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Second Submission to Odin’s Agon

An Offering to Odin
by H. Rawlings

Old man
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

Grimnir
Runatyr
The Resounding One
Open yourself to his breath
Let yourself be restored

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First Submission to Odin’s Agon

For Odin
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.

For Odin

What Odin Is…He Is.

He is…

He is so many things to me… words are weak in His presence and weak on this page as I struggle to shape them into something approximating His power.

He is a maw. That’s what started all of this, another poet calling Him a maw. And He is and we are ever being devoured in it. The whole initiation process into Him is a crushcrunching down between His predator’s jaws. It’s a good way to live, soaring within the storm. It sets a certain stage and we can run with that for now.

He is…

Endless shrieking hunger. Cold, calculating, yet searingly passionate in His focus. I hear it all the time, when He is near, that roaring in the brain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool

Or has not learned how to listen.

He sees farther than we can ever conceive. He sees us too and our potential.
I know what it is like to be hunted down like prey. I know what it is like to fight a killer but I don’t know what it is like to walk away. Some knowledge isn’t worth having.

He is…

A vicious, beautiful Bastard and I love Him for it and sometimes I hate Him too but I never, ever forget the stench of my own fear in the woods when that first Hunt began or when His corpse creaked high in the Tree above me. I’ll never forget how He treasures my viciousness either.

He is…

a frenzied ravening Beast who has learned to wear a pretty mask to court the ladies (and some men too). He is brutal and wondrous and the ironsharp tang of His presence a joy my heart can barely hold.

He is…

the sovereign Power that has drenched the earth in blood and glory, the wailing wisdom of poets, the shivering terror of bards, and the enchantments that hold it all together swallowed and spat about by His flock of charmed women with razor tongues.

He is…

The Force that will use those women up until they seek any crevice in this world to avoid seeing into His.

Ho, ho, ho,

Who, Who, Who

But a God who knows the secrets found only in madness would do that? Let’s see which of us will be the last one standing, oh my darlings. Go ahead. Run.

He is…

the Architect of Worlds who loves His people and the pristine symmetry of the cosmos and will spit us all on a spear to see that it does not burn.

While we bicker and scramble and piss away our charms where the grass is green and blood runs blackest in the streets, He snakes His way ahead to keep it all from curling back into the Gap.

He is…

Devastation. Another poet warned about things like this: “Love comes with a knife, not some shy question” and so it is and so it was and if I’m lucky, so it shall ever be.

He is the frenzy that drives me and His the calloused hands that pick me up when His work drives me to my knees and I kiss the ground in exhaustion. He is the frenzy that inspires me, and with Him at my side I have seen I have seen the birthing of worlds and wonder. He is a monstrous Glory and He is my Salvation.

It is enough that He is.

Go ahead.

Run.

A Poem for Odin

Scent Trails

Someone asked me once
if i could sense by scent
when You are near.
They wanted to know,
they said,
what the musk and aroma of a God
might be.

I had to stop.

How to put these things into words?
The vocabulary has not been invented yet.

You are so many things:

the smell of a place where many have died
the darkness of mystery – dank and bloodwarm,
the tang of the sky at the peak of a storm
and the howling of its winds if such sound
could carry with it keen-sharp scent.

You are steel in the cold,
the silent winter’s night
when not even the fiercest of beasts
dares roam
but all watch
with glittering eyes from their lairs:
They too are wary of Your passing.

Yours is the smell of savagery
cunning, and an ecstasy
so deep
worlds were born
in the wake of its devastation.
I cannot hold it,
not even to craft a drop of its essence
into words.

You are the presence
on the battlefield
a century after the last man fell,
the savor of remembrance
the shattering laughter,
a roar in the void,
and the echo of its silence.

You are fury,
oh that monk was right:
you indeed are fury
the glorious, joyous savagery
at the moment two armies meet in battle
at the moment you penetrate hidden power
at the moment you seize the trail of your prey
at the moment, every moment
when that which is in you bubbles over
and burns into those who raise their lips
in adoration to You
and we drink

You are Master of the Hunt
and we are all Your prey
if we are fool enough
(or lucky)
to stumble in the path
of Your desires.

