Day of Remembrance for Queen Sigrith

On November the 9th we honour Queen Sigrith of Sweden. Widowed at a still young age, Queen Sigrith had many suitors vying for her hand in marriage. One by one each suitor was rebuffed, earning Queen Sigrith the nickname, Queen Sigrid the Haughty.

Eventually Sigrith did accept an offer of marriage from Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway, and a rabid christian. Soon Sigrith travelled to Norway for the wedding ceremony. In the course of talking over the wedding plans Olaf asked Sigrith to give up her ancestral Gods and embrace christianity. She refused, and he promptly slapped her across the face with his glove. She rose, told him that strike might well be the death of him, and immediately called off the wedding.  Years later Olaf was killed in battle by Sigrith’s husband fulfilling her earlier prophecy.

Few today are willing to stand up for their beliefs in the face of adversity, Sigrith has much to teach such people. We may be living in a different time than she did, but our ancestral ways are under just as much, if not more, of a threat.  Today we have again chosen to take a stand by embracing our noble ways; we have chosen to take a stand by raising the trihorn banner and living the faith of our ancestors. Just as Sigrith stood strong so many generations ago, we too stand strong. By returning to our roots, building a positive future upon the families of our folk, and living noble ‘tru lives, we do in fact honour Sigrith and all those of our kind who chose not to kneel before the bedouin spirit.

Let us again rise and be a strong people! Hail those strong noble souls of the past! Hail Queen Sigrith!

Gothi Blaine Qualls Jr.
AFA Gothar Coordinator

Categories: News

The Saga of Thorrodd Snorrason and Jamptaland, 1026ce

This is a story from the time of Saint Olaf or Olaf Saga Helga, (ie, Holy), or not so in the case of Olaf II. It took place in the year, 1026ce, in northern Norway at a settlement called Jamptaland, a sparsely settled area, that both kings of Norway and Sweden claimed taxes, a border area along the spine of rugged mountains and hostile weather.

The saga tells a story of an ancestor of Snorri Sturleson, 1220ce., the author of the ‘Heimskringla, the History of the Kings of Norway’, and this ancestor is Thorrodd Snorrason.

Now I will let the Saga tell of how this Icelander, Thorrodd Snorrason, made his journey through this wild and hostile area of Jamptaland and the first time in written sources that we see what is meant by the word, “Troll”.

On the orders of King Olaf Thorrodd Snorrasson had remained in Norway and had not received permission from the king to return to his native Iceland. Thorrodd being ill-pleased with not being allowed to travel wherever he chose and wanted to a master of his own fate volunteered to be an emissary to travel to Jamptaland on the orders of Olaf to collect taxes from the people of that land. However, Thrand the White and eleven others has been sent on the same mission to collect taxes and never returned. Thorrodd thought it better to be free and travel so he set off with eleven others to tell of what the King required, that a tax was to be levied.

They arrived east and met a man named Thorar he was the Law Speaker there and was a man of great distinction. They were well received there, and after having stayed there a short time they revealed there mission to Thorar. He repliedthat for an answer to it, other men and chieftains of the district were as responsible as he, and promised he would summon an assembly. Thorar laid the matter before the people, and they all agreed on not wanting to pay the King of Norway any tax. As to his emissaries, some wanted to hang them and make sacrifices. It was decided to detain them until the bailiffs from the King of Sweden arrived, the emissaries were well treated and lodged, and told to wait until the tax was collected, not knowing that the people of the district were to decide what to do with them and the emissaries were lodged two at a time, Thorrodd and a companion stayed at Thorar’s place.

At this time a great Yuletide entertainment was happening with joint drinking. There were many farmers in that settlement and they all drank together at Yuletide. There was another settlement not far away where lived a relation of Thorar, a powerful and wealthy man, who had a grown son. These relatives were to celebrate Yule at each other’s place in turn, first at Thorar’s. The two knsmen drank to one another, and Thorodd, to the farmer’s son. They held a drinking match, and in the evening a contest arose between the Norwegians and the Swedes. As the drinking progressed it became clear to Thorrodd things that he did not suspected and chose to leave the settlement, so Thorrodd and his companion took their clothes and left.

When it was discovered that they had fled, bloodhounds and men pursued Thorrodd and were found hiding in the forest. They were then thrown into to a pit and ill-treated. Being it was the middle of Yule Thorar left to see other kinsmen and left to guard Thorrodd was Thralls that began to get drunk and in the dark one of Thorrodd managed to get out of the pit by standing on his companions shoulders. Thorrodd tried as he could to lift up his companion only to find he could not, so he used a pulley and brought his friend out to the pit. They made there escape and by placing reindeer hooves on backward on their feet walked into the forest. Bloodhounds and men tried to track them but the reindeer scent and the backward marking hoofs fooled the men and dogs.

Thorrodd and his companion traveled through the deserted forest for a long while and then came upon a small farm. They went in and found a man and woman siting by the fire. The man gave his name as Thorir and said the woman sitting by him was his wife. He told him he had to flee the village due to a killing. Thorrodd and his companion were well entertained and afterwards they were given bedding and a place to sleep on the dias. When the fire in the fireplace was about to die down a man came in from another house, he had never seen so large a man. That man wore a scarlet cloak with a gold lace border and a most stately appearance

Thorrodd heard the man reproach the woman and said we hardly have enough to eat why are you doing this, and she said don’t be angry brother, this rarely happens before, rather you give them some help, because you are better able to do than we. Thorrodd heard the large man was named Arnjot Gellini and gathered that the woman of the house was his sister. Thorrodd had heard that Arnjot was a wicked highway man and evil doer.

