Monday, February 23, 2015

Destruction and Rebuilding

Odin and Fenrir, Freyr and Surt
by Emil Doepler 1905

I am not what most Heathens would consider a 'traditional' Heathen.  Part of this is my unconventional understanding of the idea of Ragnarok, which is usually painted either as a condemnation of Loki or a Christian add-on to a pagan myth.  The story as told in Snorri's Edda basically goes like this: Balder dreams He will die, so His mother Frigg does everything She can to protect Him.  She misses something, Loki learns about it, and uses that information to guide Hodr (Balder's brother) to kill Balder.  A series of unfortunate, reactive events happen because everyone needs vengeance, which leads to Loki, Surt, and some other Jotuns attacking Asgard.  The world is basically destroyed except for two humans who go on to repopulate, Thor's sons, Hodr, and - amazingly - Balder, who comes back from Hel to rule.

There are many interpretations of this whole series of events, and my intent is not to say that anyone is wrong in their understanding.  But I see the death of Balder - the devolution of the gods' honor and authority - and ultimately Ragnarok as a myth of death and rebirth.  In many ways, it is a mirror in large-scale of Odhin's sacrifice to Himself by hanging in the world tree for nine nights.  Many of the gods lost things, from Frigga's loss of Her son to Tyr's loss of His hand; and ultimately of course many of the gods are apparently killed.  Of course, if their deaths are as permanent as Balder's, this is likely to also be cyclical.

We all face times of destruction in our lives, when it seems like everything is falling down around us and there is only pain.  Sometimes it seems our entire lives are being disrupted and changed, and that things will never be the same as they were before.  To be fair, that is likely - after a big change, nothing can be completely the same.  The same happiness you enjoyed prior to this life disruption is unlikely to return just the way it was before.  But after the destruction, after everything has been torn down - then it is time to rebuild.  And the glorious thing about rebuilding is that nothing has to be the same!  In a new world full of fertile fields, you are the one who decides what to plant, what to grow, what to encourage.  Mourning losses is important - but once you are finished, use the blank slate change has left you to build a better life.

No comments:

Post a Comment