Following on from my last post I had a curious realisation. You see, at various points I’ve felt that the myths of Siegfried/Sigurd provide for me some important clues into my personal evolution. Yet I’ve never been able to find my way into applying them in my life.
Certainly Jan Fries’ interpretation of the myth of Sigurd in Seidways has been a helpful stepping stone. Fries sees Sigurd’s discovery of the speech of birds after tasting the heart of Fafnir as symbolic of an attainment of expanded consciousness, a kind of enlightenment, an initiation into the Big Picture. I find this a very helpful interpretation, and relevant to many of my own interests and concerns, but somehow until now I’ve stopped at that point.
Recently the next step opened, however: I noticed that the meaning of the name Siegfried is “Victorious Peace” or more specifically, “Victorious Frith”. Sigurd means “Victory Guard” – presumably a guardian of the peace. This seems inescapably parallel to the Sufi moniker Ali Salaam that I wrote about in my last post: a fusion of fury and tranquillity. Rather Odinnic actually.
The old word frith bears some consideration: frith is a time of fruitful, ordered and harmonious activity. It is bountiful. It is a very active, creative peace. There might even be some conflict mixed into it, however it’s a constructive conflict rather than a gratuitous one. The idea of such a state being victorious in my life is very enticing.
So, hilariously, I find my Sufi interests providing the perspective I needed to advance in my understanding of my Heathen path. I love the fact that the tapestry of wyrd is always more subtle and complex than we expect or might like to think!
What does this ideal of Victorious Peace mean for my life? I’m taking it in two directions – and folks, really this article provides a model for how we can use mythology as a tool and vessel for our own growth so please take what you read here and put it to good use … and feel free to tell me about how that goes for you, too.
Harigast is one of the names of Odin and means something like “Ruler of the Host”. It goes deeper than this, actually – Harigast is a provoker and inciter, spurring the war band up into paroxysms of berserk fury. As such he is capable of achieving tremendous things, but potentially also capable of causing terrible things. To me this is a very primal aspect of Odin.
In my reflections I’ve come to see this aspect of Odin as coming through me when I get on my furious, self-righteous high horse. I find something about which to feel outraged, something about which I am free to adopt a self-justifying posture, and then I scythe contemptuously through any and all dissent. Yet as I explained in my last post, allowing myself to give fuller vent to this tendency has not been nearly as satisfying or helpful as I expected. You need more than just brute force to make your way in the world.
Yet it would be false of me to deny this part of myself too. I cannot just repress this Righteous Destroyer – as Phil Hine says, “a god denied is a devil created”. I think that this Odinnic force causes all kinds of problems when repressed into ugly, twisted shapes – indeed, one of the problems of Christianity is that it encourages us to ignore this aspect of our Heathen heritage, allowing it to become subverted and twisted and vile.
To that end I have decided to adopt the name Harigast as a creative pseudonym. The purpose of doing this is not to conceal my identity (I’m happy to publicly declare that Harigast is a literary vehicle). However in doing this I can (when appropriate) explicitly disclaim responsibility for the opinions expressed and/or the manner of their expression. I can allow Harigast expression in a contained, safe form by doing this. This allows me to cleanly acknowledge this aspect of my nature without causing monumental trouble.
Sometimes permitting something you have struggled with causes the need to express it to abate. Giving oneself permission to transgress one’s ego is sometimes so satisfying that the need to transgress subsides. I’m not sure if this will happen with Harigast, but I certainly feel more at home with myself since I prepared his portrait and wrote him a short bio:
Harigast is fury incarnate, a self-righteous proclaimer of violent truths and armoured dogmas, usually provoked by, and in opposition to, self-righteous proclaimers of violent truths and armoured dogmas. Self-appointed avenger of wrong-doing,
Harigast all too easily becomes the very breed of monster he seeks to demolish. His seething outbursts can be beautiful, but also disastrous – as much to Harigast as to his intended victim!
Harigast is a very forceful character and often sneaks hiddenly into Henry’s words… so while many opinions are expressed in his articles Henry, even if he wrote them, does not necessarily agree with them!
Harigast wrote a piece that will appear, Gods willing, in the next issue of Hex Magazine. I’m also making him my co-blogger for this journal; hence we now both have a little bio.
While away travelling I realised that I rush terribly. I am rarely focussed on being where I am; I’m always running off into the arms of one thing or other. Extreme emotional trips – such as fury or vulnerability – can be a trick I use to avoid facing the realities of my actions and circumstances.
I’ve therefore started meditating regularly after not doing so for a long time. I’m working with Buddhist techniques of mindfulness to attend more to the automatic assumptions and attributions I make about myself and others (particularly the crappy negative ones).
And I’m trying to hold onto the notion that you have to “go slow to go fast”, as an old mentor used to tell me repeatedly. This last bit of wisdom is really potent. I think it is an essential ingredient for feeding frith. Holding to it is part of achieving victory in the task of building and guarding a victorious frith-stead.
It’s a slow process, bringing about this change. Nevertheless I am whole-heartedly committed to this ideal.
Sometimes I find myself writing about matters spiritual in order to avoid having to actually live in the endless ordinary dilemmas of the present moment (in fact a little bit of that is happening right now as I type this). Consequently it might be that in future I will put less energy into this journal and more into spiritual practice itself. I invite my readers to get more active with their commentary in order to make up the shortfall ;-)