By Heimgest DCG
Mythology is not literal but the symbolic expression of primal truth and is multi-levelled
This is not an academic work, for I chose the path of direct experience over academic study many years ago, so I will not claim to be an academic or scholar and therefore do not present a scholastic or academic discourse here.
I say this at the outset, so the reader does not view it as an attempt at such, and thereby read it through a lens which would not be suited to such an approach.
Nor do I present it as a hypothesis or theory which I wish to convince you of or debate, and again to view it as such would be to miss its intent and your possible experienced knowing when reading. And though its content and topic deals with an aspect of Odinist Mythology and therefore is integrally linked to the Odinist religion, I do not insist that it is a religious presentation, for that may largely depend on what you personally consider religion is. I take religion to mean “that which binds” which I believe is from the Latin. So for me, it encompasses all things such as culture, spiritual evolution, heritage, philosophies, understanding ones place in creation and so forth, so I do not have a jaundiced view of the term though there is no doubt that today, many people tend to “switch off” if they hear the term “religion” mentioned. They may happily listen and talk of various philosophies, culture, folkway etc. (which by my view are all part of religion) but they have a negative reaction to the term religion.
The reason for much of this I believe is the fact that for many people, religion is connected to the creeds which originated in the Middle East, and the way these creeds have been and still are presented. Not so much as inspired paths to higher awareness, but as lists of “sins”, of being forced to accept ideas which are obviously flawed and so forth. So I think much of the reaction against the term religion is really an emotional and intellectual reaction against the three Middle Eastern doctrines which share the same despotic god.
This tendency also exists in many who would claim to follow a “heathen/pagan” impulse; they too may be at pains to explain that Asatru is not a religion but a folkway or a way of life which involves belief in Gods/Goddesses. I use the term Asatru here for it is often those who self-identify as Asatru who will have this thinking whereas Odinists usually have no problem in describing their beliefs as their religion. And possibly this is because in the Odinic Rite, religion is that which unites the various aspects of our lives as individuals, as part of our community, as part of our folk group, connected with our ancestors and heritage as a living link in a chain which stretches back to times before recorded history. It links us to our Mother Earth, to the various realms, in short to all. Odinism as the Odinic Rite practices it, is the modern expression of the ancient wisdom of our Northern Indo European ancestors as expressed in the Vedic and other texts from the oldom and is why we naturally take what can be termed a Pan Northern Indo European stance when it comes to matters of folk-hood.
As a religion, Odinism has a pantheon of Gods/Goddesses and of course a mythology. Now while some may reject the notion of Gods again that can often be attributed to a reaction against the way the god of the Middle Eastern religions is presented in their “myths” and by this god’s followers. It is fair and natural, especially in the light of the common presentation of “god” in the western world to ask of Odinists:
- What do Odinists believe the Gods and Goddesses are?
- Are they actual sentient beings?
- Are they personifications of the forces of nature?
- Are they Jungian archetypes?
- Are they various aspects of yourself?
- Are they external or internal?
And the answer of course is “Yes they are”
Religion then is multi layered and naturally the teachings of a religion, its mythology will also be multi layered. The mythology of Odinism can be seen as relating to astronomical realities, explaining them in allegory. It can be seen as relating to the individuals incarnation or even a single day of an incarnation, or that of a people, a folk group. It has many levels indeed.
Just as with the “religion” itself, the sophistication of the Odinic mythology is such that it can be accessed by each according to their level of personal evolution. And it is this direct access, this experienced understanding, which is of the real importance. On a very profound level, it acts as a guided path to higher awareness and what may be termed, self realisation; enlightenment; Odin consciousness and so forth, the term is not the important thing, the experiencing it is. It will be on this level that this article focuses, and more specifically at a figure around which a good deal of confusion hangs and how that relates to our path to higher awareness.
There is of course much which hampers this journey, and all such impediments can ultimately be traced to the figure of “Loki”. Due to the limitations of time and space for this article, I will not be able to go into great detail but I will give an overview, for it is very important that this figure is understood, and if the reader is interested enough they can, using this as a rough map, consciously begin their own journey to Odin Consciousness, and they will in any case be better served in doing so as they will move upwards from intellectual understanding, to experienced knowing.
How we approach and understand the myths is of course paramount. While they are, as we have seen, multi levelled, and so relate to many things, one thing they are not to be taken as is literal. I may seem to be belabouring that point, but it is not only vital to understand but is also one of the most common obstacles encountered. The “literalist” tendency is in fact far more widespread than may first be thought. The error of literalising the entirety of the myths is rare, but what we can term “selective literalism” is actually quite widespread and always the result is a blocking of the individuals upward evolution. I will explain a little more about this “selective literalism”; I have never yet met an adult who literally believes, for example, that the god Thor is a huge fellow with a flowing red beard who flies across the sky in a chariot drawn by a couple of gravity defying goats, or who literally believes a couple of gigantic “wolves in space” are chasing the celestial orbs of the sun and moon in an attempt to make a snack of them. On such things, people readily realise these are symbolic expressions. But I have met some who believe literally that Odin is an ancient (though remarkably fit) fellow with a long grey beard, big hat and a missing eye and who take the various tales of the Gods/Goddesses as literally occurring like some kind of cosmic soap opera.
