Get of Fenris Reinterpreted

Get of Fenris

I previously revised the Silver Fangs of Werewolf the Apocalypse to be more shamanic, now here is the Get of Fenris revised to have a much more legitimately Nordic approach to gender.

Get of Fenris

Few tribes are as misunderstood as the Get of Fenris, partly influenced by their fearsome reputation and partly because the loudest members are often those who are least connected to their heritage. Though they are most often perceived as the “Scandinavian tribe,” their bloodline runs through all Germanic peoples, and many of them are descendant from Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Angles, Saxons, Franks, etc. Thus, many Get come from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England, and even France, not to mention North America. A lot of the stereotype of the Get as a blustering, macho, sexist braggart comes from young people of Germanic descent discovering they are “Nordic werewolves,” and not having a clear idea of what that means, thus falling on Viking cliches. Nordic, Swedish, and Danish Get are often much more restrained and “proper,” and when possible try to set their wayward relatives straight.

Beliefs

Their mythology is similar to the Norse pagans, but different in several key points. In fact, they believe that the Norse followed a corrupted version of their own. According to the Get, the Earth was not created from a dead giant, but is a still-living giantess: Jord, the Mother of All, a being who is also Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Chief among Jord’s children was Nerthus, the first woman to practice seidhr, the art of the shaman, and who was the first priestess of the Vaneir, the original inhabitants of Scandinavia. Nerthus and her people were dedicated to protecting Jord from the forces of Niddhog, that monstrous dragon who is constantly gnawing on the World Tree, and who other people call the Wyrm. The Vaneir worshipped numerous beings, including Jord (the Earth), Sol (the sun), Mani (the moon), and Fenris (the Lord of War, greatest enemy of Niddhog), and certain Vaneir were selected by Fenris to join with his children, producing the original werewolves.

Eventually a new group of humans entered Scandinavia from Asia, fleeing the destruction of Troy. The Vaneir called these Trojans the “Aesir,” which means “men from Asia,” and Njord, high chief of the Vaneir welcomed them into his land. He and the Aesir chief, Othin, traded many gifts and made promises of peace. However, Othin was hungry for knowledge and respect, seeking to learn all the secrets of heaven and earth. He seduced Freyja, daughter of Njord and the greatest seidkonur, learning from her secrets that were meant for women’s ears alone, and he impressed many of the Vaneir with his own magic tricks so that they worshipped him as a god greater than Fenris or even Jord. This enraged many Get of Fenris, and they battled against Othin and his sons, but neither side could win, and eventually a truce was reached. Both the cult of Othin and of Fenris could be allowed to co-exist, and both could preach their creed, and they both would work together against the forces of Niddhog, and the Get would sail with the Norse as “berserkers.” But in punishment for daring to learn seidkonur, Othin must let Fenris tear out his left eye – which the sorcerer agreed to.

Still, despite this truce, the cult of Othin and the Aesir eventually overshadowed Fenris, and many Get of Fenris felt that they had been tricked by the Cunning One. But as the Get worked with the tribes of the Norse to battle the forces of Niddhog, including his dragons and giants (later called the “Fomori”), so in the end Fenris is content.

Totem

The Get’s totem is, of course, Fenris Wolf. They believe themselves to be his descendents – he was the first wolf, embodiment of Jord’s rage against Niddhog, Jormungand, and all the monsters that threaten her. She produced Fenris to battle the monsters, but was horrified to discover that he was too powerful, too savage. He kept on growing and growing, destroying everything in his path, and Jord feared that soon he would devour Sol and Mani, and then her. So she bound him, bound him with chains he could not break, until Ragnarok, when he would be released against her enemies.

The Get know themselves to be Fenris’ children, and to have his rage within them. They know that his rage need to be unleashed against the enemies of the Earth, but also that it must be controlled or it will get too out of control. Their godi often lecture them on the importance of balance, their skalds sing of it. Many Get have an image of the bound Fenris Wolf that they keep at their side and often study to remind themselves.

Apocalypse and Death

Perhaps more than any other tribe, the Apocalypse is a defining part of Get ideology. Many say that it was a Get, the greatest seidkonur of them all, who first prophesied the End Times, telling her tribe that they must prepare for it. And the Get have. They are dedicated to not only being great warriors, but also great explorers, for if they are to have a chance at Ragnarok, they need all the knowledge and resources they can. Those who die in battle go to Valhalla, to build the army of spirit warriors, those who die through exploration go to Hlesey, but those who die of accident, sickness, or old age go down to Nifelheim, the land of ghosts and cold. It is said that nothing frightens a Get more than this “straw-death,” and once they feel their strength fade the final time, many Get will fling themselves into one final battle, determined to take out as many enemies as they can so that Valhalla will open its doors for them and they can help their gods prepare for Ragnarok.

