Stones for the Gods

As a sort of follow-up to my post on stones representing the Nine Worlds, I also feel like the Gods also have affinities to certain stones. While this is not traditional at all (besides Freya having a strong association with amber and Frey to gold), and I would suspect it’s a very modern practice, the Gods have not indicated that they are opposed to this, and in fact I’ve had a few besides Freya and Frey who enthusiastically announced that they liked certain stones when asked. I know some of these listed here aren’t technically stones, such as gold or sea glass, but for the sake of simplicity I’m still going to include them on this list.

Odin-Kyanite, sodalite, sapphire, clear quartz, rutilated quartz, snowflake obsidian, onyx

Frigga-Celestite, blue beryl, turquoise

Freya-Amber, tiger’s eye, emerald, gold, peridot, topaz, citrine, rose quartz, carnelian, amethyst, kunzite, garnet, morganite, pink diamond

Frey-Gold, amber

Nerthus-Smoky quartz, moss agate, aventurine, jade, green quartz, emerald, peridot, jet

Njord-Aquamarine, gold, turquoise, sea glass, iolite

Hela-Jet, snowflake obsidian, onyx, mangasite

Thor-Black tourmaline, smoky quartz, ruby, sapphire, garnet, copper, iron, steel

Jord/Erda-All stones, but especially macrocrystalline ones such as granite. Green and brown gems are also good. I could see her associated with smoky quartz

Sunna-Gold, amber, citrine, topaz, ruby, garnet, carnelian, iolite

Mani-Moonstone, beryl, opal, selenite, labradorite, iolite, silver, clear quartz

Aegir/Ran/Nine daughter-Aquamarine, turquoise, sea glass, jade, green kyanite

Skadi-Clear quartz, herkimer diamond, opal, white diamond

Ullr-Clear quartz, amber, herkimer diamond

Loki-Fire opal, ruby, carnelian

Sigyn-Kunzite, aquamarine, rose quartz, morganite

Angrboda-Bloodstone, jasper, granite, onyx

Surt-Obsidian, ruby, citrine, fire opal

Tyr-Ruby, garnet, smoky quartz, rutilated quartz, steel

Heimdall-Rainbow quartz, opal, celestite, clear quartz

Frau Holda-Clear quartz, smoky quartz, jet

Gullveig/Heide-Gold, ruby, fire opal, amethyst

Obviously this list is ongoing, and I’m sure I’ll add and subtract examples as time goes on. Some of these deities I have not worked with personally all that much, so their entries are more along the lines of educated guesses and intuition versus being directly Told. You’ll notice a theme that the stones generally correspond to a deity’s associated colors, such as blue kyanite and sodalite for Odin who absolutely loves blue. Some reflect on a deity’s various aspects, like the ones in Freya’s entry. Amber will cover all of Her aspects, I feel, as it is Her favorite. More specifically, emerald and peridot cover her fertility aspect, tiger’s eye for both fertility and wealth/self-worth, gold, topaz, carnelian and citrine for self-worth, wealth, and vitality, rose quartz, kunzite, morganite, pink diamond, and kunzite for love, amethyst and kunzite for Her seidhkona aspect, and garnet for Her warrior aspect. All of these stones are beautiful, so I suppose all of them could cover Her domain as Goddess of beauty (especially amber, gold, rose quartz, and pink diamond).

Some stones overlap, such as quartz. Being the most common mineral on Earth, I’m not surprised! Quartz comes in a variety of colors, and so you can usually find some in a color of your deity’s choice. Some varieties of quartz have their own name, such as amethyst (technically a purple quartz). You’ll notice I list clear quartz as the most mentioned in the above list, possibly because in our culture we regard white as the most neutral and pure color possible, but also because white is the combination of all colors on the visible light spectrum. Therefore, it can be seen to encompass numerous aspects of deity. I think it also covers Gods of frost jotun and Aesir descent nicely as well.. which includes many in our tradition!

