Running Up the World Tree : Gefjon’s Story part 8 (final)

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Aesir & Asynjur, Deities & Wights, Gefjon, Jotnar, Stories, Vanir
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Part 8: Status and Seemings

Brynja cleared her throat, distracting me from my downward spiral. I pulled myself out of my sorrow, lifting my head enough to see sympathy in her face as she said: “Goddess, I could not possibly understand what ascension does to a person, but I have been told I give good counsel on occasion. Would you like me to offer some, which you can pass on to my Lady when you see her?”

“Why not,” I said, “it can’t hurt,” and patted a spot beside me on the stone bench.

“I had a sort of ascension of my own,” she said as she sat, “when I received an elegant dress fit for a noblewoman, made of the finest material with delicate gold embroidery. When I got that dress, a gift from a traveling prince who enjoyed my company, at first I refused to wear it, afraid I would damage it. I was but a bar wench, a free woman but still a menial, and men usually took me for granted along with the ale. After a while, I realized it was silly not to use such a lovely dress, so I wore it around town. People treated me differently when I did, as if I were more noble born than I truly was; it opened opportunities for me and invitations, but It went to my head I fear. I started to look down on my less fortunate peers, demanding respect and obedience to my whims. Oh, I still had to serve tables to earn my keep, but I did so with scorn and superiority, knowing that once I went out with my fabulous dress, these same scoundrels would fall over themselves to earn my favor. Working as a serving wench was demeaning but necessary, and I thought I deserved better. I knew my true self was a noble born lady, while the servant clothes were just a disguise.” She gave a wry smile as she looked up, lost in remembering, before continuing her tale. I wondered if I would become as haughty as she had.

“Fortunately, my dress tore one day, and I was unable to wear it for weeks. It gave me time to realize I had become someone I did not like, and did not want to be. That was a very painful realization, but eventually I recognized I was neither servant nor noble. I was myself, no matter what costume I wore or how people treated me. When my dress was repaired, I still used it, but more strategically. When something needed doing that only Lady Brynja could accomplish, then I was Lady Brynja. When I needed to take care of tavern patrons, I was “Bryn with a grin”, the wench who always had a kind word of encouragement or some counsel for those who needed it. I became the reason a number of people came to our inn, and I’d like to think I did some good while I was there. I also made much better tips after that.”

She was still grinning, as I blurted out: “But it was just a dress! You could take it off! I can’t, I mean, Gefjon can’t take off her godhood.”

She nodded, “No,… but are Giants not known to be shapechangers? Can she not return to her previous form if she wishes, and use the new form only when needed?”

I blinked, mouth open in astonishment. It felt like my head had been cracked open to let the light in. How could I not have thought of that earlier? Of course I could change! At least I thought I could, as I rested my hand on hers.

“Brynja, will you walk with me please?” She nodded, and holding her hand for comfort, I walked us to my chambers. I closed the door, then started to disrobe, carefully folding my white dress and taking out my ragged old brown skin tunic. I considered briefly the fancy green dress and the black gown, but neither was who I needed to be right now. I wanted to be the person I was when I first arrived in Asgard – plain hard working Gefjon, willing to walk as far and work as hard as needed for her goals. Facing her naked I said: “You see me bare as the day I was born, but this is not who I was born to be.” I let my awareness linger on my skin, allowing it to stretch and loosen on me. It flowed and changed as my skin became dark and my hair returned to its natural brown. My delicate frame grew into one built for hard work, and my blemishes appeared once more along with the soft fur of leg hair. “This is who I was when I first came to this place, and you see me as few have seen me. I show you who I am without any adornments, so that you will be my witness. I am only this, a woman with dreams, and that is more than enough. I will count on you to remind me of who I am when I forget, when I mistake my manner of dress for my identity. Will you do this for me, my friend?”

“I will be your mirror when there is no mirror to be found,” she answered with fervor, eyes moist with emotion, “and I will be as true a mirror as I can be for you.” She looked down to her tattered green dress, and with a small smile, removed it.

Naked we faced each other as I said: “I have never felt more vulnerable than I do now, and no amount of clothing can hide that. I am in your debt for returning me to myself.”

