Day 3 on Yggdrasil
Today, at the end of today I will be putting aside my first staff, the tallest with two feathers on it, and will be using my smallest worm-tracked staff. Today I face the daunting task of taking on six runes, leaving behind what are called Freyr’s Aett and entering into Hagal’s or Hela’s (as I prefer) Aett, all in one day. Odin has told me today my work will be in Helheim. Mordgud, its beautiful black-armored Jotin gatekeeper, awaits me when I am ready for Her. I have avoided Her, not out of fear, but out of a sense of loyalty to Nicole.
Odin was kind and let me eat, well, drink with Nicole tonight. I lay afterwards, trying to sleep, and Hela asks me if I fear death or the dead. I don’t, and I tell Her this, then She asks why don’t I go to Stony Creek Cemetery right now? I answer, because I respect the Dead and Their remains.
“So what is it you fear of graves then?” She asks.
I think it truly is being shut away in a bed of wood, buried and forgotten like so many of the graves at Stoney Creek Cemetery. The grounds are desolate and many graves have been toppled, vandalized, or their words have long since been lost. At least when I die, I wish to be cremated, my ashes scattered where wolves tread.
It is now eleven thirty-five and I still cannot sleep, thoughts and heat keep me awake. My mind is full of thoughts, wondering about Helheim and where else I am to visit. I can hear Nidhogg from the Nastrond calling to me; I will see Her soon enough. My mind keeps wandering to Mordgud. When I first read of Her, I heard Her, but told myself it was nothing. When I first began to enter Helheim She would come onto me, but I mistook it for idle banter or jokes on Her part. Then Hela asked me directly “Do you believe Mordgud is toying with you?” just as I was about to help a suicide victim from the Gulf area cross over. When I answered yes, She shook Her beautiful, half-skeletal head and gave what I guessed was a quiet chuckle as I left. Neither Nicole nor Kora would hold coupling with Mordgud against me, so why do I hesitate?
I think part of it lies in that I have never had ‘casual’ sex. The only sex I have ever had has been with committed, long-term partners. So, the concept alone is challenging to me. That and given Mordgud is renowned woman and Guardian of Helheim, it is somewhat hard for me to believe She would reach out to me. In asking the Runes, came forth, indicating my feelings on this situation are reliable. Some might ask why I question so much, and why I double check messages from Gods and spirits like these. The reason is not distrust so much as it is a desire to be sure that I am not indulging in hubris, or playing a spiritual game of Pokèmon. I also don’t want to be known for sleeping with every spirit that comes to call, but with my lineage it might almost be expected. I suppose this is also why this is hard: I am Odin’s Son yet I wish to distinguish myself from him.
“Yet in doing this, don’t you?” Mordgud asks me. “Besides, if you let your Father’s reputation stifle you now, imagine all you’ll miss and all the experiences you won’t have. Kind of like myself and Hela; if I let Her reputation stop me, I’d never be satisfied.” She grins, joking about how She “can’t live without Her Little Death”. I hesitate, and She grins as though I challenged Her.
“How do you expect me to let you into Helheim if you can’t face fear?” Mordgud’s tongue lashes me, “How can someone so preoccupied get anything done or be of use? You come from better lineage than to worry at a bedchamber! Come, take me!” the last words are a growl of challenge, and it shoots heat through me. I will write more later.
Mordgud was incredible. Let no one say She appreciates only hard, rough sex. When I began to shapeshift and become sexually aggressive, She lay a patient, comforting hand on my chest and told me if She wanted Jotun-style sex there were enough coming to Helheim. No, She wanted sex with me as a human, a race that from what She has said seldom graces Her bedchamber. One thing I have learned from this, is that if I am nervous drawing on my body helps dispel that fear either of intimacy or of “screwing up.” Another is drawing so I interpret my partner’s body signals correctly and communicate my own clearly.
At first I was taken aback, daunted because it has been so long since I, Sarenth, has made love. Nicole and I have been what I would call “spiritually celibate”, that is, the only sex my body has is when horsing Loki or Damaru (her Djinn husband)[Editor’s Note: They are now separated]. Yet Mordgud was patient with me, helping me find my feet again and loving it. This is not to say I have “gotten rusty” because I have been lovemaking with Kora; Mordgud partially experienced my human body whereas Kora and I’s lovemaking has almost always taken place in Freya’s Hall, Sessrumnir.
