The follower of Asatru, or Odinism, or Wotanism, or whatever we would call the faithful resurgence of the Old Ways from the North (as opposed to the devotees of its demiurgic mirror image which disguises itself as “Universalist Asatru”) – or at least those who seek the deeper meanings therein – often refer to the Havamal, as one of the few extant, older texts which seems to indicate a workable spiritual practice. Yet the words quoted are some of the hardest to understand, for the uninitiated, of any in “devotional” practice:
Veit ek at ek hekk
vindga meiði á
nætr allar níu
ok gefinn Óðni
sjálfr sjálfum mér
á þeim meiði
er manngi veit
hvers hann af rótum renn
|I know that I hung
upon a windy tree
for nine whole nights,
wounded with a spear
and given to Othinn,
myself to myself for me;
on that tree
I knew nothing
of what kind of roots it came from.
Við hleifi mik sældu
né við hornigi
nýsta ek niðr
nam ek upp rúnar
fell ek aptr þaðan
|None cheered me with a loaf
and not with any horn,
I investigated down below,
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
and I fell back from there.
I just added these two verses to my own morning practice earlier this year (and it looks a while to get them memorized and ingrained, in the Old Norse, my pronunciation of which is I’m sure still dubious, though hopefully better than it was when I did this video) I can tell you that it adds to the whole, now; yet for years this line and this concept, the sacrifice of self to self, for the self, though I thought I understood it intellectually, did not fully resonate within me, did not take hold. For me, it was only after actually hanging on the tree that the words became clear. Let me see if I can clarify.
Expressed conceptually, the notion is of one’s Will, or whatever appellation one applies to one’s decision-making power, with the force behind it to act – der Wille – undertaking to sacrifice the false security and lower identity of the perceived, individualized self – that which is worshipped in the unconscious hedonism of modernity as the highest source of devotion and identity, to a higher one. That part of the concept, I think, is at least cognizable to modern man (or at least the man of my generation and the ones before), though perhaps not appealing. It does indeed resonate with the concept of giving one’s life for God, which concept and practice is intrinsic to most right-hand path religions on their higher levels of practice, although expressed in the Flatland lower forms of those religions, becomes slavery to established rules and authorities which are actually secular. This sacrifice is anathema to modern man, to his inculcated hedonism. When contemplating giving one’s self to the divine, one encounters a sense of potential loss, of a sacrifice of decision-making authority and of control, which the lower self is probably not willing to make.
The fears of the lower self are well-founded! Because this leap of faith, because that is what it is, does indeed necessitate a decision by the lower self – which is doing the best it can to run its life, with its limited capacities – to turn the direction of its life over to another metaphysical entity, which may have its own goals which have not been wholly revealed to the lower self who must make this sacrifice, this decision. It is indeed a fearsome moment. Which is why those who take this step most often do so in some sort of desperation, with regard to some crisis, which can be material or “spiritual”.
HR is an alcoholic. For years, despite his best intentions, he watches his addiction destroy his life, taking away his money, his jobs, his friends, his family, and eventually his self-respect and his will to live. Eventually, inspired perhaps by the stories of others, and desperate to escape the hell into which his addiction takes him, he makes the decision to give up his attempts to control his drinking, and gives away the decision to a “higher power”, which is no more than an entity higher than himself, which he dimly perceives or does not perceive at all, but merely needs to exist if escape from his intractable situation is to occur. “Miraculously”, it works. He asks God as he perceives him, or does not, to remove from him his desire to drink, and it is done. Then HR goes about the task, which he must take back to himself, in his “human” or lower-self form, of cementing this removal of loathsome desire in his personal life on a daily basis.
This is a boilerplate skeleton of many a story from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and of the stories of many of its successful members. I can tell you that this much of the AA mythos is true and workable, although there are many things problematic with that system, as applied and developed (which might be worth exposition elsewhere, but not here). I can say from personal experience that once one truly comes to that point of decision – and the opportunity may occur more than one, and may or may not be seized – and takes the leap, amazing things can happen. One problem with the AA system – like any other schematic for spiritual experience – is that in the grips of the Disease of modernity, with its illusions of democracy equality, it supposes or attempt to propose that this experience is available to everyone. And this is simply not true.
The opportunity to true spiritual Awakening is available only to those who are not only truly open to it and willing to make the necessary sacrifice, but who are also positioned by fate and by their own karma to be capable of it. Without this seed of experience which is planted before incarnation, no desire to awaken can prevail. This is just a hard truth, the statement of which will not be popular, and by definition cannot generate a popular movement. This experience is esoteric, not exoteric. And the moment of its potential is not sought, cannot be won by practice, but comes upon one, as a thief in the night, as they say.
But, who is this larger self? I find that this is an unanswerable question from the standpoint of individualized, material man, with his tool-using consciousness, which is not be demeaned at all, but which for one to be open to larger growth, must be conditionally set aside, indeed abandoned, temporarily. But abandoned to what, and what grows? As Kierkegaard suggests, the leap of faith is indeed a leap into the unknown. It is the journey of the Fool and of the Hanged Man. Wotan is the God of the Hanged in more than one sense. When one gives up the core of one’s being to another entity, which he can only hope will be a higher one, he risks delusion or demonic possession. There are indeed metahuman entities, not to be perceived only as metaphors or cultural concepts, but as real powers, which are larger and less material than our little human brains can understand. Abandoning oneself to them, one does not accomplish his goals, but in fact abandons them. He sacrifices his desires and decisions to something that is not him.
