yggdrasil tree

The mythic snakes.

These three snakes are important to Norse mythology:
Jörmungandr, the Midgard snake, who encircles the world and will let his tail go at Ragnarök. Níðhöggr, who gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil. And the serpent who drips venom onto Loki’s face as his punishment.

Pyrography by Wood Fire Ink.
Please do not remove credit.

Yggdrasil Day - 22nd April

Yggdrasil is the cosmic World Tree that binds this world to the others, to the world of the gods, the spirits and ancestors. It is the symbol of our union with nature. 

On this day you should plant a tree and contemplate the special blessings that nature gives to us, and our place in the natural world.

💀The Spread of the Norns💀

A spread inspired by the Norns of norse mythology, the demi-goddesses of destiny. The Æsir often sought their council at the base of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil. May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.

First Card: Urðr, the first Norn, she represents what once was.

Second Card: Verðandi, the second norn, she represents what is coming to be.

Third Card: Skuld, the third norn, she represents what shall be.

bmvagaboner  asked:

Hi! I just learned that your childs name is Ash. I know you're a huge fan of norse mythology, and so I'm wondering if you name him after Ask? (Ask och Embla, I'm Swedish but I don't know what Embla would be in English, Ember maybe?)

His name on his birth certificate is Anthony. But yes, we called him Ash after the first man, and after Yggdrasil, the world tree, which was also an ash. And because we liked the name.

What Is a Heathen/Northern Tradition Pagan?

   I am what is known as a Northern Tradition Pagan, or in short, a Heathen. As a heathen, I practice a variety of different religious and magickal workings which will be explained below. Before you read any further, understand that this has nothing to do with the christian religion and was practiced before Christianity reached Europe. The practices I am about to describe have ancient origins which date back to before the time of the vikings.

  Being pagan means anything other than christian. When someone says they are pagan, they are not just talking about one specific religion, they are talking about many, unless they specify which religion they are talking about. Heathenry or Northern Tradition Paganism can be described as the religion of the Vikings, but its origins lead further back than even them. We worship and call to gods and goddesses of three different types of pantheons. There are many different kinds of heathenry and in this basic description, we shall discuss the most popular and widely known.
   

 The Paths

  Asatru is one of the most popular types of heathenry. Asatru deals with the worship to the Aesir gods and goddesses. These gods and goddesses make their home in one of the nine worlds of Yggdrasil, the great world tree. Asgard stands at the top of this great tree and is home to many different deities. Odin, god of magick, death, poetry, ecstasy, written word, and war. Thor, god of storms and the common folk. Frigga, wife of Odin and goddess of motherhood, marriage, wyrd, and the household. There are of course, many more but these are just but a few that heathens of the Asatru form of heathenry would worship or call to.

  Vanatru is a form of heathenry which centers around the worship of Vanaheim deities. These deities work with nature, farming, planting crops, but they are not inherently part of nature, but they do help it grow in some ways. Freyr, god of fields, forest, harvest, and sex. Freyr is also lord of Ljossalfheim, which is another world inhabited by what most would call, elves. Freyja, which is Freyr’s twin sister is goddess of magick (usually magick specifically known as seidr), fertility, death, love, and sex. Nerthus, a very old and powerful earth like goddess, usually associated with the land and sea, or bog like areas. Again, these are just some of the many deities within Vanatru.
  

  Rokkatru is a form of heathenry that many shy away from. The term Rokk as some people say, means dark or shadow. Rokkatru is a practice of heathenry that deals with worshiping the Rokk deities. Usually these deities are not seen as deities, but I personally believe them to be deities in their own right. The Rokk gods and goddesses also have another widely known term. That term is the Jotunar. Usually the Jotunar might be classified as beings from Jotunheim, the world of the giants or etins. However, there are many different kinds of etins, like, Fire etins, frost etins, sky etins, earth etins, sea etins, and so on. Some of them come from different worlds such as Muspelheim or even Niflheim. The gods and goddesses of this particular branch of heathenry are sometimes feared and shunned. Here I will give you a list on what some of the most popular Jotunar are. Skadhi, goddess of winter and hunting, usually living in mountains or snow terrain. Loki, god of mischief and chaos. Angrboda, one of Loki’s wives, hag (the term hag means wise woman or healer, but she is also other things too) of Iron Wood in Jotunheim. Thrym, high king of Jotunheim and seems to be a god of frost and snow. These gods and goddesses are ancient beings, said to have been around since before all the nine worlds were created. They are part of nature, they are nature’s purest form. Unlike Elementals, the Jotunar are more aware of themselves. They can transform themselves into ranging storms and strong winds which devastate the world. Most Jotunar are skilled in shapeshifting, so much so that they consider it a cultural art-form. They can change their form just like we change our clothes.
 
The Beliefs
  Now that I’ve explained the three different types of heathenry, let’s talk about a few other things that heathens may also follow.
⦁      Wyrd
  Wyrd in Heathenry is actually a complex system of many different things. Wyrd can encompass personal choices to that of circumstance, situation, or even deity influence. Wyrd also encompasses your personal strand of luck. Now luck in general is very complex. There are many different kinds of luck, luck ranging from situations or issues passed down from the family line, or luck that is part of an individual. Luck can also be passed down from lifetime to lifetime. All of this incorporates to a whole mess of webs and connections which make our wyrd what it is.

  Wyrd is essentially what some would call fate or destiny, but it usually determined by the actions of the individual or the actions of those before the individual. Wyrd intersects with all things, each person or living thing has a strand of wyrd. The wyrd we have is called orlog, it is our personal life path which we usually direct ourselves. While our wyrd touches others wyrd, it is ours and ours alone. Our wyrd may also affect others wyrd to a certain extent. We all have our own thread, and that thread depending on the circumstances or influences of ones life may or may not have knots or tangles in it. Either way, these strands of our wyrd feed into the greater cosmic tapestry.

  The tapestry of all wyrd can only be fully seen by deities, usually by the Norns. The Norns are giantesses which weave and sew our strands into the tapestry. While we have some control, they can also direct it too. Sometimes our wyrd is affected by deities other than the Norns as well. A god or goddess that you work with can essentially alter part of your wyrd, changing your luck from good to bad or bad to good. Generally, wyrd is a complex system of actions and reactions which play out as a course of cause and effect, but there are also some random things in there probably affected by something that either we did or something that a deity did.

    Wyrd can be read by individuals who have honed their skills in seidr and have worked with gods or goddesses associated with wyrd, such as Frigga. Wyrd is flexible and can create many different types of symbolism associated with a certain problem. We as humans cannot read the full spectrum of wyrd because it is to complex for our mortal minds to understand. However, we can get pieces of the greater picture involved in our lives and thus tell others how to untie their own knots or at least point them in that direction. For those of us who can tap into the weave of wyrd, we can only see a portion, we can look and feel, but never change anything, for it is outside of our power to do so. All we can do is guide an individual.

