What a long strange trip from
But I’m on my way
and I am not looking back.
I received a comment on my post about Odin the other day.
In formulating my response to the comment, I realized I had a lot to say.
And what I wanted to say pushed well beyond the character limits of the comment box, so I decided to write this post instead.
To my commenter, please consider this post as my response to you.
Your words struck me deeply/profoundly in the sense that I had felt as you do about Odin for a long time.
The purpose of the post was to admit to the truth of my past beliefs about Odin – and based upon your comment, I realize I had succeeded in doing that.
I spent many years avoiding Odin, many years denying His presence, and yet, I also realize I had not completely conveyed the whole story in writing the post.
I had simply told you and any of my other readers only half of the story.
And for that I am sorry.
Your comment also highlighted the importance of making a followup to the post.
First of all, I wanted to clarify that in writing that post, I hadn’t meant to feed into stereotypes about Odin…and yet at the risk of sounding absolutely foolish, I realize that I’ve perpetuated/solidified the very stereotypes that I had hoped to dispel.
And that is a mistake on my part that I hope this post will rectify.
Years ago, the Odin person who mentioned the quality of His relentless nature, also made a stunning revelation about Odin that made me want to know more. As well, he challenged me to keep an open mind and allow Odin in; which, in effect, was meant to encourage me TO do what Odin seeks to do – to know more, to seek deeper knowledge about the unknown, to explore the darker corners of one’s own self,
This Odins-man – whose name was Bran – also said to me: I hope Odin shows you the faces and aspects that others often do not see… and he bade me keep an open mind.
Odin is a complex God, Bran continued, Who challenges us to know more about Him, about the world, about ourselves.
Though, as an Odinsperson/Asatru, Bran admitted to me that, up to that point, he’d been generally disinterested in engaging with Loki. And yet, through our discussions, he’d come to realize that there was a lot that he didn’t know – and never considered exploring – about Loki, and so, he challenged himself to know more.
In short, we ended up convincing/challenging each other about the preconceived notions that we’d each had about the other’s God.
And as a result of our many discussions, we both realized that Odin and Loki are incredibly similar in many ways: They seem to use the same means, the same tools, sometimes even the same faces/aspects to make Themselves understood to Their devotees, e.g I realized that Bran saw Odin with a similar sense of humor, passion, and creativity that I saw in Loki, and I saw in Loki a sense of relentless pragmatism and a penchant for self-innovation that he saw in Odin.
We saw the Other’s face in each other’s God, you see, as Loki and Odin are often mirrors of one another.
He thanked me for challenging him to see Loki in a different light, to examine Loki in a way he’d never been inspired to do so in the past.
And he wished the same for me in regards to Odin.
And thus I realize I have done a grave disservice to Odin in writing that last post. I have continued to perpetuate more than a few dangerous stereotypes about Odin.
Though I will admit that, yes, Odin did spit on me.
And yes, I did emotionally read that behavior as rising from disgust.
But it wasn’t until later -much later! – that I realized a possibility that particular behavior may not have been rooted in disgust.**
(And in the interest of full disclosure, while Odin did scare the shit out of me for several years, I’ve come to wonder if perhaps my fear was an unintended response rather than a tool of His intent or His means to an end. At the very least, I had had many conflicting emotional responses towards Odin that I hadn’t entirely understood much less critically examined until I consented to engage with Him.)
Odin is like a drill sergeant – tear you down to build you up.
Likewise, I’ve heard the same being said of Loki, as perhaps Both are well versed in world breaking.
As well I neglected to mention the symbolism that They are both well versed in.
Odin was the Ferryman and the Farmer and the Bridegroom – I have come to believe, like my friend Bran had so profoundly wished for me – these are masks that Odin used to ingratiate himself to me.
Perhaps some may see it all as a manipulation.
Or perhaps they are simply tools in the repertoire of symbolism: you will get the monster you expect.
