Day 1 on Yggdrasil
Today begins my Nine Days upon Yggdrasil. The preparations are made as they can be. I will be in total silence and severely limited human contact. I have sained the site with a candle with snowflakes on it, symbolizing the melting of Niflheim by Musplheim, my previous state into this new Self.
I have some nervousness, given I’ve not fasted Nine Days in a row before, nor felt the kind of pain in meditation I will here. I will be writing at least once if not twice a day, cataloging my experiences. So far, I have sained with fire by the aforementioned candle, set up sacred space within my tent via the diagram below:
The altar is set up as below:
As I go through this, I will be “staining” the runes with my blood. I will draw how many to do so at the beginning of the day, stain them and work with them throughout the day, using both Taking Up the Runes and Odin’s work for me (Odin’s words). I have thrown the runes and, per Odin’s instruction of working through the runes in this way by number of runes in the number of the Futhark, I will first be working with and as I drew two Runes. According to Odin, I may experience spiritual phenomenon at once, but it is also as likely to be experience through the day or in dreams.
I will place Odin’s rosary, and the Bifrost mala on the pentacle and stain the runes while internally chanting their names. I have a physical Vow of Silence all Nine Days.
I have done this, and I feel power from the Runes, more connected. It took some work to get my blood, given my skin is thick and my pads leathery. Once done, I bleed enough to stain and no more. I will be sleeping. By Northern European reckoning, “tomorrow” is not until nightfall, so this lesson may last until then.
Earlier, when I was saining, I claimed the space about and inside the tent. To tie myself to this Nine Day working even deeper, I stained the large candle (which I use as a dual representation of Odin as Wanderer, Runemaster and Allfather, and as representative of Odin, Vili and Ve), the four heads of my ancestor representation, and the statue of Odin, also recognizing myself as His Son.
As Odin has sked, I will be working through Taking Up the Runes, and for and I will be inscribing both on my forehead. With it, I will experience through astral travel and shortly, sleep, the desirability and strength that I will share with Kora, Nicole and one other whom Odin has not told me of.
I don’t remember anything of my astral travel, but from speaking with her later, Kora was “quite pleased”. The dream I had was odd and quite disjointed. At some juncture Bona Dea and a bunch of her fellows were in a procession, with me facilitating some role or another. We get to the ocean and I and a beautiful young woman about my age with dark hair and beautiful brown eyes (perhaps Asian?) helps me into the water. She pushes me under and I start to drown as she pushes me further. I hear a voice yell something to her, and I am heaved out of the water. She holds me a moment, blushes and says “I’m sorry, I sometimes forget humans can’t hold their breath as long as we can.” When I awake I wasn’t sure if the processional and woman were related, and am still fuzzy on it.
The first time spending conscious time on the Tree; I’ve felt a dull throb of pain in my body from last night after I stained the objects on the altar. Now, I feel a sharp thrust of metal into my side, and I barely remember not to scream. Then, my leg goes up and I feel blood dribble down my chest, my face, drips down onto the ground as a I sway upon Yggdrasil. Keep in mind: this is not a physical description of what I am doing, but the effect of the pain, swaying, etc., I do feel in all its sensation. This first time was spent in the tent, and it is spiritually impactful, but after grabbing some water and going outside to do this, I can say actually binding your foot to a physical tree to be enhancing to the experience.
Throughout this Nine Day period I will have a rope about my foot as a physical representation of my hanging on the Tree. I will not remove it until after the Ninth Day, barring emergencies. The loop around the tree is simple; find a good sized branch around which to loop the rope, and pull taut, allowing your left to lift as high as you are able. Once here, meditate or spiritually engage the tree as Yggdrasil (asking the tree’s permission first and leaving offerings after each session) and lower your leg if it gets number or is too pained by counts of Nine, and rest on the ground, meditating further until done.
I wear a hat made of leather, wide-brimmed, every time I leave the tent. Given that Siberian shamans may be the remnants of Norse/Germanic/etc. peoples in origin, having Nine worlds on their own World Tree, climbing it being part of shamanic journeys, etc., I took on their idea of hat wearing. Their idea behind it is that it protects the crown of the head where Father Sky or other spirits come in to speak, and that to have a bare head invites spirits to come in. While I have more than adequate spiritual psychic/magical./etc. shielding, having a physical hat barrier has proven spiritually valuable and pushes spirits to actually communicate with me instead of sentence here or “feeling” there.
This First Day, working with and has given me the ability to handle this experience, and further, to accept the status, spiritually and perhaps within the community, it will give me. I will eat now, and come back to writing. As a note, in working with the runes, I will be signing them as I can on appropriate things (i.e. food, drink, body, etc.) throughout the day.
