Making promises and compromises to Thor
by Jessica Pape-Green
[This post was originally posted to WordPress and may have formatting errors as a result to being moved here.]
We're taking a break from the whole 30 Days thing for a story time post - just to break the monotony a bit. This one is about negotiating terms with Thor in order to get through a thunderstorm. I did make a version of this post on my personal Tumblr, so apologies to those of you who are getting it twice.
Here's the set up: My beautiful wife and I have just finished setting up for our second day of the East Gwillimbury Farmers Market. She's planning on leaving just before the market actually starts to go to a medical appointment. Clouds loom overhead, but supposedly, we're not going to get much rain. Now, I admit, something we learned on our first day at the EG market is that just because our cheaper tent weights keep tents down in bad storms over in Georgina doesn't necessarily mean they'll keep a tent down in the slightest of winds on a big parking lot with no substantial wind breaks. We figured we'd get some heavier ones next time we actually had a surplus of money. (So like... Next year? Maybe?)
So, obviously, we suffer a torrential downpour on our second day at the EG market. And by "torrential downpour," I mean there literally was no dry spots under the tent - it was only helping to keep our products from being utterly distroyed.
We were lucky in that someone came and showed us how to lower our tent down like a turtle shell over our stuff. Before that, we were just holding down a big kite. We still had to hold it down by the inner rungs, though. Reminder: our tent is made of metal. There was lightning flashing.
Now, I don't want to die any more than the average chronically depressed person¹, but I also don't want to be destitute. Our weekly sales are how we feed our family, and we are not currently in a place to be able to afford replacing a lot of damaged items. So, examining my options, I decide to pray abundantly to a god I almost never work with but desperately need help from.
Those of you who have followed this blog for a while might remember when I once braided the weather. For that, I appealed directly to Thor. But, honestly, until now, if I needed to do weatherwork, I would appeal to Frigg to please go ask Thor for me. This was usually to stave rain off a little longer, get rain over with faster, or tame winds.
Why wouldn't I appeal to Thor directly? Well, to be frank, there's stuff about his documented lore that reminds me of people who have hurt me. It's nothing against him, really, but it makes it hard to bond with him. It's much easier for me to work through Frigg instead. But this time, I'm not asking to delay a drizzle, I'm asking for safety in the midst of a dangerous storm. For that, I really felt I needed to go to the man himself.
So, I prayed. I told him that I understood why bad storms need to happen and that they can't really be rushed or altered much, but that I really, really needed protection. I told him I knew I was asking a favour, and that I would be grateful. I offered to buy him a beer.
And as I do this, an image flashes through my head of a grapevine wreath in the shape of a Thor's hammer.
Grumpily, I tell him there's no way I can do that. I'm still very new to making grapevine wreaths, and I don't have the time (or money for additional tools like framing pegs) for something so advanced.
As if in reply, I get a new mental image of a Thor's hammer painted onto our tent.
At this point, I feel like I'm in negotiations. I tell Thor in my prayers that I'm not trying to be difficult, I just really don't want to over-promise. We've been meaning to make adjustments to our tent for a while, but haven't had the time. I don't want to promise him something and not end up doing it, because that's going to cause trouble between us.
Another image flashes through my mind, this one of an altar for Thor taking up space on Frigg's altar, including theft of the mini stein I found for her in the thrift store.
I am losing my patience, but I still really need to make this negotiation work. Honestly, it's not the first time I've had to negotiate with a spirit, so I know how to handle it. I tell him that I can definitely find altar space for him and look for his own cool mini mug, but I am absolutely not stealing from his foster mother, who is my main gal. I beg, please, for understanding. All this while, I've been clutching that metal frame over our tables, being absolutely soaked by rain, my back beginning to lock up and pain me. I tell him how much I need his help. I tell him that I'm scared.
The image of the painted tent flashes through my head again.
So, honestly, I let him have it. In my prayers, I load as much of my emotion and thought as I can. I show that I am absolutely willing to give what I can, and that I do have a dire need. I share that I understand asking a price that is worthy of the work, but that also there's a morality issue of not demanding more than can be given from someone whose situation is desperate and urgent. I then add on to all of that that I am absolutely not above tattling on him to his foster mother.
I get no reply to this. So I just keep holding on and praying. I promise what I promised earlier, to give what I can in the form of altar space and libations. 20-30 minutes, the storm clears up and our cheap tent and insufficient weights have weathered the storm while better tents with sandbags didn't. ~4-5 tents went down, including one that had had someone else's tent blown into it. We were thoroughly soaked. I had to hang up my coat from the frame of the tent to dry it out (putting on a hoodie that had been left in the car) and went around barefoot most of the day because my shoes were disgustingly squishy. (It took until Monday for them to dry out.)
We spend the next while straightening everything out and getting it as dry as possible. My wife asks me who I was praying to and how it went. I tell her. She thinks for a bit, and then decides we can put some kind of Thor symbol/sigil on the tent when we fix it up in winter (wire some missing screws, patch holes, reseal it, etc) so long as it’s not an obvious Thor’s hammer, because we don’t want people making the wrong presumptions before they’ve even met us. She points out that it’s not a bad idea to put weather charms on a tent.
She leaves for a medical appointment, and I’m left to man the stall alone for a couple hours. During that time, despite the "all clear" forcast we had been given and the sunny sky, another only slightly better storm rolled in.
The tent was lowered again, I held it down by myself, and I told Thor, "Yes, yes, I hear you! I promise I won't forget!"
Not too long later, the storm passed, I again straightened everything out and dried it up, and I tied my tent to my car while grumbling about Thor's bitchiness. Like, I get where you're coming from, Dude, but that was unnecessary.
¹This, folks, is what we call "self-deprecating humour." Yes, I am chronically depressed (and medicated for it), but I'm actually in a really good place right now, so please don't barrage me with angry "concern." Thanks.