I have mentioned many times in this book that I saw something in the lore which might help me to not only overcome these obstacles I placed in my own way, but also how I might change my thinking process to find a way to enjoy some happiness in my life. Though my first impressions were essentially the same as anyone else’s. I saw these fantastic tales about the gods and goddesses performing great and magnificent tasks. But some things just didn’t add up. When I wrote Asatru Book of Days I poured over as much of the lore as I could to fill the pages with excerpts from a solid foundation of commonly occurring lore people read. One for every day of the year. The Poetic Edda was a fantastic piece of literature but I routinely heard people say things like “it’s too heavily Christianized” or any number of other comments with a similar, denigrating overtone to them. What I kept coming back to though, was the thought that these tales have withstood the test of time. No matter what anyone might say; this is what we have to work with today. Every time I heard someone make that comment I felt as if perhaps they hadn’t tried to make any sense of this body of knowledge beyond finding someone who had written an academic review of it and used that opinion to justify a position which would require as little change as possible and still be considered as a follower of Asatru.
But you’ve just read about a number of the things in my life which have caused me a great deal of problems. Finding someone else’s opinion which was limited by their own ego would not provide the type of fortification I needed with regards to my spiritual development. I desired with a measure of certainty that I wanted this faith to work in my life. My work in Love and Hate in Asatru, Living in the Shadow of Baldur’s Death, and Understanding Asatru put the lore in a new context for many, many people. And it upset many, many more. But it was working for me and helping me move forward in life. Not towards some financial magic number. I’d already achieved that once in my life. Recurring pats on the back were no longer an option as my military days were finished long ago. So just what would a man in my position be looking for? I simply wanted to be in a good enough position with myself; spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically that I might live up to the expectations of my sons and my daughters and be the type of man my wife might enjoy living with. That’s a pretty tall order; as it is in any man’s life who has not endured a masculine initiation conferred upon him by other men. Men with a common purpose and goal. Men who were working towards the realization of a worthy purpose within themselves and by extension; a benefit to those around them.
That process of masculine initiation is wonderfully outlined in the tale of Baldur. As well as the mindset of the individual who would rob the sun from the world. Because he could not live up to the standard of the community. Loki could not stand that a mother; Frigga, had gone so out of her way to protect her son, So much so that he found a manner to kill him. I know of many men who operate in the very same manner. They are envious of the doting attention and love someone else may be receiving. They are bitter and lonely men with the secret hope that someone or something out there will fix what is in our heart. Or it may be as simple as someone at work getting that promotion or even employee of the week.
Now; they are not going to actually take the person’s life, but you can bet they will do their best to engage in the polite character assassination one may overhear at any water cooler. They would rather see the team effort fail than to try and match up to the hard work another man is putting in to succeed. It does not matter if we believe that the goal is truly worth achieving, what does matter is that ego driven men will strike from behind the façade they parade around in public. A façade that resembles the blind man at the edge of the tribes’ festivities who listens to the whispers of an ego and strikes. Not even knowing what he is really doing, but convinced that the whispers he hears which suggest he might great as well if he but strikes at the heart of the celebrated center of attention.
Sometimes you will see them walk into work on Monday morning, or any day of the week for that matter, in an angry mood. Just like a wounded animal, they will strike out at someone who is accomplishing what they cannot. The reason they cannot measure up, is that they have not seen the guidance necessary to get out of their own way with regards to their thinking process. They personalize it. They internalize it and eventually come to believe that they could do it too if only so and so wasn’t in the way.
The problem with that is that if you are spending all your time and mental activity focusing on someone else or some grand political/social problem; you are leaving very little time for a true thought process which is necessary for you to succeed. It means your focus is on something else when it should be on you and making yourself better. In the tale of Baldur’s Death, we find the extreme example of this type of ego driven victim mentality and its consequences. Imagine if you will a grandmother or elder of the tribe offering this tale to eager young ears around a fire late in the evening of a winter’s night. It would be a suitable venue to instruct a child how to act with regards to members of the tribe. An important lesson in learning to value the success of fellow members of the tribe and to work out a way measure up. A worthwhile tale to reassure children as they settled down together for warmth trusting each other in the long night.