An overtly negative consequence of this can be seen in people who either excuse, or in cases flaunt their own negativities by claiming they are emulating the Gods. I have heard people explaining deceit and treachery by claiming they are emulating Odin. I have heard people presenting their own boorish, ignorant, drunken oaf behaviour as emulating Thor. In all this, and other such negative behaviours, in reality, it is the energy of Loki they have embraced not the expression of the Shining Ones.
There are various reasons why this literalist tendency exists, and while I do not intend to look at them all here, I think it will be beneficial to look at a couple so in that identification of the problem, we are better able to dissolve them.
A major cause is the fact that even among many who have rejected the religion and teachings of Judeo Christianity, that creed, which for so long and so ferociously dominated the Western World, they have still not broken the shackles of the Judeo Christian mind set. It is a mindset which has become deeply embedded within many, and is reinforced by popular media and institutions. For centuries, the most virulent forms of Judeo Christianity insisted on the literal acceptance of their mythology (the Bible). Any who offered a more enlightened interpretation, or who challenged this notion that the Judeo Christian mythology was literally true, were dealt with savagely, with torture and death. So powerful and far reaching were the forces of Judeo Christianity, that even men of learning were cowed and subservient to it. Medicine and the sciences deteriorated to superstition as they could not be seen to offend the literalist tendency of the Judeo Christian establishment and the literal interpretation of their mythology. If highly educated and intelligent men and women were forced into going along with this literalism, it is not surprising that the simple folk, those more concerned with day to day survival and who had little, if any, spare time for philosophising, would in time, assimilate the prevailing view. Even in the mid-20th century, challenging the Adam and Eve creation myth of Judeo Christianity as not being a literal event was liable to prosecution, and even today, millions of seemingly intelligent people still have a literal belief in such things as “The Rapture” and so forth. So it is not too surprising, that many who have rejected the alien creed still have some of its mindset within them. And this acceptance or viewing the myths as literal truth (even if a limited literalism) is an expression of that lingering tendency. For some this is at a conscious level, while for many it is more on a sub conscious level.
Other key elements in this problem concern the actual written recording of the Odinic Myths and to an extent the way they have often been studied. Most of the surviving mythology was recorded in written form at a time when few really understood the inner wisdom of our ancient ancestral faith. The “Viking age”, like it or not, was in no way a Golden Age for our religion, in fact, despite much popular wishful thinking on this, it was in fact something of a low point. Had it in fact been an apex for our natural organic religion and spiritual path, then it could not possibly have been subjugated without the near total extermination of our folk organism. Vicious, bestially cruel and well organised though the Judeo Christian suppressors were, usually the actual “dirty work” was carried out by already corrupted elements within our own folk group recruited and induced to conduct the terror and slaughter. It was not for example, Semitic warlords who forbade the practice of our folk religion in the Frankish kingdom around 550 c.e. It was not alien armies who unleashed a wave of terror against Frisia, but Frankish Christians. It was not a stranger people who tricked and then slaughtered the 4,500 Saxon nobles for refusing to convert to the stranger religion, but corrupted elements of our own peoples. I will not list further the waves of torture and extermination carried out against our people across Europe to force them to bow before the alien religion, but it went on for centuries and it was conducted by those of our people who had become degenerate. Clearly in these times, sufficient numbers of our folk, especially those in positions of influence and power, and many of them who would be called Norse, had already drifted so far from understanding the nature of reality as expressed in the arcane myths of our people, that they were ripe for corruption. Such a thing cannot happen in a Golden Age. So while there are many admirable aspects of the Viking Age that we can look back on with a pride, it most definitely was not a Golden Age for our ancient religion. Yet it was in this age that much of the myths as we have them today were written. It should be remembered, that part of the process of subjugation, (unless rapid genocide is the chosen method) involves the undermining of a peoples belief systems, the love and trust in their deities and the obliteration of the ancestral wisdom handed down orally over the centuries. An incoming creed will almost always seek to do this, and part of that will include slanting the popular media of the time. The Judeo Christians did this very well. What they could not physically destroy, they sought to corrupt and subvert. So the myths were tampered with, doctored to suit the new creed and the new masters. And it should be remembered that at that time, most of the population were unable to read, oral tradition in verse, song etc. had been the chosen method of passing on knowledge. Those who could read and write were thought to be somehow more knowing and they are the ones who presented the new propaganda, making it seem somehow more legitimate. An error of course, but history is littered with error.
Some of those who presented the written work, had already accepted or were at least heavily influenced by the new stranger religion, and so tailored their writing as direct propaganda aimed at demeaning the indigenous deities and their attributes. Others were perhaps ambivalent, but with an eye to advancing their careers and gaining favour with the now Christian dominated establishment, and avoiding the persecution visited upon those who would not bow to the new creed, ensured it met the approval of that establishment. And with much of the understanding of the wisdom contained in the myths no longer understood and consigned in many cases to either mere superstition or entertaining tales, even if the scribes had wished to present the unaltered teachings, they would likely not even have understood them. With little or no belief in the “old gods” and little understanding, they would have treated the myths as a mere source material for colourful stories. In other words they were not even written from a point of view of explaining the mysteries of creation and the path to higher awareness and ultimate knowing, but for entertainment. This is acknowledged by many academic writers on the subject.
