Sunday, September 22, 2013

Frigga and Her Handmaidens - A Tarot Spread

 This entry is a part of the Tarot Blog Hop, which gathers together many tarot themed bloggers every High Day.  The theme for Mabon is Divination and Myth.  From here, you can view the Master List of Participants, travel back to Stella at US Games, Inc., or forward to Chloe at TABI.  Have fun, and welcome!

Frigga Spinning the Clouds, H.A. Guerber (1909)

Our Grove held a Norse-centered Autumn Equinox last night, with Frigga and Freyr as the Deities of the Occasion.  Frigga holds a special place for me, as she has been honored on my hearth altar since last Yule.  In preparing for the High Rite, I thought a lot about what she means to me.

Frigga is the wife of Odin, and as such, she is the Norse and Anglo-Saxon Goddess of marriage and domesticity - but it is important to understand that this is not in the sense of servitude or drudgery, but as the keeper of the house and hearth.  Frigga is Odin's partner in the truest sense, and is foremost among Goddesses.  She is the sole deity, other than Odin himself, allowed to sit in Odin's seat, and stories tell of her gentle wisdom in guiding him toward wise decisions. She is the one who keeps things in order - no small feat in world that leans toward chaos.  She helps us to understand the vital importance of 'mundane' effort.  She is also the one who spins out our fate and is associated with divination, sometimes called She Who Knows All, But Speaks Not.

Finally, and this is an important aspect for me, Frigga shows us how to keep Frith in our own homes and in our community.

Frith is an Old English term that means peace or harmony, but more than that - it indicates a relationship of kindred, with rules of behavior attached so that those in frith with one another are committed to stand up for each other, to not engage in unrestrained strife or seek to cause harm to one another. Frith is the sense of security that comes from being within one's tribe. The bonds of blood or marriage confer frith, but so too might a relationship in groups who have come together purposely, such as a spiritual group, or a working group of almost any sort.  I very much like this statement about Frith:

In essence, frith is not an absence, but a presence. It is not the absence of strife; rather it fills the spaces between people with something that is stronger and more important, more meaningful, than strife. That "something" that fills in the spaces is frith: a closely woven relationship with a distinctive pattern to it. If frith were merely an absence of strife, we could not speak of frithweaving: how does one weave a vacuum? One weaves a fabric, filling empty space with substance, pattern, and tensile strength that is created by the interweaving of many threads into a strong whole. Strife can occur between people who are in frith with each other, though there are limits to the severity of expression allowed. Strife is a natural component of existence: consider its linguistic connection to the word "strive", a word that expresses part of Heathen thew. Strife only becomes dangerous when there is no frith, no committed relationship with recognized rules and patterns of behavior, to control and counterbalance it.
 This idea of Frith, both within our household, but also in various groups and communities in which I find myself intrigued me as an idea for a Tarot spread.

I also have been increasingly interested in learning more about Frigga's Handmaidens.  The lore indicates that Frigga had twelve handmaidens, some householders in their own right, each with their own particular aspects and strengths.  In some cases, the stories tell us very little about them - in others, we are able to glean more about how they were perceived.   Diana Paxson wrote a wonderful article, Beloved,  several years ago discussing this, and this is what I mainly worked with in putting this spread together.  In looking over the aspects of the handmaidens, it occurred to me that each of them embody and aspect that is vital to the development and maintenance of Frith.  I will only be speaking briefly of each Handmaiden, so please do go read her article to learn more about each one!

The purpose of this spread is to explore how we might establish, build, and preserve Frith in our kindred relationships - in our household, within our wider family, in our community and meaningful groups.  It can be treated as a general wisdom reading, or be used to hone in on ways to improve group dynamics or to ask ourselves "How can I contribute to the wellbeing of this group/family/community?

I found it to be very indepth and on target and a bit overwhelming (my experience with Frigga is that she is all about the personal responsbility and does not really let us make excuses for not doing what we can and should).  You may decide to reel this reading out over a span of days or weeks, or even months, to give yourself time to really focus on each aspect.

If you use this spread, please come let me know how it worked for you!  It should go without saying that this should also work well with Runes.

Frigga and Her Handmaidens - A Tarot Spread

Lay out your cards with one in the center, and 12 in a circle around it.  Read the center card, and then work 'clockwise', starting at the 1 o'clock position and ending at the 12 o'clock position.

Center. FRIGGA - All-Mother, Spinner of Fate, Keeper of the Household, Frithweaver
What is the most important thing I must understand about keeping and maintaining Frith in my home and community?

1. SAGA - Keeper of Stories, Poetry and History
What can learn from my past, family or cultural stories or history about keeping Frith?  What is  the past of the matter? What do I already know from experience?  What is our baggage?

2. GEFION - The Giver, Goddess of Good Fortune and Prosperity
What gifts have I been given that assist my ability to maintain Frith?  What abundance do I have to offer to my Kindred?

3. SJOFN - Goddess of Passion and Love, She Who Eases Strife in Marriage
In what ways can I better show my love and affection for those with whom I share Frith?  How can love be applied as an antidote to strife?

4. VOR - Goddess of Faithfulness in Marriage, She From Whom Nothing is Concealed
In what way do I need to use my intuition to develop greater awareness, in order to preserve Frith?

5. LOFN - She Who Pleads for Forbidden Love
What aspect of my life feels 'forbidden' by those with whom I maintain Frith?  What is something I need "permission" in order to pursue?

6. FULLA - Guardian of Secrets and Mystery, Treasure Keeper
What secret treasures do I hide away in order to better keep Frith?  What is important and best kept confidential or known to only a few?

7. SYN - Protector of Our Boundaries, Advocate for Those On Trial
In what area of my life do I need to establish stronger boundaries, in order to preserve Frith?  Where do I need a stronger defense?

8. HLIN  - Goddess of Consolation and Protector From Harm
What area of my life requires active protection from me in order to preserve Frith?  In what way do I need to be a warrior for the sake of Frith?  What is worth fighting for?

9. EIR - Healer, Herbwoman
What do I need to heal in order to better maintain Frith?  In what way can I be an agent of healing?

10. SNOTRA - The Wise, Goddess of Virtue and Self-Discipline
In what way do I need to focus on self-discipline, courtesy and rules of conduct that will improve Frith?  What virtue do I need to strengthen in order to be a better frithweaver?

11. VAR - She Who Hears Oaths and Punishes Oathbreakers
What oath - spoken or unspoken - do I need to make to those who share my hearth, in order to maintain Frith?  What commitment can I make?  What vow have I broken or neglected that needs to be addressed?

12. GNA - Frigga's Messenger, She Who Carries Frigga's Wisdom to the Wider Community
What divine inspiration can I carry with me in my daily life in order in order to widen Frith outward into the world?


 I hope you enjoyed this spread and I look forward to hearing how you use it!  Time to hop back onto the Tarot Blog Hop! From here, you can view the Master List of Participants, travel back to Stella at US Games, Inc., or forward to Chloe at TABI.  Happy travels!