A month for Freyr: day 25

In the universe of fertility deities, it is often the case that their devotees are rural folks. This is hardly surprising since They’re Powers of the earth and either drawn people who share that connection or influence their followers into building one. But what about the city dwellers? In an increasingly urbanized world, how can those who live in urban areas stay connected with and honour a god/dess of the fields? The answer will vary depending on the deity in question, but there are several options in Ingui’s case.

The first thing to have in mind is that even in a city there are ways of keeping a practical connection with the earth. There may be a community garden where you can grow some of your food or, at the very least, flowers you can look after. If you have a terrace or a balcony you can also cultivate a small amount of plant life, including fruit (strawberries grow well in large pots); even a window with enough room for vases can do the trick. In some cases, city parks and botanical gardens have adoption programmes, so you can always help taking care of plants even if you don’t the means to have your own. Finally, a good thing about cities is the abundance of options: organic food can sometimes be hard to get in villages or small cities, especially if there’s no farm that grows it in the region. In a large urban centre, however, an organic market can be a lot easier to find, which makes it a lot easier to have a diet that’s in tune with the ethos of deities of the earth and fields.

Fertility gods are also a lot more than farming Powers. In Ingui’s case, I’ve been pointing out His connection with community life, so one way of being a practicing devotee in an urban context is to help keeping friðr. Get involved in the management of your building or neighbourhood, participate in local assemblies and your city’s political life. Be an active member of the community, but be so in a constructive manner: be a mediator, a creator of consensus, a deal maker that eases tensions and seeks sustainable solutions. Nurture the bonds of mutual protection and assistance that keep your community together.

A city dweller can also honour Ingui by doing volunteer work that attends to the needs of others or looks after the environment. Help at a local homeless or animal shelter, join a trash-picking group, donate food or clothes, aid in an LGBT event, set a bird house in your balcony (especially in winter), leave food out for stray animals or adopt one. And none of this excludes trips to the countryside where you can simply walk to get in touch with Nature or assist local groups.

An Ingui devotee doesn’t have to necessarily live in a rural setting. Of course, if you can own and work at a farm, there’s a lot you can do to pay Him tribute and keep a way of life in tune with Frey’s ethos. But many of us and indeed an increasing number of human beings are urban dwellers, so we have to consider the options. There’s nothing wrong with urban life per se – the problem are unsustainable cities. So honour Ingui by doing your part in keeping yours sustainable or making it so: recycle, use collective or alternative means of transportation, maintain an earth-respecting diet, look after your city’s green areas and add to them if possible, nurture your community by taking part in its management or helping out those in need. In short, respect the earth and reflect Ingui’s generosity. That’s something that can be done both in a rural and urban context.

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