⦁    The Nine Noble Virtues
  Not all heathens follow this, but there are many of us who do, I am one of them. The Nine Noble Virtues were a modern establishment on what our people attempt to stand for and uphold, and these ways are believed to also be the practice of our ancestors as well. They are a set of guidelines, (not rules) that allow us to live an honorable life. They are as follows.

Loyalty (Frith, Family, Friends)
Be true to your family and your kin. They come before all else; the whole comes before the individual. Work to provide for, protect, encourage, and support them.

Self-reliance (Responsibility)
Always be in a position to provide for yourself, so that you’re not a burden to others. Accept help graciously when it is offered, but do not constantly depend on others. Ask no one to do something for you that you could do yourself. In addition, take responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment. Do not blame others for your situation until you have looked at yourself.

Industriousness
Contribute. To your family, to your tribe, to your country. Find where help is needed and offer it. Do as much as you can. Don’t waste time being unproductive. Build relationships, craft things, study, teach others.

Truth (Honesty, Wisdom)
Keep your word. Don’t tell lies, except to an enemy who lies to you. Keep your integrity. Be honest to yourself. Learn how to see through lies. Be wary of others’ facades and false words.

Hospitality (Generosity)
Do not hesitate to welcome the weary into your home. When you have guests, provide them with your best food, drink, and warm clothes. If there is no extra room, give them your own. In return, when you are a guest, be a gracious one, offer help, and do not overstay your welcome.

Honor
Keep your word when you’ve given it (and know when to give it). Mend things, situations, and relationships that you’ve damaged. Admit when something is your fault.

Courage (Bravery, Boldness)
Do what is right in the face of opposition or derision. Protect yourself and your kin from harm. Challenge yourself.

Steadfastness (Strength, Endurance)
Perseverance. Once you’ve committed to something, see it through, even if the way is hard.

Self-Discipline (Moderation, Control)
Constantly work to better yourself. Keep control of yourself; be mindful of your own actions. Set goals and challenge yourself to meet them. Do not allow yourself to fall into vice, or give up control of yourself to others.

⦁      Each person is different within this religion. Not every Heathen practices the same way or even worships the same deities. Some of us are also looked downed upon. Some heathens are very restrictive, not allowing people of color into their religion or practices, while others like myself, are very open to anyone practicing. We are a diverse group of people and not all of our practices are the same, let alone done in groups. There isn’t a lot of organized religion here, but some of the Asatru folk are pretty organized when it comes to performing Blots, which are actually a form of group meeting in which we might honor the gods.
 

   All heathens have their own practices and ways of doing things. Some of us have taboos, things we do on a daily basis and things we aren’t supposed to do at all. These things are usually along the lines of what is most logical, or to what we feel our gods or goddesses are telling us to do. We believe the gods and goddesses of the Norse Pantheons are individual, who can think and feel all on their own, so their interactions with us are not limited. We tend to see them as valuable partners and friends, but still hold a high respect for them no matter what we do. We believe the gods can treat others differently and have their own way with dealing with each person, even if it is the same god or goddess that another is working with.

  Many of us like to incorporate practices of Norse Mythology, or more commonly known as the lore, into our practices. The lore is a translation of older icelandic texts written by an 1170 scholar named Snorri Sturluson. He was the author of the Prose Edda or Younger Edda, which consists of Gylfaginning (“the fooling of Gylfi”), a narrative of Norse mythology, the Skáldskaparmál, a book of poetic language, and the Háttatal, a list of verse forms. He was also the author of the Heimskringla, a history of the Norwegian kings that begins with legendary material in Ynglinga saga and moves through to early medieval Scandinavian history.

⦁    The Cosmology of Yggdrasil

The Creation
  In the beginning, there were two worlds. Muspelheim, the world of fire, and Niflheim, the world of ice. The two worlds swirled around in the endless abyss called Ginnungagap and into it poured the sparks and smoke and layers of the rime-ice and glacial rivers. As heat and cold met in Ginnungagap, crashing together, they created Ymir, first of the godlike giants. Ymir could produce asexually, and when he sweated, more giants were born.
   As the frost continued to melt, a cow, Adhumbla, emerged from it. She nourished Ymir with her milk and she was also nourished by the salt-licks in the ice. Her licks slowly uncovered Buri, the first of the Aesir tribe of gods. Buri had a son named Bor, who married Bestla, the daughter of the giant Bolthorn. The Half-god, half-giant children of Bor and Bestla were Odin and his two brothers, Vili and Ve. The three brothers slew Ymir and set to constructing the worlds from his corpse. The brothers fashioned the oceans from his blood, the soil from his skin, and muscles, the plants from his hair, clouds from his brains, and the sky from his skull. The brothers then set four dwarves to the four cardinal directions, and held Ymir’s skull aloft above the earth.
  After creating the nine worlds, they eventually formed the first man and woman, Ask and Embla, from two tree trunks of the shore, and built a fence around their dwelling place and set the sparks of Muspelheim into the sky.

Yggdrasil
  
   Yggdrasil is a great cosmic tree bearing the nine worlds in its boughs. I believe this tree exists outside of our own universe and is actually part of another universe which intersects with our own, just as many others do.

The Nine Worlds

1.    Asgard Home of the Aesir gods
2.    Vanaheim Home of the Vanir gods
3.    Ljossalfheim Home to the Ljossalfar (Light elves)
4.    Midgard Home of the humans
5.    Jotunheim Home of the giants/etins
6.    Svartalfheim/Nidavellir Home of the Dokkalfar (Dark elves) and the Duergar (Dwarves. The Dokkalfar live in the upper part of the world where the Duergar live mostly underground in Nidavellir, which is a series of tunnels holding cities and homes for the Dwarves.
7.    Niflheim A world of frost and ice, home to many Frost Etins and some dwarves.
8.    Muspelheim World of fire and volcanoes, home to Surt and his Fire Etin’s.
9.    Helheim World of the dead, ruled by Hela the death goddess who is said to be half living and half dead. All who die of natural causes, murder, and disease go there.

⦁    Offerings
  Offerings are given to the gods as a pledge or as a payment. Many heathens offer food, drinks, trinkets, and other things to give some kind of homage to our gods as a thanks for being in our lives.
  In the eyes of the gods, offerings are needed to prove ones worth in worship and spirit work. It shows that you are willing to sacrifice something in your life to obtain either knowledge or their respect. Usually it is to show your loyalty to them in some way, to be glad they are within your life and to not take what you have for granted.
 
  An offering may consist of food, drink, statues, candles or scented candles, a drop of your own blood. Generally an offering can be an entire altar dedicated to a specific deity or several deities. When an offering is made, it is placed on a special place, usually set aside, like an altar. All of this is for the gods, for the services they provide and for just being in our lives.

