On Wagner’s Ring Cycle:
- that which seemed good to me seemed ill to others…
Those who see as I do– my children– look at the world in a way that will always seem alien to consensus reality. The children who grew wild in the woods have an elemental wisdom that is more direct and natural than convention. They never quite understand what they are doing wrong in society. Some must deny me in order to fit in at all.
On Notung– Need is a sword. Notung is Nauðiz. It can cut both ways and fail you if you do not understand its nature.
My children inherit my nature. My brides can share it. With wisewomen, I seek alliance.
My gaze terrifies the wedding guests, but to Sieglinde appears filled with compassion. The terror and the love are the same. What you see depends on your nature.
My thoughts are on what is to come rather than on what is past. If I create the need, then I will lead you to the sword. If I am not free, can you be free for me?
Wisdom, Power, and Love are expressed by Will. Is Will conscious or unconscious? Your Will is known by your actions which are impelled from within.
I seduced Erde through the Power of Love, in order to gain her Wisdom.
- Constraint versus Freedom
- Structure versus inspiration
(Sometimes the only solution is to oppose the ones I favor)
- Strength through Resistance Training.
A problem in Leadership– how can you create without dominating? You create your own wyrd, lay down orlog, by your own actions; you doom yourselves.
Sometimes one must betray the beloved for the sake of a higher law. You suffer with me as the consequences are played out. Sieglinde awakens with her nightmare, sensing, and reflecting, the moment when I tell Brunnhilde to doom Siegmund.
There is no pain like mine– but there is also no joy. I also feel Siegmund and Sieglinde’s love…
You don’t understand– it is not your actions that bring disgrace– you interpret as dishonor the working of wyrd that changes your state of being, but all things change. You suffer because you do not understand. I suffer because I do…
Those who stand behind my back see the other side of my power. That is why we must work together. I see myself in all I create. But you see yourselves in me. Choices must be made. Stagnation is worse even than wrong action.
Even from the ashes of Valhall a new world can be born. Out of love for the world I sacrifice the love in my heart– self offered to self. “Life and Air” are önd, my gift. You live in both these things, therefore separation from me is not possible.
Perceived disgrace becomes an opportunity for transformation. Even when you have not parted from me, I cannot choose for you. Courage will win a response. So will vision.
Because you are free, you can choose to work with me.
Let it be done in love. . . .
I come, I force my way in. . . I compel you to seek for knowledge. What do you need? To know that is the foundation of my wisdom.
Wisdom may come from the questions you ask of life, or from your response to the questions life asks you…
They say that my rage is terrible, but more terrible still is my laughter. . . not frivolous laughter, but the laughter of the stars at the creation of the world.
Will you play at riddle games? Your lives are the riddle whose meaning you must understand. Do not expect me in splendor or a shower of stars. Learn to look beneath the rags of reality. If you look beneath the rags, you will see the stars.
All must obey the one who holds the spear– the flash of enlightenment from the lord of light. The head is the pledge for knowledge — Mimir’s head is in the Well.
Vegtam I hight, far have I wandered. Will you give me welcome when I appear at your door?
In many guises and by many names I am known, and in many shapes I appear.
I am in wind, or music, or words chance-heard. . . I whisper my wisdom. Wise is the one who understands what he hears.
I will tell you what you need to know– not what you want to hear, which is why you do not always understand my answers. . .
Siegfried must stand or fall on his own, but what about you?
My will is that all things may follow their wyrd and fulfil the orlog laid down for them.
Even I can receive a setback or take a wrong turning. My mind moves as yours does, sometimes focused too closely in the moment to see my way. What matters is to return to the path when it becomes clear once more.
I change, I learn, I make mistakes.
I change again– this is the way of Mind. Wisdom, Power, Love, and Will, interacting in an ever changing and shifting pattern in the web of Wyrd.
In the moment when Siegfried shattered the spear I was defeated, and yet Siegfried is gone, and I go on. I gave a part of my power to him, as Erda gave him flesh, a borrowing only until the time comes for true forms and identity. And then you will know your mind was always Mine. . .
