Óðinn (Old Norse)
You who have the breath of life call me first Oðinn because without breath, you have no being in flesh. Consider the function of the breath in your body — you draw it in from the air that surrounds you, just as my presence surrounds you, invisible yet essential. Consider me as the wind of the spirit that can be seen only by its effects. Consider also how by changing your breathing you can change your consciousness and attain ecstasy.
Oski (ON: The Desired One)
Oski — the Desired one, the Wished-for.
You knew, already, that it’s not just presents… well. It’s not just nice things that one desires. Of course you can find several web pages that boldly assert that that’s my name when I’m Santa Claus, but think. Dig. It goes deeper.
What things do you desire? Not when everything is happy, when the cows are fat in the fields and the barn bulges with grain… What do you desire when the times are lean? What do you desire in dark places, in cold, in desparate times? You know well of me as Need-Father, and it is as this, rather than Wish-father, than you should think when you consider Oski. Consider ‘wish’ in the sense that Michael Ende does, and you will be closer.
When they went out on the battlefields in my name, what did they yearn for? Not dying for their country, but making the other bastard die for his (what? I was always fond of Patton…). And I gave it them. Sometimes, they desired death, and I gave that to them, as well.
Sometimes the desire is for ecstasy. Ah, yes, somewhere in you the little hedonist wiggles at the thought of it, but in your waking mind you know all too well that there are many kinds of ecstasy. Our man on the battlefield might want the Valkyries to being him strength, to send fetters to his enemies–or he will if he is smart!
Some desires are dark, and yet it is often those that are truer. Some desire death… but I do not always bring it, as many have found out.
I do bring it eventualy, of course, to each and every one. There is a sense in which life and death are always and ever desired by every single one of you, and the balance is always fascinating to contemplate.
And now, you find yourself acting contrary to your desires? As well as in alignment with them? But of course! [laughter]
“[W]ishes cannot be summoned up or kept away at will. They come from deeper within us than good or bad intentions. And they spring up unannounced… before [you] know it, a new wish will arise and take form.”
— Michael Ende, The Neverending Story
Ofnir (ON: Entangler, Weaver, Inciter) and Sváfnir (ON: Sleep- or Dream-Bringer)
[Note: These names are also among those of the worms who gnaw on Yggdrasil’s roots, as listed in Grímnismál]
Yes! The snakes under the tree who share a name with me are, in some sense, me. Think you that there is no time, ever, when I do not myself seek to end the world? When its burdens are heavy upon me, it is not as though I’ve forgotten the form of the snake, not even after all these years, nor would I in as many more…
More, it is part of my task to ensure that Ragnarök happen in its appointed time. This does not mean that the world should not end (eventually, it will be time for it), but that it come when it should. To that end, sometimes even I work towards the end… but usually when my mood is darkest, my demeanor bleakest.
Had you ever considered that, when it came time to loose the one who captains Naglfar, that it might just be my hand on those ropes of gut? One last favor between blood-siblings: I to set him free, he to set me free… for my binding is to these worlds, and I may not leave them while they last.
So, yes. I gnaw the Tree, from time to time, even as I also shore it up and encourage the Norns in their layering. Untrammeled growth isn’t any good either, and must needs be checked, even before the end!