Thinking on Odin today and ordeal and all the many places He’s had me walk in my life. There is a place in service to one’s Gods where everything else is stripped away. We’re not male or female or anything else, not black, not white, not skin, not bone, nothing but fire in the mouth of our God. It’s there that secrets open, Mysteries, there initiation happens. Make me fire in the mouth of my God, that is the prayer for the mystai, for those who seek to tear open their scars, so that their souls may be dragged out shrieking through that gash. And it happens. It happens through ordeal, it happens through so many other ways. This world is loud, it’s cacophony blinds the senses to the soul’s cry and blinds us to our Gods and sometimes it takes the press of pain and surrender, humility and ecstasy to mute that noise and raise us up to deepest communion with our Gods. Sometimes scars are too hard, a will too bent, to fierce, too raw…pain is the only one who can guide us through the barren lands to the place where immolation dwells. There are some places that cannot be reached by walking paths of light. Some require the terrible nourishment of darkness.
I met Odin when I hung for Him. It wasn’t about the pain. Pain is irrelevant. It’s a byproduct, nothing more. It’s the horse some of us ride to get across thresholds unapproachable by any other way. It’s never, ever about the pain. If this happens without pain all the better. But for some of us pain is our teacher, guru, and guide. Whether we will or no (but I so willed) he drags us across the gaping gaps that lead to those places our Gods dance in ecstasy, to those places where They rage and shriek and spit power weaving worlds. If you want it easy follow a God who left His place of pain. Odin is always there. Pain brings the humility one needs to be taken up by His ecstasy. Such a clever word that. It does not in any way imply the shattering ripeness, the furious violence, the orgasmic delight of His presence when it fills ever synapse, every atom, every molecule. We burn away in it happily. Let there be nothing between me and this God I love. Nothing not even myself. I am a living sacrament to Him and I was reminded today of what it means to bear His marks on every inch of my flesh. It is His calling card, a reminder to me that even His kindness comes with fury, and to others that what comes through my flesh is terrible danger. Human no more, I am marking time until I am no more, taken up fire on His tongue to be spat out in service. Unmake me, Oh my God, that You may restore again Your worlds.
I walk halls hallowed to another and I wait and twist and turn in an agony of suspense and for what? I have forgotten to Whom I belong. There is only one truth that matters, only one, One for Whom I should writhe and that is Odin and I will go where He will have me go, and do what He will have me do and I do not care for anything else. The meanderings of my still too human heart are nothing in comparison to His presence shrieking through my synapses whispering, laughing, reminding me of paths we tread long ago together. There is nothing but what He would have me do and where He would have me go. Step out of the way.
Pain teaches humility in the face of the Holy. May you eat of it, you who would mock holy things. May you be rung out in your human skins with it, who mock the Gods and Their works. May you learn. I do not care. They have reality for me, only those who likewise burn. I have no time for shadows. May you burn up in the light. May you be nourished by the darkness.
by S. Stockton
Howl, Hangi, and hear my prayer.
Flee not from my feeble flesh, but dance in my dead heart;
Your devouring dervish demands devotion, and the damnation of decadent desires.
Madness unmakes the mightiest of men, but all mad minds are yours, Yggr.
Guide and goad me, Sigtyr; stain my soul all shades sacred.
Cruel yet kind, my blood crusted at the creases of Your wry smile, scream Thy song into my every sinew.
There is release in the languishing laughter let forth in labor for You.
Evermore may my adoration endure, Odin.
Ode to Odin
by Grant Emile Hodel
The one-eyed wonderer,
the cyclopean voyager,
the fury of warfare,
the father of the slain.
Father of the thunderer,
rider of the gallows horse,
walks across the nine worlds,
seeking wisdom to save his son,
so that Ragnarök may never come.
May he find what he seeks,
so that order reigns over chaos,
for all time.