This brings up a curiosity I’ve had. I ask Odin why is it that I am allowed such relations during my Nine Days but not with Nicole.
“I swore you to physical celibacy, but I also told you to do as those from each Realm have asked of you. You’re doing as I asked,” He tells me, with what sounds like amusement in His voice. I shrug; I feel somewhat mollified but when I look at other ascetic practices, between seeing people, making love with a Valkyrie, Kora, and a Jotun, Mordgud, it seems almost as if I am cheating. Odin sighs, runs His hands through His long white beard and says:
“You are doing more than a good many ascetics: you are going through an Ordeal, encountering and receiving training from the Nine Worlds, pushed to incredible amounts of introspection and are, more or less, required to write down as much from the experience as you can. You are doing and have done all I have asked so far. The contact I allow you with other people is so you don’t lose your mind. You are, as your father observed, a “people person”. You need contact with others, even if you cannot speak. You are not a monk, you dolt, you’re a Shaman, and a Shaman needs community as surely as it needs him. So when I allow you contact with others or a bit of “down time”, understand I see your suffering on the Tree, and I know how little you have written of the pain you’re going through. I give you this gift because I need you intact for the work I need you to do. I give you this gift because I care. Doand enjoy it.”
“Besides, you are harder on yourself than I could be,” He chuckles.
I am glad I amuse my Gods; it is far better than outright angering Them. Mordgud, and sleep, await me. I shall write more when I wake up.
Hela wishes for me to stay in the trailer today. When I asked why, She said the trailer was better for me right now (it is eleven-forty and getting warmer) and because the only thing I can hear is the whirring of the air conditioner. The only sounds I hear are the occasional honk of a car or motor of a bike, “Like many gravesites.” I can work with Her, now that Mordgud had let me in.
Hela’s first task for me is to interview, or if I wish, channel three of the Dead; one a suicide victim, one a murder victim, the last died of old age.
(Editor’s Note: I channeled these three, and all three wrote in a distinct style that I cannot duplicate in type. I hope their words translate well though.)
My name is James Harner. Why do kids have to be so mean? I never hurt them. I was just different. Even Daddy would yell at me for being different. He would tell me Mommy died just to get away from me. But Mommy told me she loved me. Pastor Browne told me Mommy is in Heaven with Jesus. He told me when I die I will go to Heaven with Jesus and Mommy.
That is all I could channel. James was a kid about fourteen years old in Special Education at his high school with an abusive, alcoholic father who would scream at his son so much he would cry. He shot himself in the head with his father’s pistol. I need to ground and center after this; I’m shaken up and my heart hurts for James. I needed a hug, and mercifully Nicole gave me one. I’m going to play Solitaire until I am ready to continue, perhaps meditate on hanging, and continue.
I played three rounds of Solitaire with cards from the trailer; I won two rounds and lost one. I meditated hanging on Yggdrasil for almost two hours. It is getting harder; the pain is starting to bother my physical body even when not in meditation. It sears my whole body, the pain, in meditation. I’m cold, shivering just enough to keep feeling, the wound pulses with heat.
You prolly wouldn’t know me. I’m from the D so no one’s surprised when a guy gets killed. Did OK in school, lookin’ forward to college. BA in Business Administration, get a good job, take care of my girl…you know, all the good shit in life that you’re supposed to want. Never happened. I walk outside my home and some big brother in a piece of shit car starts shooting. I was going to work and some fucker blasts me. Prolly thinks I owe him money or came onto his girl or some shit. Happens here all the time. I’m just another number, some black 18 year old dead in the D. News @ 11. Some people’ll wear those t-shirts with my face on ’em rather than dressing up nice for the funeral. They put me in the ground and cried and the news got a 5 minute spot then life went back to normal. Year later, no one’s come to visit me. If you’re around the D come look me up. I’ll let you know where to look.
He says his name is Mark but he won’t give me a last name. I told him I’d look for him next time I’m in Detroit. He seemed to appreciate it.
