Sunday, June 12, 2005

Frigg's Blessing

Despite my desire to know how to kick people in the head, I'm not really a violent person. I've never been in a fight. I've never hit someone who wasn't my brother. And I don't usually get pissed off at other people's friends. But one night, back near Easter, I was trying to tell one of the Professor's friends about how, when I'm traveling, I say to myself Frigg's blessing to Odin, hoping that words powerful enough to keep that troublemaker safe will have enough resonance to keep me safe as well. And the Professor's cute friend, the Libertine, said "Isn't that so cliche?" and it was all I could do not not lunge across her apartment and stab him in the eye with my thumb. We were all drunk, though, so I chose to be understanding, but the truth is that, even though he's very cute and nice and charming, he's ugly to me now in a way that I can't quite articulate. I mean, I don't expect everyone to respect my beliefs. That's fine. But if you're going to disparage them, at least have enough respect for me and for the meaning of words, to accurately describe what your objection is. Cliched. Grr. That still stings. I could have even accepted it if he were suggesting that my behavior was cliched, but I don't think he was giving it that much thought. He was just saying that the words were cliched. And how words he's never heard before can be cliched, I just don't know. Jerky behavior like that is why people just don't share things. Anyway, I wanted to tell you what she said. Hollander, who people swear by (though I just don't trust him, fucking up, as he does, the genders of the moon and sun), goes a little too pseudo-Shakespeare for my taste: "All hail to thy going! All hail to thy coming! All hail to thee, hence and hither!" Yes, sadly, he does say she said "hence and hither." Not exactly stirring words. Larrington, who I like better and will use for the rest of the post, translates it as "Journey safely! Come back safely! Be safe on the way." But I decided to do my own translation. No, I don't speak Old Icelandic. But I am a nerd, and that makes up for it. So, here's what it says in Icelandic (note, I can't even make Blogger put the accent on "cliched" so you certainly aren't going to see any thorns here. The thorns go where you see "th"): "Heill thu farir! Heill thu aftr komir! Heill thu a sinnum ser!" Here's what I got, initially: "Safe/whole/healthy you go/travel/happen. Safe you from come. Safe you on/onto/upon time/occasion/journey be." Here's what you'll see me muttering in turbulence thousands of feet in the air: "Safe you go and safe you come and safe on your journey be." It's hard to read the Eddas from our vantage point and not feel disappointed in what a limited view we get of the female gods. There always seems to be some story we haven't heard, that we won't ever hear. When Loki gets pissed and starts airing everyone's dirty laundry, he accuses Frigg of having "always been mad for men: Ve and Vili, Vidrir's wife, both were taken into your embrace." Vidrir is Odin, and whatever story there is about Frigg taking his brothers as her lovers has been lost. The same lost mythology taunts us when Freyja jumps in to defend Frigg, "Frigg knows, I think, all fate, though she herself does not speak out." Little else in what's left us suggests that Frigg has this power. And there are the little glimpses--such as him asking her whether he should go to battle the wise giant Vafthrudnir, which leads to her blessing--that suggest something very deep and powerful about their relationship and his respect for her. And there's another, less obvious, thing that suggests this. After Odin hangs from the windswept tree, he says that there are nine spells he learned from his uncle, after which he becomes wise and powerful in the ways of the runes. He then tells us about fourteen powerful spells he knows. (I don't know if this is the nine he learned from Bolthor and five more or fourteen in addition to the nine his uncle taught him. Either way, it doesn't matter. We're looking at number eleven.) "I know an eleventh if I have to lead loyal friends into battle; under the shields I chant, and they journey inviolate, safely to the battle, safely from the battle, safely they come everywhere." Gee, doesn't that sound familiar? I wonder where he learned that one.


Blogger Twyla said...

I like the traveling blessing very much. As for the Libertine...I think it was Einstein who said, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

6/12/2005 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Pick said...

Gee whillikers. I bow to your knowledge and respect for Norse mythology, my fave of the myths. Of course, it was inspired by my comic book love as a youth.

I went to a Lutheran high school, and in speech class one day, I attempted to convince people to give Odin a chance as an unemployed God who could use some new worshippers. I think everyone in the room gave me a very puzzled response.

6/13/2005 12:00:00 PM  

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