Who is Odin?
As I was writing my last lesson for my Immersion students I was trying to covey what and who Odin is to me. I was very lucky and wasn’t raised as a typical American with a monotheist religion to shape or form how I view divinity. I wasn’t caught in the trappings of guilt, fear, and unworthiness that being a human is subvertly felt by those people raised in these “one truth” faiths. My Mom was a geochemist, and my Dad a very successful businessman, so organized religion and faith had no place in my childhood days.
I had the joy of discovering through nature, trial and error and a childhood “imaginary friend” what the Divine was to my life; and it was only at adulthood I discovered the trauma and damage organized religion can have on a person, as well as, the rift and disconnection one might experience when God is viewed as a distant, untouchable, judge whose entire existence is based on deciding our “merit” in the matter of our eternal souls.
So who and how do I view Odin, as well as the influence this very complicated and Mystical God has in my life? I just was reading a very good book called Elhaz Ablaze, and I will share an excerpt of this refreshing book as it says precisely how I feel on the subject. *disclaimer* This is just my personal view and like everything it is just one opinion (mine) and like rear-ends, everyone has one!
“There is no god and this is exactly our God.” – Ian Read
“I begin this chapter with the proposition that religion (and even more so the term spirituality) cannot be really defined, as magic cannot be, neither among practitioners nor among academics. There exist multitudes of definitions of each by academics and magicians, but not one is agreed upon by all. Émile Durkheim tried to explain religion as a social phenomenon, while magic, he claimed, was performed solitary. There is something to this, but obviously he was disproved by many ethnologists, who documented communal magic performed in tribes. To separate religion and magic completely is not possible either, as many Catholics should know, though they almost always neglect this knowledge. Furthermore, there has always been a conflict in Religious Studies between those who claim that religion can only be studied ‘objectively’ by those who are irreligious (like Durkheim, Mauss, and Freud), and those who believe that religion can only be understood by someone who has had actual religious experiences (like Otto, Eliade, and Jung). Though I believe that both approaches are necessary to understand all aspects of religion, I definitely belong to the latter, phenomenological school, which explains religion as asui generis phenomenon; religion exists because the Divine exists, and a human being is a homo religiosus. More than that: humans are ecstatic beings, who will never fulfill their complete potential until they experience states of Higher Consciousness. Transformation and ecstasy, illumination and inspiration, creativity and Self-exploration, meditation and world(s)-expeditions, these are at the core of human consciousness, which – according to the myths of our forefathers and foremothers – is a Gift of the God who Himself represents these qualities: Óðinn, Woden, or Wotan.
This is also true of another major deity of the wider, older Indo-European tradition: Shiva. Shiva is considered in Tantric Shaivism as the embodiment of (enlightened) ‘pure Consciousness.’ “The greatest living German poet,” Rolf Schilling, said in his poetic genius and divine intuition that Odin is Shiva’s “divine brother.” In Kashmir Shaivism the Divine – represented by the deity Shiva – is present to everything. It is nothing but pure Consciousness, the fullness of absolute I-Consciousness or purnahanta. However, with regard to Ian Read’s statement quoted in the beginning paragraph, there is a mystical paradox present here: this divine I-Consciousness is now here and yet nowhere to be found. This divine state is a Void, a Nothingness, a state of in-betweeness, which cannot be fully grasped: In Kashmir Shaivism this void is precisely found in all the in-between states – the most important and yet not easy to catch being the void between breathing in and breathing out. And in this in-between is found the pure consciousness, the thought-free state: nirvikalpa… “There is no god where I am” was also one of Crowley’s statements in his Book of the Law and it indicates a state in which one becomes this divine “I Am.” It is not a passive state, in which you “receive” or perceive God; rather the receiver, the giver, and the gift given are One, not separate. This Mystery is encoded in the rune Gebo, too. In this state there is no god; YOU are God. The Indian mystic and a contemporary representative of the philosophia perennis tradition, Ravi Ravindra, explains that the state of ‘I AMness’ reflects a non-dual state of Consciousness. This state is not transferable and has various names in different traditions. It refers to an awakened state of Consciousness that has been described as ‘The Witness,’ a luminous mirror-mind that is one with everything witnessed; a still point of is-ness around which everything turns, changes, transforms, and comes into being; an openness that transmits a radical freedom to man by partaking in what the German mystic Meister Eckhart called the Eternal Now (“das ewige Nun”), becoming one with the witnessed eternity hidden as emptiness, or in-betweeness, or nothingness: Ginnungagap.