Some of the writings taken as “myths” are not even part of the original myth hoard at all, but written either for Christian propagandist purpose or entertainment in the same way Monty Python’s Life of Brian draws on the Judeo Christian mythology for its source. Or the fantasy games which use imagery from a variety of mythos. The end result of course was what can be seen as a defiling and debasing of the divine. Nature itself was “ungodded” and the deities stripped of their divine powers and imagery. Thor for instance, beloved of the common people, champion against ill and crusher of illusion, being demoted in tales to being little more than a drunken lout, easily outwitted, a caricature. The Allfather, depicted as a treacherous, demonic figure, a liar and betrayer. Odin, the energy of pure will to higher elevation and holiness, dragged to this base level. Freya, the divine force of joyful love and more, presented as a kind of voluptuous wanton. In some instances they were not even presented as Holy beings at all, but as a gang of displaced, lying, venal runaway Trojan nobles.
Do you see the harm such perception of out myths creates? Yet these are the sources the “literalists” gaze at and study with earnest, but erroneous intent. When the essential intent of the myths is so hidden, how can one see the illuminated path?
And when the overt suppression of the incoming alien religion finally lessened and historians and other academics and scholars could study our past without fear of torture and death when looking at the myths, they failed to see their true nature. Instead they saw them as the strange (and often primitive and unsophisticated beliefs of a barbarian people who had passed into history). They did not view them as the expression of the indigenous spiritual path for our folk group. They did not see how the ancient wisdom is as valid and vital today as it was those centuries ago. They did not see the great sophistication they in fact posses. They did not view them as the teachings of a living and evolving religion, but as dead remnants from a time long gone. So with the best will in the world, they also looked with the wrong lens. Helpful though these sources can be, and we should be thankful for them, their words are those which give limited intellectual understanding, not experienced knowing. However, as Odinism is the modern manifestation of the timeless wisdom of the Northern Indo European peoples, we can look to the ancient texts such as the Vedas to find the essential messages presented in Odinic myth.
Remember, the Mythology is not literal truth, but symbolic and multi-levelled expression of primal truth.
It may seem that we have drifted a little from the core intent of this article: a clearer perception of “Loki” in our mythology, yet in fact, such is the pervasiveness of the energy Loki represents, that it has been alluded to throughout, for what Loki ultimately represents at the level of myth we are discussing here, is illusion. Loki is the power of illusion. It is this energy of illusion which prevents our correct perception of the nature of reality and therefore prevents our attainment of higher awareness, the Odin consciousness, enlightenment, Odinic illumination, however one may term it. It is not the term which is important as such, it may or may not be an indicator of which path you travelled to that higher consciousness, but the term you give it is not important and even focus on the term rather than the state, can be seen as being obstructed by illusion.
Let us remind ourselves again, that at this level of our mythic teachings, we are concerned with realising the myth cycle as a way of understanding our own being, understanding “essential reality” and as a guided path to the great illumination. A wisdom path set down in allegorical format at the time of the last “Golden Age”. That time when our shining forebears were highly evolved beings, truly realised “Weros” and it is that understanding, that wisdom and conscious knowing that we are again slowly journeying towards. Against that way stands Loki, the energy of illusion and all that springs from that. The figure of Loki can be compared with that of Maya from the ancient Aryan teachings. Illusion is an insidious and pervasive obstacle, and ultimately is always negative. Many times it may not appear to be directly harmful; the “sensations” it produces may often seem to be enjoyable and in fact, are often pursued as being desirable. Clouded by illusion, one may believe they are behaving in a positive manner, when in fact their actions are negative. Sweet perfume as well as odious stench is the scent of illusion and its potency cannot be overestimated. Many times this energy will delude one into thinking they are “free”, that they act from their free will. Yet in reality illusions binds with chains. Be they golden or of iron, chains they still are and the small pleasures illusion can at times seem to bring, are shabby when compared to the divine bliss higher awareness brings. A happy slave, or even one who does not realise they are indeed enslaved, is still a slave and denied the full majesty of ultimate freedom. It is illusion which stimulates our nervous systems when experienced through imperfect perceptions. It is the impulse which drives us to chase, what are in ultimate reality, smaller pleasures and remain ignorant of the divine bliss and pure joy. And how much suffering does this chasing after illusion’s pleasure bring to others and ourselves?
In the myths, the figure of Loki is present throughout the cycle and is only vanquished at Ragnarok. Viewing the myths on the level of our own personal evolution and self realisation, the Ragnarok is representative of our final overcoming of that which stands in our way to attaining that higher evolution, so we see that it is only by overcoming that “enemy” that we are successful in that.
The nature of Loki is further emphasised and exposed when considering his “offspring”. Today these are usually given as Fenris, the monstrous wolf, Jormungandr the great serpent, Hel and Sleipnir.
