A Gift From Myself To Myself
Both the hawk and the eagle watched Odin closely, which made him self conscious, as he carefully made his way up to where they were perched. As Odin came closer he realized that the eagle was not actually standing on the top branch, but on a stubby smaller branch that jutted out just below the top. This small, but thick branch, reminded Odin of an altar which sat conveniently beneath the top of the world tree. As Odin reached a spot just below the " altar branch " the eagle dropped the vine onto Odin's shoulders.
The eagle then spoke : " You have reached your destination ! " Then the eagle leaned down and looked Odin in his eye and said softly : " But we both know that your real journey is now about to begin ! " Odin nodded in agreement, and grabbed hold of the vine which was slowly slipping off of his shoulder. The eagle spoke again : " There is a storm brewing Odin, and you will find that the universe does not give up its secrets easily...... Not even to a God ! " Then the eagle rubbed his beak up against the vine. " The vine will allow you to tie yourself securely to the top of Yggdrasil. " Odin gazed up at the great eagle with a puzzled look on his face. " Why have you helped me ? " he asked. The eagle did not answer his question. " Whether you live or die I will bring you back to Asgard. That is my promise to you great Odin ! " the eagle assured him. Then Vedrfolnir respectfully nodded to Odin, and the eagle flew off, and landed on a lower branch.
Odin slowly climbed the last few yards to the very top of Yggdrasil. For some reason, unknown even to Odin, he reached up and touched the tip of the very top branch before tying himself securely to it. As Odin began to secure himself to the top branch the winds began to blow up, and rain began to fall like a waterfall out of the blackness of the great void. Odin knew that this marked the beginning of the ritual sacrifice, and nodded to the void that he understood.
The rain did not last very long, but the winds did not subside. On the contrary, the winds began to howl ferociously, swaying the branch violently from side to side. If not for the vine that the eagle had provided, Odin would have been thrown off into the void of space, or would have fallen until he hit the ground in one of the nine worlds. At first Odin was not affected much by the swaying branch, but after what seemed like an entire day, the constant shaking began to take a toll on the All- Father, and he began to teeter in between the conscious, and the unconscious worlds. Slowly Odin's eyesight began to blur into a gray haze from the dizzying effects of the dangerously swaying branch, and eventually he could no longer see the world through his eye. The continuous swaying of the branch did, however, have a hypnotic effect on Odin, and as his eyesight faded he began to see the universe through his mind. And what he saw was clearer than anything he had ever seen before.
The visions began with his childhood. He once again saw his grandfather Buri, and his father Borr. Odin walked with his brothers Vili and Ve as they killed the Giant Ymir, and created from his body the earth and the heavens. The All- Father stood on the beach, and created life from two trees which had no fate. And Odin stood and mixed his blood with that of Loki, and became with that sacred oath his blood - brother for life. Odin's mind was then whisked away to that awful day when he cast the first spear at Gullveig. Three times he tried to kill the witch, and three times she was reborn. Then in a blink of an eye he sat upon Sleipnir and faced the Vanir forces as they attacked Asgard. He watched in horror once again as Vanir magic defeated Aesir might.
Then the visions spun around in his mind as fast as the branch was swaying. One moment he was spitting his peace token into the great vat, and the next he was being poked at by the auger Rati as he attempted to steal the mead of poetry. In an instant he remembered Gunnlod's beauty, and in a flash Odin found himself on the banks of a stream as Loki threw a rock and killed Otr. He appeared next tied up in Hreidmar's home, while Loki threatened Andvari and stole the gold. Odin could hear the gold ring that Andvari cursed as it hit the other gold, and completely covered Otr's dead carcass. Then Odin screamed in his delirium as the curse killed again, and again, and AGAIN !
Odin suddenly slipped from one world into another. Even In his confused mind he could tell that this was not one of the nine realms. This was a magical world where he heard the trees chanting spells, and where the stars danced in the heavens to the ritual beat that came from the world below. Here the dead spoke to the living, and the sick were cured by songs sung by women who floated in the air on the whims of a magical breeze. There was a power here that Odin could not see. But he could feel it ! He could almost reach out and touch it !
Suddenly, the visions stopped, and Odin awoke to the sounds of thousands of birds . The ferocious wind had dissipated and the branch had stopped swaying. As he gained back his conscious mind, Odin began to feel what he knew would be the first of many discomforts. He felt the emptiness in his stomach, as the first throbbing of hunger began to affect him. His throat had become parched and was sore. And his body was racked with pain everywhere the vine held him to the branch. Through a blurry bloodshot eye Odin looked up at the stars circling in the heavens, and he nodded to them as if they had spoken to him. Slowly, and with trembling hands he worked his spear Gungnir from beneath the vines. All - Father then grabbed the spear handle a short distance down from its head, and placed the cold sharp blade up against his stomach just below the last rib. As Odin jabbed the sharp blade into his body, he cried out : " I do this for the answers that I seek. A sacrifice to myself from myself ! "
The pain was almost unbearable ! As the All- Father's body tightened up like a fist from the blow, he screamed again in agony ! Then Odin's body went limp as Gungnir slowly slid out of his body, and landed on the altar branch below. His blood, almost as if it had been planned, dripped from his open wound, and slowly covered the altar branch with his offering. His own life' s blood was his ultimate gift of himself to the universe. Odin thought for a moment that surely a month, or at the very least a week had already passed, but in reality only one day had so far transpired.
