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.