Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Mead Of Inspiration

The Mead Of Inspiration Cover Mead is mentioned frequently in Odinic myths and other bodies of writing related to Odinism, and as we know (and sometimes enjoy), it is also in evidence at Odinist gatherings etc. Many Odinists brew their own mead and in many ways it would be a fair observation to say that mead drinking has become a part of Odinist practice in some instances.

I am not here referring by the way to the ritual libation which though we nearly always refer to as mead, does not actually have to be mead. In that context it is more symbolic than literal so juice, water etc. can be used as it is the symbolism which is important and the liquid, be it mead , water, beer etc. is charged regardless of what ``beverage`` it actually is.

Now we could also fairly observe that the drinking of alcohol is part of our wider cultural inheritance and certainly not the exclusive preserve of Odinists, but it cannot be denied that both symbolically and literally, drinking alcohol is a feature of our religious community. It has been the subject of many jokes and light hearted comments and I certainly admit to having made such remarks myself and partaking of the practice. However, I think with the advance of our holy movement and its very definite deepening, we do need to take a `sober` look at this aspect.

As has been reported alcoholism within our community is a problem which cannot be ignored or laughed off. The fact that it is now at least being acknowledged and ways to address it being looked at, is a very positive step and though no one is suggesting we adopt a puritanical or kill joy approach at all, we should realise it is not a matter for humour. It is not in reality funny to refer to particular brands of mead as ``viking crack`` as has been done . Crack cocaine is not in any way a laughing matter but a vicious and horrendously destructive social menace, addiction is not funny but corrosive . Addiction to viking crack or any alcohol is not really a matter to laugh about. So to minimise the problem by such joking, though well intended and not willfully malicious, is not essentially positive.

In the myths, we also see that various other beings, giants and dwarves, desire this mead. This illustrates the desires we have to fulfill various physical and cravings and how we can therefore drain this life energy by pursuing illusions or using it chaotically or ignorantly. Another allegorical reference to this energy is contained in the myth of Idun as keeper of the Golden Apples of youthfulness. These apples (life energy) sustain the dwellers of the God realms and are coveted by a giant (as seen the desire for selfish negative gratification). Again Loki plays a role by helping the giant to steal the apples which symbolises it is ignorance (or illusion) which gives rise to these cravings. By giving way to such cravings we deplete our life force and in the myth the Gods are shown as aging . However when Loki (illusion) is overcome, the giant (selfish craving) is defeated also and the flow of life energy restored. Both the apples and the mead are symbolic of this life energy.

This is, as said, a brief explanation, but it will make it clear, that to be an Odinist does not require literal drinking of alcoholic beverage. And again, most definitely I am not suggesting we become a teetotal movement. But neither should we justify or encourage irresponsible drinking by seeing the reference to mead in our myths as being literal.

It should also remove the pressure or expectancy sometimes leveled that those attending an Odinist celebration to have to drink alcohol. In fact while ALL should strive to drink deeply of the mythic mead some should refrain entirely from the literal alcoholic variety and should not be cajoled into doing so.

Recommended reading (pdf e-books):

Aleister Crowley - The Litany Of Satan
Hermes Trismegistus - The Emerald Tablet Of Hermes Interpretation
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Quest Of Iranon