Snotra – Hospitality and the gift of elevation

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Deities & Wights, Handmaidens, Online Shrines, Snotra
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Norse Goddess
The teacher and student
Name means “Wise”

 ‘Snotra is thirteenth: she is prudent and of gentle bearing; from her name a woman or a man who is moderate is called snotr (wise, prudent).’ (1)

Nuns and Ancient Nerds

In the old days, being a scholar meant going to sit and listen to what elders had to teach. If you wanted to preserve that knowledge, you would have to compose alliterative verses to remember it. An elder might know much about her craft, but a scholar was one who knew many poems about different topics. Genealogy was preserved in this way, as were the stories and wisdom of a people. The baker would have a poem for proportions, the smith for his secrets of smelting, and some would be sung as they were spoken. Those who could write write in runes might carve the titles of poems, but never their entirety. Then came the missionaries with their books and quills. Monasteries were places of learning and study with nuns and monks as teachers. Oral traditions and the values they carried were destroyed and replaced with the writings and values of another people. Great libraries were born with the ceaseless work of monastics painstakingly copying books. At first nuns studied much as monks did, teaching young women as well as young men, and Snotra saw value in their bookish devotions despite of the old ways being lost.

But soon those rights were lost. New rules were put in place by men who feared the influence these women held. Nuns could still read and learn as before, but only the bible, and could teach none other than their own novices. Think of it, a great library with but a single book!

Methods of the Ministry of Truth

How do you destroy a people? You take away their language, their stories, their values. Force them to study and use only your language, tell only your stories, recite only your list of values and virtues. It only takes two or three generations before no one is left to tell them they are anything other than what you say they are. Easy, isn’t it? Redefine words so they can only think as you wish. Obedience is virtue is goodness. Questioning teachings is perversion and sin. Faith is truth, what your senses tell you are lies. What feels good is bad for your soul and leads to eternal suffering. Comply. Resistance is futile… or is it?

Below Grassroots Are the Bones

When you are undone and have nothing left but life on a steady diet of lies, there is only one place left to turn: Your ancestors. You get down on your hands and knees and beg the mothers and fathers to lift the veil from your mind, to help you find the path. For as long as you draw breath, you have your blood, a connection no one can ever take from you. Offer them water, fire, warmth and drink, more if you can spare it. Offer your tears, your pain, your hope. These also are yours and yours alone to give. Even when the names of your Gods have been removed from every book and brain, they cannot take your blood while you still draw breath.

So raise the ancestors! Raise them to be your light and shield, the breeze that blows away the fog of war. They have been buried far below but your words and deeds can raise them up again to guide you. Raise them with anger on your breath, or love and longing. Raise them with hope or with despair. Remember the old Gods if you can, long buried as childish stories and superstitions. Raise them as well, in song and sacrifice, in study and in service.  It is through memory recited that they find and come alive once more among us.

Think of it like this: Say you are a Goddess seeing your people suffer; you’ve come to deliver both message and blessing to woman in need, so you rummage inside her brain’s control room for key words, images, ways that she could see you for what you are. Where once there was a control panel with hundreds of buttons for Gods and spirits, there are now only a handful. One big button shows a stern bearded man in a white robe. Hmmm, no, that will not do at all, you think. Below it is another with a younger man, and at least that one is smiling. Where are all the divine women? Where did their buttons go? You find a button with a genderless ghost’s image, and tucked in a corner, there is a tiny one with a woman’s image labeled “Virgin Mother.” Is that all? Really? One lousy button for every Goddess? With a humph, you look away from the holy panel and find a dark panel. Ah yes, here we are, one with many spirits! But this the panel of the unholy, and while it holds many women, they are all monsters that would cause fear and revulsion — not what you are after. In disgust you give up and press the Virgin Mother Mary button.

What is Snotra Like?

Snotra is a child crying out for her missing parents, taken from her in the night, looking up to the sky in hope of hearing them once more. She is the girl who cooks and sets an extra plate for the unforeseen visitor, be they spirit or flesh, and offers them a place by the fire with food and friendship. She is the young woman who bows to the beggar and sees a father whose bright spirit was crushed. She is the seamstress who sees in the prostitute a single mother struggling to survive, and offers her a warm drink on a cold night. “Good luck,” she tells her, “I hope you find what you seek.” The wounded lash out in their pain, causing yet more pain, more wounds upon themselves and others. She is the doctor of desolate spirits, of suffering souls.”You’re made of sterner stuff than I,” she tells her, “to endure the cold with so little clothing.” A praise, a kind word, an honest compliment, a way of seeing what is admirable, that is how she walks in the world, feeding the noblest part of the person. She cannot save them, she isn’t a super-hero, but she can be kind to them, courteous, respectful, hoping they will see in themselves a fraction of what she sees in them.

What is Snotra’s Role in Asgard?

