Art Post: Freyr of the Vanir

Freyr of the Vanir by EjLowell

Holy crap it’s been a while. Sorry about that, guys. Nothing bad happened this time – nothing on the order of soul-close-friends dying, anyway – I just haven’t had much to talk about. Life’s been happening and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Might update soon.

A personal (I guess??) piece for Ingvi-Frey, lord of peace and good seasons. and pants I mean plants. Whenever the sunflowers and tiger lilies start blooming I think of him, and I haven’t done an art for him in a while.

I went out for an impromptu picnic with my lovely Moose man the other day and it was just so peaceful and warm, birds were chatting and bumble bees kept checking in to say hello (and scare the crap out of me), and all I could think of was, “this is Frey. This is what he’s all about. Peace and laughter and loving moments shared with friends and family.” We sat under a tree which is actually two trees twisted up together and surrounded by a bed of clover. It was hot as heck out, as summer on the front range tends to be, but it was so… Frey. I wish I could take that feeling and distill it, stick it into a bottle, and wear it forever. Give it to those who need it more than me.

Hi, btw, for those of you who don’t know I am actually rather devoted to this particular deity. He stands for so much that I try to stand for, that I try to be. He represents a version of masculinity that I deeply admire – giving without being pushy, protective without being possessive, friendly without being obnoxious, strong without feeling the need to prove it or show it off, respectful and kind toward all people – and working on this piece for him lit me up from the moment I started sketching it. I don’t do lineless art very often; it just takes so long to do, so I tend to reserve it for special pieces. This is in thanks to him for all of the things that have been going well lately, all of the crap I’ve been trying to sort out emotionally and mentally, all of the courage I’ve found whilst digging in the depths of hopelessness, and hope that I might actually have the wherewithal to follow the paths I can’t help but stare at from a distance because I’ve been so scared of being judged for taking them.

That got a little weird but I hope someone finds some peace in the picture, at least. Peace and Good Seasons to ya’ll.

Aside: And guess what just happened while I was getting ready to post this? A friend asked for help. Spiritual help. That. Was. WHAT?! I still get flabbergasted when shit like this happens!!

YouTube Pagan Challenge Week 08

Hello, friends!

Official Matron announcement: not who you might expect. Also, my current phrase of the day is now, “an abundance of Loki.” Also, also, look!! You can see the blond streaks in my hair in this video! 😀 Not dyed, actually natural.

YT Pagan Challenge

Givesthanking and My Thing With Food

TW: I don’t know if any of you reading my blog struggle with eating disorders but in case anyone reading this does, I mention a lot of personal food/eating issues later on in this post, so if that makes anyone uncomfortable(dunno if it would) just letting you know that that’s there. I haven’t ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder so, I wouldn’t know, but I’m putting a warning up in case it’s a touchy subject. It happens.

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Hello my friends!

It’s turkey day/givesthanking/Thanksgiving in the US. There are a lot of political reasons why I hate it, and a lot of personal reasons that I love it, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

It’s been a quiet few weeks in my personal life, thankfully. After the crazy month or so I’ve had it’s been nice to be able to sit back, finish a book in record(for me) time, draw for my friends, and generally get my grounding back under me. The whole thing that I went on a rant about a few weeks back regarding “there’s a season for everything” ended up with one person showing up, which means I’m pretty much right on that account. It’s still a pain, but I’m starting to think it’s because I like my chair too much. My mother has been doing much better lately as well. I think my dad must have finished his NaNoWriMo book as well because the two of them have been puttering around on the family Minecraft server for the first time in a long time. She’s being going through a rough couple of years, so whenever she gets a bit of a break and can relax, I’m happy for her.

On the Other side of the fence, apparently Frey has decided to introduce me properly to his family. I’ve met Freya before, briefly, but it’s nice to see her in her less terrifying aspect. More on that later. Njord came by completely unannounced but quietly, and the only reason I even knew was because I smelled brine. Which, for someone who lives in Colorado, is rather unusual. He seems to approve of me, and I like him well enough too. He’s laid-back, like his son, but with a bit more of a mature presence. He inspires in me the same calm awe I feel around any large body of water(which, I’ve been to two in this lifetime. Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean) and that’s something I can definitely appreciate.

