The Norse Gods: Behold the Light
From the time I was young, I was fascinated with mythology. Any and all cultures caught my attention, but especially Norse mythology. The more I studied Norse mythology, the more amazed I was at its depth and profound philosophies. They had a rich and dynamic pantheon, one featuring gods and goddesses powerful and eager to live their lives to the fullest. Stories of the Aesir, the race of gods and the Jotun, or Frost Giants, filled my imagination. There’s a sense of reality to these tales, a cold wind that reflects the truth of the human condition.
What follows is by no means a complete list of the Norse gods, but these are some of the most fascinating to me.
Odin: The Wise
The ruler of the Aesir was Odin. Odin was unlike most kings of other pantheons. His thirst for knowledge and his willingness to sacrifice anything for that goal made him unique. He gave one of his eyes in return for wisdom. A one-eyed god is an interesting theme and is also used in the story of Thoth. Thoth sacrificed his eye for Horus and was rewarded with great gifts of knowledge and invented writing. Such was the case with Odin, and his search for the truth never ended.
My take on Odin is that his unquenchable thirst for knowledge was a symbol of the fact that at one time, oral tradition was the only way of passing along information from one generation to another.
Odin became despondent with the fact that there was no way to pass along history in a reliable manner. Mankind had to start over with every generation, keeping humans from moving forward, losing what generations before had accomplished. We are nothing more than an accumulation of our knowledge and everything that evolves in the present is dependent upon the lessons of the past, but to what avail if the past is lost.
His depression became anguish and Odin decided to sacrifice himself upon Yggdrasil, the tree of the cosmos. This remarkable myth culminates with Odin hanging himself upside down over the well of Urd, one of the Norns, they being knowers of the past, present, and future. He then caused himself to be pierced with a spear, and for nine days and nights, he hung in agony. By his order, no water was to be given and no food offered.
At the end of his long ordeal and with death approaching, he saw a gleaming within the water below him. He reached down, grasped the shining objects, and pulled them out with a mighty roar. These were the runes, the alphabet that would allow the sharing of history, thoughts, laws, and more importantly, the tales that made the Norsewhat they were. Being a god, he recovered, but his sacrifice is a model for mortals to never stop learning, or seeking the truth.
Odin rode an 8-legged horse named Sleipnir, an animal mount typical for a shaman, due to its having 8 legs. He wielded his famous spear, Gungnir, that never missed its mark. He was accompanied by two wolves, but also Hugin and Munin, ravens who were able to bring him any knowledge he needed from anyplace in the cosmos. The raven’s names mean thought and memory. Within these names resides one of the great truths of understanding metaphysics, a hint for all those with an unquenchable need to learn.
Odin often wandered amongst mortals to learn of their lot in life, bearded, wearing a broad brimmed hat pulled low over his eyes, and a wearing a cloak.
As any traveler could be a god in disguise, it was considered a good idea to treat everyone hospitably and to open one’s home to strangers. How interesting that the idea of kindness to strangers would be so ingrained in such a fiercely martial culture.
Thor: The Strong
Without a doubt, the most popular of the Norse gods is Thor. When I think of Thor, I don’t imagine a handsome fellow with long, blonde hair and a fetching smile. To me, Thor is always grouchy, easily angered, massive, with a bristling red beard and frizzy hair to match. He eats immense amounts of food and drinks anyone in the universe under the table. Thor can be easily fooled and in some myths, is the butt of a joke or two. As the god of thunder and lightning, Thor is unpredictable and brutally violent at times.
Thor wore a girdle which helped him maintain his immense strength. He also wore metal gloves that allowed him to wield his hammer, Mjollnir, without injury.
This hammer was a weapon of unbelievable devastation and when thrown, always returned to his hand. Interestingly enough, the hammer was also a sign of protection and a magical implement used in sacred rituals and rites. Thor traveled in a cart pulled by two goats. No ordinary creatures, they could be eaten daily. By placing their bones in their skins and holding Mjollnir over the bundle, they were revived and ready for another day’s journey.
There’s no doubt that the Norse enjoyed a good fight, at least philosophically, and Thor was the epitome of that mindset. He was a favorite god of the common people, as his demeanor was anything but elitist. Easily offended, lacking judgment at times and quick to retaliate, the God of Thunder was a dangerous but incredibly popular deity, as he is to this day. Thor’s hammer is still worn by many as an amulet, not only for protection but as a symbol of the mighty glory and the power of the old ways.
