O – Offending Odin, or Why I’m Not a Heathen (PBP week 30)

OK, there are probably several reasons why I’m not a Heathen, to be honest.  For one, I’m perfectly happy where I am now, and am confident that it is where I am meant to be.  While I love the drama of Norse myth, the heathen worldview doesn’t mesh well with mine.  Its generally seen as one of the more conservative pagan religions and I am so very not conservative.  But all that could be gotten around – there are exceptions to every rule.

The main, unavoidable reason I’ll never be Heathen is this:  I’m not allowed.  I’m pretty sure the Allfather has forbidden it.

I’ve always liked Odin, one might even say I have a bit of a God-crush on Him.  He’s such a great combination of bad ass and trickster; wisdom, magic and general ass-kickery.

Odin is also the first pagan deity I was certain I felt the presence of.  This was about 15 years ago, during a ritual that my sweetie and I were helping a friend with.  The friend was doing all the active work, we were just there to witness and help keep the energies in balance.  It was part of his trad that we were left in the dark about the details.  (I wouldn’t recommend this normally.  This was a very trusted friend.)

We were in a public park, in a semi secluded area – it was unlikely anyone would stumble upon us, but we could still hear the sounds of people playing on the nearby lake.  Only once the ritual began the sky darkened and the sounds of laughter and speedboats faded away, as though we had been enveloped in a cocoon.  There was a definite sense of “other,” a presence which brought both uneasiness and familiarity.  It wasn’t until the way home when we were filled in on everything that I knew he had been invoking the All Father, to make an offering and request His assistance.

Not long after I had another encounter which led to my, erm, we’ll call it a  faux pas.

I was in what I perceived to be a really bad situation in a relationship.  One night I had gone to sleep particularly distressed and woke up to/dreamed the silhouette of a cloaked figure in a wide brimmed hat at the foot of my bed.  Again, I felt a presence.  I interpreted it as Odin, showing a passing interest in me because I had participated in the rite.

I don’t know what possessed me to think this was a good idea, but I poured out my heart to the shadowy figure, and asked Him to help me find a way out of my dilemma.

A few days later I was presented with a way out.

The thing is, I chose not to take it.  (Upon reflection, the situation wasn’t as bad as I’d made it out to be and all it had required was some open communication and a little compromise.)

Yeah, not good.  Thankfully I hadn’t made any actual oaths, or I suspect I would have been in a world of hurt.  As it is, I consider myself very lucky.  When I approached Odin after that, the sense I got was not one of anger but disgust.  As if He was saying “Go away kid, you bother me.  You’re not wanted.”  I still get that feeling to this day.

So many people write about their positive experience with the Gods.  I figured it might do some good to share a negative one.  Was it all in my head?  Maybe.  Am I going to test that?  Not on your life.




(Post written and originally published 10/14/12.  Backdated to reflect PBP due date.)

9 thoughts on “O – Offending Odin, or Why I’m Not a Heathen (PBP week 30)

  1. Shine says:

    Wow, I had a sorta similar experience. Except I actually came thisclose to making a short oath that would have left me miserable and probably would have driven me away from paganism altogether. The message from Odin was GO AWAY. NOW.

    Like you, I get the feeling of not being wanted. 😉

    Yeah, don’t want to push *that* issue. Pretty cool to find someone who had a similar experience though. It’s also nice to hear about more negative interactions because of how easy it is to fall into this trap where you think every interaction you have with deity is going to be sweetness and light.

    • Agathi says:

      Sorry I didn’t reply to this sooner – I thought I had.

      It was actually your mentioning your experience in passing on your blog that inspired me to share this story. I knew I was going to write something about Odin for one of my “O” posts, but I hadn’t decided on my angle.

      Stuff like this happens – it’s good to know that when it does we’re not alone.

      • Shine says:

        That’s okay. WordPress is a bit tricky with comments every once in a while.

        I should tell the whole Odin story. It is a shining example of stupidity and not listening to what the gods are saying. There are days where I still have trouble listening, it’s just I like to think there’s been some improvement. XD

        It seems there’s a tendency to emphasize the woo and what works in the community. It’d be nice to see more “there was this one time where things really worked out horribly” stories in regards to deities.

  2. gefnsdottir says:

    Hi Agathi,

    I’ve found Odin can be a very intense god, and, to be honest, he’s much too intense for me. I know there are other Vanic types that gravitate towards the Vanir because they’ve had a bad experience with one of the other deities (not always Odin specifically).

    I think the worst possible thing you could have done was make an oath (because oaths are SERIOUS BUSINESS in the Norse pantheon) so I think Odin was really trying to prevent you from royally screwing up.

    Oh, and there are political liberals who honor the Norse gods, just like there are conservative Wiccans, so I wouldn’t worry about political affiliation. 🙂

    • Agathi says:

      Oh, I know. Oaths are SERIOUS BUSINESS to me personally, as well. Like I said, I consider myself lucky. It could have been much, much worse.

      I was young, and very much in to the All Gods Are One theology at the time. This was the first of many experiences that changed my mind on that one.

  3. Ehsha Apple says:

    I’m really surprised to hear you say that Heathens are conservative. Dang, I am as left as they come politically, have very few inhibitions, and have no problem with the lack of filter most of my friends have. I am a Heathen Volva (neither Asatru nor Vanatru).

    What I think you might be seeing is that we have a staunch set of ethics and we adhere to them above all else. But ideas like “community,” “fairness,” and “kindred” are not necessarily “conservative.” Indeed, there are those who take our ethics and make them lean toward nationalism and even racism–I do not consider that “true” Heathenry but a perversion of it (much like fundamentalism is not really Christianity). Do you think that could be part of it?

    As for Odin–he doesn’t really like me either. It’s a good thing Freyja wears the cloak in that relationship 😉

    I liked reading your perspective on your experience and will be following along to read more. Waes hail!

    • Agathi says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      I have been fortunate enough never to have had to deal with the racists jackasses who call themselves heathen, so I don’t know that’s really part of it. I can’t even say that most of the heathens I’ve encountered IRL or online have been conservative; its been about 50/50. But most of the conservative pagans I’ve met have been heathen.

      I think the importance of community and kindred appeal to those with a kind of libertarian philosophy, as in “we’ll take care of our own, government need not get involved.” Here in the US, libertarianism has been hijacked by the Tea Party. I’m told its different in the civilized world.

      I don’t use the term “conservative” in a derogatory way, mind you. (“Tea Party” on the other hand… *shudder*) Its just a very different way of looking at the world. To paraphrase the West Wing, I like smart people who disagree with me.

  4. […] I could have sworn I told this story. If I did, I have no idea where it went, so here goes. I was reminded to tell it because of this WordPress entry here: https://introspectivemaenad.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/o-offending-odin-or-why-im-not-a-heathen-pbp-wee…. […]

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