In the earliest and most pure of our folk myths, I do not believe Sleipnir and Hel (or their counterparts) were considered as among “Loki’s brood” but the more detailed look at why that is the case is best suited to a separate article. However, for the purpose of this article, and largely because many outside the Odinic Rite are influenced by the altered mythology (as detailed above) they will be included in the list of his “offspring”. However even when considering them in this position, we see a very clear difference between them and Fenris and Jormungandr who are both obviously far more negative. We should also consider the figure of Sigyn, presented as his loyal wife. Further we will also look at elements of the Odinist creation myth, the notion that Odin is a blood brother to Loki, and the slaying of Balder which was directed by Loki. In considering these figures and situations, we will see how they also reinforce the understanding that Loki represents illusion and its effects.
Let us first consider Fenris: In some ways, Fenris can be considered as being more overtly and obviously dangerous to the Gods than Loki. Certainly the ambiguity which seems to cloud understanding of Loki is not present. (But this ambiguity of course actually demonstrates the fact Loki is illusion) However despite the overt danger Fenris presents, the source of those threats is Loki. At the level of myth we are detailing in this work Fenris personifies the “false ego’ or ‘little self’ which constantly works to keep us from realising our ‘great self’. In effect it seeks to devour knowledge of our ‘higher self’ so the image of a monstrous ravenous wolf is very apt. After all, the small ego is ravenous; needing to constantly force it’s craving for recognition, gratification and pacification to the fore. In the mythology, the danger Fenris brings is known long before he reaches his full strength. If viewed more literally, it may seem strange that this beast is not slain before he has grown to his dangerous size, but instead brought to Asgarth. But this shows two things of importance here. First it can be seen as a slow descent from the Golden Times when such danger as the small ego carries is able to be contained as they are times of higher understanding and evolution. But also, and for us in this incarnation, it indicates how hard it is to actually slay the false ego. How it is constantly with us, continually attempting to devour our higher selves. Even those who have extreme self-discipline, who conduct intense spiritual and self realisation practices, and who do recognise our god like essential nature (as do those who dwell in Asgarth), will still be in peril from this ‘wolf.’ It requires constant check to even keep this energy at bay, let alone overcome and destroy it within us. The Gods, or the energies of higher development if you prefer to think in those terms, recognise the danger and so bring him to the realm of higher awareness and there bind him. In our teachings, this monster is bound by a chain forged by the dark elves. This can seem a little strange also as the dark elves themselves, on this level, represent negative traits and energies, be they uncontrolled sensual desires, material desires etc., but paradoxically, it is these very things which spring from illusion itself, which “bind” or dictate to the false ego. We see that untamed and loose, this monster is a direct threat to the Odin principle, higher awareness, and has to be finally slain before full realisation of Odin Consciousness is attained. And what is the big fear in doing this? That by overcoming this little self, we lose all sense of ourselves it would seem. This is an illusion of course, as when the little self is overcome; the greater self is then revealed and experienced. But illusion is powerful and pervasive, and its offspring, the small and unenlightened ego is as a monstrous, ravening wolf which seeks to grow until it threatens to consume all aspects of our higher being.
The second offspring of illusion, or Loki, is given as Jormungandr, the World Serpent. A creature so vast it encircles the material world of Midgarth and holds fast unto it. Again what splendid imagery, for Jormungandr is symbolic, at this level of the myths, of the material desires and unchanelled or uncontrolled vital life force we possess. Attachment to these desires and an inability or even will, to control the life energy are yet more obstacles which hold us from attaining higher awareness or super consciousness. Illusion, our erroneous perception of the nature of reality and the desire for seeming pleasures and material gains we seek on the Midgarth realm of existence which it brings, binds us firmly to a lower level of reality than we can achieve. We remain ignorant of a higher reality that we could attain. Interestingly, the life force in the early Indo European teachings is depicted as a serpent (kundalini). Correct control of this force, leads to rapid evolution. But uncontrolled it is a danger and keeps us attached to lower levels of reality.
The Goddess Hel is often presented as another of Loki’s offspring. Hel is the name of the Goddess who presides over the shining realm of the ‘dead’ which bears her name. Her very name is cognisant with ‘heil’ ‘shining’ health etc. Hel’s realm is a place of learning and rest, purification and renewal between incarnations. Once higher illumination or Odin Consciousness is achieved, the need for incarnation on the level of Midgarth is ended, though some may choose to return to aid those there. But until that state of illumination is achieved, the process of life, death, and rebirth continues. As it is ultimately the force of illusion which prevents the attainment of that illumination, there exists a ‘need’ for this realm of purging, rest, learning and renewal; a need brought about or ‘born’ from illusion as it were. It can be seen how either as a result of deliberate misleading or a misunderstanding, the allegory of Hel being a ‘daughter’ of Loki could arise. But this Goddess cannot be regarded as an offspring of Loki in the same way as Fenris and Jormungandr are. The presentation of this figure has been highly played up by some and the similar name of this Shining Goddess to the punishment realms of the Judeo Christian mythology has been focussed on to try to equate the Odinic notion of death with the Judeo Christian one, making the Goddess and death itself a possibly terrifying event. In the Judeo Christian myth of course, the dead either go to Heaven as a reward of obeying the Christian gods commands as passed on by the Christian hierarchy, or to Hell, the realm of eternal punishment and suffering. In seeking to demonise the Goddess who is Queen of the realm of the dead, it is clear that an attempt to equate her with suffering is intended.