As to scent,
forget what I have written here.
You will know when He comes
how poorly the senses translate
the vast joy-terror of His passing.
You will know
when you too
are marked with His scent.
You will know
when it is far, far too late
to flee.

 

 

(by G. Krasskova)

Why Odin/Christ and Not Baldr/Christ?

Someone commented in a facebook discussion that a friend of mine was inaccurate for stating in his recent piece that Christ was associated with Odin historically, assuming that Baldr would make a more logical syncretism and so my friend must be wrong. He’s not wrong, however and the comparison of Odin to Christ was one of the tools used to further the spread of Christianity in Northern Europe. We had a brief discussion on it and I thought, this is really interesting.

When finals are over, I’ll come back and flesh this out with sources, but for now, the key one that we should be looking at is the Saxon translation of the Gospels, “The Heliand.” (which is a hilarious text, omg, it really is). If you want to find a more muscular Christianity go no further than Christ sitting with his warrior thegns in the mead hall. Yes, you read that rightly. You see, apparently Jesus as he was presented in the Mediterranean world wasn’t all that appealing in the far north. (Our ancestors should have stuck with that idea, folks. Seriously). In order to attract people, following the dictum of Gregory the Great to Augustine (not Augustine of Hippo, the other one, from Cantubury, I believe), missionaries adapted things, just a little, to better fit the climate and culture. In other words, they took some liberties.

One of those liberties was syncretizing Odin with Christ. I agree that on the surface one has to look at that and go ‘huh?’ I mean it’s not the most logical choice, except it was. On the surface the comparison hinges on Odin hanging on Yggdrasil and Christ hanging on the Cross. In reality though, I think it goes deeper. Odin was (and is) a God of kings. It was a common part of the Christian missionary program to first convert the monarch or ruler of a particular community and then have him demand and execute conversion of his people. I think the focus on Odin is directly related to His associations with rulers. If He was the patron of the king then of course that is Who you’d want to mis-appropriate when trying to ease your own god in. It was part and parcel of the Christian agenda.

Now it may be that Baldr didn’t have the cultus during the conversation of northern Europe that Odin had, but I think the connection that was drawn between Odin and Christ had far, far more to do with kings and rulers and the desire of Christians to destroy the indigenous polytheism as quickly as possible.

One interesting book, before I sign off to get back to work on my papers for finals, is “The Germanization of Early Christianity” by J. Russell and when you read the “Heliand,” be sure to picture everyone in gold lame with too much hair like some strange made for tv movie 1970s style. It makes it so much more interesting and really emphasizes how ridiculous the usurping faith was.

*************

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Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

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A Prayer to Odin

These two prayers were recently commissioned by my Patreon supporters: 

To Odin, for Dreams
(written for T.)
By Galina Krasskova

Ravenous for knowledge,
hungry for wisdom,
You drove Yourself
through the worlds,
upon the Tree,
to the gates of Hel
and back.
You sought out seers,
mighty women
prophets seething
with fateful fire
caught by mind,
held on the tongue
spat forth at Your command.
You unraveled and deciphered
the dreams of Your omen-marked Son
bound spirits, and raged through worlds
to undo His terrible fate.
You Who know the magic
of the Vanir, for Whom dreams
are as open books,
worlds waiting for reason’s plunder,
I ask now this boon,
knowing it will come with a price,
a price that I shall pay:
Send me dreams, Raven Father,
clear omens to guide my way.
Make my dreams my grimoire,
that I too may grow in wisdom.
This I pray as i pour out this offering.
Hail to You, Odin.

(make an offering of beer or whiskey, etc.)

 

To Hera
(for A.)
by Galina Krasskova

To the Queen of Olympus
let homage ever be paid.
To She Who renders right judgment,
let offerings be laid out.
To the Goddess Who brings glory,
may libations be poured.
Hail to Hera,
Who grants no quarter,
and yet, is merciful.

She is the Maker of heroes,
glorious and fierce.
She hones them,
tempers them,
renders them worthy of the blood
from which they are sprung.
Herakles, Achilles, even Dionysos:
She brought Them into Their power.
She taught Them what it meant,
to bear the blood of Gods.

Hera, ever mighty, orders the world,
watches over its mysteries.
She is Beloved of the Thunderer.
She is Queen of all the heavens.