But you may also get the bridegroom. The farmer. The Doctor who heals you with words and music and with the kindness that you never expected, in this flurried language of symbols you have only just learned how to read/understand/comprehend…and these symbols are as layered as the gods are layered.
You could say that Odin used my own preconceived notions against me.
He used vinegar and when it didn’t work — he used honey.
Odin uses the tools and it would seem he came at me from several angles to get my attention.
Yes, I see Bran’s wish for me as it is unfolding.
I don’t think Odin was disgusted with me as much as he used my own expectations of Him to open the door to deeper perceptions of myself and of Him.
**The spitting? Perhaps that was an act of marking couched in antiquity.
Perhaps this was the way Odin sought to mark me just as Loki kept that tooth of mine – that bit of blood and bone to remember me by so many years ago.
These are markers that old Gods understand, couched in beliefs our ancestors perhaps understood better than we do today.
(otherwise known as ‘On Loki and Odin: A Personal Perspective’)
I’ve come to realize that Odin and Loki are much more alike than they are different.
…and yet if you are in any way familiar with my journey, you may recall that I spent at least four years of the last eight of my devotional practice
Perhaps my reaction was borne of listening to hype/gossip of others – including some Odinspeople themselves – who painted Odin as a stern taskmaster, a grumpy Old Man, a mystical instructor who is impossible to please much less work with…and yes, I believed all those things about Odin.
(Perhaps, in that regard, I was rejecting many aspects of the Work with a capital W.)
But I soon realized that I rejected Odin with the same hypocrisy that some Asatruar reject Loki:
He is untrustworthy.
He is impossible.
He is a monster who is out for the ruin/destruction of the order of my life.
He exists to cause (me) pain.
And thus, I did not call upon Him…. ever.
But He showed up anyway.
Much like Loki, Odin didn’t seem to take to being banished or ignored.
(Perhaps it may have energized Him even more to haunt me….who knows?)
Sometimes I have wondered if He fed upon my rage and anger.
It definitely seemed as if He enjoyed my stubborn reluctance to engage Him.
One particular Odins-man remarked to me that
perhaps the reason why Odin seemed so relentless
was due to His nature as the consummate Huntsman:
How could I expect that He would not hunger for the thrill of the chase?
You see, I dreamt of Odin consistently beginning in 2011 or so.
He was at the center of many a nightmare I’d had of being pursued through the darkness.
Whether I had dreamt of the unease of walking home alone, only to be followed by a shadowy stranger
to the feeling that I was being actively hunted as frightened prey,
I dreamt of this…terrifying being.
During one particularly repetitive nightmare, I dreamt that I was a child again, playing hide and seek in the New England woods outside my childhood home.
Though in this situation, there was this sly aggressive adult stranger who was ‘It’, and somehow he could always convince the others in the dream to help him find me.
And what always followed was a pulse-pounding chase – with the help of my own childhood companions! – and whenever he would come upon my hiding-place, he would make it abundantly clear that he sought to kill me.
He would then order me to run for my life, and so I would run…. night after night.
At one point, I realized I must have had this dream nearly a dozen times.
Though one night, I did something different:
As usual, I was in the midst of the usual terrifying nightmare spent running in terror…and I felt exhausted.
Tired of running. Tired of hiding. Tired of trying to outwit and outmaneuver him throughout various terrifying situations.
I felt resigned to my death.
I begged him to finish me quickly.
Just get it over with, I’d muttered.
However, in response, he spat on me, before he strode away.
And thankfully soon after, those nightmares stopped.
Though something strange happened next.
A Being whom I’d wanted to assume was Loki began to appear in my dreams with many different faces and guises.
I dreamt of a clever Doctor.
Twice, I dreamt of a ferryman.
An unfamiliar but graciously attentive bridegroom.
A laughing farmer who labored in the fields,
who would not enter my house unless I intentionally invited him inside.
A young blond man with eyes that appeared to be made of glass
who wanted to talk to me about runes!
