108: Wild Goddesses of Northern Europe (with Michelle Nickolaisen)

We are joined by Michelle Nickolaisen, who takes us through the nuances of several European goddesses including Freya and Perchta. We also chat about their childhood experiences with paganism, getting the wrong metaphors from the Chronicles of Narnia, and Sigrid the Hotty (we mean, Haughty).


For more information on the goddesses we talked about in this episode, check out the fantastic article that Michelle wrote!


Guest

Michelle Nickolaisen is a writer and podcaster! You can follow them on Twitter @_chelleshock, as well as check out their shows, Serendipity City (a dieselpunk Actual Play podcast set in the 20s), and Unplaced (an urban fantasy/supernatural horror audio drama).


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Transcript

Amanda: Welcome to Spirits podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.

Julia: I'm Julia.

Amanda: This is episode 108, Wild Goddesses of Northern Europe.

Julia: With Michelle Nickolaisen.

Amanda: With our good friend Michelle. We are so stoked to bring you these stories. There's like a first person angle, there are primary sources, there's good analysis. I love it so much.

Julia: Michelle is extremely knowledgeable and we were so glad to have them on the podcast.

Amanda: I would also totally buy a perfume or a wine titled Wild Goddesses of Northern Europe.

Julia: That is 100% percent true. I would read that book. I would buy that one. I would wear that perfume. I would watch that movie. I would subscribe to that podcast.

Amanda: If I did buy that wine, I think the first person I would share it with would be anyone of our new patrons; Marissa, Page, Ala, Herberg, Danica and Catherine and of course our supporting producer level patrons; Philip, Julie, Christina, [Ior] Sammy, Marie, Josie, Amara, Neil, Jessica, Feel Fresh, and Deborah who are so loved in our eyes. Loved no more, no less than our legend level patrons; Jordan, Jess, Zoe, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack Murray, and Liam.

Julia: No one can prove this, but you are all wild goddesses of northern Europe. Fun fact.

Amanda: You never get acne.

Julia: You never get acne. Whoa, lucky.

Amanda: Julia, remind us what we were drinking during this episode?

Julia: Amanda I would like to say that we were drinking some really obscure local hand crafted mead but we were all just drinking spike seltzer.

Amanda: Yeah, we were. Well speaking of spike to drinks, this week I just wanted to recommend mulling your own cider. Apple cider is great, you buy it in a grocery store, ideally unfiltered or with some cool local apple but cider so much better when you put it on a stove. Let that girl simmer, let that girl reduce, let them go down like one third or even one half in volume, put some cinnamon sticks in there, put some star anise, some cloves. I have learned the arts of mulling cider from friend of the pod, Eric Silver, and I'm not going back. Then you have some warm cider. It's potent. It's delish. If you have a sensitive tummy like me, you can get lots of flavor in a small volume. Put some whiskey in there. Have a good day.

Julia: Fun fact listeners, if you wander into Amanda's apartment during the winter time, one, please tell her that you're showing up beforehand, it's only polite.

Amanda: I'm very skittish.

Julia: Two her apartment always smells really nice because she's always got cider just on the stove making things smell nice, it's great.

Amanda: If not cider then just a big stock pot of water with oranges and cinnamon. It's just a smell that you can't go wrong with.

Julia: It's true. You know what else we can't go wrong with?

Amanda: Our two sponsors this week, Skillshare where skillshare.com/spirits gives you two months of premium, not for 99 cents listeners, for free or [com.com/spirits] where 25% off a com premium subscription is yours for the having.

Julia: Oh my God, yes. I want to here more.

Amanda: That was such a long sentence to have in that tone and I'm proud of myself.

Julia: You did very good. I want to hear more but we'll hear more later on in the episode. I would like to tell our listeners before we get to the episode about, hey, remember our live show in January in Seattle.

Amanda: We are going to be there. We're going to be doing two different shows with two different guests. Paul Bay who was on a previous episode of Spirits will be our guest for one of the nights. The other one we will have a special guest that you don't know about yet, everybody, you haven't met them, but they are great and it's going to be super fun. So go to bit.ly/multitudeinseattle to get your tickets now.

Julia: Yeah, come hang out with us. It's going to be fun.

Amanda: We want to do a boat load more shows in the future, and helping us start out January with a strong showing and a full house, and dare I say it, a sold out crowd would be awesome.

Julia: It would be amazing. We love you preemptively for coming. Also a reminder, if you are one of our $4 and above patrons, we are doing an extra special every month. Your urban legends episode so if you've been thinking about, I'd like to maybe throw an extra couple bucks Spirit's way, now you have more of an incentive to do that.

Amanda: We're releasing the first one sometime in the next few days in the next week. Editor Eric has to decide, and we could not be more excited about doing more legends and sharing that with our supporters on Patreon. All righty. Without further ado, enjoy Spirits podcast, episode 108 Wild Goddesses of Northern Europe with Michelle Nickolaisen.

Julia: All right, we are joined this week by Michelle Nickolaisen. They're a writer a podcaster. They make amazing shows like Serendipity City and Unplaced. Michelle, thank you so much for joining us.

Michelle: Yes, thank you for having me.

Julia: I'm curious because I think we talked a little bit about what you're going to be doing, but I am also going to be pleasantly surprised. What are we going to be talking about this week?

Michelle: My original outline as I referenced before we started recording, I originally wanted to talk about like all of Norse and Germanic mythology through a queer feminist lens, but that is not something you can cover in an hour.

Amanda: Sounds like a good spinoff podcast for sure.

Michelle: The things that I kind of honed in on and we're going to talk about a lot of stuff branched out from here. I originally wanted to talk about Loki a little bit more, but I listened to the other two episodes on Norse mythology and you all got to talk about Loki already. I just think Loki is really interesting as a figure because he has sort of become like the patron saint of like, not saint of like non binary pagans.

Julia: Gender queer Loki.

Michelle: Yeah. It's really entertaining to me because he's become like, it's almost a running joke among the non binary pagans that I know, all of us work with Loki. I don't really have a lot to add other than that. As far as the mythology, you all covered most of that last time. I wanted to hone in on two goddesses in particular, Freya and Perchta. You all got to talk about Freya a little bit.

Julia: A little bit, not enough.

Michelle: Freya is associated with a lot of different things. She's a really interesting figure to me because she tends to get sort of like patriarchy washed I guess. She tends to get painted as like the goddess of love and beauty, or almost kind of air headed in some retellings of the myths I've noticed, which is really interesting to me because there is not necessarily a lot of basis for that in the historical documents.

Julia: Aphrodite kind of falls into that category too where she tends to be kind of air headed just, love and relationships and stuff and it's so much more than that.