To Argive Hera, I blow my head.
You teach us that power must earned.
You, Great One, at Whose hands all
is brought into order,
may my words and prayers
be pleasing to You.

Hail to You, Glorious Hera.

(if you are in a place where you can do so, light some incense for Her).

 

(I’m generally always willing to write prayers on commission: $15/prayer. These were done for free as a gift to my Patreon supporters with the caveat that I would share them here.

There are some other caveats to my commission work: a) there are certain Deities with Whom I have no relationship and if i’m not able to catch a sense of Them, I won’t be able to write a good prayer and also, b) there are Deities that I am tabooed from approaching. But so long as you’re willing for me to say ‘sorry, can’t do that one,’ if you’d like a prayer written, shoot me an email at krasskova at gmail.com).

What Odin Is…He is

He is…

He is so many things to me… words are weak in His presence and weak on this page as I struggle to shape them into something approximating His power.

He is a maw. That’s what started all of this, another poet calling Him a maw. And He is and we are ever being devoured in it. The whole initiation process into Him is a crushcrunching down between His predator’s jaws. It’s a good way to live, soaring within the storm. It sets a certain stage and we can run with that for now.

He is…

Endless shrieking hunger. Cold, calculating, yet searingly passionate in His focus. I hear it all the time, when He is near, that roaring in the brain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool

Or has not learned how to listen.

He sees farther than we can ever conceive. He sees us too and our potential.
I know what it is like to be hunted down like prey. I know what it is like to fight a killer but I don’t know what it is like to walk away. Some knowledge isn’t worth having.

He is…

A vicious, beautiful Bastard and I love Him for it and sometimes I hate Him too but I never, ever forget the stench of my own fear in the woods when that first Hunt began or when His corpse creaked high in the Tree above me. I’ll never forget how He treasures my viciousness either.

He is…

a frenzied ravening Beast who has learned to wear a pretty mask to court the ladies (and some men too). He is brutal and wondrous and the ironsharp tang of His presence a joy my heart can barely hold.

He is…

the sovereign Power that has drenched the earth in blood and glory, the wailing wisdom of poets, the shivering terror of bards, and the enchantments that hold it all together swallowed and spat about by His flock of charmed women with razor tongues.

He is…

The Force that will use those women up until they seek any crevice in this world to avoid seeing into His.

Ho, ho, ho,

Who, Who, Who

But a God who knows the secrets found only in madness would do that? Let’s see which of us will be the last one standing, oh my darlings. Go ahead. Run.

He is…

the Architect of Worlds who loves His people and the pristine symmetry of the cosmos and will spit us all on a spear to see that it does not burn.

While we bicker and scramble and piss away our charms where the grass is green and blood runs blackest in the streets, He snakes His way ahead to keep it all from curling back into the Gap.

He is…

Devastation. Another poet warned about things like this: “Love comes with a knife, not some shy question” and so it is and so it was and if I’m lucky, so it shall ever be.

He is the frenzy that drives me and His the calloused hands that pick me up when His work drives me to my knees and I kiss the ground in exhaustion. He is the frenzy that inspires me, and with Him at my side I have seen I have seen the birthing of worlds and wonder. He is a monstrous Glory and He is my Salvation.

It is enough that He is.

Go ahead.

Run.

 

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(I found this image here.  If anyone knows the artist, please let me know and I will amend this asap)

Thoughts on Initiation

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my ordination, something that in many traditions is a day to be celebrated and marked. I don’t generally do so with mine, save by making special offerings to my Gods, but it’s got me thinking: not about the ordination but about the process that, for me, preceded it: initiation. That’s one of those things that a lot of us talk about, but no one ever seems to really explain. Part of that is because it can’t be explained really—oh, I could give you a run down of every single part of the ritual, but doing so would just be discussing the scaffolding; it would do nothing to explain the transformation that initiation can and should bring.

First, I want to note as strongly as possible that A) initiation does not necessarily lead to ordination. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with that. I’ve undergone many initiations at the hands of my Gods and Their people and that the very first one was a predecessor to ordination was simply a reflection of the way that tradition was structured. It is not necessarily the norm; and B). initiation isn’t a matter of one and done. One can undergo more than one type of initiation. It all depends on the tradition, the Gods, and the individual.

