There has been a lot of debate regarding this topic since the ancient Vedic times, when Soma drinking priests and mystics split into other fully meditative based religions. When I think of this concept, a very basic metaphor comes to mind. Think of your Self (with a capital S), or if you rather, your mind, soul, spirit or whatever it is you think the essence of a person is at their deepest core. Perhaps “energy” or some other metaphysical term fits better for you. Regardless, I will use the term Self to describe this concept.
Think of the Self as a building. This building can be as basic or complex as your minds’ eye desires. It makes no difference in the relevance of the metaphor. Now, imagine you’re in the woods and want to make this building. Of course, you could spend the rest of your life building this structure with no tools, machines, or external assistance (aside from the raw materials involved); just your bare hands and inherent sense of self-discipline. Theoretically, the project could be done, although unlikely in one lifetime. If it could, it would be of unmatched quality, craftsmanship and originality if actually completed.
I imagine drugs (hallucinogens we will focus on when using that term) can be visualized as tools in this regard. Now, this doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re a master of every tool or item you find or discover. Some tools, unfortunately for many, can dismember, maim, and kill you if used incorrectly or in an unsafe, uncontrolled manner. This isn’t far from a mirror image regarding the use of these psychedelic “tools” of the mind, being, and Self. I’ve personally seen people left psychologically “maimed” after a deeply traumatic trip that they were not prepared for or guided by someone with knowledge and experience.
If used correctly, however, these “mind tools” can be as a saw, hammer, nails, etc. for the spiritual home builder. These tools help us to achieve the construction of our building or Self more quickly. Some tools can be highly practical and useful, others specialty items, and some things one might even consider to be mental “power tools.” With this in mind, we can decide for ourselves what choice to make. Do we consider it important for us to build the house without external assistance, no matter how many lives it takes us? Or do we seek out, discover, and correctly use these available tools to potentially finish the building faster, stronger, and by use of an external force? The answer lies within you and your own experience. Make your choice without fear or expectation and you’ll find any answer you seek.
Odin has long been viewed in connection with the wind and inspiration, while Thor has been related to willpower, strength, and action. These two forces, in an elemental or alchemical context, represent two distinct functions of the self-development of the Superindividual, Übermensch, Buddha, Druid, Shaman, Monk, Priest etc. The two parts of this mechanism include first the fire, which in this metaphor would be a symbolic “inner” fire, regarded centrally within the gut or deep in the lungs. Some would equate this to the Will and the willingness to act on instinct and intentions with confidence and clarity. The second part is the wind or air, represented by Odin, as the fanning breath that inspires the fire to grow and develop. Fire needs breath. As we’ve all seen, wind or breath is what inspires fire to rage, dance, live, generate more energy and produce more heat. In this regard, Thor is our internal flame, the force of Will, strength and action within us, while Odin is the oxygen, wind or current that breathes inspiration (like a bellows) onto the internal flame, causing it to rage and ultimately be “inspired” to grow and conquer more. These two deities, represented by Wind and Fire, are necessary to form the self-actualized and potent man. This man is concrete in focus and intensity, able to live in strength, wisdom, and constant action.
Unifying the two forces of Odin and Thor seems to have been accomplished and utilized by certain classes and aspects of society, as not everyone was meant to form and manipulate the fire that exists within. Traditionally, this would have been a practice of the Priest/King and Warrior classes, who’s function was to control chaos and keep alive the organism of society. Essentially, these Priest/Kings were embodiments of the Gods on Earth, and the same responsibility would be bestowed upon them, usually ending in their sacrifice if crops failed, famine ensued, or war was lost. Although the unification of these two forces is necessary for certain individuals and both deities were widely worshipped and observed alongside each other, the two cults of Odin and Thor were highly different in their more basic, daily, and practical functions. There were completely different lifestyle qualities, goals, skills, approaches to life, and ultimately different methods in overall purpose and intent. The cult of Thor generally resides around the community, fertility, farming and the “thrall” lifestyle that most humans experienced within the tribe or larger group. Because of this, Thor was the most widely worshipped of the ancient gods and was the chief deity observed by the common folk. Thor protects man from chaos and endows power into material forms. This force keeps man strong and determined, acting in accordance with honor and vitality. Thor represents the physical and temporal qualities of human life, things we can build, destroy, and manipulate in accordance with our Will.
