Running Up the World Tree : Gefjon’s Story

Posted: July 15, 2013 in Deities & Wights, Gefjon, Handmaidens, Jotnar, Stories
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 Part 1: Noatun

I am Gefjon, Handmaiden of Frigga, and this is my story. Naïve enough to believe, and stubborn enough to succeed, this is how I achieved dreams such that none could deny me.

Proudly I stood on the pier of Asgard’s harbor, Nóatún, at long last having attained my desired destination. Soon I too would be a Goddess alongside the mighty Aesir Gods! As I’d expected, the few clouds in sight were perfectly white and puffy, Frigga’s doing no doubt, and I smiled up at Sunna. The salty sea breeze was crisp and fresh upon my sun-darkened skin, and I delighted in tasting the landmegin: a sweet tartness like the tender shoots of spruce trees in the Spring. Spruces and firs indeed formed a forest beyond the harbor’s houses.

Every land, every country, has its own mood and power, its landmegin. You can feel it when you cross a border just by noticing how your outlook changes. Asgard’s golden bright landspirit radiated rightness and the promise that anything was possible. I loved this land already, cheerful in my sleeveless brown buckskin tunic chosen for the journey. It was a bit ragged at this point, but I’d likely have worn through any available woven cloth with all my labors on the way. It was close enough in color to fittingly complement the light brown of my shoulder length hair.

Before me on shore lay a number of staggered longhouses, decorated with driftwood, shells and nets. Grass grew on their rooftops, as if the houses themselves had grown out of the ground. Some distance to the left was a large royal road I knew led into Asgard proper, past the impenetrable fortified wall. It was even enchanted to shoot flames at any who tried to fly over it in bird form. To my right the road led to a much bigger and more ornate building, with pointed roof upon roof, leading me to believe it held a number of floor levels within. Dragons seemed to stream out of it, carved into the wooden beams that protruded. It was quite beautiful, but I worried that it seemed half sunk into the ground, perhaps sliding into the river mouth gushing to sea just beyond its farthest wall. I could only guess at the beauty of the great halls that awaited me further inland, but sightseeing could wait until I had been properly greeted.

Soon the Sea God himself hastened to my side from his hall, having been notified of my arrival by a very competent staff that ran like Hela herself was after them. I approved of such a passionate dedication to their duty.

Njord stood before me, staring up with a raised eyebrow before asking: “How did you manage to get to Asgard?” His faded yellow tunic looked well worn, as did the belt. This was a man who was no stranger to work, and that commonality helped me relax, though I’d hoped for a warmer welcome.

Hands on hips I answered after clearing my throat, having thought he’d somehow be taller: “I walked !” He kept staring, so I sighed and explained: “I walked across Jotunheim to Billing’s Keep. There I traded passage on his merchant ship, by giving a hand in loading and unloading boats for a month. Once in Vanaheim, I walked all the way across to your harbor there. I paid for passage by collecting crates of food from nearby villages and loading them on. And here I am! Would you like me to finish unloading now?” I thrust out my chest and gave him my best smile.

He scratched his blond beard and wondered aloud: “That tells me how, but not why. Why would you come here? Your kind aren’t exactly welcome in the White Land without an invitation. I see no warrior’s weapon at your side, nor a poet’s lyre at your back, so I doubt you’ve come to challenge the Aesir or visit Saga’s sunken hall. State your business then, woman.”

“I’m here to become a Goddess!” I said, trying to contain my enthusiasm.

His mouth hung open and his eyebrows nearly floated off his head. “A Goddess. You’re here… to become a Goddess?” He closed his eyes and rubbed his hands all over his face. When he looked up once more, he had a small smile, and a twinkle in his eyes. “Oh dear,” he said, “Odin’s going to love this one.”

I was very glad to hear him say that. After all, how often did a Giantess offer her allegiance to Asgard? I’d been a little worried about rejection, but now I was glad I took a chance. Njord had just confirmed how happy King Odin would be with me, so I smiled even harder. I think I may have jumped up and down a bit and clapped my hands in joy, because I remember him looking worried at the creaking sounds the wooden dock made under my weight. I supposed it was built to support the small and slender Aesir rather than the more massive and powerful build I proudly displayed — my beauty was the envy of many smaller girls in Jotunheim.

Yet how was I supposed to know the Gods of Asgard used fancy double talk, saying one thing when they meant the opposite? I was just a simple farm girl; an ambitious farm girl who saw an opportunity to get a more important job, and to escape an arranged marriage. I was eager to meet my new boss[1] and start my work as a Goddess.

