Sjöfn – Friend of the Silenced Ones

Posted: July 13, 2013 in Alfar & Duergar, Handmaidens, Lofn, Online Shrines, Sjofn
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Norse Goddess
Goddess of love, friendship and dolls.
Name means “Affection”

‘The seventh goddess is Sjöfn; she is much concerned with turning the minds of people, both men and women, to love. From her name love is called sjafni.’ UPDATED: Her name is pronounced “Sio-ven” in Icelandic (‘fn’ is sounded ‘vn’) and anglicized to Siovn or Sjofn. (1)

Sjöfn is among Love Goddesses the one most interested in children, not as a mother figure but as a companion. From them she receives love and offerings to this day, and to them she offers comfort in times of emotional need. When girls do tea parties with their dolls, it is she who receives the offered cookies and milk. At a children’s pic nics, she is Mr. Snuggle Bear, growling and demanding more cake and cuddles. When no one else is there to catch tears of loneliness, she is the ragged worn down plushy whose matted fur gets soaked. When a child clutches desperately to their toy, wondering why mommy hurts them, why daddy drinks, it is she who hugs them back and listens.

Sjöfn’s Story

She grew up alone in Alfheim, invisible, without friends, protected from everything — including affection. Plied with endless gifts of toys and richly ornate dresses by royal parents too busy to give her attention, these silent companions were her only friends. Yet through her budding Alfar magic and mentoring of the Lady South Wind, she learned to bring toys to life, to make their hearts beat so they could hug her back. Hers is the magic of talking toys awakened by breath and by love.

At first she hoarded them, her only confidantes, but eventually learned to make more friends by having these toys given to other children. While her body lay as if asleep, she became the growling troll puppet, the fierce valkyrie and the friendly bear for them. Through the eyes of dolls she learned of life outside the castle, of poverty and injustice. The South Wind is the Song of Protests, the Voice of Revolutions, and she chose her pupil well. When Sjöfn led her friends in defiance of these wrongs and of her parents, she received the ultimate punishment among Alfar: social death.

We have this too in Midgard. When you look away from the beggar as if he isn’t there, walking a little faster and pretending you didn’t hear him, you affirm that social order. When crossing the street to avoid the prostitute’s gaze, you make her a ghost, trying hard not to think about your discomfort. A moment later, she is forgotten and you sigh with relief. When an Alf sees another Veiled by this shroud of glamour, they know to treat them as a ghost. The “dead” are not spoken of or spoken to. To do otherwise would be to risk joining them. For one Veiled to speak to another means extending the sentence for both. You walk in crowds, totally disconnected and utterly alone. It breaks down your sanity until you yearn only to return and comply with all the rules and customs set before you.

Sjöfn sat alone on a bench each day, seeing the living and the “dead” pass by, all of them ignoring her. She spoke to an imaginary friend, trying to hold onto sanity, until one day a girl came to sit with her. She returned the next day, and the one after that. Neither acknowledged each other, but the living girl listened. This girl was Lofn, the one she would one day elope with and future Goddess of forbidden loves.

Love Goddess

Sjöfn is Goddess of love and friendship, including to those whose voices are silenced for their views, for being too young or too old, for being born the wrong color, oddly sexed, differently shaped or able. She is much concerned with turning the minds of people, both men and women, to love for those who are ignored and ostracized for no other crime than being themselves. Their cries of suffering she hears, and when no one else will, she listens with compassion and whispers to those who might help.

Freya is also Goddess of love and desire, but let’s face it, she has it all: beauty, power and confidence. She is absolutely comfortable in her sexuality and needs no special trappings to indulge in it with whomever she pleases. It is not so simple with Sjöfn. Traumatic events after her escape from Alfheim made it impossible to share intimacy. She had to find ways around her hangups by using toys, tools and games, or else return to being the Ice Maiden, cold and unfeeling. Thus she is sympathetic and helpful to those who struggle with their sexuality, who find ways to work around their issues — no matter how contrived these solutions may be. We all want love but sometimes it’s complicated. She holds both the desperate skin hunger and the terror of being touched. Only Lofn’s acceptance and willingness to gamble it all for love could overcome that challenge.

