My Life with Odin

In the wake of the big oath I took to Odin and the Wild Hunt on September 29th, I have been the recipient of a number of strokes of good luck, bounty, and other signs that the oath was well-received and that I’m on the right path with the direction my spirit work is taking.  Among these signs of validation: finding another dead squirrel right after getting the tattoo connected with the oath; being given spontaneous (and significant) gifts by a customer at work; increased sales at my Etsy store; a library book I had been waiting for a long time finally coming in, getting downtown after work to find the area in front of the library littered with red rose petals (my favorite flower, and also one of my plant allies), renewed interest in my book, and a lot of other little things that would probably not sound like much if I were to list them but, taken together, amounted to a big “thumbs up” sign from my gods and spirits and the universe at large.

That said, after the initial “high” from the oath and tattoo abated a little, I’ve been made aware that I’m now expected to reassess and make adjustments to certain things, particularly my public image, the way I present myself and my Work, and how much of what I do I share here at my blog.  (None of these will amount to drastic changes, just a little self-reinvention and a slightly different approach.)  There will be forthcoming posts connected with this, but while I continue to mull things over I decided to share this post, originally published on my old LiveJournal account more than six years ago now and very slightly edited for public consumption.  For those of you new to this blog who don’t know a lot about my spiritual background or who found their way here from my Etsy store (plus the handful of co-workers who may be reading), this post may be something of a revelation.  I will preface it with the disclaimer that I don’t expect anyone to believe me, agree with me, or otherwise offer me any form of validation; I get enough of that from my gods and spirits, and if I’m deluded the universe is clearly playing along.  (See above.)

My Life with Odin (LJ post from April 2, 2004)

I didn’t really expect to be posting this here, because it is SO personal. But some of you who know me better already know or could have guessed parts of this story anyway. Also, it’s something a lot of people have been asking me about recently. And, well, I almost feel it’s part of my “job” to let people know that relationships with the gods can be this close, this personal.  But doing that requires being brave enough to talk about it without becoming too concerned or scared of what people might think, or what their reactions might be.

So, without further ado, here is the Official Abridged Version (TM) of my life with Odin to date.

I was eight years old when He first tried to claim me. (I’ve written a short story based on that; if you’re interested in reading it, and haven’t yet, you can find it in my book, Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin’s Journeys.) I thought He was Santa Claus back then; on stormy winter nights, He would come to me as the Wild Hunter with His retinue of ghostly horsemen and howling wolves. Outside my window, He would pause and call my name, inviting me to come and ride with Him. But He frightened me, and the only response I was capable of was to hide under the covers and pretend I didn’t hear, and try to block the entire experience from my memory.

And for a long time, I succeeded. I was drawn to the runes from an early age, but some instinct made me keep putting off studying them; some part of me, even though it wasn’t a conscious part, knew that the runes would lead me right to Him. Similarly, I loved Tolkien and knew he had borrowed heavily from Norse myth, but kept putting off reading the actual myths, even while Odin in the guise of Gandalf continued to beckon. I wrote constantly, although I’ve only begun trying (and succeeding!) in getting things published quite recently. I felt strongly drawn to wolves from an early age, and the call of a raven or an eagle was enough to send chills through my entire body, but I put both those things down to being an animal lover. I heard voices in the wind, felt I could communicate with trees, and often sensed unseen presences around me, presences that I almost could see with a kind of inner sight. I knew I was very different from most of the people I knew, but as I began reading about Paganism and Wicca I learned that many people had an extended awareness similar to mine, if not exactly the same. On the subject of Odin Himself, though, I remained deeply in denial. Whenever I encountered a mention or an image of Him, I would quickly turn my attention away before I had time to consider it, before He had a chance to reel me in.

