Over the course of my practice and experience, I have found that one thing that can be used to unite most traditions- or at least something that can be used as a starting point of understanding it- is the Tree of Life diagram. Every culture has its own Cosmic Tree, and as such, much can be learned by using this contemplative, meditative glyph to plot out and record some kind of pattern, or reach a greater understanding.
In this case, I’ll be studying the Nordic tradition using the Tree of Life. Pretty much all that follows is coming from my own understanding, and from conversations and meditations with Odin. Who else would I talk to about travelling around Yggdrasil using the runes?
SPHERE OF COMMENCEMENT: Malkuth (Kingdom)= Midgard
Symbol: The Gateway
Colours: Shadowed natural hues
Influence on Path: Saturn
Tarot Arcanum: The Universe
Tarot Interpretation: Assured success, completion [R] Failure, inertia, twisted gift
Symbol: Labyrinth, darkness, a well, the ash
Colour: Light Blue
Herb: Lily of the Valley
Tree: Yew or Ash
SPHERE OF DESTINATION: Yesode (Foundation)= Jotunheim
Symbol: The Garden, the Sickle
Colours: Violet, White
Minerals: Crystal, Silver
This is the path of initiation, of beginning a journey. This first step elevates one from the material realm to the Astral realm, and serves, effectively, as a second birth. In the Kabbalistic tradition, this is a moment of quiet triumph, of conquering the enemy. In the Nordic, it is not just a moment or journey of initiation, of triumph, it is a moment of pain and suffering and the ecstasy of survival.
Hagalaz is the Universal Egg, the first point from which everything formed, the precipitation of the Primal Ice of Niflemheim and the Primal Fire of Muspelheim- from the very beginning the Nordic tradition ignores dualism, instead opting for opposed forces; each with the potential to preserve or destroy. However, hagalaz is also the hailstone, a driving force of nature that one would be hard-pressed to survive.
As the old runic skalds said: “Hagall is a cold grain/and a shower of sleet/and a sickness of snakes.”
Odin and his two ‘brothers’ Vili and Ve slew Ymir, the deified personification of hagalaz- the thing from which all things are formed -and crafted the Nine Realms. In a similar fashion, this path when travelled using the rune is a trial- the slaying of a monster, the surviving of a devastating storm. It is not a journey, but a struggle against a force which can’t be beaten, a fight to survive using nothing but your will. The path is dangerous and manifold- hence the labyrinth -but with guidance you pass through, and come upon the threshold of the Nine Realms; Mimir’s Well at the root of the Cosmic Tree Yggdrasil.
Some people believe that Mimir is just another name for Ymir, which is- after a fashion -a kind of sage truth. For Odin sacrificed his eye to drink from Mimir’s Well, but also carried about Mimir’s severed head. There’s a whole story surrounding that, but my understanding is that Odin- surviving the battle with Ymir through great sacrifice and turmoil -earned his prize of wisdom. But the great lesson here is in the triad of Odin, Vili, and Ve. For Vili and Ve are but aspects of Odin. Odin is “Inspiration”, the great font of foresight and wisdom. Vili is “Will”, the power to create change. And Ve is “The Sacred”. Thus, they are only one- Odin, the Allfather, who through inspiration, will, and ritual took his godhood at the point of a spear. This is the path for the Nordic Magician- to earn their place in the Nine Realms through trial, tribulation, and sacrifice.
Feel free to comment if you wish- I know a few people on here study runes, and I’d be happy to discuss the topic.