Amanda: Beauty what else could she mean?

Michelle: It's really interesting because there's a lot more there. We know that Freya was really beloved because there's a ton ... One of the ways that archaeologists kind of guess to like the societal importance of a deity is by like place names. Freya especially in Sweden and Norway, there's a ton of place names associated with Freya and with her brother Freyr. Freya and Freyr were twins. They were a part of the Vanir, which is like this other tribe of gods that kind of like joined with the Aesir. Freya, Freyr and Odr are the main ones. Freya is associated with, the animals in particular that she's associated with are cats or lynxes. There's a couple different varieties with all of this because stuff changes over 2000 years when the myths are being told.

Julia: Tends to happen.

Michelle: Yeah, it's the longest game of telephone. A lot of people picture like her chariot being drawn by house cats. The original translation probably indicates that they were more like lynxes or something, which makes more sense.

Julia: It makes more sense.

Amanda: Both are adorable though.

Michelle: Yes. Very adorable. She's got a lot of cool animals. She's also associated with birds of prey, particularly falcons. She had a falcon feather cloak, which was interesting because Perchta is also associated with birds of prey, so that is going to come up again. The Falcon cloak also gave her shape shifting powers and she let Loki borrow it once or twice for his shenanigans flying back and forth.

Amanda: Can I interject for just a minute? Very early on in Spirits, I asked a question about a shape shifting cloak that I remembered from literature but I could not remember what the book was. We have gotten like 40 or 50 emails from people just so kind being like, I know it's three years later and I'm pretty sure you've realized it, but it's Lirael by Garth Nix and so it is. It right now reminds me so much of that. I hadn't heard of shape shifting cloaks anywhere else, but there is in Lirael this elaborately spell woven garment that actually lets you shape shift.

Michelle: You guys touched on this in like the other Norse mythology episodes. It's really fascinating how so much fantasy-, it's really fascinating to me because I'm pagan. I've been pagan for more of my life than not, and have like amusing anecdotes related to that. It's really interesting to me that Norse mythology and Germanic mythology influenced so much of high fantasy and yet so much of high fantasy it's this weird mix of like the trappings of Norse mythology, but often with a fairly Christian worldview. Not Lirael in particular, but thinking of like Tolkien.

Michelle: Narnia was off it was also like Greco-Roman mythology. There's that same thing there where there's a lot of these things that are trappings of mythology and Narnia in particular, that's one of my funny stories is that like I grew up out in the woods, and so I was like, from day one I was super into animism before I knew what the word was. My mom got me to read the Narnia-, I read the entire Narnia series when I was in like first or second grade and my mom's like …

Julia: Dang Michelle, that's way too early for those books.

Michelle: I was a weird kid.

Amanda: Me also.

Michelle: My mom is like, so when I finished it, she's like, so did you get the metaphors about Jesus? I'm like, no, but I do understand that dryads are a thing. I was like, there's a word for this, there's a word for the tree spirits that I already thought existed.

Julia: That is amazing.

Michelle: It had rather the opposite intended effect.

Julia: You are like Jesus? No, forest spirits.

Michelle: There was another incident in second grade. This is a slight digression. I find it extremely entertaining looking back. I don't know where I got any of these ideas, but in second grade I was in the school library. I grew up in very rural Missouri. My graduating class was 65 people. I was like a total weirdo. Probably the only reason I didn't get beat up on a regular basis, was because we all had known each other since kindergarten. In second grade I wanted to read this book, and I don't know why it was in the elementary school library in diamond.

Michelle: I remember this book as being like a very old book with one of those cloth covers on like old timey superstitions. My mom swears up, down and backwards that it had witchcraft in the title somewhere. Either way, I don't know why it was on the school library, but I wanted to read it. The librarian told me that it was too hard for me and made me read it. She was like, this is too hard for you. You can't read it. She made me read I think it was how to eat fried worms instead.

Julia: Worse, librarian. Normally I'm always pro librarian, but in this case no.

Michelle: We were not getting the cream of the crop in diamond Missouri. I was really upset by this, and I went home. My parents, my father especially has like the same anti authority streak that I do. This really pissed my dad off. He went to the school library the next morning and brought like a stack of books that I could read. He's like, listen, Michelle can read all of this stuff. There is no reason that they can't read this book. Like you need to let my kid read whatever they want to read and got the librarian to admit that it was a subject matter thing versus like a difficulty level. He's like, okay, well we're her parents, we get to decide that. I get to read the book and then two days later I got sent home with a note from my teachers saying that I needed to stop teaching, that I was teaching the other children witchcraft symbols on the playground and I needed to stop doing that.

Amanda: Icon, love it.

Julia: At least you were spreading the knowledge that you were learning, I think that's the important part.

Michelle: My first instinct was like, let me teach all of you this charm against the evil eye that I learned in this 1940s book that's in our library for some reason. They took the book out of the library after that.

Julia: That doesn't surprise me after that.

Michelle: That's where I'm coming from and I don't remember-, yeah, we got there through like fantasy.

Amanda: Synchrotism in fantasy.

Michelle: It's interesting to me. But back to Freya, who also is associated with magic. There's a tie in there to. One of the things that gets like whitewashed a lot with Freya is that she has a lot of war and death aspects. A lot of people associate her with the Valkyries because one of her epithets is about Freya. There actually isn't necessarily a whole lot of scholarship to support that. Because the Valkyries were like considered servants of Odin and so Freya's stature was higher than that. There's a stanza in grimness small that says that's about the world which you all discussed before.

Michelle: It says folk thing is the ninth and Freya ranges, the choice of seats in the hall, half the slain, she chooses every day and half Odin owns. Because of that specific wording, the theory is that she actually gets the first pick of the battle dead. Depending on who's translating it, it's made more clear. Because of the way that her name comes first and the specific nuances of that like word that is used for Odin choosing, it's not that she actually gets the first pick of the battle dead.

Amanda: I love that.

Julia: That is so cool, I love that.

Michelle: She's a boss. She also, her boars name-, her and her brother Freyr were both associated with boars very strongly. When she's not riding her chariots, she rides a boar named Hildisvini, which is a battle swine. I know that there are parts of America that have wild boar, but like when I was reading this I was like, that's an odd image. Then I looked up pictures of European boar.

Julia: They big. They big boys.

Amanda: They are closer to hippos than to like piglets.

Michelle: Absolute fucking units. They're large. Very intimidating picture of Freya riding into battle on this like giant fuck off pig with a spear. Boars were also associated with warriors in Norse mythology. We hear about the bazookas as this like specific class of warriors that would go into like basically the idea was that they would be like black outraging on the battlefield. There are various theories. It's like all extremely under contestation. Everyone likes to be like, this person was on shrooms when looking at archeology.

