To the Ocean, for the Arctic (a prayer)

Hail Aegir, Ocean, great Lord of the seas, generous host of the Aesir!

Hail Ran, Robber, great Lady of storms!

Hail the Undines, the Billows Maidens, great Ladies of the waves!

Thank You for Your myriad blessings:

The bounty of fish, invertebrates, and seaweeds which feed us

The seas which grant us passage to distant lands

The soothing waves and waters that heal us

The beauty and terror which have inspired us

The waters in which we swim and play and challenge ourselves

The vast waters that sustain our climate and create our weather, and in which our far-distant ancestors first found life

We have been deeply blessed by Your generosity, in more ways than I can count.

Please hear my petition and grant the aid I seek:

I ask that You withdraw Your hospitality from one person, for their violations of Your hospitality past, present, and intended; they have forgotten that guests owe respect and good treatment to their hosts, just as hosts are obligated to guests.

This person, known as the corporation Royal Dutch Shell, violates, again, the sea bed in some of Your coldest waters, killing small creatures to do so, and causing distress to many others through their actions, with their ultimate goal being to profit from many years of oil extraction.

The last time they intruded upon Your Arctic waters, they sent a malfunctioning ship and negligent crew, polluting the sea around them, in violation of good manners and our human laws – and despite being found guilty, they have been permitted by human agencies to return to those same waters, with that same ship, the Noble Discoverer. They have shown carelessness again this year, causing damage to another ship, the Fennica, part of this year’s Arctic drilling fleet.

Their work all along has been harmful to Your domain, as the burning of their oil contributes to the warming and acidification of the ocean, and plastics made from that oil are found in horrific quantities throughout global waters, killing sea life from the tiniest plankton to the great whales.

They know they are contributing to these problems, but they will not desist.

They know there is a 75% chance of a major oil spill in the decades they hope to be extracting oil in the Arctic, but they will not desist.

They will not desist as long as the governments of the world permit them – and the government that has legal authority to permit their Arctic drilling has allowed this. That government, mine, does NOT speak for me or for many, many others of its people, it does NOT speak for the many peoples affected by this who are not of this nation, and thousands and thousands of us have tried to stop this Arctic drilling.

Royal Dutch Shell cannot be allowed to succeed.

It is not only Royal Dutch Shell that has contributed to these global harms, but if they are successful in finding oil in the Arctic, other companies will follow their example, and make the disasters of climate change, and despoiling of the sea and land and air, even greater.

Great Hosts of the Seas, they benefited from Your gentler side before, as they benefit now: the waters are calm enough for them to proceed at all. And even when their previous trespassing ended with the wrecking of their drilling rig, the Kulluk, in stormy weather, it was only that vessel that was lost; every human made it safely home.

They will never pay You proper weregild for the lives of Your waters their actions have taken: the turtles strangled, the seabirds choked, the salmon overheated, too many others to count. But they should pay nonetheless.

Ran, Great Lady of Storms, Robber Queen: Seafarers in centuries past carried gold to earn Your favor, if they thought they might end up with You. As these will make You no such offerings, I think it only fair if You took from them what they value as gold now: their ships and their chances to make further profits in Your domain. But set Your net aside, I pray, and send them back to shore, do not take them to Your hall.

Undines, Great Ladies of the Waves, playful, fierce, and terrifying: Royal Dutch Shell has brought many toys into the Arctic to toss about in the waves and dispose of when You tire. Like other boorish, entitled guests, they will not go on their own, so throw them out the door, cast them up on the beach like You do so many other empty shells.

Aegir, Master of the Hall of the Ocean: I beg You, please, take action where we have failed, and where our government has failed us, and evict from Your waters the people and the vessels of Royal Dutch Shell. Send them home, permanently, to the surface land that Homo sapiens is evolved for. Teach them that ill-mannered guests lose not only rights of visitation, but material benefits accrued through their stay.

Great Powers of the Sea, show them no more and no less mercy than was shown the Kulluk and the Kulluk‘s crew.

19 thoughts on “To the Ocean, for the Arctic (a prayer)

  1. I love this prayer, it was beautifully crafted and I learned much from reading it. I do have a question though, wouldn’t it be better to call Royal Dutch Shell a tribe, a nation, a war band almost anything other than a person? I only question this because so much has been made of corporations being people that I am wary of even letting myself think of them that way. Again, the prayer was beautifully crafted.


    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ If corporations weren’t legally considered “persons” by law, I imagine I’d have come up with something else – I don’t particularly like calling them that myself, as I think that law is a huge problem, buuuut in the context of what I was writing, I was kind of pleased to use it against them.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Especially that ‘Royal Dutch’ makes me cringe. Shell does a great job here convincing people they are all for transition to new energy sources, but this step shows the other part of their agenda. And due to other pressing matters at hand, there is little to do about this in their home country. Thank you for your compassionate prayer. I will read it aloud, maybe many of us should for extra impact.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. and they’re not the only ones.

      I remember when Chevron had ads about restoring and enhancing environments with critters in it. Of course they made it seem as if it were out of the goodness of their hearts, and above and beyond what those nasty regulators made them do (which they carefully do not say). Wells I knew the background to that and was not impressed with the spin.

      Many energy providers and petrochemical firms are talking about how they’re investing in renewable energy, but $$ amounts or proportion of budget are never mentioned, so I tend to think it’s only a lip service amount, and only as spin.


      1. And yet I feel like a whale of a hypocrite even voicing my opinion on this. I have an old car, which I really only drive when I have to (taking my girl to physiotherapy, visiting my grandmothers). Where the fuel comes from? Right, Shell. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


      2. Yeah. After all the years in which they (oil companies generally) claimed global warming science was lies, they have a long LONG way to go before their supposedly better stance, or movement towards renewables, -now- will be impressive. (To say nothing of a lengthy list of abuses against natural systems and the people living there. *sits on hands so as to not rant*)

        Linda – it is almost impossible to function in the modern world without benefiting in multiple ways from use of fossil fuels. It sucks, but it’s not hypocrisy. (I don’t think using fossil fuels is inherently bad, any more than burning trees for heat/cooking is, it is the magnitude of the use that is the problem.)


  3. I am not sure there is any proper weregild for what Royal Dutch Shell has done and is doing to the Sea, or for that mater what we have all collectively done to the Sea.

    In our abuse of hydrocarbons, the condensation of 150 Million years of life’s passion and desire, we have taken this gift of the condensed lust of the eons, the gift of enumerable lives, formed in the consciousness of enumerable dieties and used solely it to creat tawdry toys that last seconds, and to attempt to destroy that from which it emerged. Is there any affordable weregild for this?


    1. Yeah ๐Ÿ˜ Repayment, if possible, would likely take many, many, many years of work.

      I really want to take your second paragraph and frame it somewhere – that really perfectly encapsulates some things that have been bothering me for a while.


      1. Fjothr Odinsdottir, please feel free to frame or share the paragraph as you see fit. It was meant as an offering, just as your post was. Much gratitude for the prayer and may we start the work of paying our collective weregild, else I fear the consequences for all of us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.