Now, Freya has decided that I need a bit of help. I agree with her. Being a trans-man, I have done probably too many things to distance myself from my own feminine aspect, which is still rather strong in the sense that I am a creator and take great pleasure in “giving life” to ideas and brainchildren. Freya, instead of tackling this issue head-on like I would, has decided to come in through the window and sneak up on it. She’s started with The Thing I have with food.

Food and I have a complicated relationship that I still haven’t quite sorted out, but there’s a heck-ton of guilt wrapped up in the package that stems from a childhood of mixed messages involving eating at certain times, only certain things, and for the love of Pete, EJ, why don’t you ever finish your dinner? As a kid I had a pretty finicky appetite. I wouldn’t eat red meat, rice, or peas(which, for some reason both of those things make my mouth feel funny and I still dunno why) or anything which, in its final form, looked muddy. I liked bright colored foods like corn, asparagus, broccoli and cheese, pasta(especially spaghetti and lasagna), eggs, beans, and poultry(which, my dad tried to fool me into eating pork once or twice by saying it was chicken but for some reason I could still tell it wasn’t). My dad pretty much only cooked with “gray” foods, and I understand why now, since half of my immediate family has dietary issues that need to be taken into account, but as a kid I didn’t really get that. I also wasn’t really the best at words until I was in high school or thereabouts, so I didn’t really know how to phrase things like, “can we have broccoli tonight?” or “I really like the grilled chicken, could you make that more often?” or even, “pasta has a lot of nutrients that I actually need because I’m pretty darn underweight, so, can we possibly have pasta that won’t make Mom’s guts act up?” I ended up just saying I didn’t like whatever was on my plate at the time and then getting yelled at or heavily sighed at because I wasn’t eating everything and my parents were both frustrated at my lack of communication and concerned for my health.

Several years later and I’m supposed to be an adult. Food is still an issue with me. That, and relaxing. I’m not, before you ask, ridiculously underweight. I’m a few pounds below where I’d like to be but I have enough mass for some sweet muscles. It’s all good. I make myself eat, even though I don’t really like to. Having Brandon around, who likes going out places and getting food together, has helped in that regard, but I still see eating, subconsciously anyway, as something…I don’t know, shameful. There’s a weird mix of, “I know I need this to survive,” and “I don’t feel like I deserve this,” that spins around in my hind-brain whenever I contemplate getting something to eat. Generally it ends with me just getting up, telling my brain to shut up, and making a sandwich or something. Then I go back to my room, sit down, turn on a video, and try to ignore the weird mix of guilt and weirdness in my head while I eat. I feel weird even talking about it, so you know. (Also I hate the sound of chewing, but that’s a completely separate issue.)

So, Freya decided last night that we needed to start with pie. Pecan pie. My dad brought home a couple of pies yesterday, one of which(the pecan) his half-gone already because there isn’t ever enough pie in the house. Anyway. Went out, saw the pie, and Freya just kinda popped in like she does, pointed at it, and said, “Get a piece. Imma learn you a few things, darling. Don’t argue with me.” She had me sit down not in my desk chair but on my bed, and actually pay attention to the fact that I was eating something delicious and enjoyable. I did put on a couple of Jacksepticeye’s videos because that man is the embodiment of caffeine and happiness, so, hearing a voice I recognized in the background while doing something pretty unusual for me helped. As did the constant, “See? It’s okay to eat, and it’s okay to smile about it,” from Freya. It’s a bit strange how something so seemingly simple could be so effective. I mean, it wasn’t a miracle cure, I’m not going to suddenly love food over night, but it was surprisingly nice to sit and have a “girly moment” with Her and to be told it’s okay. I guess I’ve still got a truckload and a half of baggage to sort out.

With all that said, I am thankful for so much. I recognize that I take a lot of things for granted, and sometimes complain where I have no reason to, everyone does, but I try to be grateful whenever I can. I’m especially thankful that I’m surrounded by people who love and care about me, and think I’m worth it even if I don’t. I’m thankful for The Friends, even though they drive me up the wall sometimes. I’m thankful for my gifts, and for the people, places, and things that inspire me to use them. I’m thankful for my F/families, though mostly disorderly and pretty darn strange, I know t/They’ve all got my back. For Val, my blood-brother, Jenny, my little sister, and Freya, who seems to think she’ll be my sister-in-law someday. For Frey and Bran. For Thor, Njord, and my dad. For Sigyn, my mother, and my wonderfully Scottish step-grandmother. For Odin, Loki, and my grandfather. For the family I never got to meet. For my Tribe, even those of you I’ve never met in person. I’m thankful also for this amazing, beautiful, tragic, and ever-changing world I live in. For this Universe that I’m able to be a part of. For life. For lessons learned. For Love. Beyond anything I am thankful for Love.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

A Little Bit of Happy

Hello, my friends!

