©2021 Michael Raven
Poetry is often all about metaphor, metonymy and simile — essentially cloaking the language of what you mean to say without actually saying what you mean to say. Its why I find attempts at “poetic analysis” so amusing, especially when directed at the person who actually wrote the poem. But I wax tangential in saying that.
Anyway, I find myself occasionally wearied by the miscommunications wrought by writing using such functions, and so I write posts like this, where I try to plainly say what is on my mind. Not all of it, mind — good lord — absolutely no one wants to know all of my mind. Even myself, at times.
Warning: Wordy and lengthy explanations after the “read more” jump.
But I’ve been alluding to some transmogrification/transmutation going on with my thought processes these past few weeks in my poetry and I’m at the stage (I think) where I am more interested in sharing the actual thoughts outside of metaphor and poetry.
It’s no great secret that I’ve invested in delving into the more shamanic elements of my early ancestors; from the Neolithic to the relatively more modern period of the tribal migrations prior to the Christian conversion (and subsequent erasure of all evidence of tradition and beliefs) of Northern Europe. Not exactly Anglo-Saxon. Nor Celtic (insular Isles variant, or Continental). Nor Norse. But a mixture of all of these, may of which may have a common core, with just a little bit of the polar nomadic tribes (e.g., people like the Saami) to add a little spice — actually, probably more than “a little”, if I’m being entirely honest, seeing as those people might have the lesser-diluted traditions that point towards older traditions.
That preface aside…
I’ve been doing a little “prepping” for my upcoming trip to the NW Coastal region of the US in January. The pull to that area comes from having laid down roots in the spirit and physical worlds years ago (about 25 years) and getting a distinct feel of directive from the spirit world to return to that area to reconnect. The idea arose out of meditation/journeying/utiseta with respect to trying to heal my spirit and try to regain some balance (albeit, usually below the “even keel” level on the best of days) in my life by calling on the spirit world and its denizens to aid me in digging out of the well of depression I had found myself in, slipping ever downwards since the newest cycle’s inception a little over a year ago.
Over this time, my fylgja, my spirit guide, Raven, had been patiently guiding me through different realms of the underworld. Raven has a tendency to alternate between slapping me upside the back of my head in perfect DiNozzo fashion, and letting my figure out things the slow, hard way. This time, it was mostly the latter (with a few good whaps when I needed it most). But the message came time and time again — “go West, young man”. I missed having chats with the ravens down by the waterfront in Seattle and there is something intangible about the place that makes it feel like home, although my time there was relatively brief. Then certain threads in the tapestry crossed and did their thing and I knew any choice I had about the matter had become fiction. I had to go. There simply was no other option (even staying was no longer an option).
So, I’ve been prepping, knowing that I will have an experience while I am there and wanting to be prepared for it. But the spirits were far from being done with me.
I had already started delving into runes, and was beginning to return to getting lucid snippets of dream and waking dreams by the time I had decided to go. I tend to trust certain dream elements — they have a flavor that is hard to distrust, and so… I don’t.
You might not know that I tend to have the stance of a pan-polytheist animist with a shamanic approach. In other words, I tend to see all gods as being difference faces of the spirit world and that the spirit world is the most raw form of all of them. I believe everything has spirit, including things like plastic waste, stones, and smartphones. And I tend to interact with my interpretation that spirit world via meditative journeying.
The spirit world, including Raven, kept telling me I needed an advocate in those realms — someone to teach me about these things. And they didn’t much care if I believed in specific entities or not, but I was commanded to search out and give homage/oaths to at least one patron in the realms.
I considered my options as I delved into the matter with half a heart. I’d not much cared about being tied down to a single entity in the past (hence the conceptualization that deity was essentially many faces of the universal spirit). But I investigated as commanded. I was drawn to what is called “Norse” traditions because of my runework, but it is really a tapestry of beliefs codified by the Eddas, without really having the coptic vision without Christian bias that a number of neopagan groups would prefer to believe. So, I call it (as others have) a Northern Tradition or, more simply, The Old Ways (with favoritism given to the ecstatic experience over the tainted lore knowledge). I embrace the Celtic, the Norse, the Pictish, the Anglo-Saxon, and the resultant folkloric traditions derived from experience rather than Asatru/Heathen/Wiccan/Druidic reconstructed traditions — if that makes any sense at all.
But Norse figures were in my thinking.
So, I considered Odin because of his relationship with poetry, runes, ravens, language, and wisdom. He might yet have a role in my future (he probably does), but “The Sage” is not the right guide for the moment.
I considered Freyja because of her relationship with galdr (incantation), runes, beauty, natural (as opposed to reasoned) wisdom, and the fact that I am typically drawn to female energies in these matters. But the arguments in favor were too “limp”, and so “The Lady” was not right either.
In the past few days, before I had started to think Odin and Freyja were not quite right for the current task, I considered Hela/Hel. She accepts all into the halls of the dead, and cares for them equally; she is of the underworld and the representation of Death (a personage I’ve always had a strong relationship with), and she is stern and not prone to lying, trickery or misleading communication. She is the dirt and the soil. It seemed like a really good match.
But then… I stumbled into the perfect advocate(s), if I could convince them to work with me: Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld; the Nornir. Odin laughed in my head at the very thought (“How absurd! As if they had any use for the likes of you. Or anybody, for that matter.”), which makes me think he had a hand in this revelation and firm shove in that direction (see his short paragraph above) and meant the opposite of what I heard in my head.
I’ve been drawn to wyrd and weaving since, well, forever. I am have seen time as a cyclic thing for a while, and I tend to avoid the typical understandings of “fate” and “destiny”, as they are popularly conceived. I see the universe in a complex, tangled web — from the subatomic to the size of galaxies, and the interactions fascinate me once you burrow down beyond the simple cause/effect relationships. I’ve been drawn to wyrd intensely for the past year or so, since about the time I started going downhill in my mental state. It seems only right that, as I am starting to come out of that state I realize what a significant influence that obsession has had on my whole being. I tend to eschew divination, as I see it abused for the sake of power rather than helping find a path through the forest, something I think the Nornir appreciate (“Don’t mess with my work, you little shit!”). And I love patterns.
I have yet to get confirmation from the spirit realms, but this seems like the final piece of an elaborate puzzle falling together. Or, the final piece for the time being.
So, I fully expect to see an outsized influence of this revelation in my writing moving forward, especially as I finalize my preparations to head West. I already have been speaking of wyrd extensively, but I suspect it to appear even more.
So, if you’ve been wondering at the verse I’ve been writing lately, be assured — it is almost exclusively about these internal and spiritual struggle with understanding my place in the myriad elements of my journey.