  In some of our Blots, we have animal sacrifice. Unlike what most people think of animal sacrifice, it is not cruel or done for reasons of malice and suffering. When we sacrifice something, it is to not only pledge and worship, but to have our own meat and drink as well. What we eat, the gods also eat. Usually the leftover meat that isn’t eaten is thrown in the fire pit and is believed to be transported to our deities. However, animal sacrifice is also a practice which very few do today, as most of us are not farmers or own a plot of land, and so we are incapable of performing such rituals, myself included. However, even if an animal sacrifice is performed, there is great respect for that animal and are treated with care. The animals meant for sacrifice are often cared for gently and appropriately, taken to the doctor for diseases, and kept in a housing facility neatly kept up by the owner. When the time comes for the sacrifice, the animal is quickly put down and is not forced to endure any kind of excess pain. If the animal suffers to much pain or is dealt with in a disgusting manner or kept in a inhospitable environment and given to the gods, it is considered an unacceptable offering. You don’t give a gift to someone when the gift is in bad condition, and that is what animal sacrifice is all about, paying homage to the gods and offering them food to eat at our table as a gift of hospitality. However, other alternatives have been made in place of this practice. Since many of us are not farmers, we usually buy a steak or alcohol or some other beverage or food we think they might like from the store and offer it to the gods instead. Usually the sacrifice or offering is given to nature or burnt up in flames.

Magickal Practices


⦁    Seidr

   Seidr usually involves some form of trance which is used to communicate with specific wights (wights are spirits of some kind, usually associated with nature, but they are different from alfar, which are known as elves but also different from the Jotunar) or deities. Seidr is one of the two known Norse forms of sorcery. Seidr can mean that you are one who enters trance or it can also mean you are a spirit worker or even a spiritwalker. Usually when you enter a trance to speak with a deity, there is no room for ego, it must be removed to allow a form of message to come across to you. Since Seidr involves trance, it makes it more possible for someone to fair forth, or to hamfarir (shapeshifting or astral projection). Seidr acts as a springboard to achieve hamfarir.

  There are several ways to perform Seidr. One way is to sit, use various tools to provide an environment which will induce trance. These tools might be things like: incense, candles, statues of deities, offerings, songs, and chants. Another way is to have a group of people, possibly with those tools and those people chant or sing in unison and provide a “battery” for you to slip into trance, which may also involve a god or a goddess horsing you. (Horsing is a term used to describe deity possession, it has many forms.) Another form might be to fast and wait out in nature or even in your own home, wrapped up completely naked. The purpose of fasting is to allow your body to enter a survival mode which will eventually, within a period of four to five days without food and small amounts of water to bring you to a state of mind that allows you to tap into your most primal instincts and allow for wights or deities to come to you to speak messages to you in one way or another.

  Seidr is a very exhausting practice. It is in no way meant for those who want a safe trip. There can be real danger in Seidr, such as blackouts; not remembering what you have done or where you have been, incapable of controlling your own actions due to fury, or even physical marks left on you by some spiritual vision or even spiritual travel. It is not meant to go yippy skippy along the way down spiritual road to meet your favorite gods and goddesses with no regard of purpose and safety, not to mention that it could lead you into trouble if you’re not welcome in a specific area. Even with animal spirits, you can receive some very negative responses, such as getting attacked through a vision of sorts by a fox and when you come out of it you realize you have a physical rash where you were bitten. (The last statement actually happened to me.)

  Usually this kind of practice is meant for those who feel lead to help others, usually along the lines of traveling worlds or speaking to deities about specific information involving someone else that you’re helping. In many ways it is like a shamanic type of practice, but it is very different and is in no way the exact same. Seidr is powerful and usually combined with some form of galdr magick. (Galdr is a form of Norse sorcery which is used by words to create some form of outcome.) It should in no way be used for fun, the things you do in Seidr can be very real and also very dangerous depending on the circumstances. While it is dangerous, it is a very useful practice when you wish to communicate with deities.

  A person who uses some form of Seidr is usually called a Seidkona if a woman or a Seidmadr if a man. Women were more common in the original use of Seidr and men were usually downed upon and deemed unmanly, because Seidr is a type of sorcery which makes you vulnerable.  To practice Seidr you must remove yourself, and at the same time you might leave your body and fair forth to elsewhere while your body remains immobile. Even if you aren’t fairing forth, the trance allows you to stretch your consciousness outward so you may see other things happening or different visions of sorts without actually leaving your body. You may also receive some form of divine message from these visions or even receive some kind of dialog implanted within you by a specific deity. This dialog may be thoughts of your own or like thoughts of your own with a different “voice” playing in your head. You never hear anything physically, but you usually do mentally if they decide to speak to you.

   I would just like to note that these statements are true in my own personal experience and is no way meant to represent all personal experiences with others who practice Seidr. Seidr is a form of sorcery which I personally practice so that I may yet be closer to my gods and goddesses. I may also use whatever I get from “them” to help others along my journey.

⦁    Rune Casting

  Rune casting is a type of magick associated with runes, usually of the Elder Futhark but also sometimes of the Anglo Saxon Futhorc. Runes are widely known as a powerful divinitory tool that allows us to access the tapestry of wyrd. They can be thrown upon a piece of cloth to perform a reading. Usually whatever runes are face up or next to one another or even on top of one another are seen as part of the reading. The runes have individual meanings and energies, I will not discuss them here because there is far to much information which is seemingly endless.
  Runes are also powerful talismans of many different kinds. Some offer protection and others offer curses or even healing. Generally, the rune one wishes to use is either drawn somewhere or said by its name. Runes have power all on their own, the symbol alone is enough to make changes with our combined intentions. Runes were often used to help in pregnancy and protection of otherworldly forces, such as wights or alfs.
  

The runes at one time were also a language, a set of alphabetical letters different from the english language. The runes today are now used mostly as a form of divination, which is mentioned above. Many heathens still use the runes as the ancestors did. Many of us carve our own sets of runes while others buy them from various stores. There are also various other Norse related staves (sigils or symbols) that are a combination of either runes, usually known as bind-runes or something else entirely.

The Conclusion

   From the differences in paths to magickal practices, each Heathen or Northern Tradition Pagan, is inherently different in our practices. While this is an overview of a basic practice that could be in someone’s practice, it is in no way to represent all forms of Heathenry, every Heathen, or every Northern Tradition Pagan.
  

The practices here are based on my own personal beliefs, combined with various other explanations and beliefs that I felt was appropriate to explain our religion to an outsider. We are in no way, devil worshipers, insane, or craving for attention. The things we do are usually in the intention of getting closer to our gods and expressing our faith in various ways. These are just some of the beliefs and ways of a heathen, which again may not reflect to all of us.

SLAVIC PAGANISM UNDER THE KIEVAN RUS

This is an excerpt from my post: KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE.

At the time of Vladimir the Great many religions filled Kievan Rus; Norse Paganism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity and many others but most importantly Slavic Paganism. Vladimir sought to strengthen the Rusians by unifying their religion under an official pantheon which may have been a blend of Slavic, Norse, Turkish, Baltic and Greek deities. Vladimir had six statues erected in Kiev dedicated to the Slavic deities: Perun, Dazhbog, Stribog, Khors, Simargl and Mokosh; several others were also raised throughout the realm. 