One thing I have trouble with at times is wanting to correct spelling or diction, or even writing while the spirit is in me. It takes some work to actually let the spirit have the driver seat and let them write. James’ handwriting hurt my hand because he pressed so hard, and the more angry and bitter Mark got the worse his handwriting got. The editor in me wanted to interfere or ask “Did you mean this? “Or did you mean this?”. Just letting the spirit write as they need to can be hard. I almost cried while James was writing and disrupted him so he had to correct my hand posture. So to any prospective mediums out there: in my experience it is hardest to take yourself far back enough out of the picture so the spirit may communicate yet keep yourself close enough so that if they need help translating you are able to.
My name is Margaret Anne Reese. I lived until I was Seventy-Two and died in my sleep of heart failure. I lived a good, long life. I far outlived my husband who died from lung cancer. Daniel did smoke too much, but he was a good man. We were buried together just as we’d asked our children to. Anne gave my eulogy; poor Jacob’s heart was tearing the whole service. I visit from time to time to make sure they’re getting on alright. They are both happy for the most part. We paid off the house and gave it to Jacob. He’s lived in apartments most of his life, and Anne has a good home with her husband and three children. Maybe Jacob will find someone special soon too. I pray so. At least Jenny, my bulldog, has someone to take care of her. Thank you for letting me share some of my story.
Margaret Anne Reese
Don’t let Margaret fool you. She’s a spitfire. When I tried taking over writing when my hand got tired she “slapped” my hands and reminded me quite sternly why she was there. Hela seems please, so I am moving into the next task or lesson She has for me.
The people I may work with can come from a variety of backgrounds. Knowing Odin may send me into dangerous areas where drugs have taken root or are rampant, She wants me to see, experience, what spirits are like that take their addiction with them when they cross over. To know what an addict who died of a drug overdose is like. How the spirit may act, where it may go, and possible what is needed to help the spirit move on.
There are many places in Helheim. Some of these are grand, sweeping visions of beauty, like the Summerlands, or places of desolation and pain like Nastrond. The place in Helheim for addicts who died of an overdose and whose spirits still crave is some perverse mixture of the two. I don’t get to see all these spirits’ private afterlives, only a few.
The first is a skinny white guy, swimming in clothes that don’t fit him. He has bleach-blonde hair and tells me his name is Johnny. When I ask him what his last name is he breaks into an ironic, mad grind and says “Coke, why you got some?” His spirit goes between blitzed off spiritual cocaine and spiritual detox. I turn to Hela, angry, and ask why She doesn’t stop this. She replies softly, “Were the Buddha simply to throw everyone off the Wheel how many would claw to get back on? He is here in this way because it is his Wyrd just as it was and is yours to meet him.” Her voice is devoid of emotion; She is telling me like it is. It doesn’t help as I watch him vomit and claw at himself. It is emotionally sobering though.
“Hey” I ask Hela “Could he have avoided this despite overdosing.”
“Yes, just as sure as he can decide to end his suffering right now.”
I can watch as he lights up but he won’t listen to me as I tell him he could stop. His spirits takes huge huffs, chakra system lights up like a Christmas tree, then as the high wears off his chakras go dull. I can see dark chunks flow up from his root up his crown as the detox hits, and just when I think he’s heard me he takes another hit. I try for almost half an hour, but nothing by way of empowering him helps. I could force the coke out of his head, but like Hela said, he’d probably claw back on the Wheel.
“So how do I help him?” I ask Hela, almost pleading.
“Weren’t you listening? You don’t. It must be his decision to let go of the spirit that feeds and feasts on him. It must be his choice to stop. Does forcing a person to stop work in your world?” She asks coldly.
“Rarely for a long time,” I answer softly “Even then, relapses happen.”
“I showed you him so you would understand, not so you would “fix” him.”
We turn away from Johnny Coke who is going through his fifth cycle since I’ve seen him. I walk beside Her in silence until a question comes to mind.
“How many times has he tried to quit?”
“Sixty-two” She replies matter-of-factly.
“He’s…tried to quit that many times?” I’m incredulous.
“Yes. The spirit of Cocaine is powerful in your world and can reach victims who do not break ties with it even here.”
“The same reason you may still have ties to loved ones when you die. Your connection may be that strong, for whatever reason.”
We round what amounts to an alley corner and enter another dead overdoser’s afterlife. He’s a big beefy man, sitting slumped against a wall. A fifth of what looks like cheap whiskey swirls in his hand He’s speaking what might be considered slurred English, tipping back the bottle with an angry look in his eye. Both are bloodshot.
