Yet Another Round of Odin Questions
People seem to be enjoying the Odin questions that I"ve been answering here. I'm happy to keep this Q&A series going as long as folks have questions. Many of these things, while I've thought about them and internalized them, I've never actually broken down and analyzed for anyone else, so this is making me look at my experience and my practices and the way i interact with the Gods in new ways too and that's useful to praxis.
On that note, Liza asks:
"I know you have received the question before about how did you know it was Odin, and you have answered rather tongue in cheek about how could you not. However, I am wondering now, how you met Him? Was it obvious to you right away it was Him, or when looking back did you see His footprints in your life before you realized the foot that made them?"
It's not just tongue in cheek actually. Being taken up by a Deity is a mystery. It cannot be properly understood by someone who has not had a similar experience, who has not walked across the same threshold. I can write and talk about it all I want --and i"m going to take a stab at answering your question here--but in the end, this is a mystery and mysteries are meant to be experienced and known. They're not comprehensible to the uninitiated. That is why they are mysteries, or part of the nature of a mystery, rather. Besides, for all that He is a God of language, language is far too paltry a snare by which to hold Him. No words in any of the languages I speak could possibly do Him justice or come close to describing the experience of being His…but I"ll try.
Yes, it was obvious from the immediate beginning, the first time He came for me, that it was Him. Several things had preceded that: I'd been trained in ritual work, ordained as a priestess, I'd started running my own group and doing almost weekly ritual, sometimes bi-weekly. I had also been exploring a devotional relationship to Loki and it was Loki who told me at one point that I was Odin's. I didn't believe Him, and it was rather shocking but I did not give it too much thought until, in ritual, He came.
There is having Deity possession. That happened later. First, there was having Him show up, exert an…invitation that was a thinly veiled claim. First, there was having Him seep into every poor, every atom, being taken up by the back of the neck, in a caress every bit as dangerous as His wrath, perhaps more so. First there was a period, which in my memory seems long, of Him offering to teach me, offering to guide me, to show me things and make me a better vitki. I realized later these were courting gifts, but at the time, i was drawn in by the knowledge He possessed, by the feel of HIs presence, by the promise of ecstasy that also came later.
What was it like? He undid my world and I helped Him and now, twenty years later, I'm grateful for it --immensely so--and better able to comprehend and appreciate both the joy and the challenges He can bring. He undid my world and drew me into HIs. I do not believe I was ever quite fully human but whatever I was, I was not just, or not only human after having been seized by Him. I became a direct conduit to Him. He remade me, rewired me, restructured me and my soul does not rest in this world anymore.
Twenty years after that point, I can see His imprint all over my life, from the time i was quite small and in many respects in my ancestral line, even before I was born. It took me many years to see it but when it opened up for me, i knew how very blessed I had always been by Him--a grace and a miracle.
Liza also asks:
"When you had gone through your fallow time, what brought you back out? I know you have talked about duty through it, but what was the moment that you tasted it again?"
Everyone has fallow times. I think it's part and parcel of spiritual life. You see mystics of every possible religious tradition writing about it (some call it the 'dark night of the soul'). It's part of the landscape of spiritual engagement. In many respects, it's a test of commitment. it makes us stronger because we are forced to function without the constant feedback and reassurance--the metaphysical pat on the head--that connection, by its very nature, provides. That's not a bad thing. it's easy to do the right thing when you're getting that ongoing feedback, far more difficult to motivate oneself to right action and right relationship when that feedback is lacking.
Sometimes such fallow periods are times of cleansing and purification. They clean us out and we're forced to face insecurities and fears, blockages, and any number of other things that might prevent us from having an authentic relationship with the Gods and ancestors.
Sometimes, they allow us time to integrate spiritual experiences and the many consequences of standing in active engagement with the holy. that's no small thing. We are human. Our brains and psyches are not necessarily wired for spiritual engagement. We must learn because while i believe that children more often than not come into this world wired for devotion, the process of living soon causes that spiritual muscle to atrophy. We need to relearn and sometimes that can be daunting. I mention this first and foremost because on more than one occasion, i've had people come to me, in the midst of their own fallow periods, asking what they did wrong, or whether they were being punished by the Gods. the answer is nothing and no. Regardless of whether or not one is owned by a Deity, regardless of whether or not one is a spirit-worker, mystic, priest, or the average jane or joe, this is part and parcel of spiritual life. It is not a sign of something wrong and in fact can be a sign of something very, very right.
It's an invitation to engage even more deeply with the Gods and ancestors, to face down our own inner fears and demons, and to learn to do this dance of living a devotional life with integrity of purpose. In a way, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, those fallow periods may in fact be moments of a very peculiar grace. ..which does not, of course, make them any easier to deal with.
What got me through mine? The work. regardless of what i was or was not feeling from the Gods, from Odin especially, regardless of how i felt or how i hurt or how deeply i despaired, there was work to be done. This was my duty. It was a promise i made long ago when I was first setting my feet on this path to the Gods and ancestors that i adore. I did not promise my service only when it was convenient or only when They might make me happy. I didn't promise to serve and do my job only when i wanted to, or when i was getting consistent feedback from Them. I promised. period. I accepted the spiritual work that I do as my duty. I swore to do it to the best of my ability. period. Having a fallow period, even though it was without a doubt the most agonizing year of my life, did not exempt me from that. Moreover, the work kept coming. Duty got me into the fallow period (for it was something Odin wished me to experience for a number of reasons not the least of which was that I needed to learn to serve Him without the pat on the head, and i needed to know what the average person, who may not have a clear ability to sense of hear the Gods goes through) and duty brought me out again. The work was my path out and my commitment to it. I did not give up and I did not stop in my devotions to Him. I learned constancy of both spirit and heart through this and it has served me well.
As to when the sense of Him returned, when He opened me again to His presence, I do not know. There is much about that year i don't remember. I do, however, know what got me through it: doing precisely what I had committed to do when the Gods first came calling: love Them, serve Them, and continue with the work that I was given. After all, it wasn't as if i was owed contact. Most people live their lives without ever knowing what it's like to taste the ecstasy and terror of a God's presence. They are tasked with holding right relationship, with doing their devotions, rituals, and whatever else their practices encourage them to do but all without the "payoff" of being able to sense Them. I think there is a tremendous grace in doing this, in honoring Them rightly and well without being able to sense Them, hear Them or otherwise directly engage and that is a particular grace that I have only known during that fallow period and for that I am grateful. It taught me precisely what a precious gift the clarity of sensing the Gods really is and how deeply and carefully it must be nurtured.
I hope I answered your questions, Liza. Again, readers, please don't hesitate to shoot me your questions either here, or at my blog http://krasskova.weebly.com/blog.html.
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