For Óðrerir’s Brewer
You kindled in me a love for brewing
Water, honey, yeast
Sacred magic, old magic
Kvasir’s brood, your spit
Relaxing and maddening
Teasing out the ties
Growling forth from each sip, each gulp
May each brew be a worthy working
Each bottle a sacred vessel
Each glass a welcome offering
Alliterative Poem to Odin
Wind and wound
Scream and spell
Health and harm
Scar and sense
Wrath and release
Power and purpose
Grey and gold
Eye and iron
Hanged and hale
When the Sons of Borr took up the spear
No ravens flew or wolves roamed
Nifelheim was far too cold
Muspelheim far too hot
They dreamed of more than ice and mist, fire and smoke
A World teaming with life, with warmth and with cold
A World full of flowing waters and rain
A World between the the Worlds
So when They slew Ymir
The Sons of Borr took up the best of all Worlds to make Midgard
Fire from Muspelheim gifted by Surtr
Ice from Nifelheim taken from Ymir
Fertility from Vanaheim gifted by Freya, Freyr, and Njordr
Wildness from Jotunheim made by the Jotnar
Riches from Svartalfheim dug deep by the Dvergar
Liminality from Alfaheim made by the Alfar
Death from Helheim overseen by Hela
Potential from the Ginnungagap woven by the Nornir
Within the Middle Yard each World was woven to the others
Crafted with care by the Sons of Borr
This is a new translation of the ‘Havamal,’ that takes into account the varying metrical structure in the original. Because it is so long, and because WordPress won’t allow me to maintain the spacing, i’ve uploaded it here as a PDF. It is by C.L.T.
This lovely portable shrine to Odin is by Ellen.
(Remember, folks, the Agon for Odin runs through December 31, 9pm EST. There is also, concurrently, an Agon to Hathor right now through the same time and date. She only has one submission to Her agon so if anyone has poetry, prayers, or art that you’d like to submit, please consider doing so. There are prizes for both agones).
One for the Wishgiver
by Dr. E. Kelly
Kara stood a moment in the doorway of her home, looking out over the snow-covered hills. Everything was tinged with the evening sky’s deepening blue. Stars studded the night already, gleaming bright as wolf’s teeth. Kara’s mother had told her these were the best stars for wishing. The shadows had already melted into darkness. With a quick whistle, Kara brought the geese and goats inside the heavy beamed doorframe and whisked them behind their partition of nimbly interwoven sticks. She paused a moment to pat the tall billy goat with the black patch around one eye. This would be the last night she would do this chore. Kara had never thought she would miss it.
It was Yule. Kara’s whole family had gathered from the nearby farms to enjoy each other’s company and share a few horns of mead together. Everyone was so happy for her. “What a fortuitous match!” her father’s sister said. “What impressive gifts!” complimented her younger brother. “What an important man your husband Iorek will be!” chattered her cousin. Kara’s bridal wealth was packed and stowed and ready for the ride to Iorek’s family’s home, over the pass a day’s ride, close to the sea. It was a large hall, empty much of the time. Iorek’s brothers’ had all taken wives from a family that had long feuded with Kara’s. A short time ago Kara’s father laid claim to a much larger farm than he did now. He did not talk much about it. Iorek’s sisters-in-law were involved somehow, and an agreement had been broken.
Why Iorek himself had wanted to marry Kara seemed unclear to her. A messenger had been sent to woo her and gain her father’s permission to marry. The messenger had praised Kara’s beauty with unremarkable poetry, each verse as memorable as one egg is from another. She had not been impressed with the verse. Kara’s lips thinned in anger as a tear welled up in the corner of her eye. The rumor whispering around her family was that Iorek had chosen to marry her to spite his brother’s wives. Life in that cold, dreary hall with those knife-faced women seemed terribly long and heavy.
Kara’s gaze turned to the polished stone gaming pieces displayed by the fire on her family’s hearth. They had been her grandmother’s. She had once travelled with the old earl on his campaigns in the East and had served as his advisor in war. Those pieces might have once determined the life or death of men in battle. They were to have been hers, but were now being left to her younger brother. Iorek’s family did not approve of women in their war councils.