“Gon’ head n’laugh sumbitch. Wanna watch me piss too?” The scene around him looks like the alleyway melts, revealing a photograph in the alley wall of a beautiful woman and a baby girl. As soon as they appear he dissolves into hysterical sobs, cuddling around himself, the bottle still in one hand, his gray t-shirt wet with sweat and tears. He rocks himself, taking a swig on occasion, mumbling about how everyone, even God laughs at him.
“Fucker must!” he screams, raising his body to point with the bottle at the sky “Or you woudnt’ have fucken took ’em you no-good fuck!” He rages on, fuming:
“Did everything right! Wen’ church, took care of everything and you FUCKED me an’ everything an’anyone I loved…” He slumps, the pictures on the alley become dark brick again and Hela motions me to leave as he starts back up again.
“Randy” She explains “Was an employee for a parts provider with Delphi Automotive His wife and child died in a car crash, his plant went under, and he drank himself to death, despairing as his unemployment ran out.”
I don’t like giving up on people. Ever, really. So please…appreciate how hard this is for me. It doesn’t make me happy that I know these things.
“We have one last person to see,” She announces as we hit a street corner. It looks like one I’ve seen in Detroit. A woman in a leather halter-top leans against a light pole with a needle in one hand and a rubber tube in her teeth. Her face is a mess of bruises and her legs look clawed and bruised. Tears stream down her face, for a moment, then she slumps and is silent.
“This was Cindi’s life since she arrived here in America. She’s originally from South Africa, got picked up by human traffickers and was prostituted since the age of thirteen. She got hooked on heroine and died of an overdose after she was gang-raped on her eighteenth birthday.” Hela’s words burrow into my skull.
“Do you know why I show you these things?” Hela asks me.
“Because I can’t save them all.”
“That is part of it. The other is that all of this suffering was preventable. When Johnny would beg for money people handed it to him just so he could leave them alone. Neither he nor anyone he begged from lifted a finger to help him beyond a dollar here or there. No one offered to take him to get food or find a detox clinic or rehab or a shelter. So Johnny froze to death on the streets hooked on the one thing that comforted him and ate him from the inside.
Randy’s relative all left him in his misery after the funeral and none of his friends called after the plant shut down. His landlord found him in the alley beside his apartment two days after his death because he began to stink in the summer heat. A few friends and few family members came to Randy’s funeral. He had isolated himself, and people let him live alone in his pain. They let him die in it too, until the stench bothered people.
Cindi was never given a choice. She put out or she was beaten. She ran away and she was whipped with a belt and cut on her upper though where her “clients” never bothered to look. She wore clothes that barely covered her, even in winter. Except for her first prostitution job, police never gave her a second thought, and even then, it was a quick drug frisk and on thirteen year old Cindi went. None of her “clients” cared; she was for their pleasure. The only love she knew when she died was the twelve years before her kidnapping, with people she never saw again. Her pimp used to call her Cindi Candi, and let her “clients” know how sweet she was. When she was found dead he let the state bury her and went on to the next girl.
“What can I do in the face of all this?” I felt hopeless.
“The same as your Father when humanity was suffering: share your knowledge, your resources, your magic. Is not Draupnir’s rings a source of wealth that He has gifted to others? Is not Gungnir a weapon to defend His people? Are the Runes His alone? No. Share them.”
With that She sent me to the depths of Helheim to Nidhogg, Chewer of the Roots of Yggdrasil and Gnawer of Corpses at Nastrond. She is a great Dragon with red scales. She sees me and gives what I guess is Her version of a grin.
“At last Son of Odin. Took you long enough. I know you are here for some instruction,” She enunciate the last words as She eats a hunk of dead root from Yggdrasil. She chews and it feels like my bones are going to come out of my skeleton.
“When Odin sent you to learn He didn’t tell you who you would learn from, did He?” I shake my head “no”.
“That is because He sent word out to the Realms you were wandering, and to teach you whatever we could.” I can feel my heart pound. I didn’t know I had started my wandering yet! Then I hear His voice gruffly telling me to calm down and that that wandering wasn’t starting quite yet. Nidhogg hasn’t heard or doesn’t care because She goes on, saying:
“Ratatosk told me, along with some choice insults from the Great Pigeon atop the Tree.”