I find it ironic that the First Day midday meal was beef broth. directly means “cattle” and is the horns of the auroch, a kind of Northern European buffalo. Signing and into the broth and thanking the animals and plants, I first poured out offerings after taking the first sip. Offerings are important; they link us to the world around us in reciprocity, allowing us to fulfill with those who help us, great and small. Offerings don’t have to be of food, I’ve found. Just giving time, attention, devotion, or doing things that help the plants, animals, spirits, Gods, etc. are often offering enough. This, again, goes back to reciprocity as seen in , gift-for-a-gift. Sometimes just listening or offering help to a person can be an offering to Deity/spirits; you might not know they work with Goddess “A” or spirit “X”.
Nicole, my fiancee, is a blessing. She helped set the tent up with my brother, Dustin, and will be bringing me the midday meal. In her own way, she is going through these Nine Days with me. Whether check to make sure I have enough to drink or that I’m not in danger (the weather is in the 80º’s F and my diet is liquid per Odin’s instructions), she has been incredibly loving and supportive. I am glad I was able to say what I needed to say before I began this, but I will write what I would have liked to say had I more time.
Nicole, I love you. From the moment we met, I love you. We have grown so deep, so strong together, and have faced things in each other and ourselves neither, I feel, though we would. Yet we have, and though we have had, at times, a rocky road, I am relieved, elated, honored, to be able to call you beloved. You’ve helped me overcome so much of my past, but more than that, you’ve helped me overcome myself and claim Me as I am meant to be without fear or shame. Before you I denied myself, my bisexuality, my spiritual path, who and what I am. Now, I don’t just accept myself, but love mySelf! You have gone through so much just to be with me, I stand amazed. You have moved through the abuse at the hands of David, and rejected your father’s in turn. You have pursued who you want to be despite protest and abuse from your family, your own doubt, and society itself. You provide warmth and comfort when people need it, and a slap of reality when called for. You have made strides in your life, physically and mentally and spiritually that take most years, but you take no time at all. Your love is something I choose the return, not an obligation or addiction; a true gift, a true expression, a true love. I love you, Nicole.
Something Odin has asked me to do, in the spirit of and , is take stock of my status, my strengths, weaknesses, etc. Kind of like a spiritual SWOT analysis that identifies Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, usually used to evaluate one’s employability as it was first designed by industrial psychologists. It requires one to be honest, both negatively and positively, and it can be a good grade of both the person’s mindset and aptitude or abilities. The manner I will be using it in, I will be doing a few: physical, mental, and spiritual, analyzing where I am, where I am not, etc. with each category.
Physical SWOT Analysis
Strengths: Good build, strong upper and lower body, hardy, warm-bodied, able to withstand extended exposure to the cold, trained in multiple disciplines of hand-to-hand combat, able to withstand physical pain, dropping weight (250 lb. 2 months ago, 234 lb. now), average height for American, can walk 5 miles, can run 1-2 miles reliably without tiring, knows basic massage therapy, can grab objects with feet, somewhat flexible (thanks to Wii Fit), deeply resistant to getting sick, eating healthier foods/portions, likes teas
Weaknesses: Obese, asthma when hit by a cold/flu (occasionally), high blood pressure, not had physical in a few years, not always good about portion control, not always good about diet, not good with high heat with humidity (i.e. 85°F and muggy), likes caffeinated drinks and similar stimulated drinks
Opportunities: Weight loss to healthy regions, increased lung capacity with more deep breathing and meditation, getting a physical and bill of good health, eat normalized proportions, handle heat better with more outdoor exposure and meditation, cutting out caffeinated drinks, get into another martial art (i.e. kendo)
Threats: Laziness in exercising, not doing needed checkups, gorging, not doing needed corrections otherwise due to stress or lack of caring
Mental SWOT Analysis
Strengths: Able to grasp symbolic thought easily, excellent at writing, proofing and editing, reads body language well, understands complex issues when presented, able to get to meditative and trance states quickly, able to analyze and control my emotions, able to be empathetic, able to be objective, can identify others by face easily, excellent actor, understands a lot about counseling and psychology, favorite subjects of inquiry are: religion, history, psychology, magic, shamanism, spirituality, quantum physics (implications, not math); loves to learn
Weaknesses: Laziness, last minute with projects, can sometimes have difficulty understanding others outside of own lens, not always objective when needed, can obssess over details, can obsess over distractions (i.e. video games), can obsess over item of inquiry, has auditory LD, easily distracted in lectures and conversation, can give impression “I know everything and you know nothing”, can be caustic when tired or perceiving slights, can misread body language and auditory cues badly
Opportunities: Take time to listen, ask questions as needed to better understand others, be more objective and take things less personally in conversation, make more efforts to reduce distractions, do things that motivate me to do the things I want/need to do (i.e. Andrieh Vitimitus’ dice reward system), make sure my inquiries don’t cross into obsession by balancing with other things (i.e. social interaction, video games, books, meditation, etc.)