Uncompromising and intolerant of those who abuse others, Thor was a worthy patron. As an indulgent lover of food and drink, he was the very embodiment of celebrations. As a guardian of the cosmos, he was the power of justice to abusers of the weak. His continued popularity is a testament to Thor’s appeal as a deity for the common people, and I doubt he’ll ever lose his following.
Loki: The Magician
There are two kinds of people: those who can feel compassion for Loki and those who can’t. Loki is one of the most formidable tricksters and troublemakers in all world mythology. Half Aesir and half Jotun, Loki is a perennial outsider, yet still a part of the family. He’s the antagonist in many of the most interesting Norse myths. Without him, the stories of the Aesir would be bland, to say the least. Although he adds excitement and humor, there’s no doubt that he makes lots of trouble. I started reading Norse mythology at an early age and Loki reminded me of a friend of mine, as well as myself on some occasions. Mischief is something all youngsters understand.
It always seemed to me that Loki couldn’t help himself. He was brilliant and could outthink almost anyone around him. He hung out with Thor, who wasn’t always the brightest lamp in the hall and took advantage of that fact. One story features Thor’s hammer being stolen and Loki dressing Thor up in women’s clothing, in a plan to get the hammer back. It’s quite a tale.
Many myths represent Loki as being relatively civil and even helpful, but the main emphasis is on his troublemaking and even the disastrous effects that he brings into play that eventually lead to his eternal punishment.
Loki is self-centered and malicious. Yet, he can be a friend and powerful ally in a tough spot. He can taunt, intimidate, connive, cheat, boasts and create situations that bring about horrible consequences, and still is a comrade for several excursions with Thor and Odin. In fact, Odin’s miraculous, 8-legged horse’s mother was Loki. Yes, Loki had taken the form of a mare, well, it’s a long story.
Loki’s consort, Angrboda, was a Frost Giant and bore him 3 children, all of them worth mentioning. The best known of Loki’s offspring was Fenrir, the wolf destined to play a part in the death of Odin at the end of times, Ragnarok. Jormungandr, the second of Loki’s sons was an enormous, venomous serpent encircling the earth, or Midgard, by gripping its tail in his mouth. Releasing his tail would signal the onset of Ragnarok. Loki’s daughter Hel, was half alive and half corpse. Hel ruled Niflheim, the world of those who died a peaceful death and uneventful existence. Going to Hel meant dying and going to a boring afterlife.
A shape-shifter and magician, Loki exemplifies the dilemma of all magicians. Just because I can do it, should I? Magic is a journey many cannot navigate wisely.
For those of you who work with Tarot, think of The Fool in connection with Loki. Give it time.
Loki is credited with orchestrating the death of Balder the Beautiful. Eventually, Loki was hunted down and chained to a rock beneath the jaws of his son, the great serpent. The snake’s venom dripped on Loki, causing unbearable pain. Loki’s wife, Sigyn, held a bowl over Loki’s face, catching the venom, but every now and then she had to empty it, and the dripping poison reached Loki, causing screams of agony, thus shaking the foundations of the cosmos, causing earthquakes to tear the earth apart and volcanoes to erupt.
Although enigmatic and troublesome, there’s something likable about Loki. Perhaps it’s the fact that there’s a little Loki in most of us and he gives us a good example of why it’s desirable to keep that side under control, as much as possible.
Tyr: The Selfless
The story of Tyr and Fenrir is one of the most compelling myths I know. Tyr was a god of war, often associated with Mars, but his story is unlike anything attributed to that Roman war god.
It was foretold by the Norns that Fenrir, the son of Loki and a massive wolf, would swallow Odin at the end of time, Ragnarok. In an attempt to forestall this from happening, it was decided that Fenrir, also known as the Fenris Wolf, should be restrained, but how and by whom? Several chains were fashioned by the dwarves, the great magical metallurgists, to no avail. Eventually, a magical chain was made of six impossible substances that might conceivably hold the giant wolf. This thin chain was known as Gleipnir and was made from the sound of a cat’s footstep, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, the nerves and calm demeanor of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird.
Fenrir, wanting to ensure his freedom, demanded that he’d only submit to the chain if someone put their hand in his mouth, with the understanding that if he was actually constrained, the hand would be bitten off. Tyr immediately offered his hand, knowing that he’d lose it. His sacrifice was a tribute to a sense of duty and was hailed as the aspiration of all warriors and members of society at large. The good of the many over the needs of the individual was thus proclaimed as the epitome of bravery and selflessness.
Fenrir couldn’t break the chain and Tyr lost his hand. Undaunted, Tyr want on to fight in battles, one handed, and lost none of his prowess.