“And I,” she answered, “am in your debt for accepting my help, for letting me serve as your friend as you take your place. It’s a nice place you have, and I’m glad to be here to share It with you.” We embraced, and I was careful not to hurt her now that I was much stronger again. We lay on the bed together for a while as we shared our stories and secrets. Only much later did we dress once more, I in my old brown dress, she in my new white one. She protested, saying she was unfit for such, but I didn’t want my confidante wearing that tattered green gown anymore. Maybe that was influence from the fancy Asa-Lady part of me, or maybe I just wanted my friend to feel like a peer among us. I didn’t need a  dress to feel like a Goddess anymore. I knew who and what I was.

–––

We walked out arm in arm into the courtyard, grinning like fools as we wandered across the stone paved plaza. People stared warily, until one man angrily came forward: “What is a Giant doing here in Asgard? I think my lord Thor will want to know there are enemies to be killed right here among us.”

I couldn’t stop myself and burst out laughing. This man, I could have snapped him in two with my bare hands, and yet he was challenging me? I thought of telling him to take it up with Odin or Frigga, but decided I should claim space on my own terms, without relying on the names of the mighty to defend me. “You’re from Valhalla, aren’t you?” I questioned.

“Yes, I died in glorious battle for the glory of Thor, and I am among the glorious chosen ones!” he bellowed.

Cocking my head, I flirted, running fingers along the top of my cleavage: “And when was the last time you had sex?” He sputtered a bit in shock, revealing he hadn’t had any since he died. “Freya’s ladies weren’t willing, I gather?” He just fumed at me and remained silent.

“Where are my manners?” I said in my most pretentious tone, “My apologies, I should introduce myself. I am Gefjon, newest Goddess of Asgard, caretaker of the souls of women who die unmarried. Why, just yesterday I brought in a hundred of these unattached ladies, the first of many more to come. So many ladies, and not a single man among them for company!” I turned to my companion: “Brynja my dear, do you think they’ll be lonely without a man to warm their bed?”

She grinned before getting into the game, voice dripping with sarcasm: “Oh certainly, great Goddess Gefjon whose name means ‘giver’, you have brought us all here without any relief for the itch that so ails us single women, though your generosity is otherwise unbounded.”

“And if I were to ask you, dear Brynja, what this fine fellow’s chances are of finding a willing companion among my ladies, what would you say?”

She turned glare at the man before coldly answering: “Slim to none.”

Smiling sweetly I said to him: “Right then. You, my dear fellow, are not my problem. Do send my regards to Thor if you see him before I do.”

 –––

We walked off then, still giggling as he stood speechless, until we were joined by a third woman. Lowering the hood of her white cloak, Freya revealed herself and joined in our laughter. “Well done,” she said. “I think we shall get along famously! Now that you’ve put yourself together again, I think we should discuss sleeping quarters for your followers. I offer them hospitality until your own halls can be built, if you and they so wish it.”

I took her hands in mine, inhaling her scent: “Thank you Lady Freya for supporting me and mine,” and tried to ignore the heat spreading through me at our touch.

She winked: “Oh, us outlander ladies have to stick together, and I certainly don’t want them stuck sharing rooms with the likes of him.”

“Nevertheless, I am grateful Lady Freya,” I said.

“Oh, it’s just Freya to you, we’re all Goddesses here, and I must congratulate you on empowering your first priestess so fast.”

Brynja gasped: “Priestess?”

“Well,” Freya added, “it’s up to you what you want to call them; servants, thralls, handmaidens, ladies in waiting, vessels, officers or blessed ones. It all comes down to the same thing. You share some of your power, and then they glow.”

I looked at my companion and was shocked to realized that she was indeed slightly glowing. Not only that, but I could feel her, almost as an extension of myself, and felt incredibly comfortable in her presence. It was as if she were family.

The Vanadis chuckled, “So you didn’t realized you were doing it? Oh, this is great. You simply must  tell me what your rite of empowerment is!”

Blankly I stared, “Rite of empowerment? What do you mean?”

The Lady sighed, “Someone should really explain all the rules of godhood before they let them ascend. I’ve debated the issue with Snotra, but she seems to feel it’s better to discover those on your own. Personally, I think it just amuses her to do it that way. In any case, you remember what Frigga did to make you one of her Ladies. A bit… unexpected, was it not?” I nodded heartily at that, with a bemused expression. “Every Goddess is different,” she added, “and whatever we do creates precedent. The way you created your first priestess is the way you will create every priestess from now on.”

