This description of the Skandian religion was prepared by Vargr's player in my C&C Wilderlands game.
The life goal of any Skadian is to be remembered long past their death as a Drengr. The Skadian religious traditions support that goal.
The Skadian word Drengr might be translated as “The Man” or “Mensch”, although women can be Drengr too. A Drengr is the person you want next to you in battle, when making a difficult decisions and on your wedding day.
The basic beliefs of the Skadian tradition begin with the understanding that reality is broken into the Nine Realms and that those realms are interconnected by Yiggdrasil, or the World Tree.
Two realms frame the others, Niflheim, the northern most realm of mist, fog and ice and Muspelheim, the southern holding of fire, lava and soot.
The gods of the Skadian pantheon go where they will but reside in Asgard or Vanaheim. These two realms might be imaged as being at the center of the Nine Realms. The Aesir live in Asgard and are lead by Odin and Frigg, their children and other gods popular with the Skadians. The Asgardian’s powers represent wisdom, warcraft, family life, the crafts and others.
The Vanir live in Vanaheim and are the older gods such as Njordr, Freyr and Freya and represent fertility and sorcery or seithr.
Hel is the realm of the dead that did not achieve Drengr status and is a miserable place to await the final battle.
The final four realms are those of the people of the Realms. Midgard, home of humans, begun long ago by Ash and Embla. Jontunhiem, the wilderness home of the giant folk. Alfheim, the elven home, covered in welcoming forests and meadows. The final realm is Svartalheim, the cavernous holding of the dwarf folk.
There are many gods within the Skadian pantheon. They are divided into the the older Vanir and the Aesir. Skadians views on how to worship the gods vary. Some worship the gods in a holistic manner, viewing the gods as some sort of extended family that is to be revered. Other Skadians focus their worship on a singular god in the hopes of bringing that god’s focus onto themselves.
The Vanir Gods – Known for fertility, wisdom, magic, and the ability tell the future
Njordr- Controls the seas and sea travel, aids merchant skills and building wealth, ensures crop and fishing success.
Njordr Sister-Wife- Never named mother of Freyr and Freya
Freyr- Aids rulers, prayed to to ensure virility and fertility, sees that the weather benefits the people
Freya- The patron of marriage, sex, fertility and cats, benefits those interested in magic, revered for her beauty, sends the Valkyries to harvest the honored dead.
Ullr- The winter god and patron of archers.
Heimdall- Known for his incredible observational abilities and foresight, guardian of the Bifrost
The Aesir Gods- This family of gods are primarily related to each other through blood or marriage.
Odin- The chief of the Aesir, Odin’s blessing is sought by those seeking wisdom, and knowledge. Odin focuses on leadership, he created the runes and poetry.
Frigg – Odin’s wife focuses on marriage and more specifically, childbirth.
Thor- One of Odin’s sons, he is the lord of storms and physical strength, he is the protector of men, sacred trees and forests.
Baldr- Odin’s ill fated son, he was to be the inheritor of Odin’s throne in Asgard. Patron to the courageous, he was very well spoken and known as a teller of tales.
Sif – The god of the fertility of Midgard in general and specifically grain crops. She is also Thor’s wife.
Bragi- The bard of the Aesir, this son of Odin is a gifted poet and singer. Idun’s husband
Idun-The goddess of the spring and the creator of the restorative Apples of Youth.
Loki- The mischievous trickster of the Aesir uses his ability to shapeshift to cause problems for the Aesir and others.
Signi- The goddess of compassion and faithfulness. She was rescued by Loki from her enslavement and later became his wife.
Skadians believe that there are four types of entities in the Realms and respect each.
Animals include wild creatures and domesticated animals. People, include humans, elves, dwarfs and giants and the variations within each group. The Blessed, which may be People and Animals that have been touched by the Gods such as Ratatosk and Fenrir. And the Gods themselves.
There are four duties for each Skadian to attend to in life. These duties are obligations, ceremonies, sacrifices and hosting. By meeting these duties, Skadians ensure being Drengr. Skadians see themselves having obligations to themselves, their family, their extended family or clan and their house, in that order and each larger group’s needs supersedes the previous one. These include caring for and defending oneself, providing for your family and following the leadership of your chieftain.
There are four seasons in a Skadian’s life and these are connected the the four seasons found throughout most of Midgard. Skadians hold non-seasonal ceremonies related to birth or naming, coming of age, marriage and death. Those tie directly to spring, summer, fall and winter. While individual’s ceremonies are held at varied times, the seasonal rituals are held on equinoxes and solstices.
Skadians believe that sacrifices are part of their transactions with the gods and are viewed on continuum. The greatest example of this id Odin removing his eye to gain wisdom. For something small or commonplace, an everyday sacrifice might include throwing a bit of a meal back into the fire or pouring out a swallow of mead. To ensure the success of something more important, a personal item might be buried, burned, broken or tossed into the sea. Money may also be part of a sacrifice. Finally, animals and people may be sacrificed if the blessing needed is important enough.
An interesting element of this duty is the creation of items made specifically for sacrifice. Skadian marketplaces will have a number of stalls selling either item that are imperfect and the craftsman could not correct or made intentionally to be destroyed. Likewise, very lifelike animal and people figurines are sold in some places.
Hosting travelers is another duty of the Drengr. Legends say that Odin often enjoys wandering through the Nine Realms in disguise. To avoid taking the chance of offending Odin or any other deity, Skadians welcome stranger into there homes and make them welcome. The more at home the stranger feels, the better.