I can do that. I thought to myself that I have what it takes to shed some of that baggage I picked up from my father and do better along these lines. I had been the recipient of this type of behavior from my father and ex-wives for years. I was guilty of it as well. The first step in overcoming some of this conditioning was right here in this tale. I endeavored to quit worrying about, to try and quit talking about, other people who were seemingly doing better than I was. The best way I found to do that was to live in the here and now. If I am fully present in this minute and not worrying about what someone did yesterday, nor fearing something which hasn’t happened yet, it is very difficult to maintain a negative thinking process. If you try it with all due diligence, there comes a time when you open your eyes and realize that in this very moment, right here and right now, I am ok. There is a great deal of peace to be found in those moments and there is nothing which says you can’t do it as often as you might need to. It turned out to be a confidence builder beyond my imagination. It allowed me to be free from the concern of what other people might be thinking. In those instances when I had the opportunity to help a person face to face. I would remind them of this fact. That in this moment, as two men are talking with each other about life, that we are doing just fine. From here we might be able to walk out into the world and accomplish just about anything. Or maybe something as simple as no longer living in fear.
This is something fathers should be teaching their sons when they are in their youth. That what these other people think is not important. It should start young because if you try to do it when they are a teenager you’ve got to contend with a plethora of hormones and the social cliques of high school. My son and I had some difficulty with this when he was in high school. He had made varsity as a sophomore but he was struggling in football. He was not a large kid yet and some of these receivers would become well-known players at D-1 universities. His attitude began to deteriorate and we became cross with one another. He wanted to quit football and became depressed about it. He didn’t want to tell me why. Mostly because I would stand up and say something.
He had heard some of that water cooler gossip from the coaches of all places. I talked with one coach and raised hell with another. The head coach had made a comment when he was walking off the field during a game and Jeff heard it. I took him in the weight room and provided the shock to his system he needed. In a loud voice so everyone could hear it, I said “Take a look at these people, it doesn’t matter one damned bit what they say. In ten years; half of them will be nobodies. These coaches are just teachers. It doesn’t matter one damned bit what they think. If you want to play ball, you get out there and put every single one of their dick’s in the dirt every chance you get. It’s the winning that counts and if the team wins when you play, they will play you.” Of course; massive drama ensued, it might as well have been the end of the world as far as he was concerned. But he had no choice at that point. He either sucked it up, went in there and exceeded expectations or he didn’t.
My son took his initiation seriously and earned his spot on the team with hard work. He has played in every game since. His form in lifting is exemplary, the same head coach who made fun of him, now uses him as an example for proper technique for the rest of the team. He knows the game like few men do. I could not have been prouder of him. He earned a Tiger coin during the end of the season banquet. It was a special recognition for mentoring at risk students in middle school grades below him.
This is where the explorer stage of our youth overlaps the warrior stage as young men. Moving on to another stage of our life without grasping what it is we should have learned in the previous stage; is one of the things which is crippling our efforts to reignite and capitalize on the making of men. A lot of men are still trying to figure out where they are. Or rather; they are attempting to discern why the actions they used to take, which produced results, were no longer working for them.
I’ll tell you that the making of men takes boys away from the safe skirts of their mothers. Once again; we see it in the death of Baldur. A mother who has done everything she can to protect her son. As many mothers will tell you; they are now wearing their heart on the outside of their body when it comes to their children. It is only reasonable to want to protect them. In the time of the origination of these great tales; the very real danger of losing a son was a true concern. But when Baldur is killed, it is Odin which sends him on his way to the journey of warrior in a different realm. Far removed from the safety of home. In that realm; he also makes a transition from warrior to romantic as he secures a powerful and eternal bond with a woman. His wife Nanna. The sign of such a powerful and successful transition is when she returns to Frigga the homespun garment so many young adventurers wear when they leave home to slay the dragons of their lives. The slaying of our ego, is the biggest dragon we will ever encounter and it is essential we do so, if our wives are to take their place alongside us. Not as replacement mothers. But as full on partners.