By the age of 13, I was a Wiccanesque Pagan, especially fascinated with magic and ancient mysteries. Towards the end of my teens, I actually became Wiccan, and began to focus on that. It seemed close to what I was looking for, but was still not quite right. Then, in my early twenties, I met another woman who not only also heard voices, but actually heard some of the very same ones I did, and was interacting with these noncorporeal beings on a daily basis. If my new friend had been my own age, I might have tried to dismiss this as a delusion or signs of an overactive imagination, but she was twenty years my senior and by all indications otherwise normal and sane. We began to talk about our experiences with these beings, hold extended conversations with Them, and even journey, in sleep or trance states, to visit Them in their homes, which were grand and palatial. The entity who was around me the most appeared to be an older man with silver hair, not old like Gandalf but strong, virile, and very alluring—eloquent, charismatic, and more than a little dangerous. He came to me in dreams at night and in my waking hours during the day, and I adored Him. He did not call Himself Odin but another name, yet He was a guide and protector of the dead, a traveler between the worlds, a warrior, shape-shifter, and powerful sorcerer. In retrospect, it seems to me that His actual identity should have been obvious, yet at the time somehow He kept me from seeing it, or at least from panicking and fleeing. When He said He wanted to marry me, I eagerly agreed, having no idea what that would mean.

Unfortunately, not long after my otherworldly marriage took place I had a falling out with the woman I had been confiding in about all these things. Our friendship broke up, she and I went our separate ways, and without her support I wasn’t able to sustain the conviction that I was married to a discarnate being, or even that I was actually interacting with these entities. Then I began dating a man who gradually convinced me that either I had imagined the entire thing, or that it was all very nice but not relevant to my everyday, mundane life. This man wanted me to marry him. I was not head over heels in love with him the way I had been with my otherworldly husband, but he was my friend and he could offer a measure of security, and eventually I agreed. At our wedding, instead of the wedding march I had selected, “Ride of the Valkyries” suddenly blared out as I was about to walk down the aisle. The message was clear: my new marriage was doomed from the start, because I already belonged to another. But this was a warning I neither understood nor heeded. Likewise, all the little signs and hints Odin continued to give me through the following years also went unrecognized. Crows and ravens seemed to follow me everywhere, but my new husband was an avid reader of Carlos Casteneda and insisted they were signs for him instead of for me. Meanwhile, Odin’s name kept popping up in unusual contexts; when I went back to college to finish my BA in English literature, one professor suggested that I read the Eddas, while another suddenly asked me one day, apropos of nothing, if I had heard of Asatru. But I was clueless, and all my energy was consumed in my studies and in trying to be a wife, and a mother to my daughter. The studies earned me straight A’s, and my daughter was gifted, but wifehood I was hopelessly failing at.

Fast forward thirteen or so years. I was unhappy in my marriage, having trouble at my job, and feeling spiritually disconnected, almost spiritually dead. Wicca wasn’t working for me, and hadn’t been for a while (I had never been able to form strong attachments to goddesses), and everything simply felt meaningless. Then a sudden crisis at work threw me into a deep depression that lasted for about a year. I started taking Prozac, but even in spite of that was contemplating suicide. After about six months I quit the Prozac because it was doing me no good, and at around that time began to feel a huge tug towards exploring my heritage, which is mostly English, French and Scandinavian. As a means of distracting myself from being miserable, I started studying Norse myths and deities, and felt irresistibly drawn to the stories and images of Odin. In a bookstore one day, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods demanded to be bought and devoured, and as I read about Mr. Wednesday my entire being cried out “MINE!!!” I began to dream about Odin. I bought a set of clay runes, and enrolled in a rune study course. Finally, on Ebay, I saw a statue of Odin with His wolves and ravens by Oberon Zell and impulsively bought it, and when it arrived I began to talk to it, telling Him about all the reasons I was so unhappy and begging Him to help me if He could.

Within days, there was a sudden and dramatic answer to my prayers—a tangible answer that proved to me that Odin was not only a real, distinct, individual God, but that He seemed to have a very strong interest in me. And then, one night soon afterwards, He showed up in person—or, well, in astral form, as He had years before. And once again, I fell head over heels in love with Him. He claimed me that night, and also freed me from the depression as if it had never existed. And I realized that it hadn’t really been Him I had been running from all those years, but myself. Much of what people say about Him is true: He is demanding, He plays for the highest stakes imaginable, and His folk live turbulent lives filled with all manner of sacrifice in return for His gifts. His lessons are often painful–not because He wants to hurt us but because He is the God of consciousness–and what could be more painful than to really come to know your own self? Yet He is also the God of ecstasy, enabling us to rise above pain like a phoenix rising from its own ashes.

