I am very much made after Woden’s form. I am a writer, musician and poet. I am no stranger to extremes of life, consciousness and the rest. I am an inveterate occultist; a wanderer of worlds and of this world; I tend to shroud myself in ambiguity and mystery (so I am told my reputation often seems to stand at any rate).
I don’t fit too well in consensus reality, and I don’t think Woden fit too well in the consensus reality of the old Heathens – too dark, contrary and mystical. The Outsider is a rather clichéd posture from which to live one’s life, and it certainly doesn’t define me as it once did; but its always been there, like a raven perched on a blue-cloaked shoulder.
Like Woden, I have a great deal of power at my disposal, but also a great deal of vulnerability. Woden might be the savage inciter of ecstatic fury (and this is the meaning of his name); but he is also the lonely old man on the moor, melancholy and (in my own subjective experience) suffering from wounds which have never fully healed.
Most of my life this pattern – intense power but also intense vulnerability – has made things difficult. Many times I have felt moved by awesome forces within me, yet been unable to bring them into manifestation due to a host of limitations, as well as some rather brutal depression and anxiety issues.
These latter two are now pretty much conquered, but as my personal alchemy unfolds I am beginning to come to grips with the root of my vulnerability: fear.
Let me explain what I mean. Often in my life I have held back, not brought my power, my will into action. I’ve retreated; I’ve given up without being forced to; I’ve convinced myself to bow down to resistance; I’ve deferred to others even though I know better. I am an unconventional person, yet I have somehow tried to force myself to fit within the conventional world.
This habit of not rocking the boat of those with more conventional (read: often boring and pointless) ideals, values, beliefs and habits is a bad one. I feel I should be subverting the closed borders of other peoples’ lives, not compromising on my wide-ranging spirit in order to keep those closed borders free of disturbance.
Of course in many ways, at many times, I have done just that: thrown spanners in the works of other peoples’ blinkered lives, and I’d like to think that this has had a net positive effect on both them and the world in general. I think that expanding the bounds of what might be called consensus reality is a good thing by definition.
But many other times I’ve compromised my power, passion and potential for the sake of my fear, my insecurity. And that has hurt me and sometimes others, I openly admit! It is a kind of dishonesty, a betrayal of my deepest worth – that which is given to me by Woden. And it also has caused me to harm others, whether by act or omission of act.
As far as I can tell the recently invented Innangard/Utangard distinction so popular in some modern Heathen circles is usually deployed to justify laziness of opinion and spirit. It often seems to breed stagnation and stupidity (as well as a mind-blowingly over-simplified understanding of the Heathens of old).
It seems not much better than the attitude of those people who are glued to the tube 24 hours a day. When I tell people I never watch TV – and don’t in fact own one – they incredulously ask me how I found out about the news. This response revealed the shocking impoverishment of these peoples’ horizons. The Innangard/Utangard crew aren’t much better in most cases.
(Not to mention the fact that television news has got to be far and away the most superficial, biased, sensationalised and idiotic information source you can find – other perhaps than blog websites pertaining to weird fringe Heathen mysticism of course).
I would much prefer to be confused, lost, and contradictory than mired in comfortable illusions. I would much rather walk paths of shadow and pain than slumber in slovenly, ego-bloated ignorance.
I once gave myself to Runa – to Mystery – and when I offered myself, Mystery laughed. “But I already own you, my dear, and always have” was her response. I just wish I could hold onto that with more conviction in the face of my fear.
Satisfied that I am like Woden, who violates the very ethics of the cultures he is at the heart of; who speaks with the dead and schemes with a vision that no one else can perceive; who is willing to kill himself on the world tree in order to encounter an illuminated dialogue with Runa (Mystery)? I hope some small resemblance is apparent.
I’m not saying I hold even a match to Woden’s bonfire; I am little more than a small spark that has blown off from his great conflagration, his river of fire, and I pray that I become a precursor, a way-finder, for the inferno to spread with vigour and without the crooked poison that some so-called Heathens carry in their hearts.
But that will never happen so long as I let fear dictate my actions. And over the years I have concluded that Woden alone cannot help me shatter this fetter, this Valknut.
In recent weeks I have more and more strongly confronted this blockage and wound within myself, this terrible fear-foe. And confronted too its ally, dishonesty, self-deception, a willingness to blind myself to my own thoughts and feelings for the sake of foolish beliefs or what I perceive to be the comfort of others.
I have been racking up terrible debts in the name of fear and dishonesty, debts to both myself and others. At the end of last year I started paying these debts and the result has been massive upheaval in my personal life, indeed in my life as a whole. Much pain and sorrow has emerged from this course of action, pain and sorrow I’ve been pretending I could avoid.
It is not unlike the current economic crisis, which was forged out of unscrupulous individuals’ beliefs that they could defer the consequences of their financial duplicity and rash greed forever. I do not like to compare myself to such persons, but the comparison is there to be made and I do not entertain illusions about my failings.
And yet, now I find myself for the most part facing up to these debts, and though it hurts terribly, I am glad that I am setting imbalances right and owning up to my own needs, wants and character.
I think this is a solid basis for proceeding in my life, or at least I now have the opportunity to forge such a basis, if I can be unflinching in prosecuting this transformative debt repaying.
Fear and dishonesty go together, however. To be honest with myself, and then to act on that, requires a lot of courage, or more precisely, provokes a lot of fear. You can see how as I seek to uproot my self-deceptions I thereby provoke a lot of suffering. And as I say, I do not believe that Woden is able alone to help me shatter this fetter. I need other kinds of guidance.
And a few days ago I realised, based on clues that have been offered to me over the last year, just who it is that might aid me – the great Veraldar guð or World(ly) God – Frey. But more on that is to come…