Odin in this tale is a fine representation of what Asatru really might be. Taking issue with a giant, a being which has always represented the basest of human emotions and thought processes. Uninspired human intellect and primitive emotional states of being. Unlike the skilled dwarven craftsman Alvis, this great giant has not based his position on the skill of his work. Alvis made the assumption that through his work, the skill of his hands and the identification with his job, that this was the culmination of his being. Instead of working through the other issues of who he is, he figured he could just marry into a higher state of being. Gerdr and Skadi both endured great personal sacrifices to earn their seat at the table. Alvis made no such effort. Vafthruthnir has made no such effort either. He has contented himself with simply gathering around his fire beings of a similar stunted mindset and emotional state of being. It is a standard response for individuals seeking to bolster and feed their ego. There has never been a more efficient manner for individuals who are completely engulfed in their egoic thinking patterns to feed their egos. For all intents and purposes, across thousands of years, he is a reflection of every upstart heathen who has decided to build an Asatru organization.
The typical “us against them” mentality is par for the course. The individuals who attend this effort are typically spiritually unconscious people and in their sleep, they attempt to reinforce how right they are by means of what they believe to be a superior intellect. They attempt to derive a sense of being and purpose by their association with someone they perceive as being more right than whoever they decide is their opponent. This madness has populated the timeline of history in grotesque fashion. 100’s of millions of people have perished from this very train of thought. One can see why Odin would be willing to apparently risk life and limb to defend that which he has put so much effort into creating.
And yet we fail en masse to see the purpose of Odin’s wanderings and his sacrifice upon the tree. That sacrifice was of such a magnitude that the universe itself brought forth the Norns to maintain balance in the cosmic hierarchy. A defense against the three all-powerful female Jotuns who had entered Asgard during its golden age hastening its end. But I digress. The awakening of Odin is done through pain and suffering. We all know the tale. For 9 days and nights, pierced in the side he hung on that windswept tree of woe. None came forward to help slack his thirst, none was there to comfort. And when he fell, shrieking, he fell into the essence of his being, having crossed the boundaries of madness and ego, to lift up the runes and hear the songs of his ancestors.
Sound familiar? It should. It is reminiscent of %70 of the stories I hear of people entering Asatru. Their best thinking had led to a life which sucked, some of them imprisoned, others carrying the wounds of the battlefield, still others dealing with the pain of life. Some were near to ending their own lives. And then, something happened, something which allowed us a brief moment of clarity from the madness of this world to hear the songs of our ancestors and to find the runes. While we may not have had the presence of mind to realize what happened, we had been afforded that glimpse of the divine which changes lives. No one shows up at the doors of the church because everything is going hunky dory in their life. We have been blessed because we have been given a glimpse into the depth of our own being. The unimaginable presence of the energies which comprise our being had been hinted at. Furthermore, we had perhaps, made a stunning realization that a small spark of those divine entities resided within our very being.
The unmitigated gall and arrogance that any being might lay claim to this knowledge by simply reading about it smacks of unparalleled egoic thinking. This flies in the face of the sacrifice made by Odin of his ego. His sacrifice gave him what it took to assume the throne of Asgard again. To fall back, stumbled by life and find yourself in the arms of your ancestors, to hear their songs and stand once again. No experience in life might ever mirror the intensity of this awakening to what we are. To experience our being minus the association we have with things. To set aside the constant pursuit, the hunger, to make ourselves seem more than we are by what we possess. And then to remember that there was once a king and a god who blessed our ancestors with divine gifts. What a truly remarkable thing. To think that someone might try to lay claim to this divine awakening to boost their own ego. This is the reason that they never succeed. They, like Vafthruthnir, come face to face with concepts, ideas and powers they cannot comprehend.
Do any of us think for one second that a series of letters which make a sound in our throat might ever fully encapsulate this idea into anything more than our limited intellect might understand? I think not. It is only when we begin to look inside and find that dim spark, deprived of oxygen by the shadow of our egos that we make this connection. And unbeknownst to these adversaries, we find something more powerful than they might ever imagine.