Julia: I mean, listen, it happens more often than not.

Michelle: There are some people who think that they were consuming substances, particularly like psychotropic substances before going into battle to like psych themselves up.

Amanda: It has a history in several cultures around the world. That's not like totally out of left field.

Michelle: Yeah. It's one of those things where it's like, it's not totally out of left field, but people are a little hesitant to like fully jump onboard. It's interesting because bazooka I forget what the second half of the word translates to. It might just be warrior, but it's like bazooka is like the bare warriors. There is, um, there was another group that was specifically associated with wolves, and another group that was specifically associated with bores. There are some theories that the group of warriors that were specifically associated with boars might've been dedicated to Freya and/or Freyr.

Michelle: There's a fair amount of lower, saying that like her hall was dedicated not just to like the women and children who worshiped her. Although again, not that women could not be warriors and ancient societies, because we have found a lot of the assumptions on that were wrong in the last couple of years as often are. There's like this whole war side of Freya that gets completely washed over, because people are like love and beauty, that's cool.

Julia: Just that apparently, women aren't worth anything else.

Michelle: The other interesting thing is that she was particularly associated with seidhr magic. I don't know if I'm saying that right. I've seen a bunch of different pronunciations. Its spelled s-e-i-d-h-r, or sometimes it's the funky d that you get in Norse, I don't know the word for it. The d with a line through it.

Julia: Welcome to Spirits Michelle, welcome to Spirits. We don't pronounce anything right ever, and we get so many emails.

Michelle: It's hard especially when you're drinking.

Amanda: That's the idea.

Julia: 100% my friend, 100%.

Michelle: I'm like one and a half drinks to my alcoholic seltzer wine.

Julia: Is it the light plum one? That's my summer drink of choice so bravo.

Michelle: They're just really good and I'm allergic to everything and they don't have anything I'm allergic to in them.

Amanda: There we go.

Julia: What more can you ask for? It gets you fucked up and you're not allergic to it.

Michelle: My hangover won't be any worse than it absolutely has to be. I have heard it pronounced as like seidhr magic or people leaning harder into the r like seidhr. I'm just going to say like seidhr because my pronunciation is just going to get worse as time goes on. This is one of those areas again where there's not necessarily a lot of hard lore. A lot of what we do have a lot of the Sagas and specifically the Eddas were written by Christians which undeniably had some kind of influence on it.

Amanda: How are those books contextualized, like the Sagas and stuff? What are the texts that we're looking at when we look into them for evidence?

Michelle: The main thing that people are looking at are the Eddas, which I believe are like the older and the younger. There's two separate groups of the Eddas. One of them is like written in verse and one of them is not, if I'm remembering right. Please don't @ me. I've read them all but I've been a pagan for like 20 years. If I fuck up it's not because I don't know, it's because I knew and then I forgot.

Julia: Listen that's like I've read the Bible a lot of times, I can't quote any Bible verses, I'm sorry. I'm reading for content, not for like quotation.

Michelle: It's like when you're especially coming at it from paganism, it's this really interesting mix of looking at things like the Eddas and the Sagas. The Sagas are usually oriented around like a semi historical figure. They're like the tales of this one warrior, this one king. But they have hints in them as to like everyday life. So a lot of times you can glean little bits and pieces of like, okay, so this is how they worshiped because of the way it was written about here. The Eddas were written by Snorri Sturluson, who was an Icelandic monk, in like, I want to say it was 1100 ish AD. He was a Christian monk who was, at least his reason given for writing all of this down, was that he wanted to save the literature because he thought it was like beautiful and should be preserved.

Amanda: Thank you God for monks.

Julia: Sometimes they do good shit.

Michelle: Iceland in particular is a really interesting case because Iceland avoided the forced Christianization that a lot of Europe had. A lot of the rest of Europe was converted by sword point or via extreme political pressure. The setup is that this queen, whose name I'm going to have in just a second, this woman, of course her name, of course she gets written down as Sigrid the Haughty because she wasn't taking any shit.

Julia: I thought you said hottie for a second, like she's hot, which I was like-

Amanda: I was going to be yeah, fucking patriarch, come on, revisionist history, am I right? No, she's just haughty as fuck.

Michelle: But it's very good though because there's like, there's a bunch of stories about her. People aren't actually sure if she was like a historical figure or if the stories are like kind of clumping together a bunch of people. Basically this guy, Olaf Tryggvason who was the king of Norway at the time, was courting her for marriage. But he told her that she would need to convert to Christianity. She was like, well, I'm not going to do that. I want to stay with the faith that my ancestors. He slapped her across the face and called her a heathen bitch. She told him, this may someday be thy death, and then proceeded to create a coalition of his enemies and married, like allied with his enemies, created the coalition and then like started a war and got the guy killed.

Amanda: Hey, that's the most amazing thing I've ever heard in my entire life.

Michelle: Very cool. I like that particular story. Girl power, hashtag.

Amanda: Burn it down.

Michelle: It's some Game of Thrones shit. There was a lot of political pressure to Christianize, and even when there wasn't, there was also like literal Marshall Power. There's more than one story of Charlemagne's men converting a village, and then like coming back through a year or two later and the village hadn't stayed converted. They just like literally burned it to the ground, like men, women and children killed everyone. A lot of Europe had been forcibly Christianized and because of that there was a lot of records that were destroyed. Iceland is a really interesting case because since they're so far away from most of Europe, they had been able to resist Christianization for a long time. There was this yearly gathering called the thing or the all thing I think it is a.

Michelle: They have this yearly gathering, which is basically where all of the tribal leaders, the religious leaders, everybody's meeting up and they're trying to figure out what to do with this increased pressure to Christianize. One of the dudes, whose name I don't remember, but one of the dudes he was like the head religious dude right now, says that he's going to like go into a trance state, probably a seidhr state actually, and divine what to do about this. He like goes under and spends two days under the cloak in this trance state figuring out what to do. When he comes out he's like, okay, we should Christianize and everybody is super pissed at him because of this.

Michelle: But the thing is, is that because they willingly converted, they were allowed to do whatever they want in their own homes. There was none of this like razing villages to the ground like there were other places in Europe. Because of that there are folk practices in Iceland that like stay maintained to this day. There's like an unbroken historical lineage in Iceland, which is really fascinating and we know a lot of cool stuff because of that. That's also probably the fact that it wasn't quite so stigmatized because they had converted willingly is also probably part of why Snorri Sturluson could write down all these stories.

