From now on I will try to post each journey the next day. Except for fixing typos (which are many when you are typing with eyes closed), they are not revised.
Outside, rain and damp, windy darkness…a boom of thunder, a flash of light… no weather to go abroad, but I can go within, breathing deeply, slowly. Focusing, centering, drawing inward I seek my place on the mountain and the path away and through the forest, and come out onto the plain of Midgard at dusk. In the last light, Bifrost glimmers, sunlight through cloud. Together, Raven and I fly upward, and come to the great gate.
Heimdall smiles in welcome. “This night, the gods meet at Thruthheim,” he says. “I think that Sif will make you welcome there.”
I pass through the gate and make my way along the road to Thrutheim’s lofty walls. On the ground outside I see a number of round boulders strewn about like children’s toys—they /are/ children’s toys—Magni and Modhi have been playing. But these toys will not suffer for being left outside in the rain and snow. A light snow is falling here, but from the lower distances I can hear a roll of thunder. Then I realize it is the rumble of chariot wheels I heard, for here is Thor, forging through the heavens. His goats‘ hooves strike sparks from the air, his wheels rattle along. He brings the chariot down, and Thjalfi runs from the stables behind the hall to take their bridles and lead them away. His beard blazes red in the last light of the sun. His cloak is russet fur, lined with bright red, and his tunic is blue.
Thor shakes snow from his cloak, starts toward the door, and sees me standing there.
“Hail lord,” I call, “and thank you for the rain.”
“Are you late too?” He laughs. “Come then, and get warm by the fire.” He looks at me more closely “Ah, you are the one who paints pictures. Look at me well, and show me swinging Mjolnir to bring blessings down.” He stands for a moment, hammer upraised so that I can contemplate him “I stand upon my mother’s strong earth, and bring down blessings from my father’s wind.” He waits a moment to make sure I have got that, then mounts the steps, waving to me to follow.
At least every one will be too focused in the entry of their lord to worry much about me. I follow Thor into the hall. In the long central hearth a good fire is burning. Trestle tables are set up to either side. He strides toward the table at the end that is set up before the high seat where Sif is already sitting. The mouth-watering scent of roast beef fills the air. I slide in on a bench at the end. Trenchers of wheat bread are already distributed. Servants are going around, laying slices of beef on the bread. Another maid comes by to refill cups from a pitcher of beer. Looking up the table, I can see that what they are bringing for Thor is a whole haunch, and the drinking horn set by his plate is gallon size. The other principal gods and goddesses are seated to either side
Everyone eats their fill, fruits and vegetables following the meat, with plenty of good bread and butter and cheese. But presently all are filled, and the utensils are cleared away. Now Sif leaves her place and returns with a large, silver mounted drinking horn. She bears it first to her husband. Thor rises and takes it in his powerful hands. He lifts the horn.
“A toast,” he calls, “to those who have labored to preserve my mother. To those who struggle to guard Midgard from their own mistakes and greed, to rein in those whose actions would open the gates for the jotnar to come in. Let those who fight for protection call on me to aid.” He drinks deeply, then hands the horn back to Sif, who bears it to Odin.
He lifts the horn—“ “To the skalds,” he calls, “to those who write the words and tell the stories and make the movies that alert men to their danger and inspire them to fight. Let them call on me and on Bragi for aid!”
Next, Sif takes the horn to Frigga. “I raise this horn to honor the hall and the Lady of this hall,” she says, holding it. “May your strength and sweetness always temper that of your lord. Give your blessing, lady, to all things that grow.”
The horn goes back and forth, and each guest speaks a few words of salutation or blessing. We ask the gods to save the earth, but they are asking us to reverse our own deeds. As we honor them, they honor us as well. Thor is a single champion, but even he appreciates those who make his job easier.
A door in the side of the hall opens, and Modhi and Magni come in, already bigger than an ordinary human, though they barely come up to Thor’s shoulder. He gives them food from his own plate, and they run out again. Thruth has joined her mother, and is carrying a second horn of mead down the other side of the table. She has her mother’s sweet smile, but her hair is the same fiery red as Thor’s. And eventually, she comes to me.
The horn looks larger than it did from a distance. I wonder if I will be able to lift it, much less hold it properly to drink. Thruth keeps her hand beneath it, and I find that I can manage after all. Together we hold it up. What can I pledge? I will seek more reusable plates for my kindred to use at meetings, and send an extra donation to the organization of my friend who is a warrior on the seas.
I do not think anyone can hear me in the noise of the hall, but Thor is watching. He catches my eye and grins. I hear his voice in my head—- “Your folk have a hard fight ahead of them. We cannot guarantee you will win, but we are in the fight together. What matters is that you try!”
Thruth carries the horn away. The feast is over. Various guests are breaking into groups to drink, or play Hneftafl, or sing. It is time for me to depart. I ask Thruth to give my thanks to her father and make my way outside, where I find that someone has provided Raven with a nice pile of innards to pick through.
Together we make our way back through the Gate and down the bridge, then across the plain to the Tree and so home. Outside the rain has stopped. I breathe in and out, stretch my stiff back, and return.