anonymous asked:

Im so sorry if this is a dumb question, but can gods be attracted to gods/people of the same gender? Also do they mind transgender people? I was having an argument with a friend of mine about the topic of gods being attracted to the same gender, and she got mad at me, and said no god (or person) would ever care about me because i'm trans. I know that she only said that out of anger, but now i'm worried, since sge has been pagan since she was born (i started last year). Thank you for your time.

I realize this is a Heathen blog, but has your so-called friend literally never heard of Ancient Greece? Like, at all? This Wikipedia article isn’t exhaustive, but it should drive home the point that same gender attraction both to other gods and to mortals was a common thing in classical myth, and even gender changing wasn’t unheard of. And the same could be said for the myths of a lot of other cultures.

But again, we’re a Heathen blog, so we’re going to focus on Norse stuff specifically. And while pre-Christian Norse religion isn’t as well-attested in general, we do have examples of our own.

Loki is, of course, a very prominent one. Some instances of Loki transgressing gender norms in the Eddas include:

  • The one everyone knows: Turning into a mare and giving birth to Sleipnir in Gylfaginning
  • Spending eight years under the earth milking cows and bearing children (mentioned in Lokasenna)
  • Eating a witches heart and becoming impregnated, resulting in him becoming the “mother of all monsters” (Hyndluljóð)
  • Cross-dressing to help Thor retrieve Mjolnir (Þrymskviða)
  • The whole incident with tying a goat to his balls to amuse Skadi in Gylfaginning may have been an allusion to or have symbolism related to castration (see Norse Mythology by John Lindow)
  • Shapeshifting was considered a “queer” act (see “Óðinn as Mother: The Old Norse Deviant Patriarch” by Ármann Jakobsson)
  • Loki may be implied to have possibly slept with Odin (Lokasenna) and Thor (Þrymskviða), in a culture where having sexual relations with other men was seen as making a man less “manly”
  • Loki disguises himself as a woman twice in the story of Baldr’s death in Gylfaginning: the first time to learn Baldr’s weakness from Frigg, the second time to pose as a female jotun who refuses to cry, breaking the agreement with Hel and ensuring Baldr remains dead.

Note that the Norse would not have seen many of these acts as socially acceptable. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is extensive support for Loki sleeping with people of more than one gender and for not conforming to gender roles. Therefore, Loki is a very popular deity for modern Heathens to consult when struggling with orientation or gender identity, or when facing prejudice because of it. He’s been there, and he provides an opportunity for non-binary and other LGBT+ individuals to see themselves in the divine in a way that many converts were denied in the religion they were raised in.

Other instances of LGBT themes in Norse religion:

  • Saxo calls Freyr’s priests “unmanly”, implying they might have been gay or even what we would understand as trans/GNC
  • Odin practices a form of magic usually practiced by women that probably involved being a bottom during sex (which is basically what made you gay in Norse society). There’s an instance where he disguises himself as a woman to sleep with another woman. And he’s called Jálkr, “gelding,” in a couple places.
  • in Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar, there is an AFAB character originally named Thornbjorg who, upon taking the throne, insists on be called by the masculine name of King Thorberg and using masculine pronouns.
  • Archaeologists have found guldgubber that appear to depict same-gender couples.

And honestly? Even if this stuff hadn’t be prevalent historically, that’s no excuse for leaving LGBT+ people out of Heathenry in the modern world. Our society, technology, and conception of gender have changed in the past thousand years, and religion–all religion–necessarily has to evolve to account for that. We have a duty to learn from and improve on our ancestors’ failings if possible, not to perpetuate them.

You are welcome here. You are part of a long and amazing history of people like us. And anyone who denies that is not a friend.

For some more reading on the topic of gender and sexuality in the Viking Age:

- Mod E

Rare Pre-Viking ‘Frey and Freyja’ Erotic Mount, 3rd-5th Century AD

A bronze mount in a form of a standing male and a female couple, each with a right hand holding a stretched left hand touching each others genitals, a female figure decorated with incised belt decoration; lower part of male legs missing.

Several scholars argue that this image represents the marriage of god Frey and giantess Gerd; however it may also represent a union of Frey with his sister Freyja. From later sources, it is known that the Vanir, an ancient race of gods, had a custom to marry or have intercourse with their siblings. Njord, the father of Frey and Freya was from this tribe, and sources suggest that they were conceived with his sister-wife. She might have been the mysterious Suebi goddess Nerthus, which Roman historian Tacitus wrote about in Germania. Her statue was kept in a sacred grove on an unknown island, drawn in a holy cart and only priests could touch her. Everywhere the goddess came she was met with celebration of peace and hospitality. After she returned to the temple, everything was washed by slaves, who were drowned short after. Her connection with fertility, peace, and water, definitely points to the Vanir race; and she shares several similarities with the later worshipping of Frey. This mount probably represents either Njord and Nerthus, or Frey and Freyja, and may had been used as a votive offering or worn as an amulet to invoke the fertile powers of those gods.

A parallel to the style and pose of this 'couple’ can be seen on several small bronzes inspired by Roman statuettes representing gods. However, similar bronze statues were already known in Scandinavia since the Bronze Age and were most likely of a ritual significance. The specific crossed hand on a chest is a puzzling symbol, possibly symbolising a gesture of a specific god, ritual act or blessing. Some facial similarities can be seen on the Broddenbjerg man, a wooden statue with a strong phallic symbolism, most likely pointing to fertility. Another similarity can be observed on rock art in Scandinavia, especially the long neck features and the image of a 'divine couple’, a strong motif found extensively in the late Iron Age on many golden sheets, known as guldgubbers.