A Yuletide Encounter with Odin…at Target

On Friday night, the 22nd of December, moments after considering to whom I might dedicate a libation donation for the Strong Roots Wide Branches Temple for PantheaCon 2018, E a retired liberal Christian white woman, made eye contact with me in the produce section of a local Target store. My mom and I were shopping for sweet potatoes and a few other items.

solstice-1436685_1920E arrested my attention and then started a conversation with me and mom by sharing her rage and fury about the current state of the world. I listened, though initially I desperately wanted to continue shopping and to get home as soon as possible. I was tired from the day’s demands. As E shared her rage and her shock about some people’s ignorance and corruption, I commented that the ignorance and corruption we see now in the form of flagrant and rampant isms in high places have always been present and operating, only now it’s more visible to more people than before. Please who need to wake up are waking up, and its disorienting for them. E smiled and with warm eyes dubbed me wise.

E later asked about my work and my education. I spoke vaguely but still somehow revealed more than I intended to with a total stranger. E told me about her work too. She shared her personal details between grimaces and sharp stabs at corrupt politicians. She seemed to almost whisper as she noted feeling crazy living in the world the way it is. My mom and I shared words of love and wisdom to instill hope and courage for change. She shared her plans to seek inner peace and to meditate this holiday.

E held me and my mom in a triangle talking politics, religion, family, and social justice for at least 30 minutes. Throughout our time together, E made frequent mention of my smarts and wisdom. Her passion and fury for the state of the world caught my attention and held it too. Lodged in the narrow pass between frozen meats and fresh milk, I had time to think and to feel her energy. Eventually I noticed E’s gold and silver tree of life pendant, her six large eyes (shades and glasses included), her gold (ear)rings, her intricately woven sweater with images arrows and a horse. With each passing minute, E felt like herself and…More.

Odin,_Sleipnir,_Geri,_Freki,_Huginn_and_Muninn_by_FrølichE felt like more than a human being. She felt like an vessel for a shard of Odin’s power, taken for a time to deliver a Yuletide message to a weary devotee passing through a Midwestern Target. I often hear Christians croon that God works in mysterious ways. Well, so does mine apparently. I needed his presence this year. I struggle with crashes in my mood, like most folks, but especially during the holiday season because I see what people imagine the world to be – love, peace, joy, good cheer – and I see how so much of our reality flies in the face of that. 2017 has been one of the worst years in my lifetime. E felt it too. People of color and queer people have been aware of the pain and madness of the world for a long time and we need white woman and others with certain types of privilege in the world to see that pain and madness too – and to fight!

Through E, Odin called me to rally, to share knowledge, wisdom, and insight, to speak up, to harness the fury and the madness for change. And he reminded me to be there for people and the celebrate and honor those who are there for me. The world is full of love, peace, joy, and good cheer, but it is also filled with those who want to steal it away. After we process our feelings about that attempted theft, we have to ethically act against it. E, carrying Odin, reminded me that I have to feel the rage and choose courage. Choose to push through the low moods and fight for what I value. Odin reminded me that I have shell-shocked allies that I can rally to righteous action. He reminded me that I too need to soak up the energy of the strengthening sun and rise toward victory. We are all huddled in the dark together waiting for the same sun rise. It’s our intentional alliances, our relentless political action and our heartfelt prayers that will sing in victory.

I’m pretty damned sure that I conversed with Odin – Wanderer, Seeker, Healer – in the guise of a (righteously) salty retired woman in a Midwestern Target at the headwaters of the Yuletide. In that conversation, I saw how far we’ve come and how far we’ve to go. The fire and fury is at work in me. May it rise and strengthen as the sun rises and strengthens.

Good Yule to you and yours.