Óðinn, Hardship as Relationship


He is the god of the old world, old ways, of vital forces unravelling, of magic and poetry, of might and of losing it all, of frenzy and wisdom. He is a traveller. He is the ruler. He can appear as an old tired man and then become vigorous in the flashing blink of his one eye. He will lead you astray just to let you learn how to find your more true self; to test if you are mighty enough to stay sane. With him, staying sane means you are not afraid to become a Fool.

What might look as a randomly picked collection of Óðinn‘s features is in reality very painful personal experience. Hard times embraced me quite some time ago and I feel it is about time to tell stories filled with darker shades. Because here, in the darkness, the light is being born.

I have always wanted to channel cheerful and loving energy, hope and joy. I have always wanted to be the change, to be the beacon, to be the friend who never lets anybody down. So I did that. For some reason I have always taken for granted that as I sow, so shall I reap. But the most abundant fruit that was harvested was betrayal, ignorance, anger and even something what I will call evil. I was an abused child. I was an abused woman. I am still. I wondered why this all happens. Thank goodness I am such a stubborn warrior unwilling to victimize herself. So many people will tell you the right things will come just if you are ready and righteous. The only thing left for me is acceptance. Acceptance of what there is. Not of what should be there, ideally, as they are saying, according to some hypothetical Rates of Life® table. Actually it is quite common to be deceived even when you are good and generous and genuine. Actually you can be deceived because of that. Life is not fair. Justice is not inherent. There is no rule your innocence will be repaid with good, you can easily end up with a load of cruel pranks.

Some people are marked: they carry the ravenblack mark of mishaps, troubles, bad luck, hardship, illness, waste and almost fatal losses. They seem to draw troubles onto their life paths. Or, as we – the marked people – would prefer to state it – troubles draw us into their ways. I believe this mark is Óðinn‘s mark. And that you can become his apprentice if you are “lucky“ enough to be (born) marked. And I believe you should become his apprentice if you want to stay sane and not become the victim of your own Wyrd.

There is a very profound treasure hidden in all the misery. Misery and losing keeps you going, it keeps you moving, wandering. It won‘t let you to stand still and rot for longer periods of time. And there is also the tough way of learning things, tough and effective for us. We need to lose to be able to fully realize what we had and what we have lost. We can hold great fortunes and not be aware of it. We can be so easily consumed by getting something we do not have, we can be consumed by silly cravings. We can ignore all abundance and wealth. And usually that is what we do. We are ignorant until we loose it. Being Óðinn‘s child means you will frequently become a loser. And being a frequent loser can teach you big lessons. About you. About what you really need. About what you REALLY appreciate. It can teach you how to lose and not to lose yourself. It can make you existentially lean, so to say.

Imagine you have always had a dream. And you do, don‘t you?! You invest all your energy, skills, time and thousands of other ingredients to achieve it and make your dream come true. Maybe you will get there, or you will get very close to it. And that is the point where the bad luck hits you. Everything will fall apart, no matter how much you try and work to save the situation. Imagine this happens repeatedly.

Or imagine you long for something special. Or for somebody. You long for true love, friendship, good work, because you really are exceptionally skilled in some particular field. Your technique is great, your creativity bursting, you feel you are the right person, the time is right, the location as well. But you keep failing, losing, you and your work is continuously being rejected. You can be so easily broken by it. The sadness and ruin fills every corner of your life.

But there is a way out. There is a path you still can go. It is not easy and it needs an exceptional soul. This is the truth behind failure. Behind loss. You can‘t lose your soul, you can just stamp on it. There is no authority entitled to judge your life. To judge you. Or even condemn you. Your might is in being proud. Just as you are.

And so you become a wanderer, a traveller through worlds, maybe losing this or that, but knowing about all the fragility and volatility. And new losses will renew your knowing. You can learn to see how illusory human requirements can be. And you can learn to know that they mostly are illusory and unimportant. And so you maybe will become an outcast, but you will become wise enough to know you can‘t be cast out of the Life itself. And you will become able to spot the real sources of happiness, you will become passionate and calm. And sometimes you will be overwhelmed and frenzy will take over you. With more and more experience you will realize you simply are. Not such-and-such. You will get in touch with the Raw.

Let‘s be honest – the Raw is awe-inspiring. Raw people are rare. And they are provoking. Provo-King. They don‘t obey the rules, they are ruled by strange things, by themselves. They are wandering between the worlds, because there is no room for them in any particular place. If they are wise, they are not arrogant. Not at all. They know they are just one of the colours that make the world abundant. They can be very creative. There is always a touch of Death in their steps, because they are so intimately close to Life. Close to being alive in every second. The more they lose, the more intense emotions they are experiencing. They are being moved by a Force stronger than plain human will. They are moved by Óðr and his Divine Meadness.

So, please, next time you will feel you are losing something, open your heart to the whole spectrum of your feelings and accept the truth that every birth is also a very painful experience. And that even the birth is the promise of death. Life and Death: two faces of the Great One. And One-eyed as a way to transcend duality.

Anna Wilhelmina Saxlova is an animist, artist & seeress practising shamanism, herbalism and the art of being. She specializes in healing domestic animals and helping nature spirits. She lives in the Czech Republic on a small farm where she runs (not just) a farm animal sanctuary called Heidrún located next to a brook where ancient Celts panned for gold – the land here still whispers and shimmers and remembers these times, old gods are weaved into her body.

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