Mar 28, 2011

The Power Of Life And Death

This is more in the nature of a random thought--one that comes to mind as Spring seems to war with the clinging vestiges of Winter: cherry blossoms and snow, new buds and frost.

Odin is very much a God of life and death, and He has power over both. He is the All-Father, Who goes by so many names and Who has so many aspects. The God of War and of the Hanging is also the One who gave humans an immortal spirit... complexities and seeming contradictions, all part of a deeper, unutterable wholeness and transcendence.

It seems to me that there is--must be--much of this power in other Gods and Goddesses as well. In the stories, the Goddess associated heavily with the life-affirming gift of love gets half the slain. And then we have a God like Freyr, Who is connected to fertility, nature, and warmth: He has His own rune, and is it any coincidence it looks so much like a seed--a seemingly dead and dormant thing that gets buried, then springs into life only when the time is finally right?

Loki, Odin's blood-brother, is another God to consider here. He brings the greatest gifts, but He also wields some of the greatest powers of destruction. One of the ways I tend to see Him is as a "Lord of the Dance": a deity of creative forces spiraling into being, ever joined with the forces of their own destruction. Think of the life-cycle of stars and galaxies, perhaps of the Universe itself. Again, we have a God of life and death.

I've seen this, too, with Forseti, the God I'm closest to. With the authority to speak the law--to pass the final judgment--comes the authority to either grant life or to execute. In legend at least, He gave the Frisians their legal code. Its punishment for profaning a holy site was quite vicious, and involved losing certain delicate body parts before you're finally killed. Yet again, a force of life (in this case, holiness/sanctification to the divine) and the ending of life fall under the purview of the same God.

I'm sure there is more to this with other Gods and Goddesses: our deities encompass the whole.

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