The Fylgjen – Guardian Animal Spirits

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by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

In the Norse traditions the Fylgjen (Old Norse: Fylgjur = followers) are guardian spirits. The concept of Fylgjur was adopted by today’s German Heathens and Germanic Pagans, though the guardians prayed to were originall the Idisen (Old Norse: Disir. > https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/its-a-girl-thing-germanic-heroines-warriors-seers-witches-and-goddesses-part-1/ ). Every human being and every Asen and Wanen deity has at least one such guardian spirit representing the specific soul energies and personality traits of its charge and always gently guiding them back to who they truly are. These spirits usually take the form of an animal and in Scandinavia they are said to take on the shape of young females also on occasion.

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Thunar had his goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngjöstr, Freija had her cats, Ingvi-Fro his boar Gullinborsti, Heimdall his rooster Gullinkampi and his faithful horse Gullintop, Wotan his wolves Geri and Freki and his two ravens Hugin and Munin, and so forth.

It is notable that the Jöten and Thursen (giants) do not possess Fylgjen. What would they need protecting or guarding from? Also they are the forces of nature embodied and nature is endowed with an immeasurable multitude of facets and soul energies. And how would you lead nature back to itself? This, it seems, is necessary for simpler creatures but certainly not nature.

Traditionally Fylgjen would take the shape of regional animals (Germanic spirituality was irrevocably tied to land, soil, family and fate).

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Fylgjen don’t show themselves to their charges until they reveal themselves to them in the final hour of death. However, there is one exception. It was believed that they show themselves to those who possess the “second face”, people with special connections to the spirit world, Sibyllen (seers), Alruner (witches) amongst others.

If you do not possess the gift it is still possible to find out what or who your Fylgje is. According to folklore you must wrap a handkerchief around the blade of a knife three times. Hold up the knife at the ends of the handkerchief and begin thinking of or speak the names of the animals that come to mind. When the blade slips through the handkerchief and falls to the ground you know which animal represents your Fylgje – the last one you thought of.

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Other names for the Fylgjen are Forynia, Vardivil, Vardögl, Vardöiel und Vardygr, Folgie or Ham(ingja).

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