Saturday, February 7, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Sif is a Norse Goddess Who is commonly assumed to be a grain or fertility Goddess. This is because She was famous for having very beautiful golden hair which reached all the way to the floor; this abundance of flowing gold has been equated with the ripe grain.

She was married to the Thunder-God Thor, who was Her second husband; by Her first husband, one of the Jötnar, or Frost Giants, She had had a son Ullr ("Glory"), the God of winter, hunting, and skiing.

Sif was very beautiful anyway, but Her extraordinary hair put Her over the top; and not surprisingly, She could be rather vain about it.

Now Loki, the God of mischief and fire, saw this; and always being one to mess with perfection, He snuck into Sif's chambers one night. Without waking Her somehow, He chopped all of Her beautiful hair off, leaving Her with a terribly unflattering, and rather uneven, buzzcut.

When Sif woke She was quite distressed, both by the loss of Her wonderful hair and the assault on Her person; and when Her husband Thor found out, all Hel broke loose, at least for Loki.

A good deal of roughing up later, Thor extracted a solemn promise from Loki that He would somehow restore Sif's hair. So Loki went to one of the dwarfs (Oh! Ow! As a Tolkien fan it really hurts to spell that plural correctly, especially given that the dwarf in question was named Dvalin), who were known for their outstanding ability in crafting things. He not only convinced Dvalin to make a new head of hair for Sif out of real gold, but also persuaded him to make a magic spear, Gungnir, and a magic ship, Skidbladnir. Loki was so impressed by both the dwarf's ability and gullibility that He decided to use these new wonderful things to trick an unrelated family of dwarfs to make their own, better, even more wonderful things.

Now this is Sif's story, not Loki's; but suffice to say that Loki's tricksiness almost cost Him His head, and He had to do a fair amount of undignified weaseling to get Himself out of it. As usual.

When He finally brought back the crafted golden hair, it immediately and magically affixed itself to Sif's head, and thereafter grew just like real hair.

One of the important points of that whole story is that that one impulse of Loki's--the one that could not stand stasis and perfection--led to greater rewards than He or anyone could have imagined.

Well, except maybe Sif Herself. For She is said to have possessed prophetic powers; and one wonders just how much She knew of the events that would be set in motion by the loss of Her hair. Myths about grain do tend to involve themes of sacrifice, as the grain is cut when ripe, at its prime; and given the famously poor soil of Scandinavia and the short growing season they must have being so far north, I'm not surprised that in the myth the price of the cut hair, that which is required to balance the loss, is so great.

So what does this card have to teach us this week?

I am a cautious type, myself, so I am reluctant to recommend schemes of the cockamamie kind; but were it not for Loki pushing His luck, and then being forced to His wits' ends when His scheming backfired, the results would not have been anywhere near as wonderful.

I don't know. On the one hand Sif is the catalyst, the perfection that brings about the balancing act of chaos, the still point that demands movement and change; but in framing it that way there is then an element of temptation, and of blaming Her as the victim for what Loki of His own free will chose to inflict on Her.

What does She say?

Don't bet on it. This is about the flow of riches, and can even represent changing a career; it will work out in the long run, but the short run is Hel. How much did I know? All of it, of course. Knowing it does not mean not reacting, though; I still cried when my hair was cut. A loss is still a loss, even in the name of the longer arc, the long view. Do not expect that you will not mourn these things.

But still, things will turn out better than you would have imagined, and when you look back on it all you will find one thing feeding into and leading into another, and it will all make sense. You must have faith in this, that you will see the pattern and the flow in the end; for you will not see it now.

I'm not sure what to do with that. It comes down to trust and faith, I guess, a good reminder to those of us stuck in the last half of a long winter; those of you in the southern hemisphere may perhaps relate better to the theme of harvest that runs through Her story. Either way, there is turning and change, though it may have its ups and downs.

What do you think?

To read more about Her, go here.


Unknown said...

When the wheat is harvested, it dies... still, it becomes nurturing to other beings... and it is the destiny of the green wheat which gets rippened and golden by the sun...

Even knowing that I will be harvested one day, I do want to be a golden ear of wheat!

Danielle Combs said...

Indirectly related to your youngest son is named Thor. It is such an appropriate name.

Anonymous said...

I accidently read "You will turn out better than you imagined." It made me cry.