots and adapt to a more properly Northern world-view. I love and respect Angrboda and Sigyn, Loki’s two wives, but don’t feel particularly compelled towards either. I have complicated feelings about Odin, although I would never deny Him respect. And although part of my coming to understand Loki has been a certain level of contact with His kin, the Jotnar of the Iron Wood, I bear no antipathy towards the Aesir and Vanir. I honor all the Northern gods when it is right and proper to do so. Admittedly, for a time I felt I should probably be all about the “Rokkatru” element of Northern religion, since Angrboda and Loki are the patrons of the kindred of which I am the head. It made a certain amount of sense, but logic has had very little to do with my religious life for many years now. I don’t know why I thought that would be any different.
Eventually, I realized that none of the other gods and goddesses have so immediate and frequent an impact on my day to day life as, say, Frey, whose sacrifice and mysteries I remember every time I take a bite of bread, or Sunna, whose heat flares around me every time I step out of my house. I walk on the breast of the earth and strain to hear Nerthus’s voice, to understand Her secrets. I look into the sunset and hear the voice of Sithgunt in my memory, as She once told me rather bluntly to get my act together as pertains to my Work. I see Gerda’s sacred garden outside my bedroom window every day, and watch as it buds and turns green, developing into a riot of plant life, then slowly dies back and lies buried under the snow again, until the first crocus pushes its way out of the ground in spring. I hear the sea roar in my blood as my heart pumps it through my body, and when I want to eat of its gifts, I think about which species need to be carefully conserved, with an eye towards pleasing their caretakers. These gods speak to my life as a mortal in this world, whereas few of the others seem all that interested in little old me, beyond certain formalities. That’s okay, by the way — one of the things about polytheism that takes some getting used to is that you’ll naturally feel more for certain gods than for others, and They for you.
In a way that is different from being oathed to Loki and Hela, these gods are ever with me — in the things I see and do every day, no matter how mundane and “unspiritual” my activities are. I don’t know if this means I’m truly a pagan at heart and have always been, or if it means I simply lack imagination. But I find my connection with these gods of earth, sea, and sky to be profoundly satisfying…and also an immense responsibility. Humans have done much to ravage the earth, poison the atmosphere, and turn the seas into a lifeless desert in many places. If I truly honor and revere these gods, the least I can do is be mindful of my own impact on the world in which I see Their power at work, and take care to shepherd my small corner of it as well as I can, and to never forget that all of us – plankton and mushroom, redwood and lion, human and bacterium and star — are connected. There is no separation. This belief, which is fundamental to my own view of how things are, is a big reason why I call myself a pagan, after all.
So, although I love my red-haired Interloper very much and take a great deal of glee in His pranks and lack of seriousness, and although I acknowledge that one day I will accept Hela’s hand and call it quits, the gods of earth, sea, and sky remind me every day to live in the moment, to express my joy in being physically incarnate, to cherish the gifts of life, to avoid taking too much and leaving too little behind, and to make sure that things are made healthy and whole for those who come after. They are the ones who guide my hands in daily tasks, like picking vegetables or making food, as well as in the simple expressions of thanksgiving that come regularly by the calendar and the movement of the sun and stars. They are the ones who tie me to this world, even when all I want is to leave and fly to the side of my Beloved. They are the ones who remind me to live while I am alive.