Amen! Thank you, Glenn for allowing me to share your comments.
Hail Skadhi in Her power.
"Skadhi to me is what every woman should be, bold, proud, brave, and independent. Skadhi is a force to be reckoned with, and she knows it! She is confident in her skills and fears no one or no thing. Unlike the wolves she is portrayed with she is a loner, who is not afraid of being self- sufficient. She stands alone, and on her own. She is wonderful! She is a role model for all women!"
Amen! Thank you, Glenn for allowing me to share your comments.
Hail Skadhi in Her power.
I was recently surprised and pleased to find that there is a Skadhi devotional available (and best of all one I didn’t write! LOL). I believe that this is the first devotional dedicated entirely to this Goddess, though I do know that prayers to Her have been included in other works. Published by Gullinbursti Press, “The Huntress Within: Finding Skadhi,” by Isa Frostdottir is a slender volume of prayers, invocations, and the occasional article all centering around Skadhi and the lessons She brings.
The book opens with a piece titled ‘She Speaks.” It’s an evocative opening, for it touches on Skadhi as both a member of three tribes of Gods by either blood, adoption, or marriage. It speaks to Her power and Her mercy in sparing the Aesir from Her vengeance, but more importantly, it speaks of Her isolation and Her place as ‘Other’ even in the midst of these connections. It defines Her most essential nature (as much as we can ever catch a glimpse of such a thing with a Deity) and presents an image of a Goddess who is implacable, keen-minded, and capable of ruthless compassion when it suits Her. It is an apt introduction.
Right from the start, one of the things that I really liked about this book was the scattering of contemporary heiti throughout: White She-Wolf, Lady of the Northern Mountains, Winterborn, Winter Queen, God Bride, Winter’s Wrath as well as the more traditional Ondurdis, Huntress, and Etin Bride. Each by-name is a path to the Deity it represents. Each by-name is a unique way of making a connection, creating a bond, and approaching One of the Holy Powers. That is important, for it gives us a way to interact with Them, through ritual, prayer, devotional work…however that connection plays out. We can engage in some small way through the understanding given to us by Their heiti. That’s no small thing at all to my mind. The use of different and very evocative by-names is one of the first things that struck me about this book. It’s the thing that I believe, even if nothing else in the book resonates, may help someone find their way to Skadhi despite themselves.
Anyway, to continue, there’s an excellent retelling of Skadhi’s story by Svartesol that discusses all of Her appearances in lore. She also By placing this as close to the beginning of the book as she did, the author provides a nice context for the more experiential pieces that follow. Later, the Svartesol again gives us a quirkily humorous retelling of the story of Skadhi and Njord, giving us a meeting between Skadhi and Ullr that the reader will not soon forget. There are numerous prayer-poems throughout the book, and most of these are personal glimpses of the individual authors’ own relationships with Skadhi. Still, they are lovely and open enough that the general reader may find points of connection and comprehension as well. I particularly liked the “Prayer for Winter” in which Skadhi is petitioned as ‘Winter’s Wrath’ to treat us with kindness during the cold months, and to temper the sting of Her ice and snow. It is a beautiful and strangely moving prayer and one that I found myself moved to speak as I looked out of my house the same morning I was first reading this book to find my world covered with the biting kiss of hoarfrost.
There are several de rigueur stories of how the various authors came to be devoted to Skadhi. Despite the fact that this is almost mandatory in contemporary devotionals, I do not in any way dismiss their importance. These are usually the pieces that move readers the most, and allow them to identify with the author’s process of growing in devotion and piety. These are the pieces where the reader might catch a glimpse, not of the public product: the Heathen man or woman fervently devoted to their Gods seemingly without stumbling step, or wrenching emotion but of the novice struggling and bumbling, stumbling and shedding many a tear along the way as he or she found the God or Goddess (or sometimes Gods and/or Goddesses) of the heart.
There is one prayer that I found personally very moving. It speaks to Skadhi from Loki’s point of view and is a strangely compelling and poignant piece titled “To Skadhi, from Anonymous.” I also liked the references and respect consistently given to Skadhi as a warrior Goddess throughout the book. I’ve found that with many Goddesses this aspect of Their natures is often downplayed or dismissed entirely, so this was refreshing. In no way was Her martial skill glossed away.
Most of all, reading through the prayers and poems in this devotional left me with a feel of Skadhi’s presence. As I’ve said before, that is precisely what a good devotional should do. For me, that is the litmus test over and above the skill of the writer and the organizational prowess of the book itself. A devotional should lead one into a greater understanding of the Deity involved and more importantly, it should summon the feel of Their presence. It’s a key to developing a greater connectivity and awareness of the Holy Powers and if it doesn’t do that then no matter how well written, it’s not a good devotional. I’m happy to say that slender though this volume may be, it does what a devotional should do. Is it great writing? No. But it summons Her presence. For those interested in learning more about Skadhi, or who want to start honoring Her but aren’t sure where to begin, I recommend this book.