Brynja and I faced each other in shock, and I felt my cheeks starting to flush once more.

“So tell me,” Freya pried eagerly, “what did you do? Oh… it’s one of those kinds of things, is it?” She smirked gleefully and put a hand on my shoulder.

Blood rushed to my lower regions from her touch and I blurted out: “It wasn’t too bad I just got naked and talked to her and shapechanged and talked to her and got dressed again so there’s really nothing weird going on that should concern you and I…”

She silenced my ranting with a kiss and said: “It’s all right. We all have weird empowerment rites, and yours is no stranger than most.” With a hand on my new friend’s shoulder she added: “And you Brynja, you’re happy to be her first priestess, are you not?” I could tell my companion was also affected by her touch, as much as I if not more, and she nodded very enthusiastically.

“Wonderful. You’ll also need to empower a priestess as White Gefjon of course. Simply choose a suitable lady, then do an appropriate variation on what you did in reverse. But I must warn you to be careful,” she said in a more ominous tone, bringing us closer together. Suspiciously she looked around for unwanted listeners before speaking in a stage whisper, “It could lead… to dancing,” right before she burst out laughing.

I didn’t get it. Must be Asgard humor.

–––

By Brown Gefjon of the Plough, White Gefjon of the Dance, Green Gefjon of the Deal Well Done,
Saga’s stream of story falls silent as my tale is now told.

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Comments
  1. Ly says:

    I love the humor in the end of this one – of course I figured it’d be a happy ending all things considered but it’s been great to read about it in detail only hinted at in other stories, from the point of view of a very determined and sensible goddess.

    Looking forward to more stories. 🙂

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      My experience of Gefjon is that she’s a Goddess of working class women. Work hard, party hard, keep your dreams alive and keep trying your best. She’s very jovial and loves tunes that make you want to dance. Just don’t play her the usual love songs about desperately needing your lover or being incomplete without him, not unless you want to hear gagging noises over your shoulder. Co-dependence pisses her right off, but she’s a great one to help with that.

      Wanting, lusting and sex are great, she loves men (and is hetero as far as I know), but her self-worth is not tied to who loves or wants her, nor on people’s opinions of her. It’s based on believing she is inherently worthy and that persistence will pay off, even if it’s not exactly how she thought it would. If you hit a wall, don’t keep banging your head on it, be clever and try some other way. Even with cleverness, you can’t be shy about putting in the hours and effort necessary to get there. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.

      Like Freya, she’s not above using her assets or people to get what she wants, but she does keep her word. She has no sense of propriety that I’m aware of (“the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.”), which frees her to think outside the box and use methods others would dismiss out of hand. “Think you’re too good for that job? Suck it up, Princess! Get your hands dirty or get out of the way.” Or like one of my favorite quotes, “Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those already doing it.”

      Like

  2. Teka Lynn says:

    Hail Gefjon!

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Hail Gefjon indeed!
      In spite of its name, the story hasn’t addressed her running up Yggdrasil, except metaphorically. She has mentioned learning how to literally “Walk the World Tree” from Ratatosk, her currently favored method of travel between worlds, but that’s for a later story. She knows what it’s like to be dismissed as irrelevant, and prefers getting help from under-appreciated “friends in low places,” such as Ganglati and Ratatosk. Everyone has something unique to offer, and your success often has more to do with the goodwill of those supposedly below you than those above you.

      Like

  3. Vanaheim humor. There is no such thing as Asgard humor that Loki did not bring with Him (that being the real reason why Odin just /had/ to have Loki by His side at court, no one else around to give the Old Man a laugh now and then!)

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Nonsense James! Asgard has plenty of humor! Why, they thought it was funny to throw all sorts of weapons at Baldr, did they not? And a raucous good time that was by all… Okay, you may have a point. Let’s see… how might Vanir humor go?

      A Dwarf, a Vanir and an Aesir walk into a bar. The Dwarf orders an ale, drains it and smiles.
      The Vanir orders an ale, looks for a lad or lady to share it with, and smiles.
      The Aesir looks around and scowls as he accuses them: “I’ve just walked into a Vanir joke, haven’t I? Don’t lie, I am all-knowing!” Everyone just keeps smiling, so he drinks the Vanir’s ale, kicks the Dwarf, and leaves.
      The Dwarf gets up, dusts himself, and orders another ale, so the Vanir asks: “Aren’t you going after him for an apology?
      The Dwarf just shrugs and says “Nah, let it go. More ale and women for us. I’ll just be the bigger man.”

