If you’ve been following my recent changes and videos & posts about them, you’ll know by now that I’ve recently had a massive ego cleanse, so to speak. I’ve dropped the mantle of “spiritual teacher” and am, as such, relearning how to relate to myself and others right now. All of this crazy business of dropping delusions and getting better clarity in order to become more whole got me thinking when I heard a tale of Thor and his attempt to access Asgard once more after a trip to Jotunheim. Now, to really understand the value of this story and what it taught me when I heard it I’ll have to explain a little bit about Thor…
We all know about Thor from the recent Marvel movies and likely relate him to Chris Hemsworth more than anything else. But, there’s much more to him than a burly blonde man with a fierce pout. Though a very attractive man he may be, Thor goes much deeper than battles alongside superhuman allies wherein he and his friends ward off aliens and other destructive forces… When you look at the mythology and scratch beneath the surface a little, you see that Thor – who is said to have been the son of Odin, although that has been debated – is also said to be the son of Earth. In this sense, Thor is the symbol for humanity. And more specifically, in some cases, the men of humanity. And more specifically than that, the ego of the men of humanity. This is where it gets interesting.
The story goes that after a long trip to the land of the giants – where Thor got into all kinds of mischief and from where he would always return with wild action-packed tails of his exploits – Thor approaches the boat he would use to cross back into Asgard, the home of the Aesir. The ferryman, who is named Longbeard or Greybeard in the tale refused to sail him back home after Thor’s initial approach was one of arrogance and superior demeanour. Taunting and unyielding, the boatman simply sits in his boat, somewhat away from the docks and thus inaccessible to Thor.
“I have had great success here in this land and none have bested me. I conquered all without effort. My wins were leisurely.” was the air of Thor’s words, “Now, return me home, ferryman.”
“You might be proud of your success, son of Earth. The past is a thing of certainty. Your fate, as yet, however is uncertain.” replies the ferryman, after which he refuses to ferry Thor across the river.
Angered by the denial, Thor boasts, “I have felled the great giant Hrungnir who’s head was made of stone and laid her out in front of me like it was nothing! And what have you done?”
“I spent five whole winters with Fjolvar on the All-Green isle. There we fought and felled many a foe. There we sought fair maidens and won them over.”
“And how did you win them over?” asked the wielder of Mjolnir.
“The women were lively, if they were wise. And if they were wise, they were kindly with us. For only the unwise would attempt to refuse the charms of I. Unwise so as to make ropes of sand. And I, wiser than all, remained there in counsel by these maidens. And there I laid with the seven sisters and great joy I had from each.” said the wise yet humble boatswain, “Have you something to top this?”
The ferryman, Longbeard, retorted many times and each time battled by Thor seeking to best him. After several more exchanges, the ferryman speaks out.
“You have might, son of Odin, but never a heart.” he tells Thor.
“You are a womanish man, ferryman.” Thor quickly snaps, “I would smite the now with all my might, could I reach to your realm.”
After a brief argument, Thor is ready to give up his attempts to cross the river into Asgard in the boat of Longbeard.
“You are a witless man, boatswain. I grow weary of your lies.” Thor remarks.
“I speak only the truth to you. But you are slow on your way. Your brawn is great yet your understanding meagre.” says Longbeard, unimpressed by Thor’s arrogance.
“You have held me here too long, womanish ferryman!” growled Thor.
“I would never have thought that the great Thor of the Gods would ever be hindered by a mere boatman!” laughs the ferryman.
“One counsel I offer now to you, boatman, bring your boat to me and sail me, father of Magni, across.” demands Thor.
“From where you are, you must move forward. Lest the passage will not be open to you.”
“Show me the way forward then, if you will not take my across the water by boat.”
“To not pass is little. To pass is greater. A while to the stock and a while to the stone.” says the boatman, “Take the road to your left and walk until you reach Verland, the land of men. There Jorth will find you and as your mother she will show you to the road, Bifrost, and home to Odin’s realm.”
“And will I reach this realm in a day?”
“Perhaps. With trouble and toil. Maybe while the sun still shines. Or so I think. Lowe, I am merely a lowly boatswain, a liar of womanish stock.”
“This conversation will be a short one now if you only speak to mock me.” says Thor, “And if we ever meet, I shall repay you for your refusal of passage, boatman.”