Threats: Laziness, indulging too much in distractions and/or obsessions, limiting social interactions, not modifying current negative behaviors, not doing motivation work, continuing poor work/study habits
Spiritual SWOT Analysis
Strengths: Son of Odin, blood-brother to Thor, blood-brother to Anubis, has a wide ranging experience in various spiritual modalities, ceremonial magician for five years, Northern Tradition Shaman for two (although did not recognize it until this last year), kundalini is awakened, competent hands-on healer, excellent magician, has worked with all four Elemental Dragons and Kings, has excellent relationship with the landvaettir, very well-connected to Water, Fire and Air; former Catholic of 18 years, can meditate and pray for long periods of time, does regular devotional work (even if it is not physically apparent), is willing to go through spiritual trials to better the Pagan community, Pagan Priest: Five years, Priest of Anubs: Five years, Priest of Odin: Two years
Weaknesses: Can be full of myself at times, most times though I downplay or disregard a lot of my experiences (this is receding); can sometimes be too caught up in spirituality and other two categories suffer, needs to establish links better with Gods who are not my main focus now: Brigid, Bres, Lycrous, Lupa, Bast and Anubis; needs to do banishing and cleansing more often, need to give more time to “distractions” (i.e. books, video games, etc.), need to give myself more “me” time
Opportunities: Balance ego, accepting spiritual experiences as valid, allotting or giving time to things other than spirituality; praying or offering or otherwise connecting to non-foci Deities, allowing more time to relax and do things for myself and others
Threats: Continuing poor habits, letting ego take control, not giving validity in my own experiences, not banishing or cleansing, lapsing in my spirituality, burning out, Dark Night of the Soul, not giving non-foci Deities time, not relaxing or interacting with others
It is odd how being perfectly quet, or at least, without words, makes one feel quite lonely. Everything in nature makes noise; bugs may buzz by wings or slide their extremities around, birds sign, cicadas make their hissing loud noises, dogs bark, but besides a few animals, mostly predators like the spider, I alone am making no noise. The silence is not deafening; it is alive, full of conversation our human ears struggle to hear because we do not know how to be quiet. The little world around me is filled with chatter, calls, conversation. If only more humans could give the world around us a little more silence, we could hear the world around us.
My silence is also full of pain as I hang on Yggdrasil, swaying. I can feel the rope tighten around my leg, my wound caked dry with blood. In my meditations, the pain has been instructive, not just in appreciating Odin’s sacrifice, or the one I will face in Eight Days, but in understanding and appreciating my own endurance. In honoring Odin’s work in this, I honor the work I now do.
It is around five or six in the evening (the sun is bright overhead), and Odin has told me another thing I will go through and endure in each of the Nine Realms: each day I will work with a being from each realm as They call to me. There may be multiple beings in each Realm that call and I will be required to do as They wish and pass their trials or do as They ask to progress to the next Realm. Odin has told me “No tree grows from the top down; likewise for your work on the Tree. Begin in Niflheim.” So I shall. Skadi, Jotun-Goddess of the Hunt, Ice and Snow has called to me and so I will answer Her, on the edges of Niflheim.
From what She has told me, given Odin is asking me to serve as a kind of ambassador between the peoples of Yggdrasil, a great many desire time with me. It seems the other Peoples are keen on resolving Their differences with the Aesir, and vice versa. Skadi has told me I have three workings to do with Her, the first being to learn how to survive. Given I am in a summer climate now, She asks I duplicate Her tasks come Wintertime. Her other two tasks are for me to learn how to hunt. The third is how to clean, skin, and dress a kill. She recognizes that given my finances these latter two may take some time to fulfill but that I should as soon as possible. This brings me to a thought I’ve had for a while: why do people assume the Northern Gods are cruel or stupid? I can take jokes about Thor being a guy who whacks people upside the head when they get out of line, but my Gods are not cruel nor are they seeking to harm me. I find a lot of Northern Gods, Aesir, Vanir, and Jotun, just don’t do “cuddly” like how a lot of other Gods I’ve come across do. It’s a kind of feeling like “We don’t have time for bullshit. If you are here to treat Us like family, understand that We get angry, like any other family member might, if we are trying to communicate with you and are getting ignored.” Skadi, for instance, is not heartless. The climate She lives in is less forgiving, than a temperate region and so, She mirrors it both because it is how She is (Her words) and the Realm Itself gives you two options: survive or die.
