People ask me sometimes “why Odin?” I’m always boggled by that question. It’s asked with honest curiosity of course and it’s not something that ever gives offense, still I always find myself puzzled when it comes up: how could it not be Odin?
Firstly, the question presupposes that I chose Him instead of being called to service by Him and my experience was far more the latter than the former. I’ve talked about this aspect of devotional work before, that sometimes it’s the Deity calling the human forth. I’m not going to focus on that here. Instead I want to tackle the question in the spirit it’s usually asked: why would I cement myself so deeply to Odin (if I had any other choice)?
Even writing it, this boggles. How could I not? It’s not a matter of being a godatheow, it’s not a matter of being in service and having given my consent and choice to Him a long time ago … none of that is enough for a truly good and positive devotional relationship. More and more I’m coming to think that to be in the best relationship possible with one’s holy Powers, one has to make that choice again and again, every single day: when I wake up, I can choose to order myself, inside (heart, mind, spirit) and outside (actions) around Him and my understanding of what He wants from me or not. He doesn’t have to force this. It would have little worth if it were forced again and again. This is something that I compel myself to do … it is a turning of my own heart inside out for Him every day. This is a daily renewal of our relationship, our bond of service, my love for Him, my devotion. This is what I do to maintain a clean, healthy relationship with Him while being in service to Him. Could I serve Him without this mindful recommitment? Sure, I suppose so but it would not be vital, it would not be clean, it would not be done well. I care about such things: I want to love Him well.
The argument usually given when this question is asked is “but He’s so hard.” Yes. He can be very hard upon those He claims but He is hard upon Himself, harder than we can ever imagine. I often think that all of the Powers have the potential to be demanding in ways for which we, raised as we are in a culture unaccustomed to reverencing clean and honorable service, lacking in some cases even the definition of what this might be, are scarcely ready. We come to our devotions terribly unprepared. This steepens the learning curve of course and, I suspect makes the process more difficult than it otherwise has to be. Ironically I also believe that it’s precisely this spirit of clean devotion: to the Gods, to the ancestors, that is the curative for that cultural disconnection.
I often feel tremendously sad for our various communities (and let’s not pretend that there’s any one Heathen community; there isn’t. There are many intersecting and often opposed communities). We have such a long way to go before we grasp even the most basic understanding of what devotion is all about and the many ways it can benefit not just the Gods but the community itself as well. We fight the very medicine that would make us stronger and more cohesive. The learning curve is very, very steep.
Why Odin? It’s Odin. He is my everything. He is the breath upon which I live and die. He holds my heart. How could it not be Odin? Even in mortal love, we seldom have the luxury of choosing to whom our hearts are given in adoration. The heart knows its master. It knows its best shelter. It knows wherein to find its most fulfilling joy; and if that joy requires a bit of sacrifice now and again, such things only make the whole thing sweeter. That’s why Odin; because there are conversations of devotion between us that even I have no capacity to translate. Because He did not have to write Himself into my heart, He was already there. Perhaps because, just because, I never had to ask why.
I’m often asked if I ask Him for things. Usually only one: let me love and serve you cleanly and well. Anything else I need will flow from that as inevitably as the sun will rise.
May He always be hailed.
(Excerpted from “He is Frenzy” by Galina Krasskova, Sanngetall Press).