All proceeds from “The Huntress Within: Finding Skadhi” go to benefit The International Wolf Center (http://www.wolf.org).
Gullinbursti Press: http://gullinburstipress.com/
It is in the desolate places
that I have learned to seek You out,
You, Huntress, Who led me to Odin
so very long ago.
Skaldsingers say that with Him
You birthed a line of kings.
It is good.
You know His ways,
so easily matched by Your own.
Perhaps You can teach me
how to strengthen my spirit
so that it does not cow
in the onslaught
of His affections,
in the raging violence
of His demands--
He, Who is Destroyer of dreams,
and Ravager of worlds.
It is comforting to know
that this God who plumbed death,
Who carries its mark within Him,
Who evokes such terror in those who know Him best
(and love Him even as they fear)
Holds no such terror for You.
It is comforting to see, Lady of ice and frost and killing kind,
One such as Yourself, who has faced this Lord of Terror
And remained implacable
By His passing.
Hail Shadow Huntress,
Hail Etin Bride,
Who sought vengeance
and instead became
a force for peace.
My column, 'Road to Hel,' at Pantheon has updated today. In this week's column I interview the founder of Ekklesia Antinou, P. Sufenus Virius Lupus. Interested folks can check it out here:
In my neighborhood, today is certainly a day to be honoring Skadhi as Goddess of winter. We’re in the tail end of a major snowstorm and the world outside is coated in a foot of white. As I type this, I’m listening to the sound of snow shovels on my driveway (courtesy of my neighbor’s children) and the occasional snow plow on the street. The snow itself insulating the house has made it warmer, and everything feels as though it’s suspended in an almost unearthly quiet.
Winter is a strange time, as magical as summer though I don’t think it is quite as often given its due. Winter is all about the quiet before manifestation. It can be a brutal time, a time of tearing away the old, the brittle, those things no longer necessary; it can be a hostile time, showing no quarter to the unprepared or weak. Yet it is beautiful and in its own way cleansing. Winter can, I suppose, bring loneliness or solitude and I suspect that is one of its mysteries. What we find in those moments of quiet, of isolation depends on how well we’ve prepared.
It’s a time to honor the frost Etins: Kari, our God of the North Wind, His son Frost, Grandmother Holle (not a frost etin, but certainly associated with winter snow), and of course Skadhi. Skadhi is there in the cold, in the bitter, biting touch of the ice, in the enchantment of a silent landscape covered with snow, in the way such places beckon and compel the heart. She is a Goddess of wild places and of the cold that cleanses the spirit. She is a Goddess of the killing cold, the cold that shows no mercy; and She is a Goddess of the beauty and blessings of Winter.
What are the lessons of Winter? That at least is a thing easily gleaned from folk and fairy tales. Many are the stories of young girls being sent by cruel relatives as brides for Father Frost (or in some cases Father Winter). The hope of course in every case, is that the cold of Winter will freeze the poor child to death, stealing warmth, and breath, and life. Instead, the girl inevitably returns, not only alive but having been gifted with wealth beyond measure. What saved her in the face of Father Frost? Usually it was her fearless courage and (how often we forget this in our communities) her gentle, unassuming courtesy. Perhaps that is the essential lesson of the spirits of Winter: knowing how to behave properly in any circumstance and having the courage to be kind. Winter, after all, and all its children (ice, frost, cold, snow—a thousand kinds of snow) is implacable and what else can one do in the face of its power? Kindness is sometimes enough to see one through the darkest of winter nights, even those of the soul.
So in our own dark nights of winter, may we praise this Goddess of the hunt, this Goddess of the killing cold, that She may look upon us with a predator’s compassion. Hail, Skadhi.
Rebecca Buchanan, editor of the online magazine “Eternal Haunted Summer” (http://www.eternalhauntedsummer.com/) graciously sent me the following two prayer-poems to honor Skadhi. It is my pleasure to share them with you now.
Prayer to Skadhi I
By R. Buchanan
snow-furred wolf sister
with eyes of arctic stars:
who loves the smell
of warm blood in the ice:
who hunts her prey
beneath dancing northern lights:
i would join your pack
Prayer to Skadhi II
By R. Buchanan
you call home
court of the northern lights:
i would feast at your table
An online shrine to Mengloth and the other Healing Goddesses of the Northern Tradition (a goodly number of Them anyway) is now available. It's a beautiful shrine where one can learn about these Goddesses and light virtual candles in offering. Check it out: http://www.northernshamanism.org/shrines/mengloth/information/welcome.html
My colleague Sarenth sent me the following two prayer-poems in honor of Skadhi. Thank you, Sarenth, for sharing your work. May Skadhi ever and always be hailed.
