Dominus Ingui: a romanized Freyr

Two days ago, on the 21st of January, I performed the first of twelve monthly sacrifices to Freyr. It was one of those devotional acts I do every month to a limited number of deities, so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on the Vanic public altar, left an apple on it, and uttered a few words. A couple of hours later, I started taking notes on something that’s been brewing in my mind for a long time: a Romanized cult of Freyr! Today, I decided to go through with it.

I have already written about my relationship with Him, so I won’t expand too much on it. Suffice to say that Freyr is my longest standing devotion, sparked by a curious look at the mythology section of an encyclopaedia and resisting through my several religious shifts, as I moved from one tradition to another in search of my own. He was there when I was closer to modern Druidry, certainly when I became a heathen, and survived the final shift to Roman polytheism. At some point, the probability of me Romanizing Him became high, but I resisted it because I wanted the transformation to be respectful, both of Roman and Norse traditions. The simple creation of a syncretic form like Silvanus-Fricco or the mere introduction of Germanic elements into Latin ritual just wouldn’t do. So I had to think about it, let it brew, and come up with a balanced and appealing format.

The move might draw criticism from both Roman and Norse polytheists, yet both can be easily addressed. The former may find solace in the historical precedent of Greek, Egyptian, Celtic, and other foreign deities being Romanized and introduced into the religious life of the religio, even in Rome itself. Think of the Dioskouri, Hercules, Isis, Osiris, Cybele, and Epona; think of all the gods and goddesses that were given a Roman look and ritual in the provinces, not all of them fully syncretised, like Sucellus, Endovellicus, and Nehalennia. Of course, one might point out that the ritus graecus of Roman religious ceremonies was just another form of ritus romanus and that cult practices of foreign deities were often adapted. Which is true, but none of that prevents the Latinization of a non-Latin cult. On the contrary, it provides us with several precedents and models. And if you say the case of Freyr is not historical, my answer is that I’m not a re-enactor: a living religion naturally takes in and adapts new elements.

The same mutability is also true for Norse polytheism. The fact that none of the Vanir was Romanized in the past – if you ignore Tacitus’ description of the Germanic world – doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen today. The location of Europe’s far north allowed for a greater isolation of its religions and no doubt it would have been a different story if, instead of the Baltic, Scandinavia was by the Mediterranean. It’s basically a matter of proximity and close ties, something modern-day technology took care of. And if you’re into reconstructing a living religion, as opposed to re-enacting it, then you have to accept that new practices will take shape. The issue, I’d argue, is not with the appearance of the new, but rather the form it takes. Namely, if it is a respectful adaptation of both the original tradition of the god and the host culture of His cult. That’s a balance I tried to create and it’s also a very Roman thing: respect towards the traditional orthopraxy extended even to foreign deities, but it also required a degree of conformity to Roman social rules. Cybele is a good historical example of just that.

This series is divided into several posts on different elements of a Romanized Freyr, including a comparison with several Roman gods, proposed rituals, and a drawing of the god by my own hand. Some things will simply be a Latin translation of old Norse, but others will bear more substantial changes.

1. Presenting and comparing
2. Titles and aspects
3. Symbols
4. Feast days
5. Ritual Tools
6. Rituals (1)
7. Rituals (2)
8. Rituals (3)
9. Rituals (4)
10. Rituals (5)
11. Games et al.
12. 63 Adorations
13. Depiction
14. Other Vanir gods

One final note: I don’t believe Freyr is the same god as any Roman god. I take Him as a separate entity originating from northern Europe, which is why the Latinization allowed room for the preservation of a Norse identity.

4 thoughts on “Dominus Ingui: a romanized Freyr

  1. “And if you’re into reconstructing a living religion, as opposed to re-enacting it, then you have to accept that new practices will take shape.”

    Thank you for this, it needs to be said much more than it is.

  2. This is lovely. Thank you for sharing this with us. Echoing Skye’s comment, thank you for saying what needs to be said and understood about living religions versus “play acting the past.”

    Both my husband and I are devotees of Freyr. There aren’t any noticeable Latin/Roman aspects to our religious practices, but I certainly enjoyed reading about yours, and I’m sure my husband will too. 🙂

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