This No-Thingness is the secret door through which we enter the Divine. The mystical path of contemplation is actually a very dynamic and disruptive process that tears us apart from the womb of the world. All mystics knew this and never believed in ‘big daddy up there,’ but rather thought and taught in parables, allegories and symbolic understanding of the Word and Nature, where they found the “Signature of All Things,” as Jakob Böhme called it. The mystic’s transformation is an active Becoming and a motionless Being, a process and a state of mind; in short a state which is paradoxical and cannot be grasped by intellectual reflection, nor pinned down by logic. These things can only be transmitted by symbols, signs, and secrets to those who have the right mind to decode them in a state of Higher Consciousness. ...Beyond the literal stands the metaphorical: the viewed object is not there to represent itself, but some other, deeper meaning that cannot be communicated in words.” In this case the symbol is a means of experiencing the eldritch world, the numinous, essentially a personal experience that is not transferable. At this point the seen symbol provides access to the unconscious, the collective, and the cosmic. When Odin in his Yggdrasil-Ordeal sacrificed himself to himSelf – sjálfr sjálfúm mér – he reached that ecstatic state of pure I-Consciousness, a mysterious paradoxical state that cannot be expressed verbally without contradictory statements, as Odin’s words themselves are truly paradoxical. How can he sacrifice himself to Himself, and why? The paradox actually is that this pure I-Consciousness is only experienced when it is emptied of all ‘I-ness.’ The root of that pure I-Consciousness is actually a Void, a ‘No-Thing,’ which indeed is the opposite of what the word ‘nothing’ connotes in common language: It can be given no coherent definition, hence it is No-Thing, Nothing. It is every potential and possibility which we have within ourselves but have not yet made manifest. Thus it is all that...implies the omni-jective perspective...we ourselves contain this Absolute and are Nothing, for our Essence is not bound by the Universe. Thus there is no god, but actually this is exactly our God: Odin, who plays with Ginnung and shapes the worlds according to the deeper structures of Consciousness. This Ginnung is the Void or what Chaos Magicians call Chaos, a magically charged void that pre-existed the universe as we know it and which still and always will permeate the very fabric of the cosmos. This is the reason why magic is possible, because the universe is made of ‘void-stuff,’ which makes galaxies explode and quantums appear out of ‘nothing’ and disappear into ‘nothing.’ The creatio ex nihilo idea of the Christian Church Fathers appears rather naïve compared to the concepts that the pagans were using. Hence Odin is a profoundly mystical, magical, and mysterious deity that represents Consciousness; only those who are prepared to go through the same trials and ordeals as He did can truly know Him. Many might profess that they worship Odin and call themselves Odinists or Ásatrúar, but in truth they only worship the archetypal ‘father figure’ in ‘heathen’ disguise; ~again, in practice Odin is not a god for many, but for the rare few.”
~Elhaz Ablaze: A Compendium of Chaos Heathenry (Kindle Location 325). Heimlich A Laguz. Kindle Edition.
As we can see, if we delve deeper into the mysteries of a thing that we call our faith; we can begin to perceive the many faucets and attributes of a being, as well as the way in which how we view them can then become manifest in us ruling our own lives.
Our Norse ancestors were a very proud and self-reliant lot, and I cant help but feel to view Odin (or any of the Gods) in a human construct of a entity that just sits and watches the life and times of humans in Midgard as one would conduct a science experiment is missing the point of being not only a strong spiritual person, but the opportunity to act as an active co-creator in our own lives would be sorely missed.
Odin had many names as well as many guises to accompany those names. Don’t just limit Him to a reflection of the monotheistic idea of God. If you do, I find you just might be missing out of your potentiality of your own God-self, which is very powerful indeed.