This article I am going to undertake slightly differently. We have considered the connection to elements like fire and water and what being drawn to these things could mean. I don’t use these elements in any spiritual context, but as the real physical elements that exist out in nature. I then briefly touched on the connection to possible things like “spaces” and “personalities” as being the potential link to the goddesses. But, now I want to delve into this topic a bit deeper.

I would like to start this section with a poem. As perhaps this topic is the one to which I often struggle accepting about our goddesses. Asatru is not an easy faith by any means, our gods are both light and dark and things in between. They are not cruel, but they are not exactly altruistic in nature either. So with that thought in your mind, I bring you this poem as a lead into this weeks discussion…

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In that place,
In the dark, the murk, the wood, the swamp.
She lingers…..
For she is the deep water,
The ugly and the dirty,
The deep and the mystical,
She is called death,
She is called troll wife,
She is called iron maid,
But all these names mean nothing,
She is constant and unchanging,
She holds her hand out,
In welcome,
Never shunning any who walk her path,
And those that find her,
Show they fear not,
What lies in the dirt and the dark…

By Larisa Hunter

I wrote this poem to reflect how I feel about the ‘darker’ side of the gods. Many of us only want to see what is “positive” about the gods as if its uncomfortable to face what and who they sometimes are…but you can’t fight the reality of the darker aspects. For women, this path perhaps is the most natural for us to walk, and sometimes seems like a second skin. I think perhaps this is because women can accept life and death far easier. This is not saying that men can’t, but women and death have been long time companions.

My philosophical question this week is: Why is it the iron wood maids and death goddess are so taboo? Lets look at why these aspects really aren’t and should be embraced as an aspect of our lives as heathens.

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Image by Luke Pennington

Women of all kinds are found in our myths, we have: wives, mothers, single mothers, dual mothers, step mothers, single ladies, old women, young women and all things in between. When you look at ‘troll wives’ this term was slung as a reference to a person’s appearance. The troll was an ugly and horrid creature, and it’s likely that troll women was calling someone ugly. It’s likely that these women were not or perhaps not viewed as beautiful. It might also make reference to the type of role they played.

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If you read an article posted on The Lady of the Labrynth: http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=117 she goes into great depth to talk about a variety of goddess that ‘carried’ mead into different areas. Mead in this case is a metaphor for something ‘sacred’. Often in these aspects the women have to travel into the darker worlds, even the death realms to bring it. This might have meant that these trips would alter and change the aspects of a woman’s “appearance” because to be in and around death might cause at least some physical changes.
A theory I have on this is that the myths might be referencing women who worked in the actual death houses. Women would often be around dead bodies quite a bit, often washing and preparing the dead. So, perhaps in some cases if a body was sick at all, women in this line of work may have contracted illness. It’s also possible they didn’t smell the best, as you have to imagine that perhaps lack of clean body prep. This is just a theory, I can’t say anything for certain, but perhaps those who deal in the realm of death show this physically in their face. So, is it taboo to push these women out?Today we are so far from death, so distanced from it, but women still have an active role in death. We still wear loss on our face, it takes its toll, in every line and wrinkle, as we seem to absorb loss, cradle it and weep for it until it is ‘cleansed’ from our family.

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If you read an article posted on The Lady of the Labrynth: http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=117 she goes into great depth to talk about a variety of goddess that ‘carried’ mead into different areas. Mead in this case is a metaphor for something ‘sacred’. Often in these aspects the women have to travel into the darker worlds, even the death realms to bring it. This might have meant that these trips would alter and change the aspects of a woman’s “appearance” because to be in and around death might cause at least some physical changes. A theory I have on this is that the myths might be referencing women who worked in the actual death houses.

 So why do we often reject the possibility that these aspects still run in the blood of our heathen women. That somewhere in us, lurks this ability to cope with death, the ability to harness wyrd, to carry ‘mead’ and to be symbolic representations of death, and that these aspects are not shown to invoke fear, but instead to peel back the layers of life and to embrace the dark aspects; walking beside them, hand in hand without fear.To read more on these topics, check out:

The Lady of The Labyrinth: http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/
and download her free article https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/23958?locale-attribute=en
which has some great information! I highly recommend you read it!

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About Larisa Hunter –

Larisa is an author, embroidery artist and owner of Saga Press/Friggas Loom. She is also a wife and mother. She has been heathen for 11+ years & has a certificate in General Arts and Science which lead her to run an art program at my daughters school, which allowed her to incorporate my love of history and culture. She consider heathenry as her life and what defines her. It is at her core and she follows it as she follows anything in her life, with a full and open heart. Larisa has spent a great part of her life focusing on education and assisting others come to heathenry. She has worked in various fields allowing her to have a diverse knowledge of how to operate a business and a non-profit.

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