by G. Krasskova
This account is going to be short and sweet, partly to protect a colleague’s privacy and partly because of all the ordeals I underwent as part of this cycle, it was Jotunheim that came the closest to breaking me. And you know what? No one laid a finger on me. I met the Mother of Monsters and She was kind. Her kindness is a terrible thing. I didn’t write about this ordeal at the time. I couldn’t. I was too raw.
This ordeal was all about pride and humility and owning my own heart. It was about giri, that terrible moment when the needs of duty and the desires of the heart conflict. Duty wins every time for people like us, but oh, it hurts. It was about knowing oneself; it was about personal integrity. Angurboda told me I had too much pride, then She set about breaking it down. I am grateful to Her. She was fair to me, this warrior who had been thrown before Her feet. I am grateful to have been given the blessing of humility and to have been given a glimpse into my own heart. She helped me more than I realized at the time.
Jotunheim was a terrible ordeal for all that Angurboda was kind. It threw me into a deep depression for many weeks afterwards. (I actually went on a taboo-breaking bender for a solid ten days after this ordeal, and it’s the only time in my life I sat down and decided, quite clear-headedly, to get drunk, which I then did.) Essentially, to die, I had to face my greatest fear: love and attraction and the vulnerability these things bring. To die, I had to understand the sacrifice of the heart; there had to be the breaking of my brittle pride. My heart had to be opened to let the Gods in.
Where to even begin…In August Odin made me fall in love with a man, made me hunger for him with a force I could neither ignore nor deny. This man and I were not only colleagues but very good friends, so I did what it was in my warrior nature to do: I concealed and said nothing, hoping only against hope that these things would fade. My colleague W. saw my need in a reading and told me, after the initial shock wore off, that I needed to speak to the man, whom I’ll call X. I had my Jotunheim ordeal coming up in November, and I could not walk cleanly into an ordeal with something like that sitting unresolved between me and X, who was to help with the ordeal. I am a very private person, most especially about my heart. My heart is fragile, more so than I care to admit. It took me another month to sit down with X, and I was physically sick when I had to speak.
I told X and he was horrified: not at my feelings as I’d expected. No, my feelings flattered him. He was horrified because, as he told me later, the moment I started speaking he knew to the bottom of his own heart that Angurboda was going to use it against me in the upcoming ordeal. Because of that, He indicated that we had to wait until after my ordeal to discuss this further, and after he’d been able to do divination before taking any action. (God-owned people can’t just get together. It’s always better to check with our Owners first. The whole idea that “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” really doesn’t work with us). I learned later that he immediately went to his Owner asking if we could get together. She told him gently that “he couldn’t afford my bride-price.” He also asked Angurboda, my next divine ordeal master, and She flat out said “No.” No negotiation. No argument. Just: no. She and Odin are often at odds. I belonged to Odin. I was Odin’s valkyrie. Odin has a powerful line into me and can always look through my eyes if He wishes. What better time to strike at one dear to Angurboda than in the intimacy of sex? We both knew that if Odin asked it of me, I’d do that without hesitation. It is the way of a valkyrie. So, She flat out forbade it. Still, I wasn’t permitted to know that until the day of my ordeal.
In November my ordeal came and I met Angurboda, who possessed a human horse in order to speak to me. She came into her vessel with the sound of breaking glass – the large vase of thistles we had placed on her altar was abruptly swept away and smashed to pieces by a sudden wind. It echoed up the path upon which I was walking, my stomach lurched, and I knew, I knew She was there. I walked down to meet Her, offerings of whiskey and weapons in my hands. She had ordered X to buy a sword for me, a replica of Eowyn’s sword from that Tolkien book. She said the symbolism of that particular weapon was fitting. I, not being a Tolkien fan, didn’t realize how fitting until well after the ordeal (when a friend who is obsessed with Tolkien explained Eowyn’s tale).
She had me kneel before Her (actually, that’s what my body did. It’s not like I had much of a choice with Her presence being what it is). She took the alcohol that was offered (Jack Daniels) and drank that. (This always amazes me with possession. The horse being possessed always had a bad reaction to alcohol, yet the Goddess could drink with impunity. I have seen such things multiple times and it never ceases to amaze me.)
She said that we were going to speak about the three deepest pains of my heart.
First, She began speaking about my adopted mother’s poor health and impending death, forcing me to cry, forcing me to acknowledge how that was tearing me up inside. I’d been compartmentalizing it like my warrior training had taught, pushing away the pain, focusing on necessary action. She made me acknowledge the bond I have with my adopted mom and how her death would affect me. She said that I needed to be prepared because were I to lose myself to grief, I would be desecrating all the gifts my adopted mom had given me.
Then she talked about my desire for a community, a tribe. She said I had a tribe in the love my adopted mother had for me; and that I had a tribe with those colleagues and friends who had accepted me in this work. I would never have a tribe such as I sought to replicate through Theodism. I walk the Wanderer’s path. I will not ever fully belong anywhere. Strangely, shortly before this ordeal, this one issue, which had long eaten away at me, ceased to be an issue. I’m not sure why but something changed in me and I realized that I am not meant to have such a tribal binding in this lifetime. So that was well on its way to being resolved when She brought it up, but it took Her talking to me about it for me to realize that I’d found a measure of peace with the whole thing. Then, She talked about X.
She told me to give Her the sword, which I did. She did not demand physical ordeal…in that, I was later told, She honored me as a warrior. She laid the sword down between us and told me to choose. I had two paths open to me: I could be X’s friend, servant, colleague, etc. but never, ever, lover; or I could leave this place and never return, never having any contact with him again whatsoever. Now, Odin had me working with X for a reason. We had mutual work to accomplish, so by doing that I would be turning my back on my duty. Also, he was a very good friend to me and didn’t deserve to be tossed to the side like that. Angurboda also subtly implied that to do so would be cowardice, even though only She and I would ever know. I could pick up the sword and do my duty or turn my back on it, leaving the blade where it lay.
I walk the warrior’s path. Such symbolism is deeply embedded in my very core. There was nothing more potent that She could have done to drive home the point of this ordeal. She said, before starting, that I had too much pride. That pride, which protected my heart, was getting in the way of my opening to Odin. It was getting in the way of the Work He needed me to do. It had to go.
When I’d made my choice, obviously taking up the sword, She had me smash the large broken vase further by Odin’s god-post, to “show Him what the Hag of the Ironwood has done to His Valkyrie’s dreams.” Then She had me wrap the sword in a huge bundle of thistles, tying it with hand-spun red thread. She said that as a valkyrie, my love would always be like that. My job was to pick the thread free of all the thistles and re-spin it into something whole. I must clean it and remake what is broken. She’s right too: it didn’t hit me until months later, but that visual image of the sword wrapped in thistles and blood-red thread is the perfect metaphor for my heart. I’m a fairly simple person: sometimes I need the stark visual metaphors.
She then suggested that it would benefit me greatly to enter into a non-sexual service contract for a year and a day with X. I did this (it expired this past February) and I learned something that all my years in Theodism hadn’t taught: I am not meant to be in service to anyone but Odin. What I thought was necessary to my make-up, what I thought I desired above all others, was not something I found myself wanting or needing in this life. I had been a bound warrior lifetime after lifetime. This time, I was working on the other side of that: I was ronin, bound only to Odin. There was something immensely freeing, immensely cleansing and healing in that epiphany. I worked out my time in service and chose not to renew the contract. I learned that in this life, I am not meant to be owned by any man. It purified my heart (by breaking and remaking it). Now there is nothing in that heart that does not belong to Odin.
(I received permission from all relevant parties before posting this. No one’s privacy was compromised).