A visit to Fjolvar’s Island
You've read above how this shrine came to be. I could have just stopped there. Who cares if it's incomplete, or not completely accurate? They're mythological anyway!
I realized I needed more, if I wanted people to be able to honor them, be inspired by them, and maybe even contact them. I had to talk to Fjolvar himself. But he’s not really regarded as a god, probably had no shrines here, and wouldn’t really be expecting anyone to pester him with prayers. Chances are, he’d actually find them intrusive time wasters. Not everyone in the Otherworlds is interested in humans, or even well disposed towards them. Frankly, we’re a nuisance, demanding much and offering little. Not to mention that the typical approach of humans towards Giants has been to try to kill them for their treasures, at least in much of recorded history. So I couldn’t just contact him long distance. I had to make my way to his place, be humble, praise him and beg for a brief audience. But before that, I had send him a message, so I’d be expected, and wouldn’t just be turned away as an undesirable. I did have one thing on my side. He’s a business man, and good business men don’t turn away potential clients without at least hearing them out.
How to Travel To Other Worlds and Live to Tell About It
As a rule, it’s always best to make an appointment with someone there, and make offering, before starting on a trek to an Otherworld. Those who live in the 9 worlds are not there for our entertainment, and they don’t appreciate intruders, especially foreigners. They might be in the mood for a visitor, or they might not. They might also greet you with the equivalent of a shotgun and a “Didn’t you see the no trespassing sign? Get out before I lose my patience and shoot you”. Or they might simply turn you away. Or they might take a bite out of you, literally. While having your astral body eaten may not kill you, it’ll severely cramp your style while it grows back. For one thing, you’d probably be magic-dead for months or even years. Getting eaten is not the worst thing that can happen to you either. Do try not to piss off the natives.
At any rate, it’s not easy to get there, so it’s best to call ahead to make sure you’re expected. Really, give them the same courtesy you’d like if a foreign visitor wanted some of your time. Let's put this into persective.
Revenge of the Inter-dimensional Telemarketers !
Imagine this, you’re sitting at home, and the phone rings: “Hello, my name is Raja from India. You don’t know me, but I have heard much about you and your work is impressive. I was hoping to have some of your time to talk with you.” Right there, you’re thinking, darn, another telemarketer, and you’re getting ready to hang up. Then the voice adds: “I know your time is precious to you, and I’m not trying to get anything from you, other than learn about your culture, which I do not know well. I am just a traveler.”
At this point, he’s praised you and your country, and thinks you’re important. He doesn’t seem to want you to buy anything, or try to steal your stuff. You’re probably willing to listen a bit more. “For your time, I will give you a gift. It is not much, but I hope it will please you.” NOW you’re listening. He wants to give you stuff. That’s good. You’re probably wondering what this guy might give you. Maybe it’s something exotic that you don’t have here.
When cold-calling a spirit who doesn’t know you, good offerings are essential. Unless you like hearing the phone slam and a dial tone…
A Little Offering Goes a Long Way
I chose to offer 7 dollar coins to Fjolvar, in honor of his 7 daughters. Essentially, I was asking for a guided tour. Seven dollars is not unreasonable for that, it’s not much, but it’s not an insult, as long as I don’t take too much of his time. Paper money wouldn’t be any good to him, our dollar bills are essentially vouchers for a small amount of gold. At least foreign coins, even of non-precious metals, would be somewhat exotic there. Only one problem, I had 5 coins, not 7. Fortunately, my girlfriend dropped by for a quickie, and I got an extra coin from her, and then I found one more on my desk. I was set.
To The Stang!