As you will soon read, much of the knowledge that we have of Slavic paganism comes from sources dated to a late period of Slavic history so by the time that we attained detailed writings describing their religious beliefs, Kievan Rus had already experienced deep inspiration from other faiths, Norse and Greek mythology especially. Much like the Norse, the Slavs believed in a cosmological universe in which a Great Tree connected the many realms of man, gods and spirits. Its roots sunk to the underworld and its branches reach the heavens. At the tree’s center lay the realm of man and the gods which is encircled by a vast sea that lead to the land of the dead.

^ Idols by Nicholas Roerich.

Svarog was a solar deity of fire, the forge and blacksmithing whom is often compared to the blacksmith deities like Greek Hephaestus and Roman Vulcan and solar deities like the Greek Helios and Roman Sol. According to the Hypatian Codex man fought solely with clubs and stone until Svarog’s smithing prongs came down from the heavens and granted man with the knowledge of metallurgy and blacksmithing. Part of the creation story speaks of a magical rock at the bottom of the ocean, it is believed that the goddess Živa in the form of a great duck brought it up to the surface and when Svarog had obtained or taken it from her, he struck it with his hammer. 

^ Ships on the Dnieper by Nicholas Roerich. Idols in the background.

From the sparks Semargl (god of fire) was born; from the winds created by the swinging of the hammer was birthed Stribog (god of the wind); from the loud clattering and pounding echoes created by his hammering Perun (god of lightning, thunder and storms) came forth; from his sweat sprung Veles (trickster god of the underworld). There are actually two realms mentioned as an afterlife, that of the heavens which was ruled by Svarog and was named Svarga (inspired by the Norse Asgard) and the one ruled by Chernobog or Veles named Nav (inspired by the Greek Elysian Fields). The stone was then hidden behind twelve pillars that separated the world of the living and that of the dead, within the circle of pillars the Great World Tree rose. Živa (the duck that brought the stone up) was angered at Svarog’s theft of the stone so she summoned great serpentine dragons which long warred with Svarog, Perun and other heavenly deities.

^ Svarog’s Square or Star of Rus’.

Each tribe and people favored some gods over others and each deity’s significance waned through time so there was no set head of the Slavic pantheon. Under the rule of Vladimir, Perun (“thunder” or “lightning bolt”) was made the most important deity in the Slavic pantheon. Perun was the son of Svarog and his birth is said to have been heralded by a great earthquake. Perun was chiefly the god of thunder, lightning and storms but he was also a god of war.

Perun wielded an axe or hammer that could be thrown and returned back to him like the Norse god Thor’s Mjölnir, Perun was also armed with thunderbolts (made from stone) like the Greek god Zeus and the Roman god Jupiter. Perun rode on a chariot pulled by a goat, similar to Thor’s chariot which was pulled by two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Oak trees are the most frequently to be struck by lighting and because of this many gods of lighting and thunder have been associated with it like Slavic Perun, Celtic Taranis, Greek Zeus and Norse Thor.

Vladimir began his reign in Kiev alone and erected idols on the hill outside his palace with porch: Perun of wood with a head of silver and mustache of gold.” – Russian Primary Chronicle.

^ The scheme of the pagan shrine discovered at the Peryn island.

Perun is also a deity of purity, order, justice, the mountains and fire. Perun is seen in in many cultures with similar names as far south as Illyria (Adriatic Coast) and Thrace (Balkans), as far north as Finland and west to the Baltics.

^ Drawings of Slavic axe amulets based on archaeological findings dating between the 11th and 12th century.

For they (the Sclaveni and the Antae) believe that one god (Perun), the maker of lightning, is alone lord of all things, and they sacrifice to him cattle and all other victims; but as for fate, they neither know it nor do they in any wise admit that it has any power among men, but whenever death stands close before them, either stricken with sickness or beginning a war, they make a promise that, if they escape, they will straightway make a sacrifice to the god in return for their life; and if they escape, they sacrifice just what they have promised, and consider that their safety has been bought with this same sacrifice.” – Excursus (“digression”) Book VII by Procopius of Caesarea.

Novgorod was a major center for Slavic paganism and within its domain was the Island of Peryn, on said island there was a great religious center known as the “Heathen Shrine” which was built in 980 CE by Vladimir’s uncle Dobrynya who ruled over Novgorod and was dedicated to Perun.

^ The shrine of Peroun on Peryn Island, a conceptual self-made reconstruction.

In the year [980] Vladimir appointed his uncle Dobrynya to rule in Novgorod. And Dobrynya came over in Novgorod. [And he] set up an idol of Perun above the Volkhov River [i.e. on a high bank], and Novgorodians offer him [Perun] sacrifices as to a deity.” – Russian Primary Chronicle.

Novgorodians, when they were pagans, had an idol called Perun, i.e. the god of fire, as Russians call fire “Perun”. A monastery is erected now in the place where the idol stood, and the monastery holds the name of the idol and is called the Perunic monastery. The deity looks like a man with a lightning- or ray-shaped flint in his hand. Day and night they kept an eternal flame burning with oak firewood as a sign of worship to the deity. And if the priest of the cult allowed the fire to go out accidentally, he was put to death.“ – Travels of the Ambassadors sent by Frederic, Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy and the King of Persia, 1656.

After traversing this place, they reach the island called St. Gregory, on which island they perform their sacrifices because a gigantic oak tree stands there; and they sacrifice live cocks. Arrows, too, they peg in round about, and others bread and meat, or something of whatever each may have, as is their custom. They also throw lots regarding the cocks, whether to slaughter them, or to eat them as well, or leave them alive.” – Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus explaining the voyage taken by the Rus from Kiev to Constantinople.

The antagonistic rival of Perun was a dragon- or serpent-like being named Veles (who also took the form of a wolf, a bear and various other animals) that lived under the Great World Tree, showing parallels with the Norse belief in a large world tree called Yggdrasill and a giant serpent that dwelled under it named Nidhogg. Veles was the lord of wild animals, domesticated ones (especially cattle), and shepherds – the last of which would pray for their lost or stray beasts to find their way back home. Another reason for their conflict was the fact that Veles was a god of shepherds, herds and cattle while Perun was that of rain and farmers. 

As a tempter and trickster deity he was known for climbing up the world tree every year and taking Perun’s cattle, wife and children; the second of which (Perun’s wife Mokosh) is spoken of in some versions of the tales as willingly going with Veles whom had been tempting her since before her and Perun were married. Mokosh was the fertility and mother goddess of the eastern Slavs, especially that of women as she was seen as their protector in everyday life and in childbirth, supporter of their works, and decider of their destiny. Mokosh was the only female deity included in Vladimir’s pantheon and his sanctuary of statues in Kiev, she was seen as a solar deity so when she was seen in the skies she was with Perun and when the sun sets she is with Veles.

