[Odin has many, many countenances, many aspects, many faces. He is an immensely multi-faceted God to which His surviving praise-names (or heiti) attest. He is a God of wisdom, ecstasy, kingship, battle … and ordeal. While the following praise poem hails Him for the wisdom He has taught me through ordeal, and through the conscious wrestling with and transformation of my own pain, this should not be taken to mean that He is only a God of the ordeal. Nor should it be taken to mean that He is a cruel sadist. He is many things, but when there is pain, it is never without a purpose. For some of us, it is a necessary and useful tool. For some, it is a necessary twist in the road to personal growth, empowerment, and healing. I believe that Odin, like many other Gods, knows intimately how best to utilize us, what our talents and potentialities are. The relationship of a devotee with His or Her Gods is an individual one. This poem reflects only one aspect of my relationship with Him.]
Apologies to the poet.
It cannot be helped — ancient words
Leak through my fingers like so much sand.
I have been poisoned by the darkness
That creeps out from behind His placid mask.
It has ensnared me, this unseen ichor, making me prey to His hungers,
Prey to his needs,
And He knows it well.
Dangerous intoxication, it runs through my veins like heroin,
clouding my senses like opium paste.
This haunt has turned my dreams to ash.
It has eaten my words, stolen my breath.
It rides as an uneasy passenger in my blood.
Nothing can quell this addiction.
I am undone.
It is a dangerous thing to love a God —
(all the stories say).
Love knows no rules.
Sweetest poison it finds its way into the hardest of hearts.
Even I, temple dancer between the worlds,
Concubine of the most terrible of Gods
Have felt its siren song.
Love makes fools of us all, it’s true.
I have walked the path of sacred service a thousand years, a thousand lifetimes.
I thought I was safe.
These things have always passed me by. No more.
I have tasted this One demon’s darkness, and lost myself in its feral scent.
Now, I am undone.
As They are wont to do,
Has pierced my armor, destroyed my arsenal
Rendered me bare and defenseless
With only the shield of my longing for support.
I go weaponless into a war I do not understand,
On ever shifting terrain,
Where monsters lurk.
I go to battle in a land marked only by this predator’s scent.
He has delivered me to my own destruction.
Sweet Ravager of Pain,
Long ago, upon the Tree, He plundered Pain’s secrets for Himself,
Bestowing its blessings upon any who would ask.
(and oh so many ask for this sweet corruption.
We eat it willingly from His pain calloused hands
Begging for more, without complaint, until it is far, far too late).
I cannot complain.
Pain has been a fair companion to me.
I am not afraid because of that.
Its ephemera holds no charge
Against the battered windlass of my heart.
It is only His eyes that cause my heart to fear,
And the way they strip away shreds of me with every glance.
What can I do?
I will breath him in
Through every pour.
I will feast my eyes upon His flesh,
And all the places He has been.
I will pray through the hum
Of hungry heat, willing skin
And the sweetest of inward tides
Pounding ever and always,
Again and again,
Half forgotten shores.
Sometimes, when He is merciful,
somewhere between the pain and the terror,
Between hunger and wrath, ecstasy and longing,
The nectar of heaven drips unexpectedly into my waiting mouth.
[Galina Krasskova is an ardent devotee of Odin and has been a priest since 1995. She is a Northern Tradition Shaman, whose primary focus is encouraging and developing a tradition of Heathen devotional work. She is the author of several books including Exploring the Northern Tradition; The Whisperings of Woden; and Sigyn: Our Lady of the Staying Power. Krasskova is currently at work on a devotional for Kali (she owes Her a debt). She holds a diploma in interfaith ministry, a Masters degree in religious studies and lectures frequently throughout the US. She may be reached at Krasskova@gmail.com.]