Hela’s Tithe

The blonde huldra has a birch bark back
she dances in flowery fields for Freyr,
delights in cow tail sweeping men’s sleep
one with the earthen ploughs and dales,
a dancer on the Forest King’s hollows,
but just as Ingvi gives his life harvest,
so must the elf woman learn of sacrifice.
She sleeps in a gossamer moss down bed,
hair long as wheat shafts, sparkling sun,
the Maiden of Helheim, Hela Half Rotted,
rises with the moontide, graces the girl
a spiderwork of bones shimmer under skin
as Hela lays hands over the burning witch
she may belong to the Golden God, but Hela
is also her mistress, life and death twine
like thread in braided brass hair, frolics
in fields, Ingwaz to Ear, Green Man falls
to Lady Death’s scythe, and in the milk of
her marrow, John Barleycorn is reborn.

Holding Hela’s Hand

Bone fingers on mine as I shepherd ancestors
across the Veil, onto starry Death’s breast,
Hela grips my hand with ice and snowflakes,
her palms slide to my hips to ground my roots
as souls pour into me as black brilliant sparks
wreathed in white halos, flickering into light
Hela’s bosom is all Helheim, I drive in rainy
memories through those not yet in her kingdom,
first there is the overwhelming smell of decay,
a corpse baking sickly sweet in the summer sun,
slowly bodily fluids evaporate, bacteria feasts,
and the rot becomes wet dirt, Hela is beautiful
but does not shelter her girls from true passing
no antiseptic white wards here, just honorable
necrosis, hazy gray globes of eyes, bone white
hair that wreathes a half-flesh, half-frozen face
Hela smiles gently, and I become mist in her arms.

Frigga

There’s a spindle whirring in Frigga’s lap
and she stares down the World Tree eternal
churning bloody milk in Urda’s well, flax
becomes golden Sif hair, twine is dyed with
mead from Kvasir, it is her High Seat truly,
Odin is just a guest, her breasts Asgardian
skies, her eyes Mani and Sunna, her teeth
brilliant stars, weave wyrd and play lives
of Midgard out on her skein, beneficient
tender of the hearth, of my home, Frigga
does not like to be brilliant as Freyja
instead she wears dun white and fawn brown,
keys at her waist that open the Nine Worlds,
when she was young she was a Wanderer, but
few know how Frigga charmed her way across
the realms with sweet words and stories like
the finest of cheese and bread, bite into her
tales to children and elderly and warriors,
find the sweetest of mulled cider warm on
an autumn that speaks of motherhood harvest,
Frigga is tied to the seasons, the land,
she gave birth to light for a reason, for
Balder is what happens when death meets
life, Odin and Frigga are polar opposites,
that is why the Alfather kneels for no one
but her, he becomes a cabbage moth to flame
in Frigga’s bosom, and her body is All,
her breath could melt Niflheim, her wealth
is the way the Norns chant runes and cut
Frigga’s cloth to rainbow spindrils, no,
Frigga is the keeper of the Aesir and Vanir,
under her doe gaze, gods sleep peacefully.

Allergic to the Havamal

I eat up the Skirnismal and Lokasenna, the Voluspa and sagas, but to the sacred gods of the North, I can’t get through the fucking Havamal.  It bores me to tears.  If I wanted to hear Odin lecturing me I could literally just talk to him.  He has me screaming Ansuz half the time in dreams and chasing after him in the Northern Lights with Geri and Freki, not to mention the two months he drove me into near shamanic sickness when I started crushing on my boyfriend, an Odinsman.  There would be times where I would dream of Odin nightly, seeing him about 20 times throughout the day.

I gave him blood offerings.  I wrote him poetry.  I half-wondered if I would end up like Freya Aswynn.  Finally he gave me a vision of the horn he wants me to carve him for East Coast Thing.  I mean, he’s not demanding I build him a hof yet like my SO or return his sword, but godsdamnit, is Odin sassy.  Flip him off and he takes it as a compliment, I swear to all the Aesir and Vanir, Odin is wily, stubborn, demanding, and him sending me a dream of me being his skald in a past life traveling Scandinavia with an Aslaug style harp singing of Odin’s deeds was really, REALLY overkill.

