Heathen Gods of Healing And Renewal
Spring, for me, is a time of healing. The land comes to life once again, and I am revived as well. Like the land, I go into a hibernation–emotional, spiritual, and sometimes even physical–in the winter. This winter hibernation goes hand in hand with my depression, regardless of my current life circumstances. Thus, I have found it very healing to build relationships with the Gods of Healing.
Now, my Gods of Healing may be different from your Gods of Healing. I don’t work as much with the Aesir, so my connections with Them aren’t as strong; and I don’t turn to Them as much as I do to my Vanir and Jotnar. So, your mileage may very. These are the ones who have helped me come back to life in the Spring.
As I don’t work with the Aesir often, you may be surprised that Idunn is one of the first deities that come to my mind. She has been in my life for many years, however; I began working with Her way back in the beginning of my Heathen journey. I was drawn to Her instantly–I love apples and the apple motif; I love orchards and fruit trees; and I love watching their clearly-defined four-season cycle.
I see Idunn, at Her base, to be a Goddess of Renewal. I first connected with her in this way when attempting to find a spiritual way to deal with my depression. Depression eats at your soul, and one of the first things it takes away is the ability to care enough to do the things that will keep you alive and happy. It’s a constant struggle, fought at times on a moment-to-moment basis. I have found that by connecting with Idunn and drawing from the energy of Her apples of eternal life, I can keep going long enough for the depression to pass. It reminds me of the light of the star of Eärendil, given to Frodo by Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring--“May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.” A golden apple (or pear) from a Norse Goddess to sustain you when nothing else can. Hail, Idunn!
Being a Freyrswoman, this is a no-brainer for me. Freyr brings “peace and good seasons” (frith and ar) everywhere He goes. He is the inexorable coming of the Spring, that not even Gerd can resist. I see Him less as the one who makes that happen and more of a statement of the reality of the earth as it is. Spring will come, the earth will be renewed and grow fertile, and all manner of living things will come to life again. Freyr will always help with recovery from the cold dead of winter, but His help may be more forceful that the gentle support of Idunn.
However, a downside of working closely with Freyr is that as a deity of fertility, He is extremely tied to the changes in the seasons. In my UPG, He goes down into the Mound come winter and doesn’t come back up until early spring. Some years I can physically feel it when He goes down–as if someone had suddenly bundled me into a bulky warm swear and tucked me in a cabin with fire waiting to be lit. Other years I am so busy with life that I barely notice it happening. So while He does help me “come back to life”, He may be at least partially responsible for exacerbating my depression to begin with.
For me, Nerthus is a safe one to go to when depression is overwhelming and I can no longer fight the good fight and pretend to function. She is the dark coolness under the earth; the decay and decomposition of dead things that make the necessary nutrients in order to support new life again. Though dark and still, Her energy is not depressing; to me, it is soothing. Connecting with Her can provide a much-needed break and give you back some of the energy you need to fight on again.
Hela provides a similar function to the one Nerthus offers, perhaps paradoxically. She can be a great one to contact in order to unload those thoughts that are draining you of your liveliness. Like Nerthus, Her energy is cool and soothing; though without the green rejuvenation. Hela cannot heal you, per se, but she can take from you that which is slowly draining you.
And, of course, there is Freya. Freya is strength and passion; beauty and fertility; sex and magic. She is the life force that all of the Jotuns want, after all. She lights a fire in the loins and the heart and the mind. Like Freyr’s Spring energy, Her energy is not subtle; and, when you are depressed, it can be a tad overwhelming. She walks both in the dark and in the light–death and life. (“Did she finish you? Or bring you back to life?”) Not a soft goddess by any stretch of the imagination, Her methods of “awakening” can be almost as painful as problems they cure. If all you need is a jump start for your heart, however, She is the best one to go to.
Our experiences with the Gods and all of the Norse spirits are idiosyncratic by nature. However, I hope that my experiences in working with these Gods to help heal myself will provide inspiration for others as well.
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