I don’t often talk about my father. Not because we don’t get along, we get along just fine, but I never quite know what’s up with him. He’s rather quiet, he’s a writer, and sits in the basement writing a lot of the time. There are a few issues that I have with my mother that I’ve never been quite sure of his opinion on, but I’ve never really asked. He kinda scares me sometimes. I get my berserk-ness in part from him, though he’s a stoic and is really good at not Hulking out and getting all smashy at everything. A while ago he asked me to design a logo for one of the ships in his series. I did, I actually designed two, and he/his fans liked my original design better than what he asked for. The book it’s used in came out last Wednesday while I wasn’t looking and I’ve been reading it for most of the day.

One of those issues I mentioned is my trans-ness. Continue reading “A Little Bit of Happy”

Weirdness

Hello, friends. This is going to be a particularly weird and slightly personal post, so bear with me.

My dear, sweet, voluptuous marmot buns, has it ever been a weird one. I’m not usually in the habit of posting twice a week(as far as I’ve noticed anyway), mostly because not much usually happens within that tiny time frame for me to post about. But the Powers have had me on a wee bit of a wild ride the past few days.

It started at the equinox. I won’t go into that as much; the ritual I did is one I’d rather not talk about because it was rather experimental(and I now have actual ritual garb, albeit unexpectedly so). Then the call to the Hunt, and my subsequent first couple of tasks. Then Val and Frey teamed up and taught me how to seethe properly(and holy BEANS was that a weird night) which actually wasn’t as funky and different as I expected it to be, if only because I’ve learned how to go into the gangr, which is a very similar state but on a physical level. Val said I’m doing things a little bit bass-ackwards that way. It worked, though. Freya tried to teach me once, but she and I don’t mix, for some reason.

The day of the eclipse was extra-weird, though. For the first half of the day I wrote my post about the Disney Ride and then spent it feeling kinda slow. Then I had this stupendous urge to go outside, so I grabbed my shoes and went for a walk up to a pond near my house and in the middle of a park. There was nobody outside. There was no wind, either. It was weird. I’ve never seen the park so deserted, especially in the middle of the afternoon, on a Sunday, with such incredible weather. But, walk I did, and went to stand at the highest point of the path around the pond, which ended me up facing due-West, to where a cloud bank was gathering in the distance. I did a little weather work, which isn’t something unusual for me(I’ve got storms in my blood, I tell you), asking the clouds politely if they’d bow out of the way of the moon when it came up and started eclipsing. They agreed, and ended up giving us a wonderful red sunset before vanishing northward, and then coming back the next day to drizzle all over everything.

However, while walking back home from the working, even though I’d grounded and shielded myself properly(for once), I started feeling more and more… Other, I suppose. At one point I looked down at my hands to see them fairly glowing in the sunlight(yeah, I’m pretty white, but this wasn’t your average sun-reflection glowiness going on) and heard Frey laugh, saying, “Careful, Erik, your Vanic is showing.” I didn’t run into anyone else on the way back, even though there were a couple of people at the park again. Usually, walking does a lot to ground and center me, but for some reason I still had that weird shit going on. So, when I walked back into my room and got my shoes off, I grabbed my staff to see if it would ground me a little better. The staff is made from the root of a fallen ash tree that kept yelling at me some time ago, and it is usually really good at grounding. This time though, I picked it up, but felt even weirder. I sat down, pressed my forehead against the staff, letting it support me a little, and then felt myself grounding into the core of the freaking earth.

