There in the early morning, the dawn of creation when the world was young, the God’s took a walk. Grown lonely, having yet to have seen Frīja through a pregnancy to get children by her, nor Earth or Sea, Wōden brought with him shades of his mind. Some called them Lødur and Hönir, others Vili and Ve. There are few alive who could remember this day.
Wōden stepped along a desolate strand, whose beaches were littered with bits of bone whose calcium and salt had only just begun to erode and congeal into stone. There beaten by the paltry waves, the seafoam came a dreamy pink still filled with Ymir’s gore. Above in the white capped vault of the heaven’s blue clouds went by, racing. They carried away thoughts of the old order, for truly and in more ways that one Ymir, whom some called Aurgelmir, had had his head in the clouds.
Taking a turn, Wōden when he saw the beckon of a nearby forest. He had been coming here for some time, having tended the garden. Such wonderful plants the trees were, able to grow so high and so tall that they could choke out even Sun and her gaze which by Day’s rest grew baleful and harsh. The arms of the trees stretched up towards the sky as if in praise, and Wōden marvelled at the serenity of it. Nature itself worshipped life in the shape of the Goddess of the Sun, whose womb spread her lips and showered yearling Midgard with love, light and life. Nature itself sang hymns of praise, life being a song which no lips could truly capture, no Rune yet to be plucked from the branches fully ensnare and no charm wholly bewitch.
Wōden walked and spoke at length with the shades of his mind, about his hopes and dreams, and also a lingering fear that this beauty he and his kin had overseen could end. After all, had they not slain Ymir and built a new order on his corpse? Still. This tranquility and beauty, this paradise was worth keeping.
As he neared the shadow of the great wood a pair of Ravens flew overhead, he saw from the corner of his eyes. They came to perch upon two trees lodged just outside the forest’s edge. Caught in the shadows the trees had not grown tall and straight like arrows to the sun. Instead they hung contorted, curved. Wōden was at once reminded of the shape of his wife as he looked upon the curls and burls of the one, and supposed that the next he could see himself in.
Smiling, Wōden looked to the Ravens who looked back. Their eyes twinkled with recognition, a sly cunning that Wōden admired. And in that moment as he looked between the two he was stricken with inspiration. Whenever he looked at the first his mind returned to distant memories, and when to the next his mind flew forward to times yet unimagined. Wōden began to understand. It was Thought and Memory which controlled order. There was a time where if he thought back, he could not remember – neither his birth nor beginning- and yet here he was. In time Ymir’s corpse would be forgotten, and so would his name – the old order would perish fully. As it stood all that remained was the memory of corruption. And so the new order would go, it would persist as long as all those with mind to think remembered the values that Wōden and his kin had lain down when they laid Aurgelmir low.
But as the Ravens cocked their heads as if to ask who would remember, Wōden drew in a deep breath. He looked to the shades of his mind which were so keen and so wise they seemed as real as he. He looked to his shades and he looked to the trees. Taking a seax from his belt and an axe in hand, Wōden whittled away at the trees, revealing the flesh coloured wood beneath the bark. Into idols he shaped them, exquisite, luxuriant. He spared no detail, seeing to it that Frīja’s every life giving curve was resplendently shown, how she had grown full with his seed; and that his own defending sinews were seen, his lithe strength shown. Then, as his work drew close he released his breath into each.
Now marvel upon marvel the wood began to breathe, and not just as the forest does and sway in the breeze. Rhythmic, gentle. Inspiring. But breath alone does not make life full. Wōden glanced at his brother, Vili, that part of himself which gave him – and us – Will. Vili stepped forward and gave himself to Wōden’s art, fading as of through magick into dust. The dust settled itself upon the breathing wood, and slowly penetrating warp and woof. The eyes in the wood began to dance with awareness, but awareness is not all that makes life dance. Ve, whose name would come to symbolise the very celebration of life stepped forward. He opened his veins and gave himself to colour Wōden’s masterpiece. He disappeared into the stream of blood which splashed the wood and fertilises the Earth beneath. The raising of the grain was a curious feat, knots became freckles, grain muscle and tone, curl and burl fat and shape. The wood softened into skin.
Wōden laughed with delight, but even so – life is more than these alone. The Ravens which had come to him gave the couple their blessing and were were off. But Wōden, Wōden knew he would see them again. For now he looked to his creation, and smiled warmly. He kept the memory of his shades, Will and Holiness, close to his heart, for in the end they would outlive even the man that clothed him.
Now the couple looked to him, the God, the fountainhead from which their memories sprang and for the longest time would come. Ash and Ember, he called them, from the trees he had taken them from. He walked with them along the shore and explained to them the meaning of life. He explained how they had been shaped from Nature, Mother Earth in the image of the God and Goddess that lent them life. He explained how Woman had been made in Frīja’s image and so was born pregnant, herself the arbiter of life. He told them how man was made in Wōden’s way, and how it should come to him to defend both life and limb, to learn what is good and evil so that life in her fullness can go on, softly and sweetly resembling the best nature offers. Man should always find the divine in her, image of the Goddess, for life and service of life lie beneath all, to seek otherwise flirts only with death, sterility and decay. He told them how they had come from the wood, and how wood would always be sacred. He made sure they knew the blood in their veins had belonged to the God which gave them life, and how by that very life’s blood they were still tied to the trees. He told this to them, that the world which was their time, should last so long as they remembered. So long as they understood their place, their lineage. So long as they tended the garden that is our world, not as a conquering Etin but as a worshipping spirit. The Earth would gladly let them eat of the fat of her land, but that should hubris befall them her womb would surely close and yield no more life. For man comes from the Earth, returns to her, and is given back. But when this is forgotten, it would be no different than Ymir forgetting himself and falling out of accordance with nature. Then it should happen their world would end. For it’s essence would have changed, the soul forgot and the body become a monstrous empty shell to be filled only with sin and wickedness, the opposite of life.
Then it should happen that Midgard would come by another name, given by another kindred, and one which cared little for what makes life holy in the world, what will to power, much less what faith in the order the Gods had given.
But that, that would have to remain a story for another day. The world was still young, Virgin in her Green whose flower had yet to bloom much less be plucked. It was a splendid time, full of birdsong, where the air was light. The breath of the Gods had not yet drink the spirit of war, of greed and lust for gold. The spirit had not been poisoned, nor corrupted. The Earth had not been turned against her spawn. It was a golden age, a dawning era where the sunrise still brought happiness and the dark cloud no reminder of pain.
This was our time, and we should see to it that it comes to be again.