Into the woods

I drove to a state forest that I frequent. I needed to think. It had been an emotional weekend for me, some ups and downs, and the night before had been particularly long as I drove back to Oregon. We had broken up and then mended back together. It was my fault. I had been a callous jerk. The next day I felt better and wanted to mend the damage I had done. Yet I hadn’t had much contact from her for the entire day, she was silent save for a good morning text. Still, I needed to go into the woods to ground myself. I grabbed my runes, a book on [Northern Mysteries and Magick], a cup of hot chocolate, and went to the forest.

Disclaimer: I am writing this a full day after I took the walk. Today I lost her and I took it very hard. But as I started to sink into grief I turned toward it and jumped in full bore. I came out, hours later, but after a particularly messy and embarrassing day of weakness and being pathetic. Looking back on the runes for this walk they make more sense now. 

I wasn’t interested in the future, or what others, or external forces were going on. This wasn’t divination. I was curious about myself. I wanted to enter the labyrinth of myself. I took a few steps into the woods and stopped to center myself, breathing deeply, asking what should I keep in mind as I embarked on this journey.

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From NMM (Northern Mysteries and Magick) this rune is simply:
Basic Meaningrestrictive forces in the unconscious; fears; anxieties; feelings of guilt
Psychological Profile reading:restrictive forces and unacknowledged needs; that which holds the individual back

This was what I was looking for. I wanted to be my best self for her, to be in this relationship fully, to love as deeply and grandly as I could. Skuld, one of the three Norns, the veiled future, rules this rune. There is a necessity to come, a need that I must attend to. What was particularly compelling to me was that this was also associated with Nifelhel, a not so nice place where fears reside, and also Nidhog which poisons Yggdrasil. I took this as a good rune to draw, because I wanted to know, I wanted to go into the mists. It is also a rune of conflict out of necessity. The needfire. Also, runes cast after it signal needs to be addressed. Again, this was precisely my purpose for the walk.
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It was a pleasant walk. I just opened myself up to experiencing the woods. Along a path I was taken aback by the dappled gold fallen from trees. I wished that she could be there with me. I could almost see her smile as she would look at the beauty around us. I felt the most sublime love for her. It wasn’t hot and passionate (as was often the case when I was with her) but it was steady, delicate, and permeating everything around me like the scent of cedar around me. I marveled at the new dimension of love that I could feel. Its been a very long time since I’ve felt this particular form of love, over twelve years. I can remember the last time and place when I felt such. I kept walking. Off in the distance I heard a raven. I know there is a mated pair that lives here. I hear them often when I come to this area.

I stopped at a bridge for a while and watched some water. It was peaceful. Soon a man came along with two dogs. I was sitting on the bridge and both dogs, ears perked up, came right up to me, one a bit more cautious than the other. One stuck its head on my right side to be petted, the other came to my left side, a bit more curious. The old man kept walking. He laughed a bit when I said hello to the dogs and called them friendlies. I’m always happy to pet dogs. I noted, after he left, that my pistol, a small Block 43, was partly visible from my back pocket as I sat on the edge of the bridge. I hoped he wasn’t the type of person to freak out and call police over nothing. He kept walking. I kept sitting.

Soon I got up and kept walking up the hill. I enjoyed the grey day. I tried soaking in the sights and smells, watching for any little sign, any meaningful thing. Going further up the hill I came to a fork in the road and decided to take the left one. After a while I stopped and was looking at something in the trees when I heard something below me. Looking down I could see the old man and the two dogs coming up the hill. I didn’t want my silent reverie interrupted, so I turned and walked up the path quicker, even jogged for a short bit, until I came to a path that lead off the main road. I took it up into the trees for a while and sat down on a vantage point.
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From where I sat I would be able to see him pass me, remain unseen, and continue on my walk without interruption. It didn’t occur to me at the time, until writing this now, that Odin has two wolves. However, after a while he never came by. So instead I enjoyed my seat and ate a little. After sitting for a while I felt that now was a good time to draw a rune.
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Basic Meaning: *transmission; opposites; position between light and darkness; initiation; balance between the worlds outside time and space; cosmic consciousness; change from one thing into its opposite; new beginnings *
Psychological Profile reading: *the ultimate aim of transformation of the personal consciousness into whatever one envisages to be the greater whole *

At first this seems like great stuff… but not yet. Remember, I was looking for things about myself, what I could change or develop. This rune was a great sign… but it was the Golden Age after Ragnarok. This signaled cataclysicm transformation. To be quite honest, I was not thrilled at seeing it. I caught myself holding my breath, waiting for the punch. What catastrophe was going to come to me?

I walked some. Earlier in the day Hel had been on my mind. I had read some on Helheim and Nifelheim. I had wondered about honoring Hel in some manner. The Dark Goddesses have always been my favorites, whether Hecate, or the Morrigain while in Iraq, and recently Lilith. Hel has weighed on my mind a few times over the past few months. I remembered that as I was driving out to the forest, a song came on that resonated with me. I looked it up and it was [I Hel Sköte], by Forndom. And looking down I saw a huge raven feather… or half a feather. Most of the vane was gone save just for some along the tip of it. The feather’s shaft was at over ten inches long, a large feather. It reminded me of Hel, as half her visage is a beautiful woman, half of a skeleton. It was she who gifted the ravens Huginn and Muninn to Odin.

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I continued my walk. As I was walking down a path I saw Tiewaz inscribed in the dirt.