Though this article is not intended to look with any great depth at the process of incarnation, life, death, rebirth and such, it is worth mentioning just one further point concerning the Goddess Hel. She is described as being half white and half black or blue. This of course is again, not to be taken as literal, it is again symbolic. Briefly this indicates (among other things) the different aspects of the Goddess, the benign and the wrathful. The process of purification between incarnations can indeed be harsh and fearful as one’s Wyrd is reviewed. Illusions and negativity needs to be expunged. BUT, whether the journey to and the time spent in Hel is harsh or not, it is NOT eternal. I recommend reading the Circle of Ostara’s Odinic Mythology for the 21st Century as a source for more detail of Hel (and much else).
Sleipnir also cannot be viewed in the same way as Fenris and Jormungandr, for they war against the Gods, the higher state of being, while Hel and Sleipnir aid advance to that higher state. Sleipnir is that vehicle which transcends all realms, not bound by any one, but able to travel with ease to all. This demonstrates that there is a path and a way to travel, to different levels of awareness. Sleipnir is the mythic vehicle by which all levels of reality can be experienced, but not hold us in thrall. Again, it could be said that the ‘need’ for this, only exists because illusion prevents us realising this, but again Sleipnir is not a child of illusion in the way of Fenris and the World Serpent.
Sleipnir is imaged as an eight legged horse; this has many levels of symbolism. It is interesting, though not surprising, to note that various systems of yoga (a practice- or practices- which arose in the times of our Ancient Northern Indo European ancestors) have eight steps or paths. There is the eight spoked Kalachakra, or wheel of time of the Hindus, which is a symbol of perfect creation. The number eight has much significance in Hinduism (which like Odinism, is derived from the ancient wisdom presented in the Vedic texts).
Within Buddhism, there is the concept of the eight spoked wheel and eight stepped way to enlightenment. So again we see a path to higher awareness. Odin travels riding on this mythic horse, and again we see the symbolism of a conscious striving to attain higher levels of consciousness by direct experience, and an eight stepped, or in this case eight legged vehicle/path to doing so.
Another figure which we need to consider in relation to the energy of illusion or Loki is that of Sigyn, who is presented as his wife. This is her only role in the surviving myths. Her figure could be seen as rather tragic, for though not malevolent herself, indeed her loyalty to the malevolent Loki can be seen as stemming from a noble impulse. She bares Loki two children, neither of which seems to give her any joy but are the source of great sorrow when she witnesses one of her sons kill the other. Surely one of the deepest sorrows a Mother could suffer. Moreover, it is a consequence of her ‘husbands’ deeds which lead to this tragic event, yet still she remains dutiful to him. Despite terrible sorrows and hardships visited upon her as a result of her husband’s actions, she remains faithfully by him, serving him and trying to protect him. Basically in her service to Loki she sacrifices her life potential and is a servant of illusion, not able to attain her higher potential. When Loki, as punishment for his role in the slaying of Balder, is bound and venomous snakes set above him to drip pain inducing poison on him, it is Sigyn who loyally sits by him and attempts to catch the poison drips. In a brief aside, snakes have at times, in Northern Indo European myth and folk lore been symbolic of wisdom. Wisdom dissolves illusion, so we can see Loki’s punishment in that context, and Sigyn, as someone totally in the grip of illusion does her best to shield that force from something that will eradicate it, as to lose her illusions is a pain her little ego cannot dare. The venom of course is also symbolic of the venom of illusion filled deeds returning as a consequence of Wyrd and causing pain.
Some scholars have suggested she is representative of the admirable qualities of a loyal wife. However, at the level of the myth we are concerned with, that of the myths being an illuminated path to higher awareness that is not really the case. We know at this level, Loki is symbolic of the energy of illusion and all humans are subject to it. Until we face our own Ragnarok where we finally rip away the veil of illusion and understand the true nature of the multiverse, each and every one of us to a greater or lesser degree, is fogged by illusion and must suffer the limitations and sorrows that result from this. Often, if we are able to look with clarity and naked honesty at the intentions and impulses behind our thoughts, words and deeds, we can identify where we have fallen prey to illusion and its offspring. Though hard to overcome, we can at least begin the process by an honest analysis of ourselves, our motivations and so forth. Quite often by doing this, we will identify what were really negative intentions, born from selfishness and the drive of the ‘little self’; the desire to gratify our physical or emotional senses to puff up the false ego. At times we can see this easily, but such is the truly insidious and pervasive potency of illusion, that many times we cannot see this. Things which seem to be born from good (though ignorant/mistaken) intentions, even misplaced compassion (or ‘stupid compassion’ as the Dalai Lama terms it) is really just another illusion which holds us from advancing.
Sigyn is symbolic of this tendency. She is not ‘ill intentioned’, she does not act from an impulse of malice or conscious negativity, but still she is beguiled by illusion and held as its slave. She has embraced illusion, born two sons from it, the fruit of her illusion. And like all such fruit, it ultimately proves to be a source of grief and suffering.
