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Artistic Mythology incorrectly attributes the statement, “Beware of artists….” to Queen Victoria. Artists often consider themselves to be “revolutionaries” whom the wealthy and powerful “royalty” of Earth should fear. So, they adopted this statement as a “battle cry” against tyranny of the state and persecution of the “artist”.
Factually, Queen Elizabeth, did not make this statement, although she most likely shared the sentiment with her Uncle, King Leopold II of Belgium, who expressed it in a similar statement (below). In reality, artists are seldom revolutionaries, and are the most likely to be paid whores and propagandists in service of the “royal agenda”. For example, how many Hollywood films have you seen that are threatening to the rich and powerful, much less “revolutionary”? (Answer = 0 )
(Leopold II — King of Belgium, like Queen Victoria, were members of the self-appointed “royal family” who are Caucasian, Fascist, Imperialists. Unfortunately, they are worshiped by the peasants, and glorified by artists, who empower them to invade, murder and enslave other people, life forms, property and natural resources of Earth for personal financial gain, power and control.)
Leopold II (9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was the King of the Belgians, and is chiefly remembered for the founding and exploitation of the Congo Free State.
Queen Victoria (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India from 20 June 1837 until her death.
A letter to Queen Victoria of England from her Uncle, The King of the Belgians, 10th October 1845:
“My Dearest Victoria, —
. . . All you say about our dear Albert, whom I love like my own child, is perfectly true. The attacks, however unjust, have but one advantage, that of showing the points the enemy thinks weakest and best calculated to hurt. This , being the case, Anson, without boring A. with daily accounts which in the end become very irksome, should pay attention to these very points, and contribute to avoid what may be turned to account by the enemy. To hop to escape censure and calumny is next to impossible, but whatever is considered by the enemy as a fit subject for attack is better modified or avoided. The dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous; they are hardly ever satisfied, and when you have too much to do with them, you are sure to have des ennuis (trouble) . . .Your devoted Uncle,Leopold R.” (excerpt from “The Letters of Queen Victoria, a Selection from Her Majesty’s Correspondence Between the Years 1837 and 1861″)
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– AN INVOCATION OF THE GODS –
Where upon Olympus stand the gods who once ruled over Man? Fallen from the Lofty Land to dwell on Earth as mortal men?
Who remembers how to fly as freeborn spirits through the sky? What powers can be exercised while trapped within a mortal guise?
The gods once caused themselves to bring The Breath of Life itself to being. Their very thoughts made every thing: the sea, a sigh, the sky, the spring!
Where are the gods of history? What happened to their memory? If we are them and they are we, who will cause our destiny?
Merchant Lords now rule the fold. They want us all to fit their mold: “Be a Man! Do as you’re told! The only god there is, is gold!”
How did we ever sink so low, pretending we don’t really know that we’re the spark that makes life grow, like springtime flowers through the snow?
Infinity is passing by, but time is really just a lie. Are we immortal, you and I? A question states its own reply…
We never really know we’re blind until we search around to find a simple way to leave behind the suffering that is Mankind.
Can godly powers be regained, like oceans fall to Earth as rain? Can we go back from whence we came, to greater heights and bigger games?
Lead us homeward once again, to realms beyond the dreams of men. We’ve gone astray, we’ve lost our ken*. We need your help, Immortal Friends!
— Lawrence R. Spencer, from Pan-God of The Woods
*ken = perception; understanding, range of vision, view; sight.
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On a tiny, remote planet a Mythology has been conceived and taught that one relatively minor species of life form are “superior” to billions of others with whom they share the planet, and upon whom they depend for sustenance. Factually, all life forms exist in a perpetual state of interactive interdependency called “symbiosis”.
Symbiosis comes from two Greek words that means “with” and “living.” It describes a close relationship between two organisms from different species. It is sometimes, but not always, beneficial to both parties. Ironically, the life form that is NOT required for symbiotic survival on Earth, and without which the planet flourished for billions of years, is the species “homo sapiens”.
If insects or bacteria (two small examples) disappeared from Earth, most other species, including homo sapiens, would perish quickly. However, if homo sapiens became extinct, nearly all other life forms would flourish, and return to a natural state of symbiotic abundance upon which the fragile, parasitic species of homo sapiens depends utterly. With the exception of a few domesticated animals humans would not be missed on Earth.
It has been observed that the Microcosm (relatively small) is a reflection of the Macrocosm (relatively large) in the physical universe. Human beings conceive themselves to be the “highest” form of life and most intelligent. Yet, when viewed in the context of stars, galaxies and universes, homo sapiens are infinitesimally insignificant, except in their own minds. This begs the question: “Are their beings in the universe for whom humans might provide symbiotic value?“ The final scene from the popular film Men In Black offers one example. Do humans exist symbiotically in an existential game played by beings who we make imperceptible by our Narcissistic Mythology?
