“Beneath the modern, industrial world and all of its rationality, the world of intuition, dream, and madness is alive. And it is returning. As this world crumbles, the old world will burst forth and the gods will walk again. I will dream your ruin.”
From Ramon Elani
“Thus Odin graved ere the world began;
Then he rose from the deep, and came again.”
–Havamal, the Words of the High One
We do not choose the forms in which the gods appears to us. It is carved into the hidden heart of the dream inside of us. It was written there in the dreaming world, before this world began. Turn your back on it at your peril, for it is madness in either direction. We are striated and sedimented things. We walk this dead and rotten world, while we dance at the gates of dawn. I am a contingent thing, a breath upon the wind. But I am too the flames of distant stars, I am a torch in the night. I was there when the earth was born, I was there when the first dream was dreamed.
I am now, I am again, I am always.
The gods, like the trees, don’t care for a one-sided conversation. In the end, if they have spoken to us for too long without receiving a response, they will cease trying. To follow the gods is to speak to them, not to speak to humans of them, nor to listen to humans speak of them. To follow the gods is to follow the signs they give, not the instructions of any man or woman who claims to know them.
The gods are the land, it is said. They are in the land and of the land. It is said that if you are not of the land then you are not of the gods of that land. Fools! The fen and moor, fjord and glacier exist within us as memories. They are memories from the time before. My memories are not only my own. My memories are yours as well. My memories are the land itself. My memories, my dreams are the home of the slumbering gods.
If the gods are tied to those places, then I must only seek for them in my dream. For where is the land but within ourselves? What is our blood but the water of the earth? What is our soul but the spirit of the heavens? Inside and outside. The land penetrates us and we penetrate the land. Where do I end and the land begin? We think the ground beneath us is solid. We think we know what we stand upon. And yet, the world we know is fragile as an eggshell. We drift through currents of time and place. Beneath the modern, industrial world and all of its rationality, the world of intuition, dream, and madness is alive. And it is returning. As this world crumbles, the old world will burst forth and the gods will walk again. I will dream your ruin.
We go in to go out.
We go up to go down.
The gods sleep within us.
There is only one way to find them, only one path to wake them.
Dive down, dive down. Deep into the sunless indigo sea. The gods lie there beneath the gentle waves. In the dimness, among strange and antique shapes. Structures forgotten. Memories left to gather sediment. Suddenly, a one-eyed face emerges from the murky water. Grim and mad, blazing with poetry, dark with blood. I know him. I too have sacrificed myself. I have made a gruesome offering of myself. And whatever gifts I received, I received them shrieking. I too picked up the knuckle bones and I saw the world that will come, in fire and wolf blood. There is only one sacrifice that means anything. The self to the self! What else have you to offer? Who else is deserving? Hang yourself and rise again. Pierce your side with the spear and the soul shines bright.
The whisper is what he brought back from the gallows. A secret. That is his gift. Words. A magic unlike any other. Not the changing of shapes or things. You may change a shape but not the thing itself. For you cannot change what you do not know. What is a whisper but a thing known? What is a secret but a kept word? Thus the whispers are the knowing of things put together, of things in their way, and in their place.
He bade write on the shield before the shining goddess,
On Arvak’s ear, and on Alsvith’s hoof,
On the wheel of the car of Hrungnir’s killer,
On Sleipnir’s teeth, and the straps of the sledge.
On the paws of the bear, and on Bragi’s tongue,
On the wolf’s claws bared, and the eagle’s beak,
On bloody wings, and bridge’s end,
On freeing hands and helping foot-prints.
On glass and on gold, and on goodly charms,
In wine and in beer, and on well-loved seats,
On Gungnir’s point, and on Grani’s breast,
On the nails of Norns, and the night-owl’s beak.
What will I not write upon? What is it that is written on beak of the owl? The word vibrates that upon which it is carved. The whisper is a way of knowing. Nothing controls like knowing, naming, speaking, writing. In this is comprised his evil, his woe-working, his swift deceit. I name a thing, and thus I rule over it. My dominion is the word. What I write upon is my kingdom. With my words, I bind it to me. Whisper, whisper. And I will write upon the wolf’s tooth and upon the raven’s wing. And I will know them, and they will know my sovereignty. Deed follows word. Therein lies its power. The word is a movement upon the tapestry. A storm that is felt throughout the worlds.
Of what do the whispers speak?
They speak of triumph. To bless the sword, speak and write the name of the Sword God, who gave his wolf’s joint.
They speak of birth. To bring new life from the womb of the mother, speak and write the names of the Three Sisters upon the palm of the hand.
They speak of the waves and the terrible sea. To come safe across the whale road, burn and speak to oar and stern.
They speak of the nine twigs of glory. To overcome the worm, to bring forth the apple and the poison both.
They speak of the dire thorn. To bring evil, severity. Blood icicle. It is to be shunned and never written. It is a cliff dwelling thing and abhorred.
They speak of the branches that bind flesh and blood together. Blood to blood and bone to bone, speak and write upon the branch and tree that faces east.
They speak law and judgement. With word and thought, he weaves those sundered together.
And the last whispers of all, the ones that shall outlive the gods themselves. For one day, the god will come upon a man hanging from a tree. And he will know him. He will paint his whispers upon the dead man’s flesh and sing soft secrets to him. And the man will descend. He will go down. And he will speak the whispers back.
Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He lives with his family among mountains and rivers in Western New England. He walks with the moon.