WITH every advance in science the order that exists within the physical universe becomes more apparent. Nothing is haphazard. And it becomes increasingly difficult for any thinking person to dismiss a metaphysical dimension to the universe.
Yet paradoxically within mankind the opposite would seem to apply. There is a growing lack of order. Whether in those areas which have rarely experienced greater affluence or in those which still, because of the ignorance and savagery of their populations experience great deprivation, the world would seem to be hurtling towards disaster. Ecologists predict it, conservationists predict it. Pollution of every kind – physical, moral, ethical, spiritual – is having a disastrous effect on standards, values, life and living.
The two realities postulate for each individual perplexing problems. Where does one individual, who is but a speck in time and space, stand in the total scheme of things? How can one person influence events which are so often beyond his understanding? Is there any purpose in trying to exercise disciplines, the effects of which he can neither see nor understand? Should he even try to avert the impending disaster to which humanity appears condemned or should he just live for the day?
To the Odinist these questions have a particular pertinence for they point to a purpose in life contained within our faith of which many people have been only vaguely aware. Well may we ask ‘what part does an apparently repetitive role of ritual and invocation and observance play in that purpose? Many of the answers to that question are contained in runic mysticism. It is necessary to show those who follow the Odinist path the practical application to our own being of those innermost mystic doctrines which show each one of us as a microcosm of the multiverse.
Many of the people who come to the Odinic Rite are undergoing one or more of a variety of crises. First there is the crisis of identity. Who are we? How are we different? Do we have a special contribution to make to the troubled world in which we live? To ignore such questions leads to apathy, to alienation and to assimilation.
There is a crisis of direction. Where do we stand? Where are we going? These questions lead many of us to search in foreign fields, disciplines and cults for answers that are provided, if we only knew it, by our natural heritage. And there is a crisis of stability. The family unit, the fulcrum on which the national existence and survival has always been tenderly balanced is disintegrating and disappearing. Gaps in ideas and ideals between one generation and another have widened into chasms. Relationships mean little.
Self-fulfilment and self-expression, often confused with self-indulgence and self-gratification, is the cry. And ‘self’ is the cannon factor in each of these crises. It is really a conflict of self that begets many of the crises which the world and we now face. And it is self which Odinist mysticism addresses. For mysticism begins with self and ends with self. Knowledge of self is a means to knowledge of Odin and also to knowledge of the cosmos. For whilst physics teaches that energy can never disappear, mysticism teaches the eternality of the spirit.
The Edda expounded on the human will (ego) and human psychology (the psyche) long before the psychoanalysts introduced these terms into the science of human thought and action. It conceives the human body as containing all the natural dispositions inherent in n man as a creature of the world.
In their pristine state they are not evil but neutral forces which ideally are to serve as the vehicle for the human spirit which must act through them. Man, with his physical and spiritual powers, is a replica of primordial man, the first manifestation of the divine image of Odin Allfather, the source of all creation. The mysticism of the runes is a philosophy which integrates mystical and rational currents of Odinist thought, blending them into one cohesive religious experience. It is a discipline which rejects the idea that blind-faith is all that is required in man’s relationship to the Aesir. For it insists that the mystical union of man and gods can best be achieved through intellectual understanding, that knowledgeable performance is superior to blind obedience.
Indifference and apathy are our enemy’s allies. By neglecting to inform ourselves of the mystical riches which are ours by inheritance we veer towards self-destruction. Mimir’s well is there for us to drink from, a wellspring that contains an elixir of true life for the individual and for the gathering folk.