There is a second example of this with Frey and Gerdhr. Frey attempts to secure a seat he is not yet ready for. The high seat of a king. This leap ahead before he is ready grants him sight of something he cannot attain in his current mindset. While he may be Lord of Alfheim, it is a far different role than the King of Asgard. He is still very much a warrior replete with a weapon so keen it seems as if it fights of its’ own accord. A warrior who cannot be defeated. But there is one battle he finds himself hardly prepared for. A battle for the heart of a woman. This is not surprising. The terrain of a woman’s heart is occupied territory. It is defended by any number of powerful skills a woman possesses. Skills which we cannot defeat using what we have learned as warriors. We must shift gears. Frey does this by offering the sword to a younger generation of up and coming warrior. He sacrifices a powerful weapon so that he may engage in the delicate task of creating an environment where a woman might unveil the beauty of who she is. No manner of tactical strike will accomplish this revealing of the heart of a woman against a hardened target of bedroom eyes and full lips. When Frey offers up his sword he is demonstrating a commitment to a partner. That commitment is worth fighting for as hard and as surely as any war was ever fought.
Now that he has accomplished this, he is securing for himself the tools necessary to handle that great responsibility of a throne. A king of one’s own home. With the strength to defend it, the courage to provide love within it and the wisdom to guide everyone in it towards a good and full life. One filled with high adventure and full of the knowing that a father and mother are there to provide that security necessary as children reach out, far from their comfort zones, to find new meaning in life. Odin demonstrates this in many fashions, such as when he seeks the advice Frigga before he wagers his head in a game of knowledge with a giant. We see it when he visits with Saga each day at the shore of a lake to drink and reminisce. Such as a father might do with a daughter when they enjoy a good and healthy relationship. He also sets an example with regards to the Aesir and Vanir war.
Many people have the tendency to cross two events and mindsets with the Aesir and Vanir war. One is that they tie it to the burning of Gullveig (lover of gold). That this event was the catalyst for the first war. But that sets no example for a child to follow to become a powerful member of the tribe or community. When three all-powerful giantesses enter the golden age of Asgard, very similar to when Loki enters Aegir’s feast (which we will discuss here shortly), it is a violation of tribal boundaries by beings whose aims are not the same as the tribe who lived within Asgard. It is an alien and selfish mindset which they possess and it brings a poisonous attitude to the assembled host.
What is more dangerous to the integrity of the tribe than the power hungry individual and his love of gold? What joy is it to evil women to be associated with this love of gold and the actions of ruthless men to secure it? Their joy is in taking it from men without ever needing to expose their own hearts. Odin tries to burn this love of gold out of the community. That love is not an empowering mindset which fosters growth in the tribe living in Asgard. It is a selfish and greedy state of mind which puts the ego driven individual ahead of everyone else. Including family. Far too many men have sacrificed the responsibilities of mentoring other men because they were too busy seeking gold to line their pockets. This weakens the tribe. In fact; it splits it up as surely as any other disease.
The example of the Aesir/Vanir war is a war of the heart and the mind. The argument begins as they discuss to whom should worship belong. To one or the other or should it be shared amongst all. The high-minded sky gods of kings and chieftains with their examples of the power of the sky and the afterlife. Their examples of just sacrifice for the good of the tribe, the powerful storm and the wild hunt. Or should it go the gods and goddesses who ruled the passions of the tempest on the sea, the bounty of the earth and the affairs of the heart. When the war begins, as with most situations people find themselves in, it is the passion and the strength of heart possessed by the Vanir which rules the roost. Much as the passions of men override the common sense of our own thoughts. And so, Odin must vacate his throne. Ullr, A god of the hunt and skiing, the outdoors and perhaps a steward of the nature found upon Jord herself, sits in the throne. Odin must wander and learn. He must open his mind by living through great and painful situations. And upon his return; a great and powerful alliance is cemented.
