Northern Woods Mythology

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I’ve been reading the Northern/Norse Mythology again, as I’m working on a book on Yggdrasil, and the all too human stories of the Aesir -Norse Gods and Goddesses- back up some of the points I’m making.

Mythologies are teaching stories. Not fairy tales. The Norse Mythology is every bit as valid as the parables of the Christian Jesus, which he told as story to relay valid concepts to people who might not have developed the understanding to learn directly as an Initiate would learn.

I think one of the myths of America is that everyone is born equal. But how can we be born “equal” when we all have different heredity, different likes and dislikes, and uncommon interests? Rather to say that one of the great blessings about America is that we have the ideal that all people should have equal opportunity. And in coming together, each of us with our specialties, capacity for things that we are good at and that we love doing, everyone benefits. We cannot all be initiates. Some of us will be janitors, some of us school bus drivers, and some of us teachers, and others of us administrators. There is always going to be a hierarchy of some type, whether in spiritual understanding or secular understanding.

Why the sudden turn of topic? I wanted to relate that people not born equal, yet that we all have something unique and special to contribute to humanity. In a way, many of us are always starting out new. Humanity has three circles – an “exoteric” circle wherein people tend to perceive things the same way based upon outward understanding without any real knowledge of the consciousness preceding inside themselves; a “mesoteric” circle of humanity wherein people are beginning to perceive those things going on under the surface of themselves and the exoteric circle of humanity – the fact that others can have a hidden agenda, and that things are not as they seem on the surface; and the “esoteric” circle of humanity containing people who have “woken up” to themselves and the presence of the divine. Jesus could talk to his disciples, the initiates, at a much higher level than he could speak to the crowds who came to listen to him on the hillsides of Galilee. Stories serve the purpose of providing higher knowledge to those who are ready to contemplate their meaning. Thus this is as true for the teachings of the Northern Woods as it was for the great Rabbi of Nazareth.

So I have made my usual roundabout way of getting to a point, and for those of you who may still be reading, I think that at any point of learning, we are always at a new beginning.

I once brought a friend of mine to a Gurdjieff meeting. She seemed like a good fit. She had experience with Gurdjieff’s ideas, and she was very interested in conscious expansion. But when she met my old teacher, Don Petacchi, he spoke of new beginnings, of always being at a beginning, and she quite lost her temper. “I’ve done so much work,” she complained, “and I am so tired of always being at a beginning. I have already been working with these ideas for years!” And she went on in that vein for the evening, and the rest of us who had come to maybe learn from this gentle man, lost that opportunity in the face of her viciousness. But since the memory stays with me, it wasn’t really a lost opportunity after all, but a valuable teaching from the point of life.

For years I wanted to be “advanced.” I wanted people to see how much I knew and respect me for it. I don’t care about that any more. I am always at a new beginning, and always at a crossroads of choice. I have few attachments to the outcomes of my endeavors, as life has taught me that things will often arise to keep me from traveling the path smoothly. If others benefit from my work, that is my true goal. Not to be used for my hard work, but rather that my work serve that others learn to value themselves, their own hard work, and their own unique contribution to life itself.

In the Northern Woods, Frau Holle and the Norns are always spinning and weaving, manufacturing from moonlight, shadow, and clouds, the substances of desire, longings, and dreams, so that humans can have the stuff of conscious experience that they need for their experience of choosing, deciding, and learning from the laws of cause and effect via the holy gifts of the three God-brothers Odin, Hoenir, and Lodhur.

Every action leads to an opposite or equal reaction. An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. I’ll bet Sir Isaac Newton never realized that his laws of mechanical physics were already in use by the Norns, ancient weavers of the Northern Mystery and Norse Mythology. This fact just goes up to back up the point I’m making in my work on Yggdrasil that the Norse -those ancient Rune masters and mystery weavers of the Northern Forests- had their own pathway to initiation, wisdom, and power of the spirit.

The Northern Mystery is based upon the teaching of the Triad, and here is one profound yet simple observation:

(1) the Creative force manifests at our birth. Here Odin, Hoenir, and Lodhur have offered their gifts of Ond, Vili, and Litr to humanity. These might be roughly translated as Spirit/Soul, Will/Mind, and Blooming Hue (blood, vitality, sensuality, and sexuality).

(2) the Destructive force manifests at our death where we receive the gift of a life review. The powers of the Destructive force are overseen by Loki’s children, Hela (Goddess of Death), Fenris (Wolf of Greed), and Jormundgand (Midgard Serpent).

(3) the Equalizing force or Being force held by the powers and position of the Norns overshadow us while we are between birth and death. The Norns oversee everything while we are “in Time” – our time in physical life. Within us we contain our own Triad. I may say more on this topic in a later blog, or I may not, but I am talking about it in my forthcoming book on Yggdrasil.

I prefer to think of the so-called Destructive force as the Catalytic force, because these Powers act to catalyze our actions in life so that we might evolve our spirit/soul complex. Things that oppose us, grow us, as we observe from studying the three Aettir (Eights) of the Elder Futhark, especially in the second Aettir (Hel’s Aett) when we meet the challenge of Hagalaz, the need inherent in Nauthiz, and the stillness of Isa, whereupon we get in touch with ourselves and decide what to do. Jera and Eihwaz remind us that occurrences in life are seasonal and cyclical. Perthro stands in at the place of Mystery and chance. We cannot always anticipate what will happen or what the response will be to the actions we choose to take, but perseverance and endurance stand us in good stead for Algiz (crowning our achievements) and ultimate Victory (Sowelo).

Hela represents not only the larger death each of us will experience in life, but the many smaller ones that arise and fall away so that we might experience new beginning continually. This awareness brings us into harmony with the work of the Norns – and into Presence with ourselves IF we develop the practice of centering, grounding, and remembering ourselves. Hela has been a great teacher for me in embodying my spirit through rooting and grounding myself in the present moment.

Fenris ( the devourer) is perhaps unjustly despised as the Wolf of Greed, and indeed he does symbolize the dangers of unchecked longings and desire running amok, but he also stands in the position of the emotions of survival, which need not descend into the charnel pit of the “seven deadly sins” if we can recognize the finger they point at our true needs. For example, if I am angry at someone and don’t speak to it, that anger becomes rage that only grows stronger inside me the more I try to repress it. If I am envious of the success of an artist friend who got her own solo show, and don’t act upon my own need for creative expression, that envy descends into jealousy. So these “negative” emotions don’t have to grow into something monstrous, if I recognize them and act on them in my own interest.

Jormundgand surrounds the world, and he represents the layers of conditioned sleep that humans fall into (exoteric circle of humanity) until we individually choose to “wake up” to our own serpent power and raise that energy upward along our spine, world by world, until we attain the level of Asgard, or objective consciousness. This the Aesir are glad to see!

Again, I speak more to the process in the book I am birthing to completion. And it is that process which I am returning to now after a disruptive week at the bus yard, taking care of the needs of life in my day job!

May you all have an opportunity within your day this day, to follow your bliss!


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