Sigyn however refuses to let go of her illusions, despite the devastating results it has brought to her life. Unable to accept that what she has given herself to is false, she seeks to protect her illusion at any cost, thereby chaining herself to it instead of allowing it to be dissolved. She is willing to sacrifice her own advance and recognition of her true nature to protect the illusion she had defined herself by. Here we see how even noble intent (and loyalty is of noble intent) if based on illusion leads to self-deception and manipulation by negative and hostile energies. We see how hard it is to accept something we may have cherished, is in reality baneful to us and false. Instead of accepting that fact, harsh though it may be to our ‘little selves’, and thereby learning and advancing, people thus illusioned refuse to face that fact, will not accept it and remain ignorant. Sometimes, people will feel themselves to be defined by their attachment to something, as if they themselves have no real value without it. Despite all evidence that what they cling to is false or harmful to them and their discovery of their true nature and value, they will still not dare to let it go, they fear that without this illusion, they are of little value, have no role, no definition, no place and are truly insignificant. Insignificance is a fear of the little self, the greater self or higher self knows its true nature and value as being divine and experiencing and experienced by the multiverse in joy.
Sigyn personifies that tendency. The fact she is only mentioned as being Loki’s wife with no role beyond that, is indicative of the fact she can only define herself by the illusions she clings to. If she were not Loki’s wife, would she merit a mention in her own right? Would she be seen to even exist? So she will remain bound to illusion no matter what for to leave it would seem to render her insignificant. She is an excellent representation of that tendency to cling to the false, to maintain attachment to things which are in reality untrue. If, she were able to leave her illusion and allow it to be dissolved by wisdom and the law of Wyrd, she would in fact discover her higher value, her own path to higher awareness, but the symbol she portrays is of one who cannot.
We learn in this that the clinging to ‘ignorance’, that which stops us perceiving ultimate reality, need not come from overtly self-seeking motives (though they are subtle motives of the small ego), and need not be driven by malice, but still this ignorance halts our path to knowledge of higher reality, as surely as the easily recognisable actions impelled by malice and self-seeking drives. In the myth relating to her protection of Loki, there are times when the bowl she has placed to protect him from the dripping venom fills and threatens to pour onto her ‘illusion’, she does leave, but such is the thrashing that creates as the illusion does begin to dissolve, she hurries back to empty it and protect her illusions again. Loki’s contractions at such times are described as such that they “shake the earth”. In other words, those, who are like Sigyn may at times attempt to leave the delusions they embrace and protect, but when the world, the ‘earth’ of illusion they have created is beginning to be ‘shaken’ they cannot endure it, so attached to it are they, that they run back to it and reinforce it when it seems threatened with disintegration. To overcome illusion, we must be prepared to endure the shock and despair which “dis-illusion”, often brings at first.
As the above showed the punishment Loki received for his lead role in the slaying of Balder the beautiful, it would be beneficial to investigate the core of this myth as it is another clear teaching on how illusion impedes our upward evolution to Odin Consciousness. I will assume that those reading are familiar with the details of this myth, so will not repeat it in detail. Suffice to say, at the level of the mythic teachings we are dealing with, Balder is representative of humanity and the individual, the “god like” essential reality of the self and the high destiny of each individual as a manifestation of the ‘divine’. Balder is the most beloved child of the Gods, an expression of the multiverse’s love as a living entity of us as the sentient creation of that entity experiencing itself. We are the beloved children of the higher energies which brought us forth, within us the god force dwells. Balder becomes troubled by dreams of ill omen and death, a multi levelled allegory (as are all the myths) of both the descent from an untroubled ‘Golden age’ where we exist at a higher level, to the more gross material levels, and with that descent due to the arising of the energy of illusion, we experience fears and illusion fuelled desires which threaten our elevation to a state of higher consciousness. Frigga, a force of divine love attempts to protect Balder from these harms, but it is only by our own overcoming that we can truly defeat and become immune to these things. The energy of divine love seeks to aid us and draw us upwards, but it is we ourselves who must respond to that loving aid. It cannot elevate us itself, only our efforts ultimately can. Frigga, seeking to protect Balder, has obtained a pledge from all things to never harm him, save of course Loki and the plant mistletoe. Mistletoe was seen as being harmless anyway so could present no danger. And so it seemed Balder was invulnerable and as good natured sport, the Gods would throw all manner of things at him as they had no harmful effect. Loki however, knowing mistletoe was not pledged to giving no scathe to Balder, made a dart from it and gave it to Hother (Balder’s brother) to throw. He guides Hother’s aim and the dart slays Balder. The fact that Hother is depicted as being blind at this stage of the myth cycle is symbolic of the “blindness’ of the little ego. With no intent of harm, the little ego is still blinded by illusion and guided to do things which unwittingly do bring great harm. In a state of blindness, ignorance of the true nature of reality, even with no ill intent, that ignorance or blindness will still slay the ‘higher self’ and thus will bar us from attaining the higher level of consciousness we may call Odin consciousness or enlightenment or other such terms. As said earlier, it is not the term but the state and achieving it which is the important thing. Thus ‘slain’ and not elevated to the higher state, Balder must reside in Hel until the final overcoming of illusion and its forces at Ragnarok (the attainment of that higher state). Once that has been achieved, Balder returns in splendour. Hother too is restored to sight (that is, the blindness of illusion is gone, its veil lifted) But until illusion is defeated this cannot be achieved and so Balder must remain in Hel realms, or bound to the cycle of incarnation. As symbolic of us, of humanity, we are taught of the potential of understanding and experiencing the divine within us, of self realisation as it were, but until illusion, Loki, is defeated, this cannot be achieved and we are unable to dwell in the realm of ultimate wisdom and reality, we are unable to attain Odin Consciousness, which is our destiny.
