Oct 14, 2012

Sunday School Ragnarok

Lately, I've been dealing with a non-serious but annoying illness that refuses to let up. This might be the only October post.

I recently found an article on the "Twilight of the Gods" that is well worth a read. I think that Ragnarok is a very important subject, but for different reasons than may first be apparent. Quite frankly, it seems to me that the story of Ragnarok all to quickly becomes a distraction--or worse, an actual impediment to devotion. This effect is not limited to one "side" of the spectrum or another. I revere Loki, but if I want to add a jaw-ache to my already existing sickness, I need only read some of the individual Lokian takes on Ragnarok and on Balder in particular.

It is a beautiful thing to be passionate about one's Gods. I don't doubt for a moment that when one has a deep, personal connection with a Deity, one may share in profound and intensely emotional impressions and revelations. A devotee may be asked--or at least sincerely believe that he or she is being asked--to share these experiences. However, everything exists in its context. As Uncle Thor aptly puts it, our Gods and Goddesses are not big men and women in the sky. We may love and adore the very human sides They show us, but They are also Holy and Transcending. 

Among us mortals, the Ragnarok tale can be a lot like Bolverk's hone. It can cause more grief than it is worth. Really, who benefits from understanding time as a linear march toward an inexorable apocalypse? Not us. Polytheists don't need a final purge. We don't live in an utterly lost and tainted Cosmos. John Michael Greer discusses this subject quite eloquently in his book "A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism." Meanwhile, some forms of strict monotheism do require annihilation. The wheat and the chaff must be separated.

We can toss about hypothesis after hypothesis on Ragnarok. Many of those hypotheses will be touched by all sorts of influences that have little or nothing to do with the Gods. Our Gods are wise. They are not short-sighted. They know--often far better than we do--what is required for balance. The way forward is to trust and respect Them in the here and now.


  1. Reblogged on my site, because not long ago, I had a conversation with Himself about how comparative study of classical and modern polytheistic religions (like the Oak Hedge article) were the best way to create a living framwork for our faith.

  2. Thank you very much. I am glad that this post and most especially the linked article were of interest to some readers.

  3. Interesting... something related came up (and keeps coming up) in my kindred. Thank you for linking the article, too; I hadn't read that before.

    Regardless of the amount of truth in the tale of Ragnarok, or of how we as 21st century readers with more or less Christian backgrounds should interpret it as we read, I stand by what I posted here.

    [Also very much aware that the above post deals with a lot of things, but not actually with the "End of Everything".]

  4. Thank you for commenting. I do respectfully dissent with your take on things, especially in light of my own interactions with Balder. Reasonable minds can and often do differ, as they say in law school.

    1. Of course, and thanks for approving the comment despite the difference!

      I would be interested in talking about those differences -- I'm certainly not claiming the end-all-and-be-all. The take on things as expressed in my post was born from a mixture of meditation, conemplation and direct interaction with Loki, though the latter only with regard to the making of the net, and His flight downstream.

      As such, it's going to be a different one than your own. For instance, I'm lacking the perspective of direct interaction with Baldr. I think that's a major difference, and I'd would like to expand my horizon, as it were.

      So... what do you think is the main clash, so to speak, between your ideas on the matter and mine? (I'm not asking to be contrary. I'm asking because I would like to know...)

    2. Myriad: thank you for posting again. Please pardon the delay. It is a very busy week for me. The long version of this might be better for an e-mail discussion, as time permits. The short version is that, in my own experience, Balder would neither agree to an attempt to evade necessity nor allow Himself to sink into boastfulness. These behaviors would run absolutely contrary to His personality and nature, in my opinion. I see Balder's death as somewhat akin to the sacrifice Freyr is said to make each year. However, this is a short space, and I cannot do that comparison a lot of justice here. On a personal level, I have found that father and son have much in common. Forseti and Baldur are both very brave and very dutiful Gods. They can and do set aside personal inclinations for the sake of a greater Balance. Both Gods can have extremely high standards, but They also have such incredible depths of warmth, understanding, and compassion.