I’ve been creating my needle felted goddess sculptures for about a year and a half. From the beginning, I’ve had loads of compliments everytime I post pictures of them on FaceBook, Etsy, or Instagram. Over time, my method, product, and speed have gotten much better, as these things are apt to when practiced over and over. This past Yule season I figured out how to make the skirts of my goddesses hollow so they could be tree toppers. I even figured out how to light them with tiny LEDs. I began expanding my line away from Germanic goddesses and made some Steampunk Ladies and Belly Dancers. They were fun, and I love the way they turned out, but I wanted to get back to my goddesses. I decided, however, to try a different pantheon hoping to increase sales.
I decided to create the Greek goddess Hera. She turned out beautifully. I posted photos of her on several Heathen artist and crafter groups to unprecedented acclaim. I was really pleased that Heathens responded to a Greek goddess so well.
I have made a couple of gods before, Thor and a Horned God (he was requested then the customer didn’t pay up), but they are actually more difficult and time-consuming than the goddesses. On top of that, they do not stand up without something to hold onto. I used artistic license with Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and made it very large with a long handle so he could hold it and balance. With the Horned God, he’s holding a staff to balance himself.
The week before Valentine’s Day I decided to try a grand project. I wanted to recreate Frey and Gerd kissing, from the Viking era images of the kissing couple found on gold and silver pendants. I had read a peer-reviewed paper a few years back that talked about how the ancient Norse considered anyone outside their culture as Utgardr. The author claimed that this would certainly have applied to the indigenous people of Scandinavia, the Sami. She also likened the marriage of Njord to Skadi and Frey to Gerd to a Swede or Norse man marrying a Sami woman. That made a certain amount of sense to me. I have seen arguments against it, but for my grand project, I really wanted to use that. Also, with the current political climate, I wanted to highlight the love between people of various backgrounds.
I have Heathen friends from a variety of racial backgrounds. I love that they feel drawn to the ancient gods of Northern Europe! What I love even more is that they have the strength and determination not only to ignore the normal societal pressures we all have faced from our Christian over-culture to conform, but to also face the challenge of being in a religion which includes an unfortunate few who are racist dickwads. I’d much rather stand before my gods and ancestors with my friends of color than with a fucking Nazi any day of the week! [I am tolerant and accepting of so much, but not racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic bigots. I have no time for that.]
So anyway, I spent a couple of days crafting my beautiful holy couple. I made Frey a golden haired man in Viking-era clothing and made Gerd a gorgeous woman of color in a glittering pink Victorianesque gown. I seriously love this piece! Imagine my consternation when I posted pictures of Frey & Gerd on all the same groups and social media sites that I had Hera and only a very small fraction of Heathens demonstratively liked it. Non-Heathens loved them on the other groups where I posted my photos. I am confused and saddened by this turn of events. Now, no one made a racist comment about Gerd being brown on any of the Heathen groups I posted pics on, but the lack of likes (my work always gets lots of likes) was extremely disappointing. To put real numbers to it, on one Heathen craft group Hera got twice as many likes as Frey & Gerd, on another Hera got over four times as many! What the what?!?!
I’m forced to conclude the reason behind the lack of Heathen support is because I depicted Frey and Gerd as an interracial couple. It would be one thing if the work sucked, but it doesn’t. I’m deeply disturbed and disappointed, y’all. Deeply.