Yesterday, the theme of Raven Radio was that of giants, more specifically a paper on giants and worship by Gro Steinsland. I personally didn't really care for the paper, it felt like he was trying to be more...I don't know...more complex than he needed to be to make the same point.
Of course, he used the examples of Skadhi and Gerd as being examples of members of the giant race that received worship. He pointed out that Skadhi was still referred to as a giantess where as Gerd wasn't. He talked about potential hieros gamos type rituals with Gerd and Freyr being the focus, and of course he talked about the term Mornir and the Volsi.
Throughout the entire paper, I couldn't help but shake my head at how he consistently ignored the simplest explanations for his observations. For example, the observation about Skadhi still being referred to as a giantess vs Gerd who doesn't seem to be after marriage.
For me, Skadhi is kind of like the cool aunt by marriage whose marriage didn't quite work out but things are still amicable and there is an alliance there. She maybe takes her maiden name again but still, she's considered family for all intents and purposes. Her actions demonstrate this, the family knows that this aunt is on their side, even if she's no longer technically family.
Gerd is simply the aunt that stays married. There is no ambiguity there, she's definitely family, she doesn't have that 'outer' aspect like Skadhi does.
And for me, the crux of this entire argument as to whether or not giants should be offered to, is right there: alliances, deeds and worth. Giants are simply another race that live in the outer-yard; like people, some are destructive assholes, some are good people, some are indifferent. Is the human world solely populated by 'good' or 'bad' people? Can we apply such a dichotomy to an entire race? No, we're all multi-faceted beings that fall somewhere along a spectrum, or potentially many spectra of 'good' and 'bad' (the terms 'good' and 'bad' are subjective terms, one man's 'good' is another's 'bad'). Why would we not assume that the plethora of wights and giants are also multi-faceted? As a Heathen, I judge a person by their deeds, why wouldn't I apply that same criteria to other beings? They are their deeds just as much as we are ours.
I've often heard the justification for offering to the more destructive giants as being that of appeasement. A kind of 'you'd better offer to ___ or you're going to have a rough time of it' sentiment. While I disagree with the sentiment, I can at least understand it. Folktales are full of examples of this kind of thing.
It's a little like the giant version of a Yakuza protection racket, but at least it's understandable from the POV of the worldview.
However I will *never* understand the sucking up to destructive giants thing. It's one thing to pay them off so that they'd leave your community alone, but it's quite another to try and gain some kind of favour. It's very reminiscent of Grima Wormtongue sucking up to Sauron in 'The Lord of the Rings'. Sauron doesn't care for Grima, Grima is just a tool for him to get what he wants and Sauron will use him accordingly. There is no reciprocal relationship, just exploitation, with Grima believing that he'll be elevated in status for his adherence to Sauron. These beings aren't misunderstood, the only misunderstanding that exists in this is that which leads to the kind of apologetics you often see online, the 'Oh, he didn't mean to do that', or the 'But the gods were sooooo mean to him and so that's why he conspired to kill Baldur'...ad nauseum. It's all apologetics for what essentially comes down to (at least in Loki's case), poor impulse control.
Although, having written that, I'm almost dreading coming across blog posts of 'UPG' that Loki has tourettes or autism and just can't help himself...
I grew up in a moorland area, where the hills often look like sleeping forms of giants, and as a kid it wasn't a huge leap to imagine those moors as being where you might come across a giant. Along with the myriad of other folktales I grew up with, it wasn't hard to image yet another type of being populating the wild fells along side the black 'demon' dogs, boggarts, Granny Greenteeth and barrow wights.
Giants have never been a problem for me, neither has living in a world populated by beings both seen and unseen. But I would no more seek out the destructive giants than I would a crack den, and that's all there is to it for me.
In other news, my breathing seems to have gotten better and I'm much relieved.
And the catalyst for this turnaround?
The inclusion of locally picked elderflowers in my iced green tea. The irony isn't lost on me either, that after all the medication, a plant that's linked to Frau Holle has helped me, a woman that worships Holle, turn the corner and get back on the road to health and haelu again.
I went running again for the first time in almost two months last week :).