The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book Evergreen Trees: The Cosmology and Myth of Draug by Geirulf Odinsson:
In Germanic mythos, the Gods are never depicted as the creators of existence. Existence is a process; like a tree it grows from a seed – a seed of infinitely charged void – out of which emerge many souls. Some of these grow to such power as to become shapers of the great dream.
The Gods don’t create existence. Existence creates the Gods.
When in the 9th century Norwegians began to emigrate to Iceland, many are said to have taken with them the wooden pillars and beams that held up temples and sacred feast halls, many of which were carved in the likeness of deities. Often, these poles were thrown overboard at the first sight of land, and the place where they washed ashore was the place where a new temple and settlement would be built. The site of what is now Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, was chosen in this way. In Old Norse, the word for a single deity – Ás – translates literally to ‘pole’ or ‘beam’, as in the columns that support a building. This says much about the Germanic Pagan concept of deities.
The Gods are the pillars of the Otherworld, great structures within the mind of existence. The Gods of myth are not said to be beyond our comprehension like the monotheistic god is said to be. Instead, they are presented as distinct individuals with desires, weaknesses, strengths and vices, but on a much larger scale to what is human. They are us writ large. Through long ages of trial and struggle, they have emerged as some of the most powerful souls of all, and have become living archetypes of the mind of existence. This is the power and knowledge for which Odin sought so tirelessly for so long.
The idea of psychospiritual archetypes is most commonly associated with the theory developed by 20th century psychoanalyst Carl Jung, yet its roots are truly ancient. Indeed, its roots are beyond space and time. Jung viewed the psyche as a living system of mental energy comprised of many archetypal structures that give shape and support to the psyche. Just like the poles and beams of Norse temples, archetypes are part of the same single system, the same ‘building’. Yet they often exhibit their own will, desires and needs, often disagreeing and conflicting with each other, almost like separate personalities within the same mind.
The most powerful souls of the Otherworld become as living archetypes of the mind of existence, the poles and columns that hold up the greatest temple of them all.
As our personal archetypes influence and appear in our dreams, so do these universal archetypes influence and appear in the collective dreams. It is through our collective dreaming, our mythology, that these universal archetypes take form as vivid dream figures. In dreams, individual archetypes can take all manner of varied forms, from humanoid figures, to animals, to strange and overwhelming feelings. The mythic Gods are also described as being powerful in the art of shapeshifting, taking all manner of humanoid and animal forms, and manifesting in the dreamer as powerful sensations, feelings, and inspiration. They are dream figures, breaking into human awareness from the Otherworld.
The Pagan Gods are great individual souls in their own right, yet through the Otherworld, they become a part of ourselves. It is known that parents have a great effect on the development of a psyche and the manifestations of the archetypes. It was the Gods that raised the Human Spirit in its infancy, and their echo is still seen in our art and ideas to this day, and our personal archetypes are a reflection of the Gods and Monsters that appear in myth. By exploring our own archetypes, we can grow in wisdom, power, will, and understanding.
To understand the archetypes of your own mind is the way in which you come to understand the Gods, the archetypes of the mind of the universe.
Much more will be said of the Gods in time.