One of the names he was known by was, “Wolf Leavings.” Although there have been many theories put forth as to the meaning of this epithet, I find it quite lovely and simple. His hand, eaten by the wolf, would have been excreted eventually, the wolf’s leavings. Such a term is both humbling and laced with ironic humor. It’s indicative of the nature of all great sacrifices, and the sense of play that made the Norse gods amongst the most interesting of the world’s great pantheons.
Until next time, I wish you all peace and love.
About the author:
Of Egyptian heritage, Mo has been a student of the mysteries for over fifty years and has been a professional consultant for over thirty. His intensive studies have encompassed Tarot, Vedic Astrology, I-Ching, Hermetic Qabalism, Runes and numerous other spiritual systems. Mo’s lifelong quest into all things metaphysical has provided him with a powerful intuition and accurate tools with which he has guided thousands of clients worldwide. Mo specializes in providing clarity and helping the seeker in making solid decisions or forging new paths in life. He’s well known for his sound relationship counseling and has a reputation for providing gentle guidance without sugar coating the hard issues. A Master of his art, he believes in empowering his clients, not encouraging codependency.
How to Feed Your Spirit
Spirit is energy that goes beyond the confines of the physical body. Sometimes referred to as the soul, spirit needs the physical body to experience, develop and grow. Receptive to positive and negative energies, both body and spirit absorb and resonate with these energies.
One can be “feeling low” or “on a high” depending on the preponderance of one type of energy over the other. Our spirit, which is used to high levels of energy and vibrations, suffers from the constant erosion of the human experience.
In order to maintain a higher vibration, it is important to feed our spirit the higher vibrations that it needs.
This isn’t as easy to do living this human life in today’s world. It seems as if everywhere we turn we are confronted with and surrounded by problems, thus, lowering our spirit’s vibration.
The world today is fraught with these lower vibrations. Whether the problems are small or at crisis levels, they can, and usually do, lower our spirit’s equilibrium. Throw in negative news, natural disasters, extreme weather patterns, politics, unseen electromagnetic disturbances and the upcoming holidays, we are up against the “perfect storm,” draining those higher vibrations out of our spirit.
Each of our spirits appear to have a GPS which guides us towards attaining higher, positive energies through its own instant messaging system: transient thoughts, gut feelings, intuition and the voice of our conscience constantly asking, “do you really want to do this?”
Consider asking yourself, “Does this feed my spirit?” When you chose a movie to watch, order food or schedule dinner with friends, question the spiritual nutrition of your choices.
The spirit does its best but humans have free will and may choose not to be aware or listen to these messages. Living wrapped up in the constant feeding of the media’s negative news, gossipy reality shows, life’s worries, self-doubts and fears, one gravitates to and is more focused on heavier, lower, negative energies. Sinking into negative lower energy drains our spirit, which translates into feelings of negativity, sadness and dis-ease of the body.
A constant diet of higher, positive energy is needed to enrich our spirit and keep us happy and healthy in the process.
Six Ways To Feed Your Spirit
Find the rhythm of your breath to feed your spirit the Life Force energy that air brings. Raise personal vibrations physically and energetically through deeper, regular, patterned breathing practices.
Raise Your Awareness
Being conscious of what we are doing and experiencing each moment brings about the full appreciation of the present moment. Try not to rush through things unaware of what you are doing. This includes being mindful of personal thoughts and actions.
Everything has the ability to be precious. Take advantage of each opportunity to see the beauty, wonderment and enjoyment in life. Let each one of the human senses participate in every experience. This opens the doors to joy and laughter.
“Living in the moment” may be a small phrase but it has huge impact increasing vibrational energy levels. When you enjoy each moment you increase the degree of your appreciation. Whether its nature, places, things, animals or people, continue appreciating it all. This increased state of appreciation naturally evolves into feelings of connectedness with all. Focus on the connections with family, community, animals, nature and all things on and of the Earth. Be receptive to the love and kindness from others and readily reciprocate.
The sensations of awe inspiring experiences are moments which we cannot fully comprehend through our five senses. Things that look and sound too beautiful literally take our breath away. Moments of awe force us to look at things and ourselves in a different context of being. Everything viewed from a perspective of awe raises feelings of gratitude. It forces us to look beyond the obvious realms and cultivates comprehension of the universal totality of interconnectedness.
Modern lifestyles of the human race don’t leave room for the art of “being in the moment”, which helps to switch off the things that may be bothersome. Presence extends the parts of the brain that control concentration, focus, and problem solving, which allows the higher energies in.