They slept for a while and then Arnjot came to get them up and make ready for the journey. They were given breakfast and skis and departed, Arnjot on his broad and long skis and after some time it became hard for Thorrodd and his companion to keep up with Arnjot, so he told told Thorrodd stand on his skis behind him an to grab his belt and the companion to hang on to Thorrodd and Arnjot ran fast as if unencumbered.

After a third of the night had passed the three men came to a shelter and kindled fire and began to eat, but while the ate Arnjot told them to take care and throw away all bits and pieces of food, whether crumbs or bones. When they had finished eating they hid there leavings a prepared to go to sleep.

In on end of the house was a loft above the crossbeams. Arnjot and the two other climbed up into the loft and Arnjot slept on the outside toward the ladder and with his halberd and sword.

Shortly afterwards a group of twelve men came in, they were merchants traveling to Jamptaland with there wares. They were noisy and cheerful with merriment. They had kindled a big fire and ate their dinner and prepared to sleep and had left the remains of their dinner where they slept. After a short time a big Troll Woman came to the house and when she entered in she swiftly swept everything together, bones and everything she thought edible and devoured it. Then she grabbed the man nearest to her and ripped him to pieces, and threw him on the fire. Then other awoke as if from a bad dream, and jumped up, but she killed them one after the other, so only one survived, he ran under the loft and asked for help. Then Arnjot grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up. Arnjot grabbed his halberd and ran it through her between the shoulder blades so the point came out at her breast. She reared up quickly and shrieked fiendishly, and rushed out of doors. Arnjot had to let go his spear and she took it with her. Arnjot cleared away the corpses and set the door and door frame back in the house, for she had broken both when she ran out.

They slept the remainder of the night, and when it dawned they arose and ate their breakfast and when they had eaten, Arnjot said, “now we shall have to part, you must follow the tracks that the merchants made when they came here yesterday, but I shall be looking for my halberd As a reward for what I did for you I will take some of the things these men had brought along. You Thorrodd shall deliver my greeting to King Olaf.

Thorrodd journeyed on and met King Olaf and the King grand Thorrodd permission to leave Norway and return home to Iceland.

Thorgrun Odden
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News

Freyr’s servants in growth

Our lore is resplendent with names and kenning of the Gods and Goddesses; but when we get to the “servants” of the Gods, we are largely left with conjecture. Who are these beings and their tasks? What relationship and service did they perform for the Gods? What relationship did they have with our ancestors and their “spiritual life”? How do we regain something lost to time?
 In this article I will be taking a closer look at Skírnir, Byggvir and Beyla and their relationship with Freyr, the world, and us.

Many of us are familiar with Freyr’s wooing of Gerðr, a tale often discussed in Charming of the Plow celebrations. Freyr, who sat on Odin’s high seat of Hlidskjalf saw a beautiful woman in Jötunheimr who he fell in love with upon sight. On seeing his unease Njörðr and Skaði send Skírnir, a servant of Freyr, to him to find out what is wrong. Freyr tells Skírnir of his want for the woman and Skírnir with a horse and Freyr’s sword rides to Jötunheimr to meet with Gerðr and win her love for his lord, Freyr. Skírnir offers her gifts and upon being refused then offers her curses. After the threat of curses is laid upon Gerðr, she agrees to marry Freyr (heavily paraphrased).

In the wooing of Gerðr, we see the power that Freyr sends to Jötunheimr to win her affections represented in Skírnir. Skírnir in old norse means “shining one”, a cognate of Skírr or “clean/pure/clear”. To me, Skírnir very easily represents the directed male power stemming from the sun being, sent by Freyr to work his will in Jötunheimr. The wight Skírnir, for we know not what else to call him, brings with him Freyr’s sword (or plow) and the wellhouse of Sunna’s power directed at a specific goal/fate. His first attempts at trying to win Gerðr by offering her the promise of Freyr and the gifts he brings are denied by Gerðr. The jötunn is content in her stead and status quo. She is unbidden earth, extremes in all things; both beautiful and ugly. She cannot create other than in the basest of forms. Skírnir brings with him creation, life, and empowering evolution to an otherwise untamed earth. When she refuses his gifts, Skírnir turns to curses. These curses showing her what life will be like if she denies Freyr and his gifts; sun, growth, fertility, evolution. Luckily, after this she agrees to marry with Freyr. Whether you see this as a tale of earth refusal of incoming spring, or a lesson on Freyr and his lore; Skírnir has a powerful role.

Another two servants of Freyr that we know of based only off a few lines in Lokasenna. These wights named Byggvir (barley, seed, seed corn) and Beyla (bean, cow, bee) cognate of proto-norse Baunila (little bean, little swelling) are mentioned but briefly. There is thought that I share, that they represent agriculture and the fruits of success in the harvest. Beyla being the mound and the spirit of gathering and holding of energy. Byggvir being the seed grown from that mound to maturity for food, both for man and animal, as well as drink (mmm, ale!). If we are to look at them as spirits of the gift of Freyr and Gerðr’s union, their role may be just as powerful as Skírnir’s in the sense of agriculture and the growth and harvest.

For us in Alaska this year for Freyfaxi, we will be including Byggvir and Beyla in our ritual. Two of our folk will dress and take on the “persona” of Byggvir and Beyla in a small amount of ritual drama to take the gifts of the folks’ harvest and offer them to Freyr in blot. It is my hope that including the wights that make up our harvest will make a better bond between the folk and Freyr and our joyful bounty is shared with him in thanks for his gifts.

May Freyr and his blessing bring joy and life to you and may your Freyfaxi be blessed.

Hail Freyr!
Hail Skírnir!
Hail Byggvir!
Hail Beyla!
Hail the AFA!

Steve Morrell,
Asatru Folk Assembly

Categories: News