bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Category: a matter of perspective

Where I’ve been: a multi-layered metaphor and a half.

What a long strange trip from

there

to here.

But I’m on my way

and I am not looking back.

Followup to ‘Some Thoughts for Wednesday’

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.

Worried.

A companionable silence

Things are changing and while I am not sure I wanted them to change, they did.

It’s been a while.

One of the things that seem changed is that They haven’t felt as ‘present’ lately…or at least, my sense of Them has been feeling a lot more abstract, perhaps removed.

Y’see, as much as I hate to admit this, I have been beating myself up a little lately, allowing myself to feel anxious, thinking that Their subdued presence was due entirely to my lack of interaction…and while that feels true on one level, it feels equally untrue on another level.

Meanwhile, a post by Jolene Dawe came across my feed recently that definitely featured a message that I needed to hear/read about relationships, change and acceptance.

In any case, Jolene’s words gave me some means to frame what’s been going on (or in some cases, what’s not going on) in my own practice.

Her insight into her feelings/thoughts about her journey helped me process the feelings and thoughts I’ve been having about my own.

Upon reading, it occurred to me that perhaps she was going through something similar to what I’ve been going through in my own practice – and that powder-keg moment surrounded her assertion that she felt like a hypocrite for creating a liturgy.

What is a liturgy? I found myself thinking, as my brain leapt to wondering…

Was she talking about a writing project?

If her liturgy writing project was going in any way similar to the way my latest writing project is going for me, I wondered if she too was debating with herself over the reason that things seemed to be…fizzling out.

Perhaps she too was trying to decipher if the project was dying a natural death or if she was somehow, inadvertently mucking it up.

At any rate, I could definitely relate to that inner debate, mulling over the concepts of hypocrisy, inaction, the evolution of relationships with what’s imminent vs what isn’t…

I especially found myself identifying with her discussion of the desire to be close vs. not feeling so close to Them (i.e the state of feeling connected to the Gods vs. feeling ‘Godless’.)

I liked her metaphor/line of thinking about God-relationships: that if P was an actual person, she could call Him up and They could chat about old times in a way that honors the meaning of what their relationship used to be

…without getting caught up in nostalgia or pining over what used to be because she wants it back.

(Or letting herself get mired in that feeling like she should want things to go back to the way things were.)

I’ll be honest, I was heartened to read when she admitted to feeling (mostly) at peace with the fact that she couldn’t go back

and doesn’t want to anyway.

And that got me to thinking how I began my life as a Pagan: I will admit that I spent a long time feeling like a Godless Pagan, as I do recall that some of my initial attempts at a devotional practice were spurred on by anxiety:

feeling

that I wanted to be closer to Them to the nth degree

that I needed to be connected to Them to the nth degree

And that acute feeling like The Goal of It All had always been to connect to Them to this nth degree.

But then to experience the level of connection that I’d so long sought?

(Oh there is sheer blissful NRE in having THAT connection…)

But did I ever expect that that intense level of connection could (inevitably!) change?

Honestly, I did not.

Now this is where it got kinda messy in my head because, yes, though I know what I’d always been told…

The only thing constant in this world is change:

*

Well, of course, relationships change.

But I will admit I wasn’t really prepared to fathom any level of change in my relationship with Them.

So now to experience these moments of what my anxiety wants to define as ‘less’ and ‘lack’ feels like a terrible loss.

But is it?

Perhaps I need to learn to reframe my perspective.

So perhaps I don’t have the same intense connection with Them that I used to have.

(and yes, I am aware of how part of it is my fault if one wants to assign blame)

but perhaps, the other part of it is

just a rather natural evolution towards something

more settled

not as imminent

not as active

as I had previously expected.

But is there any need to for me to feel so anxious about it?

Perhaps not.

Perhaps I should welcome the change as a sign of growth in my relationship with Them.

Perhaps I should welcome this companionable silence

~~~

*Well, Loki IS a God of Change, now isn’t He?