Now, this has happened to me before. I used to work with really deep magic that runs slow and steady through the deepest rocks, as a way to actually get things done, but I’ve never felt myself touch the heart of our planet before. I got pulled out of myself a little, and the roots that were glowing in the earth became the roots of Yggdrasil, and then the branches exploded up and out of my back, like wings, to touch the sky and the sun, and everything beyond. And from my heart, I gave a little prayer that the Tree be healed, and saw the trunk start glowing a warm, deep gold, and the glow spread up the trunk and into the branches, and down into the roots, into Helheim, into the core of the earth. And I saw the earth become a ball of softly radiating peace, as it rotated through space, and felt Hope, and gave that to the Tree, too. I watched new sprouts spring from the woody trunk, green and gold, reaching into the darkness, reaching for other worlds. And I watched more roots spiraling outward, pressing deeper into the darkness. I felt the pulse of the Tree, and of the earth, and sat with it for a little while, before my concentration and focus started to wain, and Frey guided me back, holding me, talking to me. I felt Love, and gave that to the Tree as well, as I started feeling myself again.

After what felt like an hour, I finally moved a little, shifting the staff to rest against my shoulder. I still felt the weird tree-wings in my back, but they faded slowly as I sat there with Frey. After a little while, I felt the glow fading too, and felt the heaviness of my body, the realness of it. Frey was smoothing my hair back, but his touch and even presence became distant, like I was feeling through a heavy blanket again. Normalcy happened slowly, but when I finally opened my eyes again, I heard Val laughing, a bit nervously. I asked him what he was laughing at and he just said, “Wow.” Frey let me go, then, and I stood up, feeling surprisingly… normal. Still a little wonky, but it was fading as I reminded myself of my grounding, and the several layers of warding around my room and house. Went to get something to eat, and some coffee, and I was feeling fine within about five minutes.

Yesterday, I was so tired. I spent half the day kinda zoned out in bed, half-sleeping, thinking about what happened. I called Bran, we talked for about an hour before I realized it was about dinner time. I spent the evening watching HGTV with my mom, laughing at one of the cats being absolutely ridiculous, until I heard a little scraping noise on the metal bird feeder outside, and looked over to see my other cat(we have three, actually) staring out the window and making a big-tail. I got up, looked out the window, and a little masked face popped up from behind the feeder like, “OHAI! I wasn’t doing anything!” I started laughing and told my mum it was a raccoon. It ducked back down behind the fence, though, so I went to the kitchen, turned the light on the back porch on, and there, in the yard, playing around merrily, was a family of raccoons.family. Four or five, including a big fluffy one that was bouncing around like a squirrel, trying to catch a bug. After a moment of freaking out, my mother and I both realized that no, they weren’t rabid, just having fun, and decided they were actually kinda cute, from a distance.

Now, I knew there were raccoons in the neighborhood. I caught a glimpse of one once walking home from work back in July, and I watched one come scooting awkwardly along the fence one morning in August. I’ve never seen one that up close before, and never more than one. So, being the curious sort that I am, I looked up raccoon symbolism and found that they have a connection to, among other things, trees. I was actually kinda stunned. I asked Val about it, and he said, “I dunno, I’m not a raccoon. But maybe they were here to thank you. Or play in the energy. Something like that.” He’s often right(old fart knows much more than he lets on).

So, that was my week. It’s been long, and weird, and full of wyrdshit. This whole week I’ve been reminded of something I read in one of Sebastian’s books, “the more you work with Other, the more it Others you.” I started out being different. Now, I’m not only growing more Other, I’m growing more myself. Which is, I think, a good thing.

“Healing the Tree”

On the “Disney Ride”

Hello, my friends!

Public service announcement: If Someone puts you on what many people like to call, “the Disney Ride,” don’t feel bad.

The “Disney Ride” is basically an idealized simulation of what Someplace is like, without actually being there. Sometimes it’s created by Someone trying to keep a person out of trouble, among other reasons, sometimes it’s created by the person’s own mind for whatever reason. Most of the time, people who are on “the ride” don’t realize it, at least in my experience, and especially if they’ve never been to That Place before.

