They’ll take you places you didn’t want to go,
and see things you never wanted to see,
but be not afraid,
for they are there with you,
Years ago – quite possibly more than 10 years ago – I found the above (unattributed) quote on a blog.
So I wrote that quote down in the daily paper journal I kept, as I did not have my own blog at that time.
And though I could not put my finger on why this quote resonated with me so long ago
it occurred to me this morning that it pretty much sums up
Because life has just been one thing after another…but I’m doing all right.
I want to believe this is the sort of kindness I could practice, as I have been wrangling with words all day concerning a particularly thorny issue involving the limits of my compassion towards others.
Ah, fuck it…the limits of my compassion towards a particular individual.
So here’s yet another chain of days wherein I am left contemplating the line between being compassionate and being naive.
About two weeks ago, I celebrated a personal and spiritual milestone.
It has been one year since I welcomed Odin into my life.
I say ‘welcomed’ because…well, if you know me, you’d remember that I’d been fighting against working with Him for years.
At any rate, in celebration of that, I’d like to share a story with you – involving Odin, a prayer card, and my poor excuse for neglecting to leave Etsy feedback:
10 January 2018
Today, something occurred to me regarding my attitude towards working with Odin.
Even though it’s been a year – today! – since I welcomed Odin back into my life (it’s a long story!) I realized that I’m not going to get very far if I don’t entirely let go of that default setting/thought under which I’d operated for the four years prior to 10 January 2017…and that concerns what was once my belief that
Odin is an [redacted but rather common obscenity]
It’s getting in my way; it’s getting in the way of my progress.
But I suppose progress is being made, because there’s this Odin prayer card that’s been sitting on my altar since this past July.
It’s a nice picture of Odin, isn’t it?
The artwork is by W. McMillan.
But what I’m going to write about now about concerns the prayer to Odin (written by Galina Krasskova) on the other side of this prayer card….and how powerful it has become for me to say it aloud.
I want to admit to you all that when I first purchased this prayer card, I bought it for the artwork; I hadn’t considered the prayer on the back of it at all.
Funny how that is, because it’s a pretty powerful one….but I quickly realized that I didn’t feel comfortable saying it aloud.
Words are important.
And the words of a prayer, the words of an oath are even more so.
I didn’t think that I could bring myself to make that kind of oath – to Odin.
So I would simply read the words – in pieces, and never all at once! – and I would silently marvel over how beautiful they were, and how evocative of Him.
But I could not – I would not – read them aloud.
It sounds foolish, I know.
Prayer to Odin
All-Father, I ask Your blessings.
Breathe into me,
Oh God of gainful counsel.
Nourish me, Wish-Giver
that I might know You more fully and well.
I hail You, God of wisdom, cunning and inspiration.
I hail You, ruthless in Your desires.
I hail You, God of single-minded hunger.
Be welcome in my life, my heart, my home.
Master of the Tree, I sacrifice to You:
my fears, my doubts, my hesitations.
Open me up to the knowledge of things holy
Wisest Lord, open me up to You.
I will seek You with the fervor
with which You sought the runes.
Always will I honor You.
Be my mead, be my joy,
be the prize at the end of my seeking.
Hail, Odin, Hail, All-father
Hail, Lord of Hosts.
Reading these words, I felt afraid because the words struck me as an oath that was beyond what I was comfortable giving to Odin.
But as I’ve often said – and I still believe it is true – that whatever Odin wants, He wants all of it. He wants all that can be given. There is nothing half-assed about Odin – nothing. And that was the essence of my awe – and my fear – of Him: I am still both terrified and awed by His single-minded determination…but by the same token, He demands that His devotees be as single-minded as He is – about their desires, their goals, everything that they are. He wants His devotees to know themselves, to push themselves and to sacrifice themselves to … themselves, and to their purpose and to their goals, whatever it may be.
He is similar to a relentless general that way:
Honor Me by being the best that you can be in My name, for Me.
One of the most profound things I’ve ever heard said about Odin is that He will never ask you to do something He hasn’t done, or rather, something He would be unwilling to do.
Think about it: Odin hung Himself for nine days and nine nights.
Perhaps it was to discover what death was, or to find out where Death takes oneself – He was willing to metaphorically
if not literally
He didn’t even spare Himself in His quest for knowledge, for that paradox of experience, for Divinity itself.
Perhaps He had to know, He had to experience that situation first-hand – you gotta admit that’s pretty f-ing crazy and yet unerringly logical – if one wants to know every nook and cranny of an experience, they are going to have to go through the experience themselves.