“Go where everything evil may have you!” instructs Longbeard, calling an end to the tale.
While Thor can be seen as the ego of the men of humanity, in some senses, Odin can be seen as the wisdom and prowess. And the ferryman here is said to have been Odin, the Allfather himself. And with this, we have a new light on the whole tale of Thor and the ferryman. Thor representing the arrogance and righteousness of man and Odin – Longbeard, the ferryman – representing wisdom and prowess. Thor, being a symbol of the aspect of man that wants to run before he can walk, to be great before he has esteem and – most significantly – to teach before he has learned.
And this, my friend, is where I have learned a valuable lesson from this poem. A lesson which was likely made possible by the fact that recently, when Rosa connected with my spirit guides and received a message for me from the guides I have which have taken forms from within the Old Norse pantheon. Some of which would not like me to mention their names. The more receptive to publicity of which are Baldr – God of Purity – and Thor – God of Thunder and our protagonist in this poem – Harbarthsljoth.
In the message from Thor, I was told that I am to help anchor the doors to some sacred magic on Earth. He told me that I am not some sneaky, cheap magician. He told me I carry the vibrations of the west and of a lineage of men of wisdom. He said I am not to waste this, nor to take it for granted. I am not to brag about it. In this way, power grows without disturbances.
This message, which I am immensely grateful to the grown, now learned and wise God of Thunder for, is made evermore interesting and powerful when I consider the message I received from Baldr -God of Light.
The message from Baldr was one of tradition. In the message, he told me about a time when I was incarnated among the Vikings. I was a village magic-user and I would solve the problems of the people in the settlement. In this time, I came to the land of the Celts from the Nordic lands. Being different from my fellow Vikings, I would spend a lot of time calming people down and helping the Celts to understand that we were not only a brutal or violent race. And that certainly many of us were not so brutish or aggressive. Baldr’s message went on further describing how I made friends with the Celts and became lazy in regard to the traditions of magic-users. He ended with the words, “This time, respect the tradition.” The tradition in this instance being, to walk while learning to run, to listen before speaking.
All of this put together paints a powerful picture for me. One of my own ego force to stand as a “teacher” of people but also one of a necessary journey and actually a death of sorts that I – and all of us, really – need to endure in order to transcend the limitations put in place by our own arrogance or similar. In this way, we can access the figurative Bifrost – the rainbow bridge only accessible by those who are worthy and of learning – and enter the realm of the Gods – the realm of wisdom. Until this day, we must “go where everything evil may have us” and walk the earth until the time comes where we are given direction by the spirit of the Earth herself, our great mother.
For me, this is indicative of another great teaching from another culture and another world entirely. Hindu tradition. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my favourite quote from the Bhagavad Gita is, “Far better to walk your own path imperfectly than to walk another perfectly.” I feel that especially relevant here, though I have been hard-pressed to ever find a moment when it’s not relevant!
So, in this moment, I speak from experience when I say: It’s tricky to not be ensnared by the warm, lulling yet thorny branches of brawny self-importance and hidden doltishness. Sometimes, in all your attempts, you still end up tangled. But that’s no reason to stay there. Nor is it a reason to condemn yourself for ending up there. It’s a tough one, finding your place in the world. It seems insane not to try but so easy to get deluded by. I should know! But all-in-all, the primary principle of the field I always find myself coming back to – despite my neglect to mention it before now – is as follows: If you wish to alter the course of events, watch which way the river flows.
And this field, my friends, is the field of magic. In another life or this, that’s where I find myself. Teacher or not, I am a mystic through and through. And though I can make no claims as being the best in the world, I can say I do my best. Though I can make no claims at knowing everything, I know that I am learning. Though I can expect no pointing as direct as Longbeard’s to Thor, I walk on the path where everything evil may have me. Why? Because I know that when evil has had its fill then what remains is the truth. And that is the light that shines forth.
So on that note, after this rather epic episode of story-time with Andey, I shall bid you adieu as I’m sure you have lots of life to live and because I have nothing more of interest to add other than the following…
Thank you for reading.
Keep it real – as much as is possible.
Love until your heart is full.
Live until Valhalla calls.
And play until you can play no more!
Big love and hugs from me to you.