Not long after He claimed me, Odin asked me to formally dedicate myself to Him. I began to write a ritual and the oath I planned to take, but soon found Him taking over the writing of it, changing the wording and the oath to suit His own purposes. Before long, I realized that what I had written was a wedding ceremony, interwoven with a blood oath and elements of the old traditions involving the last sheaf at harvest time. This terrified me, because I was already married, at least in name (although I didn’t realize at the time that my first wedding vows had already been to Him!) and because at the time I had only heard of one other person daring to even think of doing such a thing in modern times, outside of Lwa marriage in Vodou.  (Although I had come across references to ancient priestesses being considered brides of the Gods they served.) But He insisted, and even in my terror I wanted this, wanted Him, more than I had ever wanted anything in my entire life. So the ceremony took place, and about six months afterwards was repeated in front of a witness, my kindred sister (now my partner). I ordered a silver ring engraved with Wodan in runes, which I now wear as my wedding band.

So, what have been the repercussions in my life of swearing myself to Him in this way? Well, my mortal marriage broke up shortly afterwards, needless to say.  But beyond that, I have been completely and utterly changed, my life turned upside down and inside out. I am the living vehicle for a god, His voice and eyes in the world. Everywhere I go, I carry Him with me; I am a doorway for Him to manifest in the world. The somewhat famous Odin’s woman Diana Paxson has been known to warn people that Odin can become the other half of your soul if you let Him, but that it may well be at the expense of your existing human relationships. That has certainly been the case for me, but I can say without reservation that the sacrifices and growing pains have been more than worth it. He demands that I give Him all that I am, but in return He gives me all that HE is—which is a more than fair bargain, believe me. Just like any relationship, ours is not without its snags and difficulties, but even the crises bring me closer to Him and deepen our bond. This is not an easy path, and it is definitely not for everyone (even swearing to Him at all is not for everyone, and should not be undertaken lightly), but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!

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12 Comments

  1. Hi there! My name’s Willow and I’ve been a reader of yours for a few weeks now. My work (mundane work that is) keeps me quite busy these days and so it’s been hard to find time to comment instead of just read. But, on my day off, I thought I’d introduce myself and let you know I’m reading~ 🙂

    I am a fellow follower of Odin. I have not done any kind of ceremony to devote myself to Him (yet, though I do suspect I will be in the near future) or I would say I’m a devotee of His. But He’s been with me for a few years now and I’m glad He is. I love Him~ Your posts regarding Him and Norse Myth are very interesting to me, it’s an area that I’m really just beginning to study. I’m beginning work with Runes tonight, really learning the meanings and such and, honestly, I can’t wait.

    As you can see, I can ramble lol. Also, I’m a writer of just about everything (novels, articles, poems, short stories). The written word is my friend~ 😀

    1. Hi, Willow!

      (And hail the hostess!)

      Quick note here to say that there are a /lot/ of Odin’s women out there, serving him under a wide array of titles and jobs, with varying responsibilities and commitments.

      Welcome to a most eccentric sorority. 😉

      — Lorrie

  2. Powerful stuff. I applaud you for sharing this. And by the way, in case I haven’t said it before – congratulations on your Oath. I’m sure this will bring many important changes into your life, and I’m proud of you for boldly embracing that. In other words, you rawk and don’t ever forget that. 😀

  3. Even though I already know the story, and have been at least somewhat present for some of the developments, it is awesome to read again.

    The thought I was having as I was reading this time: I don’t think ANY God presents an “easy” relationship. They all have Their mysteries and things to show and teach us. Goddesses associated with love and beauty, for example, can completely tear your heart from your body, expose every bit in there you try to hide, then hand it back shiny and new and you gotta live with that.

    Anyway… it’s always worth it. 🙂

    1. Very true, relationships with deities can be challenging across the board. But Odin does have a reputation for being especially difficult that is not entirely undeserved.

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