The esoteric meaning of this deity is rarely observed and utilized but is very beneficial and powerful when introduced and practiced with other occult techniques and connotations. This occult function of Thor can be seen most clearly in the Siberian and Sami Pagan religions, who venerate the Thunder god “Horagalles,” which translates to Old Man Thor. Through Shamanic/Odinic techniques they use the element of Thunder to induce trance through rhythm, inducing the visionary travel and prophetic hallucinations famous to their practice. Here it seems the Thunder God takes on the more singular roll of community protector, Shaman, student of wisdom and the living bridge or messenger of the gods. It is possible that this sorcery was originally a single, unified practice, until eventually splitting into multiple cults and focuses as people spread out of the Northern Steppes.
The cult of Odin is a much different beast when approached in a focused and direct way. As I’ve stated, many Pagans, past and present, acknowledge and venerate both Gods, but it is fair to say that most Germanic Pagans lean one way or the other when it comes to utmost devotion and dedication of spirit. Odin is a self-development, war, and artist God, one associated with mantic wisdom and mad obsession to obtain knowledge and conquer new metaphysical territory, whether for the good or bad, helpful, or detrimental. The Odinist develops the self, and in doing so thus inspires the community to follow suit, acting in accordance with the archetype (or one of the many archetypes) of the God. Odin is the god of nobility, artists, and kings, the ones whom the myths, legends, and culture of the tribe is associated with and known for. Through acts of brilliance, magic, prophecy and wisdom, Odin (and his devoted) inspire and pass on wisdom and tradition to the rest of the community. This inspiring force ultimately leads the tribe towards greatness, stirring the “flame” of Thor to burn powerfully within the soul of the group, instigating excellence from all instead of the enabling of weakness and brittleness.
When it comes to esoteric, occult, or alternative views on these Gods, we can easily see their different function in the psychology of the human mind. However, when brought into union, we can see how this formula of wind and fire is necessary (and without lack of potency) when it comes to developing strong, wise, and sturdy acolytes. Greatness and madness go hand in hand; like wind and fire. Odin and Thor, in the soul of the sorcerer or warrior, must be unlocked and unified to become completely unhinged in potential and intensity.
It is more often written about, when referring to Winter, to discuss and focus on our maintaining and cultivating of light and fire (physical and metaphysical) in the home, family, and soul etc… We know of many Northern European customs, such as inviting the evergreen into our home during the Yule season, surrounding ourselves with family, song, and good cheer. All of this was done to maintain an “internal fire” within individuals and the “greater individual” of the community, combating an otherwise dark, uncertain, and gloomy part of the year. Symbols of hope, life, and fertility surround us while the Earth sleeps outside. However, this drive for “coziness” must also be mixed with an embrace for the bitter forces of Winter. The less spoken of, and less practically applicable operation in the modern world, is our need to mimic this cycle in its’ “darker” or more unseen aspects.
Winter must be internalized and used for “dark” magic. Acts and meditations that make us look inward and transform ourselves must be sought after and certain rites must be carried out. Chtonic indulgences and deep introspection must be undergone as we walk the roads of Hel within. All intensive personal work and external “curse” work should be done in the Winter; get rid of all your baggage, attachments, and rise anew with Spring, rejuvenated. The Winter is a time (and test) to impose our higher Will upon our internal canvas, “setting the bar,” so to speak, on our future self. While things are harsh outside, we must be harsh inside, becoming that which we see as our higher self, emerging victorious with the Sun. Unfetter yourself and your soul; heal the Hamingja.
In 2007, my family took a large donation of school supplies to Kathmandu, Nepal. My stepfather had some connections there, so we were able to become acquainted and friendly with the locals fairly quickly. We stayed in a small hotel near the magnificent, blue-eyed stupa in the center of town.