I’ve been Told, in no uncertain terms, that the first time I went back to Vanaheim, I was actually on the Disney Ride. It was Frey’s fault, but he did it for good reason. I didn’t remember or know enough about it to be anywhere near respectful, and I was asking questions that I shouldn’t have been asking. I’m not actually mad about this. In hindsight I was being a nosy brat and probably shouldn’t have been poking around in the first place. I’ve been back a few times since, and I know I wasn’t on the ride then, which was why I asked. The first time back after my little dream, I was actually summoned there, and wasn’t allowed to make record of what happened. People seemed a bit…colder. Harsher, perhaps. Less willing to deal with anything off-putting I said or did. I know why they are all a little skeptical of me, and have been since the beginning, which is also part of the reason why Frey didn’t allow me into Actual Vanaheim until the relevant parties could have a chat at my expense, and I’d learned a little bit more about the history of the realm. Which was why I now know why almost everyone looks at me funny Over There, and also why Val told me the wrong tribe(though, not entirely) when he came back after however long. He didn’t trust me either.

So, some of the stuff I learned in that dream was correct, and some of it was actually bullshit. My Name was correct (though They tend to call me whatever they want; for instance, Odin still calls me Arnbjorn even though I haven’t been that-me in a thousand years or thereabouts), Frey naming himself as my patron was correct(and he had a bit of A Moment when I asked him if that was bollocks as well), and I think the part about me being Salmon tribe was correct.. The jury is still out on whether or not I was actually in two tribes, I sorta doubt it, but the rest was utter crap. I would go into all the reasons, but if you read it and know anything about Vanaheim, and how people get around Vanaheim, you’ll recognize how much of it is just… ridiculous. Like I said though, I ain’t even mad! I find it kinda funny, actually, that I could have gotten the place so wrong and not realized it until later.

However, as far as I’ve asked and been able to tell, that is the only time I’ve been on the ride, thus far, except for when I was younger and trying to stick my nose in where it didn’t need to be. So my meeting with Hyndla actually happened, though some of the stuff she said probably got lost or skewed in translation. Loki taking me hiking around Other-Midgard and Jotunnheim actually happened. A slew of other experiences that I haven’t written down for propriety’s sake actually happened. Which is rather a gratifying thing, since I’ve gotten to that point again in life where I’m going, “okay, weirdshit is weird. Am I going crazy?” and getting definitive “no’s” from the powers that be. Which, to be honest, is terrifying.

Moral of the story, don’t feel bad if you get sent to dream land while trying to get Somewhere. It’s usually for a very good reason.

Also, don’t try to walk into Vanaheim with anything Odin gave you. Including tattoos. Especially tattoos. Unless you’ve been invited for some reason.

Aright, WTF

Hello, my friends!

So, it’s been a strange week. It started off with Frey outright claiming himself as my patron(or, one of them, anyway. More on that later) and telling me all that entails, and then disappearing for a few days. Then an old friend of mine from the other side stopped by for the first time in about three years and finally told me his story, and after that Odin decided it would be a good time to remind me that I still technically had a contract with him from way back when. There’s been a slew of other stuff happening as well, but for the sake of my perceived sanity—or lack thereof—I’m not going to write about them. The weirdshit is getting really weird, and I’m not quite sure if I’m used to it yet. Or, at least, not all at once. And all this crap got dropped on me all at once, so, I want to know what the pardon my french actual fuck is going on that is making All of the Things happen at the same time.

I won’t talk much about my admittedly strange relationship with Frey because of reasons, so we’ll start with my old friend. He appeared to me after watching a show back in about my sophomore year of high school, in which there was a character that very closely resembled him in both appearance(both of them are dragons/dragon-like) and personality(to some extent). Over the years he changed from appearing to me strictly as that character, and now basically appears as he actually looks, at least to me. I’ve been calling him Val, and while that may or may not actually be his real name, he responds to it. He’s been leery of telling me his actual story for years, probably because I didn’t have the background knowledge at the time, but apparently he decided that now would be a good time to tell me. Why? I don’t know. But he apparently fought in the Aesir-Vanir war way back when—even though he looks more like a jotunn to me, he does have pointed ears under all that hair—and got nearly killed when he went up against Odin. Yes, he did. That’s where most of his scars came from. After that whole business he settled back down for a while and mentored me when I was going through my training with the Serpent tribe. After I got switched to Salmon, he got a little, shall we say, irritated, and they switched him to Wolf tribe because of his temper problems. Which, looking back, may explain why he up and disappeared in the middle/end-ish of 2012. For a vanic being, he’s very aggressive and warrior-minded, so I’m not sure if he’s full-on elf, or if he is a bit of a throwback to when the Jotnar and Vanir were the same. He seems old enough for that. I’m not quite sure why/how he’s managed to stay around this long, but, whatever. He’s taken it upon himself to be my mentor again, especially when it comes to matters of shapeshifting and sorcery. Am I a sorcerer? Who the hell knows. Maybe. At the moment, I’m not sure if he’s still living in Vanaheim, or if he moved.