Julia: Totally makes sense. I love a good conversion story. I don't love a good conversion story, but when it has a nice synchronization, and the tradition gets to continue even though it's been converted that's the best that situation can go.

Michelle: It's really cool because at one point, I remember when I, it's really cool to see, to be able to learn more about this like now because when I first, I basically started doing research into this stuff when I first, as soon as I learned what the word pagan meant, I was like that's it, that's me. I was like, 12 or 13, so this was like back in the dark ages of like Geo cities and like flickering fairy cursers.

Julia: I remember those cursers.

Michelle: It was bad, it was very bad. Now like, because of the Internet being so widespread, there's a lot of bad things that it can do obviously. It's really cool that like I can look at the traditions of somebody in Iceland who has a fairly unbroken lineage going back a thousand years and see the similarities in my own practices. There's also a Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a misnomer. They're like German. There's like a Pennsylvania Dutch branch of heathenism called or Urglaawe u-r-g-l-a-a-w-e. They've been checked out by anthropologists and they also have, it's been blended with Christianity and folk magic over the years. They have an unbroken lineage of heathen beliefs, which we can touch on again in a second because like Perchta comes up there.

Julia: That's so interesting. I've never heard of that before.

Michelle: Yeah. A lot of people don't know about it. I just think it's really fascinating because like there's this whole, this is like probably a little bit of inside baseball. In paganism there's communities that are strictly reconstructionist, which means that they're looking at, specifically at the details that they can glean from archeological digs or from the Sagas or from the Eddas and building their practice on that. Me like I much more prefer to look at the evolution of things over time and be like, okay, so we can surmise that this is a reasonable thing to do. It doesn't make any sense to me to try and reconstruct practices like in some specific part of Germany in 850 AD because I don't live in Germany in 850 AD.

Julia: That's fair enough.

Michelle: Because of that Urglaawe is really fascinating to practitioners like me, because there is a lot there that if I'm remembering right, they also don't demonize Loki in the same way that a lot of like American true groups demonize. Loki is like a really fucking contentious figure in American, Asatrurian heathenism. I don't think that, if I'm remembering right, I don't think Urglaawe demonizes him the same way and I don't think the Icelandic heathens do either. It's like, it's a true fail yard. I don't know how to say it. It's a very long Icelandic name. It's super fascinating.

Amanda: What does heathen mean in this context?

Michelle: The original etymology of heathen is of the heath and it comes from, it was basically like what Roman conquerors called the uncivilized barbarians of northern Europe and like the Celts. In modern day context within pagan circles heathen usually is like kind of heathen usually means some sort of Germanic north based polytheist practice. Asatru tends to be used by people that are really specifically focused on like Scandinavian and Norse practices. Over time my practice has gotten much more like I have, so I worked with the Norse Pantheon but also have like continental Germanic deities, and also Brigid showed up at some point. Then there's also like Slavic deities in there. I just use heathen as kind of a catchall for me. That's a rough paintbrush of the context. Does that help?

Amanda: That does help. I'd only ever heard it as like there's Christian and then there's heathen. That's really useful. I had no idea it was a geographic origin, but that also makes, that also means that it makes sense why the witches in Macbeth say there to beat upon the heath or rather, upon the heath [crosstalk 00:28:26].

Julia: Upon the heath [crosstalk 00:28:26]. That's immediately where my brain went to.

Amanda: I'm sure we can both, reconstruct the specific syntax with which the women who played the witches in our high school production set it, they're to meet with Macbeth.

Julia: [inaudible 00:28:42].

Michelle: That was the cutest show.

Julia: What was the third animal sound? I know it's cat call, ribbit, what was the third one? Amanda?

Amanda: There's thunder.

Julia: Okay, it's probably the thunder then.

Amanda: Something [inaudible 00:28:56]. I think it was just like thunder or something and then it was like [inaudible 00:29:00].

Julia: Amanda did the sound cue, so I knew she would remember.

Amanda: Julia, you heard right? Skillshare is back with a new, a better offer. You can get two months of their premium membership for free not for 99 cents at skillshare.com/spirits.

Julia: You know what, it seems like there is no reason why you shouldn't go to skillshare.com/spirits to sign up now. But Amanda, tell me about a class that you enjoy from Skillshare.

Amanda: Yes. I really like using Skillshare to learn things that I never thought I would learn. If I were the kind of person who went to community college classes for funsies, which I would love to do frankly, this is the kind of stuff that I would do. This week I checked out the fundamentals of DSLR photography class. Now, as a former YouTuber, like everybody else, I got a DSLR camera in the late aughts. I feel like I never really unlocked its potential. My sister lives in Hawaii now, so I lent her my camera to enjoy her new puppy dog and the cute sites and all the stuff that she is seeing there. Then I was like, damn, wait, I want to be able to compete and also to give her good advice. I checked out that course and I really enjoyed it.

Julia: That sounds amazing. That is so cool, and the best part is Amanda, you did it for free.

Amanda: I did because I went to skillshare.com/spirits and signed up for two months of free premium membership. Now Skillshare has over 25,000 classes. They are an online learning community for creators. It's somewhere that you can fuel your curiosity, your creativity, and also your career. Whether you want to improve or learn a new hobby or help you learn stuff that will help you look good at work, Skillshare is the place to do it.

Julia: That is amazing and again, that is skillshare.com/spirits for two months of free classes. Learn some stuff, it's real nice.

Amanda: That should be their tagline.

Julia: Learn some stuff it's real nice. Do you know what else is real nice, Amanda?

Amanda: Is it putting really nice whiskey in your malt cider, and being like, damn, these tastes are meant for each other?

Julia: Yes. If you're you, not for me though, I don't drink dark liquor. But if you're like me, being not stressed is real nice, which is why I love Calm.

Amanda: Calm, even the name makes me go ...

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Julia: Who couldn't really? Just five minutes of Calm can change your whole day. Trust me, I have done it before. I like being calm because of Calm. You, like me listener, could head to calm.com/spirits and get 25% off their premium subscription, which includes hundreds of hours of premium programming such as guided meditations for anxiety, stress, focus, relationships. They also do a brand new meditation each day called The Daily Calm. It is really nice. It's a great way to start your day off.

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Amanda: Thanks Calm. Now let's get back to the show. Michelle, before we dive into the Norse goddesses, you're going to tell us about, can you let us know like why these are significant to you and why this is a topic that you know so much about?

Michelle: Yes. I have been pagan for more of my life than not, which was really interesting since I grew up in very rural Missouri. Basically I learned what the word meant around like 12 or 13 through Internet research and immediately recognized it in myself.

Amanda: What about it appealed to you?