I went to my stang. A Stang is a representation of the 9 worlds, sometimes called a shaman’s ladder, because they climb the rungs of it in spirit to reach other worlds. I woke up the stang guardian spirit and fed it with mugwort smoke (it’s the Northern Tradition equivalent of offering incense, or tobacco in Native American traditions), telling it I needed to communicate with Fjolvar on the Island of Algrön, between Jotunheim and Vanaheim. The stang spirit replied: “I do not have an address for that place.” You see, stangs are linked to a network of other stangs. If I travel through my stang to one of the 9 worlds, I end up at someone else’s stang on that world. But I can only do that if I have the permission of that stang’s owner. So far, I have one address, in Alfheim. Don’t ask. It’s not a safe place, and I’ve only used it once because I had to. And I can also travel to Midgard, the human realm there, because it’s close enough to our world that I don’t need an exact stang address. A stang is nearly useless without alliances to other beings who’ll let you use their stang. Of course… that usually means your stang is available to them. Have I mentioned my life has gotten more complicated?
This Is Not a Stargate
If you’re a sci-fi fan, and thinking Stargate,… well, that’s not so far off. There’s no shimmering pool to cross into, you just grab the rung and it… I don’t know how to describe it. From what I can tell, the rungs of a stang are the part that is in this world. On either side, the rung extends invisibly into the world it is connected to. When you grab the rung with intent, and have permission with that stang, the boundaries on either side collapse through you, and you’re there. There’s other ways to travel, but it’s by far the fastest. Walking takes… well, it takes a while. Learning to take bird shape in my spirit body is still on my to-do list.
Now, I may not have a gate to the island, but I did have quasi-permission to use the stang gates under water, thanks to my alliance with Ran and her 9 daughters. That is, I had permission, provided I asked. Only problem, I haven’t learned to breathe water (in my spirit body), which meant even if I asked, I couldn’t just cross over to one of their stangs on the sea-floor. I’d drown. See above for issues with getting your astral body killed. Maybe I should add that to my to-do list:. I’m starting to appreciate Raven’s elemental mastery list, which includes learning a shape from each element. This is what it’s for, I suppose. I need a water breathing form. Another time.
So I faced the stang and said: “I don’t need to travel there, just to send a message. I need to send a message HERE.” I pointed between the rungs for Jotunheim and Vanaheim. “Please negotiate with the nearby gates under water to find one that is nearby. I have some permissions with those.”
Okay, Maybe It IS a Stargate, Sort Of...
Yeah, okay, you got me. I do think of the stang as a sort of sentient Startgate. So sue me. And I’m a geek. Which is why what my stang says to me gets translated in my head into geek, because I’m following it every step of the way: “Accessing Sea-gate addresses... Searching… Address confirmed… Accessing… Access confirmed… Negotiating protocol… Protocol established… Negotiating permissions… Permissions granted. You can send a message now.” “Thank you, guardian”.
I don’t use my stang for travel much. Travel without need is just dangerous, the 9 worlds aren’t a theme park. I use it more like a sort of communications array, to speak more easily to those I honor, as a bridge, or phone system. Yes, I’m a Star Trek geek. We’ve been over this already.
To get a better fix on someone I’d never had contact with, I read out the passage about Fjolvar from the Poetic Edda. You can see that passage on the other Fjolvar page, at the bottom. “This is the person I want to send a message to, Lord Fjolvar of the All-Green Island of Algrön.” I felt the connection establish itself.
Nobody Likes Cold Calls
“Lord Fjolvar, I am sorry to disturb you. I am a… human sorceress from Midgard’s sister realm. May I please have a few moments of your time?”
“Hmm? What is this about?” He answered gruffly.
“I am building a shrine to you and your 7 daughters, to honor you and the excellent work you do. But I need more information to do that properly. Would you listen to my request?”
“What sort of shrine? Go on.”
“Well… it is a technology we have here, a sort of seer’s book. Each of us can have this kind of book, and what we write can be read by anyone else who has this sort of book. If I give the name of my book to someone else, they can write that name in their book, and then see the pages I’ve written in mine. So I wanted to make pages for you and your daughters, so that their fame and yours would be better known. Perhaps it would get you some new customers.”
He grunted, “And what do you want?”
