The Wave Maidens
Aegir and Ran are two Jotuns who embody the ocean. Aegir is the kind of the sea. He is known for hosting elaborate parties, where he often brewed his own drinks, that the Aesir attended. He tends to be a very jovial deity, welcoming other deities into his hall at the bottom of the ocean. However, his mood can drastically change and he can become a very dark deity. Aegir is married to his sister, Ran. Ran, whose name means "robber", is often a more vicious aspect of the sea. She drowns men with a net and brings them to her hall, where she also collects gold and items from sunken ships. Together, Aegir and Ran had nine daughters.
The daughters of Aegir and Ran are the nine waves, sometimes called the Wave or Billow Maidens and Undines. Their names are as follows: Himinglaeva, Dufa, Blodhughadda, Hefring, Unn, Hronn, Bylgja, Bara, and Kolga. They are said to be the mothers of Heimdall. They are beautiful and terrible deities, powerful and sometimes difficult. Together, they represent different aspects of the ocean. Each of the nine waves has her own distinct personality and therefore it is important to know them all individually if you intend on working with them. Like other Jotunfolk, they are capricious and may not always work with or acknowledge someone. Some are also said to be very similar to Ran, having a darker more violent temperament. However, learning the lessons they have to teach is most beneficial.
Bara: Big Wave
Bara is the seventh sister, whose name means Big Wave. She is also sometimes called Drofn, which means Foam-Fleck. Her color is deep blue, and her symbolic animal is the whale. She is associated with the sea's connection to land, the ebb and flow of shore water, erosion of the shore land, and a goddess of tsunamis. An offering to her may include throwing bits of land into the water, whale figurines, blue glass or sea floats, driftwood and other things washed ashore. Her lesson is one of wrath, understanding the violent way in which the ocean waves clash upon land.
Blodhughadda: Bloody Haired
Blodhughadda is the third sister, known as Bloody-Haired and Lady of the Rivers. She rules over the areas where rivers and seas connect, the estuaries and salt-marshes. She is said to be connected to sharks, which are her symbolic animal. Her color is red, like blood coursing through veins. Blodhughadda is deeply connected with blood and wise in the ways of how it works. She is called upon for medical illnesses and afflictions related to blood, such as blood pressure. As such, an appropriate offer to her often includes your own blood. She also favors shark teeth and jaws, red bits of shells or glass, etc. She tends to be more vicious than some of her sisters. Blodhughadda's lesson is one of understanding your inner ocean, how your blood flows like water.
Bylgja is the sixth sister. Her name means Breaker. Bylgja deals in luck and gambling. Her symbolic animals are seals, sea-horses and wave-horses. Her colors are sea-green and aqua. She is often seen as merry and jovial, much like Aegir. Bylgja is also said to be associated with the energies of the ocean, and is in charge of tidal pools and coral reef life. Offerings to her include fruit, sea floats, dried sea horses, sand dollars, etc. Bylgja's lesson is obsession. She tends to be very obsessive in nature, often to a dangerous point.
Dufa: The Hidden One
Dufa is the second sister, called the Hidden One/Pitching One and sometimes "Lady of Islands". She is the goddess of small ocean islands and of the fog/mist that travels across ocean waters. Her color is pale lavender, and her symbolic animals are shellfish (especially oysters). Dufa is said to be a goddess who collects treasures, much like her mother Ran, and buries items from shipwrecks along islands. It is suggested to offer her pearls, real or made of glass, shells, and fabric that is misty in appearance. Because she controls the fog and mist that covers the surface of the ocean, she is said to be a goddess of mystery. She can be calling on to help "part the veil" and reveal mysteries within ones life. She is also called upon by sailors who struggle to navigate in mist and fog. Dufa's lesson is one of revealing hidden things.
Hefring: Heaving Wave
Hefring is the fifth sister, twin to Hronn. Her name means Heaving or Rising Wave. Her colors are dark blue-green and black. Her symbolic animal is the jellyfish. Like her sister, she controls wave currents (though she tends to be in charge of horizontal currents). She is the goddess of Mourning, and continually weeps for the depredation humans have done to the oceans. Hefring's lesson is learning to work one's way through mourning and grief. A quote I really like that sums up Hefring: "Hevring is sorrow, but she is not pretty sorrow - the pale trembling lip, the trickling tear, the bravely-borne look of sadness. She is weeping, screaming, ranting sorrow. She is wailing, undignified, consuming despair".She is important to sailors due to her control of horizontal currents, as she allows sailors to travel to their needed destinations.
