Relating to Odin
*Another draft brought to life.
I am reflecting on a few posts I’ve read, started by Beth at Wytch of the North, in how I relate to Odin.
Some of the blogs I follow feature Odin prominently from the perspective of Godspouse, a way of being with a God or Goddess that I feel is at once both powerful and incredibly intimate. I feel privileged to see into the lives of those who call Odin, or any God, Goddess, or spirit Beloved. However, this is not my path. Odin is my Father, and as such, our relationship is in many ways very different.
To borrow her terms, the Odin I encounter can vary wildly between the ‘more human’ and ‘less human’, but tends toward ‘more human’ in more of my interactions with Him. Yet, even in this, there is some of that ‘less human’, as it seems there is an overall push in our relationship to move me towards something. Perhaps a better way to put it is that there is purpose in everything He does, including being patient and fatherly with me.
One of the greatest strengths of polytheism is that none of us need have the exact same relationship as another. I do not need to do the things a Godspouse does, nor they what I do, to be part of the same community, sharing respect and experiences. Learning, and being willing to express my experiences, especially if they are different from others’ has, at times been hard because of a fear of judgment, reasonable fear or no.
So what does being an Odinsson entail? For me, it is a good chunk of extra work when He calls me to it, a good deal of it spontaneously and without a lot of direct explanation. Sometimes it is being in the right place at the right time, and He gives me an inward or outward sign to do something. I have walked around the city close to where I live, and He has reached out and had me strike up a conversation. After half an hour’s worth of conversation my Work will be down and I can get back to what I was going to do, or go home. At other times He is silent, letting me work out what needs to be done between subtle clues or vague feelings. At others, He lets me be, doing what needs to be done.
I find there are times where He is very deeply warm, generous, and kind, helping to mind where I ‘step’ and correcting me with patience. There are others where He is very distant, callous, and allows me to blunder until I find my way. It is not unlike times with my own son: there are times to be warm, and gentle, and there are times to be hard-edged and distant. Yet there are other times where He is some mix of the two, logical, warm, and intimate as a caring Father is to a son, and yet with that steel edge that lets you know where the hard limits are. These words fail to convey the fullness of our relationship, but I find myself trying nonetheless. Given how reading others’ accounts of being Godspouse to Odin have helped me see my Father in different lights, maybe talking about things from this perspective can help another.
There are times where He will set me up to fail, not in some cruel sense, but in the sense of placing me in situations where the only or best decision I have is to not act, to finally get it through my thick skull that I cannot be all things to all people, or that yes, failure is expected; giving up is not. He is not my self-help guru. Everything I do in this way is in service to Him. If it helps me along the way, so be it, but I am not the end-goal. My life itself is a service to Him, from my work as a shaman and a priest, to my work in school towards my Master’s of Social Work. My life was not always this way, but especially since following Him full-time, and now especially as His godatheow, I recognize how much my life is turned towards the Work, from raising my son to the relationships I hold to the services I give in my communities. Truth be told I do not always know what reasons He has me do some things, but I am getting better bit by bit to recognize in the moment and my duty to do them.
Sometimes those dry spells between hearing from Him can be hardest for me, especially after long periods of continuous contact. It is times like these that falling back to the daily prayers and the cleansing work is best, because it gives me a base to start from. While I do this, sometimes He is simply busy doing other things and leaving me to my own devices. Yet, I find in this there is purpose. The silence is often there for me to wrap my head around something, or to leave room so I am forced to cut down on my workload by finishing projects in my life so I have room for more. For instance, I am somewhat in such a period right now while I finish up the Ancestor Anthology book, and write two essays on top of other work/Work. Come November I will be doing poetry and writing each day for Him as I did for Loki in July.
Odin, I find, is nothing if not patient, even if He does not seem it in the moment. In my view He takes to crafting people not unlike bonsai trees or well-tended oaks: slowly, snipping off bits here and there until the essential tree is fashioned or revealed. He does this by what means He has handy, what means I give Him readily, and what means He demands of me. I don’t always like how He prunes me, but then again, what being likes to lose limbs? I do trust Him, wholly, even if I am scared and uncertain while waiting to see where the shears will snip.