In a few days, it will be Lammas here in the Northern Hemisphere, the first harvest festival, when the grain is ready and some pagan traditions honor the dying-and-reborn god who falls to repay the land for its wealth and rises again to give abundance to the people. Many Vanatruar (I am one) honor Ing-Frey at this time, the originator of this sacrificial rite in Vanaheim, passed to his nephew for a new generation, while Frey keeps vigil for him before going forth on his wain to bless the worlds. (Note: this is supported personal gnosis, not primary-source-lore.)
Lammas is the first holiday that fell following my arrival in the Pacific Northwest, and this is my second Lammas here. It is fitting that my “Portlandversary” falls just before the timing of the sacrificed and reborn god, for indeed I feel like I have undergone a death and rebirth of my own over the last year.
Lammas is a time when many think about what we have sown and are reaping, and for myself as a disabled pagan, I reflect on the mysteries of the fallen sacrificed Lord of Plenty – as he is cut down, he feels the pain and suffering of all alive; as he bleeds into the Vanic soil that feeds the worlds, his blood sings our sorrow, our grief, our struggle. As he walks the Hel-road he is a god made mortal, stripped of his power – I am reminded of Joan Osborne singing “what if God was one of us?” – and when he returns he is forever haunted and changed by what he has experienced, but life goes on for him. That he lives on, it reminds us that life too goes on for us, that there is hope.
Which is in no way meant to undermine or trivialize the daily battle many of us endure – I myself struggle with severe unipolar depression, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder, and have for all of my adult life; most of my past suicide attempts (of which there were several) have happened around Lammas, in fact. And it is the sacrifice of the dying and reborn god that finally made me think twice about taking my own life – he dies for us, but he also lives again for us. He offers us his blood, his pain, in solidarity with us, with our pain, the way we bleed from our wounds great and small. When his twin breathes him back to life, he reminds us that we don’t have to do this alone, that all of us need someone to lean on, just as he has needed help to return. And his return reminds us that there is something to come back to, something to live for, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – indeed, everything grows from small seeds - and he will feed that if you ask in his name.
He comes back into fields of gold and sunshine, with the promise of harvest – that it will eventually pay off, all this poop we are turning into fertilizer. That there are moments of joy, things of worth, as precious as the Vanic grain.
On this Lammas I thank Frey, and his nephew the Lord of Plenty, for their sacrifice – that for a moment in time, they take on all that kills us, robs our life, they know our pain, they give their compassion – and for their return… the Lord of Plenty finding his way back from the Hel-road, his heart the compass rose that guides him back to the arms of his loves, and his purpose. I honor them in choosing to live – to find the sunshine even through the storm clouds of my life, and keep growing, pushing my way up.
This Lammas, I hope all of you are reminded of things to live for, and that you are not alone in whatever struggles you have, whatever makes you break and bleed and fall down on the inside. May His gold shine upon you.