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Jord and Grounding

I’ve been trying to get better at grounding and centering, which only comes with practice, practice, and more practice. Grounding and centering is an integral part of magical practice, and necessary to refine your skills at seidh and journeying. While not exactly verified as “traditional” in Heathenry, it’s commonly recommended in modern Western magical tradition to master. And, hey, if it helps, I’m going to use it. And indeed, it does help. It at the very least has helped my stress levels and well-being. It’s also helped to become a bridge to interact with Jord, the Goddess of Earth personified. Also known as Erda and Erce, She is a jotun, the mother of Thor and consort of Odin. She is a mighty Goddess-after all, look how huge and powerful our planet is-and She is mother to us all. All humans are her children, as well as all living beings who live upon this Earth. We literally live on the back of a Goddess, and so utmost respect is warranted by living in our physical incarnation as we walk on Her. When I learned about grounding and centering, I was slightly concerned about the claim that as you ground into the Earth and send down negative, frazzled energy that it was not respecting Jord. The claim is that the Earth, meaning a Goddess, will recycle any jangled energy you have for Her own uses. Then, after you send down energy, you are supposed to bring up energy from the Earth if you feel that you should (especially in preparation for a magical working, where your own energy may not be enough or too risky to expend). I was even more concerned by this, the idea of drawing up energy from Jord. Why should one have the right to draw energy from a deity when one has not asked for permission nor offered anything? Isn’t that the height of disrespect?

While of course one should have an appropriate relationship with Jord and live sustainably and lightly upon her skin, and offer to Her and her land wights regularly, but what resolved my conflict was when I realized that as living beings we are sustained by Her energy ans she governs recycling of our waste. While I’m primarily talking about physical energy and waste, I realized that She also takes care of our spiritual energy and waste and has the ability to recycle it as well. In fact, giving Her extra energy (even our jangled everyday energy) only helps Her to further sustain and create our fellow living beings because She will use all energy that is given. Like the laws of physics, where nothing is ever wholly created nor destroyed, the same thing with Jord. All energy and matter is recycled, and She will do the same with you. Without Her energy, we would not live on this planet. Physical life could not happen without Her energy sustaining us. We would all be dessicated husks at the very most. Energy in our lives is the deepest, most primal process in the universe… we’re all made of stardust, after all, and our planet was forged from the reactions of hydrogen, helium, and so many other processes we have not penetrated. The core of the Earth is an enormous hotbed of energy, and Jord’s power flows from this heat as well as the minerals and soil from Her skin, and the beings that grow upon Her. It is our birthright to be sustained, nourished, and healed by Her energy. It is also our birthright to give her our waste to be recycled (let is be biodegradable), and also to die upon Her body and thus give Her our energy and matter to be recycled. So, it is our birthright to receive Her spiritual energy too-while we give Her our spiritual energy.

Hail Jord. May we live lightly upon You. May we have the sense to honor You. May You have mercy upon us for disrespecting You and Your children. May we weep because we have polluted Your body, Your soil, Your waters, Your blood. May we repent. May we forever hail You!

Stones to Represent the Nine Worlds

I have a few craft projects rolling around in my head to do as devotional offerings to the Gods, and one involves in part keeping an eye out for stone beads to represent the nine worlds. I’m sure others have had thought of this too, and they may have more knowledge of stone lore to figure this out more, but here are my preliminary ideas:

Helheim- Onyx, jet, snowflake obsidian

Niflheim- Clear quartz, Herkimer diamond

Svartalfheim- Smoky quartz, tourmaline, jet, onyx, rutilated quartz

Muspellheim- red or orange citrine, ruby, obsidian

Jotunheim- bloodstone, jasper

Vanaheim- AMBER, emerald, aventurine, tiger’s eye, jade

Midgard- granite

Ljoassalfheim- Selenite, moonstone, opal

Asgard- Clear quartz, celestite, sapphire, kyanite, sodalite, turquoise

I’m sure I’ll come up with more, and edit in the process. Some are quite obvious, like amber for Vanaheim, which is what I will most likely pick although I associate emerald and tiger’s eye with Freya. Others are more difficult… I’m surprisingly having a hard time finding an option for Midgard, perhaps because all minerals that exist on this material plane are found here and therefore perhaps Midgard covers all of them. Granite seems like a good solid base though, as it is a common stone and it represents the grounding bedrock of this world. Svartalfheim is a bit difficult too; if I had the means then some lovely mined precious metal would work but I’m not exactly loaded right now. Plus, it would have to harmonize with the nature of both the duergar and the svartalfs, and that may be tricky to negotiate. You’ll notice I put both onyx and jet in Helheim and Svartalfheim as well. I feel both stones could represent them well, but I will not use the same stones to represent more than one world in the final project. I’ll have to research more kinds of stones, and I’m sure I will have to divine and consult denizens of these worlds to see which ones are approved. The Holy Powers may even suggest entirely different ones than those listed here. And then of course, once I have approval, and create this project (I’m feeling a little uncomfortable as to what it will be right now, but I may reveal it soon!), the fun will begin. Something representing the nine worlds can assist you in traveling to them, and even assist others traveling to you, so it’s not an endeavor to be taken lightly.

I won’t be finishing this project anytime soon, however. I will need more time and collateral to collect the materials. What I will be working on first are painting candle holders to represent various deities on my shrines, and finishing embroidering altar cloths. Yay! I’ll show you pictures once they are done. I’m incredibly excited to craft things dedicated to my Gods.

Seeing Nerthus in Our Soil

It goes without saying that Nerthus is a mysterious Goddess, both in the ancient sense of a Mystery cultus and of the more modern colloquial term of the word. What we know of Her are scant references in Tacitus’s Germania, where he emphasized that the one remarkable thing that united the ancient Germanic tribes of what is now northern Germany and Denmark was their worship of a great Goddess he called Nerthus. Her original Germanic name may not ever be known, as “Nerthus” is a Latinization, but I once read it may have been pronounced Nerþuz or Nerðuz (I honestly don’t remember the source, so bear with me-if I find it, I will reference it!). The -uz ending seems incredibly plausible, as that was a common noun marker in proto-Germanic, just as the -us ending was for Latin and the -os ending in ancient Celtic languages. Of course, there is the ongoing debate in scholarship and the non-academic heathen community of whether or not She is Njord, because her proto-Germanic name as given by Tacitus would be Njord in ancient Norse, the God of seafaring. This has led to many folks suggesting that She is the female form of Njord, perhaps referencing that he is a gender bending God or that He is married to His sacred twin, common among the Vanir and in Indo-European cosmologies. There are those more knowledgeable in this debate that have already written about their opinions on this matter, so I won’t go into it more for fear that I’d give out wrong information. But I digress.

The most striking aspect of Nerthus is how, when every year in these ancient Germanic communities she’d be paraded around in Her ox-drawn cart and everyone would put away their weapons and not wage war, is how the slaves who bathed and dressed her statue had to be put to death. Terrifying as it may seem to many modern people, it makes sense. Tacitus said she was the Germanic Terra Mater, Mother Earth. And just as how Mother Earth gives and nurtures life, She also takes it away. Life and death are both the same to earthly life processes, as everything living feasts off the dead-with gusto! Nerthus was always to remain veiled, and those slaves who had to lift it to clean Her holy form could not go back to the land of the living. Once faced (literally) with the terrifying mysteries of Life and Death, becoming Death, there was no way one could bring that back to a human community. The power is too great. I have heard those who are initiated in Her mysterious, mostly likely Vanic priests, may see her face and not need to be put to death, but I would imagine that initiation would involve seeing Her Face and facing the mystery of Life and Death, the ultimate cycle. That would be holy terror in the greatest word.