“And what,” he asked pointedly, “did you plan to become Goddess of exactly?”

I looked down at my bare feet, suddenly realizing I should have washed them before meeting the king. Fancy folks paid attention to clean feet, or so I’d been told. I looked up and said: “Well, I’m flexible. Whatever you folks need, I’m your woman.”

I was suddenly concerned, because Njord’s shoulders began to shake uncontrollably as his lips tightened into a thin smile. But he got himself under control enough to cough and then say: “So you have no special skill to offer?”

“I have plenty of special skills,” I replied. “I can plough and sow seed so well as to make any land fertile. I can fix any tools  that break. I can lift and carry heavy things, and I can do strenuous labor. My father always said I was a very hard worker. He’s a lord with a large farming estate, you know, though you probably haven’t heard of him. Oh, and I’m also good at thinking through problems, but Father says that often gets me in trouble.”

Njord seemed so impressed, practically stunned by my credentials, that I could almost already feel the soft cushioned Goddess throne that awaited me. Between you and me, the way I introduced myself was a special trick I learned from Uncle. If you only say nice things about yourself, people believe you’re lying or that you’re arrogant. But if you throw in a weakness, they’re more likely to think you’re honest.

With a crinkling around the eyes he spoke softly: “I see. Well, I’ll send word to Odin, just finish unloading the food crates.” I followed his counsel, then helped reload the ship with gold and silver for its return voyage to Vanaheim.

There I sat with nothing else do to but watch the seamen work, dangling my feet over the shimmering waters. One sailor wearing a grass green tunic and trousers directed departing ships to ensure they sailed without obstructing others, telling them of shallows where they might get stuck, and counter currents that would slow their journey. Another dressed in dull red found places for those arriving, almost magically finding room where none could be seen before on the wharf. A third in yellow seemed watchful, only occasionally shouting instructions when he saw a problem or danger of collision.[2] I sat long enough to see a similarly garbed woman in red relieve her counterpart of his duties.

I waited on the pier for a long time with an odd mix of excitement and boredom. Important people like to make others wait, but that was okay. I’d soon be an important person myself and then people would have to wait after me!


[1] Boss means “overseer” or “master”, and is also used to designate a ship’s captain. It comes from Dutch, a West Germanic language spoken in the Netherlands, descended from the Low German dialects of the Franks and Saxons – in case you cared. Fancy folks are impressed by footnotes, or so I’m told.

[2] The Skáldskaparmál names Njord as “God of Chariots” among his kennings, supporting the modern gnosis that he rules cars, roads and the sea of asphalt as well as ships, rivers and seaways. He is currently prayed to for finding ways around traffic and construction, finding parking spots, and safe travels in our metal chariots. Does he personally find you a parking spot when you pray to him? Probably not, he has people for that, but it’s to Njord himself you should address your requests and make offering, not his helpers. A shot of rum or other strong liquor is a nice gift for his continued good graces and assistance.

I welcome comments on the story. Will Gefjon meet Odin? Find out in Part 2. 

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Comments
  1. […] Running Up the World Tree : Gefjon’s Story […]

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    • “[2] The Skáldskaparmál names Njord as “God of Chariots” among his kennings, supporting the modern gnosis that he rules cars, roads and the sea of asphalt as well as ships, rivers and seaways. He is currently prayed to for finding ways around traffic and construction, finding parking spots, and safe travels in our metal chariots. Does he personally find you a parking spot when you pray to him? Probably not, he has people for that, but it’s to Njord himself you should address your requests and make offering, not his helpers. A shot of rum or other strong liquor is a nice gift for his continued good graces and assistance.”

      When we lived in NJ with on street parking to deal with, Kitten and I were always praying to the “parking space Gods” for help so that we didn’t have to park three blocks from home with a car load of groceries. Now we have a name for said God!

      Like

  2. lofnbard says:

    Well there’s also Squat, urban primitive goddess of parking spaces, but I like praying to Njord better. 🙂

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  3. sonyjalerulv says:

    Ok, the whole interaction with Njord is very funny. At this point she is so naive it’s cute. 🙂

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    • lofnbard says:

      Gefjon’s so green, she’s practically sprouting leaves. Welcome to the Big City, kid. We do things differently here than out in the corn fields. 😛

      Yeah, Njord’s a great daddy figure for those who need one. If ever there was a Good Guy filled with idealism and willing to work for it among the Norse gods, it would be him. Hail Njord!

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