How to find your ancestral identity in an ever changing culture of personal rebirth. This Runic contemplation on the Eihwaz Rune will guide you into the archetype of Odin's mystic quest for self realization. A deep meditation of the principals that will lead you to an understanding of the age of Pisces and the Bifröst bridge to Aquarius.
"Since then I go I follow the pathways the pathways and roads beyond the sea and even farther, beyond the sea and beyond the beyond; And whenever I approach the wicked, the Men with black hearts, whenever I approach the envious, the Men with black hearts before me moves the Breath of the Ancestors." (By: Birago Diop from 'Viaticum')
Eihwaz signifies Yggdrasil, the "world tree" on which it is said Odin sacrificed himself to himself. This event manifests itself on the mental plane as a symbolic death of the old self to the new self. Unlike the Christian rebirth, this is not a surrender of the self to the power of a god. It is not the abdication of responsibility of one's past or present actions, or lack thereof. It is an intense, honest evaluation of who you have become, and an absolute commitment to the death of any part of your person you find lacking in honor, integrity and dignity. Lacking in any of these fundamental qualities is a cancer that rots the soul and undermines the value of life. The measure on which this sacrifice is made can't be found in a book, it must be sought out within the heart of the seeker. This is not a sacrifice in the religious sense, it is a sacrifice of the self to the self. Inspiration can be drawn from the old vanguard of both gods and men, but in the end you must do it for yourself, no one can do it for you. What Odin reveals to us in this myth of the mighty is that the gods are guides to a deep naturally flowing well at the root of our own inner being. We see that it was in this state of self searching that Odin discovered the runes and it is in this same state that he calls us to discover them with him.
Eihwaz is the rune that describes this journey. It carries in itself the death and transformation from one state into another. This is the rune of facing oneself; the symbolic descent into the unconscious realm. The heroic life is found in living an authentic, individual manifestation. The death of the old is also the birth of the new and yes, it can be a frightening place, this stepping into undiscovered country, but this is a vast continent of the potential-self and is rich in historical resources. We see a correlation in the iconography of the story of Odin's ordeal on Yggdrasil with The Hanged Man of the Tarot. Like Odin, The Hanged Man is hung upside down; this is how it always is at these times of change in our lives. Our worlds feel as if they have been turned upside down as we hang in the the balance, suspended between the new and the old, what has gone before and what is yet to come.
In the image of The Hanged Man, we see some coinage scattered on the ground. This is a medium of exchange; coins are capital and like all capital it represents the power to achieve an end. These coins are not there by chance, they have been earned. This is the price that has been paid.This is the sweat, blood and tears of hard labor, the work that goes into the everyday struggles of life. In the case of Odin we see that the coins are the runes and they, too, are a medium of exchange. The blood of every battle, of every victory, of every defeat. The passion of romance and the heart ache of both love and lost love. This is the multiplex experience that bleeds from the body of the slain god. Cycling back into the roots of the tree. All the life blood of the icon is poored back into it self. Odin is the archetype of the wise one, and he seeks out this wisdom through experience. The runes are tools of self discovery and their true power is found in their ability to exchange ignorance for knowledge.
Eihwaz is closely aligned with the idea of the fylgja and in particular thehamingja. There are two way to look at hamingja one is the shape shifting character of an individual and the other is the shifting fortune of a family or clan. The most basic meaning of hamingja is luck. Luck can be described in various ways. For example, you might hear a phrase like "luck of the dice" or "luck of the cards." This is the idea that there is luck either in the object or in your relationship to that object. That same idea is also seen in tarot cards which are perceived as having their own brand of hamingja. Objects are conceived to be empowered with a resonance of the owner's hamingja. However, the phrase "luck of the Irish" would be closer to the definition we are seeking here, as in this sense the hamingja is related not only to the person, but also extends to the family of the individual. Such great significance is placed on the fylgja that in ancient times midwives would actually read the placenta and divine the shape that one's hamingja would take throughout one's life.The placenta was thought to be the berthing body of the the hamingja and was often spoken of as simply "That which follows."
This circulatory motion is seen in the shape of Eihwaz, The straight line is the Rune Isa rune. rigid, frozen immovable. The two ends are the bifurcation of the Kenaz, fiery, energetic, fluid. This dichotomy shows the working of the runes primal forces. Understanding how these forces shape shift through the runes will open need doors of perception to you.
