Deity of the Day for September 14th – Njord, Norse God of the Sea

Deity of the Day


Norse God of the Sea


In Norse Paganism, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”. It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed. However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.

Njörðr’s name appears in various place names in Scandinavia, such as Nærdhæwi (now Nalavi), Njærdhavi (now Mjärdevi), Nærdhælunda (now Närlunda), Nierdhatunum (now Närtuna) in Sweden, Njarðvík in southwest Iceland, Njarðarlög and Njarðey (now Nærøy) in Norway. Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.


Theories about Njord


Njörðr is often identified with the goddess Nerthus, whose reverence by various Germanic tribes is described by Roman historian Tacitus in his 1st CE century work Germania. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed *Nerþuz“Nerthus” being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around 1 CE. This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic god or, generally considered more likely, that the name may indicate an otherwise unattested divine brother and sister pair such as Freyr and Freyja. Consequently, Nerthus has been identified with Njörðr’s unnamed sister with whom he had Freyja and Freyr, which is mentioned in Lokasenna.


In Saami mythology, Bieka-Galles (or Biega-, Biegga-Galles, depending on dialect; “The Old Man of the Winds”) is a deity who rules over rain and wind, and is the subject of boat and wooden shovel (or, rather, oar) offerings. Due to similarities in between descriptions of Njörðr in Gylfaginning and descriptions of Bieka-Galles in 18th century missionary reports, Axel Olrik identified this deity as the result of influence from the seafaring North Germanic peoples on the landbound Saami.


Parallels have been pointed out between Njörðr and the figure of Hadingus, attested in book I of Saxo Grammaticus’ 13th century work Gesta Danorum. Some of these similarities include that, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Skáldskaparmál, Hadingus is chosen by his wife Regnhild after selecting him from other men at a banquet by his lower legs, and, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Gylfaginning, Hadingus complains in verse of his displeasure at his life away from the sea and how he is disturbed by the howls of wolves, while his wife Regnhild complains of life at the shore and states her annoyance at the screeching sea birds. Georges Dumézil theorized that in the tale Hadingus passes through all three functions of his trifunctional hypothesis, before ending as an Odinic hero, paralleling Njörðr’s passing from the Vanir to the Æsir in the Æsir-Vanir War.


In stanza 8 of the poem Fjölsvinnsmál, Svafrþorinn is stated as the father of Menglöð by an unnamed mother, who the hero Svipdagr seeks. Menglöð has often been theorized as the goddess Freyja, and according to this theory, Svafrþorinn would therefore be Njörðr. The theory is complicated by the etymology of the name Svafrþorinn (þorinn meaning “brave” and svafr means “gossip”) (or possibly connects to sofa “sleep”), which Rudolf Simek says makes little sense when attempting to connect it to Njörðr.



Lessons From The Gods

Lessons From The Gods

Author: Sinister Ang

The Gods have many things to teach us. This has become abundantly clear throughout my years of learning as I studied my Pagan path, forging my personal relationships with deity. Some of these lessons have been small, something learned through a dream or through some intuition that cannot be described in words. Other lessons have been far more concrete.

I follow a Norse path, which probably has no relevance to the way in which the divine chooses to make their wants and needs known. To each his own, and while I’m still unsure as to who orchestrated the most recent of the lessons I needed to learn, I have no question in my mind that it was indeed the divine attempting to show me something I need to know. While I think the gods usually take a more objective interest in the day-to-day affairs of humans, sometimes in order to instill a particular point or lesson in their followers, they need to be more hands-on. Christians may call these “miracles” or “seeing the light, ” but for most Pagans, these come as no surprise; the Gods truly do work in mysterious ways, until we figure out their reasons. Take, for instance, my most recent brush with divinity.

As I walked down the stairs outside my house one day, talking over my shoulder to my husband on my way to feed the dog, impatient about getting home late from work and wanting to get to the many chores that needed to be done before bed, I stepped onto one of the loose, springy boards that make up the deck outside my house. This was, in itself, not an unusual occurrence, but this particular step decided to dump my ungrateful posterior unceremoniously to the ground, and when this happened, I twisted my ankle around. By the time I had landed, on my back and staring up into the darkening sky, my ankle was throbbing in pain and my concerned spouse was standing over me, asking if I was all right. I tried to roll over, and more pain shot through the leg and foot, and the ankle had already swollen to twice its normal width.

My husband helped me up and back into the house, put ice on the ankle, and ran off to tell my sister and father, who live next door, that we would need them to watch the children while he ran me into the hospital to have the leg checked. My five-year-old stood watch over me as I waited for him to return, asking me why I was crying in that way that five-year-olds do, and reassured me that I was going to be okay. (Yes, my daughter was trying to make ME, the mother, feel better. I fully understand the humorous implications in this!)