Gender

The Get’s relationship to gender is complicated. The traditional view is that Jord, the Earth, created male and females with particular purposes in mind. The males are closer to Fenris, and Fenris’ rage, while the females are closer to Jord and her insight. Thus, warriors are meant to be male and seers female, and as the chiefs were expected to be warriors, most chiefs are male as well. Other roles (such as skalds and tricksters), have always been considered more gender-neutral.

Certain Gets’ comments on “women warriors” (as well as the behaviour of the younger, often non-Scandinavian Get, who are revelling in their new-found “macho-ness”) have given the tribe a reputation for sexism among many other Garou. However, very few respectable Get have any issue with female warriors or even female leaders, certain almost none actually born in Scandinavia. Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland have had female leaders for a very long time. Besides, there have always been females who have been filled with rage and taken the battle to the enemy. For many more traditional Get, the far more concerning thing is male theurges, or “seidkonur” as they call it. The secret ways of seidhr were taught by Jord to her “daughters” — and for a long time were often considered the province of females and females alone. According to Get legend, males who practice seidhr are very vulnerable to the temptations of the Wyrm, easily corruptible by desires for power or forbidden knowledge. It is interesting that an unusually high percentage of Get born under the crescent moon are female, and those that are male frequently have a difficult time. Though it is no longer technically illegal for males to practice seidhr, the few males that do often have a hard time earning the trust and respect of their tribe. As a result, many become distant and resentful of their tribe, sometimes attempting to join another one more accepting, such as Children of Gaia or Uktena, or even falling to the Wyrm.

Though many Get chiefs are men, this does not mean that all the power is within his hands. The leader is often a large and powerful male, but when he talks, there is almost always a female (possibly two) sitting behind him, frequently in the shadows – sometimes knitting. During some conferences, she will say nothing, but at others she will rise to her feet, shuffle over to the chief, and whisper in his ear. He will listen, and almost always do what she says. It is a poor chief who ignores the voice of the gods.

The Auspices

  • Berserker, “Warrior” (Ahroun). What one thinks of when the word “Get” is mentioned. More berserkers are male than female, but female ones are far less suspect than male seidkonur. Young bersekers often dream of Valhalla, eagerly leaping into battle.
  • Skald, “Storyteller” (Galliard). Those who know the teachings and stories of Jord and who pass them on to others. Alcohol is a prominent part of their rituals, and many skalds make sure to get a little tipsy before getting to work. Mead is traditional, but many skalds use other kinds. In addition to grand sagas of battle and glory, skalds love indulging in puns and word-play (especially kennings), and frequently engage in spontaneous insult competitions. A skald unable to quickly unleash a level-three kenning insult on the spot really isn’t much of a skald.
  • Godi, “Priest” (Philodox). Those who make sure everyone is following the ways of Jord.
  • Seidkonur, “Seer” (Theurge). Those who commune directly with Jord and her spirits. Usually female. It is considered “unmanly” for a male to practice Seidhr.
  • Ratatosk, “Trickster” (Ragabash). An unusual tribe for the Get, and the only one named after a mythological being (the squirrel who runs up and down the World Tree) rather than a societal role. They are there to shake things up.

The Other Tribes

The Get of Fenris have a complicated relationship with the other tribes. As traditional neighbours to the Silver Fangs and Fianna, they have had frequent clashes, but also treaties and trade, and in the end those are probably the tribes that they relate to the most. The Get take serious issue with the Silver Fangs’ claim that they “rule the north,” and have frequently been offended by the pride that the Silver Fangs take in their male theurges. Many a Get seidknour has lost her temper over a male shaman lecturing her on how to approach the spirits. That said, the Get of Fenris also largely accept the Silver Fangs as their general leaders – not the best choice, but better than the others. The Get have always respected the Fangs, even when they didn’t want to admit it – in ancient times, the Norse refused to raid east of Scandinavia because they feared the mighty witchcraft of the green-eyed “Finns.” The Fianna haven’t yet forgiven the Get for stealing France and England from them, and some Fianna kinfolk still dream of “Arturios” driving the Angles and the Saxons out, but they do recognize how much they have in common, especially with regards to the importance they place in music and personal honour. Interestingly, many Get like Black Furies; they find it refreshing to have another tribe in which almost all seers are women. Many seidkonur enjoy going for long walks with Black Fury theurges.

But in the end, it’s the Uktena that make the Get the most suspicious. A whole tribe of shamans and witches, at least half male, is something that makes the Get really uncomfortable, and their willingness to embrace people of any culture shows a disturbing lack of traditions. The more charitable Get think that Uktena are watering down their ways to nothing, while the more suspicious ones believe that the tribe as a whole may be becoming corrupted by the Wyrm.

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