^ The modern statue of Veles on Velíz mountain, Czech Republic.

Perun would pursue Veles in response for him taking Mokosh from him, all the while attempting to strike Veles with thunderbolts. As Veles would hide in order to escape Perun’s thunderbolts, places or things struck by lightning were believed to have been where Veles was concealing himself. Storms in the heavens were believed to have signified that the two were in conflict with one another and spring was thought to convey that Perun had defeated Veles and chased him back to the underworld.

Veles was the reaper of souls and lord of the underworld; the underworld he ruled over was a paradise, a vast expanse of lush green pasture, plains and meadows where the deceased were tasked with watching over his herds – this paradise is believed to have been inspired by the Greek paradise referred to as Elysium or the Elysian Fields. Veles punished and caused diseases to those whom break oaths (similar to Norse Nidhogg) and, although Veles is often seen as a malevolent being, Veles and Perun worked more in a yin and yang-like capacity but with the influx of Christianity Veles was later demonized and compared to the Devil.

Veles was also a patron of musicians, wealth and commerce; the last of which is evidenced by the fact that statues of him were often stationed in marketplaces and that treaties, agreements, and legal documents were authorized by invoking his name and declaring an oath to him: 

Thus the Emperors Leo and Alexander made peace with Oleg, and after agreeing upon the tribute and mutually binding themselves by oath, they kissed the cross, and invited Oleg and his men to swear an oath likewise. According to the religion of the Russes, the latter swore by their weapons and by their god Perun (god of thunder and lightning), as well as by Volos, the god of cattle, and thus confirmed the treaty.” – Russian Primary Chronicle, Oleg’s Rus–Byzantine War (907).

Similar to many other cultures, the Slavs too believed that during winter the spirit world and that of the living were closest to one another. The Slavs celebrated this moment through an event called ‘Velja Noc (Great Night)’ which was the last day of the year and the first of the new one. The spirits of the deceased were allowed to leave the underworld and visit their living relatives; they would be welcomed into the households of said relatives and given gifts. Like Halloween, people would dress up in costumes consisting of masks and coats of wool (a physical characteristic of Veles). These participants would then go from village to village singing songs and, mimicking the actions of the spirits, they would be welcomed by the inhabitants of the households they visited and were given gifts in exchange for good fortunate in the new year.

On the ‘Velja Noc (Great Night)’ Perun’s twin offspring named Jarovit (god of spring, vegetation and fertility) and Morana (goddess of winter, the moon and death) were born, Veles took Jarilo to the underworld where he raised him. When he first set foot back on the realm of the living he met his twin sister Morana, this return is celebrated by a springtime festival. Jarovit’s spring festival was celebrated by parades of caroling young people carrying lush leafy branches, flowers and straw dolls; these young celebrators would visit households where they would bless the inhabitants. The youthful participants and the thriving vegetation all symbolized life and fertility while the symbolism of winter (i.e. Morana) dying was enacted by their carrying of straw dolls which they would tear apart, burn and then throw into a body of water (since the afterlife was beyond the sea).

The marriage between Jarovit (god of spring, vegetation and fertility) and Morana (goddess of winter, the moon and death) would mark summer and would be celebrated through a festival which included feasts, drinking, dancing, bonfires (and the act of jumping over them), girls making wreaths of fern and flowers (which they would let flow down the river and foretell their marrying), ritual bathing as symbols of purification and maybe even nude bathing and orgies (though the latter are argued to be propaganda) – this is when harvest was at its peak.

The union of the two (Jarovit and Morana) was seen as a peaceful end to the conflicts between Perun and Veles since their two “children” were romantically involved. In the end Jarovit is killed for being unfaithful to Morana and in death he returns to the underworld, his death however is just a symbol for the end of the warmer seasons and harvest time when the crops are cut down and stored. Upon Jarovit’s death the world falls into a cold, infertile and dying state (autumn and winter) but he would return to the world of the living (bringing back spring) and eventually reconcile with her (summer) – this is how they explained the changing of the seasons.

^ Effigy of Morana, Czech Republic.

Chernobog, meaning the “Black God”, was the god of darkness, curses, decay, and woeas well as a lord of the underworld. Chernobog was mostly worshiped by the Western Slavs whom believed that he brought on the demise of the sun by bringing forth darkness and shortening the days. Chernobog was also believed to have been responsible for the frost and frigid chill, his servants were wolves which heralded snowstorms and bears which foreshadowed blizzards. Because of his many attributes, Chernobog was associated with the shortest day and longest night of the year (Winter Solstice). This night was referred to as Korocun and was celebrated by having feasts which the deceased could take part in and by lighting fires in burial sites so the deceased could be kept warm.

The Slavs, too, have a peculiar custom. At their feasts and carousals they pass about a bowl over which they utter words, I should not say of consecration but of execration (curses), in the name of the gods — of the good one, as well as of the bad one — professing that all propitious fortune is arranged by the good god, adverse, by the bad god. Hence, also, in their language they call this god of woe Diabol, or Zcerneboch, that is, the black god.” – The Chronicle of the Slavs by Helmold, Priest of Bosau.

The concept of a good and evil deity was foreign to the Slavs who believed in duality so it is believed that those concepts were brought to them by the nomads of the steppe and the Islamic nations which were both influenced by Iranian cultures (Persian and Scytho-Sarmatian) and religion (Zoroastrianism). Some of the Slavic deities are believed to have come to them this way. One of these deities, which was also incorporated into Vladimir’s pantheon, was Simargl. Simargl was a Slavic deity that is believed to have been inspired by the Iranian Simurgh, both were griffon-like mythological creatures with the body of a dog. 

The Iranian Simurgh was a very popular artistic symbol found throughout the Middle East; a giant and powerful creature with feathers which had miraculous healing properties (like a phoenix) and, if a feather is burned, Simargl could be summoned. The Simargl was the guardian of the Tree of Life and when Simurgh flew or shook its wings the tree’s seeds would disperse and pollinate the earth; these seeds give rise to all of the world’s plants. The Simurgh lived for 1700 years and attained vast knowledge of the world which he would bestow upon the worthy. The Simurgh was similar to the more commonly known phoenix which would perish into a magnificent fire and be reborn from the ashes.


^ The Sassanid Persian Empire’s Royal Symbol.was the Simurgh.

According to ‘The Conference of the Birds’ (a Sufi epic poem), written by the great Sufi poet Farīd ud-Dīn Attar of Nishapur, the birds of world sought to find a great bird to lead them spiritually (sheik) but are told that they already had one, the Simurgh.

The world’s birds gathered for their conference And said: “Our constitution makes no sense. All nations in the world require a king; How is it we alone have no such thing? Only a kingdom can be justly run; We need a king and must inquire for one.”” – The Conference of the Birds.

