A Greater War Within

Three Heroes of Happy Ending I

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You’re a soldier, 
you know you’re right. 
You need a system, 
a system to fight

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Alright, it seems we are just about ready to go – prepared to slowly start sliding into our dreadful story of death, darkness, destiny, and truly heroic decisions. 

Now, before we really get it kicking, it seems appropriate for me to start off with just a few remarks of an introductory nature, so you can get some kind of sense of what’s coming.

So, there are many ways of dealing with the mythological stories of the past. My suggestion is to treat them as windows, sometimes rather broken windows, into a shared reality. 

By this I mean to imply that, in my work with the leftovers of the North, the interesting thing is not so much to speculate on what Nordic Mythology could tell us about ‘our’ ancestors and about some specific, noble spiritual culture of pre-Christian Scandinavia, but rather what these stories have to say about the general conditions of existence among all of the living and dying – not just those of the past, but also, and maybe even more, about us and about what is to come. 

In other words: My suggestion is that we shouldn’t just investigate these stories out of some kind of antiquarian interest for the past, but really to understand what they are about right now, and to actively drink their essence, so it may be a forceful nourishment in us, as we approach the future. I hope you’re up for that.

Alright, I’m gonna tell you a small part of the Ragnarök-story, as it is found in our two main sources to Nordic Mythology, the poetic Edda, and the prose Edda. 

The word ‘Ragnarök’ has, just like all other words in Old Norse, or Old Icelandic, as the language of these sources is called, a range of different meanings. 

So, Ragnarök, it means, they say, something like ‘the destiny of the Gods’ or, even better ‘the process of the Gods’, which is exactly what it is: It is the story of how the old must be transformed in the fires of the real, for something new to flower, in another World to come – right here.       

So, the Ragnarök story is about all of what we are experiencing, just now; it’s about the fear of final destruction, and about how to handle it, but it’s not just about the world out there, it is also, and maybe mostly, about the world in here – about the conflicting aspects inside a single soul, and how they can be resolved. A recipe for transformation. Just, come along.

Imagine the brightest boy, you’ve ever seen. This one is even brighter. His name is Baldr. He is the son of Odin, King of the Gods, and Frigg, Queen of the hall. 

When these proud parents look at him, they see and sense all that they ever hoped for – a living union of their love, a wholesome royal creature, ready to rule and save the world. Those sure are some great expectations. It is the kind of expectations that are always transferred from parents to their children, in the desire of the old ones to have the young ones make their dreams come true. 

It’s understandable, and unavoidable, off course, and sure, in a certain degree it’s one of the mechanisms that keep this whole show going. But – and that’s a big but – if this parental interest in the glorious destiny of a child is allowed to run wild, if it is not kept in check by the grown-ups inside themselves, it will be a most destructive factor in the life of a child. 

This is what happened to Baldr. Odin and Frigg asked and expected all too much of him – and thus they became, without in any way wanting it, the reason for his ruin.

Ok – here’s the short version: Imagine a boy, who’s just about to be a man. Picture him anyway you like, he’s part of you, you know. It’s nighttime. Suddenly this chosen one awakes – in panic. It’s back again. He’s been having this dream, this terrifying nightmare, for several days now. Let’s just say thirteen. It’s about dying. It’s about him dying – and maybe more. 

In the early morning he decides to tell his mom. Sure, he’s a big boy now, but even big boys need their mother, once in a while. 

Her reaction is, well, not as cool and composed, as you would expect it from a queen, worthy her name. She freaks out, and just a little later on that day, these nightmares of her beloved son, are up for common discussion among all of the Aesir, all of the noble Gods of Asgaard. 

As they meet up, under the old and, more or less, everlasting cosmic Oak tree, Yggdrasil, they all sense it. This fear is real. Something is truly cooking. The Underworld is thirsty. So, what to do? How to handle such an evil prophesy of what is to come? 

This is exactly where they screw it up – and thus play exactly the tragic parts that are appointed to them. It goes like this: Both the parents decide to use all their might to stop the nasty prophesy from coming true.   

Odin rides, like a madman, all the way down to the gates of Hell, to the Underworld, where he forces a dead witch to rise from her moisty grave and hand over some of what she knows about the future. 