The trip was extremely positive and mind expanding. From listening to the myths and story from locals, smoking Nepalese weed and drinking endless amounts of Yak butter tea; my heart and soul was filled to the brim with new experiences.
However, nothing had as much of an impact as this specific part of the trip.
This picture was taken at the Namo Buddha temple/palace in the foothills of the Himalayas. A 3 hour taxi ride through the ancient winding mountains and farms of Nepal.
This specific ceremony was a “Long Life” blessing facilitated by Thrangu Rimpoche; one of the most respected and renowned Tibetan Buddhist lamas. We were among a small group of outsiders that were present for this event, and for lack of better words, the feeling was surreal. The atmosphere in the palace was organic, ethereal, and beautiful. An experience nearly untouched since antiquity. The art, colors and sounds robust on the senses.
From what I gathered, most of the monks in the picture had all lived and studied in the palace for their entire lives, but some were also on retreats or pilgrimages.
You could feel that Thrangu radiated kindness and care for the people and also how much these monks loved and cared for this man in return. It was an equal exchange of respect as he and his disciples were indistinguishable in dress and stature. There was a bigger “Love” here than the West has had access to in recent centuries, buried many years ago by Christianity and materialism.
Each person in the ceremony was able to make an offering personally and receive an individual blessing from Rimpoce. I genuinely felt during and afterward that it had affected my well being, which was enough convincing for me of its’ potency and effect. Being from America, these “occult” feelings are rarely discussed unless in specific groups or families, but in this Eastern culture, it is no new conversation or taboo subject to discuss and experiment with the science and systems of the mind and how they correlate to the body and ultimate well being of the individual. These people were clearly much more “in tune” as a whole than the people I had left behind in the states; and this was the poorest country in the world at the time.
I felt something inside as I walked amongst the gold, red and endless colors around me. The Himalayan air fresh and furious in my lungs with nothing but ancient beauty surrounding me. Ancient Tibetan Pagan beauty.
My experience and understanding of Buddhism set the stage for my spiritual development as it was the seemingly best and most effective system at controlling the mind and will. The techniques only differ in name and execution among the pre- Christian European natives, making “Folkish” native Paganism and the ancient Pagan mind that much easier to understand and ultimately “remember.”
It is important for all European Pagans to explore Buddhism (and Hinduism) to fully understand their own religion, culture and history; as these chains have remained unbroken by the Abrahamic world since they were established. The Vedic roots of the religion can be connected all the way up the tree into the last Pagan periods, with a written and documented history of myth dating back nearly 4000 years. I am not saying become Hindu or Buddhist, but through exploration of their systems we are better able to understand the techniques and myths later described and practiced by Greek, Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic cultures. Ethics, focus, and culture of course change as things develop and tribes expand, but it is wise to understand the roots of something if you want to be able to expand and use the branches attached to them.
As you become more and more familiar with the Eddas and Vedas, you will begin to reestablish contact with a 4000+ year old system and framework of culture, myth and religion. What you do with the pieces in between is up to your and your own experience and history. But it is not wise to overlook the framework we are given.
One of the most important things about Odinism is traveling.
This of course applies to the Shamanic or visionary aspect, but more importantly to the physical traveling or “wandering” of the Earth.
The Odinist must track down sacred places, spend nights alone in new woods, explore the vast deserts, the mountain peaks, the lakes and rivers and valleys green and lush. To enjoy reckless and unwavering ecstasy and new experience, to make new friends and open oneself to all the possibilities of life. To gain as much wisdom and knowledge as possible in this brief incarnation.
Wandering defeats fear and attachments; delivering solace in the self and a destruction of the need for useless “stuff.” Traveling shows us what is important to not only ourselves and our needs, but also that which is important to humans in general, as you will encounter every imaginable type of person to learn from along the way and begin to see patterns and similarities in people and even cultures.
This is Odinic action. The becoming of the wandering God.