Sjofn is only mentioned in passing in the Eddas and skaldic lore. According to Snorri, the word sjafni (“love, affection”) was derived from her name. The Gylfaginning states that Sjofn is greatly concerned with turning people’s minds to love; the word used for “mind” is hugr, a broader term encompassing consciousness, intuition, emotion, and intellectual processes. Sjofn’s power affects a person at the deepest level of being, touching all facets of the soul. It is real frith, love and harmony that binds people together, the love of family, tribe, nation, and even of the world and life itself.
Frith is an Old Saxon word meaning “fruitful peace, joy”--a condition that automatically existed from birth between all members of a kin group and could be created between other people through such bonds as marriage, allegiance between a chieftain and his followers, and friendship. Kinfolk were united by mutual self-interest and self-sacrifice, bound in loyalty, peace, support, and joy. Frith unions other than blood kinship could only happen through the giving of gifts. In giving a gift, a person gave a part of the soul to the other, a physical manifestation of love and goodwill. Frith was the very core of the soul, the seat of a person’s humanity, the wellspring of all thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is the love Sjofn seeks to inspire.
Sjofn is connected to both sources of frith: kinship and gifts. She is involved in creating love where it did not exist before--marriage, new friendships, social and political alliances--and in restoring frith where it has been strained or broken.
I see her in the garden behind Frigg’s hall leaning on a tree. She seems rather plain for a love goddess. Her hair is an ordinary brown. Her voice is soft, light, and quick, and she has a subtle, worldly sense of humor. She puts her arm around me and leads me out of the garden.
We go to the home of a quarreling couple. She talks with both husband and wife, sitting them down at the table with her arm around them. She understands and empathizes equally with both. Afterward she goes outside to a meadow and sits beside a young girl. Sjofn talks to her of boys, now teasing and coy; she is suddenly more beautiful. Her hair is a tawny light brown with a hint of red, wavy and full. Her mouth is strong and sensual, her eyes gray-green and striking.
She next goes to a great hall and sits with leaders of nations and armies, trying to reconcile their differences, acting as diplomat. She is a chameleon, her appearance and manner changing from moment to moment. Her manner is warm and kindly, but uncompromising; she has empathy with old and young, men and women, rich and poor.
I see her on a rooftop during a festival. I sense the great love she feels for the crowd below, the stars, and the very air. Now she is in her late twenties. Her love is a love of gentleness, not lust. She is quiet, with deep humor and strong charisma.
Suddenly we are back in the garden, at the tree--an apple tree. She pulls off an apple, bites it, and laughs.
The few facts known about Sjofn and my impressions of her in trance point to broader aspects of love--the camaraderie and loyalty that hold societies together, the closeness and warmth that bind families, the joy that makes life worthwhile. Sjofn is a goddess for all, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful, foolish and wise. Adaptable, tolerant, and empathetic, she is able to deal with an infinite variety of situations.
A ritual to Sjofn could be performed for any situation where harmony is desired--disruptive homes, bad work situations, meetings of kindreds with differing ideas, or even worldwide political conditions. Sjofn can also be called on to help select and bless gifts.
Muted shades--especially blues and greens--that promote harmony and calm might be used as altar decorations or clothing. An understated and subtle yet aesthetic altar is best for Sjofn. Try to reach a state of peace and contentment beforehand. Think of all the individuals, groups, places, activities, and things you love that make you glad to be alive. You could put some symbols of these on your altar. You might also want some people for whom you have particular affection to join you in this rite.
If you are doing the ritual to remedy some unpleasant condition or situation, take a few moments at some point during the ritual to clearly identify what the actual problems are and try to see what you can do to make things better. Visualize the situation as you want it to be, harmonious and friendly. Don’t expect Sjofn to turn things around if you don’t do your part. Similarly, don’t visualize the situation being remedied by gaining power over everyone else; Sjofn is not vengeful.
If others do the ritual with you, share some food and drink at the end. If you are alone, call or write loved ones afterward. Go do something celebratory where there will be lots of people.
Sjofn encompasses a world spirit, a reveling in the experience of being human. She is the specialness in everyday events, the joy of being in the present, the richness of contact with one’s fellows. She is both carnival and bedtime story, reveler and sister, joy and comfort, plenty and peace.
Call to Sjofn
Goddess of the gateway,
the open ear, the open heart, the open mind;
Goddess of the kind heart,
love-glad, joy-proud, life-strong;
Goddess of the wise heart,
bringer of frith, keeper of peace, mender of vows.
Goddess of the two sides, Goddess of the table,
Friend to men and women,
Goddess of love,
Goddess of the world--
Sjofn, we need you now.
Sjofn, Love Goddess,
Sjofn, we need you now.
Sjofn, we need you now . . .