We have a king; beyond Kaf’s mountain peak. The Simorgh lives, the sovereign whom you seek, And He is always near to us, though we Live far from His transcendent majesty. A hundred thousand veils of dark and light Withdraw His presence from our mortal sight, And in both worlds no being shares the throne That marks the Simorgh’s power and His alone – He reigns in undisturbed omnipotence, Bathed in the light of His magnificence – No mind, no intellect can penetrate The mystery of his unending state: How many countless hundred thousands pray  For patience and true knowledge of the Way That leads to Him whom reason cannot claim,  Nor mortal purity describe or name; There soul and mind bewildered miss the mark And, faced by Him, like dazzled eyes, are dark – No sage could understand His perfect grace,  Nor seer discern the beauty of His face. His creatures strive to find a path to Him, Deluded by each new, deceitful whim,” – The Conference of the Birds.

Each of the birds symbolized a human fault or flaw which keeps man from reaching enlightenment. 

How many search for Him whose heads are sent  Like polo-balls in some great tournament From side to giddy side – how many cries,  How many countless groans assail the skies! Do not imagine that the Way is short; Vast seas and deserts lie before His court. Consider carefully before you start; The journey asks of you a lion’s heart. The road is long, the sea is deep – one flies, First buffeted by joy and then by sighs; If you desire this quest, give up your soul And make our sovereign’s court your only goal.” – The Conference of the Birds.

But when they pondered on the journey’s length, They hesitated; their ambitious strength Dissolved: each bird, according to his kind, Felt flattered but reluctantly declined.” – The Conference of the Birds.



^ Excerpt of the Imperial Coat of Arms of Iran under the Pahlavi Dynasty, used from 1925 to 1979.

The nightingale stays for love, the parrot has no interest in anything but its own beauty immortality, the peacock sought only paradise, the duck chose to remain in the land where waters flowed, the partridge chose his home in the hills and material wealth (jewels and gems), the great Homa bird (also phoenix-like) chooses vanity (if his shadow falls upon someone, it foreshadows their future as a king), the hawk for the pride in the high position he holds in the king’s court, the heron longs for the oceans which he can never delve deep into, the owl sought the shelter of ruins and their buried treasures, and the finch is fearful. To reach the Simurgh the birds had to traverse over seven valleys which were hurdles man must come to grips with like the overall detachment from desires and the relinquishing of pride, vanity, pride, greed, lust, love, etc.

The other birds in turn received their chance To show off their loquacious ignorance. All made excuses – floods of foolish words Flowed from these babbling, rumor-loving birds. Forgive me, reader, if I do not say All these excuses to avoid the Way; But in an incoherent rush they came, And all were inappropriate and lame. How could they gain the Simorgh? Such a goal Belongs to those who discipline the soul. The hoopoe counselled them: “The world holds few As worthy of the Simorgh’s throne as you, But you must empty this first glass; the wine That follows it is love’s devoted sign. If petty problems keep you back – or none – How will you seek the treasures of the sun? In drops you lose yourselves, yet you must dive Through untold fathoms and remain alive. This is no journey for the indolent – Our quest is Truth itself, not just its scent!” – The Conference of the Birds.

In the end only thirty birds made it to the Simurgh’s domain but the legendary creature was nowhere to be found, just a lake. As they waited they eventually peered into the lake’s reflection and saw that the answer they sought was within them; that they are each individually and collectively the Simurgh. Coming to this conclusion the thirty birds had reached enlightenment then merged and became a Simurgh. As a sly act of word-play the word Simurgh was replaced by the author with the word ‘Simorgh’, meaning “thirty birds”.

^ A Sassanid silver plate dated to the 7th or 8th century CE which depicts Simurgh.

The Simurgh is said to have devoured all that were before it, leading to the extinction of many species to the extent that it is believed to have caused its own extinction. Simargl was chained to the star Polaris (part of the constellation known as Ursa Minor, “Little Bear”). There were three goddesses referred to as the Zorya; the Zorya of the Morning Star (Zorya Utrennyaya) was prayed to in the morning and so she was a symbol of light, renewal, cleansing, exorcism, positivity, hope, etc.  She opens the gates of Dazbog’s palace so that he could ride the chariot of the sun across the sky, the Zorya of the Evening Star (Zorya Vechernyaya) closes the gates of Dazbog’s palace at night so the sun could set. Another sometimes states stage was that every night the sun would die and be resurrected by the Midnight Star (Zorya Polunochnaya). 

The chief task of the Zoryas was to keep watch over Simargl and prevent him from breaking his chains, it was believed that if Simargl was ever able to escape he would devour the constellation of Ursa Minor and the world would end. In many of these Slavic tales the Zorya either do not include the Midnight Star or the separate entities are actually one sole deity with contrasting attributes.

The Leshy (or Leshii) is a forest spirit and a trickster, his appearance is that of a man with a pointy-head and lacking eyebrows, eyelashes and a right ear. Though he is rarely seen, he can be heard laughing, singing and whistling in the forests. His height varies – while amidst the trees he is just as tall and when out in the open he shrinks to the height of grass. The Leshy is usually compared to the many other spirit beings like the elves of Germanic paganism, fairies of Celtic paganism and the Jogah of the Native American Iroquois.

The Leshy was known as both a protector of wildlife and also as the one that grants hunters game, later as lifestyles changed he became associated more so with livestock and offerings were given to him for the return pf those that wandered off. They had other counterparts like the polevoy (polevoi. female, poludnitsa) fertility field spirits that appeared at noon and was black as dirt with hair made of grass; the vodyanoy (vodianoi) were malicious water spirits that lived along rivers and swamps, they were known for luring and then drowning their victims. 

They reverence, however, both rivers and nymphs and some other spirits, and they sacrifice to all these also, and they make their divinations in connection with these sacrifices.” – Excursus (“digression”) Book VII by Procopius of Caesarea

In 1848 an ancient limestone monolith found in (then) Liczkowce, Poland (now Lychkivtsi, Ukraine) during a drought that dried up the Zbruch River. The monolith was dated to the 9th century CE, making it one of the very few artifacts found which related to pre-Christian Slavic religion. The so called ‘Zbruch Idol’ or the ‘Światowid ze Zbrucza’ (“Sviatovid/World-seer – of Zbruch”) curiously dates to around the time where Vladimir the Great was converting (at times by force) Kievan Rus into Orthodox Christianity, a period in which many altars were destroyed and idols were disposed of in rivers (like that of Perun). The Zbruch Idol stood 8.8 feet (2.67 meters) tall (although some believe that it may have had an additional lower portion which is missing).

^ Zbruch Idol, Kraków Archaeological Museum.

The three horizontal segments are believed to be symbolic of the three worlds: the underworld at the bottom, our world in the middle and the world of the gods on top. The four idols on the top of the pillar may have been symbolic of the four seasons: the male holding nothing being winter, the female with a ring or bracelet being spring, the male with a drinking horn being summer and the female with the sword and horse being autumn. Boris Rybakov (author of ‘Paganism of Ancient Rus’) identifies the bottom figure which is holding up the others is an Atlas-like fashion with Veles, god of the underworld which also sports a mustache. 