I ask Her what She has to teach me.
“Something that comes naturally to me. How to eat the spiritually dead and poisonous things and turn them into fuel for your spirit.” I’m not sure I entirely understand, so I ask Her to put it in a context I might understand.
“You know how Sin Eaters work, absorbing spiritually nasty stuff? I’m taking you a step further so you can handle the spiritual toxicity that brings.”
When I ask Her how, Nidhogg laughs.
“So like your Father when He was young; eager to learn! You don’t have a system set up like mine, but with time you could. The runes I give you will help. Once you have “eaten” something spiritually “dead”, write or for slower-acting ones .” I asked if that was it and She assented, then asked me to write a reminder: if you try to use the techniques, spiritual or otherwise without consulting the Gods or spirits first, they probably will not work but if they do you have no spiritual safety net. So far I have done all these things under the watchful eye of Odin and whomever He entrusts my care to. Without the kind of initiations I have received not just over the past three days, but years worth of work it has taken me to get here, unless your God(s), spirit allies, or those who have given me these tasks and lessons call to you, I do not recommend you do them. She has asked me to include this in every blog post or writing I make on this Nine Day Ordeal or the tasks and lessons I have received during it.
Satisfied She sent me to Hela who has told me I must stay in Helheim for the end of the day. I asked Her why my Ancestors had not contacted me during my time there, and the answer, boiled down, was they wanted me to discover Them per my agreement with Hyndla, and to be blunt, I was busy and they can contact me at any point.
The six runes I have work with todayhave all been appropriate given what I have been through. In to Mordgud we gain. In I gained what knowledge, I needed. In taking time I was able to through it, harvesting my knowledge that I now have. These six runes were rough, as much as the Realm itself, yet also beautiful and needed in their own right.
In the spirit of and , Odin is asking me to acknowledge the gifts others have given me, and that I give to others. He asks me to look at what gives me joy in my life.
The gifts others have given me comes down, ultimately, to a few words that encompass whole hosts of gifts: support, love, honor, respect, empathy, understanding lessons, hope, purpose, and knowledge. I give the same in kind. What gives me joy in life is the peace in the home, reciprocity, a vibrant community, loving others, reading, writing, my friends, my family, and leisure time.
In the spirit of and Odin asks I look at the things in my life I need to destroy and what I need in its place
Self-confidence sabotage Confidence in myself, my experiences
Fear of my sexuality Enjoyment and immersion in it
Worry I won’t be taken seriously in Paganism Trust in my experiences & sharing despite potential criticism
Hang-ups on polyamory Letting painful experiences in it go and accept new, good ones
Worrying about my son’s upbringing Bring him up as best I can when and where I an
“My path is too grandiose” “My path is my path, and those who wish to join me or leave me can, but I walk my Path”
In the spirit of and Odin asks I look at projects and other things I have stalled on and what I hope to “harvest” in the next year.
Brighid’s illuminated work She asked for Learn how to do it and make it
Novel writing Find a subject that interest me and make it
Poetry Same as previous
Enjoying leisure time with games like World of Warcraft Set aside time to enjoy myself and family
Finding a new lover Seek him or her out or let them come to me but be open!
Friendship with Sean Set aside time just for us next semester
Sex Enoy the new lover and work with Nicole through intimacy issues
Worrying about Nicole and I’s relationship Let things develop organically and enjoy time with and time away
Gym workouts Work out after or between classes this semester
Worrying about job situation Listen to Odin and runes, be patient for opportunity
Doing what makes me happy in-the-moment Stop fearing judgment, enjoy and express myself
Feeling “lazy” Be fair to myself and honestly evaluate “lazy” from “relaxing”
Feelings of “not doing enough” Acknowledge resources and ability to do thing as needed
That is all I can come up with at this moment. That’s a pretty good list, and I think it is realistic to work through them in major ways throughout the next year. Looking it over, a lot of what I have “stalled” in has been poor mindsets and ways of relating to myself. Otherwise it has been feeling pressure or criticism or feelings that need not be felt relating back to those poor mindsets and self-relations. Through this, I hope to work through some of this these Nine Days and feel I have, like in terms of sex or the “feelings” categories.
*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.