This is not a new concept. Polytheisms have always had their mystery cultus and have always, as far as I can tell, had rites of initiation. Sometimes these were ceremonies marking life transitions, such as moving from childhood to adulthood. That is not the type of initiatory ritual that I am talking about here. No, when I talk about initiation, I’m not talking about anything that binds or marks one’s place in the continuum of generational human experiences. I’m talking about those things that bring us, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes awe struck and weeping into communion with our Gods, those rites that change forever our world both inner and out. There is no going back from an initiation of this sort. It is a type of death, rebirth, and transformation and the person who exits the ritual space at the end of such a rite is not at all the same person who entered it.

Pretty words and I’m sure that some of you reading this think that I’m speaking metaphorically. I’m not. Initiation can fuck you up. A true initiation is not a pretty ritual after which you can go on your way feeling good about yourself. This is a terrifying rite that can strip you bear, open you up, and throw you face down before your Gods. It can open up fractures in your emotional matrix and your psyche, dredging up scars and issues and pain that you may have thought long ago put to rest. It can create internal chaos because it is the Gods effecting a change spiritually, energetically, emotionally, psychologically. It can bring taboos and obligations. It can damage you physically – not because of anything those shepherding the initiate through whatever the rite may entail do, but because of the internal process itself, and the energies in play.

Of course it may also fill you with ecstasy and joy, transform you in such a way that you are in closer, ongoing communion with your Gods, transform your afterlife, mark you as being one of the cultus of a particular God energetically and many other things and usually it is a glorious and joyful transformative experience. Sometimes though, it’s not and there’s no way to tell. I sometimes think the Gods must consider the initiate much as a master jeweler considers a rough stone. How to polish, how to facet? How much pressure to apply and at what angle? It’s such a delicate procedure and only the Gods have a hope of making such a thing work. This is why it’s so very important that They be at the beginning, center, and end of it all. An initiation isn’t something to seek out for one’s own purposes. It should be at the behest of one’s Gods. Divination should be done – thorough and extensive—to make certain that it is the right time (the Gods fix the time), and that the initiate is ready. Divination –thorough and extensive—should be done to figure out what offerings need to be made, what the rite should consist of (even in traditions where there is a strict process, this should still be done. There is always the possibility of the Gods wanting something special), how it should unfold, if there are any taboos or obligations to be kept before, during, or after, and so many more things. Most of all: is this initiate ready for this initiation into this tradition done by these elders? This is all the more important as we are restoring our traditions. Unlike religions like Lukumi or Ifa, our initiatory rites have largely been lost. We don’t have the inter-generational structure. We are restoring it now slowly but surely but so much of that is a matter of finding one’s way, inching nervously forward, and it must be admitted, making terrible mistakes. Initiation is not a place where mistakes can afford to be made. It is dangerous enough all on its own.

This is why it’s so crucial to have competent and trusted elders, and a community that can support and guide the initiate not only before, not only through but after the initiation and by after I mean for weeks, months, and possibly years.

I’m going to tell you a story of an initiation gone bad. I’m going to gloss over many parts of this story because parts of it are not mine to tell. Yes, I have changed personal details. I saw a young man undergo an initiation. I was witness to it. The initiation was done perfectly. The elder in question did everything right. The initiate in question was well-prepared and very devout. The witnesses, including myself were experienced, well-prepared, and devout. All the divination, from several diviners, gave clear and strong go ahead. When the ceremony, lasting several days, was done, there was joy, the overwhelming joy of such a process. There were blessings. Everything looked perfect. I brought my concerns to the elder and was told that perhaps I was over-reacting. That surely I was misreading. I celebrated with the rest and then over the next year watched this young man ,a good friend of mine, destroy his life.

Remember I said sometimes initiation brings up past wounds so that the initiate can address them and move forward into healing, stronger and healthier? Well that was what was happening. He began to spiral down into a very bad psychological place: hoarding, self-harm, cutting off ties to all friends, ceased working on getting clear of a damaging family relationship, became extremely paranoid, lashed out at everyone in the religion, began to encourage others to back away from devotion and throw themselves into mundane life, began to have outbursts of rage, and worse. I believe my friend gave himself over to the Filter rather than continue his spiritual work—work that would have required facing so much pain. He has been lost to us, though still he lives and more than that I cannot say. It is a painful subject…and this is an initiation where everything was done right.

