Sifter through the drifting white;
fallen snow untrampled, untroubled
‘neath the shoes of winter’s bones;
upright, a straight back, a proud face;
a shrouding mist and ghostlike sheen
upon such a face, though her cheeks flush, as ever,
so exhilarated a crimson flush.
Skaði is the name of one who roams
those hills beyond the shroud,
and ever in her oneness shall she be
the untrampled, the untroubled;
against the temperate breeze does she forsake a warmer wading
and embrace the biting winds
of so harsh and transfixing a frozen sky.
How my heart thaws within her glow;
how my lungs sing so unbridled in her heavens.
How my spirit reaches outward, rejoicing,
when it finds her guiding hands.
‘Bragi, I come before you on this spring evening, when the warmth beyond my window nearly mirrors the warmth in my heart. I come before you lucid and tranquil. I come before you without fear, and invite you to share a drink with me and take in the same Jasmine scent that I do now.
‘Skillful Bragi, discerning Bragi, Bragi of a most mindful presence: For every candle I have lit in your honor, you have reflected its light back to me a hundred times. For every meal shared, for every prayer offered, for every pile of incense ashes I’ve collected for you, you have let me taste sweeter things, let me hear lovelier words, and let me breathe more heady fumes. Word weaver and music maker, dweller in libraries and auditoriums alike: you have hastened my learning and bolstered my happiness, and therefore you have also given me precious moments in which to chase even greater knowledge and pleasure. That is a debt which I cannot hope to fully repay, so I will give you the next best thing. Please hear me now as I offer you the greatest gift I have to give.
‘Bragi my mentor, Bragi my friend: From this moment on, my body will be your temple, my hands shall manifest your will. My soul is a garden that grows many fruits for you to eat, a brimming cup from which you can drink, and a bed upon which you can rest. Give me a portion of your time, and partake of what little is mine. If by giving myself to you I can shorten the distance between us, then I do it gladly. Hear this, Bragi, my declaration: What is mine is now also yours, and so shall it be until the day when, by my own death or by your goodbye, I have fulfilled my oath.’
I finally made my formal oath to Bragi tonight, and completely by accident, I chose the best time for it. I sat on the porch where the incense would be out of the wind and stay lit, and I recited my oath from the sheet of paper I’d printed out, and after that it started to drizzle, and then it started storming. I sat counting the thunderclaps after each lightning strike, and I didn’t feel any different.
Five, six, ten, five, four, five, six, five, ten, and three.
There was no sudden overwhelming sense of duty and there was no regret. It was just me, Bragi, some incense and a cup of water, and Þórr off in the not-at-all-distant sky riding his chariot, first one mile away, then a bit further, then two miles away, then one again, and less than that, and then one and more, and one and two, and then the last lightning strike that touched down near my house before I went inside was just a little more than half a mile away.
I’ve been living as if I was already oathed to Bragi, and in a sort of roundabout way, I may actually have been. I took his name, and there are a lot of people who would say that doing that was as good as making a formal oath, but I wasn’t sure. I knew that I wanted to do it more formally anyway.
I feel calm, with a pleasant buzzing inside my head shaking apart any thoughts that aren’t easy to think. I feel warm and loved. Overall, this went exactly as I hoped it would.
When the Earth made you, Þórr, she flecked your skin with seeds,
tossing handfuls of black soil all across your shoulders
and sowing in your body the strength to thrive.
Your hair grew like man’s first fire,
red and thrashing like a fish in the sea,
the sea where, now and then, your mother feeds you the flesh
of those scorched ones whose ships fear your fanned red skies.
They find their burial mounds in the deepest sands
under the flash of your light,
the dead who feel your firm black soil again at the doors of your hall
and make themselves full with food and drink
and Hellos to friends so long and fervently missed.
I wanted to say this just because it was on my mind for a bit today:
If you’re like me and have a tendency to over-specify what you’re asking for in prayers to the gods out of fear of repercussions that might stem from unspecificity*, know this:
The gods are wise. They are very wise, and they can tell what it is you’re asking for even if you don’t specify the extraneous minutia of everything. If you have their favor, you will receive it. If they are determined to cause you to suffer or to twist your words to excuse such a thing, they will find a way to do just that. All you can do is offer your prayer, and with everything I just said being true, it is better to focus on whether or not your prayer is heartfelt rather than whether or not it is specific enough for a trickster robot genie to understand.