Michelle: There is originally, I think the thing that appealed to me most was the animism, which is the word for like believing that everything has some kind of a spirit. Not necessarily thinking that trees are like sentient creatures, but thinking that there is like a kind of a life force there to be respected, which sounds really hippy dippy. But the interesting thing is that in indigenous religions around the world, by which I mean not just in America, but also in pre-Christian religions in Europe and Russia and basically everywhere. A lot of the two common traits are ancestor veneration and animism pretty much everywhere. Polytheism is really common, but it's not necessarily an exclusive thing. There are indigenous religions that are monotheist or duotheist, or like soft polytheist. At some point I was more of like a soft polytheist which is thinking that like all the gods are a part of like one God or like facets of one God. At this point ...

Amanda: Thank you for defining that. I was going to think about it for the next one hour.

Julia: It's also such a great term.

Amanda: It's so good. Like my t-shirt that says soft butch, very different. But I love the word soft in context to an adjective.

Michelle: Duotheism there are several Wiccan traditions that are duotheist, which is believing that all gods are part of one God. All goddesses are part of one goddess. That was like never super my jam, which is funny because as a 30 year old, I'm like the gender binary is bullshit. I guess it's totally a societal construction. But it was like never super my jam. At one point I was more of a soft polytheist. Now at this point I'm like specifically a hard polytheist, although there are cases where I'm like, okay, these two deities are similar enough, that I feel like even though they have slightly different names or epithets, that like I think that it's safe to say that these are like the same kind of entity.

Amanda: That seems pretty reasonable historically.

Julia: We've talked about that a little bit in episodes, Inanna is a great example where she ties into many other goddesses and cultures that surrounded the area.

Michelle: There is like Perchta is an interesting case of that, which we can get to in a minute. But yeah, I think that at this point in my life, that's one of those things where it's like, you know, I don't know. I've had enough weird experiences that there are reasons that I believe the things I do. But I also feel like believing it makes me a better person. Wanting to leave behind a better world for my literal or figurative offspring, is something that comes from my faith because there's like this very strong emphasis on honoring your ancestors, but also like taking care of your descendants. I don't plan on having biological children so that's like more figurative for me. But it's like, we don't wanna trash the earth or like create a bad legacy or create something that like, you don't want to build a shitty house for somebody else to live in. That's rude.

Michelle: Animism has always been important to me. Polytheism just makes more sense to me at this, like it always made more sense to me than monotheism. I think just having grown up in the kind of cultural Christianity that we have in America and specifically in like the Bible belt where I grew up. I think that that was part of why I was drawn to like soft polytheism at first because it's really interesting to me because people act like the idea of polytheism is fucking bananas. Even people who are relatively cultured. I've talked to people who live in Austin and have lived in Austin for a while and have four or six year college degrees. You say the word polytheism and they look at you like you're just bonkers.

Amanda: Well, when you described soft polytheism I was like, oh, the trinity I get it cool.

Michelle: That's another thing where I fell short because my family we were not super religious. Like my mother is nominally Christian, but I think she's very interesting because she's like nominally Christian but also thinks that God is a woman and never goes to church. I'm like, why though? Why do you? Okay. My dad was raised like super strict Mormon so he doesn't want anything to do with organized religion at all. I wasn't raised like incredibly Christian. I just kind of have like, and I didn't go to church very often, when I started to get curious about things spiritually. I went to church with my grandma who's Mormon for like a year or two and got baptized.

Michelle: Even at the time we were having these conversations where I'm like, like eight or nine years old and sitting in the backseat. I'm like, grandma, if God is our heavenly Father, does that mean that Mother Nature is our heavenly mother? She's like, no, where did you get these ideas? It was never like a great fit, and as soon as I found paganism I was like this makes much more sense and it also like doesn't tell me that you're possessed or going to hell or something horrible. If you see ghosts or if you think that trees have spirits or something like that.

Amanda: Sure. Do some of these Norse gods and goddesses, makeup part of your, is pantheon the right word, or your deities as well?

Michelle: Yes I came to Norse mythology, northern Norse pantheon I guess probably when I was like 18 I think. I've been working within the specific context for like 12 years now I believe. God, that's so long. My personal practice now I started working specifically within like a Norse mythology practice. We say Norse, but like it's kind of a catch all. A lot of the written sources that we have are Icelandic. A lot of the deities originated in like continental Germany, and then sort of spread as the tribes did. I was working within this like Norse context, like specifically with the Norse deities. Freya sort of always stuck out to me right away. Then like over the years, my practice has got a little bit looser so that, it is, like, I work with more continental, I still have sort of that same list framework, and use the Germanic or Norse terms for things.

Michelle: The landvaettir whites is the Anglicized version, but that's like the word for spirit. There's like land whites, there's the house whites. If you've done, you know, if you look at pre-Christian European religions, there is so much overlap when it comes to like the building blocks. It's like, okay, everybody had like ancestor veneration/ and like everybody had how house spirits and everybody had land spirits. Then you had the particular Pantheon of deities. I work within like a loosely Germanic context. At this point, my personal pantheon is like Freya, Perchta, [iVilnius] who is a like Baltic underworld deity. Baba Yaga has a spot on the altar, but is not like a huge part of my personal practice. Brigid, which makes sense because I'm a writer.

Amanda: It sounds like you're able to kind of develop something really personal from different traditions, many of which probably informed one another and that sounds really rad.

Michelle: It means a lot to me obviously because I'm now like several hundred, if not a thousand dollars into this devotional slave that I've got going on here. Tattoo slave. I don't know how much sense that makes out of context. It means, yeah. It means it's been a really positive force in my life. It's unfortunate that there are really shitty aspects like there are, especially in Asatru which is part of the reason. I was never super big on using the label Asatru for myself because of this. Because of like both, there being super strict Reconstructionist groups, who kind of just like are assholes. Also there's a lot of attitudes and like more mainstream Asatru that are very like white supremacists to various degrees. Even when they aren't like outright white supremacists, which like, there were people at Charlottesville like marching with runes on their banners. Which is stupid because the Vikings were like a cultural melting pot, that's like a whole other rant that I could go on.

Julia: I totally understand.

Amanda: Anyone can take anything and bend it to a perverted purpose.

Michelle: There's just not any historical basis for it. The Vikings culturally, I mean aside from the concept of the white race being a very modern, societal construct, the Vikings traded with all kinds of people. There were brown Vikings, there were black Vikings. We have historical evidence of this. They also had like, the society was certainly not like perfect, just like any historical society is not perfect. But Vikings, like a lot of northern dramatic society was far less. People want to paint it as a place with like super strict gender roles, and there's not necessarily historical evidence for that either. Women could own property, they would manage the land when husbands were gone fighting. They could also be warriors as we have recently learned. There were women warriors or possibly what we would like modern day call transgender male warriors.