Himinglaeva: Sun Shining Through
Himinglaeva is the ninth sister, whose name means Sun Shining Through. Her symbolic animal is the dolphin, and her colors are sky-blue and gold. She is the goddess of Fair Weather and Bringer of the Sun. She is associated with the relationship between the sun and the ocean, and is aptly a very bright and cheery deity. She is said to be the youngest and fairest of the nine sisters, but also the most fickle: she may abandon sailors and leave them to poorer weather and the wrath of some of her sisters, or she may show up amidst a storm and calm the waters. Offerings to her may include sea floats, dolphin figurines, shell wind chimes and bits of shell, pictures of the sun or items associated with sun. Her lesson is one of the joys of the ocean.
Hronn: Sucking Wave
Hronn is the fourth sister. Her name means Sucking Wave, which is appropriate as she is the Goddess of whirlpools and (coincidentally) fear. Hronn is the twin sister of Hefring, the Heaving Wave. Like Blodhughadda, Hronn is sometimes seen as more vicious than some of the other wave maidens: her symbolic animal is the eel. She is also said to be close to the deep abysmal sea, where life lives in darkness. She appreciates blood offerings and sharp things, such as ragged rock or bits of glass. Her colors are yellow-green and black. Offerings to Hronn include things such as fish teeth, spikes or ragged bits of coral, eel teeth or dried eel, spiral shells, etc. Hronn is called upon to help settle fears. However, Hronn's methods of helping can often be seen as difficult and she should not be called upon by the weak-willed. "She tends to throw you in and watch you get sucked down, but the idea is not to get pulled out but to find the way out through the bottom" (Raven K). Her lesson is one of learning to accept and deal with intense fear.
Kolga: The Cold One
Kolga is called the Cold One, and sometimes known as "the Lady of Ice Water" by practitioners. Out of the nine sisters, Kolga is said to be the oldest. She is the goddess of the Arctic Ocean, as well as sea-ice, icebergs and other cold aspects of the ocean. Arctic fishes and polar bears are suggested as her animals, and white is her color. Offerings specific to her may include frozen drinks thrown into water, glass beads or icicles. As you can imagine, she tends to have a cold and stoic disposition- not unlike most frost-thurses. She may be called on to help with cooling down: mentally (as in getting rid of anger) or physically (often for medical purposes, to help alleviate pains). Kolga's lesson is that of cold: learning to understand embrace the cold of the ocean.
Unn is the eigth sister, whose name means Billow. She is sometimes called Udr, which means Frothing Wave. Unn is the Lady of Tides. Her color is light blue, and her symbolic animal is any sea bird. Unn is the goddess associated with the connection between the moon and the ocean, and thus the goddess of tides and wave rhythm. Because of her association with lunar tides, she is sometimes associated with keeping cycles, time, and memories of the past. Offerings to Unn sometimes include light blue glass, sea bird feathers or figurines, moon figurines, round shells. Her lesson is one of time and memories.
Altars, Offerings and More
As you can guess, building a sea-themed altar is the best route to go if you plan on doing lots of devotionals. If you do not want to build individual altars, you can build one main one that you place items on. Good colors for this are sea-greens and blues. If you plan on using cloth on an altar, choose a fabric that is light and flowing. You can chose to either have a stable altar within your house, or you can make one on the beach (if you live near one) out of sand. If you live on the beach or near the sea, you can walk along the shoreline and collect items that have washed up to incorporate into your altar. If you desire to, you can build a temporary altar out of sand and place your items on that and leave it on the shore. You could also make it close enough to the water that the tide/waves eventually wash it away, taking it to the wave maidens domain directly as an offering.
If you can find a knick-knack/gift-shop that has ocean themed items, these are always useful for an altar. You can often find bits of coral, sponge and other ocean animals that they have preserved. Sometimes they sell figurines of lighthouses, boats, anchors and other items which you may choose to incorporate. If you don't live near the sea, and are unable to get items directly from the shore, there are other options for you. You can collect sea-water on a trip, or if you have coastal friends, which you can store in simple mason jars. Sea salt is easy to find online, as are shells, bits of bones from fish and aquatic organisms, sea-weed and kelp, etc.
Raven Kaldera suggests that you can honor the wave maidens by showing that you care about the oceans as much as they do. This could include things like: donating to an organization based on ocean conservation, volunteering in picking up litter around the shoreline, getting on the water and enjoying it, via water sports and other recreational activities. All sorts of things! Like other Jotunfolk, the wave maidens may enjoy poetry, art, music, and festive activities. Doing yoga or dances on the beach or near water may be seen as an acceptable offering.
- A Practical Heathen's Guide to Asatru by Patricia Lafayllve
- Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson
- Wyrdwalkers: Techniques of Northern-Tradition Shamanism by Raven Kaldera
Disclaimer: Contains UPG, PCPG.