Somedays you have just the barest hint of an idea to work with. But this fragment of a thought may lend itself to ideas of greatness as readily as syrup to pancakes. It might suggest to you that there is something truly magnificent right at the edge of your thoughts. Just the whisper of a notion but possessed of an intensity which demands that it not be ignored. What happens when we finally find ourselves prepared, developed or grown enough to look squarely at this cornerstone in the boundary wall we’ve erected against the chaos of forces outside our control? Well, for one thing, we grow and we move ourselves just a little further down the only path every single one of us treads. The path towards that great door of death.
During a fairly animated conversation with a friend of mine, Chase McDougal, he made a powerful comment. He said “all roads lead to Rome.” Now how many times have we all heard that? Probably several. But there is an analogy which accompanies this statement which has led me to an eye-opening experience.
I had just finished writing Life and the Love of Life, which in the lore of Asatru is a reference to Lif and Lifthrasir. Those original beings who emerge from Yggdrasil after Ragnarok. They are notably minus all of the accoutrements modern people feel are essential. Typically considered items dedicated to our comfort and ease of existence. This is an important observation.
You see the whole of the book was dedicated to the idea that there have been and are concepts, ideas, occurrences in the life of every man which draws him off of a well beaten path. One trod by his ancestors and lit by the knowledge of the Runes. And here we are trying to figure that out again. We drifted so far off track that even our moral compass is off kilter. I pointed out how the Goddess Freya attempts to bring Ottar back to the straight and narrow by cutting a wolf loose on his butt in the Hyndluljoth. In essence she was setting him on the straight and narrow path to Valhalla as it was mentioned in the Lay. The road to that one great doorway. The entrance to death.
As we travel along our way in life, we secure about ourselves things, items and people we believe are what we need for where we are in life. But are they? Are they what we need? Is it beneficial to bring such nonsense with us? And what might our flailing attempts to negotiate the obstacles of life look like to our Gods and our Ancestors? Both, it would seem, have a vested interest in our success. But why? How do we even know that any of it matters?
Well, for one thing, for absolute centuries, peoples all over the world were so convinced that there are certain things everyone needed as they trudged that great road to Rome (Rome being the analogy for the doorway to death) that we are still examining the grave goods of cultures around the world. We stand in awe of magnificent temple complexes and burial mounds where animals, slaves, lovers and the tools of successful people are exhumed and brought forth to put on display. Always marveling at the quality and the craftsmanship of bygone eras, but never once considering that there is a reason, a gigantic clue, slapping us in the face about the nature of the life in front of us today. I think the evidence these past civilizations have left us goes far beyond the anecdotal. The more advanced the civilization, the more elaborate the ceremony, sacrifice and grave goods.
One has to wonder, if but for a second, if we don’t have it all backwards today. Today we might drop a trinket of sentimentality into a casket or spread the ashes of our loved ones in some wonderful place. But we no longer build for them great temples or palatial complexes full of the treasures which past cultures believed were essential for a successful afterlife. We are no longer concerned with the ability of our loved ones to successfully navigate what comes next. In large measure, we have deduced that once again, something else will take care of it. We say good bye to our ancestors and automatically assume that they have what they need to deal with whatever environment they exist in and we also believe that they have the tools necessary to assist us in our struggles in the here and now. That’s a mighty tall order to expect from people we have said our goodbyes to. Like it or not, this is the reason it seems to be such a hard thing to do to explain to people that we do not all go to Valhalla or Folkvangr. Most people end up in the halls of their ancestors. Which is a good place to be. But in all of those examples it means that we no longer need to do anything for them. It’s all about us at that point. What can they do for me. Our ancestors on the other hand engaged in elaborate ritual and temple building, sacrifices and magnificent holidays to make absolutely sure that these important people in our lives knew that they were loved. As much as I hate to say it, I have, and still do, see people believing in their ancestors like a personal Jesus.
Meanwhile, the majority of people are completely oblivious to the flows of energy represented, guided, created and manipulated by our Gods, our ancestors and us. At some point in our faith, we are required to tune in to these same energies so that we might negotiate this path Hel-way. Something around which almost every aspect of daily life revolved. For us now, it seems to be only in passing. (Within that paragraph lies the secret to our own godlike abilities.)
Here’s the important question concerning this approach to such a thought process. Is there an outline in the lore of just what that path might look like? Are there markers embedded in the lore which will point out how we might merrily trudge the road to happy destiny while keeping the very essence of the Gods and our ancestors at the forefront of our thinking minds? Is it possible to do so minus the continuous streams of incessant suggestion that our life will be better if we own this or that comfort producing device? Is it necessary to adopt some foreign faith in order to see this pattern in a clearer light? That is kind of a devil’s advocate question but really, I mean, why not? We have sacrificed every other responsibility for our own existence on this planet to others. Why would this be any different? But that means two things. One, there will be evidence of such a path in the past. Two, that path may well represent the ability of men to stand up again and proceed forward as the Gods intended. You see, the great truth of all existence is that the path you may be on can be changed with but the simplest of thoughts and a new future will unfold in front of you.
Bryan D Wilton
31 Oct 2018