A Post by another on Ordeal


First let me say that I strongly feel that Mainer74 is one of our strongest heathen writers and has affected me deeply in multiple forums for years.  I have avoided speaking of ordeal here for many of the reasons he lists, even if I do not take it lightly.  His example is an intense one of physical healing and the mind moving the body along.  My experiences also tie to bitter rage but more of the spirit and emotional type than a physical injury.  He has inspired me to consider writing more on the topic, in time.  I had avoided doing so but now see that was a mistake.  Still, some members of the heathen community are very distrustful of or vitriolic opponents of, Ordeal.

He makes a number of good arguments and comments which I wish to highlight:

My world was burning, and I was the torch.  I could no longer afford a comfortable worldview, I required a complete one.

I have absolutely felt this and it is where the symbolism I use comes from.

Ordeal is a powerful, sacral thing, to use it for trivial purposes demeans the user, the rite, and the gods, spirits and ancestors. 

It should never be done lightly, but I think limiting only to the very extreme case he discusses fails to note that some existential crises ARE worthy of Ordeal.

His comments on pain are also worthy watchwords to be aware of.

My children were growing to fear my rages, almost as much as I was. 

Those we love and protect should not fear us.  I have also felt this and it was terrifying.  It is ultimately my greatest fear.

Ordeals are like omelettes, you cannot get one without smashing a lot of metaphorical eggs, that correlate to real physical and mental damage. 

Also very true.  There will be a form of shattering.  That is unavoidable.  It supports the point that ordeals should never be taken lightly.

He refers to skaldic vision.  What I see as the power of metaphor to reshape us intensely.  It can be terrifying, especially when all around you cannot see what you see.  I suggest you read his paragraph on that several times.  It is well said.

A rational worldview would leave me either a danger to my family, or dead by my own hand to prevent it.  A more complete world view encompasses both the rational scientific world I am comfortable with, and the unseen world, the world that our ancestral practices of Seidr and Galdor exist to help us navigate and function in.  My life, my ability to care for, provide for, protect, and love my family at this point is owed to those esoteric practices that my comfortable world view did not contain.  For this reason, I accepted my responsibility to push my understanding into the esoteric traditions our ancestors left for us.

So much this.  I found the whole process completely terrifying and life altering.  I will not claim to have used Seidr or Galdor, mine was something else but still very powerful.  Still we need to accept that the old tools (or variations of them) can sometimes be very important.

His last paragraph echoes mine, even if I may be more strongly connected to those who are mocked and derided than he.  If those people had not done their work, I might very well be dead.

To sum up, Ordeal has value and should never be taken lightly.  I will try to write more on this at a later time but wanted to honor this piece soon after I saw it.

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2 responses to “A Post by another on Ordeal”

  1. aeddubh says :

    Very good post from him and commentary from you.

    Ordeals don’t need to be about crises, either. When I painted the ceiling of our basement stairwell as a devotional offering to Brigid, parts of the process were very painful to my back, neck, and shoulders. I made a point of keeping going with the work, offering the pain up to Her, and only stopping to stretch and ease my muscles when I was having problems with drawing/painting/etc. accurately and well.

    For that matter, a lot of my ink (including this past weekend’s) has had a devotional ordeal component to it; although it’s always *part* of the devotional offering, and not necessarily the most important, it’s still there…

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