Words of Wisdom For Trying Economic Times
From house to house she went, spreading prophecies of doom, encouraging stinginess, hoarding, every man for himself.
She works her sorcery by playing with minds (seið hon hugleikin, Voluspa 22). Those who are ill always savor her stench (æ var hon angan illrar, Voluspa 22). If she can attune the mind to belief in fear, she's got them ; she will be able to work her sorcery.
Fear : she sees fires burning, the earth blazing. Hyr sé ek brenna, en hauðr loga, Hyndluljod 49. She taps into that apocalypse-archetype, that deep fear within us all. What if everything goes wrong? What if it all falls apart?
It is not for nothing that she is said to fœddi ... Fenris kindir (Voluspa 40), "breed Fenris' kind". This is done through her hugleikin, toying with minds. For if enough people believe a prophecy, it becomes self-fulfilling. To believe in Muspel is to become one of Muspells lýðir (Voluspa 51), "Muspel's people", "folk led by Muspel". And we know who steers that ship : Loki. And a hint : these doom-frightened folk are not sailing out to help the Gods.
Who or what is "Muspel"? Its uses suggest fire or fiery judgement, precisely the apocalyptic mindstate we've been referring to. Grimm lets us know that the suffix is from spiöll, spilla, spillan, to destroy, kill, break, or lose. The term "Muspel" in Old Saxon is Mut-spel, and "mut" means "courage". Muspel is that which destroys courage. When courage loses out to fear, the flames call out to men and make them his own.
...Fara fíflmegir með freka allir (Voluspa 51), "All of the fool's sons travel with the Wolf". Fífl means "fool", "clown", or even "whore". It is an excellent heiti for Loki, and even for his mistress Angrboda. It's a Ship of Fools led by a Liar and his Wolfish son.
All of this is connected ... the fear of the flames, the predictions of doom, the consequent stingy shrinking and shrivelling up against frith and mutual aid, the drunken power of gold that completely smashed and out of its wits seems to have no fear of the fire, from which it emerges again and again and again, while leading those quite susceptible to the flames right into the firepit.
This doesn't mean bad times don't come. This doesn't mean polyanna and denial and pretending like everything's ok. It means not believing in fear, not trusting in fear, but putting one's trust and faith in the Gods, even when things look grim. Sometimes we must stretch our mind beyond appearances to hidden possibililities. Sometimes we must believe beyond destruction and beyond the struggles at hand. Otherwise, we become narrow, we become molded by the fear, we become those led by the spoiling of courage...
We have failed to have faith in Frey and Freya. We have put our faith collectively in Loki and Gullveig. Faith is evident in our deeds. It is evident in where we really invest our energy, our time, and our labor, despite what our words may say. We have tolerated the antics of jugglers and tricksters, liars and con-men placing bet upon bet upon sleight-of-hand fraud (can you say "derivatives"?), who laugh their gold-greedy selves all the way to the bank, while they are bailed out on the backs of the common folk.
That times are bad? Of course! The jugglers are in charge. Saxo tells of a time when Odin was exiled. Let's look at this deeply. To exile Odin has a deeper meaning. Where is one's courage, one's fury, one's mod and wod when Odin is exiled? His place is taken for a while by Mid-Odin, a heiti to which we can compare the phrase miðlungar snotr, "middlingly wise", ie., foolish. This Mid-Odin is praestigiis celeber, "notorious for his deception/illusions/tricks/juggling", and he leads a magorum coetus, "gang of sorcerors" who had dared to caelestium honorum titulos gesserant, "carry the title and honor of heavenly gods". He himself occasionem et ipse fingendae divinitatis arripuit, "seized the opportunity to pretend to highest divinity", and barbarasque mentes novis erroris tenebris circumfusas, "surrounded the minds of the barbarians with the darkness and obscurity of new and extraordinary errors". Ignorance, deception, concealment, illusion. Prior to this time, all the Gods would be sacrificed to collectively, but Mit-Othyn multiplied sacrifices and obligations, threatening folk with the iram, the ire or wrath of the Gods, if they did not render up separate sacrifices for every single God. Threatening and terrorizing people to multiply their obligations. When Odin returned, he said, Give, but do not overgive. Do we overgive? Have we bowed down before bands of sorcerors and so-called wise men (middlingly wise) who are notorious for their deceptions, tricks, and illusions? Have we allowed them to live like gods and arrogate themselves to some untouchable position of divinity or near-divinity? Do we hold them as holy? Because we have exiled Odin in our hearts.
What would Odin say to trying times? He would say, Sútum görvöllum (Havamal 146), "prepare yourself against grief and sickness". Görvöllum, "gear yourself up", "make yourself ready", put into effect preparations. It's from gørva, which can mean to make, construct, build, set in order, prepare, perform, contract, render, do, judge, plan, and distinguish. Set your things in order. Plan for bad times, judge accordingly, and prepare. Þurra skíða ok þakinna næfra,þess kann maðr mjöt ok þess viðar er vinnask megi mál ok misseri. (Havamal 60.) “Of dry firewood and bundles of thatch a man knows the right measure, and enough wood that may last throughout the winter". Make sure your roof is thatched, your goats in order, your seed planted and tended. And don't think it's all about self-reliance. That's a healthy part of preparation, but preparation is itself a part of that wondrous, magical song or spell called "help". Hjalp ... en þat þér hjalpa mun við sökum ok sorgu, "Help is what will help you against harm and sorrow."
In other words, self-reliance and mutual-aid. That's Odin's answer to Angrboda's fear-mongering.
What about Freya's? How does Freya answer to the threatened fires of Mutspell?
Orðheill þín skal engu ráða, þóttú, brúðr jötuns bölvi heitir! "Your omens shall have no authority, Jotunn's Bride, though you threaten bale!" Bölvi: bale, trouble, misfortune, sorrow, but also curses. "Your curses shall never be good counsel!" Your baleful omens shall have no authority, Jotunn's Bride!
Good words. Words to know, words to spread around, in times of trouble. Do not let her til húsa kom, come to your house or the houses of your neighborhood and seið hugleikin, bewitch you by toying with your mind. Gear up, ask for help when you need it, give help when it is needed, and don't let your courage be destroyed. A word to the wise is sufficient.