I’ve talked a lot about Loki’s path and what it means to walk it, and I’ve discussed why Odin’s path can be a hard one to walk. But what I haven’t discussed is why Odin is my patron God – at least, not in depth. I’ve mentioned before that He was the first God to come to me when I was walking an eclectic Pagan path, that He was essentially the first God to ever approach me.
That may have been what started me down my Heathen path, and I felt drawn to Him because He had come to me personally, but that wasn’t what made me realize that He was my patron.
Actually, the first time I realized how similar I was to Odin (the deity whose personality is closest to yours tends to be the easiest to develop a patron relationship with), I was a little bit terrified. Okay, if I’m being honest, extremely terrified. Not because the two of us were so similar, but because I became aware, at that moment, that there was nothing I could ever hide from Him. That He would always be able to see through to who I was underneath.
When I came to that realization, I was terrified because I wasn’t ready to be honest with myself yet, let alone have a deity able to see right through me. So, I ignored the relationship with Odin for awhile – a year, in fact – before I swore myself into His service. I was still uneasy with the relationship because I knew that He could see everything, and I didn’t know how to handle that.
I think there was a large part of me that was worried about failing, about never living up to His standards, and another large part of me that questioned why a God like Odin would ever want anything to do with me. Because I grew up in a home where I was made to feel worthless, and there are still days that I fight against that legacy. I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone – I didn’t see myself as having any value, and that made walking Odin’s path extremely difficult.
Especially because I could have used advice when I started on Odin’s path. But every time I tried to ask for advice or even hinted at struggling at all on any of the internet groups I joined (internet because there’s not much of a Pagan or Heathen presence where I live), I got shut down, and I got shut down in the harshest manner possible.
I remember reading various posts about how only true warriors and martial artists can ever be called to Odin, and how those who don’t at the very least train themselves in martial arts should never deign to call on Odin at all. And that made it even more difficult to try to figure out what Odin wanted from me. I had no idea what to do.
So I immersed myself in the lore, and I tried to ignore all of the naysayers in the forums and on the groups, but there were still doubts that ate at me. And I hated myself, in some ways, for having doubts. I felt that, if I were being a “proper” Heathen, then I wouldn’t have doubts about the path I was walking. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to have doubts.
I think, somewhere along the way, I got so caught up in judging myself for having doubts that I forgot what Odin’s path is truly about, and the central tenet of His path is to seek wisdom. To ask questions. To explore doubts. To be comfortable with not knowing, but uncomfortable enough with not knowing to be willing to seek out the answers.
And that was the reason that I had turned onto Odin’s path in the first place. Because, in Odin, I had found a God who encouraged me to ask questions, who encouraged me to have doubts and to explore those doubts. When I read the Poetic Edda for the first time, I was enchanted and entranced by the stories where Odin went out of His way to obtain both knowledge and wisdom. I was amazed that there was finally a God out there who considered knowledge and wisdom important because I had always valued those traits.
I was raised in a Christian environment, where I was taught that humans were wrong to seek knowledge because of the punishment that the Christian God enacted on Adam and Eve when he learned that the two had eaten from the tree of knowledge. I have always hated that story because I have always felt that a proper God would encourage knowledge, not berate it.
In Odin, I found that God. And a lot of the sacrifice that Odin requires is present already for those who possess a decent amount of intellect. The major sacrifice made by anyone who truly follows Odin’s path is the ability to be blissfully ignorant of the world around you. The price of wisdom is the price of being able to see the reality of the world and how terrible and harsh reality can be. When you choose to see the world the way it is, you automatically sacrifice happiness because there is too much humanity in a person to be able to see the depth of all the world’s horrors and truly remain happy.
It’s ironic, too, when you think about the story of how Odin sacrificed one of his eyes in order to gain wisdom from Mimir’s well. There are some interpretations of that myth that suggest what Odin really did was trade one type of vision for another, and that resonates with me now. Because once you truly embrace Odin’s path, you learn how to see the world through a different pair of lenses, and you are no longer able to easily ignore the horrors you see go on around you. You trade in illusion for reality, and, in turn, you gain access to a small part of Odin’s wisdom. And that, in my experience, has been more than worth the price.