To make a long story short, after a drive to the hospital emergency room and an hour’s worth of X-rays and bracing the leg, it was decided that I had sprained the ankle, and broken one of the bones in my little toe, for which I would eventually be outfitted with a CAM-walker boot. At least it wasn’t a broken ankle, as I had originally feared, but it did put a hindrance on my ability to perform many of my daily household tasks. I discovered the joys (or disgust, depending on point of view) of using crutches, and was nearly confined to bed for a week before returning to work part time and eventually full time.

What lesson was I meant to learn in this? The gods wished for me to learn patience, to step away from the hum-drum of my daily life and breathe, to stop and smell the roses, and to realize that the world will not stop turning if I am not there to see to its every need. It took me several days curled up in bed in the blissful embrace of painkillers to realize that there was any lesson whatsoever to be learned from the experience, and many more still to learn what it was. Even then, I couldn’t for the life of me determine just why there was a lesson to be learned in the first place. The answer, it seems, took a few more weeks to fully sink in.

I was back to work when a call from home reminded me that some things are more important than paychecks. My daughter, the five-year-old previously mentioned, had acted up in school and needed to be picked up so she wouldn’t cause any harm to herself or her classmates. A meeting with her principal and talking to a few specialists and other parents led me to the conclusion that my daughter was dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The more I read, the more I realized that if my husband and I were going to get through this with our daughter, we were going to need to be patient and firm with her, set guidelines and schedules to keep her from acting out and causing a disturbance with her classmates.

While we still await a full diagnosis of my daughter’s social and behavioral issues, we understand that patience will be key to dealing with it, and it becomes obvious to myself that the gods knew that I would require the lessons in patience so that I would be better prepared to deal with my overly-active daughter. Would I have been as prepared without the lesson? Perhaps, but I also have enough faith and trust in the gods to know that they are far more knowledgeable than I am about these things, and if they thought I needed the extra boost, they were fully justified in giving it to me.

Not all lessons from the gods come this way, but many do. We’ve all known someone who lost a loved one and learned that heartbreak doesn’t last forever, or someone who lost a job and had to learn the valuable lesson that money isn’t everything. Perhaps it wasn’t a friend, but you, as the reader, who has had some kind of lesson given to you in the past that taught you something very valuable about yourself and the world you live in. Many times we do not recognize these teachings for what they are at the time, but only after reflecting on the events in ones past do we truly recognize the god’s teachings. We can call them life experiences or trials or whatever else we wish, but truly they are important lessons from our gods that we need to learn in order to reach our full potential and be truly happy. Some are harder lessons to learn than others, and if we don’t learn the first time, deity may find it necessary to teach the lesson again, or for longer than originally intended. What matters is that we learn from it, and grow spiritually and emotionally from the experiences given to us.

Like many Pagans today, I was drawn here by another personal experience meant to teach me a lesson: the death of a close loved one. My mother’s death rocked me, made me question what I hoped to get out of religion, and I finally understood that it wasn’t what I was currently getting. I spent years shopping around, joining the campus Christian coalition in an effort to find the kind of religious experience that I hoped and longed for, a personal connection to deity that was lacking, a sign that there truly was some divine being out there who had a personal interest in the pain I was going through. Much to my own surprise, my solace came when I sat beneath the trees of the amphitheater at the college I was attending, when I listened to the rush of the river nearby and listened to the birds chirping in the trees. It took losing my mother to find Paganism, a personal connection to the very real driving present in all of nature. Without that not-so-subtle push, I would probably have never seen the forest for the trees, would have blindly flailed through life with a spirituality that didn’t make sense to me and offered nothing back. Again, another painful lesson, but one I needed to learn to get to the point I am today, of truly feeling harmony with the world around me and the creatures in it.

The lessons that I have learned, while exclusive to me, are echoed around the world with other Pagans, with people of every religion, every day. They come in all shapes and sizes, these lessons, and have since the dawn of time. For every action, a reaction. It’s not just a law of physics anymore.

I truly hope that I have learned patience from this most recent experience, of having to have others do things for me that I could no longer do myself, of having to slow down and think about each step, to think about what I was doing and where I was going. My sincerest wish is to implement their teachings in my daily life, and to not get worked up over things I cannot change, to go with the flow and take things in stride, as they come.

Because I really hope they don’t decide to break the other foot if I haven’t.

Defining ‘Pagan’

Defining ‘Pagan’

Author: Ladywolf
Pagan, what does it mean? Is Paganism a religion? What is a Neo-Pagan? While the Pagan community cannot agree 100%, there are widely accepted answers to each of these questions. I will present the widely accepted views and then my own. Please note that even the widely accepted views are not accepted by all.