Amanda: I'm reading a book right now called Caliban and the Witch, which is by this Italian scholar called Silvia Federici about how the study of capitalism and the study of women's rights over time, cannot be taken apart. I talked about this in a recent episode as well, like the universal basic income. This work from I think 1972 or something, it starts out mentioning that like feudal society was much better for women. There were no gendered labor. Women can own property, they can give property away, they can decide how to invest the goods that they harvested. It was only when some people's labor started being assigned a monetary value that this idea that there's like rigid, like literally God given gendered work roles and only one of them earns money that like that comes into play.

Michelle: It's horrifying, but it's also like almost kind of funny because with the tomb goods, like the way that people originally decided like, Viking society had an extremely strict gender role. Was, they're like all of these tombs must belong to men because they have spears. Then they go back and look later and like, shocker, not so much. But women could also, women could get divorces, for I believe for any reason. I would have to double check that. If you were being mistreated or if you were cheated on and unhappy about it, you could get a divorce, and you were entitled to property rights for that. Especially for like for the time it was like a fairly equalitarian society. There were even there are some accounts that are particularly interesting. I mean, obviously we have like Loki queer icon.

Michelle: There were some accounts of that sort of like, they seem like they're euphemistic for some of the priests at Freya's temple being like non gender conforming. Don't know if that's if that would be read as like gay or transgender or queer because all of these languages, these words don't necessarily translate one to one to ancient cultures. But there's a specific account that's talking about like, the priests of Freya are so feminine and they dance around in a womanly way, with like bells on their ankles. Things that would not, would specifically not be associated with the standard man role. It is really interesting and a lot of this gets washed over in very frustrating ways. It's very frustrating to see people who don't know what they're talking about, using things that are very important to me for shitty means.

Amanda: Yeah. Not all things that used to happen in history are suitable to do now, and not all the things you want to do now that just feel regressive were present in history. I feel the same way when people are like, well the singular theism grammatical-, sorry my guy it was used as far back as like 600 years ago and also on Top Chef in like 2007. There is no space for it. There's no time for it. Get your etymology right.

Julia: I love your key historical points of history.

Michelle: Same.

Julia: I really appreciate it.

Amanda: I've been watching old Top Chef and I was like damn.

Julia: I've been seeing your tweets.

Amanda: They are using the singular they when they don't want to gender the contestant that won. They're doing it in 2007, and no one's doing a hoopla about it, come on.

Julia: Doing a hoopla.

Amanda: Back to our Icelandic monk.

Michelle: Back to our Icelandic monk so ...

Julia: I'm so glad you remembered what our point was though-

Amanda: I wrote down Icelandic monk.

Julia: Thank God.

Michelle: Bless you Amanda. Because of this, like one dude who did the seidhr magic, Iceland was able to retain a lot of their traditions. Seidhr as like a magic system, a lot of people sort of catchall Norse magic into like seidhr and [gauldr] and tend to like think of gauldr as being like runes magic, creating fine runes or carving ruins on things chanting runes. There is like, it's kind of one of those things where whatever distinctions we make at this point are a little arbitrary, because there are accounts of seidhr magic that involved the runes as well. The runes are the alphabet. The runic alphabet, the elder futhark has 24 symbols. Each has a name that also has like a meaning. Fehu, means it looks, it's f and I think it means cow. It might mean like, no, it's not oxen because that's Uruz. It's associated with prosperity, because of like Freya cows.

Michelle: Seidhr magic sometimes gets referred to as like shamanistic magic, like anthropology shamanistic, which is such a clunky word and it doesn't sound right, but I think its right. I think that's the right word. In an anthropological context, when people say shamanistic, they're kind of referring to like this idea of like going into a trans and journeying to the other world or like bringing spirits to you while you're in a trance state. It's not necessarily referring specifically to a Native American practices, even though that's the context that we see it a lot in everyday life. Some people refer to seidhr as like a shamanistic style of magic. It did involve like trance states and some kind of like there's stories of using a distaff, like you would use for spinning. Pounding it on the ground to create a kind of rhythm.

Michelle: It involved like in the Sagas, it's typically referred to when people are talking about like seeing or changing faint. Telling a prophecy, giving a blessing or giving a curse. There's like some interesting tie-ins there with like Sleeping Beauty and the spinning wheel and the curses, right? We've got this historical distaff. At any rate, Freya taught seidhr to Odin. There's, I can't remember if this is strictly a modern theory or not, but there are several people who will say that their best guesses that Freya, taught seidhr to Odin in return to Odin teaching her the secrets of the runes. There's also some theory that like due to the trance states thing, that the shape shifting is related to that with the Falcon cloak. Then sort of later as people stopped saying, seidhr as much, and it began to get sort of translated or just referred to as like witchcraft, which is really interesting.

Michelle: Because speaking of like people demeaning women's areas of work, there is a whole thing there. There's a really interesting book. It's like a short book, but it was somebody's thesis called Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, which talks about witchcraft in England and Ireland, not just for ... For the longest time there is this theory that like everybody who was burned as a witch was not actually practicing any kinds of paganism. It was like considered like if you thought that then you were using bad academia basically. I don't know if that sentence makes sense. Well, for a long time this was like the going academic theory. It was like these women were persecuted for being weird or whatever. But as the text were studied again, as Christianity became less of like a driving academic force, there's actually like a fair amount of evidence that the people who were persecuted, were practicing like sort of a pre-Christian framework.

Julia: Like folk magic.

Michelle: And specifically there's evidence to trans-states. And one of the things that's interesting that she talks about in Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, is that there are multiple accounts from English and Irish and Scottish witches who were persecuted or burned at the stake, they talk about the Lady of Elfheim. And Elfheim is an anglicized version of Alfheim, which is the land of the elves that Freya's brother was sent to rule over, so that's a little interesting connection there.

Amanda: I like that. Every time you say the title of that monograph, I get this surge of adrenaline. Like, let me open my library browser right now.

Michelle: Yeah. It's really good. I think it's like 50 bucks on Amazon or something, but you can get it through JSTOR and you can also get it through interlibrary loan.

Amanda: Yes. What I've also done is, write the publisher and be like, I have a podcast, can you send me a copy, and then they email me a pdf and it's-.

Michelle: Beautiful. I might do that because I read this-.

Amanda: Oh yeah, for research. It's legit. Research copies, review copies and you cite your sources if you end up using it. It's real. Often the authors want people to see these texts and it's not up to them what the price us.

Julia: They don't want to charge that much, yeah.

