Before all that necromantic chaos erupted I was using this blog to explore the notion of fear in my life. And I had concluded that in addition to my patron Woden I needed some other kind of help – for example, from Frey, the Worldly God.
I’ve been doing a bit of reading, and Frey is a fascinating character. The comments made here are mostly based in historical evidence though I’ve extrapolated from the sources in some cases (and resorted to blatant speculation in others).
In some sources he is presented as the chief god; and he is the ancestor of at least one royal dynasty. One of the Vanir, he rules over fertility, peace, growth, and organic strength.
Frey is also arguably a god of the sea, being the captain of Skidbladnir, a ship which he can fold up and put into his pocket. And his boar Gullinborsti draws his chariot freely over water and sky, as well as being a potent symbol of new life and fertility in his own right.
As a god therefore of the land, the sea and the sky Frey seems to rule over the three-fold order of the becoming of aletheia in Martin Heidegger’s philosophy; he seems to be the Lord of our fundamental embeddedness within and reverence for the world.
No wonder that the arch-heathens called him the Worldly God, for his domain seems to spread over all of being and throughout all out all the infinite relationships that thread being together.
Frey is also an incredibly masculine, phallic god – towards all existence he turns his giant and unquenchable cock. His is an unfettered manifestation of eros – his way is that of immense and unending lust for life. Whatever comes before him excites his erection – his thirst for union with all of being can never be slaked. Truly he is a super-abundant god.
It takes incredibly courage and fertility to adopt such an attitude to life. To embrace all that life might bring us is no easy feat – Frey is quite the Nietzschean figure in his intense desire to affirm all that comes before him, no matter how painful, repugnant or rotten. Through his lust he beautifies even the most hideous and wretched. What unspeakable power flows through his veins!
Frey is a god of peace, though it seems he’s a powerful warrior when called for. For the most part, however, his way is that of frith – the fruitful and evolving bounty of right relations between humanity, gods, spirits and the natural cycles. He represents a different kind of masculine power to the cliché of the rigid warrior; his power is deeply peaceful, organic and rich, yet not in the least to be trifled with.
He is a cyclical, seasonal god, who dies but can never really be killed (At least until Ragnarok); who fades away and bursts forth once more with blazing laughter. Who both conquers and submits to the feminine in the world, forming an ecstatic and mutually pleasurable equilibrium with his various female counterparts.
Yet Frey is not just the god of this world. He is also master of Alfheim, which was given to him as a tooth-gift. As the lord of the elves it seems Frey is comfortable as the master of many domains and faces of reality. Here is a primal god of this-worldliness who is also a primal god of other-worldliness!
(As a side point, Frey’s very nature seems to violate the notion that heathen culture can be neatly divided into innangard and utangard, insiders and outsiders).
So with Frey it seems we have a god who can do it all. He is a lover and a fighter; a master of fertility, sexuality, and lust; a ruler of both this world and others. To his eyes, ears, tongue, skin and nose the world must seem endlessly loaded with riches, with abundant wealth even where our limited human perspective sees only misery or emptiness.
In reflecting on Frey I cannot help but ponder the question of whether it is not lust and sexual fire that binds the whole universe together. Nature has a determination and power that is truly awesome: one way or another, the sap always rises. Even in this modern ecological crisis – well perhaps humanity will wipe itself out, but nature will fight on and again flourish I am sure, no matter how dreadful the damage we inflict.
But perhaps we can dream into this metaphysics of sex still further – for what do the stars shine, dark matter sing, planets explode? Perhaps space is not a vast vacuum but rather aglow with the post-coital joy of the big bang.
Given the concertina theory of universal history it seems sooner or later that post-coital bliss will turn to foreplay, cosmic sex, and another big crunch and big bang, over and over. Perhaps this unimaginably vast cosmic orgy is all part and parcel of Frey’s incredible lust for life?
I have had at least one foot in Alfheim all my life, and struggled to be here in this world. I have been calling on Frey to teach me how to embrace this world and this life. Woven through this process has been the act of getting my first tattoos.
The tattoos are cryptographic bind runes. First I took the seed words. I used the aett/rune number coding system (see E. Thorsson’s Runelore) to determine a pattern of branches and then turned them into radial designs – one built on a Hagal shape, one modelled on a Helm of Awe.
The Hagal design spells out the word Honesty; the Helm of Awe design spells out Fearless. This formula – Fearless Honesty – has two aspects, inner and outer.
Within me they are an exhortation to be honest with myself, to take the time to listen to my own emotions and thoughts, my needs and desires. To hold myself with a little reserve so that I do not entirely lose myself in the world around me but retain my grasp on my own perspective and needs.
Beyond me they are an exhortation not to think I can or should hide away; that I can and should bring my whole being to bear on the world around me. That I do not need to compromise my being for the sake of the other person’s equilibrium or what I think they want.
These tattoos have become sentient it seems. Their voices rise up my arms into the back of my head and shove me forward when I am hesitant to be true to their meaning. Or if I slip into an old habitual pattern then I cannot avoid being aware of it, remembering it so that I know to change next time.
They’re harsh task masters, not at all gentle with me, but I need this militant attitude – it is good for me. Sometimes, paradoxically, being true to Fearless Honesty means admitting my fear, worry or uncertainty; sometimes it means not saying everything I could because that is the best way to be true to my internal compass.
Having these deeply personal symbols on my arms, clearly visible, really helps make objective my subjective desire and determination. And people notice them! Since I had them done any number of strangers have been drawn to me, curious, wanting to know what they mean.
Folk see immediately that they’re symbolic, and get very intrigued. It is good magic and gives me yet another opportunity to stand in the world, redeeming my inner and outer natures into the original inter-subjective wholeness of the world (the bridge over which perhaps Frey and Woden hold sway).
Using these bind rune tattoos as magical expressions of my desire has so far proved extremely fruitful; I feel deeply proud of them and in some respects feel more myself than I have in my entire life. It is even better that they’ve gone from being sigils to being conscious beings – I call that animism in action! I have a feeling that eventually I’ll be able to project them to work magic in the world; that’d sure be useful!
Oh, and I realise I’m becoming more attuned to other people too – to their attitudes, to the meaning of their words, to the things they are thinking but not saying but which they unwittingly betray in their non-verbal communication. I’m getting faster in my ability to analyse an understand exchanges where there is subtext and ambiguity.
Of course no tattoo can completely transform you, and I have to keep strong my commitment to these principles – just getting marks put into your skin doesn’t take away the effort that transformation always involves. But that said, in some ways I can now never go back.
Fearless and Honesty have become doors and conduits for this desire of mine to fuse Woden and Frey in my being. Bring it on!