Suggestions for Honoring Sjöfn

  • Colors: Pale purple / lavender, pink, white. Sky blue and cloud white (Frigga’s colors).
  • Symbols: Many hearts, connected or touching. Hearts separated and stained with darkness. Paper dolls holding hands.
  • Altar Suggestions: Dolls and toy animals, ideally soft enough to sleep with in your arms. Doll sized tea sets. Adult toys.
  • Music: Children’s songs; clapping, rope skipping and other game songs; women’s choruses such as Medieval Babes (Io Isabella in particular); haunting songs of loneliness and despair; songs of protest and reclaiming your own power.
  • Herbs: Lilac tree.Lovage; Speedwell; plants made into treats for children (such as Marshmallow, Licorice, Sweet Cicely).  Hawthorne tree. Lavender (for Lofn, see Lofn’s shrine page for evidence about their flowers).
  • Runes: Gyfu, Sowilo, Wyn and Ansuz speaks of her work with the South Wind; Nyd is her time in Svartalfheim and Isa is the cold she retreats to; Chalc is her childhood dreams, hopes and her signifier in readings.
  • Affinity: February, Aquarius.
  • Food and drink: Tea and scones, honey and lemon tea, milk, cookies, sandwiches, cake; jello, ice cream, and other cold foods that melt as you eat them; fancy appetizers that are pretty; think of children’s tea parties and pic nics, of wine and cheese parties and art shows where adults do networking. For a meal, focus on the artistic presentation as well as flavor of each dish, remembering she is a princess of Alfheim who enjoys elaborate fanciful feasts. If you look at the dish and think “oh, this is fun!” you’re probably doing it right.
  • Attunement: Cuddle with dolls and plush animal toys, tell them your worries and hopes, squeeze them hard, sleep with them. Play with action figurines, dolls, construction blocks, and make up stories. Play online multiplayer games, and reach out to those for whom this is the only social outlet. Use social media to give support to those who need it. Re-connect with old friends. Act silly and enjoy it. Try to see an argument from the other person’s point of view.
  • Service offerings: Organize a child’s party, even if it’s attended only by the “inner children” of adults. Babysit a child and play with them. If you have children, just love them, play with them, give them your attention and validation. Participate in a protest for something you believe in. Sign a petition for a worthy cause. Help an overworked single parent take care of their child. Defend the rights of queer and other alternative families. Sculpt, draw, sew or paint devotional images of Gods and Goddesses. Play with your Goddess dolls and make up stories.
  • Offerings: Make a puppet, doll or plush toy for her, even if it’s just paper dolls. Give her a doll or toy she can inhabit, play with her and talk to her as a play friend (rather than as a Goddess). Make and consecrate images as vessels for Gods and Goddesses (drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. and breathe life into them. Give your old unused toys to children who will enjoy them. Make clothing for your Sjöfn doll. A good ritual for her is a doll and teddy bear party where the human companion gives voice to their chosen toy.
  • Blessings: Healing and loving your child self; protection of children; social justice causes; finding ways around sexual hangups; social networking and wisely using social media.
  • Contra-indicated: Treating anyone as less than fully human and worthy of respect. Going along with what you know is wrong because those you value are doing it. Hoarding toys you no longer play with when you know someone who would. Putting a small altar to Sjöfn next to a large lavish altar to Freya.

Suggestions for Organizations to Donate to in Her Name:

(1) from Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, everything below this point is personal gnosis.

This article was created for use as part of an online shrine to the Handmaidens of Frigga on northernpaganism.org. It is based on the author’s personal experience of her over three years of devotion, rather than on what little historical lore exists. If you have personal experience of this Norse Goddess or have found an extra bit of lore, I would love to hear about it, even if it completely contradicts my own. The only way to gather corroborated personal gnosis (CPG) is to share our unverified personal gnosis (UPG) so we can find common elements. If the Gods are real independent beings, surely they can talk to us if they so choose. If not, then none of this matters anyway. Should you find the information here unlikely at best, I’d invite you to spend a few months in devotion to her and find out for yourself.

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Comments
  1. […] and Sjöfn are the two love Goddesses of Frigga’s court — Freya is not under Frigga’s rule as such and […]

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  2. Ly says:

    I love working with Sjofn, she’s a wonderful and caring goddess who has helped me when I’ve been in terrible emotional places (even sending me calming dreams of kittens) and has helped me heal.

    It seems she also really likes cherries, which I’ve offered her before.

    I’d also like to get to know Lofn better too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] chapters, a full story arc similar to Gna’s,  but older and requiring a lot of editing), and Sjofn (a short story arc, some editing). You are welcome to sway the bard with sincere pleas for your […]

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  4. We Bring The Fire says:

    Reblogged this on We Bring The Fire.

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  5. nick says:

    So, any idea how she and Lofn came to be adopted into the clan of the Æsir if they’re elves?

    Like

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