Hi, Val!
Hi, Val!

As for Odin… he actually showed up with both of his eyes intact, which is not something I’ve ever seen before, and looked much younger. Black hair instead of white, although he did have touches of grey around his temples. That was the first time I’ve ever seen a younger version of him, and it was terrifying. The only reason I knew it was him was because of that creepy, intense, slightly bloodthirsty, but also grandfatherly energy he tends to carry around with him. It was even more pronounced than usual. He asked me if I remembered the agreement we’d made back when I was actually living in Norway, and of course I don’t, other than I carry around the title, “Odin’s Wolf,” for whatever reason. I remember that I had a tattoo on my left arm. but don’t remember what it was, since that’s the arm that got cut off when I died way back when. Anyway, Odin… “reminded” me of some things. I’m still not sure what it is he wants me to do exactly, but I know that it’s going to be a very strange winter for me. Someone Upstairs has some plans, and I’m not sure what they are or why they’re in place, but, Odin’s on a warpath, it seems.

August for Frey – Day 5

5. Members of the family – genealogical connections

So. I’ve not had very much interaction with most of Frey’s family, canon or otherwise, so this may be a little bit of a stumpy post.

Nerthus – Frey’s mother, Vanic earth goddess of bogs, purification, boundaries, and the arcane consequences of screwing with shtuff you don’t understand, particularly where nature and the natural order are concerned. She keeps her face veiled because to look upon it is death. I’ve never met her, and Frey doesn’t speak much of her, at least not to me.

Njord – Frey’s father, god of ships, sailing, fishing, and all sorts of other watery business! He’s more of a mediator than Aegir, who is basically all of the wild parts of the sea. He’s on good terms with pretty much any and all of the sea and river deities, being an excellent diplomat, and they tend to calm the waves for him when he sails. He was married to Skadi for a brief time, but they didn’t like where each other lived and ended up calling for a friendly divorce. I’ve only heard whispers from him, but he reminds me in some ways of my own father, who grew up in Maine and served in the coast guard for a while, and so also has links to the sea. He also writes about sailing ships in space, so, my father and Frey’s father have some things in common. I feel like I know him without having known him, you know?

Freyja – His twin sister, and sometimes wife. In my experience, she’s not his identical twin. In fact, she appears to me as brilliantly dark, Frey’s opposite, almost. She still shines with her own beauty, her eyes are like moonlight on clouds though her hair is dark, and she is terrifying. As a goddess of love, she is gentle and caring toward all things, helpful to those that need help, and kind. As a goddess of war she is driven, stoic, cold, and calculating, much like a large cat. As a Seidhkona — which was how and why she appeared to me — she is utterly dark, and utterly blinding at the same time. She knows many of the universe’s secrets, and knows the soul of the one whose eyes she looks in. And she is powerful beyond measure in her mastery and ownership of Her Self.

Sigyn – Well here’s a surprise. Njord fostered the orphaned Sigyn, which makes her Frey’s foster-sister. I’ve seen a couple of her facets, both the compassionate, even slightly innocent face and the face that I like to call, Sigyn of the Strong Arms. She seems to embody the phrase, “do no harm but take no shit.” I don’t know her story so much, but she’s a peach, and cares for Loki more than anything in the world. Even if he’s being an ungodly derp.

Gerda – The beautiful daughter of two jotunns, and Lady of the Garden. She grows herbs — both wild and domestic — where Frey grows crops. She comforts women who have had miscarriages and abortions, and doesn’t judge, having to keep herself barren to avoid having any offspring bound by the same contract that holds Frey hostage. She and Frey are even more opposite than Frey and Freyja. As gods of marriage, she and Frey bless those who are gainsaid by others, those who are ostracized because of who they love. I would call upon them both should I ever get married to my Bran, who is both my opposite and my morning star(he’s Luciferian, lulz). I’ve never met her personally, but Frey smiles whenever he talks about her, and glows a little brighter.

Hnoss and Gersemi – Freyja’s daughters, and Frey’s nieces. Not much is known about either of them.