She is Goddess of elevation, inspiration, hospitality and learning. She is the sacrificer of the Asynjur, and the giver of initiations. When a new Goddess ascends, it is only with her guidance and through her power. When there is no one left on Earth to make sacrifice to the Gods, no one who knows the sacred stories, Snotra remembers. She remembers their stories and speaks them aloud. She raises cairns by piling stones, elevating each one from the ground, and pours offerings to feed the Goddesses. For though she is in Asgard, part of her is in Midgard, even if those parts of her remember and offer only in dreams. Schools and libraries are her temples, and even where a single apprentice is busy learning a craft, she is present.

She studies with the wise masters and with the small children, in dusty librarie, drunken revelries and poetry slams. Everywhere she finds wisdom and traits worthy of praise. In everyone she discovers a passion to shine, to be more than they think they are, to be better. She teaches the teachers, even when they do not yet know they are teachers.

A girl walks down her school’s corridor, clutching many books as she navigates the crowd. A bully bumps into her, sending her glasses flying amid a flurry of papers. “Watch where you’re going, four eyes!” he says as she struggles on the ground to retrieve them before they’re stepped on. It reminds her of the Native American Boarding Schools she read about today, and makes her feel shame at the deeds of her people. “Bullies, so many bullies across the ages,” she says softly. “Not much has changed, but there is hope.”

Suggestions for Honoring Snotra

  • Colors: Royal blue, the gold of sunlight seen through forest branches and the white of truth and purity. Sky blue and cloud white (Frigga’s colors).
  • Symbols: A handmade mountain of rocks. A stone cairn glistening with poured offerings. A birch twig whisk for sprinkling holy fluids at the blót.
  • Altar Suggestions: A pile of rocks in a bowl upon which to pour offerings; a picture of a mountain; a butler’s book (containing food preferences of those you host); soap and a small towel; a guest cup or bowl; birch twigs tied into an asperger; your spiritual diary. In truth, it is probably your bookshelf that is her shrine if you honor her.
  • Music: Music that your recent or distant ancestors enjoyed, songs in their language. She appreciates witty songs that point out hypocrisy.
  • Herbs: Sorrel, Soapwort. Vervain. Hyssop. Mistletoe. High altitude mountain plants and trees.
  • Runes: Ansuz, Wyn, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Berkana, Ear, Stan.
  • Affinity: March, Pisces.
  • Food and drink: Your own favorite foods, that of your Patron deity or ancestors. Always serve a share to your Patron or ancestors before offering some to her. She likes hard boiled eggs, rice, carrots, pork, buttered bread, cranberries and cantaloupe. She is the perfect guest, and will accept your culinary disasters with a smile if you gave it your best effort.
  • Attunement: Read about etiquette, hospitality, the role of a governess, dumb suppers (spirit suppers), and the novel 1984. Go visit the schools you have attended and especially their libraries. Learn about Native American Boarding Schools.
  • Service offerings: Host an event or supper and offer excellent hospitality to your guests. Assist someone in learning to give hospitality. Do peer counseling. Clean your shrines. Perform rites and prayers of elevation for your dead and your Gods. Bless your house by asperging and dedicate it to elevating all who enter.
  • Offerings: Create and maintain your ancestor shrine, research your genealogy. Find a ground level stone, carry it to the top of a hill or mountain and leave it at the highest point you can reach. Build your own offering cairn by piling stones, and pour out offerings to her and other deities. Poured offerings should be the best you can reasonably afford, be it alcohol, a few drops of your blood or top quality tea, but any meager offering is better than waiting for perfection. Go to a library and run your hand along their spines, pick a few at random and read. Learn an ancient language, or a language spoken by your more recent ancestors. Create mnemonics for your knowledge, be it visual or in verse, and share them. Do something kind for a teacher. Become a teacher of something you’re good at. Make a white linen robe or chiton (which is just a large rectangle of cloth with clasps to pin it in place).
  • Blessings: Guidance in honoring the spirits and offering hospitality; help in learning languages ancient and modern; counsel in speaking wisely, inspiring and bringing out the best in people; hope and self-knowledge of your worth when you think you have none. Patience and self-control.
  • Contra-indicated: Destroying a book, any book. Even one you find highly offensive. Discouraging learning and critical thinking.

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. 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Snotra – Hospitality and the gift of elevation […]

    Like

  2. Something I saw at the school where I work last night made me think back on this: they’re going to be holding a showing of The Thick Dark Fog (http://www.thickdarkfog.com/) for some of the students there.

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Thank you James, for the link to the Indian Boarding School documentary. It’s funny because my first approach to Snotra was all about hospitality at the spirit suppers, and then when I wrote her shrine page all this stuff came out that I didn’t expect. It’s hard to get to know her because she’s always putting others first, suggesting how to make them feel welcome. She’s the only one at this point I don’t have a story for. She gets mentioned in the other stories, such as Gefjon’s, as the one who officiates at their ascension to Goddesshood.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s