The Tree never withers, nor does the spring run dry, but those who seek power may tear themselves from the trunk that nourishes them or crack the cup from which they seek to drink at the spring. Then they will die.
The Spear and the laws graven upon it controlled form, but sometimes Form needs to be shattered… Wisdom may be lost, but not forever. Earth bears anew, and you and your companions take up the Norns’ task now.
The last time I smile will be at the end of the age– if it ends as is fated and not before. Then, even as I fall I will have the victory.
The curse cannot be circumvented nor its course shortened. All fates must be worked out to the end. Brunehild must be faithful to love, which has a higher wisdom.
Don’t blame me for your own self-deception.
(The light of Gutrune’s eyes burns on Siegfried.)
The light of the eyes is the light of the soul. The Eye of Wisdom that lies in the Well opens on Light, and reveals the light within. But the Eye that opens in darkness also sees something of importance– occult secrets, and therefore valuable. The hidden Eye sees the Mystery.
I am not visible in these scenes, and yet I am present (as I am in the world). My powers, my decisions, are the foundation and cause of the fate that dooms the characters, and yet Siegfried and Brunehild are free to choose their way. The warp and the weft, wyrd and choice, are always interweaving and intertwining to create the pattern of history. And like a golden thread, throughout it all runs love.
Three times she (Gullveig) was burned and yet reborn — so it is with Me. In each opera, in each Age, I burn, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes, transformed and renewed. The power of the past is returned to the Rhine that it may be cleansed and Erda may recreate the world. These operas are a ritual, a magical act repeated to send its reverberations through the world, so that the lust for “Power Over” may be quenched and all things renewed.
What I want is ‘das Ende’, not of consciousness, or the gods, but of a way of viewing us that is outworn. When the physical stimulus of her love for Siegfried is removed, Brunehild regains the detachment that allows her to understand how to love me, and the world; she regains her wisdom.
Brunehild finds peace, and gives it to me. We create you and you create us, in constant reciprocation of energy. Choose to see me redeemed by love, and I will redeem you. . . .
On the film Gladiator
I see it now through your memories, your sensibilities. I am god of the dead, and those who fall in battle are mine. A worthy recruit for Valhalla is that hero, seasoned and refined by his tragedy. Yes, you may learn much from that story, about how I harvest heroes, about the qualities which I require, about strength. . . and honor. . . .
Consider, however, what is a hero? The heroes of your day do not make names in warfare. Some do, perhaps in sports, but in your day the strength required is of a more subtle kind. Endurance is still required, and courage, and integrity, and resolve. And honor? It is harder to identify the code by which you must live when you live in a land of many faiths, many philosophies. You have to balance the claims of honor and expediency.
On the Lord of the Rings Films
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Did they once call me Olórin, or Mithrandir? Is that what you wish to know? Or are you asking whether the work of one man’s imagination is as “real” as that of many? That, again, leads to a question of levels of reality. The answer to all of these questions is, as usual, both yes and no. The ravens call outside your window. You hear my voice in their crying and you also hear it when Gandalf speaks. Both voices are “true” if they bring your thoughts to me and open your awareness to understanding.
The situation is both simpler and far more complex than your question would imply. Let me try once more to confine it to words. I am not Gandalf, or rather, he is not me. But sometimes I speak in his voice, just as I speak through those who sing with the voice of Wotan in Wagner’s Ring. I sometimes shadow those who take those roles, so if you wish to visualize me as the Grey Wanderer I will not mind, even though Shadowfax, however fleet, has only four legs (laughter).