If this alliance is mirrored within ourselves, we too might create an environment as wonderful as Asgard in our own lives. Your vision of that will be is different than mine and mine different from the next man’s. But it is the way we do it that is best outlined in the treaty between the heart on the mind. When the hostages are exchanged, the passionate Vanir do not understand the high-minded thinking of their new tribesmen and they kill them. They return the heads and Odin secures a powerful tool which helps focus his own thoughts. But the Aesir; when they receive their hostages, set about to learn from them and grow. The God of the Sea, Njördr, becomes a valuable member of the tribe along with his twin children. Frey and Freya. The personifications of the bounty one might expect from a full heart and our Earth. They are credited with bringing the powerful magics of love, abundance and fertility to the critical thinking and warrior mindsets of the Aesir. And as the union of the heart and mind begins to focus upon a goal these gods and goddesses create a fantastic environment where they thrive. Much as we do when we can focus our heart and mind towards a worthy goal.
I see all of it, all of these many layered tales, as outlines to negotiate the various obstacles in our lives. Not only the ones we create for ourselves but the ones we come across every day in dealing with people. Whenever I see the confusion people have about Tyr; I have an understanding of where their mind is and I can adjust accordingly. Many people look at his sacrifice of his hand to the Fenris Wolf as the standard for bravery and courage. They hope that they might be able to glean some of that for themselves as they face any number of challenges. What I see is a great and powerful love for his tribe. His just sacrifice to ensure the safety of his tribe and all of creation. I see many people asking for courage, I see very few asking for the courage to make that sacrifice for everyone else. That tale is a powerful and important reminder that this life is not all about you. Part of the process of initiation for fathers is making that sacrifice to ensure the safety of our homes. It’s hard to do that when you are possessed with a love of gold and your job keeps you away from home more than you are there.
After all that time working on the road and on the towers. After I had I made hundreds of thousands of dollars. When it came time to fight for the heart of my wife, I had no hand to sacrifice. I didn’t even know the wolf was at the door. But it was and it devoured everything. There was no longer a connection between my heart and my mind. It was entirely a selfish state of being; ruled by an out of skew mind.
Even the example of how one ought to set the table of our mind is contained within this lore. Aegir’s feast along with the adventure Thor and Tyr take, sets the stage which we would do well to emulate within our own minds. It is another example of the union between the heart and mind creating something fantastic and what happens when an out of bounds ego steps in to give his two cents worth. Thor and Tyr set out to secure from Tyr’s parents a cauldron a mile wide to brew enough mead that might satisfy the gods at a feast. The entirety of the tale is outlined in my book Aegir’s Feast but it goes something like this.
That cauldron represents our own minds. What we choose to fill it with can either be the powerful thoughts and emotions necessary to secure a worthy goal or you can allow one negative thought or feeling based on our ego to come in and screw up the feast. Because that’s what you should expect if you have what it takes to clear out all the other broken vessels we secure from our parent’s home. Every vessel in the childhood home Tyr is broken except the one which represents our minds. The great steel cauldron that requires the ideas of just sacrifice, courage and primal strength to carry. All the negative ideas and concepts represented by the various giants where Tyr and Thor must travel are killed as they secure what they need to enjoy a fine feast. And we should be taking a careful look at the same thing in our own lives.
If we have what it takes to set aside the mental and emotional conditioning given to us as children; we have what it takes to secure a cauldron of our own to brew our dreams into goals. If you have the courage and strength to make the just sacrifice of the negative, slavish mindsets foisted upon us as children. The last thing we ought to do is allow our egos a seat at the table. For as soon as we do; it represents an insult to every positive and powerful concept which has worked so hard to create abundance in our life.