The wind once more began to blow. This time it came from the opposite direction and was very cold and bitter ! Exposed as he was Odin felt his skin quickly becoming raw. Although his body was growing numb from the frigid temperatures his trembling caused there to be an ache inside of him that gnawed away at his resolve, and physical strength, the way Nidhogg eats away at the world tree's roots. As Odin' s conscious state once again slipped into a dream world, he feared that this was only the beginning of his trials and tribulations.
Odin awoke from his nightmares to a light that blinded him. It seemed to the All- Father that Sunna had stopped directly over him, and was punishing him with all the might of her powerful rays. Odin could feel the sweat as it poured out of his raw oversensitive skin and dripped slowly down to the altar branch to mix with his blood. Every rivulet of sweat was a new study in agony for him. " A second offering ! " Odin thought to himself in his delusional state of mind. As the day wore on his hunger was now turning into the sheer torment of starvation. Odin felt as though someone was reaching into his stomach, and was squeezing his innards with all their might. Odin in his altered state cried out in a hoarse voice. " Is there no one to give me drink ?! Will no one give me food ?! " Of course there was no one to answer his misery.
By the eighth day Odin was in absolute agony. He had endured nights of extreme cold and days of searing heat without so much as a morsel of food, or a drop of water. The pain was now constant, unmerciful, and brutal. All - Father was sure that he was reaching the end of his endurance. His own body had become his worst enemy ! Odin could no longer think, and even his dreams had been wiped away by his suffering. All that was left for the Lord of Asgard was to wait to see if the universe would give up its secrets, or if his sacrifice would be in vain.
On the ninth day, Odin could sense that the end was near. His body was weak, and limp. He could no longer keep open his eye, and his trembling had been replaced by severe convulsions, that came more and more frequently. Odin could feel the very essence of his life fading away, like a fog in the morning sun. At the exact moment that the ninth day was ending Odin looked up at the stars and whispered : " I have failed. I am not strong enough. Do with me as you will with your great power . " he told the universe.
Then Odin began to notice that a few of the stars were moving erratically in the heavens. At first he thought it was his broken mind playing tricks on him. But then a small star came streaking by his head, and landed on the altar branch beneath him. As it landed among his blood and sweat the stone glowed red hot, and sizzled in the God's juices. Just as the first one began to cool, Odin saw another flaming star pass close by him and land on the altar. One after another these celestial objects passed by him, and landed on the altar consecrating it with their fury. Even from his great height above the altar branch Odin could see that each stone, as it cooled, had a symbol carved deeply into its surface. Odin, however, hung there in total agony no longer caring if he lived or died as the universe stones landed beneath him one by one. He smiled weakly as he realized that he may not be strong enough to live to use this great power, but he was strong enough to have forced the universe to give up its magic.
Odin lost count of how many of these shooting stars landed on the altar, but just when he thought the celestial shower was over a final stone came straight at him. All - Father did not have the strength to move his head out of the way, so he proudly raised his face to the heavens, and awaited his own death. At the last moment the red hot stone veered off slightly, and instead of hitting Odin, sliced through the vine that held him tightly to the branch. As the vine released
him, Odin fell onto the altar branch among the stones with his face down, and to one side. As Odin felt the last bit of strength leaving his body his eye noticed that the last five stones had landed in a row. With tears in his eye Odin laughed hysterically as he read them. R-U-N-E-S. As Odin drew his last breath he reached out and pulled these RUNES into his chest. Suddenly, Odin drew another breath, and was able to gather up more of the rune stones. Odin could feel the runes as they began to heal his broken body. " Runes ! Runes ! Runes ! " Odin cried out over and over again as he picked up the magic stones one by one.
With each rune stone that he gathered up Odin could feel himself growing in strength. The rune stones not only contained the wisdom and knowledge of the universe, but also its great powers were healing Odin albeit slowly. By the time that Sunna returned overhead Odin was fully recovered. As he looked up at Sunna's glorious ring of fire he saw the black outline of the great eagle above him. When the eagle realized that Odin was aware of his presence it flew down and landed next to him . " The universe has been kind to Odin . " the eagle told him. Odin smiled. A great smile of realization. " The universe has given me a great gift my feathered friend, but the width and breadth of knowledge, and wisdom, is as expansive as the universe itself. The quest for knowledge, much like the universe is never ending ! " he told the eagle.
The eagle gave Odin a small smile. " Does Odin wish to go home ? " Odin looked up at the heavens above and smiled as well. " Yes, I believe I am done here ! " he told the eagle. As Odin climbed on the eagle's back he whispered under his breath : " For now ! "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.