Lessons of Niflheim
Skadi Lesson One: Survival
“Survival is more than taking care of immediate needs. It is that, but survival is also learning the land’s features, its climate and the plants and animals within it, as well as how the soil itself works. Why learn about soil? Youlearn a lot about the world around you from it, like what kind of animals live there, and for how long. In the regions of Niflheim where I hunt, deer and similar animals move around a lot to find food. The soil can tell you if they’ve been around, especially hoofmarks and spoor. Once you find a steady food source, like a herd, you need to study it a bit rather than kill the biggest buck. You may end up screwing up the population of prey by killing the biggest. You don’t necessarily need to kill the sick, but they’ll do and it’ll keep the herd strong. When you do kill, thank the animal and use as many parts as you can. If you are honestly trying to survive, waste of a kill catches up with you. Whether the spirit of the animal gets pissed, or the landvaettir do, it is a bad idea to waste regardless. When you waste you take valuable resources away from yourself, too. Since you have mobile shelter I won’t go as deep into it; just know that it, and where you put your own waste, should be your first two concerns after looking at the local soil, plants, and animals.
You might be surprised at how potent a fertilizer your waste can be, so it is an excellent offering to a tree or some secluded, non-grove area. Don’t shit where you eat or pray, though. Don’t shit near prey if you can help it. Be sure to dig deep, deep waste holes if you have the time or space; last thing you need is overflow. Be sure to cover once a waste hole is filled, and put some decent amount of dirt down between use. Things here in Niflheim can track you like you track prey, remember.
If you don’t know how to make dire, do so. Fire keeps you warm, cooks and dries meat, and keeps predators away. Do not count on lighters, matches, or even flint and steel. Learn to make fire like and with flint and steel. Always have dry woof and kindling on you if you can. Develop good relationships with landvaettir and firevaettir to this end; both can save you in a pinch.
Keep up what tools you have; they are precious allies. What tools you find you don’t have, make from what you have. You were given intelligence and ingenuity; use them. A knife for carving such tools should always be in your possessions. A stone for this wouldn’t hurt either.
One: Are you going to follow a herd or are you going to try to make it pastorally (i.e. with sheep, goats) or are you going to try horticulture or agriculture? Choose wisely based on some observation of ecology, migration patterns and growing season, or find out from locals if you can, which is best.
Two: How do you want work to be divvied up? Obviously if you are alone you are doing it all, but if you’ve companions, play to strengths.
Three: How are you going to keep balance or peace? If you are by yourself, how are you going to track, or care for animals or crops? If you are with a group, what rules are you going to establish or how will you take care of conflict?
Four: What supplies do you have, need, and will want or need in the near, then far future? Gathering firewood is one thing, gathering enough logs for a house is another. Make sure goals and resources match, or can be made to match.
Five: Understand your limits. It is not worthing tracking big prey and getting potentially killed if you can stay safely in an area and live on smaller game. Make good use of your energy and maximize your effectiveness.
There is more I could say, but much of surviving is simply doing it.”
Now I am to go into Niflheim and survive until morning. Others may call on me during this time, She has told me.
Trilocation is hard, taxing, but I have done as Skadi has asked of me. Only Thrym has since called to me, seeking to speak with me. Thrym was the Jotun-king who had Loki steal Mjollnir, from whom Thor recovered it with Loki’s aid. Once Thor, disguised as Freya, retained the Hammer, He usd it to slay all of Thrym’s kinsmen. I find it interesting a Jotun of Thrym’s stature would seek me and now, given my connection to Thor. I will go to Him in peace, and see what He has to say. He will allow me to record below.
I salute Him in greetings, fist gently over heart. He gives a nod. We are in Thrym’s heim, a great castle with high walls. We walk, He speaks of how His Jotun brethren hewed the original fortress from rock, and the various deal with Duegar, dwarves, that it took to make it the castle it now is.
“Why do you tell me all this, knowing my blood-bond?”
“You,” He replies slowly with a soft smile, “are not Thor.”
I ask Him to hold a moment; the light is fading and I must physically light candles to continue writing while utiseta (faring forth). He patiently waits, stroking His thick, frost-thurse beard.
“I know you are now Odin’s ambassador to the Peoples of Yggdrasil, and possibly beyond. I wish to establish ties with Asgard, perhaps in time trade. Can you see if this can be done?”
I ask Him why, given His Heim is impressive and His people look well. He chuckles softly, saying:
“Trade stimulates, young one. Your own kind would not have ceased clubbing each other eons ago without it. I seek stimulation for my peoples so they, if nothing else, may compete with the Aesir by other means than combat, though I know many freely mix.”
I tell Him I will let the Allfather know, and He gives me leave, and I come back to my body, whole and healthy.
*Note: If you try to use the techniques, spiritual or otherwise without consulting the Gods or spirits first, they probably will not work. If they do, you will have no spiritual safety net. I recommend only using these techniques if your Gods or spirit allies, or alternatively the Gods and spirits of these techniques, directly move, ask, or inspire you to learn them and practice them.