However, he, obviously, doesn’t get what he is so desperate to find. The destiny of Baldr, and the Way of the World, cannot be changed by him. He is not a Master of it all. 

And Frigg – the same goes for all her good intentions. They too are lost in the Winds of the World. But, sorry, let’s now be hasty. There’s quite a camel to swallow, so let’s do it slowly. Please, listen.

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This is how it went: Our loving Mother decided to travel everywhere and ask an oath of everyone – a binding promise not to harm her child.  She asks fire not to burn him, and water not to drown him; iron and all the other metals not to cut him, stones, earth, trees, diseases, animals of the ground and birds of the air, poisons, and snakes of every kind not to, in any way, do anything to hurt the boy. 

But, as y’all know, a little someone was forgotten. The mistletoe, an innocent parasite living from just a little of the essence of its host. I was, and is, so small and soft and does in no way look like something that could ever serve as a tool of violence. She decided not to ask it – and thus she plays her part. 

Well back at home, someone soon comes to see the mother. It is a wrinkled, darkened, little lady, old as the World, it seems. Someone to trust, for sure. She asks the queen about the outcome of her journey: Has all of existence really sworn to never hurt the shining hope of Asgaard?

Frigg joyously proclaims her victory: Oh, yes, they did. They promised me to keep him safe – and thus secure the hopes of all of us. Oh, very well, my dearest daughter, says the darkened, little one. Was this all that you wished share with me?

Now, something happens in Frigg. She feels compelled to give it all away – and so, she tells the visitor about the mistletoe, and asks her, as someone who clearly seems to know a lot about the ways of the World, if she thinks it should also have been demanded the oath? 

The old one answers her that no, no, no, off course you’re right; it’s all to small and all too soft to be ever serve as any kind of weapon . . . 

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And here we, f*cking, go – fast forward, now, imagine this: All the boys of Asgaard are happily gathered out in the open to celebrate the kind of war games that ever was and is a favorite of unenlightened men. 

Baldr takes the center stage. All eyes are on the promised one. He stands there, unarmed, unprotected, unafraid – proudly receiving everything that comes his way. They strike and pierce him with steel, they burn him with fire, drown him in water, feed him with poison, serve him to snakes, and all the other enemies of man you might imagine. Off course, none of it harms him – protected as he is by the magic of his mother.

Now, in comes the killer, a blind, and often forgotten, brother of the shining Baldr.  His name is Hödr. It simply means something like anger. For that is what he is; an image of the blind, neglected, force of anger – in us. The shadow that the frightful fear to face. 

He’s not alone. Next to him is Odin’s clever little brother Loki, holding the blind one by the hand, gently helping him to find his path. They are standing just a stone throw away from the war circus of the boys. Less loud than them. Less thrilled by this spectacular phenomenon of Baldr the Brave. Somehow, in their different ways, they both know that something is not right here. It’s not supposed to be that easy. A game without a risk, a treasure without a price – there’s simply not supposed to be such things in life. 

And so, the loving Loki, who somehow seems to be quite certain what to do, asks Hödr if he, just like the rest of the guys, might want to take a swing or shot or throw at his marvelous, bright brother. Sure enough, Loki will be his eyes, and help him take the aim. Consider me a friend at hand, for all of those in need, he says – I guess.

The arrow, which might really have been a spear, but who cares, is just about ready to go. We just need one last piece of the puzzle. It’s the one you’ve already got. It’s made of mistletoe . . .

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Baldr is dead at the spot, and all the boys freak out. Death was not what they were expecting, but death is what they got – and just the kind of change they needed to accept. Just like we all do. Death is an honorable judge, a trustworthy messenger and – it’s true – a helping hand in need, a graceful liberator and awakener of the sleeping prisoners of the World. 

Baldr had to die, and they needed to see it happen. Hope is not real before it has lost everything and journeyed deep down below. These are not empty words. It is the concentrated essence of a Magick of the Grave. We need to die, before we die, stay dead – and go on living. 

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It’s getting cold in here. Please, come back, with me, to our storyline – let’s bring along our hero of the day.  The name is Váli. We don’t know much about him, but it’s enough to get us going. The name is, they say, quite a riddle to ponder – heavily loaded with contrasts. It is, at the same time, connected with ‘danger’ and ‘weeping’, and thus it seems to signify something, or someone, who is both driven by sorrow and aggression. A dangerous cocktail, indeed.

