Finding Freyja – Ember Cooke
By all accounts, my Finding Freyja ritual went quite well. I had a good dozen or so attendees. Several expressed to me that the ritual was just exactly what they needed.
That Lon was going to help me with the ritual was planned well in advance. Even when the ritual was going to be 4+ Freyja priestesses led by Cara Freyasdaughter, plus an MC, and a couple of warders, Lon was going to be the MC for us. But the other 3 Freyja priestesses and both possible warders had to bow out. So when I offered to run a different Freyja ritual in its place, I wasn’t sure exactly how many hands I’d have.
Even in the week heading into the event itself, there was another Freyjaswoman who wanted to help me that I would have welcomed, but she too had to bow out. Lon’s family were ready and willing to be extra hands if I needed them, but neither would have been able to ward. Once we were there, it was obvious they’d have way more fun exploring Olympia together than they’d have being shills for me, so when Xochiquetzal offered to help out, I let them go off adventuring.
So that left me, Lon, and Xochi for ritual staff as of the night before the ritual, but because I’d been so uncertain for so long, I had already settled on a ritual design that required nothing more overt from my assistants than handing out necklaces, tissues, and cups of water. I was grateful for any warding of the people they could offer, of course, since I would quite hate to neglect the attendees. In retrospect I suspect their main role was to stand at the back and nod encouragingly to me whenever I looked up.
On Sunday I dressed in appropriate clothing, putting on my devotional necklaces and belts, and putting my hair up with a small Freyja wreath that was made for Her-on-me for last spring’s Vanir devotional. I gathered everything up into my wagon to wheel it all the many blocks from the DoubleTree to the Governor (thankfully Lon did the actual pulling for the longest part). I realized with some belated humor that I was pulling my little wagon behind me while dressed for the Lady.
I was literally a Vana-Dis!
Before the ritual I had Xochi detangle the Freyja token necklaces that Cara Freyasdaughter had made for last PantheaCon’s Facets of Freyja ritual, only for them to be misplaced until well after Ostara. I passed around some of the Love Notes from Freyja that a group of us had concocted when Cara visited us the Monday before we headed north. (I had meant to set them on a flyers table from Friday onward, but the only table they were able to set up was also the registration desk, and I didn’t want to make that much of a mess of it!)
When the time came, we got into the room as early as we could, so that we could set up the space physically, and I could set the space ritually.
The ritual itself seemed relatively simple in design:
Set up the altar with the custom Freyja doll, Heide’s cauldron bowl, the electric candles, drinking horn, the mead and love letters to offer out.
Fill a bowl with water, connect with the Well of Wyrd, and merge the water in the bowl with water from the Well.
Cleanse the space and each individual with the water, repeating “With water from the Well of Wyrd, all ill that has been, all ill that is becoming, all ill that shall be, be banished away.”
Cast the circle to establish proper boundaries around the space.
Connect with Vanaheim and then “Pull up Vanaheim” to merge the sacred space within the wards with the Hall in Vanaheim.
Sing the Vanatru version of the Summoning Song
As I was singing the Summoning Song, Lon and Xochi let the people in.
Lon cleansed them each with the Water.
Xochi welcomed them and gave them each one of the Freyja token necklaces.
I sat in the middle of the circle of chairs we’d set up, recognizing that we were unlikely to get much more than a dozen people, continuing the song until its end – it’s a long song at the best of times, but one I find very moving in all its forms, which is why I have continued its use in my own branch of tradition.
Once the song was over I welcomed people to the circle, and waited for the last few to get settled. I asked everyone’s names, and we chatted a little about Freyja while we waited for time to catch up with us, so as not to leave anyone out who arrived on time.
I handed out more Love Notes from Freyja while we waited.
When it seemed we had all we would, I continued the invocations to honor the Ancestors and Landspirits before we began the formal discussion of Freyja.
And then my mind went blank of anything to say about Her that didn’t seem terribly simplistic and obvious!
So I punted, “Well, this is for you, so what do you need? Let’s start at the beginning – what do you already know of Freyja?”
I was surprised to hear the first response was simply that She is a Norse goddess! Why yes, of course She is! The beginning indeed! I’ve been so far from it for so long, I’d forgotten just how far back it really was! Alright then, let’s get down to the very basics and build from there.
Freyja’s domains include Love, Beauty, Fertility, Sexuality, Death, Magic…
Once I felt people had a decent handle on who She was, conceptually, I moved on to the main purpose of the ritual:
A guided meditation storytelling of the tale of Brisingamen, placing the listener in the position of the youngest of the four Dwarven Brising Brothers. I narrated them through the yearning for something more, the need for love, the lack of recognition of beauty, the exchange, up to connecting with Freyja Herself…
And then I let them sit for a while, in a place where if Freyja had something to say to Them, She might get a word in edgewise.
And then the narrative wrapped up, with them recognizing their own beauty now that She has touched them, and finally returning to their own true perspective.
Afterwards, we passed a horn of mead in Her honor and, because they seemed to need the quiet contemplation time more than they needed to share their thoughts, I picked a Freyja song to sing to them as I carried the horn to each of them.
Finally, since there was time, I opened the floor for their thoughts, experiences, and questions. There were a few, but mostly folks seemed introspective. I once again offered Love Notes from Freyja for anyone who had come in late, or wanted extras.
I thanked the Ancestors and Landspirits and the Vanir for joining us, and then asked that folks leave as they had come in, that I might close the space as I had opened it, cleanly, offering that anyone who needed to talk with me was welcome to wait a few minutes in the hall and I would gladly continue the conversation before the closing ritual.
One woman, before leaving, gave me a small bottle of honey for Freyja, which I assured her was very appropriate. I recognized her as the one woman I had seen at Seidh on Friday evening, who I had suggested should attend. Freyja has more for her, I’m sure.
Then the room was empty of all but those of us who were in it when I set it up, and I pulled down the connection to Vanaheim, and closed the circle.
When I emerged to the hallway, only one woman was waiting to speak with me, and I’m afraid I have already forgotten what she had to ask of me, other than that it was appropriate to the context. Perhaps what she had to ask was more for Freyja than for me, it’s only fitting.
I found someplace to rest a while, waiting for River and Rynn‘s Matronae ritual to end. I had run out of ritual to do a bit earlier than I needed to, just in case, because the program did not give the same 30 minute break between rituals as the other slots had, and I wasn’t sure how much time people would need to transition. But the Matronae ritual was still in full swing for a bit, so we had plenty of time to rest and decompress a little before the closing.
And I was… empty. I often cry on the way down from working states. I think I managed not to this time. I know some of that is that I am connected with what the Powers refer to as a Well of Tears, which most of Them agree is a gift. But sometimes I think it’s really just that I’m depressed and spoonless.
Xochi and Lon both assured me, repeatedly, emphatically, that it went well, that it was appreciated. All I could do was let their words wash over me as I tried to scrounge together enough spoons to get me through the closing ritual which absolutely did not want to miss.
I knew I needed to attend that ritual, but having spent all my intense focus and energy on setting that space, carrying that ritual, and having done what I was most obliged to do, I felt rather flattened.