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Njord: God of Seafaring

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Forums -> Norse Paganism -> Njord: God of Seafaring

Njord: God of Seafaring
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1
Njord, the god of storms, whom fishers know;

Not born in Heaven he was in Van-heim reard,

With men, but lives a hostage with the gods;

He knows each frith, and every rocky creek

Fringed with dark pines, and sands where sea fowl scream.

-BALDER DEAD (Matthew Arnold)

Njord: God of Seafaring, Winds and the Wealth of the Sea

Njord was one of the principle Vanir gods. The Vanir are largely gods of agriculture and fertility. Njord is a deity whom represents the agriculture and fertility produced from the oceans, seas and rivers. Njord was the son of a giantess named Nott (Night). He was married to his sister, who is supposedly Nerthus (in some tales Njord's sister is nameless, in others it is Nerthus though there is debate that Nerthus and Njord may be the same deity in some texts, which I won't get into). Njord was an honorary Aesir. During the war between the Aesir and Vanir, Njord and his children (Freyr and Freyja) were traded in a truce between the god tribes. Njord took up residence in a Hall in Noatun (meaning "Boat Town"/"Shipyard"), near the shore. Njord was often depicted as an attractive deity, clad in a short tunic with a crown of shells and seaweed on his head (that, or a brimmed hat).

A tale in which Njord is of prominence is the Marriage of Njord and Skadi. Skadi, one of the Jotun, demanded compensation from the Aesir after they killed her father. Odin agreed, in part of the repayment, that she could marry any of the Gods she desired as husband, so long as she picked her husband by looking at only the feet. Skadi picked Njord by mistake, when she was intending to pick Baldr. Njord and Skadi married but it was an unhappy relationship. Njord did not enjoy Skadi's homeland which was cold, and Skadi did not enjoy Njord's homeland which was by the sea. Eventually, they agreed to live apart.

Unlike Aegir, whom often represented the darker and more violent waters in the sea, Njord represented the mild sea by the coast. Unlike other sea gods whom represented the wilder aspects and energies of the water, Njord represented the relationship between people and the water. He was said to be a gentle and kind God. Whenever Aegir caused raging storms and violent waves, Njord stilled them (which explains why Njord's name means "Stiller-of-Storms"). Njord was assoiated with wealth and fertility of the Sea. A popular saying among Norse peoples went that "wealthy people were as rich as Njord". Not only did Njord provide protection to those who fared the waters of the sea, he was kind to merchants and watched over fisherman. He was also a god of the winds, and was called upon to blow-out and extinguish wildfires.

Njord was often said to be the personification of summer in many ways. Because of all he was associated with Njord has many kennings, some of which are: Lord of Ships, the Captain's God, Fisher God, Lighthouse God, Ship-King, etc. As Njord supposedly blessed vessels that came in and out of port, his temples were often situated near the seashore. Sailors called upon him to still raging storms and provide favorable harvest from the Sea. Aquatic plants were said to be Njord's, and the marine sponge in the North was often called "Njord's Glove" until recent years.

Interestingly enough, Njord is one of the few deities that is said to survive Ragnarok. In the Lay of Vafthrudnir, it is said that Njord will return back to Vanaheim when Ragnarok occurs- thereby escaping the battle and death.

Honoring Njord

As with some of the other sea gods, Njord appreciates actions taken to help the oceans health. This may mean spending time devoted to picking up trash along the beach or shores of water, giving money to charities or organizations that work to improve ocean conservation, taking actions against pollution. Njord also is concerned with problems related to the fish market, such as overfishing of the seas due to industrial fisheries. Taking measures against overfishing, such as being courteous with the amount of fish you personally consume or catch, will help to win Njord's favor. This may involve eating only sustainably caught fish.

Njord may be called upon with simple charms and invocations while you are fishing or faring forth in the ocean. An example of a charm for him, from Ingvi's Blessing: Prayers and Charms for Field and Farm, goes as such:

"Goodfather Njord, with knot and needle,

I make this net to fish your waters,

Weight it well and fill it full

Of shining treasures tailed and finned".

He appreciates physical gifts, as do most of the other Gods. You may give him food and drink. Ale is appropriate, and fish or seafood would likely be good for meat. Colors that suit him are the colors of the shore: light browns mixed with blues and whites. You may place various items on his altar such as: gold coins, images or carvings of ships, a compass, shells and seaweed washed along the shore, saltwater, fishing nets, buoys, etc.

One idea is to take something that is symbolic of Njord (made out of materials which are biodegradable) and anoint it with seawater before leaving it on the shore, close enough that the waves may wash it away into the waters.

Cited Works

Dictionary of Nature Myths by Tamra Andrews

http://www.hurstwic.org

http://thenorsegods.com/njord/

http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures

http://www.northernpaganism.org/

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Re: Njord: God of Seafaring
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2

Oops, drat. I forgot to post the link to the forum about Aegir since I mentioned him:

http://www.spellsofmagic.com/read_post.html?post=756892

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Re: Njord: God of Seafaring
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
Wonderful post!

The story of Skaldi is my favorite. Such a brave female to stand up to the Aesir solo and demand of them because they killed her father. A woman after my own heart!

Of course he would survive Ragnorak, he's so peaceful. I'm sure that his ability to calm the storms and waters also goes further into the symbolism of raging waters and storms--war and turbulent emotion. The very fact that he also claims wind demonstrates this, as wind is mental. Storms are water in it's gas (air) form returning to liquid.

The rune laguz and it's lessons comes to mind, which many authors connect to Nerthus incidentally. I bet the more benevolent side of laguz (water) could be evoked through Njord, while Aegir would be the darker, destructive, insanity driving side. Ah, the facets of water. It makes perfect sense, now that I think of it, how Skaldi (winter and ice association) would be paired with Njord and not be able to live together! Isa and laguz are so very different due to form and function, although still connected by the same element--water.

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Re: Njord: God of Seafaring
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 4

It truly does make sense why Njord and Skadi couldn't stand to live together: though they share a similar element, their natures clash. I understand what you are getting about regarding his gentle nature having something to do with mentality as well. In fact, I was reading a ritual dedicated to Njord earlier which was calling upon him to "calm inner storms" within ones self! The energies of water is fascinating and I love the different aspects of it. Your insight is always appreciated, White!

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