Michelle: And it's really good. I'm sure that since then there's been other stuff. It's probably been seven years since I read this. So there very well might have been other stuff. At one point researching all of this was my main hobby and now I have a full time job and do two podcasts. So the last thing about Freya that I wanted to talk about was the sex and beauty aspects because, it's interesting to me because Freya gets referred to as like a love goddess a lot and I would not necessarily characterize her as a love goddess. I would characterize her realm as more of sex and lust. But it's interesting because, of course she got referred to as love goddess because we can't say, oh, this is a sex goddess, because that would be-.

Julia: You can't say sex. That's not cool.

Michelle: She also ruled over fertility, which is, if you look at her associated animals. Cats and bores. But there's a really interesting specific case study of this, which is that she has a golden amber necklace. I think it's just referred to as gold in this story actually. I think amber might be a modern add on that several people came to this conclusion. It's called Brisingamen. And the story is that she wanted this necklace and so she slept with the four dwarfs who made it as payment. She spent one night with each of the dwarfs. The later Christianization of the story turns into this whole weird thing where it's like, oh, she wanted this necklace so these evil cunning dwarfs tricked her and then raped her and then she was sent home crying with this necklace. There's a particular Victorian retelling that's very bad. But in the original it's like she wanted it so she used sex as payment for it and then she gets this cool necklace and she's not bothered by it at all.

Amanda: That's a much better story.

Michelle: Yeah. You all talked about Loki talking shit at the Flighting of Loki, is the name of the Saga I think. One of the things that's kind of funny, because one of the things that he says to Freya is, "You've slept with everyone in this hall, including your brother." And Njord is like, Njord is her father, he's like, "Hey, as long as her husband doesn't have a problem with it, who cares who she sleeps with."

Julia: That's true.

Michelle: And Freya herself doesn't really take offense until he says, "Oh, you slept with your brother too," and then she gets offended. So in modern paganism, there is where Loki tends to attract non binary and trans and queer people. Freya has been adopted by a lot of sex workers, bisexual, pansexual people, polyamorous people, we all get along really great with Freya.

Julia: She's got a lot of the bases covered.

Michelle: What can you argue with? You have magic and death and fighting and sex.

Amanda: Powerful fem going after what she wants.

Michelle: Often top vibes.

Amanda: Headcount and acceptance.

Michelle: Yes. The other kind of scary goddess that I wanted to talk about was Perchta who is also-, there's a couple of different variants of her name. So we have Perchta with a P. P E R C H T A or Bertha, with a, B. Also Bertha or Perchta. Where Freya is mostly Scandinavian, Perchta is much more continental. Mostly the stories and references and practices that we have for her are in areas that are now upper German and Austrian regions of the Alps. And she's particularly interesting because despite the, forced Christianization that these areas went through, there are still practices that are clearly related to her. She doesn't get mentioned at any of the high myths or the Sagas or the editors since that's all Scandinavian oriented. There are some really interesting overlaps though, which I'll touch on in a minute, but in stories, she has two forms. She is typically portrayed as either this beautiful bright young woman with shining hair or as this hideous, scary old hag.

Amanda: Me also, how I feel inside my house versus how I feel in myself.

Michelle: She's a really interesting figure because there's another figure that we'll talk about in a minute called Frau Holda, who's also strictly Germanic. Not really attested to in Scandinavian sources, Frau Holda is often displayed in villages and she is particularly associated with one specific mountain whose name I can't recall right now. But Perchta is referred to as wild, in the original sense of this goddess, belongs to the forest. She's associated with groves, with glens. Sometimes there's a couple of stories where she's said to have dwelled in a cave, but she's never shown living in a village or in a cultured part of nature, like cornfields. She's not really associated with those. One of the most common and striking motifs around Perchta and one of her epithets, is Belly-Slitter. Perch, the Belly-Slitter.

Julia: I love that. That's such a good name.

Michelle: It's intense but it's really interesting because there are these stories where ... She's particularly associated with wintertime and her feast day got subsumed by epiphany. Berchtentag, the feast of Epiphany, which was early January, but there are these stories where she'll come around on her feast day and if the house work wasn't done or if things aren't being taken care of properly, she would cut open your stomach and stuff it with straw.

Julia: Whoa! That sounds like my mother-in-law.

Michelle: But it's really interesting because if you're looking for more sources on her, there's not a lot. There are some really interesting papers by Lot Mott's who was like an old school anthropologist. I think a lot of this was written in the sixties and seventies. And she theorizes, and this is also my sort of theory, that this was originally related to an initiation of some sort. Like you're crossing the threshold into adulthood. She said specifically stories of the education of the young by super human being, especially if it takes place in the wilderness. Bring to mind the practices of puberty initiation of ‘primitive’, that's my editorializing, societies.

Michelle: And these separation from parental dwellings and experiences inflicted by superhuman forces are essential for the spiritual second birth and for gaining and adult status. The recurrent tale of practice opening and refilling of humans stomachs appears to be an initiatory motif. And there's the wild hunt which, depending on where you're at in Europe, is said to have different leaders. So Holda is one of them. Frau Holda is also one of them. But Perchta is also one of them. And when she's leading it, there's stories of mutilated men and women whose intestines are trailing behind them. It's supposed to be part of her entourage.

Julia: Wow. That is some good imagery.

Michelle: But here's a really interesting thing, is that there is a similar incident in a Scandinavian tale called Laxdaela Saga in which there's a character-, this warrior falls asleep and he has a vision where a woman comes to him, cut him open and replaces his innards with brushwood. The woman turns out to be his guardian Idis, which I'll explain in a second and did this as protection. The next day he's in battle and he's mortally wounded and everyone thinks he's dead but the next morning after that, so two days after the original dream/vision, he wakes up and he's fine. And he says that he had this trans-state dream where the woman, came back to him in the night and put his stomach back. So in Norse mythology and cosmology, there's the concept of the Disir, which is the women ancestors, like your ancestral guardians.

Michelle: So not everyone who's a woman who dies as your ancestor becomes your, Disir. The thought must be something you opt into because they're hands on as this tale indicates. And then Idis is the singular for Disir. But yeah, it's interesting because a lot of the stories that we have from her, are post-Christianization and this other story from a different region is so similar that it's really hard to dismiss it and it makes you wonder, what was the original meaning of this? So the going academic theory is that the more negative aspects of her character were, probably exaggerated in Christian Times. One of the interesting things though is that when they're discussing her dual sided nature, they talked about her long nose or her iron nose and a common theory is wondering if this is an association with a bird of prey.

