He’s the restless, boundary crossing, prophetic sorcerer, the necromantic eternally wandering conman. If he’s a god of warriors, it’s The Already Dead kind, leader of souls. In this, he has more in common with Hermes Kthonios, with Dionysos, than say the Classical Zeus.
To be sure, his Mysteries can be and are accessible in war, but they are also found it the forbidden places, the execution sites which are external to society, but central to the numinous, the taboo. They are also found in the “unmanly” arts of magic, the asocial acts of exiles and outlaws.
When Tyr makes sacrifice of his warrior’s hand to preserve social cohesion? Odin rips out his own eye for his own ends, sacrifices himself to himself, because he is obsessed with gaining esoteric wisdom. To be sure, gods and men benefit, but that’s not the primary reason.
As such, using schemas which place Odin as exemplar of stability and social order seems naive at best and shallow at worst.
I’ve said before that he truly is a monster, in the original sense of the word - that of an omen, warning, or portent. A sign and signifier of the fundamental UNTRUSTWORTHY, and disruptive strangeness of the numinous. That he has mastered these esoteric powers, and thusly is still able Bring Forth (the root meaning of poetry, as a word) to his own advantage is an echo of the ambiguity and inhumaness associated with witch and shamanistic figures throughout the histories of various cultures including the so-called West.
It’s this Bringing Forth that gets reductivised into so-called Fertility. While Old Norse culture appears patrilineal, we nonetheless need to recall that the Disir echo a similar reflex in various Germanic and Indo-European cultures - the Matrones or clan Mothers. This power to Bring Forth life was recognised by our forebears and was probably the subject of its own cultic Mysteries.
The reason I mention this is because, while he is given the heiti Allfather, Gelding is also applied. Whether this is an ironic allusion or symptomatic of witchfigures being seen as barren, I’m not sure, however given reference to his subsisting on wine, thus marking him as unusual even amongst the gods, the signifier of ambiguity and strangeness is worth noting.
Odin’s potency is always nonstandard. Not for him the ithyphallic attributes of Freyr, or even the phallic symbolism suggested by Mjolnir. Instead, if anything, for all his womanising, his power comes from receptive, negative capability. His genderbending, his willed sacrificial submission, the giving up of a vital organ.
This is not Skyfather territory. To echo Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets Weird, the Weird turn Pro.”
As such, if this was more understood, I feel as if Heathenry would benefit, not only as an illustration that there are multiple ways to experience the numinous and undergo the processes of Being, but also because more people might understand that there is more to it than some 19th century caricature of a deep and rich worldview.
There is a whole level of nuance and subtlety, vibrancy and complexity which get left out, to say nothing of adaptability and ontological mobility we miss by haphazardly attempting to make things fit what we’re used to.
To paraphrase: He is not stranger than we suppose, he is even stranger than we Can suppose.
wasn’t anything like Pam ever expected. From a subtle fade of light, to a crash
and bang, she had run through the possibilities multiple times when locked up
behind Joker’s cell. Never had she believed it would be full of tears from blue
eyes, like rain from two small skies, and a kiss of more woe, like Juliet and
her Romeo. She could hardly hear a thing, and sight was as if staring skyward
from the bottom of some dim sea. From blue skies rained tears, from a face
crowned with hair golden like the sun.
had lost faith in sunlight, but now it was all she believed.
Oh, Ivy thought, unable to give Harley the
mercy of closing her eyes as the darkness cloaked her from all sides. Nothing
would budge; her body had never before betrayed her so. There she is. The reason…my reason…I wish…I could disappear without
regret. Life was so much easier, before you. Plain and clear. Black and white.
Green and meat. People and earth. I regret ever meeting you…I regret every
touch, every kiss, and every moment before and between.
Imagine young-apprentice-witch Bones, who’s excellent at healing spells but kind of fumbling at anything else. They’re working on summoning companion spirits, and while some people excel (witch!Spock summons a beautiful nymph named Uhura), Bones messes it up, and accidentally summons a demon instead. Demon!Jim could wreak havoc and mayhem but finds the young witch cute, and decides to hang around as his companion. Bones tries to send him back, and can’t, but finds him to be a strong ally.
The young apprentice witch Leonard McCoy had dreaded this class since the start of the term. His specialty was in healing, not summonings; he was still trying to master basic element spells, how was he supposed to bring a companion to his side?
Their professor, Mr. Fizzlepot, was droning on and on from the centre of the circle of students in his large, stone lined room. It was filled with knick knacks and oddities which always seemed to shift places every class. Currently his nasally voice was bouncing off the moss lined walls.
“Whatever creature you summon will remain with you for the rest of the school year.” His gray eyes looked around the room, trying for meaningful but remaining his usual dull, “And, on the rare occasion, for the rest of your lives. Remember, the spirit chooses the witch, not the other way around, so if you are accepted, be honoured.”
All the students nodded, and Leonard was glad to see he wasn’t the only one who looked nervous. Even Spock, the half human star pupil, had the slightest edge of being unsettled.