Alright – this story is, as so much else, torn to pieces, and we must stick to what we’ve got. It goes something like this: Somehow, just after the death of Baldr, Odin finds and befriends a rather special woman of the Earth, or, maybe it’s more fitting to say that she, as a magnetic force, draws the wandering God towards her, and thus plays a most necessary part by giving some of him access to her cave. 

Yes, all these images are intensely sexual. What else could they be?

Now, this woman is a Jotun; that means that she is someone, or something, who was supposed to be an enemy of the noble Gods, but now decides to act as exactly the kind of blessing they so desperately need, up on the sky-high Mountain of the Aesir.  

This is Váli: A child of the alchemical mingling and binding of so-called oppositional elements – heavenly, some might say all too heavenly, spirit from above, and moisty, fertile soil from below. A son between the elements – straight from the dark womb of the World, prepared to strike. 

His eyes are stained with tears. He’s weeping for the death of a beloved brother that he never saw. 

In India they say that one early magical morning, after a thousand years of unbroken meditation, the God of fiery destruction, Lord Shiva, started to cry, and that his tears became a healing force among the living bound to die. 

This is the primal mystery of masculinity. The miraculous turning of the electrical current of a man – in all of us. The release of anger, no longer as a blinded, restless force directed against all the competitors out there but turned around and brought to serve as a constructive power aimed at facing the terrifying enemy inside. Energy finally used for its’ purpose. Fight fire with fire. 

You see: A standard attitude of men is always to be on the watch for battle, always to seek the war. There is no way around it. Blood will be shed and must be spilled. The question is just – where? 

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Come back: As soon as he is born, Váli is wide awake, and knows about his path – the unpleasant part that someone always has to play. A dark knight of the dawn, full of compassion, torn to pieces by impersonal pain, madly uplifted in a trance of sorrow. 

He swears a solemn oath: I shall, the boy child cries, not wash my hands, or cut my hair, before by these two hands the killer of my brother has been carried to the fires of his funeral. To say it short: This truly is the birth of a fanatic.

Fanaticism – most of us are, for quite understandable reasons, accustomed to regard all kinds of fanatical behavior as, well let’s just say, unproductive for a healthy, wholesome life in the company of others. However, just like everything else, this word – fanatic – has a hidden, deeper meaning; a hardcore message that we need to hear.

Fanaticus – it’s Latin and means ‘connected to the temple’, from the word fanum which simply means temple. So, there you have it: A fanatic is, in the real and radical implication of the term, a lonely figure who with horrifying, holy dedication has sworn to live and die in restless dedication to the essence.   

Obviously, that kind of shit can turn out pretty nasty. We see everywhere. However, according to the shared spiritual Tradition, as it can be found all over the globe, throughout the ages, this does not mean that everything would suddenly be well and swell if we could just get rid of all these holy freaks. 

No, it means, according to a fanatical logic, the exact opposite. The trouble of the world is not that there are too many fanatics in it, but that there are too few of them – that is, too few who really dare to make that frightful transition from external battle to internal effort. 

Please, try to catch up with a speedy mind. Let’s set up a little hall of mirrors and make a nice comparative example: In Islam, as you probably know, and as you maybe fear, we find the idea of Jihad as a cornerstone of what it means to be a faithful Muslim. Holy war, that’s how we normally give the meaning of the word – and shiver. 

In some of the sources that we read to investigate the worldview of pre-Christian Scandinavia and Iceland we find a fantasy quite alike the doctrine of Jihad, as understood by the outsider. It’s the idea that a real man is a warrior who strives to go out with a blast, so he may take a seat in the halls of the one-eyed, blood-eager Lord of the Spear, and serve as one of his trusted, ever-fighting, elite soldiers in the final battle of the end times. 

A fantasy, that was the word – because this really wasn’t the ideology of the many. How could it ever have been? It is, if it is carried to its’ logical conclusion the vision of a full-blown psychopath, an enemy of life, just as the vulgar understanding of a holy Islamic war. And really, this might have been what brought the so-called Vikings to their doom: A religion rotting away, because the boys had taken over, where women and men should have been seated together in the service of fertility. 

