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.

The Importance of Down Time

*Yet another post culled from the draft bin.  ^_^

Down time is precious.  Sometimes, in the midst of life and wanting to do so much I can lose focus that down time is important.  To take that moment to breathe, or an hour or better to relax, unwind is one of the best gifts I can give myself, and those around me.  Heck, it can even be a gift to my Gods.  It is hard to be mindful when you are moving from anxiety to anxiety or the next “What do I do now?” to “Oh crap, x or y is due soon.”  Sometimes it comes down to just getting my time management to a point where I get the important, must-dos done.  Some of it is breaking down what is important right now, what things can be put off to be done later, and what things have to be put off.  Some of this is determining where I need to step back and say “This is my limit.”  There is always a need for mindfulness, that the relationships I have, human, Divine, and otherwise, need upkeep and work.

There is a part to this that is not often commented on: the Gods, the spirits, and the Ancestors do have patience.  This has been, perhaps as much as kindling deeper relationships with those I worship and ally with, a good deal of my learning experience.  I am not supposed to get everything right now.  I have living, breathing relationships with my Gods and spirits.  In this, I have had to learn, if for nothing else than a kind of patient silence, that sometimes leaving me be is the best thing the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors can do for me.  This forced downtime from direct, head-hitting spiritual dialogue and messages and such has pushed me to cultivate a deeper appreciation of the downtime given to me, and to silence.  I imagine, at times, how much more hectic my life would be if I had as much spiritual activity hitting me from as many directions as I had a year or so ago.  I would likely be very, very stressed in a time I can ill afford it.

This kind of forced spiritual downtime also means I am pushed to refocus on more mundane things, such as career and education, which, to me, are holy in their own right.  It also has moved me into recognizing everyday situations where I can bring my spirituality closer to me.  I prayed to my Ancestors during lunch breaks at work.  I hailed landvaettir at the local college either by saying a short prayer or giving a small salute or something similar as I passed them.  I teach my son and others to honor the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors as I can, and raise him with this path as best I can.  I do nightly prayers, make offerings, and write poetry.  I listen to people when they need help, and live in frith as best as I can.  For every time I screw up, I try to do better.  I’m not the best, not close, but I do as best I can.

Asking more than my best is not something I have heard from my Gods, Ancestors or spirits; that is something I have put on myself.  I am not saying I should not strive to be better; quite the opposite.  That said, expecting more than what I can give is foolish, and overtaxing myself with trying ‘do more’ or anxiety or guilt takes away from those things the Gods already have in front of me.  I would not expect my son to read at a vastly higher level than he can.  Would I want him to?  Yes.  However, that expectation is unrealistic, and if I put that on him, it may turn him off from reading entirely or just burn him out.  So too, with my spiritual work.  Sometimes the Gods are simply saying “you have enough on your plate” and I need to accept that.

Down time is precious in that it gives me time to get my head clear, something that I have needed sorely.  It is precious in that it can make me more receptive of my Gods and more perceptive of my biases, internal dialogues, and when I am ‘clear’ versus ‘muddled’.  It is precious in that when I have down time I can be more honest with myself, and with others, on where things stand.  I might have once recoiled at the thought, but I now view down time as precious sleep that anyone with spiritual engagement needs.  Stay awake for long enough, and you can go mad, or burn out, or simply just fall asleep and/or crash.  I am pretty surly when I have little sleep, and am even more unpleasant when I have not eaten or had coffee.  I am not much different with my spiritual work.