Yesterday I went to a writer’s retreat held in a cemetery. Given the
time of year, and the novel I’m planning for NaNoWriMo, I found it incredibly appropriate and inspiring. But being around gravestones and catacombs made me think of more than stories. They made me think of Odin.
Odin has always been, and will forever be, connected with death for me. I don’t know if it’s because Sleipnir has the ability to journey to the land of the dead and return unharmed, or if it’s because of Odin’s time on Yggdrasil. Some people say He actually died on the tree, and then came back. I believe this. I actually think this is why He can journey to Hel. No living person can venture there, not even among the Gods. But if one of Them had died first, then They could. Perhaps that’s how Odin gained entrance into Hel, and how He “ferries” souls there. He died and even though He came back, He retained His ability to step foot in Hel’s kingdom.
It makes sense for Him to have died on that tree for more than that reason, though. Odin wants every experience He can possibly have, and gain every scrap of knowledge open to Him. I can’t say He would’ve wanted to die in a suicidal way (meaning permanently die), but I can see Him being curious as to how it felt, what powers (if any) having gone to the other side and back would’ve given. At the very least He would know what happens to someone when they died. I think this is also how He acquired the Runes. He was either so delirious from the pain that they became “visible” to Him, or He journeyed to the other side while dead and found them there. Either one is plausible, though I tend to agree more with the latter theory than the first.
So going to this cemetery (which is said to have soldiers from every war since the Revolutionary War buried there) was more than just about writing. It was a bit about dwelling on Odin’s connection with death as well. I’ll probably go back on my own time for further meditation and writing.