I think Jung understood these entities perfectly well, and was unwilling by dint of personal weaknesses to express them properly. They are his Archetypes. Archetypes are not shared cultural imaginings. Rather they are bigger and more powerful to those who perceive, worship, or attempt to express or embody them. Anyone who truly has a relationship with a god, knows what they are (and yet, who is anyone else to perceive or validate that person’s perception?). They may also be demons, and that may be a matter of perspective – but whose? Some of these questions are indeed rhetorical, and yet not.
Case in point: Adolph Hitler, as a young man, attends with his friend August Kubizek a performance of Wagner’s Rienzi in Vienna. Up to this point Hitler does not appear destined for greatness, and yet he has an inner fire that consumes him. He is impoverished and has to all appearance failed. Yet on that evening he goes into the hills and has an experience which is only partially shared with his friend. Subsequently, he goes through a fire of experience that seems to be a gift of Providence, steered by a newly acquired iron will – through deeper poverty, through the War, in which his existence seems charmed. Until he becomes someone of whom the world has only the image painted by his enemies, who seemingly vanquished him. And what was done in that lifetime is still unfolding.
As I have remarked elsewhere, the actual person of Adolph Hitler seems to have either been unknown, even to those who worked and lived with him through all the critical years – or to have been a human being quite separate from the Fuhrer. He left no real autobiography; Mein Kampf was a document written for its own purposes, and which I think he did not love. Serrano speaks of three distinct entities who shared this concentration point in the material, this physical frame, whose structure took so much stress and abuse before its death – the person of Hitler, the Fuhrer, and the Archetype. The Archetype moved on levels largely unseen; its body was much larger than one man. It was the Fuhrer, which/who I think was actually a creation of the Archetype, a seeding, an embodiment, who occasionally occupied the physical frame. I wonder if Hitler’s chronic stomach pains were a result of this stressful partial embodiment, but only can only speculate, there.
But, back to our lives. Having become open to possession by the Archetype – having, in HR’s case, been blessed by what he perceives as his higher power with the removal of his desire to drink – what follows? Again, we are led back to his AA example as a case in point, this time a negative one. I would first point out that his experience seems to me rare, and that the perhaps inevitable attempt of AA, like any other limited manifestation of higher experience which attempts to become a mass movement, almost certainly leads to massive and majority failure. Those who do not have the positioning or ability, the cosmically manifest opportunity, to have the rare experience, are encouraged to fake it, by those who should know better but often don’t. It is probably reasoned that this attempt to live “as if” is the only alternative to abandoning all hope (although it could be said that turning over one’s power to the Archetype does indeed involve exactly that abandonment of personal survival). That may be correct, from the standpoint of any one mundane life, but it cheapens the potential for genuine experience of the true initiate.
The real Art, for which genuine esoteric experience and skill is necessary, lies in maintaining one’s personal existence after the transforming encounter. One must, from that point on, live, as I said last week I think, on a sliding scale between God and the crassest, densest material. Even to try to describe this process is the finger pointing to the moon, as the Zennies say, often without comprehension. One must, by practiced and blessed development of equilibrium, which is not psychological but spiritual, and no less physical and mental, learn to live as one’s self, while sharing that self with the higher being with whom one has become acquainted. Serrano, again, speaks of (for men), the anima, as does Jung. I have had trouble with that image, with my prior conception of the anima as the unseen female counterpart of the male consciousness (with the equivalent of the animus for women). The former often expresses the concept poetically as “one who stands waiting, as if on the edge of a fountain,” or in similar terms, and it took me a while to understand that it was indeed the higher self who was referenced.
I note that the higher self who is thus contacted and to whom one experiences surrendering one’s will, is not an acquired entity; it is something, someone, who was always there. It is a larger aspect of yourself, of whom your mundane, daily perceived self is but a limited expression, the tip of an iceberg. One cannot choose which higher self of which one is a part, such is merely discovered. And we are not all part of the same self, except on the highest level. Some who appear to be like us may have no higher self at all, which is a truth that the popularizers of enlightenment cannot, in their desire to sell books and seminars to the masses, cannot admit, or perhaps even comprehend. This game of levels is itself the esoteric art of balance, which one must acquire through a mixture of training, innate ability, fate and karma. The acquisition of the skill itself must be one’s destiny, which one must also choose to express.
One does indeed risk either trying to deal with one’s daily circumstances from too far “up” the scale and losing one’s material life and therefore his ability to express anything further materially -although of course there can also be a proper occasion for just that loss, as a conscous sacrifice; or from too far down, therefore “taking it back”, again in AA terms, closing the window on the divine and returning to his former unenlightened life. Given a choice between these mistakes of position, I would prefer the former, although I intend to maintain the balancing act as best I can while continuing to move in a direction I perceive as “forward”, for as long as possible. Anything else would be ingratitude.
Before closing, or deferring to another time, I feel obligated to mention, there are obvious risks to opening oneself to possession by unseen and unknown entities. To the extent one does not acknowledge those entities, one takes that risk all the time, and most are to some extent unconsciously possessed by demons, who scream at them from TV screens, newspapers, pulpits and the hedonist, consumerist, materialist cloud of unconsciousness which is their daily social environment. Some may make the Faustian bargains made by lower entities like Hillary Clinton or somewhat more sophisticated ones like a Rockefeller. Sometimes the demons take possession seemingly on their own of those marginal humans who seem to be nothing more than shells for them – the Barrack Obamas. The seeker at some point rolls the dice, and sometimes they are rolled for him. I advocate preparation, should the door open.