Freyr, Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyja, Skadi, Idunna – the Aesir and Vanir ring me at the Midwinter Festival in Vanaheim, where I make my home in a green-and-red palace built by the twin spirits I am devoted too – the wood and stone and silk dwelling they made for me on the night of my oathing ceremony.
The grass is frosted and sparse and we are in a forested fjord – cranes fly in great Vs across the sky. I am dressed in wolf fur and a buckskin dress with silver and azure embroidery, red paint of crushed yew berry rimming my eyes, and in my hands I hold a long sword. The gods raise their voices in galdr and I drive the blade into the ground – Freyja’s is sweet and sharp, Loki’s song dances with the bonfire we circle, and Odin is deep and earthy.
The cranes cry out and we fall silent.
We share mead in a silver horn and talk of why I am there – family, haminja, orlog – my blood called to them and they came, they came, from my childhood down the years, always there. We reminisce about my journey through marsh and meadow, through volcano and cavern, through ocean and forest. The mead is sweet and tart and we pour the remnants of the horn onto the ground where I have pierced it with my sword, then sprinkle some into the fire.
“Welcome, daughter of the gods,” Freyr, the Bright and Glorious One, says with a voice like honey as he beckons me. How I once thought him an angel is not so confusing, with the gold and fortune that radiates from his skin. He places a necklace of silver and sapphires on my neck and it sparkles like sky and snow.
One by one, I embrace the gods of my Yngling ancestors – of Harald Fairhair and Ragnar Lodbrok, of Aslaug and Brunhilde and the kings of Uppsala who have passed this legacy down onto me.
Loki I hug last. “You are always welcome in my hall. All you have to do is find the door,” he says with a wink, and I laugh.
The cranes reach their roost and Njord prepares our boat. We go to spirit markets on the dark marshes and bargain in souls and wyrd with gypsies and dwarves.
Later, I bring my spirits with me to the Midwinter Festival. Samael and Loki, old friends, drink and reminisce, and Michael lets down his uptight exterior and distrust of other races and for once enjoys himself. We eat roast boar and suckling pig and hearty bread and cheese. Elven dancers perform a Vanic ceremony of season’s turning and we watch, mesmerized.
The fire grows and night creeps up, and I return to my body, the taste of mulled honey on my lips.