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Psychological Profile reading: *the ability of objective judgment and fairness; the potential for handling a conflict correctly; warrior attitudes and courage *

At the time it made no sense. However, today I have not handled the conflict with her correctly. I didn’t show anything remotely courageous.

Still walking down the path I was holding onto a set of beads that I had made. It wasn’t a full set of 108 beads, but just a set with some larger ones surrounded by smaller ones. I had simply thrown some together into a circle large enough to easily wrap around my wrist but be large enough to use in meditation. It suddenly dawned on me to check the number of beads. There were 24 larger beads, the number of the runes. Continuing my walk it also dawned on me that the double loop of the beads, as it curved into my hand, was like a folded infinity symbol. This, in turn, reminded me of Daggaz.

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Further down the path, still walking, I saw that the path split into two, yet the paths were close together. They were no more than a couple of feet apart, went around a tree, and came back together. I was instantly reminded of the rune Inguz.

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Still walking. I continued through the trees. Eventually I heard water babbling over stones. Below me beyond a steep bank was a winding creek. I circled around and found a way down into the hollow. It felt like a womb. Above me I could see the tops of trees moving in the wind. But down here in the hollow of the creek the air was still.

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Down in the hole I wondered again at the rune Nauthiz that I drew at the beginning. I felt that now was a good time to see if it had an answer. What was the blockage I had within myself? What was the poison from Nidhog’s fangs?

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I drew Mannaz, but I did so inverted. This is a people rune, points to externalities, but I was looking inward. This didn’t make sense. Plus it was inverted. I didn’t get it. NMM places more on social aspects. At home and reading from Taking up the Runes, she cites some thoughts that it is the human archetype (not sure there is one, but I’ll table that for now) and also what it means to be human. This is a big question. What is that? We must work (Aristotle), but also of import was our social nature. We need relationships to be human. Case in point, I was out on the walk to learn how to be better in a relationship. Was this telling me something about my self in relationships? Was the inverted drawing of it telling me that I was blocked? But I wasn’t blocked. The opposite, really. Perhaps I was too eager, too open. Earlier on the walk I had made a three minute video to send to her where I realized that I had indeed been wanting a future with her, something long term, something for years. I had realized it on the walk and wanted to reaffirm being present in the here and now with her, not trying to force some future. But that hope is deep within me.

Is that it? Is my hope for a lasting love, a lasting relationship, something I’ve never had, be the poison that hinders my chances at love? Possibly. I know about the other deep belief I have, that I cannot count on anyone wanting me truly (they will always cast me away). At first sign of being cast away I am likely to simplify the process and run. Just like when my mom told me to leave the house. I left out the window of my room and couch surfed for a few weeks until my Marine recruiter took me in until I finished High School. What would a belief that I’m going to be thrown away, coupled with the belief that I am unloveable, coupled with the hope for a long-term love, someone to grow old with produce within me?

Nidhogg lives in Nifelheim and poisons the roots of Yggdrasil. How does one go to Nifelheim? I was not a seasoned shaman, not versed in Seidr. Whether traveling to this place for real, or in the space of my own psyche, I was unsure how to get there. But I wanted to go and to see what Nidhogg was inflicting upon the roots.

I kept walking. I came to a space that was beautiful, calm, and warranted a stop to absorb. I heard the whoosh whoosh of wings go by. A raven had lit into the top of a tree while its mate continued flying on. I love ravens. They are my favorite birds. I marvel at their intelligence and beauty. I listened to a couple of croaks and gluup sounds. After a while I drew another rune, asking the All Father if there was anything else for me on this walk.

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Basic Meaning : integration; gestation; expectations; progeny
Psychological Profile reading: the potential for individuation and integration

This was a good rune. But as this might mean good things, adding to the Daggaz earlier, there was still the inverted Mannaz that I had not figured out. Also, Ingwaz was a balance, a harmony. Interesting to compare this harmony with that of Daggaz. Daggaz seems to me like the harmony of the system as a whole, death into life into death, the flow from one to the other. While looking at Ingwaz it is the harmony itself, the balance of two forces mutually at the same time. It isn’t that death leads to life, as in Daggaz, but that death/decay was a part of life, a vital component to the process. Around me were many old tree stumps that were now nurselogs for new trees. One could look at them as either Daggaz or Ingwaz.

What part of me has to die? What part of me offers balance?

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This all happened on Sunday. We broke up on Monday. It is after midnight now and I’m putting this down before I sleep. [Today] I travelled down to Nifelheim for a brief period. It is a cold and confusing area to be. There is no up or down there. It is shrouded in cold fog. I have a feeling there is much that I’ve missed, some subtleties not noticed. But for now I’m very tired. My eyes burn and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow.

I took my Mjolnr off today. I felt unworthy of it as I was very weak. There is, however, some curiosity on my part. I am writing a book, slowly, on transitioning from deployment. I want to write something that will be of use to someone that is lost. The question I asked, weeks ago, was from what do we gain strength when we are our weakest selves? If the gods help those who help themselves, if we honor them by how we act and what we do, how does this translate in times of weakness? Today, as I cried on the couch, I felt I could not call on them. I was weak, I had to do it on my own, not ask them to help me. This, made me feel alone, more than I already did. I searched for some means of encouragement, some story, for a time when one’s mind and heart is hijacked by the darkest emotions, the darkest desires. Do the gods ever confront the poison of Nidhog? I don’t know. But I want to find out so that I can point the way for others. How do I go to Nifelheim and subject myself to the loss of direction and the emotions in that deepness and find something to work with so that I might be worthy to wear the hammer again?

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