“I was hoping to come to your island and ask you a few questions, so I can write the truth about you and your daughters. Or, whatever ‘truth’ you want humans to believe about you and your daughters.” I started jingling the coins in my hand, which got his attention. “I bring a modest gift of seven golden coins. They are not gold, simply the currency of my country, and I was hoping you’d find them adequate to thank you for a brief interview tonight.” He was considering, and I was sweating a bit. What I was offering really wasn’t much, and he knew it.
“All right, you may come. But I am busy. It will be short.”
“Thank you Lord Fjolvar, your reputation for generosity is well deserved.” It’s hardly possible to lay it on too thick in these situations. But he’s no one’s fool.
He grunted something I didn’t understand at that point, and the connection dropped. Okay! I had an invitation, I was all set!
Robin, To The Batmobile!
I picked up a friend on the way to the river, who needed help transporting a new computer chair. She went off to wait at the observation point on the left tip of the quasi-island, while I went to the right one. It was 8:40 by that point, and the park closed at 10. “These things generally take 15 to 45 minutes,” I had told her, “and it’s a ten minute walk for me to the tip I’m going to from here. I’ll see you in a few.” I’d chosen the spot because it faced a set of small islands called the Seven Sisters. When you’re trying to cross to the other world, geography lines up with similar geography. So having islands named after seven sisters would help me reach that other island with seven sisters. Or so I hoped. During the walk there, I sang Sequana’s song, asking for permission from the spirit of the River to do this. And then I sang Bylgja’s song, the Undine of Breakers, and Mistress of Sea-Horses. I needed a lift to the island, and during our meeting, She’d let me know she provided such horses… for a price.
I climbed down the rocks to sit by the water, facing the Islands of the 7 sisters (Iles des sept soeurs), next to where I’d met Bara Aegirsdottir. I sang Blodughadda’s song as Opener of Ways, securing Her assistance for this (She said she didn’t need offering, if I was paying Her sister), then Bylgja’s song again to ask for a horse. I prayed for a sea-horse to carry me to Fjolvar’s All-Green Island Algrön, and offered payment of a drop of my blood, as that’s what She said I should pay. This wouldn’t have been my first choice for travel, but I didn’t really have any better way of getting to Fjolvar’s island. Also, since I had promised to serve Bylgja as a different type of “horse” three times, I wanted how her other horses worked. See Bylgja’s page for details on that.
I was expecting a sea horse of some sort, or perhaps Bylgja herself. But it was a dark haired mermaid that showed up. She said Bylgja was busy, and she would carry me as agreed. I thanked her for coming, and introduced myself by my mundane name. I didn’t know who she was, and didn’t want to share my spirit name. A bit nervous about this mode of transportation (I mean, on a mermaid’s back? Come on! If you think that sounds cheesy and right out of Disnye, imagine how I feel about it!), I asked her to wait while I got out of my body. I then tied some of my spirit yarn between myself and my body for extra safety, and renewed the shields and grounding for both my spirit and my body. Then, I got on her back as best I could. She took off… and dove straight into the water! I held my breath, trying to mutter “Up! Air!”, but she kept going down.
This is Soooo Not How I Expected To Die
I eventually let go, and managed with difficulty to make my way back to the shore and my body. I don’t know if I would have managed that without the spirit yarn, these are rapids, and I’m not that good a swimmer. I was pretty pissed, not to mention scared. She came back, surprised. Apparently, she expected a sorceress to be able to breathe water. Um, no, I’m not nearly that good, even in spirit. She seemed worried Bylgja would be upset with her for this mistake. I wasn’t sure whether she really was sent by Bylgja, so I sang the song again, stating aloud my agreement with that sea goddess. The mermaid got more nervous, and pleaded that I not disturb her mistress any further, as She really was busy, and swore that she really had been sent by Her to carry out this task.
