This is sort of a ramble that I’ve been writing for a bit. Finally getting ’round to sharing.
So how do we bring our whole selves forward when so many of us are broken? That is where courage comes in. To deliberately search for and find the broken and often deeply hidden pieces of one’s psyche and soul is difficult work. These pieces can reveal truths that we do not want to face in ourselves, they can unlock deep pain from wounds that never healed, and they can unhinge a person who is unwilling or ill-equipped to handle facing these truths. Often, these pieces show themselves to us in dreams. They come to us as recurring nightmares or themes that haunt or pester us repeatedly until our waking selves are ready to face these parts. They also reveal themselves as repeated experiences, or sometimes we might say “bad luck”, such as unceasing poverty, addictions, domestic situations or partnerships that a person seems to continually find themselves in. If you find yourself coming into the same paradigm again and again, try to journal about the situation, and particularly about your beliefs about the situation. Try questions such as, “What do I believe about this situation? What do I believe I bring to this situation? How do I contribute to this situation? Why do I hold these beliefs? Could I attempt to believe something else about this situation? What are some creative ideas for re-examining this paradigm? How could I re-write the story I tell myself? What advice would I give someone else in a similar situation?” and so on. When we begin to question ourselves directly like this, and commit ourselves to fully writing out our feelings (I’m talking pages here, not just a sentence or two) we begin to unravel mysteries that lie deep within the psyche and can only be coaxed out with our intentional urging. We must ask, we must invite, we must make the healing welcome. And healing includes pain. All healing includes discomfort and pain, so just get used to that now. There is no progression without it. It is my belief that discomfort and pain are closely linked with intense personal transformation and enlightenment, and can assist in revealing certain things to us only accessible through these avenues. So in that vein, we must invite pain and discomfort. Another part of this which can be incredibly terrifying to us, is the spiritual function of dismemberment. This is a common experience in shamanic practice, and is necessary for soul evolution. These experiences are less frightening as they are faced, but they can involve actual pain, and it is wise to understand this and to not let this aspect frighten a person away from facing this integral part of evolution. Some of the dismemberment I have experienced in journey have been utterly non-painful, even though describing it might sound horrifying (I think I journaled here about having my skin, eyes and liver removed by vultures, no?) and some have been very uncomfortable (I recently had my guts torn out by my Huginn, and was buried alive by my Muninn, and those were extremely difficult journeys to endure, although the pain and discomfort were fairly brief).
This is partly how I read myths: as metaphors for the journey of the soul. (I also read them as much larger than this, but this particularly about the soul is what I’m focusing on now.) The battles and “bad guys” are representative of the things we face in our own selves, our own lives, that we must learn from in order to evolve into new beings, or another way to say it, to move towards enlightenment. In the Norse mythos, I understand the realm of Valhöll as a place of stagnation, a place that a soul who is not ready to move into full transformation is housed and destined to repeat the same story or paradigm again and again until they make changes. In other words, a place where the battles of the soul, or the soul’s lineage (familial line/fate) continue on in the same patterns until someone decides to change, until someone decides to face the battle with fierce courage, much like the beserkers who go into insane rage to face battle and their own deaths, their own unmaking. We need this fierce energy to face our most fierce foes. The foes that live within us that we do anything, anything, not to understand. Only in the realm of Hel, the Underworld, the realm of the dead, do we truly evolve. This is the place where the person is dismantled and utterly transformed into something new. Those that fear these changes find this concept of total transformation and unmaking of a person’s soul and/or consciousness to be scary and even unholy, largely based on the influence of most revealed religious systems. However, the very name of this realm, Hel, means “hidden” in Old Norse, and “whole” in modern Norwegian. It is in this hidden place where one is separated from the illusion of individuality, where a person is broken down, their fetters removed and their spirit and soul released. We perceive this as a scary place because it is utterly dark and a place where time and transformation happens at an incredibly slow pace. Remember though, that the soul has no use for eyes, space or time when it is not incarnate. This dark, cold, slow place is the place for all gestation. The concept of space, time and the senses known to human beings is really for the mortal realm only, in what I consider to be a place where certain manifestations can be made, and a means for larger “energies” to experience limitation and a means for creating things that can only be created here.
The realm of Vahöll is bright when I visit it, and it is in this brightness, I think, that we are prone to be caught in the net of illusion because we think or perceive that we are close to heaven, to knowing or becoming, but we are still caught up in our own identity and paradigm of the mortal realm. This is why the bodies that lie there never leave. They are stuck in the light, in sight, in identity and ego. Only in darkness and timelessness, in gestation, can we become something new and unfold into new life, new consciousness, new paradigms. I think Freyja’s realm, then, is bright but true, revealing genuineness, because the dead that go there eventually move on. Maybe they ascend immediately to Alfheim or other places of “higher” knowing, and bypass Hel’s realm because the changes necessary for their soul to make have already come to pass through their own conscious working, or through their various incarnations/familial line/öorlog.