In Praise of Odin
I belong to a God of Kings, a god of warriors, shamans, poets, and priests.
I belong to a God of raw, unmitigated hunger that can never be sated.
I belong to a God Whose name is Fury, Frenzy, and Who comes with the
Violence of the roaring storm wind, a God Who slaughtered His own primordial ancestor to craft the Nine Worlds. He is merciless. He brings ecstasy. He is cold, searing fire. He is all-consuming heat. He is monstrous in His power, and magnificent in every way. He is brutal and that brutality is tender. Stepping into the whirlwind of His presence is throwing myself into a raging chasm of Being – Terrifying, Enticing, Ancient, Incomprehensible. It is having myself devoured and brought back up into the light again. He is a knotty embodiment of paradox. I do not have words for what it is like being taken up by Him and yet I am compelled to keep trying to explain the threads and fabric of the connection that binds me to Him.
I want to share tonight something I wrote a couple of years ago in my book “He is Frenzy.” Exposure to such glorious inhumanity day after day is hard. Yet it must be done. His secrets are so intensely sweet.
“I take breaks from Him sometimes, did you know that? There are times where I am worn down or angry or just in need of “space” and He gives it to me. So long as I continue to do my Work, He gives it to me. I wonder sometimes if it pains Him when I need to back away, or if that’s simply what happens in healthy relationships, or if i’m projecting too much humanity on the whole thing. It’s not just that He is overwhelming at times; it not just the weight of the Work and the harsh difficulties of some of what He asks me to do, it’s that He is exhausting, being in a receptive state for Him all the time is exhausting. It is like being hyper attuned, alert, aware…to use a metaphor I used in a previous entry: it is like standing in the middle of a great symphony but HE is the only sound. To be constantly buffeted by His presence is not always in and of itself, easy.
Our relationship is fraught with tensions and deep emotions. There is a history there, and with the joys there is a trail of sacrifices. I suppose this is what in human terms might be called “baggage.” I get angry at Him too, or annoyed, or just aggravated. I do my Work, regardless of what I feel about Him or about the task at hand but it’s not always without stress. I’ve had people come to me, clients who are horrified and guilt ridden because they feel anger at the Gods. I tell them: the Gods are big enough to take it. They know what They ask of us sometimes. They know it’s not easy. The anger isn’t a problem. So long as one’ s anger doesn’t lead to conscious impiety there’s nothing to worry about. For me, it helps that I’m open enough about my needs to say “Old Man, I need some space right now, not for long, but for a bit” and that’s that.
Intimacy is hard, spiritual intimacy perhaps most of all. I believe it’s only natural that sometimes we buck at the reins, complain, fight. I don’t always want to be spiritually intimate with Him. Sometimes I just want to be left the hell alone and often He does comply. I’ll give Him that: He steps back and allows me the time I need. I come back better for it, maybe a little sheepish but better able to serve and better able to love Him.
Sometimes it’s not a matter of being tired or angry or out of sorts but that the amount of Work itself that is mine to shoulder is just overwhelming. Sometimes there is no time for any but the most fleeting intimacies and then it’s not claiming space but the necessity of duty that keeps us somewhat distant. Sometimes He sends me out to different Deities to learn things and then that work must, of necessity take precedence. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of this. In the end, it makes our relationship sweeter. If there’s ever any burn out, it isn’t because of my interactions with Him.
I’m not sure why I was moved to write about this today. He is more present now and I am feeling more blessed, loved, and cared for than ever before by Him. I’ve just been thinking a lot about the ongoing process of loving Him and I think that people don’t understand that process…I’ve had too many clients beating themselves up because they even wanted a little down time. It’s normal. I sometimes think that relationships take not only time but a certain amount of tension and release: the down time allows us to process the inevitable results of being in the devotional Presence of a Holy Power. That is something that has consequences. It has results for the devotee. Sometimes we need a little space to comprehend. Sometimes He might say no but the need itself is not a fault. It’s natural.”
Following up on this, I think the only problem happens when we convince ourselves that our Gods always want us to take it easy, to pamper ourselves, to step back and not do the work that is given us to do, when we use Them as an excuse to exceed the boundaries of good, healthy self-care and instead become excessively self-indulgent. Or when we begin to develop habits of avoidance of our Gods because of the challenges. Spiritual work is hard yet that which nourishes us, which keeps us strong and focused, which enables us to thrive is that devotional connection to our Gods. No matter how hard it becomes, if we return to it willingly again and again, it is sustenance, necessary sustenance.