Ok, so I get it. The gods are pissed!
I watched ‘Food Inc.’ the other day, and while it was depressing and frustrating in many ways it also sparked a thought that surely had its roots in the conversation over on the ADF Celtic list that prompted my recent post on ‘Where have the Gods Been?’. We had been batting back and forth the idea of how mythography could, would and should play a distinctive role in fostering pagan culture. Most of us spend much of our time looking to the past, but we must recognize that the Gods are active and moving even today. Thus, even as I was thinking about how we could see the Gods working in our present world and even recognizing how the Gods were actually working within and through today’s predominantly Christian culture, I also began to recognize that the Gods are working on so fundamental and subtle a level that they’re actions are right before our eyes and we don’t even see it. Every facet of the world around and within is tied inextricably to the divine!
I had this flashback to Grímnismál when Odin and Frigg argue over the individual men that they are variously cultivating.
… said Othin: “Dost thou see Agnar, thy foster son, how he begets children with an ogress in a cave? But Geirroeth, my foster son, is king in the land.” Frigg answered: “He is so grudging about his food that he lets his guests die of hunger when he thinks too many have come.” Othin said that this was a gross lie … (Hollander)
I was suddenly surprised at how vividly I could see how different people acting and growing in different ways were manifesting variously the Gods who were fostering them. Geirroeth is taught by Odin to be clever (with that oh-so-Odin-like deviousness that we love) and so he sets his brother adrift. Agnar doesn’t perish, having been fostered by Frigg, but ends up in the not-so-enviable position of mating with ogresses.
As a complete digression, we should not feel too sorry for old Agnar as Frigg’s association with sovereignty finds a parallel (and perhaps an analogue?) with the figure of the Cailleach Bérre (Ó hAodha). In Ireland she’s a nun, but in Scotland she is often positioned as one of these pagan geotectonic giantesses, creating islands and accepting the sacrificing of sailors (as on the Isle of Gigha). I think it’s safe to say that while Odin was teaching Geirroeth to sneak, trick and decieve his way onto the throne, Frigg was teaching Agnar to get it on with the local sovereignty goddess: I know which way that I would prefer!
Anyway, the cultivation of Agnar and Geirroeth rings of Plato’s Myth of Er with its daemones at the end of the Republic. It’s like the major organizing principles particular to these two men’s lives beyond their own inner personae were these two gods. I’ve never been able to read auras, but I have always been able to sense these organizing principles in people, even seeing physical types as an extension of them (and, yes, I realize that this flies in the face of modern genetic science). They are what people in the past associated with the divine influence of the planets in astrology, the planets channeling divine power from their respective gods and contributing in various ways to the conformation of each individual. Thus, the gods are part of every bit of our lives, forming the individual and necessary character of the events that in the end shape us.
So, how does this factor in that the gods are seriously pissed off? Ni hansa, em! Look what we’ve done in the last two-hundred and fifty years. Hel, look what we’ve done in the last sixty! A friend of mine took her son to get tested since he was not progressing with reading the way that everyone expected him to do. He was diagnosed with proper ADD, which was asserting itself as an inability to form associative memory forwords. When my friend pressed the doctor as to why so many children were diagnosed with ADD, he responded that the changes made in the processing of food in the 1905’s had altered our DNA so that our brains developed differently than they had prior to ‘better living through chemistry’! We’ve crossed a line and I don’t think the gods are satisfied to let us continue without direct, conscious intervention.
Now, let me be absolutely clear about this, lest I give the impression that I am falling into standard, post-Enlightenment, and conservative Christian (pseudo-)logic. I don’t think that the gods are judging us. They don’t have to. I think the rise of the pagan movement is in direct response to a change that the gods are making in response to the >ahem< Tauran Scatology (TS for short) that humanity has been studying since the seventeenth century. It’s almost like Hephaestus and Mercury made some unholy alliance and are trying to overthrow Zeus. Maybe Prometheus is in on it as well! So it’s almost like Hera, Diana and Artemis all got together and said ‘enough is enough!’ At least it should be clear that Poseidon is seriously pissed off these days! I’m sure the growing ignorance and dismissive attitude toward horses doesn’t help that one at all.
There is always so much more to say, but what does it say about us that we shove millions of cubic tons of garbage into the ground every day when our ancestors made careful deposits of ritually broken but immensly valuable artefacts?
Yeah … the gods are pissed.
Ó hAodha, Donncha. ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’ in Sages, Saints and Storytellers: Celtic Studies in Honor of James Carney, ed. by Liam Breatnach, Kim McCone and Donnchadh Ó Corráin. Maynooth, an Sagart, 1989. pp. 308–331.