Monday, October 15, 2012

Digging the Well

What do I want out of Asatru?

This question came to me as I was reading the first chapter of T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft.  Thorn is a practitioner of the Feri tradition, a non-Wiccan magical path.  She describes her journey from Catholicism, to Sufism, Feri, Reclaiming, Gurdjieff and back to Feri again, this time to stay.  She’s made peace with Catholicism, spending her days working at a Catholic Worker Hospitality House.

That should sound familiar to anyone who knows me.  As a result, the advice a Muslim friend gave to Thorn, to dig one deep well rather than 20 shallow ones, rang completely true when I read it in her book.  I resolved to dig the Asatru well very deep, then began to wonder what I hoped to find at the bottom.

The well metaphor is of course more appropriate for an Asatru path than for many others.  The Well of Wyrd is the source of our life’s direction.  There is much debate as to how much of our personal wyrd we can change; I am in the camp that believes that we can change almost all of it, based on our decisions and the responsibility we take for them.

I am digging the Asatru well in order to find a meaningful life that is lived with courage and justice, aware of my existence as a dweller on the earth.  Odin loved the Earth and their offspring is Thor.  Njord and Nerthus came together and their offspring were Frey and Freya.  We are also children of the gods and the Earth, so it is incumbent upon us to act like it.  This bears repeating: We are children of the gods and the earth, so we’d better act like it. Blessed be.

The lore explains humanity as beginning as ash and elm, given mind, breath and energy by Odin and his brothers.  After that, the first two humans were on their own.  The only given in their lives, and in anyone’s life is that eventually their lives will end.  Even the gods are mortal, which is one of the reasons I love the Norse gods so much.  They are more powerful than humans, but they aren’t “better”.  They aren’t “perfect”.  I believe that Odin is aware as much as I am that wyrd is based on decisions and actions, which is why he is learning constantly in order to stave off Ragnarok.  He loves the Earth.  He doesn’t want to see it destroyed.

We are all individually on the same quest as Odin.  Entropy will take its toll, and our decisions and actions should always be oriented towards building up what we can in our lives.  Part of this is living in an environmentally aware fashion, but the much larger part is comprised of our day to day choices.  How do we maintain our own health?  How do we conduct our relationships?  How do we progress in our art and our work?  What do we do to insure that we are always learning and growing?

I admit that part of what I’m reacting to is the proliferation of “NOTW” (Not Of This World) stickers on cars around my part of California.  This is an attitude that is at complete loggerheads with what I want out of religion and spirituality:  “Don’t embrace your life on this Earth; you’re not of it.  Life on Earth is exile.  Real life is what will happen to you after you die.”   I cannot think of a philosophy more conducive to bringing about Ragnarok than that.  May Odin’s wisdom forever increase.  May Thor protect Midgard.

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