Myself To Myself - Gothi Daniel Young
I know that I hung on a windy tree nine long nights, wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin, myself to myself, on that tree of which no man knows where its roots run. - Havamal 139
The preceding Havamal stanza is one of the most widely known in Modern Asatru. Here, Odin hangs himself upon Yggdrasil in order to gain knowledge of the runes, the secrets of the universe. What can we learn from this, and how can we apply this in daily practice? Like many things in Asatru, the answer can be multilayered and complex. Today we are going to explore these possibilities in a simplified way.
First, let's define sacrifice. The Free Dictionary defines it as; thus, "The act of giving up something highly valued for the sake of something else considered to have a greater value." There are of course definitions involving ritual slaughter of animals, but for the sake of this article, I'll use the definition shown above.
Havamal stanza 139 shows us that Odin was willing to sacrifice himself in his current state to achieve a state of greater importance. If the god of the highest stature in our pantheon was not enough for himself, then why would we, as his followers, ever become static? He saw himself as worthy of sacrifice, to attain a higher state of being. So, we must view ourselves in a similar light.
Who do you want to be? What would that look like? Picture that version of yourself. Meditate upon it. Begin to think about what it will take to get there.
For many of us, personal health and fitness is something we don't take seriously until it's too late. In 2017 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. For a guy who is 165 lbs. soaking wet, this came as a shock to me. I even argued with the doctor. "There is no way I'm diabetic, I'm rail thin!" But reality began to sink in, this was going to be a lifelong fight. No more sugar, cut back on alcohol, find a way to beat this without medication if possible. Hit the gym and eat right.
Every time I lay back on the bench press, or step to the squat rack, I visualize the version of myself I want to become. Every press of the barbell, every squat, every deadlift is an act of self-sacrifice. Sacrificing the current version to that which I want to ascend to. The bench is my altar. Every time I want to eat cake, drink a sugary drink, I try to visualize that ideal self. Ripped, strong, and happy. I add the word "happy" here for a reason. Physical excellence adds to spiritual excellence. If you feel good physically, your emotional state also improves. Someone will tell you that dopamine increases during physical exercise. That may be the case, all I know is it makes you feel better.
Ascension is what defines us as Aryan men and women. Our ancestors were constantly chasing new horizons, giving up what is "good enough" for something more. This is an Odinic way of being. Overhauling an engine takes time and patience. You'll bust knuckles and strip bolts along the way. Just know that you are worth it. Every mile you run, every drop of sweat you wipe from your brow, every aching muscle is a sacrifice of yourself to yourself. For our Gods, for our children, for our ancestors... Stay strong my folk!
Gothi Daniel Young