One-Eyed Cat: Northern European (Germanic, Celtic and Slavic) Paganism

This is the magic of Freyja and I am her völva: a seer, priestess and oracle.

Sharing wisdom taught by the Norse Gods over twenty years of practice, I teach safer seiðr / seidhr (Norse trance work and fate-magic), reverent animism, and deeper workings with the Gods and land spirits through respect for all life and peoples. We'll also explore the wider Eurasian influences on central and northern European religion, including Norse, Slavic, Celtic, Baltic, Siberian, Mediterranean and ancient Indo-European beliefs and discuss how to apply them to contemporary practice.

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Winter Solstice Song Magic: Galdrs to Sunna and Freyja out of Christmas Carols, Pt. 1: Gaudete

Do you love the breathtaking sound of old Christmas carols but want music that reflects your Heathen, polytheist and pagan beliefs? Would you also like to work some old-style Norse song magic, galdr, on behalf of the world, the Gods and your ancestors? And have fun?

Here is a very simple and potent act you can participate in that requires no magical knowledge-- simply your voice, passion and clear intention. For maximum impact in healing, join your voices in song on both the Solstice itself and the 24th. The more voices raised, the more power that builds. (You can also just sing this at any time leading up to it, or when you want to honor the Sun.) Let's reclaim several ancient songs, and the Northern, feminine sun!


It turns out that some of the oldest carols were first recorded in Finland in 1581, part of a manuscript called Piae Cantiones. That makes them Norse songs. It is more than likely that some of those songs preserve far older, pre-Christian tunes as well as ones contemporary to the time.

Given the church's habit of absorbing what they could not extinguish, I have been guided by several Norse deities to transform these ancient carols back into galdr honoring Freyja and Sunna at this time. As one deity said to me, "All music is eternal-- music cuts a groove onto the universe." That means, every song has magical weight to it once sung. The more it is sung, the more power it has to shape our universe. Let that sink in a bit when you contemplate the effect of music on popular culture. It's the same with our words.

I’ve only slightly altered the Latin wording to keep the songs' semiotic density, or magical weight of repetition over hundreds of years. Some of it may take a little practice, so read the songs aloud first. (Trust me, the third verse is a mouthful of syllables without hearing it sung.) If you practice with a group, the refrain is pretty easy-- and can be sung on its own!

The tunes can be found in links below each song or may already be known to you.


b2ap3_thumbnail_John-Bauer-princess.jpg

Gaudete

(1st verse and refrain)
Gaudete, gaudete!
Sunna est natus
Ex Freyja, nos Regina
gaudete!

REFRAIN

Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina lætitiæ
Devote reddamus.

REFRAIN

Dea facti femina
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est
A Freyja regnante

REFRAIN

Orientis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

REFRAIN

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domina:
Salus Regina nostro.

REFRAIN

REFRAIN (slow)


 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gaudete-page-1.jpg

ENGLISH:

Rejoice, rejoice!
Sunna is born
Of Freyja, our Queen –
Rejoice!

The time of grace has come—
What we have wished for;
Songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully.

Goddess has become woman,
With nature marvelling,
The world has been renewed
By the reigning Lady.

The Eastern Gate Is passed through,
Whence the light is risen;
Salvation has been found.

Therefore, let our assembly
Now sing in brightness
Let it bless the Lady:
Salvation to our Queen.


b2ap3_thumbnail_John_Bauer-Freja.jpg
The lyrics now reference Freyja as the elder Lady Sun and Sunna as the reborn solar child. Maria Kvilhaug has shown at great length how solar imagery is associated with an unnamed Scandinavian Goddess in prehistory— and lingers abundantly in the later literature in references to Freyja as a much more prominent Goddess than Christian scholars have liked to pigeon-hole her.

Freyja herself is heavily associated with “love-songs” in the lore, which has led to erroneously assuming she is only a Goddess of passion and beauty.

Here we are honoring Freyja, whose name is literally the title “Lady”, as the great Queen of the Gods. Like Mary, she is also a lone mother— after the loss of her spouse, Odh or Odhin (their names mean the same thing, “divine Ecstasy”). In Scandinavian lore, Freyja is referenced as having two symbolic daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi, whose names both mean “treasure”. This may be a reference to her blazing Brisingamen jewel, the “treasure of the Brisings”, or sacred necklace, which is commonly thought to refer to the sun and the sun’s life-giving radiance! In other words— Sunna!

Sunna is commonly honored by Heathens, Asatruar, Urglaawer, Norse and Germanic Pagans and Polytheists at both the Summer and Winter Solstice, following old traditions. I and others I know have encountered her as the radiant Sun Maiden at this time of year.

To speak of Freyja incarnating is part of the magical mysteries of the Vanir Gods, who are associated with incarnation of humans and physical life. Freyja’s very name still appears in the German words Frau and Frauleinn, polite general words for women, underscoring the connection to living humans and womanhood.

The Eastern gate holds a magical importance too long to get into here: trust this direction of sunrise, though!

Singing this galdr is a simple but potent act of retaking the holiness of the female Sun, who has been ripped out of Northern European worship over a millennium with the conversion to Christianity. This allows her powers to flow more freely through the lives of humans around the globe and helps return humanity to our wounded connection to both the ancestors and nature.

The more folk sing this, the greater its power to heal the damage done to us and our ancestors!


 

More information, the tune, and the original Latin lyrics can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaudete

A lovely sung version of the original Latin song was done by the Medieval Baebes. It's easy to learn the tune and pronunciations from it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyuaTeJOmF0

crossposted to: facebook.com/staffandcup

Artwork of Lucia (also originally a child sun Goddess!), fairytale princess and Freyja by John Bower. Original manuscript image of the 1581 sheet music courtesy of Wikipedia.

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Shirl Sazynski is a priestess trained directly by Frey, Odin and Freyja. She is passionately committed to returning the Gods' magical and spiritual wisdom to our awareness, healing the rift between us and our ancestors and strengthening our friendship with the Gods, the land and the spirits sharing our world.

Her column, "One-Eyed Cat", runs in Witches and Pagans Magazine and she also writes as /@Modern_Volva on Medium. An oracle, icon painter and author, her work has appeared in both popular and pagan media.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 17 December 2019

    Is there a video on YouTube of anyone singing the English version? I'm not good at picking up tunes from just the song lyrics. I really need to hear the music.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Thursday, 19 December 2019

    So glad you're blogging about this!

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