Self-Nurture, With Self-Compassion
Give yourself permission to put yourself first. You are a loving person and you want to spread that love around. Remember, you have to make yourself the primary target of unconditional love. When you are charged with love for yourself you can then share it with others. Think of yourself as being the parent and child simultaneously, showering yourself with love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and compassion.
Realize that you are a wondrous and powerful being with a loving nature that gives you the immense capability of creating more love.
We are the ones that hold the power of love. When we realize this consciously we are able to see that we are One, Whole, and Interconnected. The love we hold in ourselves is fluid and once we recognize the capability of loving ourselves, the flow of love permeates to everyone and everything around us.
One of the prominent researchers of self-compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff, includes two more important practices: 1) recognizing your personal struggles as being part of shared human experiences; and 2) holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in “mindful awareness”. Self-compassion emphasizes the way we respond to our personal thoughts and it matters greatly. Instead of being self-judgmental and beating ourselves up, we should observe (without the emotional attachment) that we are sharing these thoughts with the human community and we should treat ourselves kindly with no self-judgment and ridicule.
Eat High-Energy Foods
Each type of food contains its own level of energy. Intake of higher energy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, nourishes body and spirit. Intake of low energy foods, such as junk food, that are nutrient-poor and preservative-rich introduces a lower energy level and drags body and spirit energy levels lower. Consistent intake of high-energy foods positively feeds the body and the spirit.
To express kindness is to show your gentle nature towards others, to help others through good deeds and by bringing happiness and joy to others (and yourself). Acts of kindness bring givers and recipients a sense of personal satisfaction, connectedness with others, calmness and often relaxation. Acts of kindness ease pain, increase energy levels and reduce high blood pressure.
In true expressions of kindness, the giver expects nothing tangible in return.
Expressions of kindness are shown in many different ways. Kindness can be expressed in words: speaking kindly to others, including and especially to those who don’t expect it (salespersons, wait staff, telemarketers, etc.). It can be expressed in your body language: a smile, a gentle touch on the arm or shoulder, or a hug. Expressions through an action of work: carrying someone’s package, doing a small repair job, shopping for someone, volunteering to build a home, working in a food pantry or preparing food for a homeless shelter. Kindness is also expressed in the giving of donations of food, clothing and money to charitable organizations. From the person offering a simple smile to the major philanthropist, all are expressing their kindness.
Avoid Energy Vampires
Ever notice how being with some people seem to leave you feeling sad, lonely, irritable and drained? They can make you dizzy and give you a headache. Spending an afternoon with them is similar to how you feel after running a three-day marathon. Your body feels drained and all you want to do is get some sleep.
You have just been in the presence of an energy vampire, bombarding you with negative feelings and thoughts, while at the same time draining off the higher energy you have been methodically working to increasingly raise in order to feed not only your body but your all-important spirit as well. Despite working diligently to keep your energy levels and maintain a positive outlook, you are now attracting an energy vampire.
Negative people often search for a jolt of high energy from people holding a higher energy.
Through this attraction, energy vampires lock on to your positive energy and begin to siphon off your energy stores. They pull you into a conversation of streaming troubles, complaints and gossip: then you are caught in a situation where your higher energy spirit is trying to “uplift” this person through sharing kindness, patience, compassion and support. However, your own energy is depleted.
Here are a few tips to counteract the effects or avoid energy vampires:
- Visualize an energy field shield or bubble. The shield repels negative energy but allows the flow of positive energy in and out
- Stay present in conversations with others in order to discern when the talk is turns to energy drainage
- Once identified as an energy-draining conversation, steer the conversations to happier, lighter topics that the energy drainers truly enjoy
- If this is unsuccessful extricate yourself from the situation (tactfully, of course)
- In the case of energy vampires, seek to cut them out of your life. If this isn’t possible, as in the case of a relative or coworker, keep contact to a bare minimum and use an energy shield.
How to Feed Your Spirit Over the Holidays
With the holidays quickly approaching here are a few tips to survive this energy draining time of year:
- Remember to spend quality time with those you love
- Set and stick to clear boundaries when choosing which celebrations to attend. Attend functions with positive people, in whose company you truly enjoy, and skillfully turn down those celebratory occasions you know will make you uncomfortable
- It’s okay to admit to yourself that you are tired and take some time to rest, self-nurture and rejuvenate. Keep up a daily meditation and exercise routine
- Enjoy your favorite holiday foods but remember to keep up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Acknowledge your inner child, seeing things through the eyes of wonder and awe
Try these practices daily in order to keep your energy levels high and nourish the often forgotten, all-important spirit.