Silence of the snow
Drawn arrow, slackened stance
Stretched limb, taut body
Claimed and captured
In the hands of the Huntress
Survival Rhyme from Skadhi
If you would survive, listen well
Be prepared, know where to dwell
Know the herbs and animals' lives
Know how to walk the snow and ice
Sharpened weapons, waxed bow
Among these skills you must know
Deft hands and strength of steel
This training you must wield
Take what's needed, not too much
Lest spirits hearts and minds be shut
Razor mind and cunning skill
You must use to make your kill
When you take the skin take care
Lay the flesh of your prey bare
When you feel the freezing ice
Cover all or lose your life
In the thawing spring plan well
Or prepare your soul for the road to Hel.
Patheon has just posted my newest Road to Hel Column. Interested folks can read that here: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Spirituality-Is-a-Two-Way-Street-Galina-Krasskova.html.
'Road to Hel' updates weekly every Wednesday.
I’ve always liked the story of Skadhi, though I don’t have any particular devotion to Her personally. It’s only that She armed Herself for war and stormed Asgard and I have an affinity for Warrior Goddesses. That cold-blooded dedication to duty, the courage to go alone against a powerful foe, the sense of one’s own power and willingness to compromise only when the right of Her claim had been acknowledged and worthy reparation offered: these things I respect. She was the first Deity amongst the North to turn Her face toward me and in those early years that seem so long ago, I often suspected that I would be Hers. Though that was not to be, Her story still thrills me.
Skadhi is the daughter of the frost giant Thiazi. She lives in a great hall called Thrymheimr in Jotunheim and is often called “ondurdis” or ‘Ski-Goddess’ by Norse skalds. I have also heard Her referred to frequently as the “Snow-shoe Goddess,” for obvious reasons. Contemporary Heathens honor Her often, both as a Goddess of winter and as a Goddess of hunting since surviving descriptions in the lore note that She hunts often with the bow. At one time, Skadhi was the wife of Njordr and Step-Mother to Freyr and Freya. In Skirnismal, it is Skadhi who notices that something is wrong with Freyr (that something turns out to be love-sickness, as He has glimpsed the Goddess Gerda and believes He has no hope of winning Her hand). Finally, the Ynglinga Saga notes that one of the Scandinavian royal lines was descended from a union between Her and Odin, a union which resulted in several children.
Skadhi first came to Asgard to avenge the death of Her father, and it was this death (in which Loki played a part) that caused eternal enmity between Her and Odin’s blood brother. Thiazi had coerced Loki into kidnapping Idunna and was killed in Her rescue. Skadhi stormed to Asgard armed for war, demanding wergild (recompense) for Her Father’s death. The Gods urged Her to accept compensation other than blood vengeance and She set the following conditions:
As a further gift, Odin took Her father’s eyes and tossed them up into the heavens where they gleam as stars for all eternity. She was allowed to choose a husband, but only obliquely: She was only allowed to see Their feet and had to choose that way. She chose Njord, because He has the most beautiful feet, though She had wished secretly for Baldr. (In writing about Fulla, Alice Karlsdottir notes that ‘foot’ is sometimes a euphemism for ‘penis,’ which still amuses me, and casts this particular part of Skadhi’s story –potentially—in a whole new light!). Loki achieves the second requirement by tying His balls to a goat and cavorting around until He lands in Her lap. Sadly, the marriage of Njord and Skadhi was not a happy one: He couldn’t stand the mountains and She couldn’t stand the seashore so They divorced, but amicably.
Skadhi appears again in the lore as a key player in Loki’s punishment. When Loki is bound in the cave after the death of Baldr, it is She Who hangs the poisonous snake above His head. For this reason, I suggest that it is inadvisable to put Their altars anywhere near each other.
This January will be given over to the discussion of Skadhi and Her mysteries. I encourage anyone who has a particular devotion to this Goddess to submit material, which I will happily feature here.
Hail Skadhi, Winter’s Goddess.
Hail the Bane of Laufey’s Son.
Hail Icy Goddess, daughter of frost giants,
Daughter of the mountains,
Daughter of the killing cold.
We praise Your might.
We honor You,
and seek Your blessings.
Ways to Honor Fulla
Colors: green, gold
Symbols: shoes, jewelry box, circlet
Altar Suggestions: jewelry, semiprecious stones, a carved wooden box, mint leaves
Food and Drink: good wine, marzipan, honey, desserts, caramel, Goldschlager
Service Offerings: learn to keep your word completely, wisely, and well; refrain from unwise or reckless speech (gossip).
Contraindicated: breaking your word, sharing another’s secrets, gossiping, squandering resources.
(quoted from “Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner” by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova. This book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Northern-Tradition-Solitary-Practitioner-Devotional/dp/1601630344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293511199&sr=8-1).
And with this, we bid Fulla goodbye, granted a few days late.
Thank You, gracious Goddess,
for walking with us through December,
for the lessons You may have taught,
and the graces You may bestow.