When it comes to the two gods I’m “closest” too in my path as of late, it is Thor and Hel. Why these two? Mainly, it’s because of my personality as much as any vague feeling that they are reaching out to me. Personally, because of my nature, I feel closest to the things they embody.
Thor is the god of storms, fertility, and battle. He is not really a war-god, but more a god of brawls. Still, he fights the Jotun, the giants, to defend both Asgard and Midgard. He’s a god who is middle-wise, not overly intelligent, but not a fool either. He can be clever, even if his favorite method of dealing with problems is smashing them with Mjolnir.
In one of those odd little bits of synchronicity you find, my favorite philosopher, Nietzsche, coined the term “Philosophizing with a hammer.” I instantly thought of Thor when I heard it. Indeed, this is how I tend to start dealing with many issues. With a “hammer.”
But back to the subject at hand. Personality wise, I am very much a mix of the Classic Elements. When it really comes down to it, even though astrologically I am a water sign, I combine elements of water, fire, and the quintessence, with a fair amount of air thrown in. Add those together, and you have a storm. Sometimes I’m calm, other times it’s all sound and fury, darkness and violent lightning.
When I picture Thor, it’s a mix of the loud red-head of the Sagas, and the depictions of Thor in the Marvel Comics, especially Simonson’s run, which was surely touched by the God of Thunder himself. He is power, storms, fury, and that key nugget of heroism that endeared him to our people.
Then there is Hel. I’ve always kinda rooted for the darker side, the unpopular side, the outsider. Alternate interpretations are a hobby of mine, and I rarely look at things just the way people tell me too. There’s more than one side to the facts, or reality. In a lot of ways too, I began the events that led me upon my path with the death of my aunt. She had cancer, very bad cancer, to the point where one growth alone was the size of a volleyball or something similar, and it had eaten through flesh and bone. When she died, I didn’t cry for her death. I was at peace with it. Any of the few tears I shed were for the life that was not lived. But I understood even then, in my terrible innocence, that death was the release, and was to be thanked, not hated.
What followed, looking back, was as much death and darkness as one could imagine. The “death” of my family. The “death” of my world, quite literally, as everything I had known to be true up to that point was revealed nothing more than lies and illusions. The literal death of the person who had lived in that world, followed by the alchemical process that brought forth myself, which continues on in an ever going process of death and rebirth leading to a purification and ultimately the great rebirth.
So death has been a part of my life for a very long time. But it is also the nature of death, itself. Death comes for everyone. It is inevitable, relentless, darkness that holds all the keys and all the secrets. The only way to know what happens after this life is to die. It is hated, misunderstood, reviled, but also a comfort to those at their end in some cases. It is these things because it strips away our loved ones, our own lives, it is gross, horrifying, and reminds us of our mortality and the seeming futility of existence. Worst of all, it forces us to face the fact that everything we know, we believe, could be wrong. That for all the promises the Christians have of Paradise, or the Muslims with their 70 virgins for those who die in holy jihad or whatever paradise they have for the rest, or the reincarnation of the Buddhists and many others, or the Halls of Asgard, or anything else, we don’t know what is there. And if we can’t know what’s there, can we really even know what is here?
I used to comment over at the Wild Hunt news blog. My writing style in some cases was probably abrasive, even when I didn’t mean it to be. But I philosophized with a hammer, and always questioned, and in doing so I suspect that in the dark parts of peoples’ minds, I made them question too. Indeed, much of the hate I received was, in my mind, not because I was wrong (I rarely if ever claimed to be right, only to speak what I knew) but because peeled back the edges and showed the dark parts of the world, and made people wonder if they were truly right, in the secret parts of themselves that they lock away. If anger comes from fear, then did I show them their fears? I don’t know.
But those are reasons why I relate to Hel. I also relate to her a bit differently than some. I don’t see her as Hel, Half-rotten. She is of whole flesh to me. In some ways, I suspect that it is my Scorpio nature, and the fact that she was made ruler of Helheim in her youth (as well as other things), but I view her more as a blond, Nordic version of Death from the Sandman comics, with two toned skin. I picture her about my age, lovely, perhaps not really perky, but certainly not glum most of the time. She is death, and death comes in many forms. And while she can be horrifying and monstrous by many peoples standards…death, and Hel, are not so for me.