It really is quite simple: If you have a religious worldview informing you that the best thing that could happen for a young and virile man is to leave behind the land, simply sail out in the open, find a skull to crack and die a hero – you’re gonna end up with fields empty of food and houses empty of fathers. In other words: the complete destruction of a culture, just within a few generations. A bloody suicide cult of toxic masculinity. 

This was not the true core of Pre-Christian Scandinavian religion, but a late perversion of what once was, and maybe could become again, a joyful cult of the Earth, under the shared authority of energies in Union. 

In the stories of the North we meet, in broad daylight, the struggle between these opposing ideas, a celebration and honoring of the fertile Way of the Wheel, on the other the boyish desire to escape this rotten Earth and leave a burning world behind, on wings of storm.  

And Váli, our man, is a one of the strongest figures, wherein these contrasting patterns meet – and seek to form a third solution, a triangle that both goes up and down. 

Jihad – the reputation of the word is a lot worse than the essence of it. Cause, you know, as Robert Plant sings in Stairway to Heaven, sometimes words have to meanings.

Yes, Jihad means struggle, it is the intensity of a radically heroic character – someone who only bows before a God. But the Holy Quran is just like all other sources of divine inspiration, equally full of truth and lie – a challenge for the individual to stay at the center. 

The inner meaning of Jihad is, according to Islamic Wisdom, the struggle of a human being against everything in me and you that says instead of we. It is the conscious effort to defeat that wicked opponent deep inside; the one who claims to be so goddamn special that everybody else should worship and obey. 

And so, you see, this is what Váli comes to teach us by a personal example: There is a greater war within. Go fight it with all means. There’s only you to kill the killer – to leave your prison and become a witness of the real, a worker in the field.

That’s why he swears to leave his hair just as it is (the monk cut only comes a little later) and be so careless about the usual standards of cleanliness. He could not care the least about appearances. 

Imagine him, if you please, as sacred figure of the East, a Yogi of the wastelands, cause really, there is no such thing as East and West. Just picture this: A long-haired Mystic, dirty madman, untiredly wandering the deserts of the Soul to find and fight his one true enemy – inside.

This is a real Gospel of the North; not something unique for this part of the globe, or for a special time of world history, but simply a specific, active opening of the general Way of Enlightenment. 

Here is a chain of commandments to follow: Be radical, have principles, be absolute, be what the sleepwalkers call an extremist: Give yourself without counting or calculating, don’t accept what they call ‘taking it easy’ and act in such a way that you won’t be accepted by the easy-going ones. Never abandon the principle of struggle. Go ride the tiger. Be a man, by honoring your mother. 

Or, as the early British lunatics of Punk, The Sex Pistols, have so convincingly expressed it: Never mind the bollocks. Keep your mind on the target. Get back in line – and do your very best.

That’s all there is – to begin with. Later on, off course, there are other mysteries to seek and taste. Just as there is a time for being active, obviously there’s also a time for being passive, and even a time for being something right in between. It’s all about knowing where you are – and cheerfully putting your mask on.

As you can hear, we are approaching some kind of happy ending. There’s just one little pile of dust to settle. 

He did it. He actually did it. He killed the killer – and fulfilled his destiny. Lonely as few, happy as someone who has forgotten everything about himself, and thus finally is revealed as what all of us sooner or later shall become; a restfully vibrating cell of – the Goddess. 

Please, remember this: Up in the North, deep in the fogs of night, and on the bright green meadows of a splendid early morning, the awakened children know how to bow with empty, open hands before that Lady, whom we have come to know and honor as an eternal bringer and receiver of Light, Life, Love and Liberty. 

She is returning. She likes when we call her – Freya. 

And Frigg, the frightened mother? What was that all about? Why so forgetful? Why didn’t this most powerful Witch Queen of Valhalla shelter her young one? Oh, this truly is a grave mystery.

Here is hint for all of us to follow – and those will be the last and most important words of this mythopoetic sermon: 

The Great Goddess is one. She knew exactly what she did. The vanity of boys must die, for men to rise – and join the hands of wakeful sisters, to resurrect the memory and save the World. It happens under her Eye. Or, as they say it, back home in India:

Ôhm, Sri Lakshmi, 
Mahadevi – Namaha

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Aum. Ha.