So, here we have a Goddess whose rein over death is what nourishes life. I have seen Her so much lately, or rather, felt Her. I have not seen Her face. What I do see and sense is Her presence, which is life force that sparks growth and the dead things that feed it. I feel Her in the soil, the thing that enables all the green things to grow and feed those who feed off of them. She is the fecundity of the Earth. She is the black soil so full of life and nutrients. I believe that without her, land lies barren and infertile, unable to grow living things. Winter here in Southern California, contrasting with most places in the world, gets most of its rainfall in winter and not summer. In wintertime, green things pop up EVERYWHERE. Many of the things that grow are invasive weeds, however. Long ago brought by European invaders, these invasive plants carpet and blanket the hillsides and any patch of bare earth they can get to, and grow thickly and deeply green with the rainfall. So everywhere I go I see things such as oat grass, barley grass, clover, dandelions, plantain… things that are generally considered to be mowed and killed. I see Her as having domain over these grasses that give life-bearing grain, so important to many of our ancestors. I see Her as having domain over the plants that crawl over the earth, low-lying ones that are often overlooked. I even see Her having domain over herbs and shrubs, whatever hangs above the earth and derives its spiritual power from having such close contact with the mysteries of the soil and creeping crawling life. In Her presence I have seen and smelled damp fertile earth, the tang of it touching my nostrils even when I am nowhere physically near dirt. Or are you? She asks. You are never away from Me, little one. 

Her association with bogs is also an important one to consider. We know that ancient heathens regarding them as sacred, as a liminal space between land and water. Since they were in between realms, they were thought to also be a way of in between Midgard and the Otherworlds. I think they still are! I live away from the ocean now, but when I used to, I used to gaze at the vernal pools, where sedges and rushes grew in abundance, and I contemplated the sacredness of such spots. Nerthus has not taken me to bogs or wetlands yet, but what I do see are associations with underwater rivers and groundwater. Below our surface, there is always water flowing, whether it be mighty currents or scarce dampness distributed thinly underground in a desert. Sometimes it is frozen. However, I see Her domain as flowing melted water primarily, the water that feeds the soil and animals in the warmer seasons that precipitate bursts of life. I see Her in the roots of grass, under what we can immediately see, and isn’t that one of Her primary Mysteries? That we cannot see her easily? We humans often cannot see underneath the soil without digging it up first, we can’t see underground water until it flows into a wetland (or accessing it by digging wells or drilling and blasting into the ground to suck it away as moderns often disrespectfully do). Our eyes cannot see all the nutrients in the soil or waters without microscopes, and we often can’t see the bacteria and fungi that make it possible for such nutrients to enter plants and larger animals. Even with worms and the insects we can see we tend to not want to think about, as they disgust many of us. But we all know that without worms, there can’t be life because they aerate the soil. Now we also know that mycorrhizal fungi are necessary for plants to take up nutrients. They live symbiotically on a plant’s roots, and they often adapt to the native soil. Without these, no plants can grow, and sometimes without the native kinds of mycorrhizae, certain indigenous plants cannot grow. It’s a delicate balance. And of course, all nutrients in soil come from death-whether it may be from the original source of a dying star to the death of billions of tiny microscopic bacteria.

There is a sad dearth in modern writings and Work with Nerthus when She has so many gifts. It’s tragic. Part of the reason is because the scant historical resources concerning Her, and I also think it may be because of her inherent Mystery. I see her as simultaneously being very accessible, as all of us living folk live and depend on the fertile Earth, but also not accessible, as the Veiled One. Her mysteries are so profound, however, that this Queen of Vanaheim ought to be honored by all heathens. Hail Nerthus! May your Powers continue to give us life, and let us learn to appreciate the full gravity of Life!

 

First blog post

Hello! I’m glad to finally be joining the online heathen community. You can check out my About page if you’d like to know more about me. I particularly follow oft-quoted saying of the Volva’s “Would you know more?” I always have a need to know more-I am driven by the need to consume knowledge, whether it be of the Gods or more mundane topics. I suppose this is why I follow Odin the most closely out of the Northern Gods. We both have that in common… a deep drive to know more and experience, and a penchant for wandering to figure those things out! I hope that my writings inspire you to do the same as well.