As we begin to approach the end of this writing, I think it will be of benefit to dispel two other matters which create confusion around the figure of Loki. One being the result of the insinuation within the myth cycle of ‘black propaganda’ mentioned earlier, the debasing of the divinities of our folk. The other being an error made by some who looked at our myth with the eyes of one who sees them as something dead to dissect and view in a purely academic manner and not from experienced inspiration and direct link to the wisdom which resides in our being awaiting its rediscovery.
I will deal first with the attempt to debase our deities. There are some who state that Loki is Odin’s blood brother and therefore has to be given respect. In fairness, those who present this are usually those who take a more literalist view of the myths and are focused on the letter of the ‘lore’ rather than the spirit of the lore. There is a great difference in those approaches to the ‘lore’, the former being static and frozen in a period of the past, and therefore of little value today outside an historical interest. The latter being concerned with the transcendent knowledge some (not all) of the lore contains. As this literalist view is not really of any essential depth, remember: “Mythology is not literal but a multi levelled symbolic expression of primal truth and a path to higher awareness and experienced wisdom”, the prime reason for including this allegation is to be of benefit to those who are interested in understanding Odinism as a vibrant ancestral faith of our folk, and those becoming consciously awakened to it. I say consciously awakened because in reality, the essential self of Northern Indo European people already has this awakening in their very being, though their ‘every day conscious’ mind may not yet have accessed this. In this way, it provides a direct path for them to begin to take rather than waste time and energy in sidetracking into false trails.
This allegation is found in only one of the myths, the Lokesena. If this claim were true then such would be its significance that it would appear in many others, but it is only found in this one work. Nor is it given in Odin’s extensive list of names by which he may be known, and it is just not logical to believe that such a significant thing would not be alluded to in one of the many names Odin is given. Many of them refer to far more obscure aspects of Odin’s being and attributes so we can be sure, if he was indeed blood brother to Loki, then at least one name would correspond to this and, as said, such a fact would be referred to in other myths.
That the Lokesena was not even part of the original myth cycle, has been demonstrated by various academics and scholars, H R Ellis Davidson being among the most noted of these. Such academics discovered it to be a very late addition and therefore really just a ‘tale’ rather than a myth. We know then, it was made up at a time when belief in the Gods was, at best, frail and ambiguous; a time when Judeo Christianity was on a ferocious ascent and its destructive influence and practice rampant. The ancient wisdom of our people, as symbolically placed within the myths, was largely not understood anymore and propagandists of the incoming religion from the Middle East were in full flow. And their written and spoken propaganda was fully backed by the ‘thought police’ and the enforcers who unleashed brutal retribution on any who dared resist the invasion. All this backed and sponsored by a corrupt but powerful ‘state’. As mentioned earlier, any ‘skald’ who wanted to advance his career, or even remain alive, would certainly not wish to present true Odinic wisdom or the indigenous deities as anything but weak and deeply flawed characters.
The natural organic religion of our people ( today called Odinism) was denigrated, the Holy and Divine energies and personages were mocked, stripped of their divinity and presented as shallow, venal characters, who were often of some supposed mundane origin. The Lokesena is the work where this inversion, this reversal of the truth is most overtly seen. It is unfortunate that some have not understood it was not part of the actual myth cycle and so have basically wasted much time in poring over its possible meanings, when in reality there are none to consider as a part of Odinism. It has been, and remains for some, a thorn filled sidetracking route which keeps them off the illuminated path to Asgarth.
It is understandable that some are misled in this way because so much of our mythology seems to have been destroyed or hidden. So it is for such people, often a case of ‘clutching at any straw’ which appears to be connected to our religion. But now, as we deepen our way, it is important this supposed myth (and I do use the term nominally) is realised as being an example of malicious propaganda written as entertainment with the intent to denigrate and obscure the deep wisdom of our ancestors and the Holy divinities of our folk unit. We can see today how many populist ‘Hollywood’ films, present propaganda as entertainment, with no regard at all for the actual truth. They have an agenda, and this so called myth, also had a negative agenda.
And so we see in this Lokesena, a clear aim to mock and present the deities of the indigenous religion as unworthy of respect, trust, love etc. By presenting Odin, the Chieftain of the Gods as a blood brother of a negative energy, it not only vilifies him, but undermines the already weakening devotion to him and trust felt by many at that time. Our ancestors took blood brotherhood very seriously, an indication that even if they had forgotten the very real mystery of the blood, then at least its importance was still held to. It was a special bond, a sacred bond if you like, so if Odin would thus bond himself with a wholly treacherous being or energy, it would give a message that he too was treacherous. What a clever piece of propaganda. But for those, who still wish to cling to this notion, at least view it as yet another example of the insidious and pervasive nature of illusion, akin to Fenris, or more specifically why Fenris was not destroyed out of hand before he grew to become dangerous, but instead brought to Asgarth. It shows how the energy of illusion is constantly with us, even when we are consciously and diligently attempting to achieve spiritual advance. It is a constant threat until it is finally neutralised by our Ragnarok when we then advance to a higher level and experience our Ragnarise.