Discerning the shape of your personal luck is a part of what is meant by hamingja. In parsing the word hamingja, we see the term ham in ham-ingja, meaning "shape," or "hide." The ham as a concept occupies a place somewhere between the "physical" and the "spiritual." The existence of an astral body is a concept found in a number of systems of occultism. In this way we see that the astral body has a physical reality in the actual fleshly body and a spiritual reality in the energy body, who's shape is predetermined by the focused practitioner. Hence we say the astral body is a controlled projection. In this sense, the hamingja is said to be akin to shape shifting because we are determining our destiny as much as destiny is impinging on us. It is here in this extent that the individual meets the world and what we call our life; that we once again see the symbol of Eihwaz drawing our attention to the space between what is and what is becoming. Eihwaz is a rune that focuses the mind on this space, teaching us who we are by directing our mind first to our historical selves then drawing us to compare our currant self image. It calls us to look at our roots, our personal tree, drawing our attention here to this point were the past and the present converge to meet the future. This is were Odin can be found hanging in the balance. It is here, on your personal Yggdrasil, that you find the runes that define you.
It has been suggested that the Hamengja is akin to the Raven Miunin, and this makes a good allegory in any event as Miunin means memory. The lower arm of the Eihwaz rune is a metaphor of memory. The great black raven travels the world of the shadows and illusions, of partial truths, stories, legends and myths. This mystical bird is a totem of wisdom and second sight. Our history is distorted and so are our own memories. What we remember is our version of the events. This memory can be deceptive at times, as can be seen in the case of deep trauma and also in many forms of denial. It is important to keep this in mind as we follow our hamingja down into the roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Looking into our deeper selves and our deeper history; traveling back into to a time beyond time, we follow our hamingja into the deep roots of Yggdrasil. We suffer in this life if we fail to meet the challenge of self knowledge. We literally live in a perpetual identity crisis seeking every new fad, bouncing from one religion to the next. We see these kids, they go to extremes to be differant with their nose rings and purple hair. All this to be accepted into the out crowd. Only to find them selves to once again be like everyone else and longing again for a sense of individuality. We can't find our uniqueness by attempting to be different, we fine our unique qualities when we look at our similarity to those in our collective. It is in this deep concept of Eihwaz that we not only discover who we are now, but also who we have always been, and it is in this knowledge that we find the power of resurrection. This is our sociological mirror, it is the well of self and it is where we will ultimately find our way home.
How can Hugin and Munin lead us to a deeper understanding of the Eihwaz Rune? In the iconography of Odin we find these two great ravens who served as Odin's familiars Hugin; thought and Munin.: memory. It is Odin's ravens, who give us a glimpse into the answer. Like the two hooked ends of Eihwaz, these two birds represent two worlds that are interdependent. Ravens are carrion-eaters and are dependent on the death and misfortune of others. They are skilled scavengers, noted as amongst the smartest of the winged world. They could always be found on the battlefield feeding on the corpses of the fallen. In this grim imagery is were we see how Hugin and Munin pick through the dead and forgotten valleys of the mind. In our society there is a lot of false bravado given to the accomplishment of individuals while disregarding that others had struggled to make small inroads yet had devastating failures. There is nothing wrong in honoring the winners, and they deserve their praise, but all these fallen in battle served to pave the way for those who have succeeded. Hugin and Munin scavenge these forgotten bones of the fallen; picking over them for missed insights, lost or incomplete ideas, undiscovered revaluations.. In the following poem we see that Odin fears the loss of Munin even more then the loss of Hugin.
Benjamin Thorpe translation:
Hugin and Munin fly each day
over the spacious earth.
I fear for Hugin, that he come not back,
yet more anxious am I for Munin.
Odin sees that the preservation of our story is more intagrel to the self identity, then is the capacity to ad to that story with new layers of meaning.When we have lost sight of our personal Munin (memory) we also lose sight of our historical self, the personal story becomes disconnected and the emotional psyche breaks down; devolving into fragmented impulses and disjointed obsessions. Feelings of loss. Loss of purpose, loss of soul, loss of destiny. we develop low self-esteem and suffer from an identity crisis. With no guide, Hugin (thought) is left with no direction. It is Munin that seeks out and finds the right shape and projecting it into the outer world of self expression.
These two modes of contemplation can be seen in inductive and deductive reasoning. Like Munin the process of inductive reasoning is moving from specific observations to broader set of generalizations and theories. In inductive reasoning, we begin with a set of specific observations and measures and then begin to detect patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore, and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories. Memory seen as a form of history, fallows this form of reasoning. In this way Munin is seen as akin with the hamingja.
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