At the center of the Norse spiritual cosmos is an ash tree, Yggdrasil (pronounced “IG-druh-sill”; Old Norse Askr Yggdrasils), which grows out of the Well of Urd (Old Norse Urðarbrunnr). The Nine Worlds are held in the branches and roots of the tree. The name Askr Yggdrasils probably strikes most modern people as being awkwardly complex. It means “the ash tree of the horse of Yggr.” Yggr means “The Terrible One,” and is a byname of Odin. The horse of Odin is Sleipnir. This may seem like a puzzling name for a tree, but it makes sense when one considers that the tree as a means of transportation between worlds is a common theme in Eurasian shamanism. Odin rides Sleipnir up and down Yggdrasil’s trunk and through its branches on his frequent journeys throughout the Nine Worlds. “Urd” (pronounced “URD”; Old Norse Urðr, Old English Wyrd) means “destiny.” The Well of Urd could therefore just as aptly be called the Well of Destiny.
One of the poems in the Poetic Edda, Völuspá or “The Insight of the Seeress,” describes the scene thus:
There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.
From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urd, another Verdandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and destinies of children.
In addition to the inhabitants of the Nine Worlds, several beings live in, on, or under the tree itself. The Eddic poem Grímnismál, “The Song of the Hooded One,” mentions many of them – but, unfortunately, only in passing. An anonymous eagle perches in the upper branches of the tree. A number of dragons or snakes, most notably Nidhogg, gnaw at the roots from below. A squirrel, Ratatosk, carries messages (presumably malicious ones) between Nidhogg and the eagle. Four deer, Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, and Dyrathror, nibble the highest shoots.
A Model of Time and Destiny
It’s important to keep in mind that the image of Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd is a myth, and therefore portrays the perceived meaning or essence of something rather than merely describing the thing’s physical characteristics. Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd weren’t thought of as existing in a single physical location, but rather dwell within the invisible heart of anything and everything.
Fundamentally, this image expresses the indigenous Germanic perspective on the concepts of time and destiny.
As Paul Bauschatz points out in his landmark study The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture, Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd correspond to the two tenses of Germanic languages. Even modern English, a Germanic language, still has only two tenses: 1) the past tense, which includes events that are now over (“It rained”) as well as those that began in the past and are still happening (“It has been raining”), and 2) the present tense, which describes events that are currently happening (“It is raining”). Unlike Romance languages such as Spanish or French, for example, Germanic languages have no true future tense. Instead, they use certain verbs in the present tense to express something similar to futurity, such as “will” or “shall” (“I will go to the party” or “It shall rain”). Rather than “futurity,” however, what these verbs express could more accurately be called “intention” or “necessity.”
The Well of Urd corresponds to the past tense. It is the reservoir of completed or ongoing actions that nourish the tree and influence its growth. Yggdrasil, in turn, corresponds to the present tense, that which is being actualized here and now.
What of intention and necessity, then? This is the water that permeates the image, flowing up from the well into the tree, dripping from the leaves of the tree as dew, and returning to the well, where it then seeps back up into the tree.
Here, time is cyclical rather than linear. The present returns to the past, where it retroactively changes the past. The new past, in turn, is reabsorbed into a new present, whose originality is an outgrowth of the give-and-take between the waters of the well and the the waters of the tree.
This provides a framework within which we can understand the Germanic view of destiny. The residents of the Well of Urd, the Norns, design the earliest form of the destinies of all of the beings who live in the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil, from humans to slugs to gods to giants. In contrast to the Greek concept of fate, however, all beings who are subject to destiny have some degree of agency in shaping their own destiny and the destinies of others – this is the dew that falls back into the well from the branches of the tree, accordingly reshaping the past and its influence upon the present. All beings do this passively; those who practice magic do it actively. (In fact, one could accurately say that, in the surviving accounts of the practice of magic in ancient Germanic societies, magic is viewed as being precisely the process of gaining a greater degree of control over destiny.) There is no absolutely free will, just as there is no absolutely unalterable fate; instead, life is lived somewhere between these two extremes. A fuller discussion of the ancient Germanic view of destiny can be found here.
Creation as an Ongoing Process
When we consider the elements of time and destiny together, we arrive at a fascinating and compelling model of the process of creation itself. While Norse mythology does contain a tale that can be considered a creation narrative, that tale only tells of the initial shaping of the cosmos. In the image of Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd, we find a continuation of this tale. Creation is an ongoing process in which everything, from a goddess to a speck of dirt, participates. In the well-known Christian model of creation, one being (God) made the world all by himself in a single act that occurred at some specific point in the past. As a result, all beings are nothing more than his “Creation,” defined and determined by his omnipotent will. By contrast, the Germanic model implicitly claims that we are all created creators, carrying forward the world’s ceaseless reinvention of itself. As the famous naturalist and conservationist John Muir wrote, “I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in creation’s dawn.”
Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit.
 Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. p. 375.
 Eliade, Mircea. 1964. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Translated by Willard Trask. p. 37.
 My own translation. The original Old Norse verses are:
Ask veit ek standa,
hár baðmr, ausinn
þaðan koma döggvar,
þærs í dala falla,
stendr æ yfir grænn
Þaðan koma meyjar
þrjár ór þeim sæ,
er und þolli stendr;
Urð hétu eina,
– skáru á skíði, –
Skuld ina þriðju;
þær lög lögðu,
þær líf kuru
 The Poetic Edda. Grímnismál, stanzas 32-34.
 Bauschatz, Paul C. 1982. The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture.
 Muir, John. 1938. John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir. p. 72.the
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