The final event I will detail in this piece of writing concerns the Odinic creation myth, and an error a few make in placing Loki in this. Our creation myth, as it accords to the creation of our mythical first ancestors, relates in the Voluspa:
Then came there out of the throng of mighty and gracious gods at home
They found on the land, empty of force
Askr and Embla empty of fate.
They had no spirit and no five senses,
No heat, no motion,
No healthy hue;
Spirit gave Odin,
Sense gave Hoenir
Heat gave Lodur and healthy hue.
Like each of the myths, the creation myth itself is a subject for contemplation in its own right, but this article is concerned only with dispelling the misconception that occasionally arises like a noxious boil, that Loki played any role in it.
Some scholastic writers, such as H.A. Bellows, have theorised that the rather mysterious character Lodur, is in fact Loki under a different name. This theory, while possibly being academically clever, of course springs from a mind which treats the living wisdom of our ancestral faith, as something now inert and to be observed in isolation from experienced awareness, and it is false.
Lodur, whenever he is mentioned in our myths, is always a positive and benevolent being. His gift to the mythical first man and woman of our folk is ‘heat’ and ‘healthy hue’. Lodur is a fire god in one aspect and level, his very name being linked to the German ‘Lodern’, which means ‘to blaze’ as was noted by Jacob Grimm among others. Loki also has a fire aspect on one level and this led in time to a confusion of the two. Skaldskaparmal cemented this confusion when it changed the trio of creator gods from Odin, Hoenir and Lodur, to Odin, Hoenir and Loki. In some skaldic verse, Loki is given the eke name of ‘Staunch friend of Hoenir’, but such writings are late and not of the oldom and time of understanding. It is of course ridiculous to ascribe the obviously beneficent qualities of Lodur to Loki. Though both are, on one level, fire beings, it must be understood that Lodur is a god of ‘beneficent fire’, while Loki is a force of destructive, baneful fire. In no way at all is Loki a friend to the gods, let alone a ‘staunch friend’. From his very inception he works to destroy the gods and men. Lodur’s gifts are of course totally positive, but Loki, as illusion which is ignorance and from which ultimately only harm flows (and the delay to attain higher awareness and wander in the fog of illusion is harm) gives only negativity. It is inconceivable that the original myths, which stretch back to the most ancient Indo European times, would ascribe such a negative entity/symbolic figure, with a role in the manifestation on Midgarth of the Holy energy of the High Gods. No ‘gift’ that illusion/Loki brings is ever essentially well intended, the gift itself being conceived from a position of illusion. Loki, the ‘living shame to everyone’ is not a benevolent deity any more than he is a jovial trickster who went a bit too far as some have mistakenly theorised. Loki should not be equated with the trickster the Native American Indians have in their folk path, as some attempt to do. Nor is he a Northern counterpart of the Judeo Christian ‘devil’. As demonstrated, Loki is at this level of myth, illusion and as said before, comparable to Maya.
However as both Lodur and Loki have a fire aspect on one level, and probably due to the similarity of names, over a great period of time from our myths first inception in pre-historical times, and with the subsequent loss of the deeper meanings and awareness of the essence of our myth, it is understandable how this confusion arose and the two were erroneously considered to be one and the same being/energy. In fact Lodur and Loki are ‘opponents’, the one being representative of beneficial, illuminating fire and heat, the other epitomising fires destructive aspect. Let it be remembered that Heimdal also has an aspect of a beneficial fire god and throughout the myths is an implacable foe of Loki. At Ragnarok, it is they who meet in combat and ‘slay’ each other. Heimdal is also deeply involved with our creation under the guise of Rig, the creator of social order, teacher of runes (mysteries) and so forth. We still often say ‘Gather round you children of Heimdal’ when we perform a rede or seek to give guidance. The similarities between Lodur and Heimdal are clearly great and it is in fact Heimdal not Loki, who is the same divine being as Lodur. From our inception we are an expression of the divine, of higher being, our essential self has no illusion. In overcoming that energy, we will again understand our essential beings and the true nature of creation.
In closing I would hope that you have found this interesting, but more importantly beneficial. As I said at the outset, it is not an academic work, nor a hypothesis, but a work of Odinic experience, and may you all, however you perceive religion, experience the divine joy of the multiverse.
Though around us, on the Midgarth level of reality, the tempest of illusion rages and the impulse for noble being seems drowned in the ignorant negative impulses of this age, though Jotuns and beasts seem to hold sway, in time, and such time as it may take and so many incarnations as is needed, these also will be dissolved. And even today in this time of dimmed vision, when the veil of illusion seems to envelop the world, within us all, still our essence dwells in the Golden Age, and it is towards that, that we can travel. Sig and Wunjo, Wunjo Sig. Om Omi Odin Om
Various references which may be of interest:
Odinist Mythology for the 21st Century – Circle of Ostara
Defending the Archetype – Eowyn OR
Odinic Rite Briefing – various editions
Nos Book of the Resurrection – Miguel Serrano
Kaivalya Darsanam – Sri Yukteswar
Faust – Goethe
Teutonic Mythology – Viktor Rydberg
Dracula – Bram Stoker