There is no avoiding it.
For me, that is the essence of His fury.
Odin is relentless, insatiable, mysterious, and multi-faceted.
There is only one other God that I know of Who is as insatiable, as relentless and as multi-faceted as Odin
and that is Loki.
So it is no mystery to me as to why They’d be drawn to each other
Nor is it a surprise to me that They would have such a powerful and profound connection between Them.
But nonetheless, I am ready.
Asbjorn Torval’s latest post on spirit animals brings up some good points regarding spirit animals, personal bias and what he terms ‘power play’ when considering why there are so many folks who choose wolves and bears as their spirit animals, and yet no one seems to choose cockroaches or rats.
Why indeed, and this post has given me much food for thought regarding my own experiences in that if I were to choose a spirit animal, I would likely choose the fox, the horse, or the raven
– and yet, if I were to be honest –
The reality seems to be that my spirit animals are
(L-R: Turkey vulture; Black vulture)
(L-R: angry possum; possum ‘playing dead’)
You see, ever since I began working with Loki – and then later (and at present) Odin – my life has become overrun with vultures and possums!
Did I expect the relentless presence of vultures and possums in my life?
Well, I cannot say that I did, and yet – much like the Gods Themselves – I find that my life is full of signs of their presence at every turn.
So what have all of these interactions with vultures and possums taught me?
As many long-time followers of this blog may recall that I have written of my mundane (and spiritual) experiences with vultures, I don’t think I have ever written about my interactions with possums.
I grew up in a rather rural town in Massachusetts. My father had quite a sizeable garden on the 1/2 acre property, and as you might imagine, I came across possums – both living and dead – quite often.
As a matter of fact, a dead possum was likely my first childhood experience with death – when, at the age of five or six years old – I found the very much dead body of a possum under an outdoor picnic table in the backyard. I remember my father explaining to me how sometimes possums would ‘play dead’ – just like I’d seen in cartoons – but that this one was really dead 😦
As well, my siblings and I would often come across live mama possums -with tiny babies – living in our root cellar, or trying to survive the winter by sneaking under the bulkhead stairs and into our basement. (I remember my older siblings and I learning to build a (humane) catch and release trap (courtesy of a Mark Trail book) for catching all the possums and other animals that snuck in, and how aggressively we competed with each other for the exciting and very honorable privilege of being the one who help our father carry the [occupied] trap into the woods to safely release whatever animal it had caught.)
But then, once I grew up and left home, I spent many years living in suburban areas and in bigger cities like Boston, Orlando, and Newark…and I didn’t see another possum for almost 25 years.
Fast forward to 2010, when my husband and I bought a house in a large Central Florida suburb…and I am telling you, I have never seen so many possums in all of my life.
In the month of July 2013 alone, I came across eight dead possums in my backyard; I swear that the vultures were bringing them – perhaps even dropping them – into my backyard, which is surrounded by a 6 foot privacy fence. Two of them were huge- larger than each of my three full grown house-cats – and even my 75 lb Labrador retriever was afraid to go near them. (They were very dead and very heavy – and the body of one of those particularly big ones would not fit on the scoop/blade of my largest shovel.)
And nowadays, I’ve seen a few (thankfully live) possums while walking my dogs at night, either trotting down the middle of my street, or perched on my next-door neighbor’s fence or in the tree overlooking their swimming pool.
My dogs go berserk and stand out there barking at them every time one of the possums show up- but I don’t think they even blink anymore
Most of those ‘What’s your Spirit Animal?’ websites (like this one) often portray Possum as a sort of trickster and problem solver:
So, considering best laid plans and all that…
Every time I see a vulture, I take it as a reminder that I need
And, oddly enough, when I see possums, I take it as a sign that I need to:
That being said, I think Vulture and Possum are my unexpected spirit animals
…and I imagine that they are here to stay.
(A Prayer to Be Free of Masks, [WIP])
All of my life I have been wounded
By the judgments of others, the shame of others,
And I’ve been holding myself prisoner
With my own judgments, my own shame.
So I put on many masks
To hide my wounds, to hide my shame.
Masks of strength and certainty
To hide my fear and my vulnerability
Masks of indifference and anger
To hide my grief and my pain.
Help me, Loki
To set myself free.
Reveal my lies to me.
Take my masks from me.
Show me my truest self
Teach me to be fearless
With no need to hide
Behind these masks.