Every morning, as part of my morning rites, I make offerings to Ask and Embla. They are the first of our ancestors, the best of us. They are the first who knew the Gods, who were able to call Them by name, who were named by Them. They are the first to be taken in hand, acknowledged by our Gods and taught the arts of living by Them. What a miraculous thing and what a privilege!
For those reading who may not be familiar with Heathen cosmology, the first human beings, Ask (Ash) and Embla (Elm) were carefully sculpted from two trees found along the seashore by the three creator Gods Odin, Hoenir, and Loður. Some translations will say the wood was “driftwood” and this makes sense to me, but the actual text that we have just says “trees,” using a fairly generic word. Hoenir gave them sense, firing synapses, cognition; Odin breathed their souls into them on the momentum of the first breath He also gave them; and Loki gave them a plethora of gifts: the beating of their hearts, their sensoria – the ability to feel, see, touch, smell, taste – and He painted their skin a goodly hue (to quote the Eddas). It doesn’t specify which hue, and just as Yggdrasil partakes of every tree, (or every tree of Yggdrasil), so I believe every human being is reflected in Ask and Embla, our first man and woman.
I’ve always been struck with the image of Loki running His fingers over the cheeks of these newly crafted humans, the first of their kind, and filling the wood-turned-flesh with a panoply of bright colors. No artist sticks to one color, one hue either, and I imagine Loki working with a brilliant palette, laughing in delight as he creates vibrancy and life. Loki was our first artist!
All Gods, I think, contain the capacity and inclination for creativity, for life, for beauty. These things, after all are conduits to the divine so in some way, shape, or form, they must flow from Them too. Still, even amongst the Gods it seems to me that Loki – Loður is one of His heiti—has an enormous capacity for creative expression. Maybe it’s just that each God carries it and expresses it in Their own unique way and for Loki, I see Him as an artist and that image brings me such joy. When I paint, I call upon Him and there is a frisson of inspiration that flows from my invocation to Him and back again, and it makes my work live. That work then becomes a gift that I return to Him once more.
Hail to the Clever Husband of Sigyn.
Hail to our First and Best Artist.
Hail to this God with an eye for color,
with a heart for joy,
and hands thrumming with wonder.
May we always be willing and able
to recognize and accept
His many gifts.
About Galina Krasskova: Galina Krasskova has been a priest of Odin and Loki since the early nineties. Originally ordained in the Fellowship of Isis in 1995, Ms. Krasskova also attended the oldest interfaith seminary in the U.S.- the New Seminary where she was ordained in 2000 and where she later worked as Dean of Second Year Students for the Academic year of 2011-2012. Beyond this, she took vows as a Heathen gythia in 1996 and again in 2004. She is the head of Comitatus pilae cruentae and a member of the Starry Bull tradition.
Ms. Krasskova holds diplomas from The New Seminary (2000), a B.A. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Religious Studies from Empire State College (2007), and an M.A. in Religious Studies from New York University (2009). She has completed extensive graduate coursework in Classics (2010-2016), received a Masters in Medieval Studies at Fordham University (2019) and is currently pursuing a PhD in theology. from Fordham University. As part of her academic career Ms. Krasskova has written a number of academic articles, and also presented at various academic conferences including Harvard University, Claremont University, Fordham University, Ohio State University, Villanova University, Western Michigan University, and the City University of New York.
Galina's website: https://krasskova.wordpress.com/