Tolkien, or Wagner, were single minds, but minds which had opened themselves to the accumulated cultural wisdom of their people. They were both steeped in the lore, they translated and transmuted it, as artists always do, in order to create anew. The Wotan of the old Germans was not the same as the Óðinn of the Vikings, and neither, certainly is the same as the Voice that you and your fellows now hear. I grow and change. Wotan and Gandalf are part of that evolution, figures who “imprinted” many in your generation with the image of the wise wanderer who is more than he seems, and whose words, at times, strike the soul with the power of prophecy. Professor Tolkien, especially, lived, mentally, with the Angles and the Saxons for long periods. He absorbed their worldview, and so, of course it permeates his story. A good story for hard times. He addresses all the great themes — good and evil, troth, courage.. You do not need me to do a literary analysis. Just as interesting, in truth, is Middle Earth itself — that vision of the world as it was when I was young.
In fact it is just that — a vision. The world of your ancestors was green and unspoiled, to be sure, but life was also at time “nasty brutal and short”. Men were just as capable of cruelty and pettiness as they are now. But the land — it is true that in those days the powers of the land were less embattled than they are today. That is the most subtle, and perhaps the most important, of the messages the books and movie hold. He (Tolkien) disapproves of man’s mistreatment of man (or hobbit) but his real emotion is stimulated by the destruction of the land. In that, certainly, he carries my wisdom into the world.
And indeed, the film did well in presenting the allure of Alfheim, even if there was not enough of it. (laughter) You should ask Freyr what he thought of that part…
The Lord of the Rings (Books & Movies)
Look, now, at Saruman and Gandalf. Saruman has a place of power, and Gandalf (and I) do not. Granted, I have some better vantage points, but there is no place so invested with my power that I would be diminished to a shadow of myself were it to leave — no, not even Valhalla, or even Hlithskjalf. A hall can be rebuilt (and will be, for when I they have all passed, there will still be a need for a hall for hallowed heroes). Seats can be rebuilt, stone on stone as it was in the beginning. I would be angry, but not diminished, and would in time replace them.
Saruman, however, has become… lazy. When Orthanc is taken from him, he diminishes to a sad scoundrel who can think of no better comeback than to take over a minor farming community and give it the Industrial Revolution. How pitiful! But if you look, he was always one to tie his power in things as much or more than words: he had the compelling voice, and should have realised what power there was in that (something that’s never been a fault of mine) , but he was not content, and so attempted to learn Ring-lore. It fractured his prism, and his power went to earth.
Earth, I say, and stone: When Orthanc is taken, it takes him with it, because he was lazy.
Now, on the other hand, take Gandalf and Radagast: they have no place of power, and so wander where they wist, and in wandering gain wisdom. Gandalf retains his center, his source, his purpose, and so not even death can stay his course or alter it in the slightest. Radagast becomes so wrapped up in his work that he forgets why he works.
Gandalf wanders the world, kindling hearts of men and elves in a land grown cold (ring or no ring). His place of power… is himself. The staff is useful, but he’s fine without it. Just one more hale, hearty old man, wandering and givine wise redes when asked.. just another stormcrow, herald of war and woe…
He’s not quite me, but not a bad likeness, either.
The power of places of power is that you can add the power of that place to your own.
The liability of places of power is that, once you’re wed to it, divorce will break you. This is another reason to find the lady of that land, and marry her… almost as good, and without the drawbacks!
The power of not having a place of power is that you’re not tied down. Should where you happen to stand become unconvenient, you can simply… be elsewhere. The liability of not having a place of power, though, is that you are more than ever required to seat yourself in yourself. Without a strong center, or a place to return to, it is all too easy to lose your way…
Aragorn, son of Arathorn, may or may not be the Professor’s equivalent to Lif. What he is is a king of my line. Hear me: he fights, he sings and declaims in verse when it suits. He commands men, winning hearts and spirits (yes, sometimes from the front, even the wisest general succumbs to desperation betimes). In need, he commands even the dead to his bidding. All these make him mine… and no less mine for not being historical.
So, yes. Insofar as people believe in the spirit of, say, that mûmak-rider who was slain by the cast Rohhiric spear, then that soul is mine. Aragorn has far more belief behind him, and he’s definitely mine.
