Friday, January 09, 2009

Odin the Wizard

Life gets really interesting when Odin is the chief God of your religion.

Because Odin is a philosopher. Odin is a mystic. Odin is a poet.

Odin is a wizard, and that word ought to have the meaning of all three words I just used.

Odin goes for the cosmic picture. He loves nothing more than to sit up on his high seat with his wife and survey the worlds.

He loves the questions. He is full of curiosity and wonder. Odin ponders. There is much that he knows, but he is excited even by the things he does not know, and has drive to find them out.

This is different than a God who is omniscient. Odin knows a lot, but he's going to know a hell of a lot more, because he, like our universe, is always expanding and searching.

A "religion" like this, therefore, feels more like a philosophy, a search for truth, a Questing. It's not a completely positivistic philosophy that is entirely cerebral. It's cerebral but it's also deeply emotional and full of poetry. It is profound.

When we are inspired with the presence of Odin, we seek out the profound. The kind of mead that Odin drinks is loaded with mind-expanding entheogens that make L.S.D. look like child's play. Odin's got all the mind-expansiveness of an old, grey-and-white bearded hippie sitting by a campfire looking up at the stars and sharing with you his mind-blowing philosophies that were sparked by many an acid trip, but Odin also has a sharpness, a litheness, a sinewy agility that is lean and powerful and absolutely and authentically commanding. And it draws you into the wonder, inviting you to inhabit the Question Mark.

Odin is God-as-Philosopher-King. He's an image of the Elder of the tribe as a man of skill and knowledge, who has the street sense of an old alpha male or silverback, but who has gone far and beyond the macho blustering of early years, and won command through his mind and intelligence. This is not a philosopher you dismiss. This is someone with wisdom to look up to, someone who has won wisdom hard through long and difficult years. He represents something to aspire towards.

Odin has a profound loneliness or aloneness to him, a quality of magical solitude that is the result of eons of journeys out in the outback by himself, exploring this world and learning all there is to be learned. He's not "lonely" per se, but if you expand the feeling that we as humans get when we are lonely, and configure the feeling not as a neediness, but rather as a power, a power of wonder, a connecting to the strange and distant outposts, a need to know the odd and foreign that drives one far from home and back again, then, then you get a sense of this awesome and stark power of solitude that resonates within this Way-Tamer. It's the energy of one who has taken, as Robert Frost wrote, the "road less travelled", and who has made sacrifices of pleasures that could have been had in the moment or for the short-term, in exchange for contact with the wonders of creation, the opportunity to ride that terrifying horse throughout the nine worlds in the World Tree.

It often is a lonely road for the philosopher, for the thinker, for the dreamer. Often they find themselves on roads seldom travelled, out far from home, where the wind blows, sometimes with an odd feeling of queer alienation driving them on to touch the alien and know more ...

It is modern heathen folklore, and lore that jibes with fleeting references in the sagas, that an odd character met out on the road or on the streets, especially if that character has a long beard and is a bit older, may very well be Odin as Grimnir, the "masked one", travelling about the ways of men taming them, most particularly if this old and odd character has some queer philosophies to share that blow the mind but speak of years of street experience. Such meetings can give one a taste for Odin's character. And Odin is a "character", a peculiar, larger-than-life, odd one carved and marked and sculpted by years of travel out on the streets that gives his wisdom that particular weathered, ruddy, and sinewy quality. And yet, throughout, he is ready to spring into action at any time. One can be knocked over with surprise at the spry and sudden ability of his to launch into activity, or, to turn a corner and be gone without a trace ...

Every people asks about God, and what God is like. Every answer that every people give is a simile : "God is like ____." In our lore, God has a full family of personalities with whom to connect, for almost every kind of personality type, but isn't it significant that the primary image of God our ancestors emphasized was not a commander or a philanderer or a dictator or even quite a king, but rather a wizard, that peculiar Northern flavor of philosopher, mystic, and poet. So much so was this the case that the Romans glossed Odin as Mercury, a God of learning, letters, wandering, and transitional states.

These are things to ponder. The wonder that Odin wishes to cultivate in us may never be known with precision, but the ancestral forms passed down to us are frameworks with which to approach and access this wonder. They are hints that how the Gods are is far beyond our mental capacities, and yet by continuing to pursue the goal of yearned-for wonder and knowledge, we can approach that state which most characterizes Odin himself. And then images of big bushy hats and blue, billowy coats, and long etched spears can fall back as access roads to the experiences themselves. And there is where we dine with the Gods themselves. Wondrous!


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