Iorek’s messenger was at the head of the family table. He beckoned her rather rudely to have a seat at the bench and she did so. He addressed Kara’s family. He reminded them of how lucky they were to be marrying up into Iorek’s family. Conveying this information seemed to take a great deal of dull speech and Kara’s attention wandered to the man sitting next to her. She was sure she had seen him around the place, a cousin’s cousin perhaps. He was rough around the edges, too wrinkled for his age and his beard was not well trimmed. The seams on his tunic hung open for want of mending. Everyone around the table had a earthenware mug full of fragrant wine, doled out as a gift from Iorek’s family; one cup per guest and filled less than halfway up. The old man held no such cup.
“Where’s you toast, sir?” Kara inquired. The man met her gaze with eyes of piercing blue and a smile transformed his bearded face. “Oh, they didn’t want to spread out the good stuff any thinner, let alone on a old man like me.” he said. “How awful!” Kara gasped. “How dare he treat my family so disrespectfully! I’m so sorry…uncle…” she trailed off and blushed a little in embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’ve forgotten you name.” “Oski.” The old man laughed. “And yes it’s a few generations, but we are related.” He patted her hand reassuringly.
Iorek’s messenger was still droning on, managing to insult Kara’s family repeatedly while appearing to congratulate them. Kara stared at his fat cheeks wobbling as he prattled on. “Just like a horse’s ass farting.” Kara said aloud, quietly. Oski choked a little with laughter. “You talk about your new husband’s envoy in such a fashion?” he asked. Kara felt cold and heavy and when she spoke it seemed as though her voice belonged outside herself. “I will never marry Iorek.” she said.
Iorek’s man had stopped talking at last, and lifted his mug to beckon others to drink. Kara had never tasted wine. She watched it circle around in the cup, red as summer flowers.
“I would like you to have this.” Kara said, and she placed her toast in Oski’s hand. She ripped a chunk out of the bread before her and passed it over as well. “To your companionship.” The old man took the drink down in a blink, as if he were used to such things. He smiled and his teeth looked just a little as if they were stained with blood. “Companionship”, he repeated. “May you have all you wish for.” The remainder of the feast passed uneventfully.
Later that night Kara sat up in bed, suddenly awakened from sleep. It was cold and deeply silent. Everyone was asleep. The wind had picked up in the night and howled through the rough beams of the wall, despite the insulating chinks of turf. Branches on a nearby tree scratched just outside. Her dream was still on her eyelids, a flash of white, like a swan with candle flames for wingtips. A sensation of flying free. It had been so beautiful. She had been riding with a host of others, tumbling over the dark blue star pierced sky. A column of smoke arose on a distant shore. Kara closed her eyes again and sleep came once more, thick and comfortingly dark. She rested peacefully.
Another messenger came early the next morning, with terrible news. Iorek, his brothers, and all their family had perished in the night, victims of a fire their own hall. “How distraught the bride must be!” he exclaimed. Lightning from the winter sky had set the roof ablaze and all had perished. “How tragic!” Kara’s family managed their condolences, though in truth they were relieved to be rid of those sisters who had plagued them with dishonest dealing all these years. Now Kara conveyed such terrible luck that surely no one would marry her. She would be alone! “How sad!”
Kara smiled. “Alone, here at home where I’ve always wanted to be, with my own kin.” She ran her fingers over he grandmother’s stone strategy pieces. She might get to deploy them on her brother’s behalf after all. Stars winked in the early dawm, where Kara had withdrawn outdoors to be with her grief. “Thank you, Oski.” she whispered.
An Offering to Odin
by H. Rawlings
The one who whispers
With bold tenderness into a woman’s heart
Who finds you laid bare
Skin and bones
And applies the healing balm
Knowledge and fury
Breath and calm
The Resounding One
Open yourself to his breath
Let yourself be restored
by Ryan M.
Bloody staves and candlelight,
the questioner being questioned.
A divine and cosmic discourse.
A path weaved through the Wyrd.
Answers appear through the smoke, some beget more questions.
Comprehension is the problem of the inquirer,
Truth cares not if it is understood.
The Wise One takes another sip of mead,
knowledge of all is seldom a comfort.
He mastered this game long ago,
and I wonder if He misses the mystery of it.
Either way we drink together,
for the Truth is seldom easy to swallow without assistance.