Michelle: I don't believe that there's any actual folkloric evidence for this, but I personally associate her with barn owls or other birds of prey. So to me that rings true. But it's really interesting because, based on the really common story, she seems like a totally terrifying figure. The medieval church had a really hard time getting rid of her worshipers. In these letters that we have from the period, they were constantly complaining about these sinners who wouldn't stop leaving food for Perchta on the night of her feast evening because it was supposed to help them give prosperity and wellbeing in the coming year.

Julia: That's hard to give up.

Michelle: Right? And there's another specific complaint of people who would rather chance of Domina Perchta, than say their prayers to the Virgin Mary. She was clearly very beloved figure. One of the other interesting things that's also really striking is that there are ... I know you all did an episode on the Krampus and she has these creatures associated with her called Perchten, which are kind of similar. They're these huge goat men type things. And she would have, around the time of epiphany when her festivals sort of overlapped with the Christian stuff. They would go on these marches with bells and loud noises throughout the city. And to an outsider, this looks weird. These look like demons. But the thinking was, oh, we're dressing up like this and it's so scary that it's going to scare the bad forces.

Michelle: We're making all this noise and it's going to scare the bad spirits away. And it was this whole festival dedicated to her. There're actually parts of the Alps where this is still done. So there's a lot of other smaller pieces. She's really associated with the spindle and with spinning. There's a lot of stories that associate her with orphan children or lost children. In the pagan community we call it UPG, which stands for Unverified Personal Gnosis. So I don't know if this is UPG or if this is a decent academic step from the Lord that we have, but to me she seems very much to be a deity of the in between spaces. She's up the wilderness. She is taking care of these children who died before they were named or who were orphaned, who didn't belong to anyone.

Michelle: And yeah, it's [inaudible] I mentioned earlier, a lot of people when reading the sources ... So I mentioned Frau Holda a couple times who's sort of a similar figure but we don't have enough time to fully dig into her, but she's also really interesting. But to me they always gave off really different vibes. And it was one of those things where, I don't know if this is my personal feelings getting in the way with the academic sources, but one of the things that I think is very interesting is that the existing practitioners do not think that Perchta and Frau Holda are the same. They have them as two separate entities and their practices.

Julia: It sounds like your instincts are pretty spot on, and is establishing context and provenance almost an important part of your vetting process?

Michelle: Yeah, at this point it's been a while since anyone new came. Freya has been in my life for 12 years, probably. Perchta, I would say 8 to 10, I'm not 100% for sure. Like I said, a lot of this research that I did was actually a while ago. I had to do some refreshing for this episode, which is interesting, but if you're practicing it every day, you're not necessarily remembering all of the academic sources. Perchta is just a really fascinating figure to me because she, at first glance, seems like this horrifying figure. I had this running joke with Lisette Alvarez who does Kalila Stormfire and who is also a practicing pagan. And I've been kind of mulling on the idea of what pagan horror looks like. I really want to tell some kind of a pagan horror story because I've noticed that like, so much of horror is steeped in the patriarchy or Christianity or both. It's like, Satan's the bad guy and he's coming to get you. This isn't very scary to me though.

Amanda: The tree came alive. Cool, can I meet them?

Michelle: So I had this recurring joke of talking to Lisette and I'm like, I don't know ... But the problem is that if we have deities like this. I have this and Loki and Vilnius or like on my personal pantheon and those, to someone with zero context, they all seem terrifying. But there are also, and this is one of the things that originally drew me to paganism, is that they represent just because something isn't pretty doesn't mean it doesn't have value. And just because something doesn't fit into a super clean cut box doesn't mean it has value. And I think that that was for me growing up in this area of the country where I did not fit in at all. Being queer and pagan and not having very many friends at school. All of this really resonated with me from a pretty young age even though I didn't find Perchta until I was 20, 22 or something.

Amanda: Quite like finding value in those who might be [crosstalk] at first glance.

Michelle: Yeah. It's one of those things where it's like a chicken or the egg conundrum. It's funny actually because I joke about how I don't want to hang out with Odin because Odin is terrifying. And like in the pagan community, Odin has a reputation for putting his people through the fucking ringer.

Julia: Well given his stories, that doesn't surprise me.

Amanda: Yeah, makes sense.

Michelle: It's interesting to me from like a chicken and the egg perspective because at the same time, I joke about not wanting to hang out with Odin, but then I look at my personal pantheon and I also look at ... I made a list because I just turned 30 and had an existential crisis for a solid six weeks beforehand like you do.

Amanda: That seems pretty speedy. Good job.

Michelle: I worked through it fast.

Amanda: All things considered. It's very efficient.

Michelle: But the sheer amount of major life events that I had in my 20s, It's like, maybe it's a good thing that I had an initiatory goddess in my personal team of people to, not people, but entities to come to and be like, please help.

Amanda: Well maybe the plot of your horror movie is that people think that there's a monster, but actually that monster is their god or a deity here to help and they have to look past their first impression to get there.

Michelle: Yeah, I think it's-

Amanda: The horror was societal conditioning, the whole time. Spooky.

Michelle: Too real. But yeah, so basically, that's skimming the surface of Perchta. There's more to get into. There's some interesting possible connections between Frau Holda we talked about also Walpurga who was-, it's super unclear whether she was originally a goddess who was turned into a saint or if she was a saint based on a goddess.

Julia: Kind of like Brigid. Saint Brigid.

Michelle: Yeah, it's real confusing but that's basically, that's Perchta. I personally celebrate her towards the first week of January after you all-, first week of Januaryish and her and Freya are both near and dear to my heart even though they certainly have their scary aspects.

Julia: For sure. Michelle, thank you so much. This was such a great episode. We really appreciate having you on. Would you like to plug your stuff?

Michelle: Yeah. So I'm a writer and a podcaster like we said at the beginning of the episode. I do Serendipity City, which is an alt 1920s actual play, very ...

Julia: Beautiful.

Michelle: Gay, anti-capitalist ...

Julia: You called?

Michelle: Right? Then I also created Unplaced which is beautifully acted by Cole Burkhardt. It's a story about a woman who wakes up one day to find out that no one can see or hear her and everyone she knows is slowly forgetting about her. In many ways it is a story about mental illness and queerness, and we are working on season two right now and hope to be debuting that soon. Oh no.

Julia: Amazing.

Amanda: Beautiful. Can you tell us if season two is available now, just in case that's when this comes out?

Michelle: Season two is available now actually.

Julia: There we go.

Amanda: Yay! It will be true at some point.

Julia: At some point.

Michelle: Hopefully. Writing is so hard.

Amanda: I need a [crosstalk 01:10:02].

Julia: Writing is hard. All right Michelle, thank you so much and remember listeners to stay creepy.

Amanda: Stay cool.