Viggo Mortensen… well. That’s between him and whatever powers he serves, now, isn’t it? Even if one of them’s me? [*laughter*]
So. You should not be so tightly wrapped about “history” as “reality.” Didn’t they teach you about bullshit meters? … I promise that if you try to build a ship in Alfheim, and sail westward, you will reach Tol Eressëa… but I cannot claim you will necessarily be welcomed (or not). Don’t be surprised, though, if you find Manwë looking a little.. familiar…
“To be a Ring-Bearer is to be alone,” said Galadriel, but she could have applied that as well to any leadership position, and well should she know that, given her perspective on the subject. What else is there to say?
On the Matrix films
[From a reader-submitted question:]
The popular movies series The Matrix brings up some very intriguing philosophical questions, and borrows heavily from mythic thinking, Gnosticism, and Buddhism. What does Woden have to say about the message in these movies…and do we humans have anything to fear from the development of our technology, and in specific, AI?
What do I have to say about them?
I say that the Wachowskis took what you cite… and others… and dismembered them. I mean no disrespect in this, of course—I’m hardly going to complain about using bones to build worlds! But they hung wires for their actors from the skull of Hong Kong action movies. The mirror they pass through is part Carroll, but the tones that echo down Neo’s throat as the looking glass passes through him are clearly derived from analog phone lines. Neo’s first taste of a dual life exposes him to mundane and hacker cultures, and indeed the hacker ethic pervades much of the movies.
These movies have a lot to say about the Hacker as Shaman, passing between worlds.
I would not linger on the story overlong; it’s just Campbell’s Hero Journey in a skintight latex catsuit. What’s interesting to you is the world that’s been built, yes? And so that is what I comment on.
I had to laugh at watching them, putting those wires in their necks—they tense, then relax into it, caught from behind with an ecstatic experience. It’s a new ergi for the twenty-first century, and they are each unmanned… thrust into a place where what they believe is so.
But they are rather poor shamans: once they’ve gained hard-won access to the Otherworlds, they then wrap themselves around with petty, simple rules. Only one—One—realises the game enough to fly, and none of them realise it enough for even the simplest of tricks:
If all that they seem themselves as is residual self-image, why have none of them tricked onto shapeshifting yet? Not thinking of teleportation I can allow as dramatic license, I suppose, but—bah! They’re not stupid overall, but they each have a large blind spot in this region.
Obviously, they should have found a few shamans to unplug to teach them how to use this Brave New Metaphor! Surely those are part of that remnant the Architect spoke of… both are paths of mine, and most who choose anything of mine are malcontents to one extent or another.
[Source Six and a watcher] took me to the movies, which was the first time they had done so deliberately—before I usually have to peer over shoulders and whisper in their ears, but this time they did it deliberately. Avid reader of this site that you are, I think you can imagine how well I value a new experience—or, more precisely (if more recursively), experiencing someone experiencing me having a new experience.
Did you notice that there are pieces of me in several places? Not surprising, as it is a movie about the mind, and the artifices the mind can create. Neo gives up his old life for knowledge, sacrificing self to Self. Eventually, he meets the Architect (strikingly handsome fellow, is he not?), and is given riddling speech far beyond anything I, I, and I gave Gylfi.
In the trailer for the movie that has not yet been released, it appears that our young hero blinds himself.
I find that terribly amusing. Even I had the good sense to stop after only one eye…
But what one has to fear from artificial intelligence?
What has one to fear from casting all ties to what is known? What has one to fear from sailing to Vinland, when there are no charts, no pilots’ logs? It is like that, but the sea is vaster, for the Sea of Ideas is vaster by far than any sea of Ran, vaster than even the Sea of Stars; it must be, for the Seas of the Mind—my seas—must necessarily encompass allof those. Sail with care, watch the wind and wave for signs of storm and trouble. Send launches to shore and scout for skraelings before you land for true…
Pack well, and be mindful, and this will avoid most trouble in life.
Have I not said this often enough? It’s all over this site, although more as a… background, I suppose, then spelled out. It penetrates and infiltrates everything here; some of the sources you read here sought a new experience, and learned to be mindful of a new influence in their life.