Boris Rybakov also asserts that above Veles the four faces of the pillar represent four great Slavic deities: the goddess Mokosh (women and fertility) with the drinking horn and a child, the goddess Lada (youth, love and beauty) holding a ring or bracelet, the chief god Perun (weaponry, warfare) with the sword and horse and Dazbog (Solar deity) holding nothing but featuring a sun wheel. Many believe that the Zbruch Idol does not represent four separate deities but instead depicts the four headed god of war, fertility and abundance known as Svetovid as he was identified with swords, drinking horns, horses and the sun– all of which are shown on the Zbruch Idol. Another theory offered by Henryk Łowmiański (Polish historian) is that the Zbruch Idol is not Slavic at all being that Slavic religious artifacts weren’t made of stone but made mainly of wood.

^ Presentation of the reliefs adorning each side of the bałwan of Zbrucz carving.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

See Also:

  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES:  In this post I will be covering the early portion of the medieval realm known as Kievan Rus (pronounced ‘Roos’); a multiethnic and cultural realm incorporating the Norse, Slavs, Turks, Balts and Finno-Ugrians. A realm centered around the many rivers that were riddled throughout its domains and led them to the riches of the Byzantine Empire, Silverland (Islamic Middle East) and the Baltic Sea. The culture, battle tactics and armaments of the ancient Slavs are addressed as well as the Druzhina (personal bodyguards and standing army). Also mentioned are some of the conflicts the Rus had with one another, the Greeks (Byzantine Empire), Bulgarians and Turkish steppe nomads. 
  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE: In this post I will cover some of the civil wars, wars of succession and familicides that plagued Kievan Rus; their peak under leaders like Vladimir the Great (who unified the Rus and made Orthodox Christianity their official religion) and Yaroslav the Wise (while Europe was in a dark age, he made Kievan Rus a beacon of knowledge, literacy, trade and faith); Kievan Rus’ shattering into various feuding states and their clash against the Mongols. The Chernye Klobuki (Turkish mercenaries) and the Varangian Guard (Norse, Slavic, Germanic, etc.) are also noted; the latter were warriors employed by the Byzantine Empire to act as the Emperor’s trusted personal guard and on occasion they acted as pirate hunters, policemen, jailers, prison guards, torturers and interrogators.
MAGNUS FIGURES OUT HIS SEXUALITY

THIS ALSO INCLUDES:

  • MAGNUS LEARNING ABOUT SEXUALITIES
  • FIERROCHASE
  • FLUFF

AAAHHH I’M REALLY PROUD OF THIS! I HOPE Y’ALL ENJOY!!


Magnus Chase somehow managed to shower all the chocolate off of himself, but he couldn’t wash off the sensation he felt on his lips.

In fact, he never wanted to.

He put on a fresh set of clothes and laid down on his bed, staring up at Yggdrasil, the World Tree, and thought about Alex Fierro.

He thought about his badassery in every way, shape, and form—in every sense of each of those words. No matter if Alex was a girl or a guy, Magnus finally admitted to himself something he already knew, but couldn’t quite believe himself until now.

“I’m in love with Alex Fierro.”

The words felt amazing yet foreign to say. He had crushed on Alex since she arrived at Hotel Valhalla all those months ago, but he never really realized what those weird fuzzy feelings in his stomach were until Alex kissed him under the blanket in Niflheim, and suddenly, everything became a thousand times clearer.
Even after the second kiss, Magnus still couldn’t quite fathom the idea that Alex might actually like him back.

Magnus touched a couple of fingers to his lips to make sure they were still there and thought about what Alex had said.

“I need some space, Chase.”

Magnus decided that that was reasonable.

I mean, I did kind of just say that her kissing me is the best thing to ever happen to me, Magnus thought to himself. And on a boat made of dead people’s toenails, surrounded by giants. Yep. Super romantic.

Magnus thought about everything before deciding something for himself:

I need some space too. But first, Alex Fierro.

He thought about how Alex would call him stupid if he heard Magnus’s somewhat contradicting thoughts, but the thought of Alex made Magnus’s cheeks flush and his stomach buzz.

Magnus got out of bed and headed towards Alex’s door and knocked. When Alex opened it, he gave Magnus a face that said: really?

“Magnus, what part of ‘I need space’ and ‘I’ll get back to you’ did you not understand? Do you want me to explain it to you like you’re two?”

“Hello to you too, Alex. Listen, I understand you need space, and I’m completely okay with that. I just came here to tell you that I need a bit of space too, just to figure things out, okay?”

Alex nodded and crossed his arms.

“That’s fair.”

“B-but I also don’t want us to completely ignore each other,” Magnus continued, feeling himself getting flustered. Alex smiled, which did anything but calm down the wild party that was happening inside of Magnus’s chest.

“Aww, you’re so cute when you’re smitten and flustered!” Alex said, pinching Magnus’s cheek and laughing. Magnus’s face only became more red.

“I hate you,” Magnus said, trying to be seriously sarcastic but smirking.

Alex smirked back. “I hate you too.”

Magnus got lost in Alex’s eyes before he remembered what he was going to say.

“Oh, one more thing: can I borrow that book with all the BLT terms?”

“Did you mean that book with all the LGBTQIA+ terms?”Alex asked, rolling his eyes and smiling. “I do tend to have the power to make people question their sexuality. Here, I’ll go get it.”

Alex returned carrying a decent-sized book that had been well-used and well-loved. The cover was covered in colors and stickers, and the title read: The Queer Alphabet: A Guide to LGBT and Everything In Between. It looked like it was written in silver holographic glitter that made rainbows when you moved it.

“If you damage this book in any way, shape, or form, I will not hesitate to kill you.”

Magnus sensed that despite the fact that they were einheirji in Valhalla and could easily reincarnate, Alex was not being completely sarcastic.

“This is the book that helped me figure out who I am. I got it from my abuelo,” Alex whispered, not meeting Magnus’s eyes. Magnus gently patted Alex’s arm.

“Thank you for sharing this with me, Alex.”

Alex Fierro smiled and Magnus’s stomach was about to explode with happiness, rainbows, unicorns, and falafels.

“I hope it helps you as much as it helped me,” Alex said before closing the door and leaving Magnus staring at the polished brown wood.

Magnus returned to his room, plopped down on his bed, and opened the book. On the inside of the book was a note, written in what looked Spanish. After being homeless and looking at Mexican restaurant menus for two years and hanging out with Alex for the past few months, Magnus was just able to read the note:

My Dear Alex,
I hope this book helps you figure out who you are. No matter what, never stop being the amazing person you are, and don’t be afraid of change.
With love, Abuelo.