I have a great respect for Odin, of course, as the Alfather of my religion, but what I love most is his sense of humor.

He also wants me to read the Havamal.

I was out to dinner with my kindred on Thursday and joked I was allergic to the Havamal.  That night, I dreamed I was in the Arctic, with Odin fishing in a fjord.  Odin’s twinkling blue eye was snaked with secrets.  I sat on a rock and watched him cast his lure into the sea:

Allie: “What are you fishing for?”

Odin: “Jormungand.  Thor wasn’t feeling up to the task.”

He winked and reeled in a tuna.

Allie: “Very funny.  Odin, I feel stressed.  I have a bunch of homework to do and a heavy taskload this semester.  What do I do?”

Odin: “Well, you can start by reading the Havamal.  You are incredibly lazy, Allie.  Also, you procrastinate, and you are flighty as Loki.  You need to find balance and push yourself without breaking.  All the answers are in the Havamal.”

Allie:  “Oh god!”

Odin: (Starts spitting out Havamal verses)

Allie: “But-”

Odin: “Wake early if you want another man’s life or land. No lamb for the lazy wolf. No battle’s won in bed.  Stop sleeping in and wasting the day away.  Stop spending all your money on frivolous objects.  You are as vain as Freyja.  Take to task your flaws and fix them!”

Allie: “Fine, I’ll read it!”

Guess I’m off to read Odin’s rant.

Autumnal Queen

The Mother of Ancestors is cold as Niflheim,
yet in her flesh eye is the fire of Muspell,
in her bone hollow, the bloody Well of Mimir
she presses me to her breast, I drink deathly
milk of marrow sweet, a rib cage lullaby, Hela
wraps me in ice and the waters of Helheim, I
reach under a waterfall and am gifted a ring,
it came from the underworld, pewter scrying
mirror, perfect for the chill of rot, rebirth
in arms of phalanges and pale moon flesh, she
is lavender and lunar water, her altar an icon
pressed against quarters for blue feet, rusty
pennies that smell like blood, snowy trappings
to adorn the Queen of the Night, Mani may be
the moon but Hela is the sky ancestors nurse
upon rich stars, each cosmo a pulsing heart,
the afterlife is above us in spanless skies,
and Hela illuminates all the otherworlds with
compassion, her feast is for all, will survive
Ragnarok, and it is not Baldur who brings light
to my forefathers but the goddess of death, yes,
Hela is half-maiden, half-eternity, all royalty,
I would have no other ending but her embrace.

Litha

Freyr is golden-locked like barley
his eyes the green of verdant moss,
voice a burbling brook, but all his
beauty is deceiving, for he is death
spilling out blood on Nerthus’ breast
to fructify the earth and till tithes
for Vanaheim does not run on mead alone
no, it requires seed and gore and bone
Barri Woods always know lover’s lilacs,
but at midsummer, the flowers bloom red
as Ingvi takes the sickle to his neck
and paints his head on the summer wind
gift for a gift, his manhood swells,
Odin may hang but Freyr is a mound,
and true nobility flows from riches
buried deep beneath the soil, and so
my Golden God pays all Asgard’s debts
and Gerda kisses him back to life, his
true sword serves them well, overflow,
overflow,
spill.

Berserker

We dance in blood and bite our shields
wolf-swift, bear-wild, boar-ravaging,
Odin calls our minds to drumming fury
we sink our red teeth into crow flesh,
chant the songs of the hunt, bellows
smelt our swords and we are dread-ruin
scavengers of the battlefield, ravens
that swoop in on the brink of night,
the killfeast is spread before Asgard
our spoils and murders and pillages
pile so high their fumes reach Bifrost
steaming flesh for the Aesir, burnt
crops for the Vanir, blood for Jotun,
come drink down gore and sharpen eyes
so that you can see the arc of ages,
we peered into the depths of Mimir’s
well, got drunk on the mead, swam
in the blood of the Alfather’s eye
and war-glorious, we return to halls
laden with blood gold and seidhrkonas
honor to Odin, honor to the beasts,
honor to the Tree we hang from.