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Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 6th F

I know this didn't get posted on the 6th, I am playing catch up. I had a full day yesterday and was tired when I got home, had some dinner and went almost immediately to bed. It's a good thing F is such an unimportant letter for my Norse purposes...

F is for Frigg, a Goddess of the Aesir, the wife of Odin, Queen of Asgard, mother of Balder. Mostly she is associated with being a good wife and mother, but there are tantalizing bits of other stories about her. In one story, when Odin is gone for a long time, his brothers Vili and Ve divide up his goods as an inheritance and share her between them; in another Odin is driven from Asgard and replaced by a usurper named Mithodin and she becomes his wife until Odin reclaims the throne of Asgard. She once tricked Odin into sparing a tribe he did not favor, and thus, became the patroness of the Lombards. She apparently has a talent for magical healing and prophecy. Scholars have argued, pretty convincingly, that she may once have been the same Goddess as Freyja and the aspects were divided into two greater feminine divinities, but that is beyond the scope of what I am doing here.

F is for Fulla, a Goddess of the Aesir. Not much is recorded about her except that she was a virgin that wears her hair down and carries Frigg's trunk and shares her secret councils. She also receives a finger ring from Nanna, who sent it back to her from the world of the dead after Balder's death.

F is for Forseti, a God of the Aesir, the son of Balder and Nanna. For once we have a god about whom very little is known, he is mentioned in one poem- Grimnismal- where it is mentioned that he lives in a hall called Glitnir and he settles Lawsuits all day. One other mention in Gylfaginning points out who his parents are, where he lives and that "..all who come to him in legal difficulties go away reconciled.". If he hadn't been mentioned as present at Aegir's banquet in Skaldskaparmal and in the list of kennings for Balder (Forseti's Father), we might not know he existed, although some scholars link him to a God called Fosite, after whom a Frisian island is named. Apparently this is also the word used for the title of the president of Iceland, who knew?

F is for Frey, a God of the Vanir living in Asgard, also Lord of Alfheim. Brother (possibly twin) of the Goddess Freyja, son of Njord and either Nerthus (who were also brother and sister, possibly twins) or Skadi. His name means "Lord", so it may just be a title, and his actual name may have been lost. Snorri says this about Frey "Frey is the most noble of the Aesir. He rules over rain and sunshine and with that over the growth of the earth, and it is good to call on him for prosperity and peace. He also rules over the wealth of men." As if this wasn't already a textbook perfect description of a fertility god, he is also always depicted with a large, erect phallus. He joined the Aesir as a hostage after the Aesir-Vanir war, along with his sister and father. Frey was such a success as a god of the Aesir that his statue stood in temples alongside Thor's and Odin's in the front and center spot of honor. For such an important God, we only have one important story about him that survives, his courtship of Gerd, if you want to call it "his" courtship, he sends a servant to do the courting because he is too lovesick, and then the servant ends up resorting to threats to get her to come back and be with Frey. Frey rewards the servant with his super awesome sword and thereafter fights with an antler. Frey is also the legendary progenitor of Sweden's kings, and there was a huge temple complex at Gamla Uppsala for Frey, who was known as the Veraldar God (World God).

F is for Freyja, a Goddess of the Vanir dwelling in Asgard. Sister (possibly twin) of the God Frey, daughter of Njord and either Nerthus or Skadi. Goddess most associated with erotic pleasure in northern Europe, often considered the Norse Venus or Aphrodite; there is, of course, so much more to her. Her name means "Lady" the same way that Frey's name means "Lord", either the name was lost or too holy to say or they were just named Lord and Lady, theories abound. In addition to all of the fertility associations, Freyja is also associated with war and death; in one version of the Brisingamen story she is only given back the necklace by Odin, who had Loki steal it from her, if she will stir up wars between the nations of men in Midgard. According to some she is the leader of the Valkyries, probably based on that idea that she is causing war. She also gets half of the chosen slain to dwell with her at Sessrumnir or Folkvang. She also is the one that teaches Odin the magical practice of Seid, which is a different type of magic than rune magic. She has cats and a boar and likes erotic poetry. She also cries tears of red-gold for her lost husband Od.

F is for Fenrir, or Fenrisulf, the Wolf of the Fens, one of the monster children of Loki and Angrboda. He turns out to be a bit much to have roaming around Asgard so the gods trick him into being bound, it takes three tries. The first two are unsuccessful, but the third attempt he is wary of, so he makes them bargain with him. If he can't break the bonds and they won't let him go, one of the Gods has to leave his hand in Fenrir's mouth as surety. Only Tyr steps up and does it. Fenrir can't break the cord and the Gods break their bargain to let him go, so he bites off Tyr's hand as recompense. At Ragnarok he, and every other thing bound, will break their bonds, and he will kill Odin, although some scholars believe that the original story was that he would kill Tyr.

F is for Faering, a type of rowing boat, with or without a light mast and sail. They would usually have three or four pairs of oars, they were clinker built with no deck. Completely open. Used for fishing or ferrying or tendering to larger ships.

F is for Farming, the occupation of most Vikings during the non-Viking season.

F is for Feuds, and boy howdy do the Norsemen have them. They were what anthropologists call a blood feud culture, and their feuds could last for generations because it wasn't cool to kill women and children. So, when your enemies ride up to your house and set it on fire, they call to you to send the little kids and the women out. You get to fight your way out or burn to death, while your wife and kids are watching. That probably doesn't endear the next generation to the winners of this round.

F is for Finns, you know the people that live in Finland now, only minus the Swedish minority there? In the Viking age they were renowned for their primitive savagery and sorcerous ways. Weather control was a specialty. Fortunately, they mostly just wanted to be left alone to do whatever it is that primitive savage sorcerers do. They did build excellent boats though.

F is for Franks, the people that later become known as the French. Super bad-ass at the beginning of the Viking age with Charlemagne and his immediate successors, by the end of the Viking age, they'd just become another target for raids and, eventually, settlement. I mentioned the other day how the entire Viking age may have been precipitated by the Franks and their expansionism, so I won't go into it again here.

F is for Futhark, which is the name of the Runic alphabet, which is over simplifying things. There are two "main" Futharks, the Elder Futhark, which is wildly outdated by the time of the campaign I am running, and the Younger Futhark, which is current to the campaign I am running. Most characters aren't going to be proficient in reading runes anyway, since I am against universal literacy in a game that is modeled on the European "Dark" Ages. All I am going to say is that the runic tattoo that Em's character got last time might not mean what you all think it means, you people are thinking in Elder Futhark.

F is for Folkvang, which my research indicates is either one of Freyja's halls or the place where Freyja's hall Sessrumnir is. The word means either "People-Field" or "Army-Field".

F is for Fensalir, which means "Bog-Halls", and is apparently Frigg's hall, not too much more is known about it, and I couldn't tell you why Frigg, the Queen of Asgard, lives in a swamp.

F is for Freki who is one of Odin's wolves.

F is for Frith, which means peace, but specifically a type of peace. A peace that is temporary, tied to a time or a place.

F is for Fylgja, this means literally "someone that accompanies" and is a spirit that accompanies a person. They are somehow connected to your luck or fate, you might see them in dreams, often to see them foretells your death. They usually have animal form, if they have the form of a woman then they are a guardian of your clan.