Mermaid: It's The Only Way To Travel
I was wary and still a bit shaken, but I had no other backup plan. It was this or go home. So I asked her to promise to take me there, keeping my head above water at all times so I could breathe, to carry me safely there, and then back safely to my body. She swore this, and I reluctantly got back on. This time, it was actually fun, and boy could she swim! Speedboats had nothing on her. We crossed the worlds halfway to the islands, and soon arrived at the island. Except it was all forest on this side. I saw a great house off to the right, so I rode until we found a small shore, with a dock that looked like it was made for a single rowboat. I dismounted and got on shore. I felt a bit bad for how I’d spoken to this mermaid in anger, but I had no idea how to apologize without sounding weak. Sounding weak towards your ride, when she can drown you in spirit, is a bad idea. Unfortunately, I needed to keep her worried about what I’d say to her mistress if she misbehaved. Those who drown go to Ran and Aegir’s halls. I’d have plenty of opportunity to complain to her Mistress if I died under water, especially while conducting business with Bylgja. I’d be dead, but she’d be toast. Let’s try to avoid that though.
And The Natives Welcomed Me With Rose Petals... yeah right.
As I stepped on shore, I was almost immediately challenged by what appeared to be a guard. I said I had an appointment with Lord Fjolvar, and that I was from Midgard’s sister realm. He seemed a bit dubious. I added I was a sorceress, and that he’d agreed to talk with me. He told me to follow, through a narrow path in the forest, but kept turning to keep an eye on me. “Look,” I said, “I may know a little magic, but you could break me in two. I don’t think you really need to be that nervous with me at your back.”
“You don’t look much like a sorceress, he countered.” Good point, I was in running shoes, jean shorts and a blue tank top. “Perhaps, but robes are not practical for riding mermaids across worlds,” I replied. He shrugged.
We made better progress after that., and got to some sort of service entrance. He said “Stay here,” while he entered. Another man soon came out, and silently kept an eye on me. I think he was a cook. While the guard was gone, I let my Sight wander, keeping track of where he was going. I had a vague vision of him going through corridors and into a sort of party room. It was quite crowded with merry makers, and the guard reported to a man on a sort of throne, who I assumed was Fjolvar. Fjolvar got up and left the room, while the guard returned. “He will see you.” He led me in, down a dark corridor, ignoring the door to the main room ahead, and going up two narrow flights of stairs on the right. It all seemed made of wood. We passed a small landing with doors, and then came to a corridor on the next floor. It looked like it was where the guests went up to the various bedrooms. At the end of the corridor to the left, he knocked on the door. “Lord, she is here.” “Let her enter,” came the voice from inside the room. When I did, I was momentarily blinded by a flash of gold light.
An Audience With Lord Fjolvar
As I took my bearings again, I saw many golden items glinting on shelves to my right, and variously colored and shaped bottles on the left wall. There was some sort of service counter before me, and beyond that, a large ornate chair where the Lord of the house was sitting. His office, I supposed, though not what I’d expected. Around and behind him were a strange assortment of items. “Greetings Lord Fjolvar, thank you for seeing me.”
“So what do you want?”
“As I said, I am building a sort of shrine for people of my world to know of your fame, and your renowned daughters. But we don’t know much, and I was hoping you could tell me a little more, so I can share it with my people. I’ve brought seven golden coins as a small gift, in the currency of my land. They are not gold, but they might at least be a curiosity here”
“All right, let’s see them.”
“I need to throw them to you, so I can have them cross the worlds properly. If that’s all right.”
“Yes, yes, throw them.” I reached into my pocket, breathed on them, hoping I could get them across properly, and threw them. He caught them, and examined them with mild curiosity. Giving Canadian dollar coins might work once, as a novelty, but it didn’t look like it would work a second time, at least not with him.
He grunted and asked: “So what do you want to know?”
I Just Came For Your Daughters
“I wanted to know what each of your daughter has as a specialty. I’ve had a vision of them, but I don’t know if I got it right. One I know as Lady Earth, a Tree or Island or Earth Jotun (Giant), who specializes in giving comfort, cooking, and such.”
“Yes, Eiglith is the perfect wife that men seldom have,” he answered. “What else?”
“I saw her serving a man in a house in a giant tree. Is this true?”
“Oh, she has a room there, but it’s a walk. Mostly she works in the House. What else?”