      (Maybe I shouldn’t quit my day job for stand up comedy quite just yet…)

      Like

  4. Sellacha says:

    Awesome. 🙂

    A pleasant and enjoyable method in bringing Gefjon one more step out of the shadows.

    The chapters cover ranges of human emotions, from over-coming disappointments, to self approval (being the hero of one’s own story), renouncing your children (what we could interpret as the general consensus of what responsibilities should be) in order to pursue a higher calling… and the famous “catch-22” of being consumed by the ego in terms of over-identifying with success. The loss of one’s inner core when the role becomes more important then journey. We can definitely sense the independence that Gefjon has to offer anyone who chooses to work with her.

    Great cliff-hangers and twists in Gefjon’s story to Goddess-hood as well as in the means to write it out! A little adaptation needed when you’re reading the chapters back to back (instead of within a distant time-frame)… but quickly done without issue. 🙂

    I loved it and was able to personally relate in a few areas. Freya’s interpretation in the story, is exactly how I perceive her… Odin, not so much although I’m aware of the common consensus on his regard.

    And… tell me, what’s with the obsession of having clean feet! 😛

    Thanks a bunch for introducing her to me personally in a playful manner.
    Hail Gefjon. 🙂

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Ha ha, thank you! In many ways Gefjon shows the dilemmas of women who choose to put their career first. This may include not having children, or placing them in someone else’s care rather than staying at home to raise them. We’re often asked to trade away part of ourselves for a chance at reaching the top, but how much is too much? Where do you draw the line and say “No, you can’t have my soul. No success is worth that much. I’d rather be poor and be myself.”

      Then there’s body image issues regarding weight and ethnic background. Are you thin enough? Can you “pass for white” enough to join the elite? Would you want to if you could? She’s a large, dark skinned woman from a culture that is thought of as savages by the elite, given then chance to leave all that behind and become just like them: white, “beautiful”, skinny, of the dominant race, religion and culture. Representing the privileged, Frigga can’t even understand why someone might not want that.

      As for Odin, you have to remember this is how he looks from Gefjon’s point of view, as a working class/peasant girl looking up to a CEO/King. He’s a keen judge of character, but also responsible for the well-being of an entire world and culture. A strong-headed stubborn type like her wouldn’t have done half as much if he’d been caring and encouraging. He challenged her to her limits, and she came through, finding her own power and allies to do so through wit and guile — things he highly approves of. She may be shrewd but she’s unused to politics beyond those of a farmer’s market. I got a strong sense that what he said and did was just for show, to goad her. Now the deal with Hela is an actual sore spot, and he does have his pride. Even if he realizes it benefits Asgard in the end, he still has to make a show of being duped: “Oh no, Hela gave me stuff for free to spite me and show her power, curse her and her scheming!” Inwardly, he’s probably chuckling about it, even if his pride is a little hurt.

      As for the clean feet, I don’t know! It just came to me as I was writing with the sense that it was important. I suspect it has to do with how connected she is to the land, and the ankle bells emphasize that (I made a green leather anklet with bells as her sacred tool for when I work with her). You’d expect someone who’s always barefoot to have muddy rather than clean feet, which she’s normally fine with. Note that she only washes them when she’s about to meet royalty. I think it’s more nervousness about “passing for white” than her caring if they’re clean. The size reducing waist cincher and fancy dress go along with that, even if she otherwise likes being big and strong in practical sturdy clothing.

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  5. sonyjalerulv says:

    I liked how she was not above listening to a mortal soul advise. And made her her first priestess without realizing it lol I like her.
    And I got quite a kick out of seeing Freya in that story! She was well written, by the way.

    Could lead to dancing all right. mwuahaha 😀

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      The gods can lose touch with what’s happening down here. I was at a possession rite where the god said “we don’t know all of what’s going on here unless you tell us. So tell us.” Telling the gods about our daily life is useful to them, it doesn’t have to always be prayers or praise or asking for blessings.
      It was fun having Freya there as the foreign queen for a different point of view. 🙂

      Like

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