Perhaps I had been foolish
enough to have convinced myself that
if this or that face was not Loki’s
then the face of that stranger had to have belonged to Freyr,
or even Baldur.
Who was that laughing blond gentlemen with the courtly demeanor, with those strange blurry eyes, and a voice like honeyed silk?
I never dared assume that that Being could be Odin.
And what’s more, whenever Loki would come to me in dreams and meditative visions
to ask me if I could bring myself to engage with Odin – I would immediately and emphatically refuse.
Perhaps you already have, He’d chuckle, even though the concept of engaging with Odin horrified me.
I was certain that if I had engaged with Odin, I would have known it.
(After all, I was confident that all those years of nightmares had taught me that Odin’s presence had always been signified by that familiar onrush of fear and the rise of nausea in my body.)
Until I started to wonder…..
And six years later, here we are.
The above pretty much describes the month of July 2019 for me – in a nutshell.
How convenient, eh?
To be clear, yeah – my mental illness was the main force behind my lack of participation – and general executive dysfunction – during this year’s ‘Month for Loki’
And I’ll be honest, I’ve felt foolish each time I’ve logged in over the past 25 days… to see my first post of the month.. 2nd, 3rd, 4th…
I recall being so full of excitement on July 1st – promoting this thing that I’d done for the past 7 years! – but then feeling entirely unable to bring myself to writing much of anything.
Such as it is.
I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon this video tonight.
Though I’ve always loved this song, I didn’t have any expectations as to how it might sound acoustically:
The subtle tones of the keyboard, the change in time signature and stripped down vocals of this performance have given me a new appreciation for this song.
A lovely poem about Loki by Sophie Oberlander:
by Sophie Oberlander
“I never sought You.
Those places deep within my heart were far too burned and scarred
To let You in, hard like misshapen stone.
Or so I thought. But I gave much
The first time I hung on that Tree.
Not enough, by far, but just enough to shatter that wall of stone
The barest fragment breaking free.
I heard Your whisper, but turned aside my face
You could not be speaking to me.
I felt Your gentle touch cradling my wounded spirit
As You cradled Odin,
His body bloodied, His spirit on fire beneath that Tree
Long before I climbed its branches.
Was it through Your laughter that You taught me to love You?
Or through the tenderness of Your caress?
I have seen a face of You that few bother to see.
I have felt Your burning passion, gentle and tender beneath the Tree.
Brother, Lover, Friend,
No image of God quite prepared me for You.
You eased away my terror with Your wicked cavorting,
Making a broken child laugh by playing the fool.
I have seen Sigyn’s quiet contentment,
And the love behind Your games.
I no longer understand the trepidation in which others call Your name.
I have seen Your other face too,
When You took me to Your daughter’s realm.
I have seen You, locked in ecstasy,
Summoning up Her wards and wights for me.
My heart’s stone did not so much break
As melt beneath Your flame.
I have tasted Your rage, Your fury at my hurt,
Reveled in the darkest glee
With which You opened the gates of Niflheim to defend me.
No one told me how much You cherish Your children.
I have seen You, Trickster, weeping in anguish
Every one of Your children’s’ wounds piercing Your heart.
And I have seen You in battle, Odin’s equal,
Though Yours a far darker art.
I have heard Your song,
Far sweeter than I ever knew it could be,
As You took my hand, and led me from that Tree.
If it Your stories I cherish most, as we walk Bifrost bridge,
Dancing patterns amongst the stars.
You placed my hands upon the web, and taught me songs to weave.
As I hung for Asgard, through You, for Hella’s realm I reached.
I know how You are feared, or mocked, or thought long bound.
But I know too, it was Your hand guiding me
Through my darkest despair and pain.
And how can I fear Your deepest love,
When it is the freedom of my heart I’ve gained?
Loki, now it is Your burning that I seek.
Let us mingle songs beneath the Tree,
For I adore the flame you have ignited in me.”