“Lady Fire, expert in sex and combat, she’s a Fire Jotun, and has a cave?”
“No, she works in the House, she only goes there with some Fire Jotuns who want to do it in flame. She’s fireproof, you know. Not that much of a fighter. Not bad, really, but not that great. She’s more with nails and wrestling in bed. A real tigress that one,” he chuckled. “What else?”
“Lady Sky… She’s an expert in games, but I couldn’t figure out what. Tafl (Viking chess) ? Tying up and flogging? Mind games?”
We had some cultural and language issues here, trying to understand what each of us considered games. He gave me a few examples of games. One is a chance game, possibly with dice, where the client gambled to get sexual favors from Sky. It seemed rather complex, perhaps because Sky kept changing the rules mid-way. They gambled deeds, and some of these involved inflicting pain on the loser, or being trapped or tied in some way, and having to escape before the game could continue. Basically, each time you lost, you had to do something unpleasant, or get something unpleasant done to you. Sky is used to the pain, and is a VERY fast healer, able to shapeshift the wounds to heal them. She’s a good sport about it too. One image I got was of her laughing as she put her hand on a table and pierced it with a dagger. Another was of a client in some sort of net, struggling to get free while she laughed and taunted him.
She’d also wager favors on a game of tafl, riddles, and any other game she could think of to make it interesting.
“Lady Frost, expert in Beauty… I have no idea what that means. Does she help beautify clients?”
He laughed. “No. She can help some in shapeshifting deformities when they are stuck, but that’s not her specialty. She is just beautiful and unattainable, that’s her game. Oh, they do their best to get a whimper out of her during sex, and very rarely they manage that. But what they really want is to melt her heart. She’s frosty cold though, nothing flaps her. It’s a waste of time, but they keep trying, and it makes her interesting. Everyone wants to be the one who melts her. And no one can outdo her at our pageants, she always has the most extravagant costume and makeup. She’s the queen of beauty here.” I got an image of one of her outfits, white feathers and sparkling stones, it was an art piece worthy of any Mardi Gras carnival, but with fairly short feathers. You don’t want things sticking out too far in crowded rooms.
“Lady Cave, does she specialize in sexual magic, and in horsing the spirit of dead wives for their husbands?”
“Hmmm, yes, she sometimes does that, lending her body to the dead wife’s spirit, for men who’ve lost their beloved. But mostly she’s a seer, people come to talk to her, and ask for counsel. Then they have sex. Or not. Sometimes they just talk and talk. She can also unblock some sexual problems with her stones. She’s always been a strange one. Some people like that, that she is spooky.” He shrugged.
“Lady Dancer, she entertains in the main hall, sings, dances, and in private?”
“Yes, she dances out there, and then they take her for private dances and sex. She sings during sex, too. And dances even while having sex, it’s quite a sight.”
“What instrument does she play?”
He showed me one, stashed behind him in the room. It was sort of like a hollowed out tree with three strings, this one still with the bark on: slightly bulbous at the bottom, maybe a meter long, 15 cm wide at the narrowest and 20 to 25cm at the widest. It was vaguely like a sitar, if a sitar was made out of a solid tree trunk. It seemed designed to be sturdy, with the strings sunken in to protect them . You could bash someone’s head in with it, and then continue playing. That’s probably exactly what their bards do with it. I think the neck of it was hollow too, and part of the resonance chamber. There were tuning pegs, I couldn’t exactly make out how they were laid out, though I could see they were a brass colored metal. I think they would have to be sunken in too, probably at the top of it. It’s played with the top of the trunk resting on your shoulder, and the bottom on your lap. I would have liked to examine it more closely, but I was trying his patience as it was
“And Lady Mirror, what about her? She can take any shape the client wants?”
“Yes, I don’t even remember what she used to look like,” he mused. “She can’t be with lots of people for too long, it’s hard for her to keep her shape, unless she really focuses on one person’s strong desires. She takes the shape you want most to see, so they knock, she answers, and when they pass the curtains, she’s already what they want her to be. I can’t tell you how many times I thought she was one of her sisters when she was a kid. Are we done?”