I myself underwent an initiation that was necessary, but done in such a way that I was left partially crippled by pain for months. It was only when the scars to my energetic body, and the blockages were cleared by an elder that I began to heal. I do not mean that my spiritual life was impinged, I mean I would wake up screaming in pain so severe that my husband on more than one occasion nearly took me to the ER. I was lucky. I was able to heal from this damage and the issues that caused it were not mine, but rather a matter, as I found out later, of the one doing the initiation lacking the requisite qualifications. The transfer of energy—in part what an initiation is—could not happen cleanly. The initiation was legitimate, but damn near killed me.

I want to emphasize for those of you who may be wondering that in the above examples neither ritual involved any measure of what we term ordeal work. Both were done within the structure of the respective traditions. In the first case, well, sometimes initiation is a crap shoot and sometimes there is a terrible attrition rate. In the second, a corner was cut that shouldn’t have been and the price was pure agony and ongoing damage. I want to note again: no one laid a hand on me (save to touch my head in blessing). There was no ordeal. There was simply the initiation ritual and the transfer of power. These are horror stories and they’re not the norm. Most initiations leave the initiate feeling liberated and transformed and filled with wonder and joy and a new sense of connection to their Gods. But…even the best of them can go wrong and there’s often no way to tell until well after the ritual how the initiate is going to cope with the changes spiritually wrought. It’s not a game. They’re not words or pretty rites. This can fuck a person up in this life, and it can change the nature of the initiate’s afterlife too. An initiate becomes a carrier of a tradition. (One initiates generally not just to a Deity but within a particular tradition, after all). The changes wrought are often those which allow the initiate to become a container of the Mysteries of their God. It’s a powerful process.

No one, by the way, is owed initiation. That’s also something that I want to put out on the table. These things have real world consequences. I, for instance, am forbidden to initiate into the Mysteries of Dionysos. I love Him dearly. I’ve worked for years helping to build His cultus. I have nearly a decade of ongoing venerative practice to Him and I maintain a household shrine to Him. Hell, I even married a Dionysian! Still, extensive divination showed that I cannot receive His mysteries via initiation. I can honor Him – He is delighted for me to do so. He has helped me and I have had powerful devotional experiences with Him. This is one of the Gods that I deeply love but I will never become a bearer of His mysteries. I cannot, no matter how much I may want to do so. Why? Because undergoing Dionysian initiation can both change where you will go in the afterlife (part of the deal Dionysos made with Hades to liberate His people from the Hades’ control when they’re dead) and change one so that one is wired specifically for Dionysian energies. I belong to Odin. Where I go when I’m dead, the energies I’m wired to carry and receive when alive are His. It is specifically because I am Odin’s and patterned for this God that I cannot receive the mysteries of Dionysos. It doesn’t matter that sometimes I feel left out when Dionysos’ folk gather. It doesn’t matter that I may love Him dearly. It wouldn’t matter if I wanted initiation. I can’t have it and trying to force the act not only would be a deeply impious act, but also a damned stupid and dangerous one. There are consequences for the things we do and the Gods we carry.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have and to respect our competent elders. They carry the weight of their Gods’ tradition on their backs. They are guardians of that tradition just as we become when we take up certain burdens. They are the ones who help navigate these waters. It’s also why it’s so absolutely crucial to have supportive and cohesive community. The community is the container for all of this. When a community gathers to welcome a new initiate back into human/mundane space after that person has been transformed via initiation that is a tremendously holy and sacred act. That is what roots both the initiate and the energies of the rite and the tradition in the here and now. The community is the rootbase of the great tree of whatever tradition they are carrying. They are necessary and it’s the interplay of elders, community, Gods, initiate that gives everyone the best chance for initiations to occur safely and well. We need our initiations. We need all the various levels of interaction with our Gods, all the various rungs on the sacred ladder of our traditions and cultus.

I understand the enthusiasm of wanting to honor the Gods this way and go deeper into devotion but it’s important to follow the necessary protocol. There is a right way to do these things and a right time.

Interview in Eternal Haunted Summer

Eternal Haunted Summer online magazine interviewed me for their summer solstice edition. I was asked about my current projects, including my recent poetry book. Check out my interview here