Friday, June 11, 2010
Symbol Magnets:: Odin, Mercury and the Fox Girl
Symbols come alive for us through coincidence, which they help to generate. A symbol, in the original meaning of the Greek (symbolon) is that which is "thrown together" or "cast together". This is very close to the root meaning of "coincidence", which refers to things that "fall together". In a previous essay, I floated the term symbol magnets in an effort to describe the connecting and manifesting power that is involved here. It is a two- way process. When our minds are charged with a living symbol, we sometimes seem to attract related events. And because a true symbol has autonomous power, in the realm of the collective psyche, a symbol may burst into our ordinary reality.
Earlier peoples spoke of these things in a simpler language, as the interplay between humans and gods, spirits and elemental powers of nature. I confess to having sympathy for the older way of understanding, as did Jung, who invented the terms "archetype" and "psychoid" and "collective unconscious" in an effort to define these phenomena in a vocabulary acceptable to the modern scientific mind, yet loved to quote the old Latin tag omnia plena diis esse ("all things are full of gods").
A case in point: three incidents, played out over three weeks early in 2005, that I just unearthed in my journals:
I was called to work with a Danish man who had been physically crippled by a complex of diseases he developed after severe mercury poisoning. The collapse of his health contributed to the collapse of his marriage. Cynical, misogynist, reclusive - and fixedly atheist, denying the existence of the soul - he eventually sought to end his pain with a bottle of sleeping pills.
He needed a soul guide, and I made it my intention to call in a guide that he could perceive and trust and believe in.
Instantly Odin appeared, in a wide-brimmed hat and a flying garment, with his ravens flapping about him, swinging a staff. The figure of Odin was vividly real and unconsidered. His back was turned to me, because all his attention was on the suicide. The Dane had no hesitation in accepting Odin as his guide. Odin took him, not to any of the realms of the Aesir, but deep into the body of a primal goddess, under the waves. I was deeply moved to see this man's healing and rehab begin, in the deeps of the Divine Feminine, through a gate opened by one-eyed Odin.
Interesting - on the mythic plane - that his problems flowed from a toxic relationship with Mercury. The Romans identified Odin with Mercury. "Above all gods they worship Mercury, and count it no sin to win his favor on certain days by human sacrifice,” wrote Tacitus. It seemed the man who had suffered from mercury poisoning had healed his relationship with Mercury.
A week later, I met an editor for dinner at a seafood restaurant. During the meal he stabbed a lemon slice with a fork to season his fish - and shot a jet of lemon juice into my left eye, temporarily blinding me. He did not notice what happened.
I said, dabbing my eye with a napkin, "I wonder what it means when a supposedly friendly editor blinds you in the left eye?"
After a quick apology, he shot back without losing a beat, "It's the price Odin paid to Mimir for his wisdom".
I was impressed that his mind had gone straight to the myth of how Odin gave up an eye in order to drink from the well of prophecy and remembrance. After a mouthful of fish, the editor told me that some larger force must definitely have been at work with the lemon squirt, since he was trained to manage such things in a way that few of us are. “I know how to use a fork. I was trained as a sous-chef in Paris to get this kind of thing exactly right. I could not have shot you in the eye unless some powerful force was orchestrating this, a force such as Odin."
A week after the Odin squirt, I was on a plane bound to Minneapolis on the first leg of a trans-continental journey. The flight attendant seemed to have stepped out of the Otherworld. She was milk-white with reddish hair and moved like a fleet little woodland animal. I decided she might be an arctic fox - or the altered astral form of a fox, a fox's attempt to project a human double. When she served drinks I noticed that her left eye was brown while her right eye was blue. I told her she had magical eyes and looked like she had just come from Faeryland.
It's said that if your eyes are of different colors it can mean that they see into different worlds. This is a milder version of the Odin motif, where the seer loses one of his physical eyes - part of his ordinary vision - as the price of vision into the deeper world.
THE ODIN RUNE
I was wondering whether to post this sequence here, and played with writing a draft to see how it would come out. When I went to press the "Save Now" button, I hit "Publish Post" by mistake. I corrected this within a few minutes.
Not fast enough, however, to avoid being spotted in a way that suggests the movement of forces beyond the obvious - of Greater Trumps in play. When I next opened my email (still undecided about posting this essay) I found this message from my artist friend Steve Niner, in England: "Did you post a piece that involved Odin on your blog this morning or did I dream it? What ever way it was just what I needed."
I responded that it amazed me that he managed to catch a draft version of this piece during the three or four minutes it was visible.
Steve replied: "Shivery stuff, I have just started working with the runes. I stuck my hand in my rune bag and pulled out Ansuz which is Odin's rune I read the interpretation in the book I am working with ,it was highly pertinent. I then went to my computer looked at the blog reader and there is your Odin post. Had time to read that bit before my daughter kicked me off it to play. Did a drum journey later looking for a teacher to teach me magic guess who shows up. I am reading Dreamgates at the moment."
There's the Odin-Mercury connection again. Ansuz is also called the Messenger Rune, associated with all forms of communication.