The last few words of the last sentence were underlined in neon pink pen, and in the same color, just below the note, was another note (in Spanish) that read:

I won’t.

Magnus softly smiled at the little exchange.

As Magnus flipped through the book, he felt like he was discovering a whole new world. He knew, of course, that non-straight and non-cisgender people existed, but he never truly knew how many types of non-straight/cisgender people there were. As he went along the book, he noticed little notes written in the margins with neon colored pens and definitions highlighted in either pink or green. He also made a list on a separate sheet of paper with a list of sexualities and romantic orientations (something else he previously did not know existed) that he could possibly be:

  • Aromantic: yEaH tOtAlLy (no)
  • Asexual: hmmm, probably not
  • Bisexual: maybe probably?
  • Demisexual: I know this doesn’t have anything to do with demigods but I bet Percy’s demisexual (but I’m not)
  • Gay/Homosexual: It would probably be hard for me to be attracted to only one (1) gender with Alex Fierro being genderfluid
  • Heterosexual: LMAO NAH BRO
  • Lesbian (see: gay/homosexual): not even close

Magnus kept flipping through the book until he came across a term that, when he read its definition, made his heart vibrate for a second.

Pansexual: Attraction to people regardless of gender; attraction to all genders.

Magnus looked at the pink, yellow, and light blue striped flag that was next to the word.

Suddenly, he felt right.

~~~~~

The next morning, Magnus returned the book. At least, he tried to. When he knocked on Alex’s door, there was no response. Magnus took a post-it note and wrote a note on it and stuck it to Alex’s door. Deciding it would be better and safer if he kept the book in his room rather than leave it on the floor in a hotel full of regularly-dying-and-fighting dead people, Magnus went back to his room to prepare for the day’s battle. He had just taken his shirt off when he heard a voice behind him.

“What is it with you and not closing the door before you change your clothes?”

Alex Fierro leaned against Magnus’s door frame wearing a pink and green chain-mail sweater vest with dark green jeans.

Magnus felt the blood rushing to his face.

“I—uh—” was all he could stutter out.

“Gods, Magnus…” Alex said as she rolled her eyes—Magnus realized that Alex was now female—and smiled up at the ceiling.

“At least you’re not covered in chocolate,” Alex finished, her heterochromatic eyes sparkling.

Magnus couldn’t think of anything to add, so he decided to do what he did best: awkwardly change the topic.

“Thanks for letting me borrow the book,” he started. “It really helped.”

Alex smiled fondly and genuinely, and Magnus nearly melted on the spot.

“I’m glad,” Alex said, walking towards Magnus and pulling out a crumpled-up post-it note from her jean pockets. Magnus realized it was the one he had left for her.

“I’m guessing you’ve decided on…hmm…asexual?” Alex tried to hold back a laugh (and failed to do so) as she and Magnus looked at the bad drawing of a pan with “oh no I’m attracted to kitchen stuff” written next to it. Magnus couldn’t help but join in.

“You do know what pansexual means, right?” Alex asked, still laughing.

“Yeah,” Magnus replied.

“Good, because I’m pansexual too.”

Magnus couldn’t stop the giddy feeling that exploded in his chest.

“I know it’s none of my business, and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to or whatever, but what’s your romantic orientation?” Alex asked, calming down.

“Probably panromantic as well. Can that be different than my sexuality?”

“Oh yeah, totally. I know people who are asexual but biromantic, pansexual but aromantic, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Cool,” Magnus remarked. “What’s your romantic orientation?”

“I’m panromantic too.”

“Cool,” Magnus said.

The duo stood awkwardly next to each other before Magnus realized what Alex wanted.

“Here’s your book,” he said, getting it from his bed and handing it to Alex. “I promise I didn’t damage it.”

“You better not have,” Alex said with a smirk as she turned around and began walking to the door. “I’ll see you on the battlefield, Chase.”

“See ya then, Fierro.”

Alex looked back and smiled before closing the door behind her.

~~~~~

The battle was a bloodbath.

The daily battles always were, but it was especially bloody today.

Everything Magnus could see was tainted red due to the blood dripping down his head. He felt light and heavy all at the same time and he could feel himself about to die. He called upon his healing powers and was rejuvenated just enough for his vision to become clear again and for him to have enough self-awareness to see what was happening no more than ten feet in front of him.

Alex was fighting—and losing to—a berserker from Floor 432. Magnus noticed that the berserker’s spear was about to impale Alex.

He started running towards the two fighters. Despite knowing that death in Hotel Valhalla was temporary, the thought of Alex dying and him not doing anything to stop it made Magnus sick.

Magnus gathered up the little strength he had left, and at the last second, he threw himself between the spear and Alex.

The spear impaled him straight through the heart.

The last thing Magnus heard was Alex screaming, and the last thing that he saw was Alex beginning to cry as she beheaded the berserker with her garrote.

~~~~~

Magnus woke up hours later in his bed, his scars from the day’s battle in the last stages of healing.

He attempted to sit up in bed and grunted at the pain in his chest.

“Lie back down, idiot.”

Magnus’s eyes adjusted and he saw that Alex Fierro was standing over him, his eyebrows knitted together with what was either worry or concentration.

Magnus noticed that Alex had shifted genders again and was now male.

“I’m fine,” Magnus said, wincing at the pain.

“Like Hel you are,” Alex responded, rolling his eyes.

Magnus sighed as he asked, “Why are you here? Not that I don’t want you here or anything, I just—”

“I waited for you to wake up, idiot,” Alex responded, crossing his arms across his chest.

Magnus let the fact that Alex Fierro had waited for Magnus to wake unsettle in. His heart felt like it would burst out of his chest.

“Listen,” Magnus said as he started to explain himself.

“About what happened on the battlefield—I know you said you needed space—”

“Magnus—”

“—and I understand that completely, but I just—”

“Magnus—”

“I couldn’t just stand there and watch you die!”

“Dude, I’m already dead.”

“You know what I meant.”

The two einherjar stared at each other.

“I get that you need space—”

“Magnus, please—”

“But—”

Magnus was cut off by Alex Fierro leaning down and kissing him.

As Magnus closed his eyes, he suddenly forgot what he was saying.

Though it caused his shoulders to scream in pain, Magnus reached up and gently took hold of Alex’s head.

When the couple broke apart, Magnus noticed that Alex’s gender had shifted to female.

“You’re—you’re a girl now,” Magnus noted.

Alex smiled and nodded.

“Neat. I didn’t know that kissing a genderfluid einherjar caused their gender to change.”

Alex laughed and held one of Magnus’s hands against her face

“I thought you needed space?” Magnus asked, rubbing his thumb against Alex’s face.

“I got my space, Chase,” Alex said, kissing him again.

“I’m ready when you are.”

Magnus couldn’t (and didn’t try to) stop the smile that beamed across his face. He leaned forward and kissed Alex again.

Magnus backed slightly away, stared at Alex’s eyes, and smiled again.

“Bring it on, Fierro.”