Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Importance of Saga

Saga. It is Saga that creates literature. And Saga is the weaving together of stories. It is not just my story, but how my story intertwines with your story, and her story, and his story, and the story of all the objects aorund us, and the stories of the animals. It is, in a sense, integrated imaginative knowledge. Everything has a story, and it is the collective intertwining of these stories that makes for richness and understanding.

Once again, the La Tene style of design, with its so-called "Celtic" knots, is very revealing of the Indigenous European mindstate. We find these intertwining designs on runestones as well. It is the weave that gives richness.

Here we both draw upon and deviate from Joseph Campbell, whose brilliant Creative Mythology demonstrates that mythology is not a relic of the past, but continues to dream itself on in the present through literature. This is indeed the case. In large part the growth and development of soul is the continued working-out of struggle through the growth and development of literature, for it is through the struggle of the imagination to come to terms with our earthly wyrd, our experiences, that soul is formed. Where we differ from Campbell is in his vision of extreme individualism, his atomistic vision that everyone must design their own individual, separated mythology, and that there can never be a collective mythology ever again.

Perhaps not a collectivized mythology in the sense of one class of people writing the stories for everyone else. That kind of historiography, indeed, has been superceded. We are no longer interested in such flat, priestly history writing that is as much suppression as it is expression. Here Freud is a great ally in distinguishing between manifest and latent content found in screen memories. Although considered embarassing by modern scholars, Freud's Moses and Monotheism and Totem and Taboo demonstrate bold, pioneering methodologies for allowing the imagination to penetrate the screen memories of priestly histories, and uncover the multiple stories hidden beneath. Now that we have, since Howard Zinn, "people's histories", the idea of priestly histories written by victors and their intelligentsia is no longer acceptable, and we want to expand the narrative to include all of the stories of the folk. The animist or pagan perspective allows us to expand this narrative vision from a more broadly humanistic but anthropomorphic scope to include the stories of the trees, the grass, the herbs, the animals, the insects, and even the objects we craft with our own hands.

Within this larger weave each of us crafts our own individual story. Thus it has always been and thus it must always be. It is this interweaving of individuality and the collectivity of others doing their own imaginative creating that Campbell misses. His struggle is, of course, with lazy imaginations that merely suck up passively whatever narratives come their way, and he feels that the modern crisis calls for tapping an even greater wellspring of creativity in order for us to be able to come to terms with the reality we are creating. Here we come upon the now classic formulation of the 20th century as we came into the nuclear age that the moral capacities of human beings have yet to come up to par with our technological capacities, and this is certainly true. Part of Campbell's genius was to see that the development of this moral capacity would require tapping into the latent creativity hiding within everyman but kept dormant by passivication (pacification : to make passive) that turns people into subjects or consumers rather than active creators. In this, Campbell draws upon a Nietzscheian current that has much to speak for it, but whose perilous contours are such that it is easy to slip into an atomism that fails to speak to our tribal natures. The startling and wonderful truth, yet to be realized by many, is that we can individuate and interweave all at the same time! Indeed, the ongoing process of creation might be considered this process of individuation and interweaving.

Our story takes place in the context of other people making their story. The intertwining of stories makes for richer understanding. In other words, seen in the right light, our lives are akin to a James Michener novel, or an Alex Haley novel, or, to draw upon our ancestral lode, an Icelandic Saga.

Saga was a Goddess, a Goddess with whom Odin drank draughts every day. It is widely believed by modern heathens that Saga is a byname of Frigg, and that the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the great Beloved Mother Earth, should be the Holder of Stories, makes eminent sense. Frigg's major myth, then, speaks to how stories are made, for Frigg calls to her all the spirits of the world and has them take vows.

She calls all the wights of the world and has them speak holy oaths. Spirits of fire, trees, iron, earth, water, so on and so forth, on and on, she calls upon them to speak their stories. For it is with these stories that she will be able to weave a rich tapestry. Isn't it interesting that it is through that tapestry that she anticipates being able to protect her beloved son? Yet one being, (the mistletoe), considered too young or too small, is left out, and this is the Achilles' heel that undoes the rest, and thus our ancestors tell us through narrative that no being is too small or too young to be integrated into the tapestry of the narratives we weave. We rise and fall together. All for one and one for all.

Here we get to take seidr out of the realm of psychic performance and grandiose, over-literalized practitioners for a moment, and imagine it as a fundamentally imaginative activity, a method of creating literature, and as such, something we can all engage in. From this perspective, novelists and poets are working magic all the time, through what seems to be a quite unspectacular practice of imagination. Of course our ancestors knew that poetry was a highly magical art. But here we correct priestly assumptions of magical specialists with a more Whitmanian vision of the nation dreaming itself ; indeed, the world dreaming itself through all its dreamers, and "dreaming" here not as a passive activity fo receiving dreams, but of active, imaginal working through of our struggles in the world. Suddenly Whitman's long lists of activities of diverse craftsmen makes sense, and we see that he predated Howard Zinn by over a hundred years, having tapped into the insight that America was telling its own stories through all of its participants, and Whitman saw that no person and no nation are too young or too small to be included in the tale. How marvelous that we find Frigg's story of taking testimony from all the wights of the world interweaving with Whitman's grand Leaves of Grass! Something real is percolating here, and promises much.


Blogger Morning Angel said...


4:44 PM  
Anonymous Clint said...

Your comment about the mistletoe is tear-inducing. Here is an example within Heathenry of one of the most admired teachings of Jesus, namely that if you leave out even the least among you, you'll pay for it later. Of course Christianity makes an ethical point with this story, being an "ethical monotheism", but Heathenry has its own way, more akin to Buddhism and Hinduism, of showing that first and foremost, inclusiveness is *useful*, not just right or wrong or ethical. In our day and age, we can reflect on both aspects, and in so doing give Heathenry a healthy dose of compassion along with the already lauded wisdom and strength.

11:38 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Excellent point. The function of religion always should be to develop those capacities implanted in us by Odin, Hoenir, and Lodur. Our energy, mind, soul, and spirit are a garden, and religion's job when it does its job is to water that garden so that we come into full blossoming. Wisdom, strength, compassion : all these and more we need to develop.

11:28 PM  

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