Nobody Rides For Free
“Well, if people of my world want to come to your House, I need to warn them of the prices. If they want to be clients of your daughters, how much would they…” and the words died on my lips. The way he looked at me said it all : he didn’t think we could possibly afford sex with one of his daughters.
“All right, what if they just want to visit your island ? I’d like to have a look at that party room where all the…”
“One gold piece,” he interrupted. “Just to have a look?” I asked with little hope. “One gold piece to go into the “party” room as you call it. Even if it’s just to have a look.” His tone said there was no negotiating on that price, if you wanted in, you paid.
“Okay, how about outside, can they walk outside?” “One silver piece to visit the gardens around the House. The beach is also one silver piece.” I started to understand why there were guards. It wasn’t to protect the people on the island, it was to make sure no one got a free show. If you wanted to join this exclusive party, you had better have a deep pocket.”
But I Am a Poor Monk
“Understood. Now, my main goal here was to find how sex-workers might be able to talk to your daughters, to get advice and inspiration. Is it possible to talk to them in that way, without paying that kind of price? I mean, of course a gift would be given, but I don’t know what each of them would like. “
“Eiglith always needs more cookies to serve the guests. A big batch of them would probably buy a bit of her time, and they’d be something different for the guests to taste. Fire likes strong alcohol, it has to burn. Sky, you could interest with a new game. Write it on a scroll for her. If it’s a new game to her, she may give you some time. Frost likes frozen deserts. Make it fancy though. Cave… hmmm. Cherries I think. Dancer likes learning new songs. Write it down, and sing it for her. Mirror, hah she likes fish.” I tried to identify what kind of fish, I think he meant some sort of squid, but I’m not sure. Something without bones I think. “Is that all?”
“Yes, thank you, you’ve been most generous, and I’m honoured you’ve given me some of your valuable time. I brought some grapes as a guest gift, perhaps a small bite if you like them.” He took them, all in one bite, and chewed. “Not bad, I suppose.” Then he stared. My welcome was wearing thin.
“Um, yes, I should be going… thank you again for your time.”
Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out
“You’ll be escorted back.” And with that, he turned back to whatever he was doing, while the guard led me back to the shore near the service entrance. The mermaid brought me back, and no sooner had I thanked her, she was gone. I went back into my body.
I remembered a man shouting something at my body while I was away, from the top of the rocky shore. I couldn’t hear what he’d said though, and dismissed it, while my presence flickered in the other world. Now back, I gathered my things and climbed up the rocks, putting on my watch. Oh crap! It was 5 minutes to 10pm! The park was closing, and it had rather impressive fencing. I started running, as I calculated times in my mind.
Okay, I had set off at 8:40. It’s a ten minute walk, so 8:50 at the shore. Say 10 minutes to set up, it’s 9:50. Another 10 minutes for an aborted trip, return to shore, and setting out again. It’s 9pm. The whole ride couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes. Then 5 more minutes from the shore to Fjolvar’s office. It’s 9:10. Our talk couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes, 20 tops. It’s 9:30. Then it was a run back to shore, and a fast ride back. Another 5 minutes. There were 20 minutes I couldn’t account for. Strange. Time is said to flow differently in other worlds, so that’s probably it. Fortunately, my friend had told the park official I was there, so they were both waiting for me at the entrance. I wouldn’t have to try to climb over the gate! This was a good journey.
But now, I need to read up on sharks. That’s Blodughadda’s animal. Guess I’m in for another round of lessons, if They’ll have me.
If you want to read about my meetings with the Sea Goddesses, start with Blodughadda's page.
You may have noticed the funny section titles, and wondered if I was serious. Yes, I'm serious, that's just how I write. My Patron is the God of Humor. I take humor very seriously, and it's a nice way to break up the text so it's easier to read.
Click here for page 1 - The Shrine
Week 12: Bara