Often times, people can see things in the world around them that they link to something else. You might see a coffee mug that makes you think of a parent, or run into a character in a story that reminds you of a friend, and so on. This is not different for Pagans and Heathens.
Two recent examples popped up in my life. True Grit, staring Jeff Bridges, has popped up on Netflix and I ended up watching it again. I’m not really a fan of westerns, but as the film has a bit of Norse Symbolism in it, I decided to watch it again. The story of a one eyed old man who presides over the hanging of men and often enters a state of frenzy, and a young woman who makes the law dance for her even as she hard-lines the concept of justice on a quest that costs her a hand, joined by a braggart defender of man in pursuit of a fugitive. Not all could, or would see, those who walk in the shadows of this play. But even if their inclusion was not intentional, they still found a way in.
Another example from a few weeks ago came when I was playing DnD. We’re currently playing around in the Feywild in the DnD Encounters run, and we came across a “Hag.” Now, that’s not all that unusual, as DnD is full of all manner of magical creatures. What made this unusual is that this “Hag” upon one side of her body bore the look of a beautiful young maiden, but the other half was old and aged and even decaying. Instantly, I spoke in surprise at the appearance of Lady Hel, the Norse Goddess of Death, and one of the Gods that I am drawn too. While the Game Master didn’t know who I was talking about, one of the other gamers did. And while I am not one of those who agrees that Hel is half flesh and half decay, but rather that she is half healthy skin, and half the frozen black (but not decayed) of a corpse, I am aware that some see her differently. Thus did Hel appear in my DnD game. At least to me. The only real questions now are why did she show up, and what should I do about it. Perhaps she will show up again, since that’s who we are playing against it seems.
One example that got me thinking also was a movie called the Wild Hunt, a little Canadian film about a group of Larpers out for a weekend that ends up going horribly wrong. That movie is full of Pagan imagery, and during the events of the movie I began to wonder if in it the Gods had shown up for real, beyond just the playing of those in the story. During parts of it, one character who is obsessed with the Vikings and their culture, with a tendency to call upon Thor (with great ham) hears the sound of banging and he believes it to be thunder, when in reality it is just a loose door banging shut repeatedly.
Yet, I found myself wondering if that made what he heard an illusion, or if there was something more to it. Is it reality that is important, or belief. And who is to say that Thor wasn’t causing the wind to bang the door, making the sound of ‘thunder’ for his follower. Indeed, because of the ‘thunder’ he hear, this character began a chain of events to retrieve “Mjolnir” which in turn plays a key role in the story.
Also, another faction in the game seeks to summon the “Wild Hunt” led by the Horned God, which will grant them great bonuses in combat the next day. The Hunt is summoned by a blood sacrifice, which is faked at first, but later *spoiler alert* is made horrifyingly real. And right after that sacrifice, frenzy takes that faction, who go on to enact actual violence upon the others playing. Was this mere human psychology at work, where a group of frustrated players who had been cheated snapped, or did the Horned God truly bring forth the Wild Hunt with the offering of blood and that unleashed these people?
“In the end, he could not escape the Hammer of Thor.”
Ultimately, there’s even more to the story, but that’s all I’m touching here.
If we are close to a God or Spirit, we tend to see them in the world around us at times. A movie may speak to us, or a book. Sometimes they reveal themselves overtly, as Odin does in the Dresden files. Sometimes it’s hidden, like Hel in my DnD game. Are they there because we see them, as with the door in the Wild Hunt, or are they there without us even having to see them, as with the rampage in that same movie?