Pagan is, and is not, a term easily defined. The origin of the word is Latin and was first used to describe the people who lived away from the cities and refused to embrace the new Christian religion. The original meaning was country-dweller or peasant and was not complimentary.

Over the years another definition of Pagan evolved and again, is not complimentary. This evolved definition is used mostly by followers of Abrahamic religions and is meant as a derogatory description of anyone who does not follow an Abrahamic system of belief. This definition is meant to convey someone who is immoral, has no religion or follows an ‘evil’ religious path.

Pagans are not people without religion, evil or depraved. While not all Pagan pathways share moral standards, beliefs and practices, most Pagan religions do adhere to strict codes of conduct and do have moral guidelines. Asatru has Nine Noble Virtues, Wicca has the Three Fold Law and Wiccan Rede and Druids have a Code of Honor.

In the Pagan world, the word Pagan is most often used as an umbrella term to categorize the many diverse minority religions that follow or attempt to reconstruct ancient pre-Christian religious paths or folkways, and their followers. Included under this umbrella are the religions of Wicca, Witchcraft, Asatru, Druidry, Celtic Reconstructionist, Norse Paganism, Odinism, Scottish Reconstructionist, etc. Some would also add Native American Spirituality, Shamanism, Vodun (Voodoo) and Santeria to the list.
It is important to note that while Wicca is most certainly a new religion invented in the 1950’s by Gerald Gardner, there are, woven within its framework, ancient beliefs, mythologies and fragmentary practices from many folkways, that survived until this day.

Neo-Pagan simply means New Pagan, referring to the revival of these ancient paths in the modern form, as well as the people that follow them. I am not sure we need this new term, as I do not believe any ‘old Pagans’ are still alive today. Some believe this term separates modern Pagans practicing positive systems of belief, from the old derogatory ‘Pagan’ term; but Pagan is still there and adding the ‘neo’ fools no one.

While everyone can agree that Pagan is an umbrella term covering many diverse paths, not everyone agrees that Paganism can be a path unto itself. What then of those people who do not follow a defined path such as Wicca or Asatru but still follow fragmentary ancient beliefs and practices interwoven with new? I say they too are Pagans and their religion is Paganism.

As our world evolves so too do the words that define our religious and spiritual paths. As new thought forms and beliefs emerge we need to update our thinking and shed our old ways of thought. Why not change the meaning of the word Pagan? Why not claim, as another definition, that Pagan can also mean an eclectic follower of a number of paths with no name?

People are ever changing and evolving and so too does our language. What was called a horseless carriage around 100 years ago is now called a car. Does this mean that the horseless carriage and car are two different things? Is using the new word ‘car’ less valid than using horseless carriage? Does it make the car less of a car? I think not.

In the same way, Pagan should be embraced as the definition of a religious path as well as an umbrella term. Why should those of us who follow the Pagan path allow others to define our beliefs and practices for us? Why should we be restricted to neatly defined little boxes of belief? What if I believe in and follow the Nine Noble Virtues as well as the Wiccan Rede and Three Fold law? What if Kali-Ma speaks to me as strongly as does Pan? Am I not then a “true” Pagan because I do not follow a defined path?

There is no one religious or spiritual path in which all of the practices resonate with me. There are many paths where only one or two practices or tenets ‘feel’ right for ME. I will not follow a belief system simply because it has an accepted definition and label if that system holds no meaning for me. Religion is personal. Religion should make you feel whole and content, not empty and frustrated, as I would feel following a system whose practices made no connection to who I am as a spiritual being.

With that in mind I take from many places, mostly from paths that do fall under the Pagan umbrella, but also from Eastern systems and Native American teachings. I believe in many Goddesses and Gods. I believe in Magick but do not practice rituals. My Magicks are simple and Earthy. I believe in reincarnation and the Summerlands. I fit into no formally defined Pagan belief system, so does that mean I have no ‘religion’?

I don’t think so. What that means is: I have created my own religious path using what is most meaningful to me and what helps me to grow as a spiritual being. It matters not that my path happens to have elements from dozens of other belief systems, there is no cosmic rule saying I must have a label that fits a box. So in terms of spirituality, my particular path of Paganism is a religion!

I am Pagan. That is my religious path. I choose to define it as the name of my religious path. It is a firmly held belief and infuses every aspect of my life, every day. I honor deity, have a set of beliefs similar in form to other religious paths and adhere to them. Under those terms, the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes my religious path as a religion. So I say yes, Paganism is a religion!

Note: In order to be a recognized religion in the U.S you do NOT need a Supreme Court decision. As long as your religious path falls within the definition of a religion that the courts have set- your path is a legally recognized religion!